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Classroom Happenings: A Pizza, a Taco, and Fun-Filled Exploration

The Steward School
Author’s spirited books engage Lower Schoolers
Spartans of all ages learn in a School environment rich in boundless creativity, and an appreciation for the written word is an essential part of that experience. Lower Schoolers explored the wonders of reading and artistic expression recently when they welcomed a special guest: Stephen Shaskan, who visited JK-2 students to talk about his career as an illustrator and author. His most recent book, “Pizza and Taco Rock Out!” is the fifth book in his “Pizza and Taco” series.

Onstage in the Lora M. Robins Theatre, Mr. Shaskan walked the students through each book in the series with the help of an interactive drawing. One of the highlights of his talk was when he taught the students how he draws Pizza and Taco — googly-eyed characters brimming with personality. Earlier in the week, the students had drawn their own versions of Pizza and Taco, which were displayed during Mr. Shaskan’s presentation. 

When he discussed the second book in the series, “Pizza and Taco: Best Party Ever,” Mr. Shaskan asked the audience to shout out things they would see at a party and he began to draw them. Soon, the Lower Schoolers were giggling with excitement as they watched Mr. Shaskan quickly draw a disco ball, party hats, a cupcake, and confetti. Within a few minutes, he had created a black-and-white mural featuring Pizza, Taco, and the students’ party-centric suggestions. 

When Mr. Shaskan read a chapter from “Pizza and Taco: Rock Out!” the students smiled and laughed at the characters’ music-making antics. Mr. Shaskan capped off the fun-filled program with a song and dance as he played the ukulele. He took a few questions from the audience and shared that his inspiration for the “Pizza and Taco” characters came from school visits. “When I would draw on the board, students often suggested that I draw pizzas or tacos, and I was inspired to make a book about them being best friends!” he said. 

Lower School Librarian Carlee Cutchin, who organized the event, said Mr. Shaskan's visit created a Pizza and Taco “tidal wave” in the Lower School. Students who ordered books before the event from local bookstore bbgb received a signed copy on the day of the event, complete with a personalized message (including a drawing of Pizza and Taco!) inside the front cover.“It has been so wonderful to see students get excited about a book series and bond with their friends over a shared love of reading,” she said. “Students are asking me to read and re-read the books, and they're drawing the characters in the library’s Makerspace.”

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