Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April-May #HoldShelf

Happy Wednesday! Mr. Travis Jonker and I want to see your library's hold shelf. Please send me a photograph or a video of your shelf. 

Here are the "official" directions: 

  • Snap a photo, make a Vine, or draw a picture of your hold shelf and email it to 

  • Tweet a picture. Please include #holdshelf and @MrSchuReads in your tweet.

  • Please send your submission by 8:00 p.m. (CDT) on Monday, May 5. I will collect them all in a gallery going up on Tuesday, May 6. 
Thank you! :) 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Sharp-Schu Trifecta with Kami Kinard

The Nerdy Book Club, Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating The Boy Problem's book birthday. It is a companion novel to The Boy Project. Congratulations, Kami Kinard

The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reedy by Kami Kinard | Scholastic Press | Interest level: Grades 6-9 

Eighth grader Tabitha "Tabbi" Reddy believes in signs. Like fortune cookies. Magic 8-Balls. Shooting stars. And this year, she hopes, looking for the right signs will lead her to the right boy! Inspired by her BFF, Kara (star of THE BOY PROJECT), Tabbi starts her own "project" in the hopes of finding a cute crush. With the help of a math lesson on probability, Tabbi tries to predict who the right boy for her might be! Where is she most likely to meet him? What is he most likely to look like? Full of fun illustrations, hilarious equations, and lessons in cupcake-baking, life, love, and friendship, this book has a 100% probability of awesomeness.

I am giving away one copy of The Boy Problem. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from April 29 to 11:59 p.m. on May 1. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

"I almost started a business once called The 
Frustrated Artist, because that’s what I was. I had just enough talent to think of amazing ideas, but not enough talent to pull them off. My artistic visions were absolutely perfect – but only in my head." -Kami Kinard 

"Using my imagination makes me happy. Writers use their imaginations every day. So being a writer makes me happy!" -Kami Kinard 

Monday, April 28, 2014

May #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

Mr. Colby Sharp and I are celebrating the 2014 Geisel winners on Wednesday, May 21. We hope you'll celebrate with us. 

I am giving away one copy of The Watermelon Seed. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/28 to 11:59 p.m. on 4/30. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Camp Rex Trifecta (Plus a Bonus with Margie Myers-Culver)

My goal is not to keep you for more than 90 seconds. I want to serve you a tasty treat (the book  trailer for Molly Idle's Camp Rex) and then send you on your way for the main course (an interview with Molly Idle, a nerdy essay, and Margie's superb review of Camp Rex). Do you have everything you need for a trifecta? Your morning coffee or tea? All the ingredients necessary to make  s'mores? The phone number of your favorite independent bookshop so you can order a copy of Camp RexFantastic! You're always so prepared. Press play. 

Camp Rex by Molly Idle | Viking Juvenile | Publication date: April 22, 2014

I am giving away one copy of Camp Rex

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/27 to 11:59 p.m. on 4/28. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

"Camp Rex written and illustrated by Molly Idle is It's a must have for all those storytelling sessions about camping and summer activities.  As a read aloud it's exquisite; the difference between the reader's (narrator's) voice (prim and particular) and the pictures will have listeners giggling continuously." - Margie Myers-Culver 

Molly Idle is today's blogger over at the Nerdy Book Club

Mr. Colby Sharp interviewed Caldecott Honor winner Molly Idle. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Geisel Challenge: Week 5

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp! I hope you're having an excellent day! My videos for the Geisel Challenge have been unusually long, so I decided to make a six-second video this week. :) 

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

Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes 

Read along with Benny and Penny. 

Create your own Benny and Penny story.

I Spy Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold 

Read all the books in the Fly Guy series. 

Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith 

Create your own Little Mouse cartoon. 

Little Mouse Gets Ready is part of The Professor Garfield Toon Book Reader collection. 

Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee

Wong Herbert Yee talks about his name. 

Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan; illustrated by R.W. Alley

Visit Kate McMullan's page for the Pearl and Wagner series. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Author Sarah Albee

Sarah Albee is one of the most enthusiastic and talented nonfiction writers for children. Her passion comes through in every tweet, blog post, and book she writes. Sarah dropped by Watch. Connect. Read. to chat with me about bugs, poop, school libraries, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Sarah! 

The book trailer for Bugged: How Insects Changed History was a blast to put together. I made it with the help of two talented teenaged filmmakers at my husband’s high school, who filmed it and then helped me edit it. It was fun to find snippets of old footage—mostly from archival government films—and to download different tracks of music from inexpensive stock music archives. Then the kids helped me cobble them together into a creepy soundtrack. On filming day, I couldn’t believe how many kids wanted to eat a cricket. The cricket I ate tasted okay--like a bad potato chip.

Image credit: Sarah Albee
Architect Mick Pearce built a cool building in Zimbabwe that he modeled after a termite mound. Termites build giant mounds and carefully regulate temperatures inside by constantly opening and closing bug-built heating and cooling vents. The building Pearce designed uses a similar temperature-controlling system. It uses 90 percent less energy than a conventional building of its size. In my book there’s a picture of a termite mound and the Zimbabwe building side-by-side.

After you read Bugged: How Insects Changed History I won’t necessarily expect you to love insects as much as I do, but I hope you will at least respect them. When you think about it, we have a lot in common with them. Insects have jobs. They herd other insects the way we herd cattle. They live in well-organized societies. They form relationships. They enslave other insects. They wage war. They take out the garbage, make music, prepare food, and communicate with one another.

I also hope people will appreciate the role insects have played in history. They’ve made nations rich and helped create vast empires. They've brought industries to a grinding halt, caused kingdoms to collapse, spread catastrophic epidemics, and conquered armies.

The Poop talk” is my favorite way to show kids how awesome history can be. I ask them how they think a knight went to the bathroom in a suit of armor, or a lady in a huge hoop dress. And then we’re off and running. Of course, my book Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up is not just about poop—it’s about sanitation, hygiene, fashion, architecture, disease, what people ate and drank, and revolutions. Oh, and there’s a whole chapter on insects and the diseases they transmit—which prompted me to write a whole other book!

The premise of the Poop book is that societies that paid attention to sanitation were the ones that tended to survive and thrive. During my school visit talk we discuss how people got from place to place through filthy streets without getting their clothes and shoes muddy or—cough—dirty. (They travelled in sedan chairs.) And how the mounds of garbage and poop dumped outside the walls of medieval Paris became so big, the walls had to be built higher so that besieging armies couldn’t run right up the sides. And how one horrific poop-transmitted disease, cholera, got city officials to finally pay attention to cleaning up the streets and waterways and to build sewers.

I realized recently, Mr. Schu, that I keep writing the same book over and over. I am fascinated by the history of everyday life, and by the things that preoccupied ordinary people—what they wore, how they got around, what they did to keep clean (or not), disease-free (or not), and bug-free (or not). My next book, which comes out next year with National Geographic Kids, is about the history of what people wore—crazy stuff like corsets, bound feet, arsenic complexion wafers, lead-filled makeup, ankle-length woolen bathing suits—and why they wore these things.

Constance Allen and Sarah Willson are two of my pen names. Constance was my mother’s name, and Allen was my grandmother’s maiden name. Sarah Willson (two Ls) is my married name. I’m also Cassie Waters, Phoebe Rivers, and Belle Payton. I use different pen names because the books I write are so very different—from Sesame Street to SpongeBob to middle grade series fiction with Simon and Schuster such as the Creepover and It Takes Two series. It’s a great day job to have; I’m proud that I can make a good living as a writer. My freelance writing has not just helped pay my kids’ tuition bills but has also been really fun. My basic rule is that I use a pen name when I write for characters I did not create. Recently, though, I have been writing books more and more under my real name.

Reading is dangerous. Slave owners banned slaves from learning to read because it gave slaves ideas about freedom and revolting. Oppressive rulers have always feared writers, because their pens have power to change peoples’ minds. Rigidly run societies have denied girls the opportunity to learn to read and write because it gives girls power. Now we live in a world when so many of us—though still by no means everyone—have the opportunity to learn to read, and I try to get kids to see how lucky they are. For me, reading is a precious, open window into a world of infinite possibilities.

Image credit: Sarah Albee
School libraries are the heart and soul of a school. My elementary school library was in a converted classroom in a very old building. The high shelves blocked most of the light from the windows, and the carpet was worn and bare, and the battered floorboards between the shelves were so uneven your pencil would roll if you dropped it. But it was my favorite place on the planet. I still remember how amazing it smelled—like the well-worn leather of my baseball glove, pencil shavings, and furniture polish.

From elementary school to high school to college, I probably spent 80% of my waking hours in either the gym or the library. (I’m a basketball player.)

Image credit: Sarah Albee
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my obsession with insect-themed horror movies. I like to say I write about them because these movies are a good reflection of the relationship humans have had with insects, which is a theme of Bugged. But also, I just like watching them. I review them from time to time on my blog (if you search “Reel Bugs” you’ll find these reviews). I recently did a post about why bugs couldn’t actually grow to thesize of school buses.

I am giving away one copy of Bugged: How Insects Changed History

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/25 to 11:59 p.m. on 4/27. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow  Bugged: How Insects Changed History from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Here Comes Destructosaurus! Trifecta

Happy Wednesday! The Nerdy Book, Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating Here Comes Destructosaurus! I hope you enjoy jumping from blog to blog. 

I wrote the words in orange, and Jeremy wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jeremy! 

The illustrations for Here Comes Destructosaurus! were Very Difficult! Coming up with the unusual camera angles was hard enough without having to draw so much destruction. And keeping it all "kid friendly" was another challenge -- how to make so much mayhem cute!

Aaron Reynolds and I are just these two guys, ya' know? I think we saw eye to eye where this story is concerned.

Amelia May Mac designed a great picture book. I love that she found fonts that played into the art and story so well -- that the words and letters all look a little "off kilter", as though they have been shaken and bumped by, say, a giant monster. And her suggestions of how to change angles here and there were all spot-on as well. She helped me give the art a more cinematic appeal.

If you ever visit Vancouver, Canada, you won't want to leave! It's so beautiful here surrounded by mountains, forests and the Pacific Ocean. I really can't do it justice here. And there are a LOT of good restaurants too -- especially if you like sushi. Yum!

School libraries are the most undervalued part of the school. They offer kids a place where they can learn without realizing that they're learning. Where they can explore interests beyond what they can explore in the classroom. Where what they HAVE to learn can become what they WANT to learn (provided they have a great librarian).

Reading is my absolute, favourite part of the day. It can fix a day when the kids and I have been misfiring, and it unwinds me at the end of a long day -- it's the best "me time." I plan to spend much of my retirement reading during business hours. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what motivates me. That's easy: paninis! There's an amazing panini place at the top of my street and I'm allowed to eat there once a week IF I get my work done. I'm being a bit facetious. But only a bit, I DO like good panini. Seriously though, I don't think there is a more deserving audience than children. What a huge honour to make books for them!

I am giving away one copy of Here Comes Destructosaurus! 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/23 to 11:59 p.m. on 4/25. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Click here to read Colby Sharp's interview with Aaron Reynolds. 

Borrow Here Comes Destructosaurus! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Today's #Kidlit Purchases

I stopped at Anderson's Bookshop after school to pick up one book. Ummm...I left with these...

Just in case a book passed by too fast, they are all listed below. Maybe one of them will be your next read. 

1. The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Kevin Cornell | Interest level: Grades 1-3

2. Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner; illustrations by Brian Floca | Interest level: Grades 2-4

3. Lulu's Mysterious Mission by Judith Virost; illustrated by Kevin Cornell | Interest level: Grades 2-4

4. Space Travel: Archie Takes Flight by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer; illustrations by Elise Gravel | Interest level: Grades 2-4

5. High Time for Heroes by Mary Pope Osborne | Interest level: Grades 1-5 

6. Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout by Megan McDonald; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds | Interest level: Grades 2-4

7. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat Interest level: All ages 

8. Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Splash! by Candace Fleming; illustrated by G. Brian Karas | Interest level: Grades K-2

9. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Interest level: Grades K-2

10. Water Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas; illustrated by Violeta Dabija | Interest level: Grades K-2

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sharp-Schu Book Club Meets on Tuesday

Please join Kate Messner, Laura Purdie Salas, Colby Sharp, and me on Tuesday evening for the April Sharp-Schu Twitter Book Club meeting. I promise you'll have a wonderful time discussing the Marty McGuire series, A Leaf Can Be... and Water Can Be.... 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Geisel Challenge: Week 4

Mr. Colby Sharp and I are talking about the 2009 Geisel winners today. Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video. 

Are You Ready to Play Outside?  by Mo Willems 

"So, I spend a lot of time simplifying my line and simplifying my books, so that they can be as effortless-seeming as possible. For example, in Knuffle Bunny, all the backgrounds are photographs; but they're not actually photographs, you see, because there's an emotional truth. Everyone's eyes do us this great favor. They hide all of the ugly stuff. They work as a beauty filter." - Mo Willems

Chicken Said, "Cluck!" by Judyann Ackerman Grant; illustrated by Sue Truesdell

One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger 

Read this wonderful interview with Laura Vaccaro 

Stinky by Eleanor Davis 

Download the Stinky discussion guide. 

Stinky is available on Professor Garfield's website.

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell; photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell

"A wolfsnail glides along a leaf, hunting for snails and slugs. Watch as the wolfsnail finds and eats a snail." -Sarah C. Campbell

Visit Sarah's website to download activities. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The 2014 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Winners

I've been obsessively checking the American Booksellers Association's website to find out the 2014 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award winners. My neighbors probably heard me  clapping last night when I checked the website and read the following announcement. (I may have shed three or four tears, too.) 

The winners of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards, reflecting the playful, well-paced language, the engaging themes, and the universal appeal embodied by E.B. White's collection of beloved books, are: 

E.B. White Read Aloud Award--Middle Reader 

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated K.G. Campbell (Candlewick Press)

E.B. White Read Aloud Award--Picture Book 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Congratulations to Kate, K.G., Drew, and Oliver! I've read Flora and Ulysses to 5 classes and The Day the Crayons Quit to 11 classes. Both books flow off the tongue and keep kids listening, laughing, and thinking. Thank you!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Save the Date: April 24 is Poem in Your Pocket Day

Do you have a favorite literacy celebration? A favorite month? A favorite hour? A favorite minute? I think every month is special in my school library, but I think April is extra special. We celebrate National Poetry Month, School Library Month, National Library Week, and Poem in Your Pocket Day. I don't want to pick a favorite celebration of the school year, but I think Poem in Your Pocket Day is right up there with World Read Aloud Day. There's nothing quite like stopping a fifth grader in the hall and saying, "I see you're wearing a sticker that says 'Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! Ask me about my poem.'  Do you a have a moment to share your poem?" 

I hope you and your students will celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 24. I'll have a poem in my right pocket and a poem in my left pocket. 

In My Right Pocket 

(Inspired by Walter Dean Myers)
By Jack 

Love that dog, 
like a bird loves to fly
I said I love that dog
like a bird loves to fly
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, Sky!" 

In My Left Pocket 

"Words for Flora"

would be
easier without
because you
all of it--
sprinkles, quarks, giant
donuts, eggs sunny-side up--
are the ever-expanding
to me. 

I am giving away a copy of Love That Dog and a copy of Flora and Ulysses

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from April 17 to 11:59 p.m. on April 18. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward.