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The Tortoise shares his vision with East Holmes youth at Young Authors Day

Author and illustrator Peter Raymundo shared his vision and inspiration with the fourth, fifth and sixth grade students during the recent Young Authors Day at Hiland High School. Raymundo used the analogy of the tortoise and the hare to encourage the kids to pursue their dreams with a passion.

Dave Mast

In today’s world kids can choose to be the hare and be lazy, uninspired and careless, or they can opt to be the tortoise, the one who strives hard to meet goals, works until the job is done and is passionate about the goals set in life.

For Peter Raymundo the slow and steady pace of the tortoise suits just fine.

Raymundo is an author and illustrator who originally hails from Ohio. He has become accomplished at his trades, and his body of work speaks volumes as to the success he has experienced.

Raymundo has worked on some of the most beloved children’s animated movies. “The Lion King,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “Mulan,” “Tarzan” and “The Emperor’s New Groove” mark just some of the titles of which he has been a part of creating. He now is part of the Disney team, where he continues to help bring to life the many beloved characters from his home in Florida.

However, it was by mere luck that he wound up coming to speak at East Holmes at the East Holmes Young Authors Day.

Having done some of his finest work for the book, “Monkey Goes Bananas,” he felt the book was perhaps worthy of a much-sought-after Ralph Caldecott Medal, an honor that gets handed out each year to children’s book authors and illustrators who capture the imagination of the nation’s youngsters through their work.

The book did not earn the prized medal, but one day out of curiosity Raymundo Googled his name and Caldecott together. To his surprise several different stories came up including one from East Holmes.

Winesburg and Mt. Hope principal Dan McKey said they had the classes at Mt. Hope and Winesburg vote on a mock Caldecott Award for their schools, and “Monkey Goes Bananas” was tabbed as the winner.

That story somehow made it to Raymundo.

“I basically called the school district office just to see if there was a way I could thank whoever put that together,” Raymundo said. “The secretary there knew about it and directed me to Mr. McKey.”

The two men talked and soon found out that they shared a massive passion for children’s literature. The conversation eventually turned to the possibility of Raymundo coming to East Holmes for a young author’s series.

Having grown up just over an hour from Amish Country, Raymundo gladly accepted the offer.

“I was very excited to have the opportunity to share with the youth of East Holmes and especially for the chance to thank them for giving me such an honor,” Raymundo said. “It’s not as good as winning the actual Caldecott Award, but it was still awfully cool.”

On Friday, Oct. 14 Raymundo sat signing books in the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center at Hiland High School as the fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from all of the elementary schools throughout East Holmes filed in.

There Raymundo spoke humbly of his gifts and the opportunities he has been afforded in participating in some wildly popular children’s favorites.

“I am so grateful that these young people thought that much of my book,” Raymundo said, addressing the young crowd at the Reese Center.

Raymundo could have focused on himself and talked about the process of cel animation, creating books and learning how to become a better artist, but instead his main focus was on the ability to pursue a dream and to never let doubts and naysayers stop each young person there from pursuing what they are most passionate about.

He used the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” as a prime example of creating the will to persevere.

“You want to be like that tortoise,” Raymundo said to the young people. “You want to have the dream and the desire to go after what you want in life. That tortoise wanted to win the race, and despite everything stacked against him, he went for it.”

Raymundo said he never felt he was special. He always thought there were many people as talented and creative as he is. However, he noted that the one big difference between himself and many others is that he never stopped striving to make his dream a reality.

“You can be that tortoise, or you can be the hare,” Raymundo said to the students. “You have to make that decision. Be that tortoise. Don’t ever stop. Don’t be arrogant like the hare was. Don’t be lazy. Don’t go to sleep during the race, and you can win. The only way kids can make their dreams a reality is through hard work and commitment to make it happen. The tortoise never stopped trying to reach his dreams, and I think that has always been the one thing that I felt separated me from a lot of people. I just never gave up and always kept trying. We all have that choice to make: to be the tortoise or the hare.”

Doing a job he loves and working in the knowledge that he is bringing joy and excitement to myriads of youth keeps Raymundo passionate about what he does. Perhaps that is the biggest connection between himself and McKey.

“I know he feels very fortunate and blessed to be able to do what he is doing, and I feel the same way,” McKey said of his job as an educator and principal. “We both get to work with young people, and that is exciting.”

Published: October 28, 2016
New Article ID: 2016710289978