Ben Hatke's Visit Captured the Attention of Little River Elementary Students and Staff


Little River Elementary students and staff had an exciting day visiting with author, cartoonist and children's book illustrator Ben Hatke. A resident of western Virginia, Hatke is known for books like “Julia's House for Lost Creatures” and “Nobody Likes a Goblin” and the graphic novels “Little Robot and Mighty Jack”.  


Hatke offered students a unique treat as he read “Nobody Likes a Goblin” aloud while projecting the book's engaging images on a giant screen. His words, facial expressions and voice impressions mesmerized the students as they expressed their gratitude with oohs, aahs, laughter and cheers. 


After the reading, he shared his tips for visual storytelling – the art of communicating through pictures, emotions and words – to inspire future authors in the audience. Hatke demonstrated three key elements of visual storytelling he uses when crafting his magical characters and mythical landscapes. The three components include: 

  1. Two pictures, one story: This occurs when "the story links two things together; the interesting place is the space where the connection happens."

  2. The power of gesture: Movements that lead to unconscious reactions which communicate something words are not saying. Gestures in visual storytelling impact comprehension and influence how our brain interprets the story. 

  3. Drawing from life: Storytelling involves sharing experiences, including knowledge, values and secrets. Stories serve as a foundation for our memories, connect us with our inner selves, and link past, present and future memories.


Hatke wrapped up his time with the students by listening to and answering questions. Questions were reflective of Little River's interest in the author:  

  • What tools do you use to color your stories?

  • Are you left-handed or right-handed?

  • Do you ever author a book you don't illustrate?

  • Why did you choose to become an author?

  • Did you have other interests growing up other than writing books?

  • Which book took the longest to write?


Hatke summarized that a storyteller's job is to go out into the world and see new things with eyes wide open and take it all in. After that, create a story or work of art. Little River students received ideas connected to belonging, identity and learning, and it was an experience that impacted a group of young minds for years to come.

Published January 26, 2023