Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Newbery Challenge: A Single Shard

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

Travis Jonker designed the cover on the right. 

"I have to say that I think I probably took the library for granted, because my father had been taking me since before I could walk, probably. For him, as an immigrant from a country that had been through a couple of very devastating wars, where libraries were not a real high priority, the libraries in this country were a miracle. He just couldn't believe it." - Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park asks, "How well do you know the Newbery winners?" 

Linda Sue Park discuses A Single Shard

Borrow A Single Shard from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Author-illustrator Loren Long

Teacher-librarian Donna Kouri and I met each other  approximately eight years ago. Let's see, over the past eight years, we...

*traveled to forty-eight states together. 

*visited dozens of independent bookshops and libraries. 

*met the real the one and only Ivan. 

*explored too many wacky roadside attractions to name. 

*hosted author-illustrator Loren Long during the same week. 

Donna dropped by Watch. Connect. Read. to discuss the red asterisk. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Donna and Loren! 

Loren Long visited our first and second graders to talk about his newest book Otis and the Puppy.

My students prepared for Loren Long’s school visit by reading Otis and Otis and the Tornado. We watched Loren’s presentation at the National Book Festival and followed Loren’s instructions and learned to draw Otis. Students then, with our amazing art teacher, created beautiful farm scenes featuring Otis. We used these to decorate for him and let him know how excited we were to host him! We also looked at the other books that Loren illustrated. Students were so excited to learn he illustrated Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing.

The Otis series is so fun to read and teaches the importance of friendship. Students learn that everything has value, even something old. They also learn how to be a loyal friend and what it means to be brave. Students are in love with Otis (and are pretty fond of Loren as well).

I think my students will always remember Loren’s visit. They were mesmerized as he drew us a picture of Otis and the Puppy and listened intently as he discussed how important it is do always do your best and to be proud of your work. He took such an interest in them as he signed their books that they left feeling they had a new friend.

Picture books are for everybody. There are so many fascinating stories within their pages. It makes me sad when students think they are too old to read picture books. I hope I am able to convince them otherwise!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the thoughtful video Loren sent us. It featured his dogs and him in his studio talking about how excited he was to visit our school. The students’ jaws hit the floor when he mentioned our school by name. 

Look for the Otis series at your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Video of the Week: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical officially opened yesterday in London. I spent most of the day trying to find a magical wall/car/book that would take me from Naperville to London in one-tenth of a second. I failed. Sigh.  

At least I can watch the following show reel...

Doesn't it look GOOD and MAGICAL and WHIMSICAL and TOTALLY FUN?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Glory Be is a Backseat Book Club Selection


1. I met Katherine Applegate and Augusta Scattergood on the same day. 

2. Children's literature expert Anita Silvey highly recommends Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan and Augusta Scattergood's Glory Be

3. I took The One and Only Ivan (you've read many posts about this) and Glory Be on my 2012 reading road trip. 

Greetings from Mississippi!

Greetings from Mississippi!

Where Mr. Schu Read This Summer: The Back Scratching Post

The Presidential Back-Scratching post in Lucedale

Where I Read This Summer: The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi



Old Mississippi State Capitol


Old Mississippi State Capitol


Mississippi State Capitol


Eudora Welty Library


Eudora Welty Library



Lemuria Books

Where I Read This Summer: A Cactus Plantation


Vicksburg National Military Park


Vicksburg National Military Park


Lorelei Books

4. Augusta finished my sentences on December 7, 2012. 

5. NPR's Backseat Book Club celebrated Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan this month. Guess what they are reading next month? BINGO! Augusta Scatergood's Glory Be

NPR encourages readers to submit questions and comments. Please click here for more details. 

Congratulations, Katherine and Augusta! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The July #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

Colby Sharp and I hope you'll participate in the July Sharp-Schu Book Club meeting. Please watch the video (above) or read the flyer (below) for more information.

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/23 to 11:59 P.M. on 6/25

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Newbery Challenge: A Year Down Yonder

Happy BELATED birthday, Colby Sharp! I hope you spent the day doing all your favorite things. 

Please visit Colby Sharp's blog to find out what he thinks of A Year Down Yonder

Newbery Medal winner Richard Peck visited my school library on October 17, 2011.  He is a master presenter.

Isn't this a gorgeous cake?

I always meet with my students after an author's presentation to get immediate feedback.

Here's what they said about Richard's visit. 

“I learned that writers don’t always have a schedule."

"I didn't know people still used an electric typewriter."

”Richard Peck is a nice man. I didn’t expect him to be so funny.”

”It was interesting how such a famous person seemed so normal.”

“I didn’t know writers learned so much about other authors before writing their own books.”

”I cannot believe Mr. Peck wrote forty books. That’s incredible.

”Richard Peck is a legend. I’m glad he visited my school.”

“I liked how he described his books from a different perspective than we would look at them.”

“It was interesting to learn how he used some of his relatives in his books. He is inspiring.”

”I loved the delicious Secrets at Sea cake. Yum!”

"You have to read if you want to become a better writer."

” His responses to our questions were interesting. I learned a lot about writing.”

“It surprised me how funny he was in person.”

“Richard Peck has an exciting life. He is a famous author.”

*"I like how he came up with a grandma with a shotgun. He makes characters unlike anyone I've ever met."

*"I read Secrets at Sea. It was interesting to meet the author. I think he is a great person."

*Richard Peck is funny and inspires me to become a better writer."

* "I've met six authors and he's by far the funniest."

*"He writes interesting stories."

*"Mr. Peck makes you feel like you're actually in the book."

* Mr. Schu: "Thank you, Richard Peck, for your contribution to children's literature."

"Why did you make Grandma Dowdel so tough?"

"Where were you when you found out you won the Newbery Medal?"

Becky Anderson sits down with Richard Peck. 

"Read to your children twenty minutes a day. You have the time, and so do they." - Richard Peck

Travis Jonker designed the cover on the right. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Author Linda Ashman

Every Friday, an author/illustrator/educator visits this space to finish my sentences. We chat about books (surprise, surprise), school visits, reading, writing, and whatever else pops into my head. 

Today's guest is Linda Ashman!  She's a children's book author, a poet, a writing instructor, and an animal lover. I wrote the words in red, and Linda wrote the words in black. Thank you! 

Peace, Baby! is a book about common emotions—anger, annoyance, frustration, sadness, etc.—and how we deal with them. It’s geared toward the preschool set, and is meant to be fun rather than preachy. I hope it gives kids and their grown-ups a chance to talk about their feelings and ways to work things out peacefully.

Joanne Lew-Vriethoff’s illustrations capture the natural sweetness and naughtiness of children. She can do bratty, mischievous, sad, tender and loving equally well. Joanne is kind of amazing, by the way. In addition to illustrating picture books and parenting young children, she brings babies into the world as a doula. Truly a lovely person, inside and out.

Rain! is the perfect picture book for opening a conversation about how our moods and energy affect others. Every day we have the opportunity to spread irritability, impatience, pessimism and hostility wherever we go—or we can spread kindness, joy, optimism and understanding. Believe me, I do plenty of the former, but I like to imagine a world where we do more of the latter.  It’s also the perfect picture book for those who enjoy fabulous art—I love Christian Robinson’s illustrations!

School visits make me nervous. So many uncertainties! Will I find the place? (Eventually.) Will my laptop communicate with their projector? (Yes, but not without a few nerve-racking glitches.) Will the teachers know I’m coming? (Not always.) Will they have a vegetarian lunch option? (Maybe not, so I bring my own.) Will the students be welcoming and enthusiastic? (Always!)  They’re both energizing and exhausting.

Poetry is music.  Well-written verse, in particular, has a musical quality to it that makes it so much fun to read aloud.

Picture books are truly amazing in their variety. I love that so many stories and interesting subjects can be shared in this simple 32-page format (typically), and that children and adults have the opportunity to see fantastically varied—innovative, beautiful, charming, edgy, hilarious, you name it—artwork simply by checking out books from the library.  They are also among the great pleasures of parenting. I miss the days when my son was little and we’d go to the library each week, then snuggle up together with a stack of picture books.    


Reading is one of the greatest joys I know. Most nights, you’ll find my husband, son, and me sprawled out together reading—till I get sleepy and call for lights out (otherwise they’d probably stay up all night).

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what I’ve been working on for the last few months. The working title is The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, and it will be available very soon, I hope. Please visit my website if you’re interested!

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/21 to 11:59 P.M. on 6/23. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Please borrow Linda Ashman's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The June Sharp-Schu Book Club Meeting

The Sharp-Schu Book Club discussed three wordless wonders last night: Bob Staake's Bluebird, Mark Pett's The Boy and the Airplane, and Molly Idle's Flora and the Flamingo. Thank you to everyone who participated in last night's chat. 


Have you watched Bluebird's book trailer? 

I interviewed Bob Staake during Random House's Screen-Free Week blog tour. 

Bob Staake appears in Random House's Unplug and Read video. 

"As a kid), I would pull books out of the library, I'd look at National Geographic and dream about those incredible places. I didn't necessarily read the words. You can tell his broad story page to page to page by simply having a child inferring. It's a magical thing. We should all be so lucky to have a book that's so open-ended that it's ripe for interpretations all over the place." - Bob Staake 

Visit the official Bluebird website

Unplug and Create with Bob Staake's Bluebird. 

Bob Staake designed this poster for Screen-Free Week.

Look! A Book! by Bob Staake | Little, Brown. 2011.

Bob Staake's Reading Public Service Announcement. 

Margie celebrated The Boy and the Airplane a few days ago.

You must read about Mark Pett's Annual Zip Code Trip. It is brilliant. 

Jules Danielson interviewed Mark Pett (includes a scene from The Girl and the Bicycle). 

Mark Pett appeared at the 2011 National Book Festival. 

Mark Pett and Sara Zarr talk about "about perfectionism, learning to let go, and self-management, among other things." 

Katherine's summer reading camp read The Boy and the Airplane. 

Tour Molly Idle's studio. 

Molly Idle participated in a Sharp-Schu trifecta

Explore Molly's website.

Tea Rex by Molly Idle | Viking Children's Books, 2013.

I love Molly's "F" in DIFFERENTLY

"At its heart, Flora and the Flamingo is just an unassuming little story about making a friend. There’s nothing very complicated about that idea. It’s just all in how you present it, baby. Consider this one book that’s not afraid to let clever (yet essentially simple) design and good art do the heavy lifting." - Betsy Bird