Students at Howland Glen Primary school got a lesson in creative writing from Sandra Philipson's dogs.
"We're teaching them how a story gets put together," said Philipson, an educational consultant and author of a series of children's books about her dogs. "I'm telling them how the dog's behavior can lead to a story."
Philipson is the author of six children's books, known as the Max, Annie and Tak series. Her books are based on actual events and the stars of the series came to visit the children as they learned how Philipson and her illustrator Jenny Campbell work together to turn life into art.
As an example of how the creative process works, Campbell drew a few sketches of sinister-looking household appliances. The grimacing vacuum cleaner is going to be a supporting character in a book about Philipson's dog Oliver, who's apparently terrified of it.
"I used to think that I needed to take him to a doggie psychiatrist," Philipson told the children.
Philipson said she first got the idea for her books by watching her dog Annie fight against cancer.
"I was watching her spirit come back and thought it would make a great story for kids," she said.
Amy Prater, a second grader, could only nod enthusiastically when asked if she liked illustrating. Campbell taught the children how she draws her cartoon dogs. She told the children that it was a rewarding feeling getting a book back with your name on the cover.
"I think I worked for about 50 cents an hour," Campbell said about her first book. "But it was really fun."
Before Tak, Trini and Oliver left for the day, the children sang a song dedicated to the dogs. Trini joined in by barking along with the students.
The children showed off their dog pictures to illustrator Campbell, who taught them how she draws cartoon animals.