Thursday, November 26, 2015

I'm Thankful for YOU and BOOKS

On this Thanksgiving, I hope you're surrounded by friends, family, and books. Stacks and stacks of books. 

Since there are 12 months in the year, I selected 12 titles I'm grateful were published in 2015. If you haven't already check out these books, I hope you will in the coming months. Happy reading and eating! 

1. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan 

2. Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia 

3. Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon by Kate DiCamillo

4. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate 

5. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate 

6. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson 

7. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson 

8. Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney 

9. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm 

10. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall 

11. Yard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo 

12. Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Guest Post by Ozge Samanci

My Aunty Nuran is very stylish and she has drawers full of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, tasteful but not expensive jewelry. When I was a child digging her drawers and trying her jewelry was our favorite game. Eight years ago my Aunty Nuran was getting rid of her jewelry from 80s, which included big fancy and bold pieces. She thought of my collages and kept them for me. On one of my visits to Turkey she handed them to me and I used them in many of collages through years. Even though I have not have a chance to tell stories about my Aunty Nuran in Dare to Disappoint you will see a couple of my aunt’s jewelry in the book.

Growing up on the Aegean Coast, Ozge loved the sea and imagined a life of adventure while her parents and society demanded predictability. Her dad expected Ozge, like her sister, to become an engineer. She tried to hear her own voice over his and the religious and militaristic tensions of Turkey and the conflicts between secularism and fundamentalism. Could she be a scuba diver like Jacques Cousteau? A stage actress? Would it be possible to please everyone including herself?

In her unpredictable and funny graphic memoir, Ozge recounts her story using inventive collages, weaving together images of the sea, politics, science, and friendship.

11/16 – Supernatural Snark 
11/17 – Forever YA 
11/18 – Teen Lit Rocks 
11/19 – Kid Lit Frenzy 
11/20 – The Book Wars 
11/24 – Fly to Fiction 
11/25 – Watch Connect Read 
11/26 – Stacked 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Illustrator Rafael López

Happy Monday! The #SharpSchu Book Club is discussing and celebrating Margarita Engle and Rafael López's Drum Dream Girl on December 16. Rafael dropped by to chat with me about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, Tito Puente, reading, picture books, and murals. I wrote the words in orange, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Rafael! 

When I received the manuscript for Drum Dream Girl I fell under the magical spell of Margarita’s poetic words-a dreamlike blend of imagination and reality. I put on a favorite Compay Segundo album and moved my congas next to the drawing table. I closed my eyes and began to see the mixing of drumbeats and brushstrokes.

Illustration credit:  Rafael López
Margarita Engle and I were of the same mind in what we wanted to create with this book. Her poetic style gave me the freedom to invent, and I hoped the pictures would encourage children to do their own dreaming.

Illustration credit: Rafael López
I created the illustrations for Drum Dream Girl trying to dance intuitively between dreams and reality. I wanted readers to enter our heroine’s surreal world with us and crisscross that river of abstraction back to realism. It was important to build a visual bridge connecting those two compelling aspects of Millo’s story.

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga’s determined spirit reminded me of my mother Pillo. In the early 50’s living in Mexico City she was ahead of her time and decided to become an architect. Her family told her absolutely not but she secretly enrolled in architectural school, paying for her education by taking several odd jobs. Millo’s courage to follow her passion regardless of the obstacles is an inspiring story for dreamers far and wide.

Book Fiesta! was out to prove there is a big beautiful world of readers out there and you can fall for a book anywhere- under the ocean in a submarine or in the mouth of a whale. The visuals come from a kid’s point of view-after all who hasn’t read to their pets? I wanted diverse children to see themselves with books having incredible adventures and threw reality out the window. My son once told me my pencil was a magic wand and I’m always trying to prove that.

Tito Puente, Mambo King! tells the story of El Rey del Mambo.  I used lots of visual metaphors and always paint listening to music, mostly Latin jazz. I let the creative forces dance in my head. I was lucky to have seen Tito Puente perform live on the streets of San Diego and create a United States postal stamp honoring him and other Latin music legends.

Picture books are refreshment for thirsty eyes. Many kids and adults [myself included] are visual learners. Engaging children in the dialogue between the world of words and images creates lifelong book passion. What could be more important?

Reading is travel to magical, far away places where you can explore the distant corners of your own imaginations. The farther you go the more you will live fully.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my community murals. It’s like making a gigantic paint by numbers and it’s thrilling for small hands to make something so BIG. I have worked with hundreds of kids and families to make murals in schools, children’s hospitals and parking lots

Borrow Rafael López's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cover Reveal for Little Elliot, Big Fun

The "Why Picture Books Matter" session at #NCTE15 ended 25 minutes ago. During the session, I had the honor of revealing the cover for Little Elliot, Big Fun.  W00t! w00t! 

I cannot wait to read Elliot's third book on October 4, 2016. 

Mike Curato finished my sentences when Little Elliot, Big City came out. I had fun re-reading his responses to my sentence starters, so maybe you will as well. I wrote the words in red, and Mike wrote the words in black .

Little, Elliot, Big City tells the story of friendship and perspective through the eyes of a little polka-dotted elephant with a great big heart.

The illustrations for Little, Elliot, Big City are the pieces of art that I always wanted to make. They are pencil drawings that I scan and color in Photoshop. For Little Elliot, I like working in a muted color palette to add to the nostalgia of the period.

Mike created this window display for Books of Wonder
Elliot’s apartment can be a bit challenging for him, since he’s so small. You’ll often find him climbing something. Elliot discovered a new purpose for his favorite books; when he’s not reading them, he’s usually climbing them.

Cupcakes are one of the five basic food groups...right? Regardless, they are the main staple of white polka-dotted elephants.

Picture books are my dream, and now my reality!

Reading is vital.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me where does Elliot live? Well, many people assume that he lives in Manhattan, but he actually lives in Brooklyn and commutes to Manhattan for his treats, just like me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kate DiCamillo Reflects on Her Term as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

 I have been running around all day feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for #NCTE15. My to-do list felt out of control until about twenty minutes ago when The Washington Post uploaded Kate DiCamillo's reflection on her time as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Kate's words calmed me. She reminded me to enjoy every moment and to take a break from working on presentations to read two chapters of Sharon Robinson's The Hero Two Doors Down.  Isn't reading the biggest stress reliever? It is for me! 

Now off you go to read Kate's essay. You're welcome! :) 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Booktalks at Edgewood School

Happy Tuesday! I spent two glorious days delivering booktalking and reading picture books with the fine, fine students at Edgewood School. The adorable kindergartners made me laugh out loud and the thoughtful sixth graders reminded me of the importance of student choice and access to books. Thank you, Mrs. Kelly, for letting me spend time in your special space. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Where Will I Be at #NCTE15?

Friday 11/20 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM in Minneapolis Convention Center, Auditorium 2

Join five Newbery-winning authors as they discuss the power of story, share the stories behind the stories, and reflect on how “Stories Connect Us.” Participants will walk away with innovative ways to celebrate, booktalk, promote, champion, and integrate award-winning books into their curriculum.


Saturday 11/21 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM in Minneapolis Convention Center, L100E

Why do picture books matter? Why should we use picture books with all ages? How can we use picture books as mentor texts? Please join Mike Curato, Lauren Castillo, Molly Idle, Tom Lichtenheld, and Elisha Cooper as they answer these important questions and many more.