Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Guest Post by Jay Hosler

Jay Hosler is taking over this blog for the day to tell us about Lucy, a character from his forthcoming graphic novel, Last of the Sandwalkers. Thank you, Jay!

Character Name: Lucy
Species: Stenocara dentata
Length: 15 mm
Color: Black.
Habitat: desert
Superpower: Pulling water from the desert air

Imagine you are lost in the dunes of the Namibian desert. It’s sweltering, your thirsty and the canteen you brought with you is bone dry. For anyone else it would be a dire situation, but not for you. You hunker down and wait for the morning fog to roll in and then you stand on your head and collect water on your backside. At least, that’s what you do if you’re the fog-basking beetle Stenocara dentata.

This resourceful little beetle has a remarkable adaptation on its elytra. Elytra are hardened outer wings that protect a more delicate set of wings underneath. When most beetles want to fly, the lift their elytra and their wings unfold. Not so with Stenocara. Their elytra are fused shut and they can’t get airborne, but what is lost in aeronautical ability is more than made up in hydrodynamic hijinx.

The mechanism they use to collect water is a marvel of evolution. Stenocara’s elytra are covered in several little bumps.

In addition, the elytra are also covered in a thin, waxy film. This layer of wax acts as a sealant to prevent water from escaping or entering the beetle’s body. However, there are small spots on top of each of the elytra bumps where the wax is absent. At these wax-free places, water can condense from the air and form droplets. Stenocara can stand on their head in the morning fog and allow water droplets to form on their backs. When the water droplets get too big, they roll off the bumps, across the waxy elytra and down into the beetles mouth. You can watch them in action in this video from the BBC.

In Last of the Sandwalkers, Lucy is a quick-witted, inventive Stenocara dentata who leads the team on their adventure into the wild. Her mouth can get her in over her head sometimes, but her brain can usually get her out of hot water.

Borrow Last of the Sandwalkers from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

#HoldShelf Gallery: March 2015

I have a large group of students who visit the library almost every day to place books on hold and to check on the status of their holds. After they place a book on hold or pick up a special book that is waiting for them on the hold shelf, they often look at displays, have conversations with me, and find something they didn't know they needed. The hold shelf brings readers to the library. 

Let's take a look at what readers around the world are excited to read. 

Travis Jonker's shelf

My shelf

Bernard Zell Anshe Emet School's shelf 

Jessup School's shelf 

Coudersport Elementary School's shelf

Elizabeth Husketh's shelf

Apollo's shelf 

South Mebane Elementary's shelf

Westchester Elementary School's shelf

Dana Frank's shelf

Perryton Junior High's shelf

Rush Creek Elementary School's shelf 

Gretchen's shelf 

Angie Woodson's shelf 

Megan's shelf 

Linda's shelf 

Mrs. N's shelf 

Maria's shelf

Campbell Middle School's shelf 

Brenda Kahn's shelf

Wallace Elementary School

Shari Butterfield's shelf 

Amy Ball's shelf 

Diane Brown's shelf 

Jamie Jensen's shelf 

Amy Timmins' shelf

Jennifer Gordon's shelf 

Debbie Alvarez's shelf 

Book Tasty's shelf 

Irving School's shelf 

Sharon Peterson's shelf 

Mrs. Greer's shelf 

King County Library's shelf

Rebecca Wynkoop's shelf

Bethe Marie Lehman's shelf 

@BooksonBikes' shelf 

Carver Middle School's shelf

Chad Reno's shelf 

Bryant Elementary School's shelf

Oak School's shelf 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I checked out these books from the Naperville Public Library. 


In honor of The Day the Crayons Quit winning the 2015 Monarch Book Award, first graders wrote about their favorite colors. 


What's on the hold shelf? 


Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate visited Anderson's Bookshop. 


This display in my home office makes me ridiculously happy. 

Good thing Sea Rex arrived with sunscreen! :) 


I cannot see my nieces without giving them a stack of books. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I hope you had the best time at the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference last night. I enjoyed reading the tweets and watching the vines. 

Have a safe and fun drive to Alabama with your family! 

Happy spring break! 


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Illustrator Christopher Silas Neal

Many of you are getting ready to work in your gardens and beautify your yards. Before you start digging in the dirt, I recommend you read Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. It is a scrumptious treat from cover to cover. 

Illustrator Christopher Silas Neal dropped by to chat with me about Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner, animals, picture books, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Many thanks, Christopher! 

Kate Messner and I have worked together on two books. The second of those books is out now. It’s called Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. Kate writes, I draw, Chronicle books puts it all together to make something delightful and informative.

The illustrations for Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt were really fun to make! Along with many different flowers and vegetables, you’ll find drawings of a skunk, a rabbit, a snake, and a praying mantis.

My favorite thing about summer is that I ride my bike to my studio every single day. Oh, and I love the beach.

Animals are amazing. I can’t stop making books about them.

When I was in elementary school I loved Michael Jackson. I had an outfit with one glove that sparkled. Then I saw a Michael Jackson cover band and afterwards gave my glove to the female lead singer. She was amazing and felt she could make better use of the glove than I ever would.

Picture books are magic and reading is nourishment.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my cat Fabrizio. He’s an Italian, orange tabby. Weighing a hefty 19 pounds doesn’t stop him from chasing robins in our garden. He sleeps a lot and is always hungry. I may be writing a book inspired by him.

Borrow Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Q&A with the Stars of How to Surprise a Dad

Hi, Brother! Hi, Sister! This is the first time I've interviewed fictional characters. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I know you have a million other things you could be doing right now.

You two are the masters of planning surprises. Please tell us about three of the surprises you planned for your dad. 

Brother: First of all, “Thank you, Mr. Schu!”  We’ve never been interviewed before.  It’s always, always Jean-the-author who gets interviewed.  

Sister: Yep, ditto to the thank you!  Okay, so my favorite surprise isn’t in the book.  One fall, we secretly planted crocus bulbs.  Dad had no idea until spring came, and the flowers peeked through the snow.  

B: I loved hiding hearts everywhere because weeks and weeks later he’d still find a random, forgotten heart.  

S: Another favorite was when we made a secret treasure map of our yard for his birthday surprise.  It was fun to plan, and it was hilarious to watch him follow the clues.  

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish

The cake you made for your dad is really something. How could someone recreate it? 

B: It’s tricky, but with icing—lots of icing—it's easy.  First, make the shape of your dad’s head by piling up a bunch of cupcakes or by stacking different-sized cake layers.  Cover the pile with lots of icing. Use candy, nuts, and fruit bits to add his face, plus glasses, beard, mustache, hair, and ears.  Go wild!  That’s what our illustrator, Lee Wildish, did.

S: Or keep it simple.  Use just one layer of cake.  With a little icing, make your dad’s face on the top, flat part.  Kinda like decorating a pancake.  So much easier.

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish 

What five words best describe your dad?  

S:   Outdoorsy.
B:   Ticklish.
S:   Good-listener. 
B:   Super-reader.

Please finish these sentence starters: 

Picture books are where we come alive! It's the only place we come alive!

Reading is exciting—alone or with others!

It’s exciting for me now, but I had a really hard time learning to read.  (So did Jean-the-author when she was a kid.)  I worked hard, and it seemed like everyone around me caught on easily.  I kept working hard and still I had trouble.  It didn’t seem fair.

B: Yeah, it wasn’t fair, because she did work hard.  And boy, did she get frustrated.  

S: Our author got frustrated too. But then finally, I learned to read. So if you’re struggling, hang in there. Keep trying and you will eventually learn to read. And like me, I bet you’ll LOVE reading!  

Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish...

S: . . . are a great team.  Jean sometimes gets a little too sappy or serious.  Lee ups the silliness.  In fact, I think he sometimes steals the show with his illustrations!

B: Did you know these two have never met? They haven’t even emailed each other directly. They communicate only through their editors and art directors. Surprising, isn’t it?

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us...

B: ...if we’re going to star in another book.  Well, we’re not in their next book which is about  Santa.  But, I’m hoping we’ll be in the book after that. Mr. Schu, you’ll like that one—it’s about teachers, including a librarian, of course.

S: I want to be in the recess illustration, because I know some cool tricks on the monkey bars.  

B: I hear the classroom pet is an iguana, so I hope to be in charge of feeding and exercising it.  

B & S: Thanks, Mr. Schu.  Maybe you can interview us again when we're in another book.  Happy reading!

Thank you, Brother, Sister, and Jean Reagan! 

Borrow How to Surprise a Dad from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Message from the Children's Book Council

Voting for the Children's Choice Book Awards-- the only national book awards program where the winners are picked by young readers -- is open at until May 3!  

Visit the resource page for teachers, packed with fun ideas to kick start your school's celebration!
  • Display the finalists in your class.
  • Encourage kids to read and vote for their favorites online.
  • Turn your classroom into a polling place! Print copies of the ballots (children's ballotteen ballot), then host a polling day or create a ballot box. You can then tally and enter students' votes into the group ballot.
  • Use "I Voted" stickers, Awards banners, and more from our digital toolkit.

Last year, over 1,200,000 young readers made their voices heard!