Quote of the Month

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

Friday, August 29, 2014


After the arrival of the package, it is carefully placed on the kitchen counter.  Knowing what is inside makes the opening all the sweeter.  Fingers feel the raised letters of the author's name.  Eyes see the dust jacket colors arranged in a portrait of hope, the book case in a warm solid chocolate and page edges artfully deckled. Opening the cover and turning pages, the girl on the front is pictured again in black and white and the swirl of butterflies is gray beneath the title rising from the author's name.  Butterflies, in my way of thinking, are a marvelous choice, a symbol of transformation.  Then the dedication is read.

This book is for my family---
past, present and future.
With love.

On August 17th I began reading Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)) written by Jacqueline Woodson.  On the morning of August 27th I read the last three words,

will finally be.

Normally a book is completed in a single day, if not a single sitting but this book is so rich, so rare, it needs to be read slowly like smelling a bouquet of lilacs, tasting tea with honey, watching the sunlight sparkle on waves like diamonds, listening to the soaring notes of a meadowlark and brushing fingers over the fur of a beloved sleeping dog.  Each word or collection of words needs to be held in your mind.  Stopping to read aloud certain passages is a necessity.

Divided into five parts,

i am born
the stories of south carolina run like rivers
followed the sky's mirrored constellation to freedom
deep in my heart, i do believe and
ready to change the world,

Jacqueline Woodson through a collection of poetic memories conveys to readers her childhood.  All the many stories, moments of her days, are braided together leaving a lasting impression.  Like turning the pages of a scrapbook, her words fashion pictures profound and moving.

Born on February 12, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio the first year of her life is determined by her father's voice on naming, football, and the south, descriptions of the Woodson branch of the tree, the flow of good and bad family news, and journeys to her mother's home in Greenville, South Carolina.  We listen in on the debate to name her Jack or Jacqueline.  We ride the bus with her and her siblings at night from the North to the South and back again and again.  All this time historical events, a chorus of sound, is rising across our nation as the civil rights movement gains momentum.


...We are near my other grandparents' house,
     small red stone,
immense yard surrounding it.
Hall Street.
A front porch swing thirsty for oil.
A pot of azaleas blooming.
A pine tree.
Red dirt wafting up
around my mother's newly polished shoes. ...

Now moved to Nicholtown, no return to Ohio in sight, with her older siblings, Jacqueline settles into life with her mother's parents.  Years pass as life in the south, different but somehow familiar, defines their mornings, afternoons and evenings.  First her mother visits New York City, and then she goes, promising to send for her children when a home for them all is found. We understand her grandfather's ties to his garden.  We attend meetings for those participating in the civil rights marches.  We learn as she and her sister, Odella, and brother, Hope, do of her Grandmother's strong faith as a Jehovah's Witness. We feel the simple pleasure of walking into the fabric store with no labels, as people.


...When we hang them on the line to dry, we hope
they'll blow away in the night breeze
but they don't.  Come morning, they're right
where we left them
gently moving in the cool air, eager to anchor us
to childhood.

There is a new baby brother named Roman.  There is a new home in a new city, Brooklyn, for the Woodson children.  Here there is laughter and loss, support and challenges.  We take joy in Jacqueline's affection for storytelling and her thirst to write.  We makes adjustments for each day of the week, for the weather, and for the seasons as do the children whether they are in the city of the North or the town of the South in summers.


...It's hard to understand
the way my brain works---so different
from everybody around me.
How each new story
I'm told becomes a thing
that happens,
in some other way
to me...!

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.
You're lying, my mother says.

Maybe the truth is somewhere in between
all that I'm told
and memory.

A new friendship begins, a forever sister to this day.  The butterfly in Jacqueline is unfolding its wings; she listens, learns and writes.  We travel with Jacqueline to visit her uncle Robert in jail.  We laugh with her and Maria as they trade meals and share stories and secrets. We go with her to Greenville as she says last goodbyes.

writing #1

It's easier to make up stories
than it is to write them down.  When I speak,
the words come pouring out of me.  The story
wakes up and walks all over the room.  Sits in a chair,
crosses one leg over the other, says,
Let me introduce myself.  Then just starts going on and on. ...

Changes come to Jacqueline's family in Brooklyn; when one leaves, another comes.  Dedication to her writing grows and grows.  We listen to her mother's conversations.  We see the change in her uncle Robert as the revolution grows.  We feel her elation at Ms. Vivo's words.

every wish, one dream

Every dandelion blown
each Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight.

My wish is always the same.

Every fallen eyelash
and first firefly of summer...

The dream remains.

Poignant but full of promise Brown Girl Dreaming written by Jacqueline Woodson is a brilliant memoir of life.  We are brought into a vast array of vivid recollections told with such beauty it will take your breath away.  As I sit here completing my thoughts I have read and read passages over and over, some marked with post-its.  I know I will be getting another copy so I can highlight Woodson's thoughts.  This book needs to be on all bookshelves everywhere.

Make sure you follow the link embedded in Jacqueline Woodson's name to visit her website.  She includes important information about herself and her books.  Here is the link to a post from her editor Nancy Paulsen about Brown Girl Dreaming.  Donalyn Miller, author, educator and newly hired manager of independent reading and outreach at Scholastic Book Fairs wrote a reflection about this title and families at Nerdy Book Club.  Here is the link to interview which recently appeared in Time For Kids.  UPDATE:  Follow this link to a series of videos at Reading RocketsBelow are two videos to use to further your understanding of Jacqueline Woodson and the writing of Brown Girl Dreaming. Another UPATE:  Listen to this NPR Listen to the Story: Morning Edition--Jacqueline Woodson On Being A 'Brown Girl' Who Dreams.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday John Schumacher!

Today is John Schumacher’s thirty-third birthday.  John is beginning his twelfth year as a teacher librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois.  His blog Watch. Connect. Read. is a resource for the latest book trailers, chats with authors and illustrators and notable news in the children’s literature field.  In 2011 he garnered notice as a Library Journal Movers & Shakers.  As a member of the 2014 Newbery Medal Award committee he read and read and read some more, working with others to select the top titles.  Each month he and his friend, Colby Sharp, educator in Parma, Michigan host the #SharpSchu Book Club on Twitter.  As an avid user of Twitter he continually posts resources nearly 24/7 for those following him at @MrSchuReads.  

For the past seven years John and his good friend Donna Kouri, a teacher librarian at Longwood Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois have traveled throughout the United States spreading their love of books and reading by going on road trips.  It began with Go West ‘07, followed by Go East ‘08, Go Farther West ‘09, Go East Again ‘10, Adventure Out West ‘11, Let’s Go South ‘12, Let’s Go Northeast ‘13 and Let’s Go Somewhere ‘14.  Together they have posted about their adventures at Mr. Schu’s  Wordpress site which has grown for the past seven years.

With these shared experiences, to my way of thinking, Donna might know one or two things about John we may not know.  She is here today to help me celebrate John’s special day by answering a few questions.  Let’s see what she has to say.

Good morning, Donna.  I am wondering how you and John originally met.  Was it through your jobs in Illinois?  Did you attend the same classes in college?  

John and I met in a Master’s Degree program. It was a cohort so we were together weekly and became great friends. I am grateful for that program.

What sparked the idea for these road trips?

The road trip actually started quite randomly. We were discussing what we should do for a vacation and I mentioned that a friend of mine had opened a pizza place in Colorado that I wanted to visit. We thought about it for a few minutes and decided that a road trip would be the perfect vacation. We decided to go get pizza and to have a great adventure on the way. After the first trip, we had so much fun it became a yearly tradition.

When John is reading books aloud to you as the two of you head down the road, does he use voices?  What’s the best thing about hearing John read books aloud?  

John will use voices as appropriate and always does an outstanding job of bringing the book to life. Often the books he reads aloud are novels that do not lend themselves as well to voices, but he will use them on occasion. I love that he often shares books that are unpublished with me. I also love the discussions we end up having about the books. I am not a passive listener and am always interrupting with questions and comments.

What is the funniest thing (or most embarrassing) thing John has ever done on any of your road trips?  What one thing stands out as the most hilarious moment?

In 2009 we decided to head west. We spent several days driving through Texas and found ourselves at a rest area very late at night. This particular rest area was quiet isolated and creepy so we were both a little spooked. John threw something in the garbage can and out popped a raccoon. Neither of us was suspecting it and it startled John so much he began screaming. I, on the other hand, could not stop laughing.



There are many of John’s friends and colleagues who think he never sleeps considering his online presence, the conferences he attends, the committees on which he serves, all the learning his provides through his school library and the huge number of books he reads.  What’s his secret?  Is it a special beverage or favorite food?  

Ha!! This is a good question! I am usually asleep before John and he is usually awake before me so I am not sure I know the answer. I have tried to search his luggage for a superhero outfit but have yet to find one. I am pretty sure superpowers must be involved.

Oh...just in case he might happen to fall asleep when you are driving down the road.  Does he snore or talk in his sleep?

He doesn’t even sleep when I drive! On the rare occasion he does, he is so quiet I can’t tell and sometimes try to talk to him.

Has John ever talked about going farther in your road trips?  I am thinking Alaska or Hawaii.  Has he ever mentioned leaving the North American continent?
We have discussed taking an overseas trip at some point but logistically it would be difficult to do. It is so much easier taking your own car on a road trip which doesn’t work when overseas.

One of John’s road trip followers said he was the Johnny Appleseed of books.  Do you know what started his passion for this sharing?

The first I really remember was in 2009 when John brought along When Life Gives You OJ. I think that people have been so generous in sharing with John that he naturally wants to pay it forward. John believes strongly in paying it forward and really does so on a daily basis.

Thanks for stopping by today, Donna.  We all can hardly wait to follow the two of you on your next summer journey.  Reading truly is a three hundred sixty-five day a year passion for the one and only John Schumacher.

To further celebrate John’s birthday we are giving away copies of Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume One by Kate DiCamillo.  And Xena wants to get in on the action by giving away Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long.

Painting Perceptions

When reading good nonfiction, besides providing you with intriguing information, it challenges you.  You are asked to think about how you view your world.  Perhaps you need to look at things through the eyes of the author, illustrator or, if it's a biography, the way the person made choices or followed a dream.  With each book I find myself taking extra hours and days to discover more about the topic.

Having had an interest in art and artists for most of my life, I was thrilled to be able to take an art appreciation class during college.  It enlarged my knowledge of art history and gave me the ability to recognize a specific artist's work.  For me, those like myself, those who have no understanding of a particular artist and people needing to understand the joy of pursuing your passion, Edward Hopper Paints His World (Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, August 19, 2014) written by Robert Burleigh with paintings by Wendell Minor is an unexpected gift.

Little Edward Hopper had many dreams.  But one dream was biggest of all---he was going to be a painter when he grew up.

Even at an early age Edward was committed; drawing day after day and placing his signature on his work as an artist would do. With his high school education completed he set his sights on New York City.  Taking classes there made him feel as though he was on the right track.  To enhance his skills as a painter, he left the city he loved to spend time in Paris studying and painting outside.

After Paris he came back to New York City working as an illustrator for periodical publications.  He lived economically, working by day to make money, painting what he desired by night and in his spare time.  Despite receiving no recognition for his work, he continued.

Houses and lighthouses, the way the light fell on each portion, fascinated him.  When he was forty-two, a woman he had met previously in art school, Jo Nivison, became his wife.  In her, Edward had a champion.  The two would travel the countryside finding bits and pieces of Americana for Edward to paint.

Though they eventually built a small cottage on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Edward was always drawn back to the city for inspiration.  He had a unique way of depicting what he saw focusing on items others would not choose or miss entirely.  Sometimes he would combine details from various scenes creating from his marvelous mind a place of fiction.

Over time Edward Hopper's work was noticed for the genius it was and still is today.  He and Jo maintained their life style moving between the city and shore with the seasons.  He was a man who lived the

biggest of all

his dreams,

to be a painter. 

One word comes to mind upon repeated readings of this book, inspiration.  Robert Burleigh has combined his painstaking research with his remarkable skills as a writer to give readers a picture of Edward Hopper's life from boyhood to old age; one spent living that which he imagined, never faltering.  Burleigh includes personal information which binds readers to this man; writing "WOULD BE ARTIST" on his pencil box, his nickname of "Grasshopper", statements made by Hopper about his work and the relationship he had with his wife, Jo.  We can't help but feel we know this man after reading this book.  Here is a portion of a passage from a single page.

There, a couple reading in their living room.  There, a man working late in a dim office.  There, a lonely stroller on a dark street.  Often, the people were serious. They seemed slightly sad.  What had happened to them?  What was about to happen?  These small mysteries became the subjects for many of Edward Hopper's paintings.  

Accompanying the narrative work of Robert Burleigh is the paintings of Wendell Minor.  When I (every reader really) hold this book in my hands, it's like holding a museum.  Each visual, each portrayal is splendid.  Minor begins with his interpretation of one of Hopper's most famous paintings, Nighthawks, on the matching front dust jacket and book case.  On the back we see a close up of a piece from the interior of the book, young Edward painting a sailboat while sitting on a dock. The opening and closing endpapers are a gorgeous picture of Edward rowing across the water with a sailboat towing a smaller boat in the background.  It is done in shades of blue looking like a drawing.

Wendell Minor using a full color palette presents double page and single page spreads historically accurate as to time and place with lighting and shading which will take your breath away.  Opposite most of the single pages on the right, he has placed a smaller illustration done in a single color to again look like an artist's sketch.  On two of the double page illustrations he has used this same approach.  This mixture of illustrative techniques compliments the pacing of the text perfectly.

One of my favorite illustrations is his depiction of Edward Hopper's Gas.  In my mind Minor is showing how Edward and Jo might have been driving one evening, coming upon the station as the sun is setting.  Minor's use of color, his brush strokes and choice of details take you right into the moment.

Edward Hopper Paints His World written by Robert Burleigh with paintings by Wendell Minor is a triumphant tribute, a passionate portrayal, of not only a significant American artist but a memorable man.  In the Afterward Burleigh asks readers to think about whether an artist could be a hero or an explorer.  He highlights three important quotations of Hopper explaining their meanings.  Four Hopper Paintings are highlighted further.  On the third page at the back we find important dates, author and artist references and web sources.  Wendell Minor's Artist's Note On Images In This Book is well worth a read.  This book has my highest recommendation.

Please follow the links embedded in the author's name, illustrator's name and the book title to access their personal websites.  You will get a peek at interior illustrations from the book.  Don't miss them.

Each week I consider myself fortunate to be participating in Alyson Beecher's 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at her website, Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please stop by to see the other posts.  There are fantastic nonfiction titles listed there by other bloggers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Silence Shared

Looking like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds my backyard and the air above was populated by hundreds and hundreds of blackbirds this morning, feasting on whatever they could find in the lawn and taking flight, heading in a southerly direction.  For more than a week leaves have been turning yellow and falling from the ash trees still remaining on my property.  Despite the flickering, booming thunderstorm passing through earlier, the high humidity day after day, the constant breezes and the official date of the autumnal equinox weeks away, a change is coming.  Something new is on the horizon.

A beloved character in children's literature is returning in a new story.  If you listen closely you can hear him moving about the farm,

putt puff puttedy chuff.

Otis and the Scarecrow (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), August 28, 2014) written and illustrated by Loren Long brings back our fearless friend; the steadfast red tractor, pure of heart, instinctively doing the right thing.

The farmer first brought the scarecrow to the farm, where the friendly little tractor named Otis lived, back in the summer, when the corn was tall and ripe.

Otis, being Otis, immediately goes to investigate this newest member of the farm family.  To his dismay his good cheer and warmth are returned with a stony, silent look.  Each of the other animals, the horse, ducks, little calf, puppy and the bull, are similarly treated.  All walk away wondering about this scarecrow standing alone, grimly overlooking the cornfield.

As fall edges its way into the end of summer days, the crows gather courage mistreating the sentinel.  He says nothing.  He does nothing.   Days pass with the farm changing; corn shocks lining the rows and bright patches of orange where the pumpkins rest.

For Otis and his friends this season ups their energy level; their game playing is wild and fun.  When the tired tractor leads the crew up the hill to the apple tree, there is still one game to be played, the quiet game.  Otis gives his well-known signature trio of sounds signaling the start.  (These are new and well suited to our treasured tractor.)

With one thing leading to another, pretty soon everyone is laughing like crazy except for Otis, still and smiling.  It does not escape his attention there is another standing still but not smiling.  On another day, a chilly downpour forces the country companions to seek shelter beneath their favorite tree.

Gazing at the rural vista Otis again takes notice.  Still gathered under their leafy umbrella the animals watch as their plucky pal

putt puff puttedy chuff

goes down toward another.  Out in the open during the continued cloudburst they cluster around Otis.  The signals are given.  There is a new winner this day.

Having read the four previous books about Otis and life on the farm, it was with a great deal of anticipation this fifth book was read and read again and read so many times I lost count.  Loren Long has in the character of Otis given readers a guardian of all that is good.  In their purest form Otis embodies bravery, compassion, loyalty and love.  He leads by example.

With each page turn we are transported deeper into Otis' world leaving ours behind.  We get a true sense of each character's personalities through expressive verb and adjective choices.  Long feels the pulse of a farm's heartbeat sharing it with his readers; his skill in portraying a pastoral setting is flawless.  Here are two examples taken from this book.

The bull would twitch his nose, which made the little calf giggle.  This made the bull chuckle with a snort.  The bull's snort would amuse the ducks, and their bottoms would wiggle as they held back their giggles.

There was the overflowing Mud Pond.  There were the shiny wet pumpkins and the soaked corn shocks all in a row.  And swaying back and forth in the cold wind and rain was the scarecrow. 

Beginning with what Loren Long describes as a monochromatic scene with shades of black transparent gouache paint he adds color delineating his characters, places on the farm, the season of the year and changes in the weather.  On the front of the dust jacket he portrays characters central to the other books as well as this story.  A tiny Otis is running toward the ISBN on the back beneath a circular image of the cranky scarecrow pestered by pecking crows as Otis watches in the distance.

The formal title page, a single illustration across two pages, showing a happy Otis, puppy and calf amid the rolling hills, with the farmer, his truck and the scarecrow behind them to the left, quickly transports us with a sense of serenity.  It's like we are coming home to what we know and love.  All the pictures, single and double page, are outlined with fine black brush strokes.

 Long's backgrounds are white highlighting his setting and characters with the exception of the rain day.  His use of grays clearly depicts the cold, wet and emotion of being alone.  The final page illuminates the change beautifully.

While all these illustrations are well worth framing two of my favorites are of the animals gathering to play the quiet game.  In the first Loren Long gives us a closer perspective, focusing on the faces around Otis.  In the second he zooms out showing the animals full bodies frolicking in joy despite losing the game.  Otis watches them affectionately.

No action is as selfless as that which has no chance of response. Nevertheless in Otis and the Scarecrow written and illustrated by Loren Long, this tractor, doer of noble deeds, goes ahead.  Readers will understand how kindness can be extended without expectation, how others will notice this kindness, responding in kind and everyone...yes...everyone is the richer for the experience.  Share this title as much as you can.  It's a classic charmer.

For more information about Loren Long and his books as well as additional activities and videos please follow the link embedded in his name to access his personal website and the link embedded in the title to reach the Otis The Tractor web pages.  Here are the links to my reviews of Otis and the Tornado, Otis and the Puppy and An Otis Christmas.  I am including this video Loren Long made for his first book, Otis. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Confident Canine

It's like learning a new dance when a dog and their human meet.  The steps have yet to be choreographed. Each is vying for leader of the pack status.  For the safety and well-being of the canine it's best for the human to remain top dog but they need to be wise enough to understand the signals their friend is giving at all times. A dog's senses are far superior to ours.

Some dogs remain vigilant in their pursuit to be independent of any human requests.  I'm My Own Dog (Candlewick Press) written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein is about such a dog.  In fact it would be safe to say; this dog sees the human-canine relationship in a whole new light.

I'm my own dog.
Nobody owns me.
I own myself.

This dog works until he is bone-tired because he can.  At the end of the day no one brings him slippers for his weary feet.  He does it himself.  Waking or asleep this pup is in complete control.

He would never obey any common canine commands.  That would be downright undignified.  He tosses and catches like a professional baseball player.  There is nothing he can't or won't do to remain resolute in his beliefs.

One day though, there is an itch he cannot scratch.  It is driving him so crazy, he does the unthinkable.  He lets a man scratch that intolerable itch.

Would you believe it?  The man follows him home.  What's this dog going to do?  Given the circumstances, he has no choice.  Let the lessons begin.

With those first three sentences David Ezra Stein, in no uncertain terms, makes it clear this dog is definitely different. He slowly hooks his readers with examples of typical doggy activities with a twist.  This technique makes the second half of the story, the reversal, even funnier.  The final line of the narrative spoken in confidential tones, in all sincerity, couldn't be better.

Take a good look at the dog on the matching dust jacket and book case.  Doesn't he radiate self-assurance?  Look at his stance.  Look at the expression on his face.  On the back we read,

Nobody owns me.
I own myself.

Above this a smaller circular image of the dog gleefully running with a stick in his mouth is framed by a red background with light golden brush strokes.  On the opening and closing endpapers the pattern from the rug within the book is displayed in two shades of the same color.

Hues of green, blue and yellow provide a glowing background or frame for elements in many of the pictures.  In others white space is used to place focus on the dog and his activities.  David Ezra Stein created these visuals by using

pen as well as a kids' marker hacked to dispense India ink 

for the line work.

This was

photocopied onto watercolor paper.  The painting was done in liquid watercolor, with a hint of crayon on the dog's muzzle.

The illustrations, like the dog, have attitude, warmth and humor.  Stein uses various sizes, double page spreads, single pages edge to edge, single page or smaller pictures set on a white background, to dictate the speed in which we read.  One of my favorite illustrations spans two pages.  It brings us close to the dog and the man when they first meet.  A happy dog is receiving relief as the man scratches his back.  It signals a shift in the tale.

If you've ever wondered what a dog or your dog might be thinking, this book is for you.  I'm My Own Dog written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein is a comic look at one confident canine that walks, runs, digs and fetches the talk.  I imagine this will spark conversations about other pooch pal and person behaviors.  This will be a wonderful addition to those story times on dogs, pets or humor.  I can hear that dog talking now.

Please take the time to visit David Ezra Stein's website by following the link embedded in his name. He has a separate page for videos about all his books.  Follow this link to a short author's note about the inspiration for this title.  This book is one of four featured by the publisher in a story-hour kit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nighty, Night...Sleep Tight...Or Not

There is one thing which will get a child through thick and thin.  It will get them through a week of school with homework every single night.  It will get them through parental requests and requirements, cleaning their rooms, making their beds and brushing their teeth, every single day.  When they see this on the horizon, their whole world is a glass half full.

Spending the night with a friend is one of those events when the realization exceeds the anticipation.  Those treasured hours chatting, laughing, telling stories, watching television or movies or playing games are sacred childhood memories.  In Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, August 7, 2014) written and illustrated by Monica Carnesi a solution is sought by one kind and clever friend.

Beatrice and Bear met on a clear spring day.

Like some first time meetings, an innocent blunder brought them together.  The erring party quickly made amends.  They did what bosom buddies do in the awakening world after winter.

Rain or shine they continued to enjoy activities with one another through summer and into autumn.  One day Beatrice looked and looked for Bear.  He was nowhere to be found.  Squirrel informed the baffled bunny Bear was off to hibernate.

At first sweet Beatrice thought hibernate was a place to visit.  Squirrel again set her straight.  You can't imagine her joy at discovering hibernate is a long nap in winter.  Guess who's packing her suitcase lickety-split?

However her happiness is short-lived.  A disappointed Beatrice simply couldn't share this seasonal snooze with her friend no matter how hard she tried.  She thought and thought.  She questioned and questioned.  Then this friend had a plan.  There was more than one way to enjoy the snow and ice with her pal Bear.

Very simple narrative sentences, conversational exchanges and voiced thoughts written by Monica Carnesi tell this charming tale of Beatrice and Bear.  These quickly reveal to readers the kindness of each character; their willingness to invest one hundred per cent in this growing friendship.  The optimism of the spirited Beatrice is contagious.  You can feel your love for her and her friend Bear grow page by page.

As soon as you open the matching dust jacket and book case, the personalities of Beatrice and Bear are evident; Bear is more easygoing of the two.  Beatrice, like her natural counterparts in the wild, is happily hopping and ready to go.  Dusty blue opening and closing endpapers are covered in etched carrot pairs and hives with buzzing bees.  No space is wasted by Monica Carnesi; her story begins on the title page introducing us to Beatrice standing among her gardening tools.  A page turn has her looking dumbfounded beneath the verso as Bear (on the first page) sits crushing carrot tops in her garden gazing at a bee hive in the nearby tree.

Rendered in brush and Windsor & Newton black India ink with Sennelier and Windsor & Newton artist watercolors and Prismacolor pencils on Fabriano Artistico extra white 140 pound hot pressed paper, these illustrations increase the meaning of the text.  Fine expressive lines, soft background colors and brush strokes and delicate details on facial expressions not only depict the affection these two have for each other but heighten our attachment to them.  Carnesi shifts between double page spreads, single pages, loosely lined smaller visuals and framed panels with elements overlapping those lines to create an impeccable pace.

More than once she makes use of speech bubbles for emphasis.  Tiny items raise our interest; the bird they watched in the spring becomes a drawing in the cave during the beginning of their sleepover, the water wings on Beatrice when they go swimming, Beatrice's map to Bear, the carrot fabric on Beatrice's blanket and her small toy bunny.  My favorite illustrations are the sequence of Beatrice and Bear sleeping in the cave.  Well...Bear is sleeping and Beatrice is trying.  You can't help smiling at these two moving around; one sound asleep and the other wide awake.

I can't imagine a collection of friendship books without this title.  Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear written and illustrated by Monica Carnesi is one of those huggable books.  Beside friendship it could be used to discuss hibernation, the seasons, perseverance and ingenuity.  Get out your bear, rabbit and squirrel puppets for a story hour filled with joy and warmth.

You will be glad if you follow the links embedded in Monica Carnesi's names to access her website and blog.  She includes fun stuff and a teacher's guide at her website.  On her blog is a series of posts about the process for making Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cloak And Diaper

Show me a child who wants a baby-sitter to take care of them and I'll show you someone who is too young to know the difference.  Once boys and girls reach a certain age they are sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are perfectly capable of handling any situation which might arise.  Parents, on the other hand, really never stop thinking you need adult supervision (insert their supervision) no matter how old you get.

Three children, Alison, Jake and Eliza, ages ten, eight and under two, plus one dog named Yeti are about to get the surprise of their very young lives.  The children's mother has taken a new job as an attorney for the law firm of Mathers and Mathers.  Their dad works at the Museum of Natural History.  Nanny X (Holiday House) written by Madelyn Rosenberg introduces the trio (and us) to a pretty peculiar person hired by their parents.

Someone pounded on our front door at 7:29 A.M.

This someone is none other than the new nanny.  She certainly makes a lasting first impression with every member of the family.

What she had was a woman with silver-gray hair, a straw gardening hat with pink flowers, and no smile.  She wore a black motorcycle jacket and a pair of mirrored sunglasses.  She smelled like a combination of chicken soup and motor oil, and it looked like she had borrowed her shoes from a Pilgrim.

Looking the children over from head to toe, she gives a nod and a soft exclamation of approval.  This dear readers is no ordinary nanny.

She knows tiny details about the family no one should know but them.  It's not like she's got eyes in the back of her head; it's as if she has eyes and ears everywhere.  Her lunch packing skills leave much to be desired; anchovies with peanut butter?

Surprisingly enough she meets Alison and Jake at the bus stop after school, pushing Eliza in a stroller with Yeti eager for a walk.  More noteworthy than this, she suggest they hurry to a public hearing on whether to keep Rawlings Park for the youth of the city or build a huge factory on the land.  Alison and Jake had been talking about this with their friend Stinky on the bus just moments ago.

At the rally when the mayor receives a blow to the head with Stinky wrongly accused, the plot and coconut smoothies thicken.  Nanny X and another member of N. A. P. (I will not disclose what this means) along with her new charges seek clues to the identity of the real criminal.  Nefarious minds are at work with big money to be made.

Readers will be turning pages faster and faster as the action moves from person to person, place to place.  There might be a children's book that moos so loud the walls shake.  There might be a GPS bib for tracking the good and definitely not so good people.  With Nanny X and her diaper bag the only thing you can be sure of is every day will be an adventure.

Madelyn Rosenberg uses the technique of Alison and Jake speaking in alternating chapters in this just over one hundred page book.  Through their perspectives the links of the narrative are tied together seamlessly.  Rosenberg has a completely realistic handle on the language and thought processes of sisters and brothers at these ages.  She has her characters tell it like it is which provides for laugh-out-loud moments.  (I've read some portions three times and I still laugh.)  Here is a sample of a Jake and Alison chapter connecting.

Her lips moved, like she was asking the diaper if it was having a nice day.  If Nanny X expected that diaper to talk back to her, then Ali and I had a bigger problem than the mayor turning our park into a factory.

Something told me that even in New York, nobody talked to diapers.  Maybe Nanny X was just smelling the diaper to make sure it was clean.  And her lips were moving because...that helped her smell better?  But I heard her voice.

Here's part of the conversation between the Chief of Police and Stinky when he is arrested.

"I didn't throw that," Stinky said.  "I was just holding it.  You found it in my hand."
"Where there's smoke, there's fire," the chief said.  "Get me a stick.  I want to roast a hot dog."
"But it's true," Stinky said.  "I picked it up because I thought it might be a geode."
"Throwing rocks at the mayor is a criminal offense," said the chief.  "You have the right to remain silent, and we have the right to take you to the police station."
"My mother is going to kill me," said Stinky Malloy.
"You see," said the chief.  "Even his mother thinks he's guilty."

Nanny X written by Madelyn Rosenberg is, in a word, hilarious.  If all nannies were like her, every child would be in line to have one in their home not just for one but every single day of the year.  Guys and gals are going to gobble this up like dessert and ask for seconds.  I certainly hope there are more Nanny X escapades in the works.

You are going to want to visit Madelyn Rosenberg's website to read posts about her process for this title and the book trailer shown below.  Please follow the link embedded in her name.  Nanny X is set for a September 15, 2014 release.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


These things I know to be true.  Each individual observes their surroundings differently.  Using their senses perceptions are formed.  Past experiences figure into interpretation.  These observations, perceptions and interpretations are the basis for individual creativity.

Our young reader's worlds are enhanced by the introduction of creative expression from all cultures.  Every person has a story to tell.  How they tell it is as unique as they are. Mexican artist Frida Kahlo told her story through painting.  Pura Belpre Medal and Honor award winning author illustrator Yuyi Morales has written and illustrated Viva Frida (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press), a stunning tribute and introduction to Frida Kahlo.  Her husband, Timothy O'Meara, is the photographer.  

I am

So begins the text in this title.  There are never more than four words in English or seven words in Spanish on any two pages.  Depending on the individual reader their eyes may be drawn to the more cursive silver gray text in Spanish or to the English in a bolder black font beneath it.  

We first learn of Frida Kahlo's desire to seek, then notice.  Her discoveries would often lead to play dictated by her personality.  Her knowledge and her dreams grew her compassion. She came to realize that in loving and creating she was most alive. 

Yuyi Morales uses very explicit verbs to describe Frida Kahlo; words like search, see, know, dream and understand.  By limiting the number used with each illustration she is asking us to look closely at each picture. The pictures interpret the word in the context of her life but also when linked together give a more complete portrayal of the essence of Frida Kahlo.

Intricate visuals rendered in stop-motion puppets made from steel, polymer clay, and wool, acrylic paints, photography and digital manipulation begin on the front of the dust jacket, continuing throughout with the exception of the dream sequence.  At this point Yuyi Morales uses her painting exclusively.  The opening and closing endpapers are done in a pattern of large blue, red, magenta and gold flowers on a brushed, varied golden tan background.  

The double-page picture for the title page starts Morales' story of Frida Kahlo's world.  We see a close-up of an artist's work space; bottles of ink, traditional delicate cut paper work, tubes of paint on a palette, brushes tied together with yarn, a scroll of paper unrolled, a charcoal sketch of puppet Frida and in the upper portion of the page part of a monkey's head, its hand reaching for a key on the table.  With a page turn a soft blue sky with powder puff clouds stretches behind a beautiful view of Frida's face framed with a few green leaves and ornate silver (metal) butterflies.  To the right a parrot takes flight.  

As the narrative continues we, as does Frida, see the monkey on a tree branch with the key.  A small yellow chest is at her feet.  Behind her Diego Rivera, her husband, glances over his shoulder.  Her dog is running toward the tree.  This second illustration in the book tells us much about this woman.  We learn of her pets, her spouse, her signature clothing, and her ability to discover.  

The artistry of Yuyi Morales in these first two illustrations (and every single one which follows) is breathtaking.  Her skill in working with fabrics, lace, embroidery, the placement of tiny jewelry, flowers in Frida's hair, the buttons and clasps on Diego's overalls, and the tiny facial features on the people and animals is wondrous.  The four pages dedicated to the dream are infused with the same emotion as her other visuals even though her medium shifts.  

One of my favorite visuals is of Frida, key in hand, her monkey and dog peering inside the opened chest.  We see them as if we are the puppet inside looking at them. It's a glowing close-up.

Viva Frida written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales with photography by Tim O'Meara is a glorious biographical introduction to an iconic Mexican artist.  It will spark discussion, further inquiry and appreciation.  Having earned a Spanish minor in college, my students have heard me frequently use words and simple phrases.  Reading the text in Spanish first followed by the English creates a marvelous melody.  Yuyi Morales has included a short detailed illustrated biography of Frida Kahlo in English and Spanish at the end of the book.  It is followed by another completed illustration which was being painted earlier.  Gorgeous....simply gorgeous.

Please follow the link embedded in Yuyi Morales' name to access her personal website.  This link takes you to an insightful interview about her at Publishers Weekly relative to this title and her life, Yuyi Morales: PW Talks with the Award-Winning Illustrator.  Here is an interview from November 12, 2013 at Juana Children's Illustrator.  These two links, here, here, and here, take you to TeachingBooks.net where Yuyi Morales pronounces her name with an explanation, speaks on a Viva Frida Meet-The-Author Book Reading and there is a Meet-The-Author video.  UPDATE: Please enjoy the new beautiful video below about the making of this book. UPDATE: Yuyi Morales stopped by Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast on October 27, 2014 to provide a photo essay about the making of this book.

I hope you will stop by Kid Lit Frenzy to view the other titles listed by participating bloggers in the 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by educator and blogger, Alyson Beecher.

My review of this title is based upon an Advance Reader's Edition received from my favorite independent bookstore, McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan.  I hope you will purchase a copy from your nearest independent bookstore or visit your local public library.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Reader. Reader Love Book.

If you've ever been around little guys and gals learning to talk you know various parts of speech are frequently missing from their phrases and sentences.  Their triumphant grins when a person, a place, a thing or an idea are properly expressed are so uplifting, it wouldn't be right to point out the missing words.  It's the same for persons of any age who are attempting to learn a second language; go with the basics first.

Let's step back in time, way back in time, to a portion of the Stone Age.  Let's imagine a story about a boy and his pet...woolly mammoth.  (You're smiling already, aren't you?) this ORQ. (he cave boy.) (Boyds Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights) written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols proves that some things rarely change over the course of tens of thousands of years.  Some things remain the same.

This Orq.
He live in cave.
He carry club.
He cave boy.

Orq has adopted a baby woolly mammoth.  He has named him Woma.  The two are inseparable.

Problems begin to arise when Woma starts to grow in size.  To complicate the situation Orq's mom does not like certain physical characteristics and habits of the woolly mammoth.  He, like some other pets, leaves hairy messes, is rather whiffy and deposits piles of poo inside the rocky residence.

Woma is banished from the cave but Orq's abundant affection for his friend helps him come up with a surefire plan.  He is going to teach him to do three things guaranteed to have his mother loving the woolly mammoth as much as he does.  Oops!  Oh! No! Yikes!  Woma is still not setting one furry foot in the cave.

An imaginary hunting expedition turns frighteningly real one day.  Cave boy is looking pretty tasty to a ferocious feline. Huge love turns the tide and a mom's thinking.

David Elliott's word choices for this story are splendid.  The spare text conveys his understanding of what his intended audience needs to know.  His repeated use of

Orq loves Woma.

is the key to binding pieces of the narrative together and of endearing readers to his characters.  It also acts, with alterations, to define the feelings of Woma and Orq's mom at pivotal points.

When you first hold this book in your hands the tactile experience starts with the matte-finished dust jacket and book case.  Unfolding the two you see Woma stretched out, eyes alight with attention, gently holding a truly contented Orq on one tusk.  Squawking away are the three baby bird characters around the ISBN in the lower left back corner.  The matching opening and closing endpapers showcase Orq's boyhood toys, artistic tools and found treasures; a bird feather, a stony bear, woolly mammoth and sabertooth tiger, assorted writing utensils and a tricycle.  The first two double-page spreads, the title page, verso and beginning text, introduce Orq and his surroundings along with the whimsical mother bird, blue with darker stripes and a bushy red top.

Lori Nichols' illustrations rendered in #4 pencil on Strathmore drawing paper and colorized digitally elevate the humor and love in this story with her extra detailed touches.  Each time the word love is used the color of the text reflects the character.  Three roughly drawn red hearts ascend from the head of the person showing their devotion.

To visualize Woma growing bigger and bigger and bigger he has been placed next to a tree. Along with his growth is the making of bird nest, the babies with open beaks and mama bird, arms on hips in disgust when the hole in the tree is covered.  That final illustration of these three is one of my favorites.  Orq loving Woma, hugging his trunk, both their eyes closed, and completely oblivious of the mama bird's dilemma, is funny and touching.

This book, this ORQ. (he cave boy.), written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols begs to be read aloud.  Listeners will be chiming in with the refrain immediately.  I'd be willing to bet you will have plenty of boys and girls speaking Orq for many days later.  Readers of any age will readily identify with the love between a pet and their human.  A huge plus goes to Elliott and Nichols for the pictured two word twist at the end.  I am grinning ear to ear after discovering there is to be a sequel to this title.

For more information about David Elliott and Lori Nichols please follow the links to their websites embedded in their names.  If you follow this link you will be taken to an interview of Lori Nichols at KidLit411.  UPDATE:  Here is a link to a story hour kit by Curious City DPW.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Place For Everyone

The beauty of the house is order.
The blessing of the house is contentment.
The glory of the house is hospitality.

This portion of a very old poem written beneath a picture one of my colleagues, an art teacher, made for me when I moved into my current home is framed and hanging in my kitchen.  The drawing is of a small colorful cottage with a tall pine tree growing next to it; a quirky quaint abode set in a northern Michigan forest.  The first line always makes me smile; a justification for my tendency toward neatness.   A home for me is a sanctuary, a place to find serenity when needed, but also a place for conversation, laughter and shared meals with cherished friends which speaks to the second and third lines.

When I look at this it reminds me of the needed balance in my daily life as well as in my home.  Julia's House for Lost Creatures (First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, September 2, 2014) written and illustrated by graphic novelist Ben Hatke is his first picture book.  Julia learns the fine line between too quiet and chaos can be crossed quickly.

Julia's house came to town and settled by the sea.

This first sentence is a clear indication of the fantastical events to come.  It's not typical for houses to come to town; people yes but houses not so much.  Cozy as could be in her favorite chair by the fire that evening, Julia realizes the proverbial pin could be heard if dropped.  The absence of sound is glaring.

Hurrying toward her workshop, she creates a sign to hang outside the front door.  It announces the purpose of her house.  Julia's House for Lost Creatures is an open invitation.  The first arrival is Patched Up Kitty with the singular gift of walking up walls.

All too soon a rather loud banging heralds the next resident, a mournful troll.  Within a handful of moments all kinds of sounds at the door proclaim the presence of all kinds of beings from legend and lore.   Needless to say Julia is definitely surprised.  Ever the gracious hostess they keep her busy. But... 

The din is deafening.  The mess is mounting.  With a shout of 


Julia disappears into her workshop for hours and hours.

Emerging with a second sign, an inside sign, order is restored.  (My Mom of many hands make light work fame would have loved this.)  Tucked into bed that night sweet dreams are eluding Julia.  Something is still not right.  It's off to the workshop again.  A final sign and her waiting rewarded, peace is present once again.

An unseen narrator hooks readers from the beginning with the unorthodox appearance by the shore of Julia and her house.  Ben Hatke keeps us engaged with her request for residents, their variety and their disorderly conduct.  His descriptions of peculiar personalities and distinct antics keep readers turning pages in anticipation of...What could possibly happen next?  Julia's inventiveness in solving her predicaments through her creative signage is brilliant.  

As soon as you see the book's dust jacket, you know these lost creatures are not going to be from field and forest.  You also understand by Julia's expression and stance, she enjoys life with intention.  On the back, the troll with the toothy grin playing with Julia's antique record player supplies a huge hint.  Opening and closing endpapers in a dusty green feature an outline of a curling dragon's tail, tiny details from the story appearing on top.

On the initial title page Julia's first visitor is quietly sleeping beneath the title.  A significant, splendid two-page illustration, across the verso, dedication and formal title page depicts exactly how Julia's house moves from place to place.  I like to think of it as a nod to Native American folklore and beliefs as to where our planet resides.  

Ben Hatke alternates his illustration size, perspective and placement to set the pace for his story.  His mastery as a graphic novelist (Zita the Spacegirl trilogy) is evident in his visuals saying more than the text, extending our comprehension of the tale.  For example, accompanying the first words he has five separate elements.  Julia's house comes to a standstill, she runs down the steps, mailbox with post in her hands, raises it over her head, plops it into the ground and leans against it staring out to sea.  Single smaller pictures framed by white space work very well throughout the remaining pages.

The extra details, some I discovered on second and third readings, are a request for readers to become involved in Julia's adventure.  Her work apron, pink high-top sneakers, wavy red hair and energy create an immediate bond.  The bird perched on the trolls head later becomes a companion for the mermaid's rubber ducky.  I'm still wondering about the connection between one of the items on Julia's fireplace mantel and the final twist at the end.

The living room scenes at the beginning and the end are two of my favorite illustrations.  In the first we are given insight into Julia and those things of importance to her.  In the second, less of the room is seen but we still realize the same sense of calm, even though it's been altered by the numerous new residents.

Every reader is going to wish they could live in Julia's House for Lost Creatures.  Ben Hatke has written and illustrated a picture book brimming with magical what-ifs.  I think it would be great fun to think about other guests in this house, what their favorite things to do might be and what tasks they might be assigned.  I would plan on having extra copies in your collections.  This title is going to be a hit with readers. (It's a huge hit with me!)

To discover more information about Ben Hatke and his work follow the link embedded in his name to his website.  This link takes you to an interview of Ben Hatke conducted by teacher librarian Matthew C. Winner at his popular podcast Let's Get Busy.  Author and blogger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Julie Danielson, reviews this title and showcases lots of artwork for this book.

UPDATE:  Here is a series of tweets Ben Hatke has been posting on Twitter after I did this post.

I obtained an ARC of Julia's House for Lost Creatures from my favorite independent bookstore, McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan.  Please visit your nearest independent bookstore to get your copy.  If your public library does not have it on order, submit a request.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Connection,Curation, Connection #9

Last week's Connection, Curation, Connection #8 can be accessed by following this link.  More than three years ago I began to list and talk about resources, book trailer links and fun tweets I discovered on Twitter specifically for persons in my PLN who either were not on Twitter or who might have missed something exciting during the week.  The first post had only four items in it.  Over the course of those years it evolved into Twitterville Talk numbering one hundred forty-four weeks of curation and sharing.  In March of this year due to personal commitments beyond my control Twitterville Talk went on hiatus.  In June I brought it back in another form using Storify to create weekly collections.

The number of views have gradually been dropping either because more people are on Twitter seeing the tweets or the interest is not there.  For these reasons plus additional demands on my time, this will be the last Connection, Curation, Connection.  It has been a pleasure gathering tweets for all of you each week since June of 2011.  Have a great week.  Remember to take time for reading.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A City, A Cape And Courage

We usually associate certain places with specific people and memorable events.  Growing up in a small community outside a state capital, despite growth and new construction, those connections remain strong for me decades later.  What is strange and a little disconcerting is to see people who have lived in one place for as long as you can remember, happily residing in an entirely different environment.

If we enjoy the relative quiet of the countryside, it's an adjustment to become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a large city.  Nana In The City (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, September 2, 2014) written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo is about a first visit to the city for a little boy.  What's even more unbelievable to him is that his nana is living here now.

I went to stay with Nana at her new apartment in the city.

Right away the grandson makes two thoughts very clear to readers.  He loves his grandmother but not so much the city.  There is too much activity in the city.  There is too much noise in the city.  There is too much frightening stuff in the city.

After a subway ride and walking down the streets surrounded by tall buildings, the boy is certain this cannot possibly be a good home for his nana.  Regardless of her assurances, he struggles with sleep his first night there.  When he finally drifts off, Nana begins working on her special gift.

Waking up in the morning, Nana presents the boy with a snazzy knitted red cape tying it on over his pajamas.  Later wearing it on their stroll, his perspective of the city is transformed.  In the activity, noise and frightening stuff, he sees people enjoying their favorite things in the park, playing and dancing to music and an act of kindness erases fear.  Is there magic in the cape?  Of course there is!  The best magic of all...love freely given and received.

The text, like the cape worn by the grandson, wraps itself around the reader casting a spell of warmth and inspiring courage.  Lauren Castillo uses what I like to call the timeless storytelling technique of three; guiding readers into a story, reinforcing their connection and releasing them with something new and wonderful.  Busy, loud and scary are noticed by the grandson immediately as he tells his tale.  Nana changes those three words to reflect her appreciation of the city; looking for the positive.  The gift of the cape gives the boy the courage necessary to see his surroundings with the same eyes as his grandmother.

A glowing color palette (look at all the gold, orange and red) on the matching dust jacket and book case is a visible sign of the affection filling this book.  On the back Lauren Castillo has a circular image of the boy running, cape flying behind him, as his nana follows.  The color from the boy's jacket and shoes provides a solid background on the opening and closing endpapers.  Nana's two cats bookend a special ball of yarn on the title page.  A glorious image of the bridge, river and city spans across the verso and dedication pages.

Rendered in watercolor Castillo, whether the illustration extends edge to edge on two pages, a single page or as a circular image on a single page, masterfully uses white space either as a separate element or to frame others.  The characters of Nana and her grandson are utterly charming in their features, body movements, clothing and accessories (Nana has green reading glasses but red sunglasses).  Heavier black lines draw our attention to what Lauren Castillo wants us to notice.  There is a softness to her pictures placed on the matte-finished paper.

One of my favorite two-page illustrations (I have many) is of Nana and her grandson at the kitchen table in the evening.  One cat (white) is resting on the windowsill with the darkened city in the background; the other (black) is playing with a ball of yarn on the table.  Nana is pouring milk into a red cup from a red pitcher for herself as the boy holds his red cup between his hands.  A plate of cookies is between them.  Xena's favorite illustration is of the boy and Nana on a city street, stopping to pet one of five dogs being walked.

Nana In The City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo is in a word...marvelous.  It could be a cozy one-on-one bedtime story or as a read aloud to a group sparking conversations about grandparents and being brave.  I'm pretty sure every single reader has a special article of clothing they feel is magical.  I can already hear the stories being exchanged.  Be sure to share this as often as possible.  It's a classic gem.

For more information about Lauren Castillo and her work please follow the link embedded in her name to access her website.  This link takes you to a recent interview at Publishers Weekly.  There are numerous illustrations for this title and The Troublemaker at a Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog post by Julie Danielson.  Teacher librarian extraordinaire, John Schumacher, interviews Lauren Castillo at Watch. Connect. Read.

Enjoy the extra artwork Lauren Castillo shared with her followers on Twitter.