Jennifer Griffin (5th Grade Teacher, East Moriches Elementary) As an educator I was so impressed with the way the book was written and illustrated so perfectly to grab a child’s attention while sharing very important life lessons. Michael’s delivery was such an important part of the visit as he enthusiastically shared his story of becoming an author and likely inspired many of my students to pursue writing. He further brought to life the many lessons in the book, such as teamwork, respect and perseverance, as well as the perfectly integrated information about each of Benjamin’s animal friends.

Jean Kanas (2nd Grade Teacher, Jericho Elementary School):  As Michael began reading his book he quickly captured the audience’s attention. The book was rich with figurative language and beautiful and bold illustrations. Michael used various sounds and voices to make the animals come alive. Throughout Benjamin Birdie’s journey, Michael brought awareness of endangered species from around the world. After listening to this heartfelt story, the teachers unanimously knew this book would become a valuable mentor text. We loved that this text could be used for both fiction and nonfiction lessons. The author cleverly included a full and informative animal appendix and glossary. Michael did a wonderful and in-depth presentation and donated several books to our school community. Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight is a beautiful book for all ages to read and enjoy while learning the importance of friendship and perseverance. Our school is anxiously waiting to hear and read more from this creative and talented new author.

Dawn Orban (Director, Saint Mark’s Bright Beginnings Preschool):  The children love to listen to Michael read and are mesmerized by the illustrations. It is not always easy to find an author that can read to preschoolers and keep them engaged but Michael has a special gift and listens to all of their questions and answers them with a smile on his face! It has been our pleasure to spend time with him and we look forward to having him come back to our program when his next book is ready to be shared.

Emily Peterson (Librarian at East Moriches UFSD):  East Moriches UFSD was fortunate to have Michael Dotsikas, author of Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight. This lovely story about one determined little bird teaches the importance of perseverance. Our students had read the book prior to Michael’s visit in anticipation of his visit. Upon his arrival, the students and teachers were excited and Michael did not disappoint. He shared his story of how Benjamin Birdie came to be while commuting to his NYC office, and how he collaborated with the illustrator to bring his text and vision to life. Informational text is weaved in the story lending itself to inquiry and research as well. I would highly recommend Michael as a visiting author!

Brigid Lovito (Reading Consultant at Oak Park Elementary, Brentwood UFSD):  It was truly an honor to have Michael Dotsikas visit my school! From the minute he arrived it was evident what a truly professional author he is and his love of children. The students were captivated by his presentation and loved hearing how he developed the idea for his book, Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight. The story goes along with our “Growth Mindset” and “bucket-filling” philosophies that we have adopted in our school. The book is beautifully illustrated and mixes fiction with facts about animals. His use of literary devices such as onomatopoeia, rhyme and alliteration lends itself to be used as a mentor text. The theme of friendship is woven through the text masterfully.