Sellersville Elementary

Gene Barretta provided our students with a most memorable day. He was able to keep the children and staff thoroughly engaged. His assemblies were well-paced and interactive. By allowing for questions at various times throughout his presentation, Gene was able to keep everyone involved and focused. Sharing his experiences helped the children to better understand the nuances of illustration, the stages of writing, and the importance of perseverance. The appearance of his special guest at just the right moment was a fantastic surprise for all. Bill Ochester was a wonderful addition to the presentation, not only by his exceptional portrayal of Dr. Franklin, but by supplementing the facts given in Now and Ben with extra insights into Franklin’s life. Bill and Gene worked extremely well together and kept everyone interested and involved. In addition, Gene’s outstanding website, with teacher’s guides and activities suitable to a variety of ages, offers so many opportunities to prepare the students. Many of the children continued to explore his website even after his visit. Gene gave Sellersville Elementary a day we will long remember.

Michael Romito

Young Writer / Young Reader Program

Gene Barretta did guest author presentations for the Young Writer/Young Reader Program, which is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project. He gave both writing advice and illustrating advice. He was well accepted by both the children and the teachers in the program. He has a kind and gentle way with children and I feel fortunate to have met him and to have observed an excellent presentation.


Karen Venuto,
Summer Youth Administrator of the Young Writer/Young Reader Program.

Northeast Elementary School

We loved Gene’s assembly program! The younger kids loved seeing his illustrations evolve from sketches to full color masterpieces. The older kids were mesmerized by the magic of Gene’s animations. His manner with kids of all ages was delightful and engaging.

Karen Wirtshafter
PTA Assembly Coordinator
Northeast Elementary School

Collegium Charter School

We felt your presentation gave new life to the dusty history of Ben Franklin and shed light on his contributions to our modern world. Having Ben Franklin “in person” inspired deeper admiration for the creativity and humor of one of our most colorful Founding Fathers. Your book, Now & Ben, emphasized how inventiveness and problem-solving characterized the thinking of this inventor/statesman, prompting students to consider how their own (future) accomplishments could add to our world.
Kathy Stewart, M.Ed.
Library Media Specialist (elementary)
Collegium Charter School

Ben Franklin Elementary School

Franklin . . . He’s electric! That is what the program was, a shock when Ben Franklin came alive from the wonderful literary book, “Now and Ben.” The presentation was quite eventful and interacting for the students. The students had wonderful opportunities to walk through the many inventions of Franklin.

A great experience for all.
-Lisa Maher

Tamaques Elementary School

The students at Tamaques Elementary School eagerly anticipated the visit of Gene Barretta, the author, who they had learned so much about. Our school had a great time preparing for his visit by reading his books and looking at his interactive website.

It was truly a treat to have a visitor who is such an accomplished illustrator, author and animator! During his presentation, the students were fascinated by the steps necessary in the creation of illustrations for a book. Since Gene’s picture books cover topics like Ben Franklin and homophones as well as fictional stories, children at all grade levels enjoyed him. Most of all, it was easy to see that the students exhibited an appreciation for the work that goes into writing and illustrating great children’s books.
Megan LaConte
Media Specialist
Westfield Schools

Hillside Elementary School

Our students (in grades K-4) were “all ears” as Gene Barretta presented – their eyes were glued to the screen as he described the various steps required to illustrate a children’s book! More than one “OOH” and “AAH” was heard throughout the auditorium when his fabulous illustrations were shown. His sense of humor shined through, and he graciously allowed students to ask questions about all aspects of his presentation.

Both teachers and students were delighted that Benjamin Franklin appeared, “real, live and in the flesh,” and his extensive historical knowledge was evident as Mr. Franklin, too, answered the kids’ questions. The most telling thing about the day? I saw some students who had bought Gene’s books totally engrossed in them, sitting on the floor, reading to each other after school.
-Susan Landis Eley

Roberts Elementary School

My neighbor told me at the bus stop this morning how animated her usually quiet daughter was last night — she usually has to drag information out of her about her school day! She got the low-down on your visit and Ben Franklin’s inventions. You and Dr. Franklin really make a connection with the children (and adults).
Adrienne Wright

Southern Elementary School

Gene Barretta is one of the most engaging authors I have hosted, in twenty years as a school librarian. He clearly enjoys children and his presentations are excellent. He connects immediately with the students, and is very easy to work with. I highly recommend him for a school visit.

Lynn Conrad

Dr. Albert Bean & John Glenn Elementary Schools

Dear Gene,

It was my goal when selecting an author to visit my school that this individual would inspire the students to read, give them insight into what an author/illustrator does, and motivate them to see new possibilities for their own future. Your visit to the Dr. Albert Bean and John Glenn Elementary Schools on March 7, 2008 far exceeded my expectations. I loved your books and knew that you were talented, but what made the day special was the connection you had with the children. Not everyone has that gift. The time that you spent to acknowledge the projects that they made for you, answering the numerous questions that they asked, and truly listening to their responses was priceless. Having you and Bill together offered the children a glimpse into history, which also added to the experience. The students are still asking whether Bill’s Ben Franklin was real!!

When I ask them about the visit, they describe the funny comments that were made, the incredible illustrations that they saw, and give your exact responses to their questions. Even the ordering and signing of books worked out perfectly! I am truly able to say that your visit was memorable to the students and staff . . . all the teachers are still talking about it. You can count on me to recommend you to my school media specialist friends as a surefire hit for their students. Thank you for a wonderful day at the Dr. Albert Bean and John H. Glenn Elementary Schools.

Collingdale Community School

I work in a special program for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, and Gene Barretta spoke at my school after the release of “Now and Ben”. He talked about the book, sharing it with the students, then showed them how he drew some of his characters.
The students were enthralled with the presentation and talked about meeting Mr. Barretta and seeing his work. Mr. Barretta spoke to the students in a way they could relate to, and he made the presentation fun and engaging for them. The experience for the students was positive and enlightening, and Mr. Barretta gave the students a new experience that they continued to talk about for weeks after the presentation.

Debra Goldberg

Aronimink Elementary

Our students (and faculty) really enjoyed Mr. Barretta’s visit.  He was so very informative while being kid-friendly.  Adding the surprise of Mr. Franklin was just the icing on the cake!  They are a winning duo!

Kate Dwojeski

Aronimink Elementary School Librarian

Coordinator of Upper Darby School District Libraries