Friday, May 31, 2013

Author Tara Lazar

Happy Friday! I'm celebrating the last day of the 2012-2013 school year with debut author Tara Lazar. She dropped by Watch. Connect. Read. to finish my sentences. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Tara! 

My debut picture book is a story about an underground emporium, The Monstore, that only kids know about. There’s a secret trap door entrance, a password knock and a specific entry fee. Once inside, you can purchase a very useful monster, just right for doing tricky things around the house. But choose wisely! The Monstore doesn’t accept returns or exchanges. EVER.

James Burks’ illustrations have this cool 3D effect that’s both mysterious and kooky but not too spooky. When I grow up, I wanna be James Burks.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) is a blog I created when I began my journey to become a published children’s book author. At the time, back in 2007, it seemed like the right thing to do. I had no clue it would turn into my second passion, right behind creating stories for kids.

Picture Book Idea Month is an event I began because I was jealous of the NaNoWriMo’ers having all the fun in November. The first year, 2008, it was a challenge just for me—to create 30 picture book story ideas in 30 days. The next year I decided to slap it up on my blog, thinking maybe 10 people would join me. Over 100 signed up! And last year there were over 750 participants. Some huge names in kidlit have guest blogged for PiBoIdMo, and I’ve been blown away by the response. I didn’t anticipate it would grow into such an anticipated event! Plus, so many success stories have emerged from PiBoIdMo—at least a dozen picture book deals. It’s all about creating great books for kids!

My "Don't Lollygag, Lollapalooza!" workshop is all about exploring unusual, crazy, fun words in the English language and using them more in our writing. The kids are challenged to write a flash fiction story using oodles of whirligig words. (Sufferin' succotash!) I also encourage students to create their own whatchamacallit words by mashing up existing words and writing new definitions

Reading is fun. ‘Nuff said.

Picture books are my passion. They’re also a child’s first introduction to literature, so I believe they must be fun, first and foremost, to encourage a life-long love of reading.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me out to lunch. I love good food and kidlit conversation!

I am giving away a copy of The Monstore

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 5/31 to 11:59 P.M. on 6/2. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Top 20 Most Circulated K-5 Books | 2012-2013 School Year (Part 2/2)

The elementary school where I am a teacher-librarian has approximately 250 students. During the 2012-2013 school year, we circulated 30,878 books. Not too shabby,eh! 

 I am counting down  the twenty most circulated titles (August 19, 2012 - May 24, 2013). 

(Please click here to read part one.) 

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita has a loyal following in my school. My kids are ready for more Zita adventures. 

Amulet #5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi 

I love telling a third grader about Amulet #1 when books two through five are also available. I insist she checks out all of them!  

Smile by Raina Telgemeier 

Smile won the 2013 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award. 

Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Jarrett J. Krosoczka met my third, fourth, and fifth graders last year. 

Sidekicks by Dan Santat 

It makes me smile from ear to ear to see Dan Santat's action-packed and hilarious graphic novel on this list. Dan, we know you're a busy guy, but we really want a sequel. 

Babymouse Burns Rubber by Jennifer and Matthew Holm 

Jennifer and Matthew Holm visited my school library on May 16, 2011. 

Amulet #4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi 

Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

See, my students LOVE Lunch Lady. I think we will shed a tear when the final volume, Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle, is released. 

Squish #4: Captain Disaster by Jennifer and Matthew Holm 

*"Squish: Captain Disaster is an awesome graphic novel.” 

*"It taught me about giving everyone a turn. You need to play soccer for the fun of it." 

*"Squish learns how to play fairly and becomes a good captain."

*"I think EVERYONE should read the Squish series."

*"My favorite part is when they practice different soccer moves. "

*"Peggy is strong because she’s the best player without legs and feet. We see that Peggy is not always like a rainbow." 

*"You can learn how to draw Pod in the back of the book."

*"Squish is the best germ captain ever."

*"Pod and Squish love Twinkies."

*"Pod can harness lightning."

*"I give it 5 stars."

*"I give it 5 stars. Can I give it ten stars, Mr. Schu?"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top 20 Most Circulated K-5 Books | 2012-2013 School Year (Part 1/2)

Can you believe another school year is coming to a close? I cannot! 

The elementary school where I am a teacher-librarian has approximately 250 students. During the 2012-2013 school year, we circulated 30,878 books. Not too shabby,eh! 

 Over the next two days, I will share the twenty most circulated titles (August 19, 2012 - May 24, 2013). 

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

The winner of the 2013 Caldecott Medal made the list. w00t! w00t!  w00t! 

The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

 I'm happy to see that being a 2013 Bluestem Book Award nominee helped this hilarious book find a new group of readers. 

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech visited our school library in September. 

 I think the world's biggest Captain Underpants fan attends my school. He always brings his signed copy of Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers to the library to share his favorite parts.  

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce

Let's Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

I think the Elephant and Piggie series is the only one that is checked out regularly by all ages.  

Squish: Super Amoeba by Jennifer and Matthew Holm 

Today marks the release of Squish: Game On! Happy book birthday, Squish! I hope you eat a Twinkie. 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

I hope Wonder shows up on every  "Top 20 Most Circulated K-5 Books" list. 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

How much do I love that Wonder and The One and Only Ivan were checked out the same number of times? TO THE MOON AND BACK AGAIN 525,600 times! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

NPR's Backseat Book Club

Ivan and Katherine Applegate have had an amazing year. They received the Newbery Medal, a Crystal Kite Award, a Nerdy Award, and a Christopher Award. The One and Only Ivan has a much-deserved spot on multiple Best of lists, the New York Times bestseller list, many state readers' choice lists, and scores of lists entitled "LIFE-CHANGING CHILDREN'S BOOKS." 

Now, thanks to being NPR's June Backseat Book Club selection, even more readers will spend time with Ivan, Ruby, Stella, Bob, and Julia. I love the idea of families around the world discussing Katherine's masterpiece and sending NPR their questions

I cannot wait to tune in next month for what is sure to be an epic and inspiring book club meeting. Thank you, NPR, for picking Ivan. 

I am giving away one copy of The One and Only Ivan

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 5/27 to 11:59 P.M. on 5/29. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

By the way, Ivan was a Sharp-Schu Book Club pick, too.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The June #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

On June 19, the Sharp-Schu Book Club will discuss three not-to-be-missed wordless picture books. We hope you can participate in the discussion. 

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 5/26 to 11:59 P.M. on 5/28. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Newbery Challenge: The View from Saturday

Hi, Mr. Sharp, 

Thanks for participating in the Newbery Challenge with me. It has been quite the exciting (usually) adventure. 

I hope your Saturday morning view is a great one.   May you spend this three-day weekend doing all your favorite things. 

Your friend,


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his The View from Saturday video. 

Mr. Travis Jonker designed the cover on the right. 

This video was not on YouTube when Colby and I celebrated From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

E.L. Konigsburg takes us inside her powder room. 

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

Voice Actor Mark Turetsky

Mr. Colby Sharp's lucky fourth graders Skyped with voice actor Mark Turetsky about audiobooks. They were kind enough to finish my sentence starters about this memorable virtual experience. 

I wrote the words in red, and Mr. Sharp's kids wrote the words in black. Thank you, 4-Sharp! 

*We prepared for Mark Turetsky's Skype visit by...

- writing out our questions and reading them out loud to make sure they made sense.

-writing an introduction, conclusion, and questions. 

-assigning groups and writing introductions, questions, and completing a project. 

-writing letters. 

*Mark Turetsky told us...

- that before he reads for an audiobook that he reads the book a few times. 

-it is OK to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, just go with the flow. 

-to READ, READ, READ, and READ. 

-it is best to read the book you're about to record a bunch of times. 

-not to rush. 

-that we should read the words with expression and fluency to make the reader enjoy listening to the book. He told us not to read like a robot. A reader will not enjoy listening to a robotic voice. 

-to use our hands to say the words. 

-to read, write, and learn. 

-some ways to read when you are stuck on a word. 

-to speak loudly and clearly. 

*The Origami Yoda audiobooks...

-are wonderful. 

-are very good books. I listened to them when I was in third grade. 

-are fun, active, encouraging, and interesting. 

*Audiobooks are...


-great to listen to while you're driving and walking around town. 

-books you listen to on audio. 

-books that you read in a speaker and it goes in a little cube. 

-very convenient for people on the go because you can listen to books while driving, at a sibling's game, on a break at a tournament, or while you are waiting in line at the store. 

-really good and fun. 

*I'll always remember...

-the Skype with Mark Turetsky and the wonderful tips he told to our class. 

-is the best audiobook recorder ever. 

-to read. 

-that we Skyped with Mark. 

-that Mark Turetsky is a nice guy. 

-how I became a more expressive reader after Mark's visit. 

-that we Skyped with him. 

-to read a lot at home and at school. 

Photo credit: Niki
*Mr. Sharp always encourages us...

-with our writing and gives us lots and lots of great opportunities to make our writing better. 

-to read, to write, and to do the best we can do and the best we can be. 

-to read all books. 

-to be good readers when we grow up. 

-to read and to try our best. 

-to write the best we can.

-not to read for prizes, but to read for fun. 

-to listen to leaders. 

-not to be a bully. 

-to read all books. 

-to read a lot. 

-to try our very best. 

-to grow more and to publish as much writing as we can. 

-with reading. 

I am giving away a copy of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda audiobook. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 5/23 to 11:59 p.m. on 5/25. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"See Things Differently" with Chronicle Books

Are you in the mood to smile? What a silly question! You're always in the mood to smile. Please press play.  

Did it work? Are you smiling? I surely hope so! If you're not smiling, go read a picture book. I highly recommend Flora and the Flamingo, Open This Little BookHave Fun, Molly Lou Melon! , The Loud Book, hello! hello!, Good News, Bad News!, A Dog is a Dog, Me Want Pet, Boy + Bot, The Gentleman Bug, Rocket Writes a Story, I'm Bored, The Three Ninja Pigs, and Flight 1-2-3

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The May #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

I am trying very hard to focus on all the wonderful things about last night's Sharp-Schu Book Club meeting, but we had so many technology issues that I could not archive the chat. Strike one. TweetChat was broken. Strike two. HootSuite was broken.Strike three. Regular Twitter stopped working. Colby Sharp and I did our best to keep the chat moving forward. We greatly and sincerely appreciate everyone who stayed with the chat and kept discussing Giants Beware!, hello! hello!, and Another Brother. (I understand all the people who decided to excuse themselves from the chat. Trust me, I thought about it.) Rafael Rosado, Jorge Aguirre, and Matthew Cordell did not let technology woes stop them from participating--they did their best to answer as many questions as they could see. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  (Matthew, I hope your head did not explode.)

Have you watched the book trailer for Giants Beware!

I interviewed Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado on Giants Beware's first birthday. 

Watch Giants Beware! come to life. 

Subscribe to the Giants Beware! blog. 

Pamela Paul featured Giants Beware! in The New York Times

Download the Giants Beware! discussion guide. 

Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado celebrated Astronaut Academy Day. 

The official Another Brother book trailer. 

Fun fact: author-illustrator Philip C. Stead created the music for the hello! hello! book trailer.

I celebrated hello! hello!'s book birthday on October 30, 2012.

Margie is Another Brother's biggest fan.

Make sure you subscribe to Matthew's blog.

Jules Danielson chatted with Matthew Cordell about hello! hello!

Matthew's friends call him MATT. 

Read about the origins of hello! hello! 

Have you read all of Matthew Cordell's books?