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Kids illustrate Oswego author’s newest book

Students Fox River Academy created illustrations for Oswego author PamelHampton's new children's book.

Students at the Fox River Academy created the illustrations for Oswego author Pamela Hampton's new children's book.

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Updated: November 16, 2012 6:04AM

OSWEGO — When Oswego resident Pamela Hampton started seeking illustrators for her latest children’s book, she had no idea the artists would end up being children themselves.

But that’s exactly what happened when she reached out to the Fox River Academy in her hometown earlier this year.

Hampton’s third book, “Noah Sabastian Goes to School,” will be available by Christmas, and for the academy students who helped complete the story, the experience has truly been a gift.

“They were so thrilled,” said Fox River Academy director Karen Kulzer. “They got really into it.”

Initially, Hampton sought out the academy’s teachers to help complete her artistic vision, but it was at Kulzer’s prompting that she decided to look at the academy’s youngest creators, instead.

The Fox River Academy is a music and art academy that opened in Oswego in 2003, along Route 71 between Washington Street and Orchard Road. The academy features art classes and workshops geared toward students of all skill levels, and customized classes for those in preschool all the way up through adults and seniors.

“I asked if she would be open to having the kids be the illustrators. It would be such a great opportunity to give a different perspective and dimension to the book,” Kulzer said.

Hampton agreed, and was astounded at the professionalism of the students.

“At first I didn’t know they were children’s pictures,” Hampton said of the first time she saw the student’s artwork. “When she told me (the artists) were kids... I was really impressed. They were so talented.”

One of those young artists was Plank Junior High eighth-grader Caitlyn Eng, who along with a handful of other students were chosen to create the pages. “I didn’t expect this,” Caitlyn said. “I’m still learning a lot of things, but I’m really happy she noticed my work and wanted it in her book.”

Caitlyn, who likes to draw, used colored pencils to illustrate her pages. She said the best part about the experience was being able to work with her fellow students and the book’s author herself.

In two separate sessions, overseen by Hampton, the selected students helped bring her written creation to life. They used several artistic mediums to build the pages.

“When you have a children’s book, a lot of it is about illustrations,” Kulzer said. “It doesn’t have to be the Mona Lisa. You have to think like a 3- or 4-year-old. What are things they would like? What would they notice?”

Hampton’s first two books were illustrated with PhotoShop, she said. This time, she was looking to take a different route.

“Some (of the young artists) used watercolor, others used charcoal or pastels,” Kulzer said. “I was a little concerned initially. How were we going to make using different media work in this book? But we did. It’s pretty cool.”

Caitlyn’s mom, Dawn, is equally excited about the opportunity.

“I think it’s so flattering (that Caitlyn was chosen),” she said. “It’s just such a really cool idea for an author to go to the academy and solicit art work from the students. To have young adults and kids get their views across is very exciting.”

Hampton’s first two books, “Kennedy Sanaa: Time for Bed,” and “Kennedy Sanaa: First Day of School,” are available on Her newest book will be out later this year.

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