Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 20 Most Circulated K-5 Books | 1/12 - 12/12 (Part 2 of 2)

The last thing I did before heading out on winter break was print a list of the most circulated books during 2012. It provides a nice snapshot of what kids are reading, discussing, and recommending in my school library. 

(Click here to read part one. )

Wonder. Written by R.J. Palacio. Random House, 2012. 

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. Scholastic, 2012. 

The One and Only Ivan. Written by Katherine Applegate. HarperCollins, 2012. 

Squish #2: Brave New Pond. Written by Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. Random House, 2011. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. Written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. Abrams, 2011. 

A Very Babymouse Christmas. Written by Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. Random House, 2011.

Sidekicks. Written and illustrated by Dan Santat. Scholastic, 2011. 

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit. Written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Random House, 2010. 

Amulet #5: Prince of the Elves. Written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic, 2012.

Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco. Written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Random House, 2011. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 20 Most Circulated K-5 Books | 1/12 - 12/12 (Part 1 of 2)

The last thing I did before heading out on winter break was print a list of the most circulated books during 2012. It provides a nice snapshot of what kids are reading, discussing, and recommending in my school library. 

Out from Boneville. Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith. Scholastic, 2005.

Penny and Her Song. Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, 2012. 

Bad Kitty for President. Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel. Square Fish, 2012. 

Ivy + Bean. Written by Annie Barrows. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Chronicle Books, 2007.

Zita the Spacegirl. Written and illustrated by Ben Hatke. First Second, 2011.  

The Duckling Gets a Cookie. Written and illustrated by Mo Willems. Hyperion, 2012. 

Camp Babymouse. Written by Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. Random House, 2007.

Darth Paper Strikes Back. Written and illustrated by Tom Angleberger. Abrams Books, 2011.

Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril. Written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Random House, 2012.

Love That Dog. Written by Sharon Creech. HarperCollins, 2001. 

Please come back tomorrow for part two. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Newbery Challenge: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

During 2012, Colby Sharp and I posted fifty-six Newbery videos. Fifty-six might not seem like a large number, but many of the early books required huge doses of caffeine. My head hurts just thinking about The Story of Mankind, Shen of the Sea, and The Trumpeter of Krakow

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is the subject of this week's video. As an added bonus, you'll take a little trip down Chicago's State Street (that great street). 

Don't forget to visit Colby Sharp's blog

Nancy J. Jonson and Cyndi Giorgis interviewed Mildred D. Taylor. 

A Message from Travis Jonker 

"Jerry Pinkney, everyone. That’s who created the original illustration for today’s cover redo candidate. Can I throw in the towel now? No? Well, here we go…"

Friday, December 28, 2012

Author Brandon Mull

New York Times bestselling author Brandon Mull visited Donna Kouri's school library on December 3. She stopped by Watch. Connect. Read. to finish my sentences about this memorable day. 

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

Brandon Mull told my students that inspiration can come from anywhere. If you can imagine it, you can turn it into a story. He told them he was inspired to write The Beyonders series after visiting the zoo and staring into the open mouth of a hippo. He thought “What if that mouth were  a portal to another world?” and the series was born.


Brandon led students in a creativity exercise. He called up three students and asked them a series of questions (What did you see? What was on the trees? What did you smell?) and created a story from their answers. Students learned that they did not need to spend hours thinking of an idea - it can be as simple as answering a series of questions. The story they created was quite funny and resulted in uproarious laughter.

My students were surprised when  Brandon told students that the actors in the book trailer for The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe were kids just like them who auditioned for the roles. They were also amazed that the launch of this new book was celebrated with a marshmallow fight that involved more than 2000 pounds of marshmallows. 

The audience will always remember that it is important to do something creative no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is creative. It can be dancing, painting, writing, drawing - anything as long as it creates something new. He then went on to show how our world has improved by people being creative  and how it would stagnate if people stopped. Students thought about the technology is now available because someone was brave enough to imagine “What if?” and create.

Brandon showed students how writing has allowed him to see the world. He pulled out a map and showed the students all the places he has visited as a writer. Their jaws dropped. (I was impressed because Nome, Alaska was one of the places he visited and anyone who knows me knows my love for Nome.)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about how we were lucky enough to have Brandon Mull visit our school. A fifth grader participated in Anderson’s Bookshop’s summer reading program and won the visit for participating.

I am giving away a signed copy of The Candy Shop War

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 12/28 to 11:59 p.m. on 12/31. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Sharp-Schu Trifectas in One Place

Mr. Colby Sharp and I collaborated on numerous projects throughout the year. Let's see: the Newbery Challenge, the #SharpSchu Book Club, multiple author Skype visits, The One and Only Ivan Edmodo book club, World Read Aloud Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day, Laurel Snyder's chapter book contest, Read Across America Day, Ivy and Bean activities, a Mock Caldecott unit, and SHARP-SCHU TRIFECTAS. I thought it would be fun to list all the trifectas in one blog entry. Happy reminiscing!

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio 


2. Kali's Song by Jeanette Winter

3. Crow by Barbara Wright 

4. Ollie and Moon: Fuhgeddaboudit! by Diane Kredensor

5. Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

6. Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino 

7. My Dad is the Best Playground by Luciana Navarro Powell

8. Secrets from the Sleeping Bag by Rose Cooper

9. Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy 

10. On the Road to Mr. Mineo's by Barbara O'Connor 

11. Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson and Raul Colon 

12. I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ohi

13. The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz 

14. The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson 

15. The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel and Jim Lamarche 

16. The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat 

Thank you, Mr. Sharp, for an outstanding year. I cannot wait to see what we plan in 2013. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The 2012 Picture Book Nerdies Go To…

The day after Christmas is always a little sad. The presents are unwrapped. Empty bottles of eggnog are in the recycling bin. You know that in the very near future you’ll have to take down your beautiful Christmas tree.
I have the perfect thing to put you back in a festive mood: THE 2012 PICTURE BOOK NERDIES. The votes have been counted and verified.
Without further ado, the 2012 PICTURE BOOK NERDIES  go to...
You'll need to travel to the Nerdy Book Club's blog to find out the winners. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Everyone knows that Chronicle Books publishes top-notch children's books that we proudly promote in our libraries and classrooms. I'm not sure if everyone knows they also produce the best holiday video of the year. See for yourself! 

Happy holidays, friends!

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/24/12

Jen and Kellee host a weekly meme called "What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA." It encourages you to share what you read during the previous week and to plan what you're going to read/review during the current week. Thank you, Kellee and Jen, for hosting this fun meme.

Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman. Clarion Books,  2012. 

Please click here to read my interview with Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman. 

I re-read the Sharp-Schu Mock Caldecott winners

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King; illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Random House, 2012. 

 As soon as I finished listening to Kadir Nelson talk about I Have a Dream, I walked over to my bookcase, pulled it off the shelf, and re-read it. I'm glad I did. It is one of the most beautifully illustrated books of the year. If you haven't read it, please get your hands on a copy--ASAP.  

Four Newbery Medal winners :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mock Caldecott Results

Colby Sharp and I had a blast discussing our Mock Caldecott list with each other and our students.  I learned a great deal by listening to our kids interact on Skype and Edmodo. Each reader provided honest, succinct, and insightful feedback. 

It warms my heart that Colby's fourth graders and every third, fourth, and fifth grader at my school read and discussed twenty of the best books of the year. Thank you, Mr. Sharp and his students, for collaborating on this memorable project. 

Our students awarded one Mock Caldecott Medal and four Mock Caldecott Honors. Maestro, drum roll, please! 

Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack. Chronicle, 2012. 

Extra Yarn. Illustrated by Jon Klassen; written by Mac Barnett. Balzer + Bray, 2012. 

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Roaring Brook, 2012. 

One Cool Friend. Illustrated by David Small; written by Toni Buzzeo. Dial, 2012. 

Boy + Bot. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino; written by Ame Dyckman. Random House, 2012. 

Bad News!  I planned on sharing my students' thoughts about each book, but their thoughts are written on pieces of paper that are sitting on my desk at school. Oops! Sorry! 

Good News! Colby did not forget, so you better head on over to his blog right now

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Newbery Challenge: The Grey King

Happy Saturday! Click play to hear my thoughts on Susan Cooper's The Grey King

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

I referred to this speech during my The Grey King video. 

I mentioned this interview during my video. 

"I was born into a reading family. My mother was a teacher. My parents read to us before I can even remember. You just took it for granted. I had a younger brother. I think we both learned to read very early without really noticing the way kids who are read to often will. Besides that, because I was English and living in the middle of World War II we didn't play outside a lot when there was an air raid going on. So, you were inside reading. It was a matter of exposure to books, I think, which is the secret to getting 
children to read." -Susan Cooper

Have you seen the motion picture based on Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising

The weekly cover red0-athon known as Covering the Newbery continues today with the fourth book in a 
beloved fantasy series.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview with Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman

54 - the number of Newbery Medal winners I have read during 2012.

3 - the number of Newbery-winning authors who have visited my school library. 

0 - the number of Newbery Medalists I interviewed before today

!!!!!! - how excited I am to change that zero to a one. 

Mr. Schu: You’re browsing Secret Garden Books when you spot a patron eyeing Will Sparrow’s Road. You’re not sure if you should deliver a short book talk. Thankfully, you decide not to pass up this wonderful opportunity. What do you tell the patron about Will Sparrow’s Road?

Karen Cushman: Will Sparrow’s road takes him on a journey through the lively, colorful world of Elizabethan England. His adventures can move us to consider the intriguing idea of who we are as individuals separate from our families, from our homes, from any adult help. What would we do if left, like Will, to our own devices? How would we survive?  Would we be sad and whiney or resourceful and courageous? Would we be the same people we are now or would we grow to be different? What kind of family might we create for ourselves?


Mr. Schu: Thank you for keeping me glued to Will Sparrow’s Road. I could not put it down. I spent thirty minutes re-reading and re-reading and re-reading two of the most beautifully written pages of 2012.  

Karen Cushman: I am intrigued.  What two pages might those be? (pages 34-35)

I could smell Will’s surroundings, taste his food, and feel his pain. If I ever create a SHOW, DON’T TELL poster, I will place your photograph in the center.  What advice would you give to a ten-year-old boy who wants to SHOW, DON'T TELL.

Karen Cushman:  Oooo, I could write for a loooong time about that. I guess the short version might be use all five of your senses. Don’t depend on sight alone. It’s fine to tell us how a room in an abandoned house looks.  Just be sure to add how it smells (musty?  like flowers or fresh baked bread?), what sounds you hear (the wind whistling through a window?  old-time music on a broken phonograph?), what someone might touch (a spider web? cracked glass in the window?) or taste (dust on the tongue?). Be selective. Choose two or three details that help us be there in that place.

Click here to listen to the podcast.  
Mr. Schu:  I think Kirby Larson, Jennifer L. Holm, and you are the masters of historical fiction. Please recommend three must-read historical novels for children.

Karen Cushman: Thank you--you've put me in very good company. Since you’ve already suggested Hattie Big Sky and the May Amelia books by your first sentence, I’d then pick Patricia MacLachan’s splendid Sarah Plain and Tall, Lizzie Bright and theBuckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt, and TheWatsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Mr. Schu: Congratulations on winning the Newbery Medal for The Midwife's Apprentice. What does it feel like to win the coveted Newbery Medal?

Karen Cushman: I couldn’t have been any happier with a Nobel Prize—unless it was the prize for peace.  See my November 6 blog post on the Nerdy Book Club for a story about the early-morning Newbery phone call.  It is not an overstatement to say the Newbery changed my life.

Karen Cushman reads an excerpt from Will Sparrow's Road
Mr.Schu: Please complete these sentence starters:

Historical fiction is just stories about other people in other places and other times.

Reading is the very best education.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Elvis!  I wrote a lot as a child but never thought about being a writer.  I wanted to be Elvis’ wife—that was the extent of my career plans.

I am giving away one copy of Will Sparrow's Road.

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 12/20 to 11:59 p.m. on 12/24. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. :) 

Borrow Will Sparrow's Road from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops