Monday, January 31, 2011

2012 Rebecca Caudill Nominees

Schools and libraries in Illinois promote the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award. It is a children's choice program for readers in grades four through eight. The 2012 Rebecca Caudill nominees were announced earlier today.

The purposes of the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award are:

To encourage children and young adults to read for personal satisfaction.
To develop a statewide awareness of outstanding literature for children and young people and to promote a desire for literacy.
To encourage cooperation among Illinois agencies providing educational and library service to young people.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cat the Cat, Who is That?

I'm the self-proclaimed president of the Mo Willems fan club. Mo's books scream "READ ME." Grab a couple Cat the Cat books, round up a herd of children, and prepare to laugh. Thank you, Mo Willems, for making my job easier.

Browse inside Cat the Cat, Who is That?

My kindergarten students love Play games, watch videos, and read about all the titles in the Cat the Cat series.

Mo teaches you how to draw Cat the Cat using letters and numbers.

A friend and I take a yearly road trip. Knuffle Bunny and Pigeon joined us a few years ago. Maybe one day Cat the Cat will pack her bags.

Cat the Cat will look great in your library!

Becky Anderson, the owner of Anderson's Bookshop, interviews Mo.

City Dog, Country Frog was inspired by Nelson Willems.

Mo makes sure all of his characters are simple enough for children to draw.

Borrow Cat the Cat from your school or public library. Please support independent bookshops.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little White Rabbit

Kevin Henkes is a Renaissance man. He can do it all: mouse books, picture books, and novels. This afternoon I read Little White Rabbit to kindergarten. After every read-aloud, I say, "And that's the story of__________ by ___________." We clap for 5-7 seconds and then students share their favorite and least favorite parts and illustrations.

Here's what they said about Little White Rabbit:


Thank you, Kevin Henkes, for Little White Rabbit. It is a delight to read alone and to a group.

Browse inside Little White Rabbit.

Download a teaching guide and activities.

Kevin Henkes got the idea for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse in an airport.

Old Bear received a 2009 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award for Picture Book. (It should have won a Caldecott Honor.)

Are you saying Henkes correctly?

Junonia goes on sale May 24, 2011. Description from HarperCollins:

Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?

Alice's friends are all returning, too. And she's certain her parents have the best party planned for her. Alice can't wait. If Alice is lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

Place a hold at your school or public library. Please support independent bookshops.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Amulet: The Stonekeeper

I taught third grade for four years. Every morning I placed a book and a short message on two or three students' desks. Sometimes the books and students matched, and sometimes they did not. One morning a finicky reader found Amulet: The Stonekeeper on his desk. He usually ignored the note and shoved the book in his desk. Not that day. The cover caught his eye. And guess what? He started reading the words and studying the pictures. He finished it during recess. On the way back to the classroom, he handed me Amulet and said, "When are you going to buy the second book?" A graphic novel reader was born. Thank you, Kazu Kibuishi.

Meet the characters of Amulet: The Stonekeeper

Create your own Amulet graphic novel

A reporter from Ideas in Writing Kids Club interviews Kazu.

Kazu shares sketches from Amulet 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse

Learn how to draw Miskit, Emily, and Navin.

Scholastic booktalk for The Stonekeeper

E-mail a friend an Amulet postcard.

Borrow the Amulet series from your school or public library. Please support independent bookshops.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling

The same students visit the library every morning and ask, "Mr. Schu, do you have any new books?" I visit Anderson's Bookshop multiple times per week to keep these voracious readers happy. It is a job I LOVE and take seriously. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place made its way around this group. They held impromptu book discussions and talked about the characters for months. Thank you, Maryrose Wood, for giving us Penelope Lumley, Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia.

Read the first chapter of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place and download a discussion guide.

How many squirrels can you catch? (Don't play this game on January 21st!)

Maryrose Wood describes the Incorrigible Children in 10 words.

Learn how to Ahw000000000000000!

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery will be released on 2/22/11. Read chapters 1-2.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place need your help building a tower.

Maryrose Wood played Ms. Gordon in the original Broadway cast of Merrily We Roll Along.

Borrow The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place from your school or public library. Please support independent bookshops.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I have "read" The Invention of Hugo Cabret's opening sequence at least 150 times. It feels like you're watching a movie. I asked 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to share what they liked about Hugo.
    • "It is one of the best books I've ever read. It took me forever to find a good book after it. Nothing has ever compared."

    • "It is a true masterpiece."

    • "I liked the sequence of events--it is full of mystery and shocking surprises."

    • "I kept putting off reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret because of its size. Don't be afraid! You will read it in 3 hours."

    • "I hope the movie is as good as the book. "

    • "I like how it zooms in. The details amazed me."

Brian Selznick talks about how Hugo was made. is the first book website I remember regularly checking.

Brian discusses detail and light.

Isabelle's haircut was modeled after actress Louise Brooks.

A Trip to the Moon and movies of the 1930s inspired The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret video booktalk

My signed copy: :)

I won't argue with Brian Selznick. ;)

"I've always loved libraries." -Brian Selznick

This is an illustration from Brian's forthcoming novel, Wonderstruck (pub. 9/13/11)

Borrow The Invention of Hugo Cabret from your public or school library. Please support independent bookshops.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm

(Thanks to Monica Edinger for tweeting the link)

I read Betsy Bird's blog every morning. This past summer she posted a rave review of A Tale Dark and Grimm. I rearranged my schedule and headed to Anderson's Bookshop to buy a copy.

10 minutes later...

Me: Betsy Bird reviewed a book I need. It is called Dark and Grimm Tales.

Favorite bookseller: Hmmm. I'm not familar with it. (searches Books in Print) Nothing is coming up.

Me: (pulls out iPhone.) Oh, it is called A Tale Dark and Grimm.

Favorite bookseller: It doesn't come out until October. Sorry.

Me: EEK!!!!!

Nearly four months later Anderson's called to say it arrived. I raced through it, loving every word. It begs to be read aloud to fourth and fifth graders. Thank you, Adam Gidwitz, for this grim tale.

The first chapter is available online. I suggest borrowing or buying it. You'll want to KEEP reading.

Visit to learn about Mr. Gidwitz.

Publisher's Weekly named Adam one of their Fall 2010 Flying Starts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher

Sometimes it happens, though not frequently, that I booktalk a book I have not read. It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and unprepared. Missile Mouse was one of those booktalks. I stumbled through the talk and not one third grader checked it out . Given the underwhelming student response, I spent my lunch period searching for a book trailer. VoilĂ ! I found an awesome music video/book trailer on Jake Parker's blog. The afternoon classes watched it and everyone wanted to read Missile Mouse. Thank you, Jake Parker, for helping me when I was in a pickle. (Note: The next day I read Missile Mouse.)

Browse inside Missile Mouse.

Jake Parker shows how he inks Missile Mouse.

Watch Missile Mouse come to life.

Jake Parker takes you inside Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3. It was released on 1/1/11. is the place for Missile Mouse updates and to view Jake's other projects.

Borrow Missile Mouse from your school or public library. Please support independent bookshops.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School

Andrew Clements is the master of the school story. During college, I spent a semester immersed in his books. Frindle, The School Story, The Landry News, and The Janitor's Boy were scattered around my dorm room. His books appeared in multiple lesson plans and booktalks. Eventually, I experienced ANDREW CLEMENTS BURNOUT and stopped reading his books.

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We the Children reignited my love for his books. Thank you, Andrew Clements, for the Benjamin Pratt series.

Read an excerpt from We the Children.

Andrew Clements discusses his writing process and Benjamin Pratt.

Take a peek inside Andrew's writing cottage.

Anna McKean interviews Andrew Clements about his new series.

Andrew Clements wishes he were half as organized as Benjamin Franklin.

Andrew Clements was a public school teacher before he was an author.

Fear Itself is the second book in the Benjamin Pratt series. It was released on January 4, 2011.

Visit to learn about his novels, chapter books, picture books, and curriculum books.

Scholastic created an Andrew Clements Author Study.

Watch the book trailer for Things Hoped For.

Borrow We the Children and Fear Itself from your public or school library. Please support independent bookshops.