Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pushing The Boundaries

For as long as there have been teachers and learners, each has challenged the other to be their best.  While the former may prompt and promote, the later sometimes responds in unexpected ways.  This in turn expands the mind of the teacher while growing confidence in the learner. This is how joy is generated in the classroom, wherever it is.

Where there is joy, learning will never end.  The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection (Little, Brown and Company, March 13, 2018) edited by Colby Sharp, ideas & stories by Sherman Alexie, Tom Angleberger, Jessixa Bagley, Tracey Baptiste, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Peter Brown, Lauren Castillo, Kate DiCamillo, Margarita Engle, Deborah Freedman, Adam Gidwitz, Chris Grabenstein, Jennifer L. Holm, Victoria Jamieson, Travis Jonker, Jess Keating, Laurie Keller, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Kirby Larson, Minh Le, Grace Lin, Kate Messner, Daniel Nayeri, Naomi Shihab Nye, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, R. J. Palacio, Linda Sue Park, Dav Pilkey, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Dan Santat, Gary D. Schmidt, John Schu, Colby Sharp, Bob Shea, Liesl Shurtliff, Lemony Snicket, Laurel Snyder, Javaka Steptoe, Mariko Tamaki, Linda Urban, Frank Viva and Kat Yeh and YOU! seeks to empower readers.  There are stories everywhere waiting to be told and there are more ways than we can count to tell them.

The book you hold in your hands is filled with ideas and stories created by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.  Here you will find talking hats, a magic elevator, a hefty cat, and advice from beyond the grave.  Each time I read through the collection, my mind is blown.  

Editor and author Colby Sharp asked each of the participants to send two prompts.  These prompts could literally be anything.  Then two prompts were chosen and sent back to the authors and illustrators.  They needed to select one and respond.

From a three line poem by Cuban American author and Young People's Poet Laureate Margarita Engle, author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi fashions a five page graphic short story.  The text and panels (some are wordless) are a perfect reply.  This serves to show possibilities to those more inclined to express themselves visually.  Teacher librarian, author, blogger at 100 Scope Notes and part of The Yarn podcast team, Travis Jonker submitted a visual prompt.  It's a coat rack with four different hats hanging on the hooks titled The Meeting.  Author and illustrator Laurie Keller responds in kind with hilarity. What if inanimate objects could speak?

You will read about a request for turning a favorite author's name into a title of a book they might write.  A frustrated mouse ends up riding away on a motorcycle.  (Minh Le writes and Victoria Jamieson draws)  A former student writes a letter to a teacher who brought a book into her classroom which connected to him.  To this day this student gives away books with joy and gratitude. (Victoria Jamieson writes and John Schu writes)

A single sentence by Linda Sue Park results in a two image reply by Sophie Blackall. Here is the sentence.

She threw it off the bridge into the river, and watched it disappear downstream.

What do you think Sophie drew?  It's a response most would not imagine.  Deborah Freedman's reply to Linda Urban's request having to do with folklore and being late will charm readers with her signature illustrative style.  My furry friend (and I) loves the visual answer given by Javaka Steptoe to author Kat Yeh's written invitation.  This is for all of you who have ever wished your dogs could talk.

We visit spaces through a portal created from a glow in a forest. (Lauren Castillo, image and Tracey Baptiste writes)  Four words by Mariko Tamaki will change the way you look at your neighbors after reading Dan Santat's graphic short story response. Author Jess Keating describes an item with a note of warning attached.  Peter Brown's illustration as an answer is sure to produce giggles and grins.

One of my many favorite combinations is illustrative.  Jennifer L. Holm inspires Minh Le to tie vegetables to Shakespeare.  You have to see this to believe it.  Then you'll laugh yourself silly.

No matter how many times you read these prompts and responses you will be inspired anew by the ingenuity of the participants.  You have to wonder how Colby Sharp decided which prompts to send to which participants. (I believe this is answered in a chat he has with Corrina Allen at Books Between Podcast.)  At the close of the title the authors and illustrators provide further prompts for readers.  Short biographies are also included.  (This post is written using an initial ARC of the book.)  This title will enhance your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Colby Sharp and those contributors mentioned here and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites or blogs.  Colby has another site here and a Facebook page here.  At the publisher's website you can read an excerpt. Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher, reveals the cover on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.  Participants Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Deborah Freedman talk about this title on their websites.

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