Rotten Ralph Illustrator/Author 030417

Rotten Ralph Illustrator/Author Welcomed

By Hilda Lahti Elementary and 

Knappa Schools Foundation

By Mary Nauha

Funneling through hallways at Knappa’s grade school, Hilda Lahti Elementary (HLE), walls are brimming with colorful works of student art portraying Rotten Ralph. This sly and mischievous cat is the character of a popular children’s book series which was the basis for an animated TV series that began airing on the Fox Family channel in 1999.  Knappa Schools Foundation welcomed Nicole Rubel, co-author and illustrator of the Rotten Ralph books, last Thursday, March 2nd. Leila Kollier, principal, and Stephanie Baldwin, librarian, collaborated their efforts to solicit Mrs. Rubel for the event.

In speaking with Ms. Baldwin, it was clear she was excited for the opportunity to provide students with an intimate experience with a published author/illustrator by having students participate in a drawing prior to the author’s presentation. The winners, three 5th grade students and two 6th graders, were able to accompany Rubel for lunch that day. Rubel is well-known for her audacious illustrations and engaging stories with 60 published books to her credit. 

Rubel met with students in the library sharing her love and life-long interest in books and art. Students presented their questions about her life and her famous cat, Cerew, who provided the rotten inspiration for the character that she and co-author, Jack Gantos, developed for the books. Art-filled facts and fun were enjoyed throughout the day. 

“Her imaginative, poignant and sometimes comical storylines are often derived from growing up with her identical twin sister, Bonnie. As a child she let her sister speak for her. Through the encouragement of an insightful teacher, Ms. Rubel learned to speak and writer for herself. Therefore, a significant theme in her stories is finding oneself and learning to express one’s own thoughts and feelings,” according to her bio.

The “Rotten Ralph” series has earned the children’s book Showcase Award for Outstanding Graphic Design at the time of their debut. Since then, the acclaimed author/illustrator has received awards from The American Book Association, The American Institute of Graphic Arts and American Booksellers.

The Knappa Schools Foundation (KSF) was founded in 1997. The organization was modeled after the long-standing Astoria Schools Foundation with the help of their President Michael Foster. The KSF Mission Statement is “To provide resources to enhance education and encourage individual success for the students of Knappa Schools.” Now in its sixteenth year, KSF has been very successful in its efforts to improve the quality of education in our community.

Funds raised through the annual dinner and auctions have been used in a three-point approach to fulfilling our mission statement:

“KSF awards scholarships each year to deserving students entering that critical first year of post-secondary education. To date those scholarships total over $170,550. Secondly, KSF awards mini-grants to encourage innovation in the classroom and access to technology. Total mini-grant awards exceed $200,003 through 2012. Lastly, KSF has continually invested portions of the fundraising revenue since its inception. Foundation assets now total over $869,204, with the inclusion of the most recent gift from the Merrill Estate. These invested assets will be enhancing and encouraging Knappa schools and its students into perpetuity.” Source: Knappa Schools Foundation Facebook page.

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