Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Chicken Problem Trifecta

Colby Sharp and I are wild about Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson's The Chicken Problem. It is hilarious, a fun read-aloud, and a perfect choice for elementary school collections. Today, we are giving it the Sharp-Schu trifecta treatment. 

I asked my students to respond to The Chicken Problem's book trailer. Here is what they said: 

*"I like that the book trailer is animated."

*"The chickens in the background are so cute." 

*"The purple cat has the funniest expressions. He makes me laugh."

*"Peg's voice is perfect." 

*"The chicken's expressions are funny." 

"I like when Peg says, "Uh-oh." 

*"I want to know how Peg and Cat solve the chicken problem." 

*"I didn't want the book trailer to end. It felt like I was watching a cartoon." 

Colby Sharp's students wrote a review and interviewed Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. 

I am giving away one copy of The Chicken Problem. 

Rules for the Giveaway

1. The giveaway will run from September 30 to 11:59 P.M. on October 3. 

2. You must be at least 13 to enter. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Jennifer and Billy interviewed each other on the Nerdy Book Club's blog. 

Borrow The Chicken Problem from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Newbery Challenge: It's Like This, Cat!

The Newbery Challenge is more fun now that Colby Sharp and I are reading books published in the 1960s.  I think It's Like This, Cat will go down as the strangest Newbery Medal winner. 

Visit Colby's blog to hear what he thought of It's Like This, Cat. 

"Every Monday, a Newbery-winning cover gets a redo. For more of the good, bad, and badder, click here for the Covering the Newbery gallery." -Travis Jonker 

Borrow It's Like This, Cat from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

Friday, September 28, 2012

Author Shelley Moore Thomas

Every Friday, I invite an author or an educator to complete my sentences. Shelley Moore Thomas (aka the Story Queen) is both an educator and an author. She writes exciting books for beginning and middle-grade readers. Her tenth book, The Seven Tales of Trinket, was released earlier this month.

I wrote the words in red, and Shelley wrote the words in black. Thank you, Shelley!

The Seven Tales of Trinket is really a bit of a love story about stories and how they can heal people, and maybe even save people altogether.  (That’s the fancy answer). The non-fancy answer is:  The Seven Tales of Trinket is about a girl’s search for her storytelling father who disappeared long ago.  Following the old map he left behind, Trinket journeys to unusual places, meets magical creatures, and collects amazing stories. I have always been intrigued by Celtic folktales, especially ones with selkies, banshees, pookas, ghosts, or faeries. Lucky for Trinket, she gets to meet them all! The Seven Tales of Trinket is the kind of book I love best--filled with magic and adventure, heart and soul.

I tell stories because I love them, because they are part of our collective human heritage, because the best stories make life more meaningful, because everyone loves a good story.

If I visited your school or library you would find lots and lots of books! You would also find a giant poster of Albert Einstein, four Star Wars stuffed animals, an Indiana Jones Mr. Potato Head,and four tall glass jars in which I place House Points (ala Hogwarts.) I currently teach third grade as well tell stories to the whole school as the Story Queen, so you would see lots and lots of kids on the playground giving me the Royal Wave.  Story Day is well-loved.

The Good Knight series started out as a mistake in my writing book!  I meant to write the words: Good night but I accidentally wrote: Good Knight.  I went to cross it out, but then it kind of cracked me up.  I figured there was a story in there somewhere.  And there was.

Jennifer Plecas's illustrations are whimsical, detailed and completely perfect.

Reading is a treat. Life is so busy with being a teacher, a writer, a mom, and a wife, that when I get to sit down and read, it feels like a gift.  The best gift in the world, really.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my next book. But then again, it’s probably good you didn’t, since I have a hard time talking about something when I am in the big, fat middle of it. But I can tell you I am working on three things, actually.  A picture book, a chapter book, and another novel.  We’ll just have to see which one I finish first!

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Trailer Premiere: The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

What does it feel like to premiere the book trailer for one of my FAVORITE picture books of 2012? Let's see! It feels like discovering the tooth fairy left a $500 Anderson's Bookshop gift card under my pillow. Or maybe it feels like a philanthropist just walked into my school library and shouted (it would be fun if this generous person broke into a song-and-dance number), "It's your lucky day, Mr. Schu. I am donating thirty iPads to your school library, and I’m making sure you have the fastest Internet connection known to humankind." 

I can do better than that. I know! I know!  This feeling reminds me of the time I received an email informing me that my name would be on the ballot for the 2014 John Newbery Award Committee. That's it! 

OK, I think you have spent enough time reading about how excited I am for you to watch the book trailer for   one of the funniest picture books of 2012. Please click on the play button.  

Please come back on Sunday because I'm celebrating The Chicken Problem with Mr. Colby Sharp and the Nerdy Book Club.

Borrow The Chicken Problem from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

An Interview with Corey Rosen Schwartz

Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club, and I cooked up a special trifecta for you in order to give Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat's The Three Ninja Pigs a BIG book birthday celebration.

Doesn't this effective book trailer make you want to run to your local independent bookshop and shout, "I NEED A COPY OF THE THREE NINJA PIGS. SERIOUSLY! Where is it?" 

Mr. Schu: Please booktalk The Three Ninja Pigs in fewer than 140 characters.

Corey Rosen Schwartz: The three little pigs are fed up with the big bad wolf and all his bullying, so they enroll in Ninja school!

Mr. Schu: It is fascinating to learn the story behind the story. I read that a comment made by your son inspired you to write The Three Ninja Pigs. Can you share that story?

Corey Rosen Schwartz: Sure. My daughter came out of the womb incredibly competent.  My son, who is only 15 months behind her, spends his whole life trying  (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep up with her   One day when they were three and four, we were at a restaurant talking to a waitress whose first language was Spanish.  Jordan said “I can speak a little Spanish.”  The waitress asked Josh if he could speak Spanish too.  Not wanting to appear inferior, he said, “No, but I speak a little karate.”  That was my “Kiya!” moment.

You and Dan Santat are a perfect match. What went through your head when you found out he was illustrating The Three Ninja Pigs?

Oh, this is kind of crazy.  As soon as the manuscript sold, my friend, Tara Lazar, said, “You know who would be the perfect illustrator?  Dan Santat.  You should suggest him to your editor.”   Shortly after that, Dan “friended” me on Facebook.   I was a bit surprised.  I knew him.  He was the illustrator of Chicken Dance!  But I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly know me. I wrote back and said, “Funny that you got in touch, because my friend thinks you’d be the perfect illustrator for my new book, THE THREE NINJA PIGS.”   He wrote back and said, “Yeah, I am doing it.”  

What went through my head was... YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!  I honest to God thought he was pulling my leg!  Once I finally realized it was true, I was ecstatic.  And guess what?  There is another Schwartz-Santat project in the works!  :)

Are you most like Pig One, Pig Two, or Pig Three?

Okay, well...  if you asked my husband, he would no doubt say ‘Pig One.”  He thinks my laziness knows no bounds. (and judging by the piles of laundry around here, he has a point)  

BUT I will say this... it takes a lot of dedication and determination to get a picture book published.  So, I think that should at least bump me up to Pig Two!

What are four of your favorite fractured fairy tales?

Four?  Don’t you know that with fairy tales everything comes in three’s?

Okay, in no particular order:

Chicken Big
By Keith Graves

The Princess and the Pig
By Jonathan Emmett, Poly Bernatine (illustrator)

Three Horrid Little Pigs
By Liz Pichon

And, oh gosh, I only get one more?  So hard!   I’m going to say...
Falling for Rapunzel
By Leah Wilcox

Mr. Schu: Please complete these sentence starters: 

Picture books are something you never outgrow!   

Reading is
a passport to any place you want to go.  This summer, I was in a Nazi-occupied prison in France, a creepy carrot patch, and a domain with three walls of glass.  Not exactly Club Med, but all were life-changing journeys!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what motivated me to make Pig Three a girl!

When I wrote the first draft, Pig Two was the girl.  I was rather pleased with myself that I had thought to change one of the brothers to a sister, so it would not be an all male cast.  I read the story to Jordan who immediately said, “Mommy, I think Pig Three should be the girl.”  And, I said,
“Done.”   So, there you have it. It definitely pays to have kids if you are going to be a picture book writer.

I am giving away a copy of The Three Ninja Pigs

1. The Giveaway will run from September 27 to 11:59 PM on October 1. 

2. You must be at least 13 to enter. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Cassandra Reigel Whetstone created a discussion guide for The Three Ninja Pigs. Click here to download it. 

It is time to travel. Are you ready to read Colby's interview with super-talented illustrator Dan Santat and read Corey's nerdy essay? Happy reading! 

Borrow The Three Ninja Pigs from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ivy and Bean Blog-A-Bration (Week 7)

Welcome to week 7 of the Ivy and Bean Blog-A-Bration. This week we are celebrating Ivy and Bean: What's the Big Idea? 

This may sound strange: I invited Mr. Colby Sharp on my blog to interview me about Ivy and Bean. Thankfully, Mr. Sharp agreed to send me four easy-peasy questions. Isn't he the best? 

Mr. Sharp: Are you more like Ivy or Bean? 

Me: That's an A-OK question, Mr. Sharp! I'm sure you're not surprised to read that I'm more like Ivy: bookish, reasonable (most of the time), and conscientious. 

Mr. Sharp:  I know that you are planning an author visit for Sharon Creech next month. I also know that you have now read each and every Sharon Creech book for kids. If you had to recommend one Creech book to Ivy and one to Bean which books would you pick?

Me: Yes, Newbery Medalist Sharon Creech is visiting my school library on October 1. Can you hear me squealing? I know it will be a picture-perfect day. w00t! w00t! w00t! 

I wish  Ivy, Bean, and you could attend Sharon's presentation and book signing. I would convince Ivy to purchase Love That Dog. 

Bean would leave with a signed copy of Pleasing the Ghost (see Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go) 

And you would pick up a copy of The Great Unexpected

Mr. Sharp: How are you planning on celebrating Ivy + Bean Day?

The first time I celebrated Ivy and Bean Day was when What's the Big Idea? was released. Here's a picture of me in my lab coat: 

I'll celebrate this year's Ivy and Bean Day by connecting with you (right?), Van Meter School, and other schools celebrating this fun and energetic day. I will adapt and build on the activities in the Ivy and Bean Day event kit

 Here is a blog post about last year's celebration. 

Mr. Sharp:  In five words, why should teachers and librarians purchase the Ivy + Bean books for their classroom or library?

Me: Ivy and Bean are awesome. :)

Chronicle has generously agreed to give away a paperback copy of Ivy and Bean: What's the Big Idea?  and three sets of Ivy + Bean Mini Notes.

Rules for the Giveaway

1. The giveaway will run from September 26 to 11:59 PM on September 29.

2. You must be at least 13.

The winner of What's the Big Idea? will be entered into a drawing to win...

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows 
Ivy and Bean Paper Doll Play Set 
Ivy and Bean Button Factory 
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows 
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz (not pictured, but they are so cute!!) 
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Video of the Day: Pete the Cat Saves Christmas

Happy book birthday to Pete the Cat Saves Christmas! You can celebrate this special day by watching this just-released book trailer. 

A handful of  kids visited the library today to see if I had the new Pete the Cat book. I always played the "Pete the Cat Saves Christmas" song  for the eager reader and promised I would pick up copies after school. Sadly, Anderson's Bookshop could not find their copies in the basement. Will my students understand? Goodness, yes! 

Download the Pete the Cat Saves Christmas activity kit. 

Borrow Pete the Cat Saves Christmas from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

Trifecta Tuesday: The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz

Dear Devoted Reader, 

I hope this blog post finds you having a most terrific Tuesday. The words trifecta and Tuesday always go nicely together, like macaroni and cheese, Ivy and Bean, and Boy + Bot.

You are in for a real treat on this tip-top Tuesday, because Mr. Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club, and I are celebrating Jeramey Kraatz’s The Cloak Society with a top-of-the-line trifecta.

Happy blog hopping!

-Mr. Schu

P.S. OK, I may have gotten a little carried away with all the t words. Sorry! :)

It makes you want to read The Cloak Society, right? 

The official book trailer is not quite ready yet, but I promise to share it as soon as it goes live. 

You may proceed to step three. 

Are you a superhero or a supervillian? Make your decision by clicking here.

I am giving away one signed copy of The Cloak Society. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from September 24 to 11:59 PM on September 28. 

2. You must be at least 13 to enter. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

4. Smile 

It is time for me to send you on your way. Colby Sharp interviewed Jeramey, and Jeramey is today's Nerdy Book Club guest blogger. 

The Cloak Society will be released on October 2, 2012. Please borrow a copy from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops