Smashing Expectations: Kyle Bolton Reads at Broadview-Thomson K-8 School

By Erin Langner, WITS Program Associate 

When I think back to the week before winter break when I was in elementary school, I remember things like “mailing” cards to friends in other classrooms, a mess of a candy cane and its wrapper leaving my desk sticky for days, and extended periods of time spent bundling up and bundling down every time we went outside. Amidst the inevitable chaos and distractions that surround such a week in an elementary school, I would hardly expect to find a group of sixty fifth graders sitting quietly on the floor in the library, listening to someone read.

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As unlikely as it seems, this was a real scene at WITS partner Broadview-Thomson K-8 School this week, when Seattle comic artist Kyle Bolton visited, to read from his brother Chris Bolton’s and his book, Smash, Book One: Trial By Fire. All eyes were on the author as he animated the story of a ten-year-old boy who finds himself bestowed with superhero powers using a thorough assortment of voices and sounds to match each action. Building up to a critical moment of realization, the entire library gasped when Kyle unveiled the final, “To be continued…” slide of his reading; the cliffhanger was severe, despite only hearing a small part of a story the Boltons have planned to fill five books.

The kids sitting around the lingering “To be continued…” slide did not see this as an end but as an opportunity. Their imaginations ignited, when Kyle invited questions, every third hand raised brought ideas for the next four Smash books. Methods for defeating villains, suggestions for co-conspirators, new narrative twists and potential wardrobe ideas were floated for consideration. While it is hard to know which directions the authors might find best suited for the next iterations of Smash, it was clear that no outside distractions were too much for this room full of story tellers, who found new suggestions to share through the end of the hour—ideas that I hope to run into again someday, when these creative students put their pencils to the paper and let the inspiration flow.

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