Monday, October 5, 2015

Cover Reveal for Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

I'm excited for you to read Nanci Turner Steveson's introduction to the cover for her debut novel, Swing Sideways. She mentions one of my all-time favorite authors and shares her genuine response to seeing Dawn Cooper's lovely art for the first time. Thank you, Nanci! I cannot wait for everyone to meet Annie and California! 

When I was nine I read Black Beauty for the first time. As soon as I closed that book, I knew I wanted to be an author someday. In fact, I wrote my first “novel” right then, a book I still have about a wild horse, stapled at the top and complete with drawings. 

Several years ago, I read Walk Two Moons, and as soon as I closed that book, I sat down at my computer and Swing Sideways started spilling out. I wrote with tremendous passion, in faith that this story would be published. I just knew it! Except we dont really know, do we? Even with an agent, a heart full of hope, and thousands of hours of work, there are no guarantees. But on my lucky day, something about that passion caught the eye of my editor at HarperCollins, and Swing Sideways is scheduled to hit the bookstores May 3, 2016. (still pinching)

After a year of revisions, when the email came with the design attached, I had to catch my breath before opening it. Everyone told me that even with the premier art department at HarperCollins, I would hate the cover the first day. They said it always happens that way and I shouldnt be disappointed, that it would eventually grow on me. But guess what? They were wrong. I clicked on the link and burst into tears as this beautiful image popped up on the screen.

It still amazes me that artist Dawn Cooper could capture so exquisitely the very essence of this story — the unexpected bond between Annie and California, the embarking on an adventure, the mystery and the longing, even the lush colors of a summer in which a friendship changes everything. It still leaves me breathless. I am enthralled, excited, and so very grateful. 

Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and most of all, freedom from her mom's life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules.

When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfathers farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the adventure shes always craved. California climbs trees faster than a monkey, carries around an exotic pet chicken, runs barefoot through the woods, and eats berries straight from the vine. Plus, California offers Annie the chance to be part of a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is — and fix what's broken between her mom and her grandfather.

But Annies summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery, forgiveness, loss, and love, will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

 Dear Mr. Colby Sharp, 

Happy Saturday! I really need to buy a new iPhone. "There is not enough available storage" popped up before I was done talking. Oh well! One-take rule, sir!

Have a great day!


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino 

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by K.G. Campbell

George by Alex Gino 

Please, Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon 

Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora 

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Author-Illustrator Mike Boldt

Please welcome back author-illustrator Mike Boldt  to Watch. Connect. Read. HI, MIKE! He dropped by to finish my sentences and reveal the cover for his upcoming picture book, A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School). I wrote the words in orange, and he wrote the words in black. 

Thank you, Mike! I cannot wait to meet Anya in August 2016.  

A Tiger Tail tells the story of Anya, who wakes up one morning with a tiger tail. Not like a ponytail or pigtails, but a real tiger tail. This is a disaster in most circumstances, but especially today, which also happens to be Anya's first day of school.

I hope A Tiger Tail's cover piques the interest of anyone who has had to deal with something that's been out of their control - despite their best attempts.

I created  A Tiger Tail's illustrations based on one of my nieces who not only looks like Anya, but WHO shares her name and some of her personality. 


Mike Boldt has been my name
for quite a few years.

Some people call me an Author / Illustrator.
I’ve been called worse.
I still enjoy cartoons.
I like ice cream a lot.
I‘ve drawn since I was young.
I read (picture) books.
I like to write & draw them too.
I’m amazed and grateful every day this is my job.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Guest Post and Cover Reveal with Carrie Jones

I am ridiculously excited to share the cover for my first middle grade, Time Stoppers. This story is the story that made me want to be a writer. When I was a newspaper editor, I would tell it aloud to my daughter as we drove from Maine high school basketball games to planning board meetings. We were both completely in love with Annie and Jamie and we’d actually look forward to car rides. Luckily, I started writing the adventure down and that’s when I realized that writing stories for kids like Emily was way more fun than writing and editing newspaper stories for adults like me.

Time Stoppers by Carrie Jones | Bloomsbury | Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Annie Nobody thought she was, well, nobody, living in a nowhere town where nothing goes her way. Day 1 at her newest foster home proves to be dreadful, too... and things get even worse when she's chased by something big and scary that definitely wants to eat her.Luckily for Annie, not everything is what it seems, and she gets swept up—literally—by a sassy dwarf on a hovercraft snowmobile and taken to Aurora, a hidden, magical town on the coast of Maine. There, she finds a new best friend in Jamie Hephastion Alexander--who thought he was a normal kid (but just might be a troll)—and Annie discovers that she’s not exactly who she thought she was, either. She’s a Time Stopper, meant to protect the enchanted.

Together, Annie and Jamie discover a whole new world of magic, power, and an incredible cast of creatures and characters. But where there’s great power, there are also those who want to misuse it, and Aurora is under siege. It’s up to the kids to protect their new home, even if it means diving headfirst into magical danger.

New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones's middle grade debut is a sweeping fantasy adventure about kids finding their places in a magical world - perfect for fans of Percy Jackson or The Five Kingdoms.

October Activity Calendar

Happy National Squirrel Awareness Month! Happy Stamp Collecting Month! Happy Dental Hygenie Month! I love celebrating book birthdays, literacy events, authors, and month-long celebrations. LibrarySparks' activity calendar is a wonderful resource to help you and your students keep track of what's going on throughout October.

Click here to download this month's calendar.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Trailer Premiere: Please, Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe

Author Adam Lehrhaupt hasn't visited Watch. Connect. Read. since August 23, 2013! I'm thrilled he agreed to come back to share the book trailer for his hilarious picture book, Please, Open This Book! Thank you, Adam! 

Hi Mr. Schu! And howdy to all the wonderful kidlit folks out there! It’s Adam Lehrhaupt, chatting to you from the awesome digs here at Watch. Connect. Read. I am SUPER excited to share the trailer for my next picture book, PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK! I am once again teamed with the FABULOUS Matthew Forsythe and the great folks at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK! comes out on October 6th! It may even be available as you are reading this! That is SO COOL!!!

What’s it about? Well, the fine folks at S&S have this to say:

The award-winning creators of WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK! are back with another zany monkey adventure—and this time, it’s the MONKEYS that need your help!  

In PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK!, it is up to YOU to save the desperate group of monkeys trapped between the pages. This irresistibly entertaining rescue effort puts power in the hands of the page-turner, and giggles into everyone!

Sounds fun, right? So now, without any further ado, or monkeying about, I am overjoyed to present the trailer for PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK! 

Thanks for taking a peek. Hope you liked it. And remember, don’t be a book closer!

Trailer credit: Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Author Marilyn Hilton

My eyes tend to wander around my home office a lot when I'm working at my desk. 

What do I see to my left? My sweet cat.  

What do I see to my right? A copy of Crenshaw

What do I see if I look directly in front of me? Flora Belle Buckman, Beekle, Babymouse, The Marvels, and Full Cicada Moon. 

What's that? You want to learn about Cicada Moon? Well, it's your lucky day! Author Marilyn Hilton dropped by to chat with me about Cicada Moon, school libraries, reading, and tap dancing. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Marilyn!  

Mimi Yoshiko Oliver thinks everyone is created equal, and no one should have to fight for equal justice, equal respect, or equal protection. And it’s a person’s responsibility to speak up when those rights are given to some people but not everyone. She also thinks Vermont is a beautiful state, especially in the fall. And she still thinks cooties are kinda stupid.

I hope Full Cicada Moon will help readers see themselves or someone they know in Mimi—as she strives to fit in, to be taken seriously, and to be appreciated for her uniqueness; in her perspective of life, her belief in justice for everyone, her resilience to changes and disappointments, her respect for others and herself, her love for her family and friends, her perseverance in spite of opposition, her courage to speak up and speak out instead of keeping quiet; for her interest in things other people may laugh at, and her faith in taking one small step—even when it’s really scary—toward reaching her goals. And then I hope readers will use these awesome qualities of theirs whenever they face similar challenges.

Visit Marilyn's website. 
In 1969 the United States was looking back at a decade of tremendous cultural, social, and political change and looking forward to one of the most momentous events in all history. On July 20, 1969, I watched the first moon walk on TV. It was late at night, but my parents let me stay up to witness that historical event. I watched the moon’s surface slide by as the Eagle lunar module skimmed the surface to find the right landing spot. I watched Neil Armstrong step off the ladder of the Eagle, onto the moon’s surface (we all held our breaths), and heard him say, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The next day I grabbed our copy of The Boston Globe newspaper and kept it in a drawer for many years. (I think it’s still tucked away in a box in my garage.) Then, twenty five years later, my first baby was born. July 20 is a very special date for me!

Full Cicada Moon’s dust jacket made me gasp when I first saw it. The cover art perfectly captures the essence of this story. The exquisite “Mimi” with the full moon behind her, falling snow around her, and bare winter branches above her—which reminded me of Japanese sumi-e (black ink painting)—all made me happy, and excited to realize that Full Cicada Moon was actually going to be a book!

School libraries are magical places filled with hundreds of new worlds to explore just by reading. School libraries smell lovely—they smell like books! The people who work in school libraries love books, love stories, love reading, and love students. And they love connecting students with the perfect books for them to read. School libraries are also places where students find a place to do their homework after school, research information for their projects, make new friends and grow the friendships they already have, and find acceptance for their quirky and cool interests. Schools need to give their libraries higher priority when evaluating their budgets—because look at all the amazing things that happen in school libraries!

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I have so many books but not enough shelves for them all. (After 23 years of marriage, my poor husband has finally accepted my addiction to books.) But I share the ones I’ve read by giving them to public and school libraries, and by lending them to friends who also love to read. It feels good to introduce other people to great books and wonderful authors.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I like to tap dance. I would have said I LOVE TO TAP DANCE! It’s so much fun, it’s great exercise and gives you confidence to try other new things, and you get to wear fun costumes at your recitals!

Borrow Full Cicada Moon from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.