Sunday, June 29, 2014

Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! by Jeff Cohen and Elanna Allen

Today is an EXCITING day for three reasons. 

1. Ambassador Kate DiCamillo will receive the 2014 Newbery Medal for Flora and Ulysses. I predict her speech will inspire everyone in the audience. Someone please pass me a box of Kleenex. 

2. Brian Floca will receive the 2014 Caldecott Medal for Locomotive. I predict his speech will make the audience laugh and cry.  

3. Debut picture book author and journalist Jeff Cohen agreed to finish my sentences. We chatted about Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever, Elanna Allen's illustrations, picture books, and reading. 

I wrote the words in purple, and Jeff wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jeff! 

The book trailer for Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! makes me really happy.  At first, though, it made me nervous – I wasn’t sure I wanted to put Sadie and Eva out in the public any more than I already had.  But the folks at HarperCollins were warm and kind and made it into a super fun experience – with a scavenger hunt in the building!  That was awesome.

Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! tells the story of two little girls who do what all kids do – make a bad decision and do their best to learn from it.  (It also tells the story of parents who sometimes lose their cool...even if they aren’t proud of it. But they learn something, too...)

Elanna Allen’s illustrations make the words so much more fun to read.  Elanna is seriously talented.  You should read her book, Itsy Mitsy Runs Away.

The real Eva and Sadie love to read in the car, on the toilet, at the table, on the way to ballet, in bed, when it’s time to go to sleep, when it’s time to wake up, when it’s time to eat, when it’s time to clean up, and when it’s time to get ready for school. And pretty much any other time we let them. As for the books themselves...Eva loves the Amelia Bedelia books, the Mr. Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves, and Mrs. Noodlekugle.   Sadie, on the other hand, spent last summer reading everything she could about Greek gods and goddesses – including the Percy Jackson books.  Now she’s on to Nancy Drew, Stella Batts (who has a haircut story of her own), and mysteries. 

Image retrieved from here

WNPR in Hartford is an amazing place to work. It’s full of creative, supportive, and curious people who are passionate about news and storytelling. My coworkers are also my friends. Which is nice.

Picture books are a great way for parents and kids to read out loud together. We like new ones, but we also like to read the same ones over and over and over again. They’re also great homecomings – even though the girls read chapter books, we often go back to the picture books at bedtime.

Click here to download the game. 
Reading is something I want to do more of.  My days as a reporter are full of reality. But I really need more fiction and fantasy and faraway places – the kinds of stories that take my mind and imagination somewhere else for a while. Reality is great. So is dreamland.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me whether I ever thought a bad haircut could turn into a dinnertime conversation heard around the Internet...and then into a children’s book. And my answer? Never in a million. Glad I was wrong.

I am giving away a copy of Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/29 to 11:59 p.m. on 7/1. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Newbery Honor Challenge: 2012

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

Happy Saturday! I wish you were here in Las Vegas to celebrate Travis Jonker's 33rd birthday. I am celebrating his special day by giving away a copy of Flora and the Flamingo (winner of a 2014 Caldecott Honor, although in my video I accidentally called it a 2013 Caldecott Honor winner).  

Have a great day!

Your friend, 


Please visit Mr. Sharp's blog to see which 2012 Newbery Honor book he featured. I predict he re-read Inside Out and Back Again

Eugene Yelchin thanks the 2012 Newbery Committee.

Share this trailer the next time you book talk Breaking Stalin's Nose

Roger Sutton asks Eugene Yelchin five questions. 

Breaking Stalin's Nose has an interactive website.

Watch Mark Turetsky record a passage for the Breaking Stalin's Nose audiobook.

Dead End in Norvelt won the 2012 Newbery Medal. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Author-illustrator Josh Schneider

I'm in my home office right now, but when this post goes live I will be hanging out with my book-loving friends in Las Vegas, Nevada. I predict we will have intense and thoughtful conversations about Brown Girl Dreaming, Absolutely Almost, Revolution, Comics Squad: Recess, A Snicker of Magic, The Troublemaker, Hooray for Hat, Seven Stories Up, Ninja, Circa Now, The Fourteenth GoldfishPrincess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover, and many, many more titles. We will likely go on and on about how excited we are to hear Kate DiCamillo's speech on Sunday night. 

Sorry. Enough about all the fun I'll be having when this post goes live. The real reason you're here is to read my interview with Geisel Medalist Josh Schneider. We chatted about Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover, his studio, school libraries, reading, and the Gunther Committee. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Josh! 

Amelia and Princess Sparkle-Heart are loosely based on me and my childhood stuffed dog, Dog. Dog required a number of surgeries over the years, including eye replacements, ear and nose re-attachments, and a music-box-ectomy.   

The illustrations for Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover took a short time to come up with and a long time to draw.  I've learned my lesson about writing stories calling for a thousand buttons. 

If you visited my studio you would also be visiting my dining room. We don't have a lot of space. 

School libraries don't get the credit they deserve for being the best place in the school. Playgrounds are all flash.  

When the Geisel Committee called me my reception wasn't very good and I couldn't really hear what was going on. As best I could tell, I had won (maybe?) something called the Gunther Award (maybe?) and it was going to be announced at the annual mid-winter meeting in San Antonio (definitely San Antonio; I got that). I made polite excited noises, thanked them, and then googled somethin' fierce as soon I got off the phone.  I eventually figured out that I had won the Geisel Award, which was a huge surprise and honor. It almost made up for the disappointment of not hearing a peep from the Gunther Committee.   

Picture books are a surprisingly good ice breaker.  No one could care less what the traffic was like on the way over, but everyone has something to say about In the Night Kitchen. (And that something is: it's amazing.) 

Reading is a great way to pass an idle hour. (Or, in my case, lifetime.) 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my thoughts on the Gunther Committee. If you ask me, it's all politics nowadays. 

I am giving away a copy of Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover.  

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/27 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/29. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Video of the Month: Top 5 Reasons Why Science is Cool

Three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm shares 5 reasons why science is cool. 

Did you know I love Babymouse? I have celebrated Babymouse here and here and here and here and here and here  and here  and here  and here  and here and here and here and here  and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. Wow, I could go on and on all day. I think I have typed here enough to show you that I truly love Babymouse's books. :) 

Happy Birthday, Babymouse is the newest volume in the Babymouse series. 

From the Trade Paperback edition

Squish: Fear the Amoeba hits shelves on July 8, 


Comics Squad: Recess! also hits shelves on July 8, 2014. 

The Fourteenth Goldfish will be released on August 26, 2014.    

Congratulations, Jenni! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kids' Comics Awards 2014 Winners

All of my students voted for the 2014 Kids' Comics Awards. After I hit publish on this blog post, I'll email them the list of winners. I expect a lot of happy readers and big smiles. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners! I hope they will keep making great books that I'll buy for my school library. 

Click here to view the winners. (Spoiler alert: Flora and Ulysses won two awards! Wowsers! Holy bagumba! Holy unexpected occurrences!) 

Vine credit: Laura Given (aka LibLaura5) 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals

I woke up this morning to tons of tweets about the winners of the Clip Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. According to the official website...

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK's oldest and most prestigious children's book awards. Often described by authors and illustrators as 'the one they want to win' - they are the gold standard in children's literature.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children's librarians for an outstanding book for children and young people. 

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children's librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.


Winner of the Clip Carnegie Medal 

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks 

Winner of the Clip Kate Greenaway Medal 

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (As you'll recall, it also won the 2013 Caldecott Medal.) 


Here is what Jon Klassen tweeted a few hours after winning. 

Congratulations to Kevin and Jon!   

Sunday, June 22, 2014

When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

Happy Sunday, loyal reader! I'm kicking off the third week of summer break with author Rebecca Behrens. We chatted about When Audrey Met Alice, President Roosevelt, school libraries, reading, and The Westing Game. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Many thanks, Rebecca! 

One thing you should know about Audrey Rhodes is that even though living in the White House is busy and exciting, sometimes being in the spotlight feels lonely.

President Roosevelt told a friend he could do only one of two things: be President of the United States, or control his spirited daughter Alice.

First Daughters are truly extraordinary—“ordinary” girls who live in an amazing historic place!

As a production editor I love the different physical details that make up each book, such as deckle-edge paper (when the edge of the paper is feathered instead of cut straight), glittery or glossy covers, and embossed cases.

Click here for websites and online articles about Alice, the Roosevelt Family, and White House life. 
School libraries are the closest thing we have to time-travel portals.

Reading is a great way to learn about yourself and about others—it fosters understanding in so many ways.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me which character I would want to have as a pen pal, and I would’ve said Turtle Wexler from The Westing Game!

I am giving away a copy of When Audrey Met Alice. 

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/22 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/23. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow When Audrey Met Alice from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Newbery Honor Challenge: 2013

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

Happy, happy birthday! How does it feel to be 33? I hope you have a relaxing and memorable day. 

I didn't think I would get this post up in time because my basement flooded yesterday. What an inconvenience! As you'll hear in the video, my brain was super scattered and I had other things on my mind. I was about to tell you about a box of books Margie sent me when"Camcorder full" popped up on my screen. Oops. Gotta love our one-take rule. :) 

Have a happy birthday! 


Head on over to Colby's blog to see which book he picked. I think he went with Three Times Lucky

Steve Sheinkin thanks the 2013 Newbery Committee.

Steve talks about true stories and inspiration.

"I use it like an office sometimes" - Steve Sheinkin

Jim Averbeck interviewed Steve Sheinkin. 

Head on over to to hear a great introduction to Bomb

Borrow Bomb from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


I mentioned Guys Read: True Stories during my video. It will be released on September 16, 2014.

The One and Only Ivan won the 2013 Newbery Medal. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Author Kate Lum

Every Friday, an advocate for children's books drops by Watch. Connect. Read. to finish my sentences. This week's special guest is author Kate Lum. We chatted about princesses, interesting hairdos, Sue Hellard's illustrations, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Kate! 

Princess Are Not Just Pretty tells the story of three princesses with mad hairdos who live in a palace by the sea. They work hard to make their princessdom the happiest in the world, but one day, Princess Mellie starts a competition about their looks. This distracts them for a while, until real princessdom problems bring them back to what matters.

Sue Hellard’s illustrations are fabulous! I understand she went to the V&A museum in London to sketch the historic dresses there. And she’s a master at the little humorous details that add new layers to a story. I especially love what she does with food—the princesses are endlessly supplied with towering goodies. My favourite was a printed menu offering in Princesses Are Not Quitters:  “frogs legs- make sure not a Prince in disguise.”

The hairstyles in Princesses Are Not Just Pretty...What can I say? Never before have such hairstyles been—and likely never again. I especially enjoy the presence of small animals within the piles of curls. Of course, it’s Mellie’s purple hair (she believes) that catapults her to the forefront of beauty.

What! Cried Granny and Stanley and the No-Hic Machine were my first two publications. I wrote Stanley for my then-sister-in-law Bernice Lum, a wonderful and prolific illustrator. The team at Bloomsbury UK used to ask, “One Lum or two?” (A very British joke, no?) After Stanley came What! Or What! Cried Granny as it’s called in North America. I wrote  it for my squirmy young son, and it never failed to engage him. It’s a wonderful book to read aloud—there’s nothing like a roomful of kindergartners shouting, “Whaaaat?” Wackily retro illustrations by Adrian Johnson.

Reading is the joy of my adulthood and the survival mechanism of my childhood. When things were sad or difficult, I could always disappear into a book. Books gave me hope that other sorts of lives and worlds were possible.

Picture books are the gateway to a love of reading, and as such, very important. I know a number of adults who collect picture books, too—they never cease to charm us with their miniature details. (The picture books, that is, not the adults.)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me to do this sooner! It’s been a lot of fun—thanks very much for the opportunity.

I am giving away one copy of Princesses Are Not Just Pretty

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/20 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/22. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow Princesses Are Not Just Pretty from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

The Graham Cracker Plot Cover Reveal

Do you remember the time I drove over 800 miles to attend Kate DiCamillo's event for Indies First Storytime Day? Oh, that was such a memorable day. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 
Graphic credit: BookWeb
By now you might be asking yourself what in the world Kate DiCamillo has to do with a cover reveal for Shelley TougasThe Graham Cracker Plot. I'm about to make my point. Shelley also attended Kate's event at Chapter2Books. We met very, very briefly. I think we smiled at each other, said "hello," and I was off to the next conversation. The entire day was a surreal whirlwind. Thankfully, I have an opportunity to get to know Shelley better by reading The Graham Cracker Plot and inviting her back on Watch. Connect. Read. on September 12.

OK, are you ready for the big reveal? Drum roll, please...

The Graham Cracker Plot. Written by Shelley Tougas. Cover illustration by Hugh D'Andrade.| Roaring Brook Press | Publication date: September 2, 2014 
Meet Daisy Bauer and her sometimes best friend, Graham, who are determined to break Daisy's dad out of prison in this hilarious middle-grade debut. No one believes her, but Daisy Bauer knows her dad has been wrongfully imprisoned and that it's up to her to break him out of jail (aka Club Fed). She has a plan that she's calling the Graham Cracker Plot because it was all Graham's idea. She just needs a miniature horse, a getaway truck, and a penny from 1919—the idea coin.
This funny, nail-biter of a novel is about friendship and admitting you're wrong. Debut novelist Shelley Tougas balances humor and warmth against themes of family, broken trust, and unconditional love against all odds.
Image credit: Shelley Tougas
Shelley Tougas is an award-winning writer of nonfiction for children.  Her most recent title, Little Rock Girl 1957, was a School Library Journal Best Book of 2012, Booklist Top Ten Editors’ Choice, and the winner of the Arkansiana Award for best Juvenile/YA book. The Graham Cracker Plot is her first novel.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Emily's Blue Period Trifecta

Moments after Colby Sharp and I read Emily's Blue Periodwe knew it deserved the Sharp-Schu trifecta treatment on its book birthday. I think you'll see why after you pore over each page. It is one of those picture books that you want to share with everyone in your life. Perfection. 
 Please join us in celebrating this marvelous and unique picture book with the Nerdy Book Club, Cathleen Daly, and Lisa Brown. 

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

Emily and her family were fun to draw. Especially Jack’s temper tantrum in the furniture store. I named the store “STÜF” and it was NOT modeled after any actual store, I swear…

The illustrations for Emily’s Blue Period were done in graphite and watercolor on paper. I used a lot of blue paint, for obvious reasons. Then I scanned the art into the computer and added texture and collage elements in Photoshop. For Emily’s collage, I used scraps of colored and patterned paper that I found at an art supply store, plus items that I picked up around my studio and my house: buttons, wrapping paper, ribbons, keys, washers, old scrabble letters, and more.

Cathleen Daly and I met each other a long, long time ago when she came to a panel at 826 Valencia on which my husband was speaking. About children’s books, of course. I was in the back of the room on my first evening out with our newborn baby who promptly threw up all over me so I went home.

Pablo Picasso painted a painting of his son and his son’s toy horse. It is called “Claude à deux ans avec son cheval à roulettes” (Claude at two years old with his wheeled horse).  I decided to give Emily that same toy horse in our book.

Whenever I visit a school library, I make sure they have a graphic novel section.

Reading is more important than breathing. Ok, ALMOST more important.

Picture books are my obsession.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…If I wanted another martini. Why yes, I do, THANK YOU.

I am giving away one copy of Emily's Blue Period

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/17 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/18. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Head on over to Mr. Sharp's blog to read his interview with Cathleen Daly. 

Cathleen is today's Nerdy Book Club guest blogger. 

Borrow Emily's Blue Period from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.