Andrea Torrey Balsara, Children's & Young Adult Author/Illustrator, Motivational Speaker
Award-Winning Author and Illustrator for Children & Young Adults
Andrea Torrey Balsara has published books for young children up to young adults, sometimes working as a writer, sometimes as an illustrator, and sometimes as both. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, and has taken at least a million art workshops, but is primarily a self-taught artist. She has an eclectic background, having worked as an American Sign Language Interpreter, as a school bus driver, and a zombie office worker. Back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, she even attended theatre school in London, England.
In her presentations to school children, Andrea adds music and theater (finally, the training paid off!) to express the joy of creativity. Andrea is a firm believer in empowering young people to think for themselves, which is reflected in each of her books and presentations. She lives in an old Victorian manor house with her husband and family, where she can often be found in her cold attic of a workroom, pretending to be the heroine from Jane Eyre as she writes and draws with frozen fingers. Her picture book, Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, was a Gittle List winner, a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and is Story Monsters Approved! Andrea writes for young adults under the name A.T. Balsara. Her YA book, The Great & the Small, was listed in the The Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books magazine for Spring 2018, and was also a finalist in the 12th annual National Indie Excellence Awards.
The most important thing the author wants readers to gain from her books:
I want to inspire young people to think for themselves, and to dig deep to find the resilience and treasures that lay within.
Why the author is an authority on the subject of her books:
I have been writing and illustrating for over 20 years, and have done presentations to young people for almost as long. For my workshop/presentation for adults, "Zen and the Art of Rejection," I have almost 50 years of experience with mental health challenges, and have learned to not only manage them, but more importantly, to find the gifts these challenges hold within them.
Speaking Engagements and School Presentations:
READINGS: Readings are best done to smaller groups, but larger groups can be accommodated. For little ones (Junior and Senior Kindergarten), sessions can be split into two 25-minute sessions. Usual length for one session is 55 minutes. Andrea's fees can be found at www.torreybalsara/honoriums.
YO, HO, HO, and a Visit from Greenbeard the Pirate Pig! (for ages 4-10): Young piggywinkles will enjoy a romp with Greenbeard! Andrea will read the story, Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, ending with a rousing pirate shanty. Participants will learn how to do their very best, "AAaaarrrr," and "AHOY!" and "AVAST!" and will learn how to sing like a pirate! A rollicking good time, followed by Q & A. One 25-minute session is perfect for little ones who have trouble sitting still; schools can have two 25-minute sessions back to back. One 55 minute session includes a demonstration of illustrating techniques and the basics of the book illustrating process. Movement activities are interspersed so that wee piggywinkles don't get too wiggly!
The Hero's Journey (for ages 12 and up): Through storytelling, and readings from Andrea's books, including her most recent, the young adult illustrated novel, The Great & the Small, students will learn to unlock the power of their own potential. They will be able to draw connections between the stories and heroes they love in literature, film, and pop culture, and their relevance to their own lives. Especially powerful for young people dealing with loss, trauma, and anxiety.
*Other empowerment workshops/presentations can be crafted for your school/class.
UNITY ROCKS! Getting Excited About Diversity! (for ages 4-12): Through drama, storytelling, and music, young people work together in an atmosphere of acceptance, hope, and action to help them discover the power of “unity in diversity.” Interactive, and great fun! Andrea's picture book, The Nightingale's Song, will be read, songs about unity will be sung (with guitar accompaniment!), and children of all backgrounds and ethnicities will feel like they belong.
Oh, HAPPY DAYS!! (can be adapted for all ages): In this presentation, Andrea wears her illustrator hat. Reading from the Happy the Pocket Mouse series, Andrea will demonstrate how to construct a cartoon character. Perfect for young artists! The presentation can be expanded to include elements from the workshop, "Drawing From the Inside Out," making it adaptable for all age groups.
WORKSHOPS: (Workshops are limited to 30 students at a time, with a 90-minute minimum, depending upon the ages of participants. All workshops will be adapted according to participants' ages. Ages 8 and up. All art supplies and paper are to be provided by the school/program; the list of supplies will be sent to the school/program in advance.)
Drawing From the Inside Out: A drawing workshop where participants will learn basic drawing elements and techniques, explore movement and feeling in their own art, and create pieces of art that reflect their unique approach.
Writing from the Heart: How to Write What You Love: In this writing workshop, participants learn how to write about what matters to them using writing exercises, music, and writing prompts.
Wearing TWO HATS: Being Author AND Illustrator: A workshop where participants will learn the elements of story writing, create their own cartoon characters, use a storyboard to lay out illustrations, and create their own comic page (for longer sessions, participants can create their own small, illustrated book).
Zen and the Art of Rejection (for adult audiences — can be for small or large groups): In this workshop/presentation, participants will learn that "failure" and the "death" of dreams can actually pave the way to balance and contentment. As someone who has experienced severe clinical depression in the past, and continues to manage PTSD, Andrea shares lessons learned and gently guides others to shift their perspectives to view hardships as opportunities. Useful for people in all fields and walks of life, but particularly so for writers/creatives. Can be adapted for any audience.
Willing to travel