BONNERS FERRY — The students of Valley View Elementary School and it’s staff welcomed the renowned author of children’s books and magazine articles, Kelly Milner Halls, on Thursday, Jan. 25, after having to reschedule from Wednesday’s school cancellation due to the winter weather.
“I am a children’s writer specializing in all things weird and wonderful and the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the evidence,” states Halls’ website. “My school visits explore those quirky topics and reliable research skills. My goal is to empower kids and to celebrate what makes us all unique.”
Halls lives in Spokane, Wash., and through her writing and presentations, she has brought children both local and far away the idea to ask questions, and seek the answers.
During her presentation, Halls gave the children an idea. The idea was to question, and to seek the answers, no matter how vague the clues may be.
According to Halls, the most interesting stories that she has written are the Bigfoot stories.
“Bigfoot just blew me away,” exclaimed Halls. “The more research I did, the more I thought hey, there is evidence that it is real. More people have bigfoot stories here than don’t.”
Halls chose to write according to how she sees the world. She formulates questions, and proceeds to find the answers.
“Who doesn’t want to research things that may or may not be real? That sense of what is the evidence? When I wrote Tales of the Cryptics, the one that started that interest, I thought that I was going to prove they were all fake, that was my plan, but it turned out that I could not find any definitive information,” said Halls. “If I couldn’t prove it was fake, I didn’t say it was fake, because that is as big of a lie as to say it was real. So, I left the evidence as to the for and against, and allowed them to decide.”
During her presentation, Halls showed the younger classes molds of Bigfoots footprint, and allowed them to decide which was fake, and which could be real. One print was just like a human foot and one was more deformed with bulges coming out of the side. She questioned the class asking if someone would make a fake print that had a deformity, which opened the discussion about deciphering between real and fake evidence. Halls concluded the presentation challenging the kids to ask a question, find evidence, and in the end find the answer.
Halls wrote a couple of books under the National Geographic logo, each three stories in one, and both about animal rescue stories. She has herself adopted rescue animals, and showcases them in her presentation to the children. She used a powerpoint presentation complete with photos to show students not only how adopting a pet is beneficial, but how adopting her animals have affected her personally, showcasing the about four foot iguana, among her other adopted pets including cats and dogs.
Halls wanted to produce books that were affordable for the children when she did school visits. There are two ways to produce books — one is work for hire, which gives the author a one-time payment and the books sold through that company are more inexpensive to the buyer. The second way is royalty books, which enables the author to make an amount for each book sold, but tend to cost the buyer a little more.
“There are so many kids that wanted a book and couldn’t afford a book, so that’s why I did it when National Geographic called,” said Hall, speaking of the companies’ offer.
Halls temporarily left behind a few books for sale for the children that were unable to purchase one during her visit, as well, and they are located in the library at Valley View Elementary School.
A friend of Halls works for Microsoft, and came to her with the idea of doing a video series about weird stuff. Together they produced a pilot and presented it to MSN, who accepted the idea. In August, they plan to shoot 10 episodes of Kelly’s Curiosities which will be produced as a web series. “It’s about weirdly wonderful topics like asteroids, dinosaur poop, mortuary tools and more,” said Hall’s website. On her website are links to what has been produced so far.
“When I decided to write, I decided to write the books I would have loved,” said Halls. Growing up a tomboy who loved to find rocks and catch frogs to scare her sister with, the topics of her books are outside the box, but interesting to young readers.
Being kid oriented, Halls kept the audience captivated and involved with the presentation, as well as being sure to talk and listen to the children during her book signing, even though she was on a time limit.
“Kelly was great! Easy to work with, even staying an extra day for us. I’ve had inspiring feedback about her assemblies, and the kids are still talking about her,” exclaimed the schools librarian, Julie Colson.
For more information on Kelly Milner Halls, visit her website at https://www.wondersofweird.com/