Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lion, Lion Book Trailer Premiere and 4 Questions and 3 Sentence Starters with Miriam Busch and Larry Day

Miriam Busch, Larry Day, and I are celebrating Lion, Lion's book birthday and book trailer. Are you ready to press play? 

Hi, Miriam! Hi, Larry! Thank you for sharing Lion, Lion's wonderful book trailer with us. Are you ready to get started? OK! :)

Scenario: You’re shopping at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, when you spot someone looking at a copy of Lion, Lion. You decide to deliver a book talk. Ready! Set! GO!

Larry: I’d say, Hey, that’s me! And that’s my wife!

This is a story of an ingenious little boy searching for something, who outwits a lion to get what he wants. This tale plays out like a mystery. I like how the boy starts right out of the gate with wits-at-hand, and takes the lion and the readers on a rollicking journey. It’s a story about friendship, loyalty, and sticking together against all odds.

Miriam: One of my favorite things about this story is that everyone is talking at cross-purposes. Nothing is quite what it seems. You have to look closely at the pictures AND the words to figure out what everyone is REALLY saying. And when you do, when you come to the surprise, it all makes sense!
I also love the journey and story of the wordless characters. The illustrations are so funny – each character is exactly what my grandpa used to call “a real character.”

 Miriam, I love that you dedicated Lion, Lion to Larry.

Larry, I love that you dedicated Lion, Lion to Miriam.

As you know, it is rare for an author and an illustrator to work together on a picture book. Can you tell us a little about how you collaborated on the book? 

Miriam: This book began as a glimmer of an idea. Larry had drawn a character he wanted to base a story upon. We worked on it, but that initial idea and character fell by the wayside. Still, we kept working – we have so much fun making stuff up together!

We often use breakfast-time to play with story ideas. For Lion Lion, we met in diners. (I love a booth.) We sat across from each other and passed paper and pen back and forth between hash browns and orange juice and coffee. Larry thumb-nailed (on napkins, on backs of receipts, even sometimes in a sketchbook) and we played the what-if game. Sometimes I wrote in his sketchbooks, or even sketched (!) (Don’t ask).

After breakfasts, we both went off to our day-jobs; for our final year of back and forth on this book, I was in school.

Still, whenever an idea made sense to us both, I typed up a fresh manuscript, and together we played with page turns and different characters. Often, Larry’s drawings made my words unnecessary, and we trimmed words and added story to the pictures until we and our editor (Alessandra Balzer) were satisfied. Through this whole process, Larry always asked what I thought of the character’s expressions and listened to countless minute text shifts as I read them aloud.
What do you hope young readers say when they finish reading the last page of Lion, Lion?

Miriam: I hope, very much, that they say, “Read it again!” I also hope that they have fun making up stories about what happens next.

When you were the little boy’s age, what books did you love reading and re-reading?

Larry: I loved Ferdinand. My mother had a hardcover edition that I pored over. I don’t recall ever going to the library, and every other picture book we had was dull to me. To me, Ferdinand, besides being a terrific story, was about Lawson’s art. His ink drawings were deceptively simple. His strong compositions, variety of textures, and Ferdinand’s body language—all this told me the story.

Miriam: I loved a French book – I think it was titled Le Petit Chien, but I could be misremembering. The illustrations were simple pen and ink. A tiny dog saves his friend from a crocodile by pulling a dinosaur bone from a museum exhibit... it was very funny to me. The carefully constructed skeleton winds up in a total heap, and the dog happily goes about his day. Disclaimer: this is my memory – not sure of the accuracy. If any of your readers knows this book, I’d be so grateful!

I also loved Mama, I wish I were snow. Child, you’d be very cold. By Ruth Krauss, Ill. by Ellen Raskin;
If Everybody Did, by Joann Stover; and Someday, by Charlotte Zolotow, Ill. by Arnold Lobel. (And, of course, The Nutshell Library by Mr. Sendak.)

Please share a handful of recently published books that you’re wild about!

We both love these: If You Want to See a Whale, by Julie Fogliano, Ill. by Erin Stead. Big Bug by Henry Cole. Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Ill by Eric Shabazz Larkin. Unspoken by Henry Cole. Behold, The Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe, Ill. by Alan Marks. For middle grade: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu.

Miriam: I’m far behind in my reading on recent books, and my TBR list goes on for miles! So, the following list shows you how far behind I am, but here goes. In addition to the above, here are some YA I am wild about Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal. The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming. Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann. All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry. 

Larry: Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephan Savage, Fog Island by Tomi Ungerer, Peggy by Anna Walker, and The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan.

Please finish these sentence starters.

Miriam: Picture books are different animal from any other type of book. They are layered in meaning, and I love that a pre-reader can “read” the pictures while a reader reads the words. The cinematic magic of a great page turn always knocks my socks off. I read and reread for that magic.

Larry: Picture books are like a circus clown car where you know that a herd of clowns will pour out of a tiny car. Every time, it’s always the same, except different clowns, maybe a different car. Picture books are predictable. Every time after the first time, a child knows what will happen on the next page turn. Picture books stay with you throughout your life. As you get older, the meaning changes as you think of the story in different ways.

Miriam: Reading is necessary. Like breathing. Also, reading is like a mini-vacation: helps me get perspective, and it’s also one of my favorite ways to relax.

Larry: Reading is like an iceberg. Once you start reading, the story opens up below the surface. It’s a away of engaging in the world around us.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about our dog, Lucy. She is very involved. She loves a good story, too.

Here’s Larry drawing the lion with some chalk he found on a sidewalk:

 Here’s Lucy checking out Larry’s finished sidewalk lion:

 And here is Lucy with Miriam and Lion Lion!

Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read. I hope you have a WONDERFUL book birthday! 

I am giving away a copy of Lion, Lion

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 9/30 to 11:59 p.m. on 10/1. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

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

Travis Jonker featured Lion, Lion today, too. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What's on Your #HoldShelf?

Mr. Travis Jonker and I want to see what is on your hold shelf. If you have a hold shelf, please snap a photograph or vine it. Email the photograph or vine to scopenotes at gmail dot com, or tweet it and include @100scopenotes and #holdshelf. 

Photos are due this Thursday, October 2. The gallery goes up on Mr. Jonker's blog on Friday.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Newbery Honor Challenge: 1999

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! It looks like you had a successful author visit yesterday with Janet Tashjian. Congrats! :) 

Have a great weekend!


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video. 

Richard Peck presented at the 2013 National Book Festival.

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

Richard Peck's 10 Rules of Writing 

Borrow A Long Way from Chicago from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Author Madelyn Rosenberg

Every Friday, an author or an illustrator drops by to celebrate books and reading with me. This week's special guest is author Madelyn Rosenberg. We chatted about tea parties, Nanny X, school libraries, and public speaking. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Madelyn! 

Julia’s little brother taught me a lot of things I wish I’d learned in kindergarten.

Almost everyone in my family is Type A, like Charles’ older sister Julia. I’m Type A, along with my mother, my husband, my kids, and one of my two cats. When my kids were younger, I watched them struggle with all of the things they couldn’t control, and then I promptly tried to control the way they responded to those things. (It didn’t work. This probably doesn’t surprise you.) Anyway, I needed to find a guru who had a more relaxed view of the world, someone who was full of beans and could turn things upside down and show me (and Julia) that upside down was okay. That was Charles.

Heather Ross’ illustrations are the chocolate layer on the birthday cake. And the strawberry layer, too. I’d admired Heather’s fabric work and when I found out that she was going to be illustrating How to Behave at a Tea Party, I couldn’t imagine it in anyone else’s hands. The expressions on Julia’s face are perfect (“angry Julia” is my favorite), and each time you study the pages, you find something new.  Also, at the risk of sounding like Ron Popeil: But wait, there’s more! Heather and I have a second Julia and Charles book coming out next year. It’s called How to Behave at a Dog Show and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve mentioned it in public. I just saw the illustrations. Once again, there’s magic in the details.

Someone pounded on our front door at 7:29 A.M.”

This is the first sentence of Nanny X, a middle-grade novel about a special agent nanny and her three charges (four, if you count the dog). It’s also the first line of the novel that prompted me to buy a pair of mirrored sunglasses, which I’ve clearly needed for some time. Nanny X and How to Behave at a Tea Party both came out this month, though they were written years apart. Both books explore brother-sister relationships, and in both, the older sibling is a slightly bossy sister. I, myself, am a slightly bossy older sister. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

The Schmutzy Family does a much better job than I do cleaning up at the end of the week. This was my first picture book, illustrated by the fabulous Paul Meisel. I consider it something of a coup that I was able to work the words "malodorous" and "cow pie" into this book. And I'm still striving for Mama Schmutzy's sate of Zen. (A tangent: "Schmutz" just became an approved Scrabble word!)

I think school libraries are like the transporter room on the Enterprise. If you want to explore strange new worlds - and familiar worlds, too - this is where you start. 

Picture books are the beginning.

Reading is the answer, along with love (with a tip of my fancy, tea-party hat to John Lennon). Reading is also the thing that calms me down when I’m stressed out. In cases of Supreme Stress, I head straight for an old stack of Nancy Drews. Reading de-stresses my kids, too. When my son was in preschool, some parents packed stuffed animals for those moments of upset. I packed books. I love how reading can be both intensely personal and something that you share. We do a lot of reading out loud as a family.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me How I got over my fear of public speaking. The answer would be that I didn’t, exactly, but that I’m much less afraid than I used to be because before I started making classroom visits, I took an improv class. The class was held at a comedy club not far from my house, and it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself as an adult. Improv taught me to think faster and to go with the flow. It also taught me that it’s okay to be ridiculous. Or an angry antelope. Whichever comes first.

Thanks so much for these questions, Mr. Schu! And for all that you do every day! I hope you’ve gotten your library records back in order.

Thank you! We still need to fix around 2,000 library records. :)

I am giving away one copy of How to Behave at a Tea Party.

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 9/26 to 11:59 p.m. on 9/28. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Borrow How to Behave at a Tea Party from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

October 15 is Barnett-Klassen Day!

Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen and author Mac Barnett are visiting my school library on October 15 to celebrate the release of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. My first and second graders have been busy reading their books, learning about them, and completing activities to become as prepared as possible for this special celebration.

 Below you'll find a collection of book trailers and links that my students will watch and explore today. 

Click here if the Blendspace lesson does not load. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Life of Zarf Trifecta

Fact: The Nerdy Book Club, Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels today. 

Fact: I purchased Life of Zarf for my school library on September 9. Five students have already read and raved about it. 

Fact: I emailed my fourth and fifth graders about Life of Zarf on Sunday. Less than twenty-four hours later, 16 students have placed it on hold. 

Fact: Lauren Donovan described Life of Zarf as "Wimpy Kid meets Shrek."

Fact: Penguin posted four promotional videos. 

1. The Social Ladder at Cotswin Middle School

2. Zarf's archenemy, the prince, attempts to drink from the water fountain. 

3. Zarf gets called to the principal's office...again. 

4. Kevin loses it in the cafeteria. 

Opinion: You're going to love Colby's blog post about Life of Zarf

"When I was a kid, I know my parents were concerned. I loved tv. I mean, I really loved it.  Reruns of Gilligan’s Island, Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch…even My Three Sons, though I’m not sure what I saw in that one. Prying me and my Welch’s Grape Soda off the couch was no easy task. Putting a book in my hands?  Forget it." - Rob Harrell 

Borrow Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Message from Dav Pilkey and the CBLDF

Schools and libraries around the United States are celebrating the Freedom to Read this week. Captain Underpants was one of the most challenged series in 2012 and 2013. Dav Pilkey created this video in response to the controversy surrounding his popular series. 

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund created a handbook that discusses why comics are banned and how to report and fight censorship. 

Click here if the handbook does not load. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are you Ready to Have a WONDERFUL Fall?

Author-illustrator Nick Bruel and I are kicking off a four-part series today. Around the first day of each season for the next year, Nick will drop by Watch. Connect. Read. to share his thoughts on the approaching season. I predict the posts will make you laugh, smile, and welcome the new season with open arms. Are you ready to have A WONDERFUL YEAR?

Dear Fall,

Hi. It’s time we talked. 

I hope you recognize that I’m coming to you as a friend and as someone who truly cares about your well being.  Some of the things I’m about to say might be difficult to hear, but please understand that I’m coming to you with all the best intentions.

I’m very concerned about your public image.

They’re talking about you, Fall.  And what they’re saying is not so good.  They’re saying that you are barely your own season anymore, that you’ve become a mere extension of other seasons.  Just about everyone looks at you as the final chapter to Summer or the opening paragraph to Winter.  I know what you’re thinking; this is unfair, and I agree.  But this is what they’re thinking, and I thought you should know.

And it doesn’t help your popularity ratings that the school year starts with you.  Oh sure, there are lots of people who love this about you, but let’s face it… you also depress a lot of kids.  This is the sort of thing that doesn’t help your reputation with future generations.

By the way, are you “Fall” or are you “Autumn”?  Sometimes you’re “Fall”.  Sometimes you’re “Autumn”.  Sometimes you’re “Fall”.  Sometimes you’re “Autumn”.

It’s making us think that one of them is politically correct and the other isn’t, even though neither one seems offensive.  None of the other seasons have this problem, and with good reason because it can all get a little confusing.  I’m just going to call you “Fall”.  You can correct me later if you want to.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I do see all of the hard work you’re doing.  Changing the colors of all the leaves like that is nothing short of genius.  I’ve actually seen groups of people stand by the side of a road in New England and applaud your efforts.  It was one of those slow, quiet claps that built up into rhythm that beat faster and faster and louder and louder until it concluded with a resounding cheer!  Really.

The only problem is that this whole leaf color business is clearly wearing you out.  You’re working too hard, Fall.  Correct me if I’m wrong but every year you change the colors of the leaves spectacularly for a few short weeks, and then it looks like you collapse from the effort.  What was once red or orange or yellow all becomes brown.  All of it.  Brown.

And what’s worse is that you drop all the leaves everywhere for people like me to sweep off our driveway and scoop out of our rain gutters and rake off our lawns.  I don’t have that kind of time, Fall!  I’m a busy man.  And these things, they’re all over the place!  But if I let the landscaper take care of them, he charges me an arm and a leg!  And months later – MONTHS - I still find these brittle, brown, sloppy leaves crammed inside the little well just below my windshield wipers!  But if I…


This isn’t about me.  It’s about you.  But you can see that if someone like me can become this frustrated, then you can imagine how someone who doesn’t care must feel.

I have a few suggestions, Fall.  You can take them or leave them.  They’re just suggestions.

1) Keep the colors.  Everyone likes those colors you create for the leaves.  So just leave them.  Winter could use a little color, anyway.  (I’ll be talking to Winter later, so just let me handle the negotiations.  Okay?)

2) Keep the leaves in the trees.  Oh sure, the all-powerful garden rake lobby might take you to court over this, but you’ll more than make up for your efforts when your public opinion rating skyrockets.

3) If you really have to drop the leaves and turn them brown, let’s give them some sort of purpose.  I’m not sure what, but just off the top of my head I think it might be a neat idea to flavor them chocolate.  If you give the people chocolate, Fall, they will love you.  The leaves are brown.  Chocolate’s brown.  Half of your work is done already.  Just think about it.

I hope I haven’t upset you, Fall.  You’re my favorite season for wearing jean jackets.  And you know how much I like wearing my jean jackets, Fall. 

Let’s talk again soon.  You know how to reach me.

Your friend,

Nick Bruel

I am giving away a signed copy of A Wonderful Year

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 9/21 to 11:59 p.m. on 9/23. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Look for A Wonderful Year on January 6, 2015. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Newbery Honor Challenge: 2000

Dear Mr. Sharp: 

We made it to 2000! How far back will we go??? :) 

Have a great weekend!


Please visit Colby's blog to watch his video. 

"So one of my favorite films besides Snow White, which I saw first run 1938, four years old, and I stood up in the theater and said 'that's not the end,
 because I was waiting, waiting for the whole 90 minutes to see the evil queen dance to death in her red hot iron shoes, which is in the story, but certainly not in the Disney film." - Tomie dePaola 

"You never escape who you are." - Tomie dePaola 

Tomie talks about why reading is important. 

"And my Italian relatives had come from the Bronx to visit and my Aunt Kate said to my brother, 'Buddy, do you know what you want to be when you grow-up?' And my brother said, 'Yes, I want to Dick Tracy, Joe Palooka and Buck Rogers.' And I, I thought to myself, 'Oh, great he wants to be a cartoon.' Because those were all comic strips growing up. And I said, 'Well, I know what I'm going to be.'  And it was like yes, yes, yes. And I said, 'I'm going to be artist and I'm going to write stories and draw pictures for books and I'm going to sing and tap dance on the stage.'" -Tomie dePola 

Borrow 26 Fairmount Avenue from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Author Natalie Lloyd

Natalie Lloyd is one of the friendliest and funniest people you'll ever meet. She dropped by to chat with me about A Snicker of Magic, ice cream, Full House, Sharon Creech, and her dog. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Natalie! :) 

Felicity and Jonah are best friends. They look for the best in people, and they bring out the best in each other. Even though they just met, they feel like they’ve known each other forever. Most of their adventures begin, or end, with ice cream.
If you visited Midnight Gulch, Mr. Schu, they would name an ice cream after you. It would be called Mr. Schu’s Bookalicious Brownie Bonanza. Whenever people take the first bite, they would immediately imagine the title of a book they’re going to love. If I visited Midnight Gulch, I would go by Jewell Pickett’s Lube & Dye for an oil change. Then I would ask Big Bruce to do my nails, of course. I might explore downtown for a while, and listen to Elvis Phillips howl out a song on the corner. Then I would buy an ice cream cone from Dr. Zook’s, and eat it while I watched the sun sink down behind Snapdragon Pond.
Download activities 
Dr. Zook’s famous ice cream is Midnight Gulch’s claim to fame. Well … there’s a certain curse that’s a bit infamous in Midnight Gulch as well. But the ice cream factory is what put the town on the map. There is one magical flavor in particular, Blackberry Sunrise, that’s only sold there in The Gulch. Whenever someone eats Blackberry Sunrise, they always remember something important. The problem is that they don’t know if the memory will be sweet or sour until they take the first bite. . .
Spindiddly means better than awesome! I think it’s a word best used in context when you’re describing a friend, family member, or beloved pet. For example: My dog, Biscuit, is spindiddly.

Family MattersFull House, and She-Ra have the most fantastic and humm-able theme songs EVER. I knew we were kindred spirits, Mr. Schu, but I was delighted to discover we were also TV twins back in the day. I lived for TGIF on Friday nights. Saturday morning cartoons (like She-Ra, My Little Pony, Heatcliff and Popples) were my jam. I count a Jem & the Holograms t-shirt among my prized possessions.
School libraries are safe places, dreaming spaces, and wide-open windows to the world. I still remember where the Judy Blume books were shelved in my middle school library. Blubber helped me survive middle school. One of the most amazing dream-come-true-author-moments happened for me this spring, when I was invited back to my old school for an author visit. Mrs. Goss, the fabulous librarian who stamped the Judy Blume books a zillion times for me, is still there. This time, she asked me to put A Snicker of Magic on the school’s shelf.

Sharon Creech’s books are total works of heart, and such inspirations to me. I was so excited to hear her speak in Nashville a few years ago. When I got there, the door to the auditorium was still closed because it was early. An excited hum of chatter filled up the hallway, thanks to all the readers (of all ages) waiting outside. It took a few minutes for me to realize Sharon Creech was out there, too; sitting on the floor against the wall, surrounded by a group of young readers. She was so engaging, personable and kind. I was too shy to say hello that day, but the way she interacted with her readers, and the amazing talk she gave, have stuck with me ever since.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why I put my dog in the book! Felicity has a dog named Biscuit. As I mentioned above, Biscuit also happens to be the name of my dog. I love animals, and wanted the Pickles to have a pet. But I also put Biscuit in the pages because I knew she would help me finish the story. I get so excited about new story ideas, that I sometimes abandon a story midway through. I thought if I could imagine sweet, feisty Biscuit scampering through the scenes, I would be excited to finish. And it worked!
Thank you so much for inviting me over! 

I am giving away one copy of A Snicker of Magic

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 9/19 to 11:59 p.m. on 9/21. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow A Snicker of Magic from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Link of the Week: Anderson's Mock Newbery List

Are you ready for your to-read list to grow? Are you ready to shuffle around books in your to-read pile?

Anderson's Bookshop released its 2015 Mock Newbery list yesterday afternoon. I see some titles that I would nominate if I were on the 2015 committee, including my current pick for the gold medal.  Which book will you read or re-read first? 

Anderson's included Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy on the list. However, I do not think it is eligible for the 2015 Newbery Medal because Karen Foxlee is not an American citizen or resident. 

The Award is restricted to authors who are citizens or residents of the United States.

You should still read it! :) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video of the Week: Uni the Unicorn's Theme Song

My niece celebrated her eighth birthday on Sunday. I gave her four books and a Target gift card to celebrate her special day. Which books, you ask? Two  My Weird School books, a Rainbow Magic book, and Uni the Unicorn. When she pulled Uni the Unicorn out of the gift bag, she said, "Look! I have unicorn earrings on today. I love unicorns." She was meant to receive this magical tale about beautiful Uni and a little girl with a big heart. 

I'm off to email my brother Uni the Unicorn's theme song. Do you think my niece will love it? 

Borrow Uni the Unicorn from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.