May St. student repeats as t-shirt artist

The 100 Book Club t-shirt is a virtual school uniform at May Street Elementary, and Zoe Kimball is the resident designer.

For the second year, the fifth-grade artist’s drawing has been chosen for t-shirts that cloth the school’s popular literacy development program. Zoe most likes to draw people, but the 2003-04 symbol will be a gorilla who encourages kids to “Go bananas for books.”

That kind of enthusiasm is what the 100 Book Club is all about. To earn a shirt, kids read for hours to earn the colorful shirts, and then wear them proudly once they have documented they’ve read 100 books.

On any given day, starting shortly before winter break, the shirts are a common sight as students wear the current edition or one from a previous year. Many students are known to read 300 or 400 books in a year, based on records signed by parents. Last year, students chose Zoe’s pig drawing and “Go Hog Wild For Books” slogan.

“The students and staff all vote, and they don’t know who the artists are,” said librarian Sue Mason. “Each year it seems like the kids have such varied opinions about what they like the best.” All students can enter drawings. Each October a staff committee reviews the submissions and pares them to 10 finalists which are then posted in the hallway for blind voting.

This year’s friendly ape will make its appearance in early December. In the 15 or so years that student drawings have been selected for the shirts, no one has ever repeated, Mason said.

“I felt bad at first,” Zoe said, “because I had friends in it (the contest) and I didn’t want them to feel bad, but I also feel kind of excited.” Two friends were with Zoe when they learned she had won. How did her friends take it?

“They were happy for me,” she said.

Zoe draws every day, and keeps a portfolio of all her work, with the help of her mother, Alice, who serves as an artist in residence at the school. Zoe said her father, Jim, also likes to draw. Zoe has an older sister, Ryan, 13. It was her mother who suggested that Zoe’s first draft of the gorilla was “too serious.”

“She was right that it needed to more of a cartoon,” Zoe said. This was the third year Zoe entered; as a third grader she chose a frog that said, “Ribbit, Read-it.”

Sale of scrip pays for the 100 Book Club t-shirts in the past. Scrip are coupons redeemable at selected stores with a portion of purchases — usually five percent — going to the school. This year, G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe will pay for half the cost in exchange for its logo on the back, Mason said.

When not drawing, Zoe prefers to read fantasy stories, and has read about 25 books this year. Her goal is 175.

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