Sunday, August 30, 2015

FLOAT by Daniel Miyares

Hi, Daniel! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. As you’ve read on social media, I am WILD about FLOAT. I keep buying copies when I visit bookshops to give away to teachers and librarians. I want this book in as many schools and libraries as possible. 

Daniel Miyares: Wow, what a way to open! The support you and so many others have shown for Float has been quite overwhelming. You’re a class act Mr. Schu. I can’t thank you enough.

No, I cannot thank you enough for creating Float.

Daniel Miyares: When I’m working on a new book I’m usually just focused on how do I tell this story in the most personal and well-crafted way I can. Now to have it out in the world and see and hear people’s reactions to it has been amazing. Everyone brings something different to the story. I love that.

It really shows. Thank you!

What planted the seed for Float?

Daniel Miyares: I was on a plane flying home from my Aunt’s funeral. It had been raining all day and I did this small ink sketch of a boy floating a paper boat in a puddle. I wondered what happened before that moment and drew that. Then I wondered what happened immediately after and drew that. I went on like this throughout the flight until I found the beginning and the end of the story. I’ve always used drawing as a way to quietly make sense of the world around me. Not sure if that’s what I was doing then, but it was a very introspective time for me.

Let’s pretend we’re on Twitter right now. Please book talk Float using 140 characters or fewer. Good luck!

Daniel Miyares: Float is a story about a boy, his paper boat and a rainy day adventure- a wordless portrait of play, imagination, risk, resiliency and joy.

Bravo! A+

Congratulations on becoming a paper boat captain! How many paper boats do you think you’ve folded since you started working on Float? :) 

Daniel Miyares: You know when I started out as a paper boat deckhand, I never imagined I might someday captain one of my own. I’ve totally lost count of how many boats I’ve folded.  Let’s call it a flotilla’s worth at least.

Well, I need to start practicing.

Were you an avid writer and drawer growing up? What did 9-year-old Daniel love to read and draw?

Daniel Miyares: I would say I was an avid drawer growing up, but a secret writer. I drew and painted constantly from as early as I can remember. No scrap of paper or wall for that matter was safe in my house.

In elementary school, I had a teacher that introduced us to Shel Silverstein and my head exploded. I couldn’t believe that we were allowed to read this stuff in school…and the drawings were so wacky! There were kids with fingers stuck up their noses and heads where backsides should be. It felt like home. I also collected a lot of comic books and had a subscription to Mad Magazine. Spy vs Spy was a favorite.

My thing was making up characters and imagining all the adventures they had. I would write to create stories around my characters, but I didn’t really share those with anyone. Later on I got into writing poetry but I didn’t share that either. It wasn’t until much later on and I started crafting picture book ideas to pitch to publishers that I really started putting my writing out there. It took me a long time to connect the dots and feel confident in doing it.

Please complete these sentence starters:

Reading is the only super power that can be taught and learned. My daughter is learning to read right now and I get to see firsthand how much confidence she’s gaining through the process. It’s a great reminder to me just how wild and precious a thing reading is.

Picture books are catalysts for some of the most lasting discoveries a child will ever make. This is why I might also say – Making picture books is an honor and a great responsibility. There is something about the format that demands excellence from the maker and attention from the reader in equal proportion.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...What’s on the horizon?

I just finished up two new picture books. One is a collaboration with Kwame Alexander and NorthSouth Books called Surf’s Up. In it two frog friends have every intention of making it to the beach to catch a wave, but the book one of them is reading ends up taking them both on a paradigm shifting detour neither will forget. It comes out February of 2016. The other is my next book with Simon & Schuster titled Bring Me A Rock! I’m the author and illustrator on this one. It’s about an over bearing megalomaniac insect king’s obsession and the tiny bug who saves the day. To be released Summer 2016.

John, I still can’t thank you enough for all the care and support you’ve shown Float and for the opportunity to talk about books with you and your readers. I’m learning that the books community is truly a heartfelt, insightful and generous group of folks. You’re a bright shining example of that.

Thank you, Daniel! You are a class act!

Borrow Float from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I look forward to celebrating young readers, books, authors, and more with you this fall! 

Enjoy every moment before you head back to school!

Your friend,


Please visit Mr. Sharp's blog to watch his video. 

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo 

The Wild Ones by C. Alexander London 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cover Reveal for Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo

As the president of the Lauren Castillo Fan Club, I am honored to reveal the cover for her 2016 picture book with Jane Smiley, Twenty Yawns. Take it away, Lauren! 

It was such an honor to be asked to illustrate Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smileys debut picture book, Twenty Yawns. When I first read the manuscript, I immediately imagined Southern California, and knew I would need to make a trip out there for some inspiration. Travel builds visual vocabulary, and whenever I go somewhere new it helps me grow as an artist. Little did I know taking on this project would prompt me to relocate to the West Coast for eight sunny months. I made all the illustrations for this book while living in a tiny beach house rental in North County San Diego. It was the first time I completed art for a book away from my studio. I took minimal supplies no drafting table! but I made it work. I sketched at the beach, in coffee shops, and on the floor of my little bungalow. It was a challenge, but a great one, which helped me realize just how important it is to get outside of my creative comfort zone. (A lesson Nana has been trying to teach me for a while :))

While the early part of the book takes place at the beach, the rest of the story happens in the cozy home of a little girl named Lucy, after a long day of beachy play. Both of Lucys parents have fallen asleep, but she is wide awake and feeling restless. One by one, she collects her furry friends and brings them to her bedroom to keep her company.  Once all are snuggled in bed, Lucy finally feels relaxed enough to drift off to sleep. 

For the cover image of the book I created a close-up of Lucy and her dear friends, tucked tight under the blankets right before the twentieth and final yawn of the story. This illustration makes me smile. And YAWN.

I hope youll keep an eye out for our sleepy little book at your local bookshop next spring! 

, Lauren

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illustrated by Lauren Castillo | Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Featuring lyrical text and beautiful illustrations, this bedtime tale from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo evokes the splashy fun of the beach and the quietude of a moonlit night, with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.
As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I love my book club!


Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky designed a beautiful Little Free Library for me.


Every Crayon Needs a Place to Call Home


Teacher-librarian Sara Ralph sent me this WONDERFUL tote bag designed by Lauren Castillo for my birthday. THANK YOU, SARA!


"McToad likes Thursdays." -Tom Angleberger, from McToad Mows Tiny Island


What do you think they are waiting for? 


Earth, Wind, and Fire 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Today's #Kidlit Sticker (2015-2016 School Year Gallery)

The 2015-2016 school year is going to be filled with many changes and exciting adventures. 

1. I am no longer the teacher-librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School. 

2. I will miss seeing my students every day, but I am honored and excited to serve as the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. This new role will allow me to work with students, teachers, and librarians around the country. 

3. I am teaching Materials for Children (eCollege course) for Rutgers University. w00t! w00t! 

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that every school day I wear a different #kidlit sticker close to my heart. There is no reason for me to give up this tradition, right? Absolutely not! 

Once the sticker is created, printed, and attached to my body, I will add it to this blog entry. Sound good? Perfect! 

Sticker #1

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm; illustrated by Matthew Holm 

Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

The Wild Ones by C. Alexander London 

Sticker #2

Waiting by Kevin Henkes | Publication Date: September 1, 2015

          Sticker (button) #3

Little Robot by Ben Hatke

Sticker #4

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon | Publication Date: January 5, 2016

A Guest Post and Video Interview with John and Cathryn Sill

We think a naturalist is someone who loves and appreciates nature. We hope that the About Habitats series will encourage or even create naturalists among our young readers. Those who appreciate the natural world will be much more inclined to protect it.

Visit Peachtree Publishers' website to learn more about the About... series. 

Download an educators' guide to The About...series. 

Read about the About Habitats series. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Happy Saturday, Colby Sharp and Lauren Castillo!

Dear Mr. Sharp and Lauren Castillo, 

Happy Saturday! I hope you both have a very happy Saturday and Sunday! I cannot wait to hang out during #NCTE15. 

Your friend,


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video.

Happy Saturday from Lauren Castillo! 

The Yarn by Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker


The Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad