Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Twitterville Talk #115

What can I say?  It's been a wild and crazy week.  Twitter is a reflection of all that educators, authors, illustrators and book people love.  It's all about the children's literature community, best practices and creating life-long learners.  Have a restful Labor Day weekend.  Take time for reading and look for the giveaways.




  Four months are still left in 2013 but people are already looking down the road at 2014 releases.  Some titles to note--2014: It's Never Too Early to Get Excited

Thanks to Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library Youth Materials Collection Specialist and blogger at A Fuse #8 Production for this post and tweet.





Are you ready for this week's book trailers?  They are as varied as the authors who write the books.  Don't be surprised.

























Don't forget to jot down this date, March 5, 2014. It's World Read Aloud Day and this earlier date, October 3, 2013, Read For The Record.  And of course the date for the next #SharpSchu Book Club (Follow the link for all the great info.)

Are you ready for the premiere of The Watsons Go to Birmingham airing on September 20, 2013 on the Hallmark Channel?

Every resourceful, Mr. Schu posted a letter Donalyn Miller featured on her blog in 2010 which was sent home, Dear Parents: At-Home Reading.

Harry Potter, 15 Years Later: J. K. Rowling Speaks!  Who does she miss the most?




Don't loose this link for Mr. Schu's Book Release Calendar.

Great list of back to school books for those not quite ready, Bouncing Back to School: Great Books for Easing First Day Jitters
To the first person who can tell me the title of Robert Neubecker's book I will send a copy of I Loathe You written and illustrated by David Slonim.  Please send me a DM on Twitter or leave your answer in the comments below. (This title has been won.)

Thank you John Schumacher, teacher librarian, 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, 2014 Newbery Award Medal Committee member, co-host of the monthly #SharpSchu Book Club on Twitter, and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. for all of this weeks tweets.



Having enjoyed the creativity of book sculpture in the past Carving Culture: Sculptural Masterpieces Made From Old Books is an interesting look at a new book.

You have to take a minute to read this love letter E. B. White wrote to his wife as if Daisy their dog were writing it.

Thanks to Brain Pickings for these tweets and posts.





Teaching with technology has allowed collaboration between teachers to increase by leaps and bounds, not only in your own building but in other states and countries.  Here are several ideas, 5 Amazing Ways To Collaborate With Another Class.

Thanks to Kim Campbell, educator for this tweet.



Here's a great visual for elements in story, The Story Coaster.


Thanks to Michell Haseltine, educator and blogger at Crayons and Pencils for this tweet.



A word from Terry Shay on his blog about creativity and International Dot Day.

Have you seen these imaginative pieces of art at Celebri-Dots this week from Kirby Larson, Kristi Valiant, Barbara O'Connor, Bonnie Becker, Cynthia Lord and Russ Cox.
To the first person who can tell me which dot features the most sea glass I will send a copy of Have Fun, Molly Lou Mellon written by Patty Lovell with illustrations by David Catrow.  Leave your answer in the comments below or please send me a DM on Twitter. (This has been won.)

Thanks to Terry, educator, college adjunct, FableVision Learning Ambassador and blogger at TJ On a Journey for this post and this tweet.





I try to be really careful when it comes to copyright.  Check out these 7 Excellent Resources For Public Domain Pictures Every Teacher Should Know About.

Thanks to teacher librarian, 2012 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, ALA/NYT I Love My Librarian Winner, co-founder of #levelupbc and blogger at The Adventures of Library Girl Jennifer LaGarde, for this tweet.




I've been seeing quite a few tweets the past couple of weeks about creating classroom websites using Weebly.  Check out this post, How to Create a Website With Weebly.



Thanks to educator, presenter and blogger at Free Technology For Teachers, Richard Byrne for this post and tweet.








ATTENTION...ATTENTION...Don't forget to follow the chat on Twitter Monday September 3, 2013 with the amazing, master storyteller and author, Sharon Creech.  Follow the hashtag #newbookout.  It will air at 8:00 PM EST.

Thanks to author Sharon Creech who also writes beautiful blog posts at Words We Say for this tweet.  Her website can be found at this link; it's loaded with resources.




Last Sunday Twitter was hot with #titletalk hosted by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp.  Here is the archive of that chat.  It's jam-packed with ideas and insights.

Thanks to Cindy Minnich, educator and blogger at Charting By the Stars for gathering all our tweets.





There's not a day that goes by without me wishing I have mastered the art of  teleportation.  Who wouldn't want to visit Lello Bookstore:  The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World?
To the first person who can tell me the location (city and country) of the Lello Bookstore I will send a copy of The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck written by Laura Murray with illustrations by Mike Lowery.  Please leave your answer in the comments below or send it to me via DM on Twitter. (This title has been won.)

Thanks to Book Riot for this tweet and post.




I have a new place to visit thanks to Travis Jonker.  This week he shared Zen Pencils Cartoon Quotes From Inspirational Folks.  The cartoonist is Bill Watterson.  It's fantastic.  I'm not kidding.  I really mean it.

Back-To-School Reading list from The Horn Book is a winner.


Thank you, Travis, teacher librarian, 2014 Caldecott Medal Committee member and blogger at 100 Scope Notes for this tweet.







Have you listened to this week's podcast feature, Let's Get Busy with author Bridget Heos ?

Thank you to Matthew C. Winner, elementary library media specialist, 2013 Library Journal Tech Leader, co-founder of #levelupbc and blogger at The Busy Librarian for this tweet.




There is just no excuse for not having decorative and informative visuals in your libraries and classrooms.  Be sure to visit Fall decorating: a round-up of smart (and free) posters.


Thanks to teacher librarian, technology integrationist, and blogger, Donna Macdonald for this tweet.






I plan on spending time this weekend listening to the rest of this evening chat between Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman in conversation.

Thank to Neil Gaiman for this tweet.




This is a timely and very good video about online safety for our younger students.

Thanks to Debbie Alvarez, teacher librarian in Hong Kong and blogger at The Styling Librarian for this tweet and post.









Here's another link to visit each week, A Website A Week  It's a commitment and we are the lucky readers.



Thanks to author Amy Krouse Rosenthal for this endeavor and this tweet.



I can't stop laughing at the illustrations in Dan Santat's books.  He has another one being released.  Here is the book trailer.



Thanks to Dan Santat for this tweet.








This is for all of you---Calling All Teachers: A Picture Book Month Special Request


Thanks to Maria Burel, classroom teacher, teacher librarian, author and blogger Once Upon a Story at for this tweet.







Enjoy my gathered quotes and tweets from this week. (I think Xena's been typing on my computer again lately.)























Friday, August 30, 2013

He's On The Run Helping Heroes

Heroes appear everywhere, everyday; the spotlight shining on some more than others.  To the recipient of those actions though, one is no more important than another.  When asking children what they would like to be when they grow up, a small voice will always shout firefighter.  At least one comes trick-or-treating to my home every year.

Unlike living in a highly populated area near larger cities, where I live, when the alarm is given over their radios, volunteers in trucks with flashing lights leave neighboring townships and the city proper to converge on the fire station downtown or in a township.  Although the sirens mean someone needs assistance, people take comfort when they see these men and women responding.  Like our younger students who visit the fire station each spring, our favorite cookie character from The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School is traveling with his class on a field trip.  The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck (G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., January 27, 2013) written by Laura Murray with illustrations by Mike Lowery is another running, rhyming romp introducing readers to hometown heroes.

On a bright Monday morning, my teacher breezed in.

Her initial announcement is met with a chorus of cheers from classmates one and all. They are taking a bus to meet the firefighters at Company Four and their canine teammate, Spot.  Hopping into a backpack the Gingerbread Man comes along in comfort.

Arriving at the station students listen and learn but the Gingerbread Man is shaken about so much he pops out of the pocket landing right on Spot's nose.  Catching a whiff and taking a taste of this superb sweetness, the pooch prepares for the big gulp.  With a leap Gingerbread Man is speeding quickly into the station with the determined Dalmatian hot on his heels.

Weaving among the students trying on gear, quick as a wink, the trotting treat takes a seat in the fire truck.  Barely taking time to enjoy his escape, the fascination of the dashboard and steering wheel capture the Gingerbread Man's attention.  Before long he is able to explore some more, climbing a nearby pole, jumping on beds and peeking into the firefighter's kitchen with lunch steaming from a simmering pot.

WOOO goes the alarm.  Firefighters spring into action; the Gingerbread Man does too.  Hanging on as tight as he can, he rides the truck to help fight the fire.  Our baked buddy handles the hose, pulls the nozzle and a wild, lively river of water pours out.  It's a good thing Fire Chief Anne is nearby.  It's a good thing the Gingerbread Man went along for the ride.  Heroes every one, helmets all around!  He's the Gingerbread Man, he runs, he rides, he turns the tide!


When it comes to writing rhymes, Laura Murray places winning combinations in her sentences, never forced but full of fun. Her lively language takes readers on a tour of the fire station, the tools used by the firefighters and the every day action using the Gingerbread Man's race from Spot as the ideal recipe for exciting exploration.  Alternating between a narrative and character conversations Murray welcomes participation by readers.  Here is one of her passages.

Spot wasn't there--
a sure sign of good luck.
So I slipped down the pole
and then jumped on the truck.

"I'll ride to the rescue
as fast as I can.
I want to help, too! I'm the
GINGERBREAD MAN! 

Now I ask you, look at that Gingerbread Man perched on the fire hydrant, hands on hips outside the fire station. How can you resist this cute little guy wearing a firefighter's helmet from Company Four?  The front jacket and cover allude to the potential problem of Spot but the back cover makes it clear Dalmatian trouble is in our spicy friend's future.  A rustic red, a shade of the fire truck color, covers the opening and closing endpapers with white outline sketches of the Gingerbread Man scattered across both.

Rendered in ink, traditional screen printing and digital color, Mike Lowery's crisp graphics convey the storyline with clarity and the characters' actions with engaging energy.  With loosely sketched panels separating the action on many of the pages and dialogue appearing in speech bubbles this has the partial feel of a comic blended with frameless single and double page spreads.  In a sequence of pictures Lowery brings readers into the story by zooming in and out on particular elements in the action.  One of my favorite illustrations is the Gingerbread Man sitting behind the wheel of the huge fire truck pretending to drive.


The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck written by Laura Murray with illustrations by Mike Lowery is a rhythmic adventure through an important fixture in our communities, highlighting what one can find in a fire station, on a fire truck and the people dedicated to serving others.  As an introduction to Fire Prevention Week, a field trip or a visit by firefighters, this title is a treasure.  A poster is included in a back pocket with four panels of activities on one side and the Gingerbread Man giving guidance when there's smoke on the other.

Please follow the links embedded above to the author and illustrator websites. Here is a link to a printable teacher's guide.  John Schumacher invited author Laura Murray to his site Watch. Connect. Read. for an author interview.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

With A Single Step

Never having been a believer in coincidences when this tweet appeared in my feed I knew there was only one thing to do.

It was time to review a book I read before going to sleep several weeks ago.  When I finished this book, I simply held it in my arms.  I've had a couple books this year I've hugged after reading them; their stories were so endearing but this book I held was different.  It was filled with possibilities.  I did not want any of them to escape.

For my older dog, several times a day her journey is to struggle to her feet, slowly move about the house, walk to the door, around the yard and, on good days, maybe a block down the street.  One evening this week two rabbits were playing a hopping game of tag in my front yard.  Their particular playful journey was spontaneous, the stuff of fairy.  Every night just before it gets too dark to see, a neighbor walks around the subdivision two or three times, trying to rehabilitate a knee after surgery, making a journey toward better health.  A fallen leaf, a stone upon a sandy beach or a penny dropped from a pocket are all on a journey.

Perhaps one of the best journeys of all is the one taking you to a library.  Within those walls are an infinite number of journeys; combinations of books and readers.  To open Journey  (Candlewick Press, August 6, 2013), a wordless picture book, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker is to step on a path of power, the power of imagination.

Unfolding the jacket of Journey we see on our left a rich red flowing to the spine.  The only other color is three decorative, ornate lanterns in shades of blue hanging from the top, three moths flying about those lanterns.  As our eyes drift right, to the front, the same red is used in three elements, contrasting with a castle straight out of a dream.  The black cloth cover is bare except for an embossed hot air balloon carrying a single passenger.

Opening and closing endpapers in a subdued shade of the red are patterned in adventurous modes of travel; hot air balloon, train, motor car, Viking ship, three-masted schooner, air ship, airplane, submarine and maybe even a space vehicle.  They are a blend of history and fantasy.  On the title page our traveler moves down the city street on her bright red scooter beneath tree branches, a blue lantern hanging down, a blend of the here and now with a hint of the magic to come.

We follow her as she sits on the steps of her house, head and hands resting on her knees.  A cutaway of the rooms in her home show her mother cooking in the kitchen, her father at work upstairs in his study in front of a computer and her sister lying on the couch watching a digital device.  Three smaller illustrations picture her asking each to go outside with her riding on the scooter, flying a kite or playing with a ball.

Then alone except for the company of her cat, she sits on the bed in her room.  When the cat leaves she spies a red marker on the floor.  Drawing a door on the wall, she is able to open it and step from a tree trunk into the lush greenness of a forest strung with lights and those same hanging blue lanterns.  Using the stream meandering through as a map, she walks to the end of a dock.

A small rowboat drifts along with the current into a castle with turrets, waterfalls and raised waterways, taking readers along with the girl into the realm of Pallonezia.  A hot air balloon floats among the clouds and airships. A rarity is captured and rescued.  The favor is returned.  Flight on a carpet takes her back through another doorway to the streets of her city. A friend awaits...a friend careful readers will have noticed in the very beginning.


Rendered in watercolor, pen and ink the illustrations of Aaron Becker create a luminous landscape unlike any other.  Sepia tones are used to delineate the girl's world except for the bright splashes of red, in stunning contrast to the world encountered on the other side of the doorway; spectacular in color, detail and viewpoint.  He also chooses to shift from full color edge to edge illustrations to those placed upon a white background to place emphasis on the importance of the circumstances as when the girl draws.

From a bird's eye panoramic view, moving in closer and closer, until a scene unfolds as if we are the girl, these illustrations request us to be part of the storytelling.  Details from the city appear again as fixtures in the other world.  How many can you find?  Each of the illustrations are integral parts of a beautiful whole.  With that being said, my favorite may be when she enters the forest through the red doorway, you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, something very special is about to begin.


Journey written and illustrated by Aaron Becker is one of those books, where from time to time, you need to stop and remind yourself to breathe.  Like so much in life, even the end hints at the beginning of yet another journey.  I will gladly be placing this title with others on my Mock Caldecott list.

Please follow the link embedded in Aaron Becker's name above to visit his website.  Follow this link to a publisher Q & A with Creator Aaron Becker. Julie Danielson from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast interviews Aaron Becker at Kirkus about Journey and again at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Here is some artwork with a short commentary on Tumblr from Aaron Becker about his process.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, John!

This year on June 11, 2013 I had one of the best birthdays I have ever had.  I did not go anyplace special or do anything out of the ordinary but when I was visiting all the blogs I read each day, I saw a heading that read Happy Birthday, Margie!  You would think after all these years nothing would surprise me but I was indeed surprised.  To this day I am deeply appreciative of the kindness extended to me by the one and only John Schumacher, Mr. Schu.

He is a beacon to each and every one of us in the teacher librarian community, a constant source of inspiration to all educators hoping to pass on their love of reading, books and integrating technology into their classrooms.  Each day our Twitter feed is filled with his links, hints and advisories.  Each of us are collectively his colleagues and his patrons.

His blog, Watch. Connect. Read. features book trailers, author, illustrator and educator interviews, current and upcoming events in his library, highlights before and after the monthly #SharpSchu Book Club, he and Colby Sharp's weekly Newbery chats, videos, resources and so much more.  We lucky people have followed he and his friend, teacher librarian Donna, on their numerous summer road trips.  John has a passionate purpose to share his love of books and reading with every single person he meets by giving away books to as many people as he can, especially the Newbery Award Medal book, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.    He is currently serving on the 2014 Newbery Medal Award committee.

Today on his birthday he begins another adventure as a member of the committee for selecting the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.  I hope all of you will join me and shout out a Happy Birthday to John so he can hear it loud and clear in New York City.  John, I, too, am thankful every day to call you my friend.

To celebrate John's Birthday I am giving away five of his favorite kind of picture books, wordless.  The titles below  Bluebird, Flora and the Flamingo, Journey, The Boy and the Airplane and Inside, Outside have been featured on his blog, some several times.

Remember:

  • You must be 13 years or older to participate.
  • This giveaway will run from 12:00 AM EST on August 28, 2013 until 12:00 AM on August 29, 2013. 
  • Take time for reading





Wishing you the best birthday ever, John and thank you for everything.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From The Market

As much as I love the summer, the end of summer along with the beginning of autumn is one of my favorite times of the year.  Visiting the farmers' markets, seeing all the fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers on display, for me, is like walking through magic.  When you think about it, everything in the surrounding stalls and tents came from the tiniest of seeds, nurtured by man and nature; a precarious partnership, the one always at the mercy of the other.

Another of life's magic, never failing to cause me to pause in wonder, is looking at the world through the eyes of a child.  What may or may not capture their attention, their interpretation, is a thing of marvelous mystery.  Sophie's Squash (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, August 6, 2013) written by debut author, Pat Zietlow Miller with illustrations by Anne Wilsdorf explores a charming friendship lasting from season to season, one year to the next.

One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at
the farmers' market.


What Sophie's parents did not know at the time is that Sophie is not looking at the squash as a side dish for supper, she is looking at it as the right size for so many things.  At home in her bedroom she draws a face on the squash, a smiling face.  Sophie is smiling on the inside and outside too.

In the kitchen her mother takes one look at the squash knowing it will not be a part of the evening meal.  Sophie names it Bernice.  From that moment Sophie and Bernice are inseparable; trips to the library, the same farmers' market and somersaulting down the hills in the garden.  Like a favorite doll she tucks Bernice in at night in her own cradle.

One morning, Sophie's mother casually suggests Bernice may be getting mushy soon; she believes Bernice will be delicious cooked with marshmallows.  Horrified Sophie begs Bernice not to listen to such nonsense.  None of her parent's suggestions for possible places for Bernice or substitutes for Bernice can weaken Sophie's resolve to keep her friend forever.

Sophie is indignant at the library story time when boys and girls point out Bernice's expanding blotches.  She has to admit as cooler weather descends Bernice lacks her usual vigor.  Sophie decides to seek the advise of a professional back at the farmers' market.  Inquiries made and answered she heads home.

Going to Bernice's favorite spot outside Sophie makes sure she does all necessary to bring Bernice back to good health.  Winter snows come followed by the new life of the changing season.  Bernice flourishes through spring into summer giving Sophie a surprise; friends forever.


Pat Zietlow Miller has created an endearing character in Sophie.  Her devotion to Bernice through the seasons, defending her, doing what is best for her, even though it means they must be apart for awhile, is utterly charming.  Sophie's parents are supportive in her fascination with Bernice even though they try to dissuade her gently, if only to spare her future disappointments.  These two sentences are only a sample of their kindness.

"I call her Bernice," Sophie said.
"I'll call for a pizza," said her mother.

There is a cadence to Miller's writing; using right size in sequential sentences, wrapped and rocked in a single sentence, thought and events structured in threes. Whether read silently or aloud it flows like a soft breeze wrapping its warmth around the reader.  Throughout the narrative a familiar and familial humor softly permeates.

Every night, Sophie gave Bernice a bottle, a hug, and a kiss.
"Well, we did hope she'd love vegetables," Sophie's mother told her father.
"Shhhhhhh," Sophie said, "Bernice is sleeping."


As stated in an interview illustrator Anne Wilsdorf believes the cover, endpapers and body of the book contribute to the world of the book.  All are important to the reader's entry into that world.  Her illustrations rendered in watercolor, ink and China ink are an open window into a light and lively story.  Her soft, warm colors, fine lines, varied visual size and perspective say what words do not say.

Across the front and back dust jacket and book case readers are introduced to the season, Sophie, Bernice and the ever present cat.  Opening and closing endpapers joyfully feature Sophie in forty-three different playful poses with her squash and company.  The upturned noses, wide circular eyes and mouths expressing emotion on all the characters and critters (even the stuffed animals) will have readers falling in love with them all.

I think my favorite illustration besides the garden tea party is the double-page spread of Sophie's bedroom which illustrates the phrase above.  The attention to detail is superb; Sophie's drawings of Bernice on the wall, the drawing of her cat on the floor, the cat chasing a butterfly in the room, a stuffed mouse toy looking at a stuffed cat toy in a cage on top of her armoire, Bernice in her cradle with a doll buggy next to it, the homemade rabbit next to the stuffed rabbit toy and Sophie's parents bending over her.  It's precious.


Let me add my praise without reservation to the four starred reviews( Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly) Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller with illustrations by Anne Wilsdorf has received to date.  It's a tale of loving friendship, life's changes and parental patience.  I can't think of a single bookshelf that won't want to have a copy of this title resting easy among all the other titles to be removed frequently and read repeatedly.

I encourage you to follow the links above to learn more about both the author, the illustrator and the publication of this book.  Follow this link to the publisher website to get a glimpse at more of the illustrations.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Use Extreme Caution

After fourteen years living in northern Michigan you would think I would be used to the wind; more days are windy than not.  As a weather nerd (I frequently check NOAA National Weather Service to follow local, state and national weather) I've noticed this year in addition to Small Craft Advisories or Gale Warnings, a new type of alert, Beach Hazards Statement.  This advises people to watch for high wave action, longshore currents and rip currents.  People know wind combined with these headlines are serious.


There are other times when an alert, advisory or warning is an invitation to do the exact opposite of the request.  Perhaps you or someone else are doing something particularly annoying; one or the other will utter these oft-heard words, "I'm warning you, ..."  To the frustration of one, the other continues with glee.  The very finest demands to ignore though are found within the pages of a book.  Every single page turn in Warning: Do Not Open This Book! (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) narrated by Adam Lehrhaupt with illustrations by Matthew Forsythe is a tantalizing temptation.

Maybe you should put this book back.
You don't want to let the monkeys out.

Immediately you are wondering how and why monkeys got trapped inside a book.  You are compelled beyond your control to turn the next page.  This completed compulsion is greeted with a question.

The narrator is inquiring as to why you are here and not back where it is safer.  If you stay on this page, you are still in a risk-free area.  It would be a very good thing to remain right where you are.

Desire to discover the truth has deepened.  What's the worst that could happen?  It's a book after all.  Right?

Uh...Oh...

Here they come.

First one, then eight more monkeys of all shapes and sizes scamper across the pages carrying art supplies and a musical instrument.  What are these roaming rascals going to do?  It's a jungle, a rather sloppy jungle, but they've painted a jungle!  Whew, okay...this is a situation which can be handled without fear. Why are we readers being cautioned to stop turning pages?

Yikes!  I guess if you have tropical trees an invasion of toucans is a given.  Above the chaotic noise another sound is heard.  It's not a good sound....not a good sound at all.  Readers are now wishing they would have listened.  They should have heeded the advice of the faithful narrator.  Will a fruitful trap be able to save the day?


Readers could not ask for a better narrator, author, than Adam Lehrhaupt to tell this tale of playful pandemonium.  Each sentence is structured, despite words to the contrary, to entice readers to proceed.  As readers fall farther under the spell he has verbally cast, they realize there is no turning back.  Even if they could they don't want to; they're having too much fun with Lehrhaupt as the perfect partner on this adventure.


Digitally rendered illustrations by artist Matthew Forsythe enhance and extend this story from the matching front jacket and cover onward.  From the tape, chains and glaring messages on the front to the opening endpapers, the results of not taking the title seriously are clearly delineated.  A pattern of various style signs with wit and wisdom warn and question; my favorite is HERE IS THE LAST GUY WHO READ THIS BOOK with an arrow pointing to a skull.  (At this point I can barely contain laughter.)

Grays, browns, golds and greens in earth tone hues color pictures varying in size and position.  Some are front and center, others cover a single page or extend across the gutter.  Backgrounds shift from white, lots of white, to a pale golden, and to a deep gray green. Once the first monkey head peeks from the lower right-hand corner of a double-page spread  the jungle jive begins; those primates move, groove and rest with a passion.  I think one of my favorite text and illustrative combinations is

Can you stop now?
Everything used to
be so good.
Wait! Did you hear...

The two-page spread of the monkey faces close up with the accompanying toucans, wide-eyed and questioning, is loaded with premonition (and hilarity).  The closing endpapers and back jacket with corresponding cover are all part of the story, too.


Four words come to mind when thinking of Warning: Do Not Open This Book! narrated by Adam Lehrhaupt with illustrations by Matthew Forsythe, impeccable pacing and relentless humor.  Reading it aloud makes it even better.  This book is meant to be shared.  Believe me...your listeners will ask for this title over and over.  I'm tempted to pair this with James Stevenson's Don't Make Me Laugh.

Please follow the links above to the author and illustrator websites for more information about each.  Here is the link to a recent interview of Adam Lehrhaupt at Watch. Connect. Read. by John Schumacher.  Please visit the blog post of the debut of the book trailer.  Have fun and open this book at will... as long as you have a banana.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Twitterville Talk #114

Many people on Twitter have been back to school for several weeks or at least one.  The getting-ready-for-school tweets have been replaced with first week reflections.  For those starting after Labor Day much conversation centers on books being read as soon as school starts.  What will fire students up for reading the best, based on the grade they teach?  There is the welcome banter between authors and illustrators which makes readers feel more connected to them as people.  I hope everyone had a good week.  Relax this weekend.  Take time for reading.  Look for the giveaways. (There are still some left from last week too.)


Let's begin the post this week with a poster illustrating three very important components, A Must Have Poster On Digital Literacy


Thanks to Debbie Alvarez, teacher librarian working in Hong Kong and blogger at The Styling Librarian for this tweet.








Then for a little laughter this video of two guys chatting, ...said no teacher ever.


Said No Teacher Ever from First Baptist Church Loganville on Vimeo.


Thanks to Katherine Sokolowski, teacher and blogger at Read, Write, Reflect for this tweet.






With International Dot Day coming up make sure you take the time to visit Celebri-Dots to see the new dots posted this week by Steve Shaskan, Susan Verde, Sharon Creech, Kelly Light, and Lynn Plourde.


Thanks to Terry Shay, teacher, college adjunct, FableVision Learning Ambassador, and blogger at TJ On a Journey for these tweets.






More laughter for those of us who can't get enough books or time for reading, 17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand

Here's the first full trailer for the film version of The Book Thief.

Thanks to Book Riot for these tweets.




Attention teacher librarians!  If you are looking for a solution to the problem of keeping track of book requests, this post is for you, D. I. LI(BRARY): Build Your Own Magical Book Request Machine

Look at this Neil Gaiman fans, A Look At Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book With P Craig Russell And Friends
To the first person who can tell me one of the other artists working on the graphic novel for The Graveyard Book, I will send a copy of Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems For Two Voices by Carole Gerber with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin.  Please leave your answer in the comments below or send me a DM on Twitter.(This has been won.)


Thanks to Travis Jonker, teacher librarian, 2014 Caldecott Medal Committee member and blogger at 100 Scope Notes for this post and these tweets.



Are there new book trailers this week?  Of course there are!

First head over to Mr. Schu's blog to listen to Herve Tullet read Help! We Need A Title! Then come back here to watch all of these below.
















Guess what?  Flocabulary Launches "We Heart Librarians" Contest

Clear your calendars for the 2014 ALA Youth Media Awards!


Here's another neat video to go with the new Magic Tree House book, Hurry Up, Houdini!





Only from the parents of Matilda...The "Matilda" Guide to Back-To-School: Tips from the Wormwoods




 Many thanks to John Schumacher, teacher librarian, co-host of the #SharpSchu Book Club, 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, 2014 Newbery Medal Committee member and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. for all these tweets.





Last week the #virtualbookclub met and discussed The Wig In The Window by Kristen Kittscher.  The archives of that chat are linked here.


Thanks to Niki Ohs Barnes, teacher and blogger at Daydream Reader for this tweet.






This is your big chance to ask multiple award winning author, Christopher Paul Curtis, a question for an upcoming Nerdy Book Club post.  Follow this link to complete the form.


Thanks to educator, co-host of the monthly #titletalk, co-host of the monthly #SharpSchu Book Club, co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club and blogger at sharpread, Colby Sharp for these tweets.





During a session of opening day PD this video was used in Donalyn Miller's district to encourage educators and their students to take risks.  Xena thinks this is pretty good advice.



One of the speakers during this session was Jamie Vollmer.  This is a very interesting poster he has designed on all the responsibilities added to educators since the 1900s.
To the first person who can tell me the number of responsibilities which were added in the 1980s I will send a copy of Aaron Becker's Journey.  Please send me your answer via DM on Twitter or leave it in the comments below. (This has been won.)


Set your alarms for 8PM EST Sunday for this month's #titletalk on Twitter.  It's a Back-To-School Potluck.  Bring one question and a book to share.

Many thanks to educator, co-host of the monthly #titletalk and author of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits, Donalyn Miller.






This week an exciting new facet to Google Maps was highlighted, Visit Zoos and Animal Parks Through Google Street View.  It includes ideas for using this in the classroom.

Also check out this comprehensive, A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School-81 Page Free PDF

Many thanks to educator, presenter and blogger at Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne for these tweets and posts.











Over the years throughout the world children's literature has been the focus of postage stamps.  Mail Call:  Kid Lit Stamps From Around the World

Thanks to Macmillan Kids for this tweet.





We can never remind or talk to our sons and daughters and students enough about digital citizenship.   These Digital Citizenship Flashcards would be great to begin a dialogue.



Thanks to teacher librarian and blogger at NeverEnding Search, Joyce Valenza for this tweet.






Please take the time to read this thoughtful post at the Nerdy Book Club, Reluctant or Resisting?  It's a wonderful commentary on readers in our classrooms by Ryan M. Hanna.

Thanks to the Nerdy Book Club for this tweet.






Be sure you visit this International Dot Day Connections 2013 for opportunities to connect with others.

Thanks to Matthew C. Winner, elementary library media specialist, co-founder of #levelupbc, Library Journal 2013 Tech Leader Mover & Shaker and blogger at The Busy Librarian for this tweet.



Please enjoy my collection of quotes, favorite comments and tweets from this past week.























Friday, August 23, 2013

Count? Where Are They?

We all go through life with expectations, some more obvious than others.  In the northern climes we expect to see the seasons change.  When the wind rises, lightning flashes and thunder booms, we expect to see falling raindrops.  After planting corn seed, we expect to see tall stalks with juicy ears lining the field.

When we are asked by a friend to put the silverware on the table, we expect to see forks, spoons and knives in the drawer, not screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers.  I'm here to tell you, readers, when you open the cover of Count the Monkeys (Disney Hyperion Books) by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Kevin Cornell, you can take any expectations you might have and throw them out the window.   You are lured into the pages of this book expecting to count...well...monkeys.

Hey, kids! Time to count the monkeys!
It's fun.  It's easy.  All you have to do is turn the page...

Gasp.  There are no monkeys.  In fact, a gigantic king cobra has ripped the Monkeys This Way-> sign out of the jungle ground with his dangerous tail.  This one snake, a very scary snake, is definitely not a monkey.  We are asked to turn the page ever so gently.

Instead of monkeys what do we see?  We see two mongooses chasing the slithery serpent away.  We are also asked to vote whether the plural is mongooses or mongeese by raising our hands.  What kind of book is this anyway?  And where are the monkeys we are supposed to be counting?

We turn the page hoping finally to see some monkeys but no...we see three crocodiles.  Are we ever going to see any monkeys?  Each two-page spread features a creature who banishes the previous being.  Bears, bees, beekeepers, wolves, lumberjacks, more lumberjacks and the oddest musical rhinoceroses to ever grace the pages of a book appear.

We count from one to ten and back to zero again but the monkeys we anticipated seeing have not made an appearance by the book's final page.  Perhaps we should write a letter to the author or illustrator or publisher about this visible mistake.  Or maybe we should turn the page and look at the...!


When it comes to the unexpected, when it comes to humor, Mac Barnett knows exactly which words to place on each page.  In this title it's as if he is carrying on a personal conversation with the reader.  We are not only counting everything but monkeys, we are reading his comments barely able to contain gales of laughter.  Every effort is being made to follow his instructions to the letter.  This narrative is a fine example of the participatory give and take readers love between themselves and an author.


Get ready for howling hoots and snickering snorts, Kevin Cornell's illustrations are jam-packed with characters on the move.  For starters the jacket showcases eight scampy monkeys who, if you listen closely, are making all kinds of noise.  The jacket back features the Monkeys This Way-> sign.  Different illustrations on the cover highlight eight of the critters and four frightened lumberjacks.  Apparently they don't like their proximity to the grizzly bear.  Opening endpapers usher readers into a lush tropical landscape in hues of green.

Each of the numbers is given a double-page spread alive with bold colors.  The comic expressions on the characters' faces, smiles, frowns and eyes, draw the reader into the unfolding, rollicking romp.  Added touches such as the numbered running shirts on the mongooses, top hats, canes and vests on the crocodiles, a bottle of Picno Bismal by the gulping, guzzling grizzlies, the Scottish attire on the rhinoceroses and the placement of a childhood toy, unseen until the final page, all contribute to the nonstop fun found in this title.


It's a given multiple copies will be needed.  It's a given this book will be read over and over.  It's a given Count The Monkeys written by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Kevin Cornell will be a favorite no matter the age of the reader.  Double thumbs up and high fives all around.

There are a couple of things which came to mind when reading this book.  One was this would make an outstanding readers theater.  I can see using handmade puppets or representative props.  There are enough characters so every student could participate more than once.

What continuously popped into my mind as I was reading this, based upon the unanticipated circumstances found on each page turn, was the old television show, Candid Camera.  Here's one of the older shows for your end-of-the-week, Friday enjoyment.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have No Fear, Alligator Is Here

Year after year I've stood outside the school watching the buses arrive on the first day of school, outside the library doors in the hallway or inside the library on open house night as parents and their sons and daughters arrive excited, anxious and for new students, wondering and wide-eyed.  No matter what they have read or been told, the experience is a change.  It's the not knowing, the never-been-here-before and never-done-this-before feeling, which can be overwhelming.

Each person, no matter their age, has a method in place for dealing with stress.  Quite frankly, children have the best idea of all---carrying their favorite toy with them, a friend that never fails.  The first day of school ever, starting kindergarten, is shown to be less intimidating in Oliver and his Alligator (Disney Hyperion Books) written and illustrated by Paul Schmid.  Oliver's alligator is different, very special and...agreeably hungry.

Oliver sometimes felt his brave 
wasn't nearly as big
as he needed it to be.

He decides to pick up an alligator at the swamp on his way to school for the first day.  As soon as Oliver arrives at his classroom door, the fear grows.  His mom isn't there for starters.  She has been replaced by a unknown woman who wants to know his name.  A name which escapes him at the moment.

All he can think to say is "Munch, munch!"  These two words turn out to be a code communication between him and his reptile pal.  The stranger disappears into the stomach of the alligator.  Walking into the classroom is clear now but there are new children in the room.

One, a little girl, has the misfortune to approach Oliver asking him about his favorite animal.  Overcome by shyness the only two words he can utter are..."Munch, munch!"  The belly of the gator is getting noticeably bigger.  Maybe school isn't going to be so bad after all when you've got a buddy like Oliver has.

There were more boys and girls.  Alligator is getting huge.  There are inviting educational patterns and designs on the walls.  Alligator is now ginormous.  Ah, yes...that's more to Oliver's liking, peaceful and quiet and...wait...could it be...boring?

There's a sound.  Oliver wants to be a part of the sound.  There's only one thing for Oliver to do and he does it.


The simplicity of the text, the ease in which it flows, all contribute to the appeal of this title.  Paul Schmid writes specifically for his intended audience, knowing the heart of a child on the first, very first, day of school.  In using two, single syllable words repeatedly to alleviate any problem Oliver encounters, readers can feel, like Oliver, the same sense of relief and finally a sense of belonging.

Using pastel pencil and digital color Paul Schmid creates pages where readers can be comfortable stepping into Oliver's world.  On the book's jacket the cool, soft minty green, the textured dusty blue of Oliver's sweater, the rosy red of the apple in his hands appear again on the jacket's spine.  On the front we see only the tail and the back portion of the alligator's body.  His nose and the rest of his body are on the back of the jacket looking at Oliver. When you remove the jacket the cover unfolded is all white except for three stripes of green (including the spine).  An upright alligator is on the front.

The opening and closing endpapers, in lavender with a partial circle of lighter turquoise in the lower right and left corners, respectively, are actually part of the story, as is the dedication page (For Maurice) with Oliver forlornly staring into his cereal bowl, an apple sitting on the table.  The lines used to create Oliver are soft, delicate, sketch-like; making him all the more endearing.  The same holds true for his alligator.  Readers will want to hug them both.

Throughout the book Schmid alters his layout and perspective making liberal use of white space, along with a gray, the turquoise, the alligator green, the lavender, the rosy red, introducing a lime green and spots of pale yellow.  Every time Oliver speaks the "Munch, munch!" words with the girth of his alligator expanding, Schmid's portrayal of the loyal companion gets funnier and funnier.  The paper stock coupled with the medium and artistic techniques make the reading of this book a very tactile experience.  My two favorite illustrations are of Oliver resting on his alligator's stomach after the teacher and little girl have been consumed and the alligator alone spread across the gutter after Oliver wonders if all the students can fit inside his friend, They could.


Oliver and his Alligator written and illustrated by Paul Schmid is one of those books you wish you could give a copy to every new student entering your building.  It speaks directly to those fears, apprehensions, children have.  Paul Schmid is attentive to children's feelings and he knows how to make everything okay.

It would be interesting to read this title to any age, asking them to write or draw what they would bring to school on the first day (or another time they might be frightened) to give them comfort.  I think it might be a good idea to have the first day of school be Bring Your Stuffed Animal Day.  There are days I wish I still had my sock monkey.

Please follow the link embedded in Paul Schmid's name above to access his website.  Follow this link to an interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  There's lots of artwork.