Thursday, December 31, 2015

Author-illustrator Hyewon Yum

Happy New Year's Eve! I am celebrating Watch. Connect. Read.'s birthday with Hyewon Yum. She dropped by to chat with me about Puddle, drawing, rainy days, picture books, and reading. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Hyewon! 

Puddle tells the story of the little boy’s rainy day. It’s rainy and the little boy can’t go outside. That’s terribly boring! What can he do? Well, he drew the rainy day with his mom and made a big PUDDLE!

The Boy and his mom is my little boy and me. When I had to stay home with him because of the rain (I don’t like getting wet so much) we were bored. We tried blocks, snacks and other tricks but nothing worked. So I started to draw, and he asked me draw this and that. We started to make a story.

He had an idea and it became alive on the paper with his imagination. He giggled and his face lit up when I drew grumpy daddy, mad mommy and the puddle! That became this book.

I think rainy days are no fun if you need to go somewhere. But with a cup of hot cocoa and the right music, it could be the best day for drawing and reading, which can lead you to a long nap!

If you visited my studio I’d be so embarrassed. (I’m working in the basement right next to the laundry room.) But I’d ask you to sit on my desk chair anyway. You would be a little uncomfortable and you might sneeze because of the stacks of papers and their dust friends. Then you would spin around from my desk, where there are bookcases filled with beautiful picture books.You won’t get bored then.

The Twins’ Blanket and The Twins’ Little Sister
are my childhood stories. I am a twin and I have a little sister. They are still my best friends and I have a trunkful of memories with them. Sometimes I can’t even tell it’s my story or my sisters’. I have to tell the stories about US.

Picture books are the best way I can tell my story.  My words are not enough, I need pictures. “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?”

Reading is my passion. I’m really lazy but still curious, I can travel and become somebody else on the couch or even in the bed.

A Piece of Home

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what’s the next book? It’s A PIECE OF HOME from Candlewick. Jerri Watts wrote and I illustrated, but I feel like I wrote the story. The story is about a young boy who moved from Korea to West Virginia (I moved from Korea to Michigan 13 years ago). Love the story! It will come out in June, 2016.

Look for Puddle on March 8, 2016. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

8 Must-Read Picture Books in 2016

Welcome to the last week of December! This is the week during which many of us start setting reading goals for the next year. Some of us will try reading more nonfiction and graphic novels. Others will vow to read more early readers and chapter books. Some may even take on the Caldecott, Geisel, Newbery, or Sibert challenge. Whatever you decide to focus on during 2016, I hope you'll read the eight fabulous picture books featured in the following vine. 

1. Where's the Party? by Ruth Chan | Publication Date: April 5

2.  Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora | Publication Date: April 5

3. Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer | Publication Date: February 16 

4. Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley | Publication Date: February 16 

5. The Secret Subway by Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio | Publication Date: March 8 

6. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illustrated by Lauren Castillo | Publication Date: April 1 

7. Puddle by Hyewon Yum | Publication Date: March 8 

8. Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen; illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden | Publication Date: March 29 

Happy reading! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I mailed books to Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota.


Colby Sharp and I announced the book selections for the February #SharpSchu Book Club meeting.


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry turns 40 in 2016.


Wednesday's #bookstack for #bookaday.


My friend Donna and I make macaroni and cheese every Christmas Eve. We call it Midnight Mac.


Wishing you peace, love, and books!


Lights, lights, lights! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Press Release: Fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature To Be Inaugurated on January 7, 2016

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (CFB), The Children’s Book Council (CBC), and Every Child a Reader (ECAR) will inaugurate the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 11a.m. in room LJ-119 of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington D.C. Ambassador Emeritus Kate DiCamillo will participate in the ceremony and deliver comments on her ambassadorship. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The National Ambassador program was created by the CFB, CBC, and ECAR in 2008 to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to literacy, education and the betterment of the lives of young people. Appointed for a two-year term, the National Ambassador will choose a personal platform related to books and reading (also to be revealed on the announcement date), which he or she will advocate for during his or her nationwide travels speaking to kids, teens and their caregivers.
The new Ambassador will succeed Jon Scieszka (2008-09), Katherine Paterson (2010-2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012-2013) and Kate DiCamillo (2014-2015) in the position.

The National Ambassador is selected based on recommendations from a CBC-ECAR-CFB-appointed committee of educators, librarians, booksellers and children’s literature experts for their contributions to young people’s literature, their ability to relate to kids and teens and their dedication to fostering children’s literacy as a whole.

About the Library of Congress and the Center for the Book

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading promotion partners and through the Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit

About The Children’s Book Council
The Children’s Book Council, established in 1945, is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading. The CBC offers children’s publishers the opportunity to work together on issues of importance to the industry at large, including educational programming, literacy advocacy, and collaborations with other national organizations. Please visit for more information.

About Every Child A Reader
Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. ECAR administers programs including Children’s Book Week, the annual celebration of books and reading, and the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country; the Children’s Choice Book Awards, the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by kids and teens of all ages; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Program. Please visit for more information.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


Are you SUNNY or GRUMPY?


I love finding Scholastic Instructor Magazine in my mailbox.


Have you seen the new covers for Kate DiCamillo's beloved novels?


Thank you, @LoveofXena! Harry looks WONDERFUL on my Christmas tree!

I always order a pizza when the #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club meets. 


Have you read My Pen and Trombone Shorty?


"She could run with the wildest shades." -Julia Denos, from Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color


Look for Daniel Finds a Poem on February 16, 2016. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

February #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club

Mr. Colby Sharp and I hope you will participate in the next #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club meeting on Wednesday, February 10, 2016. :) 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Author-illustrator Ciara Gavin

Happy Friday! Are you planning what you're going to read over winter break? Yes. Have you read Room for Bear? Yes. Did it make you laugh and smile? Yes. Me, too! Did you know Bear's second book comes out on January 12. Really? I didn't know that. Yes, it is called Bear Is Not Tired. Ciara Gavin dropped by to tell us all about it. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Excellent. I cannot wait to read it. Thank you for dropping by! Happy reading! 

Bear doesn’t want to be alone anymore. He has found where he belongs, smack bam in the middle of his duck family.

The duck family are not complete without Bear. Their love for one another is unconditional. They may not look the same, they may have different needs but they are willing to over-come any obstacle to be together.

I created the illustrations for Room for Bear and Bear Is Not Tired after a lot of experimenting. I didn’t always know how Bear would look. I could see him in my head but it was a lot of work to get the Bear in my imagination onto the paper.

I drew over a hundred pictures of him using everything from collage to oil pastels but I couldn’t find my Bear. Finally, I decided to make a 3D model of Bear, I am a ceramic artist first so this way of working made most sense to me. After I had made my Bear model, I found I could draw him more easily. When I used watercolor, he came alive. I could almost see him get up and walk across the page, his slow, heavy footfall and the gentle sway of his fur. Then I knew I had found my Bear.
From Room for Bear
The next time you visit Ireland bring boots that keep out the rain. Once you have that sorted you should go to the Long Room in Trinity College Dublin. It is very reminiscent of Hogwarts and has all the wonderful smells of old books. You feel as though you have stepped back in time. It’s one of those places that makes you look around in wonderment.  A room that makes you tingle.

From Room for Bear
When I’m tired I am no good to anybody. Sleep is one of my all time favorite things and one of life’s true pleasures. Waking up on a dark, cold Winter’s morning is one of my least favorite things. I could quite happily hibernate with stocks of oat and orange cookies and flasks of strong milky tea under my bed. Wake me up in Spring.

Picture books are my true passion and obsession. I began to explore the children’s section of our local library when my son was very little. I got my library card and every time I went I would take out the maximum books allowed on loan and a few more if they would let me.

We read at least six books every night before bed and it became our favorite time of day. Together we snuggled up and prepared to dive into the worlds that these books would take us to. There is a real intimacy in reading. We are involved in the stories. Some books would stay with us and repeat in our minds and my son would quote a line or he’d point to something in real life that reminded him of a drawing or illustration and just like that we became a part of the books.

Books are culture. We share the world through books. We pour over beautiful art from artists all over the world. We become the characters, we go on the journey with them. We have words from some of the most accomplished wordsmiths in the world humming in our ears long after the book is finished. We are Stuck in Floyd’s tree*, we are in the puddles with Alfie*, we are on the Endurance with Shakelton* and we are going on a Bear Hunt*. Magical, wonderful and inspirational.

Illustration credit: Ciara Gavin 
Reading is powerful. At the very most a book can change your life and at the very least it can change your mind. Reading to children is essential. How many of life’s obstacles have we been able to navigate within the safety of a book? Reading allows us to play-out different scenarios through the characters, to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves. We practice for the times when we will face difficult situations.  A chance to be the one who is left out and chance to be the one who saves the day.

This is more so important for children who are just discovering how life works. A book can reflect real life issues and offer encouragement or even a resolution. 

Room for Bear shows us how a blended family can work no matter the obstacles. Bear is Not Tired shows us that gone is not forgotten. There are children in the world that need to hear those messages. Through reading, my books can reach the children that I cannot personally deliver that message to.

It is my honor and privilege to write for children. I hope I can make them laugh and feel good about themselves.

Illustration credit: Ciara Gavin
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what is my favorite picture of Bear. It is one of the images from Bear Is Not Tired. Bear and Mama duck are sitting on chairs facing each other, Bear is feeling oh so tired and oh so worried about trying to stay awake and Mama duck is holding his giant bear paw and telling him, it’s ok big one, its time to sleep.
The other thing you should have asked me is what are Bear’s top three favorite things:
1.     Jam.
2.     Disco dancing when no one is looking.
3.     Quacking.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat about Bear!

*Alfie’s Weather by Shirley Hughes
*Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
*Shakelton's Journey by William Grill

Thank you, Ciara! 

Borrow Room for Bear and Bear Is Not Tired from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club Meets Tomorrow Night

Mr. Colby Sharp and I are excited to discuss three stellar picture books tomorrow night during the #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club meeting.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cover Reveal for I Don't Want to Be Big by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt

I had so much fun talking about Dev Petty and Mike Boldt's I Don't Want to Be a Frog during all of my Best Books of 2015 (And Some Forever Books) presentations. The text makes me laugh out loud, the illustrations pop off the page, and it has an AWESOME book trailer. 

I am thrilled Dev Petty dropped by to tell us about Frog's second book, I Don't Want to Be Big. Hooray! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read, Dev! 

I'm very grateful to have the cover for my next Frog story, I Don't Want to be Big, revealed here, with you, Mr. Schu.  You do so much to connect readers and books and writers and ideas together and it's an honor.  Seriously. 

The writing of picture books brings the strangest folks together.  In this case, it brought me- former visual effects artist and devout northern californian and Mike Boldt- author, genius-illustrator and Canadian guy with moose roaming around in his backyard together to work on my debut book, I Don't Want to be a Frog.  In fact, Mike lives so far away, that I bring a framed picture of him to all of my readings so that it's sort of like we're on a book tour together.  Though I may replace that with a fancy cardboard cut out if I make it really big. 

This unlikely combination of people is back together again for the followup to I Don't Want to be a Frog...I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG which will be out in mid October 2016. This time, we follow our young frog friend as he dryly wrestles with the caveats of growing up and how growing bigger fits into the big picture of change and responsibility.  What I love about this frog fella, apart from the fact he's a real handsome, green devil, is that he gives me a fun way to ponder large life questions, like who you are and what you are and what it means to grow and change- without being too serious. 

In this new story, instead of a kid wanting SOOOO much to get bigger or be in a rush to grow up, he's quite content being small and being who he is. I happen to have kids who are on the petite side, and this book is sort of for them- since both of them like being small and really enjoy being kids...they aren't in a rush. For me, the line that says it all is when the young frog answers his father's pleas to grow bigger by saying “I mean, first it's one inch, then two, then three...when does it stop?” By the way, if anyone's ever wondered, this is basically how I talk in real life. 

I hope kids read these stories with a character like Frog who has a strong voice and they find their own voice (but not too loud, since I don't want a bunch of angry letters from parents).  I hope they find a voice for  questioning their reality and being okay expressing a bit of frustration with the way things are and wondering how they could be different.

I Don't Want to be Big brings back some of Frog's pals, especially the dashing and somewhat enormous Pig, along with new friends.  And, of course, there's frog's dad who has his own lessons to learn courtesy of his insightful son who looks at things from a small, green, slimey point of view. 

Most of all...boy oh boy, are readers in for an extraordinary treat with these illustrations.  Mike is at the top of his game and again creates pictures that pop off the page and draw the reader into frog's world of pondering may even find an elephant in there if you look real hard.

Big or small, slimy or not, this book is a whole lot of fun...GO GREEN!

I Don't Want to Be Big by Dev Petty; illustrated by Mike Boldt | Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Dev is the author of I Don't Want to be a Frog – named one of Amazon's 20 best for 2015 and which is being translated into seven languages.  The followup, I Don't Want to be Big will be out with Random House/Double Day in October 2016 and you'll see her work again in Claymates (Little Brown 2017). She is represented by Jennifer RofĂ© of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

She is a former senior VFX artist who worked on the Matrix Trilogy and other films.  Her hobbies include living in California, connecting disparate words for a laugh and sandwich making.  She lives in Albany, California with her husband, daughters, dogs and her mean cat, John. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! Can we Skype next week? I would love to chat with your students about what they are reading. Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? Friday? You pick the day and time. :) 

Have a great weekend!

Your friend,


Please click here to watch Mr. Sharp's video. 

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart 

Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. 

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. 

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.