Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Q&A with Tricia Springstubb

Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read., Tricia! I met you at Anderson’s Bookshop during your book tour for What Happened on Fox Street! Please tell us about the four books you’ve published since we last saw each other. 

Mo Wren Lost and Found: This is the story of what happened after “Fox Street”. When I finished writing that first book, I really missed Mo and her sister Dottie, and I was a little worried about where they were headed next. I wrote “Mo Wren” to see them safely home.

Phoebe and Digger: “When Mama got a new baby, Phoebe got a new digger.”  Phoebe and her toy are a powerful duo, till the sandbox bully appears. One reviewer called Digger the most expressive steam shovel since Mike Mulligan’s Mary Anne, which just thrilled me, since that was one of my favorite books growing up. 

Moonpenny IslandMoonpenny is a tiny island keeping some big secrets. I’ve always daydreamed about living on an island—they’re so mysterious and romantic, with a dollop of danger. The story has a lot about geology and fossils, and I did more research than usual. One of the things I discovered is that evolution is not just about becoming the biggest and fastest. The world needs its quiet, humbler creatures just as much. That became the heart of the story. 

Cody and the Fountain of HappinessCody! I adore her! She never gives up, a trait that leads to lots of adventures (and a trait I wish I had). Cody’s problems will be familiar to most readers—making and keeping a friend, figuring out grown-ups, struggling with right and wrong. Small things on the surface, but huge to a child. This is the beginning of a new series, and that makes my personal fountain of happiness spill over.

Download the first chapter of Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. 

Please share four words that best describe Cody from Cody and the Fountain of Happiness

Funny, diverse, comforting, bubbly 

Illustration Credit: Eliza Wheeler

Aren’t Eliza Wheeler’s illustrations gorgeous? How do they add to Cody’s story? 

 Eliza’s art is exuberant and heartfelt, a perfect reflection of Cody. Eliza’s style is witty but warm, sweet but never cloying, exactly the tone I hope my writing has. I love how her pictures spill across the pages--they’re irrepressible, again just like Cody.

You’ve worked as a Head Start teacher and a children’s librarian. How have these experiences helped make you the writer you are today?

Every experience I have with children re-enforces how important stories are for them. Young readers look for themselves in books, and they also look for who they might become. I’ve worked with so many children who face challenges both big and small, and they always do it with resilience, hope and love. They are small, sturdy heroes! They continually inspire me to write the best, the truest stories I can. 

Illustration Credit: Eliza Wheeler

Please share a passage from Cody and the Fountain of Happiness that you read aloud during store or school events.

I often read all of Chapter 3, when MewMew is stuck in the tree. 

Here’s an excerpt: 

“Also, when one ant meets another ant, they rub feelers to say hello. They are extremely friendly.” Cody put extra oomph into those last two words. In her opinion, Spencer had some work to do in the friendly department.

“At home I have rare and valuable tropical fish,” he said. “Our neighbor is feeding them while I’m here.”
“What about your parents?”

“They went on a vacation. They have their own business and they work twenty four/seven and they needed a grown-up get-away.” Spencer took off his glasses. Without them, his face looked naked as a baby bird.

“Do you wish you went too?”
Uh oh. Wrong Question.

“I love Grandma Grace,” Spencer burst out. “But I really miss Dad and Mommy!”

A small pain stabbed Cody’s heart. Her dad was a trucker. He was gone for days at a time, and even though she knew he would come back, she always missed him, especially at night. Poor Spencer. Cody scrounged her brain for a cheerful thought.

“The lining of your gut replaces itself every three days!” she said. 

“You act like you know everything,” he said.

“That is a very rude comment.” Cody stood up. “I promised to find your cat, and I did. Now I will be on my way.” She dusted her hands together.
Mew mew! Mew mew!

They both looked up. MewMew was inching down the tree. Headfirst. Her paws scrabbled on the bark, trying to get a grip. A wild look lit her eyes. She was still far above the ground. One slip and she’d plunge to the sidewalk with a terrible, furry splat

Click here to download this story-hour kit

Please finish these sentences: 

When I was Cody’s age I desperately wanted a dog for a pet. Instead I got four younger siblings.  

Reading is oxygen. 

Illustration Credit: Jeff Newman
School libraries are the beating hearts of the whole glorious enterprise.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I would be if I couldn’t be an author (a favorite question from kids). Today’s answer is: I’d be the florist delivery person, who drives around delivering beautiful bouquets. I love flowers and I love surprises. Everyone would be so happy to see me! 

Thank you, Tricia!  

I am giving away one copy of Cody and the Fountain of Happiness

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/30 to 11:59 PM on 5/2. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Borrow Tricia Springstubb's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The #SharpSchu Book Club Meets Tomorrow Night

Tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket Day! Mr. Colby Sharp, Margaret McNamara, Victoria Jamieson, and I hope you'll discuss A Poem in Your Pocket and Roller Girl with us tomorrow night.

Borrow A Poem in Your Pocket and Roller Girl from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshop. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Little Red Henry Trifecta

The Nerdy Book Club, Colby Sharp, and I scheduled today's terrific trifecta with Linda Urban and Madeline Valentine nearly eight months ago. I'm so excited today is finally here! I hope you have fun jumping from blog to blog! 

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

When I received the manuscript for Little Red Henry I immediately fell in love with Henry and his glorious independence.

I created the illustrations for Little Red Henry with Linda Urban’s wonderful sense of humor as my inspiration.

Henry’s family is loving, loyal and a bit suffocating. But who isn’t every now and then?

The best thing about being a picture book illustrator is the chance to revisit my childhood every time I put pencil to paper; I’m constantly drawing from my memories of being a kid (No pun intended).

Picture books are magical.

If you visited my studio you would see my well-loved watercolors, my stubby colored pencils and my toy collection.

Reading is one of the few things that both plays on the imagination and is also grounding.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my favorite picture book was when I was a kid.
I was obsessed with Imogene’s Antlers by David Small. The illustrations are phenomenal.

"Years ago, when my son was a preschooler, I watched one of his classmates struggling to put on the many layers of snow gear that can sometimes be required for a Vermont recess. His mom hurried over to help him remove his leg from the armhole of his parka. “I can do it myself!” said the preschooler. And, eventually, he did well enough that he was able to join his pals outside." -Linda Urban | Click here to read the full post. 

"I’m a pretty big fan of Linda Urban. When I read a Linda Urban book for the first time I’m always wearing my “Linda Urban Glasses." -Colby Sharp | Click here to read the full post. 

Borrow Little Red Henry from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


Kohl's Cares for Kids!


Margie Myers-Culver celebrated National Poetry Month with my students. 


I had to give this third grader his own whale plush! 


Don't they look happy? 


I think Ellie would get along with Ivan. 

 Thank you, St. Croix Valley Reading Council!  



What's on display at Red Balloon Bookshop?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Greetings from Minneapolis! A "Your phone is full" message popped up before I was done filming today's video message. :( Sorry! I need to free up some space on my phone tomorrow. 

Happy reading!


Please click here to watch his video. 

Addendum Books (The Tale of Despereaux Special Edition) 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Author Beth Ferry

Happy Friday! I'm driving to New Richmond, Wisconsin, today after school in order to attend the St. Croix Valley Reading Council meeting tomorrow morning. If you looked inside my car right now, you would see three audio books (Pluto, Strider, and Ralph S. Mouse), an elephant, a bear, a turtle, a whale, and three tote bags filled with books. A copy of Beth Ferry's Stick and Stone is inside the Little Elliot, Big City bag. 

It just so happens that Beth Ferry is today's special guest. She dropped by to chat with me about Tom Lichtenheld, her forthcoming picture books, reading, school libraries, and her favorite word. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Beth! 

Stick and Stone tells the story of the power of friendship. It’s a fun twist on the childhood rhyme and shows how one word or one act of kindness can not only make a difference, but can even make a lifelong friend.

Illustration Credit: Tom Lichtenheld
I think Tom Lichtenheld’s illustrations are Terrific, Outstanding, Magnificent! His creativity might very well be unsurpassed. I love his energy, his use of color and his entire style. He came up with many different possibilities for the story and each one was better than the last. He brought Stick and Stone to life in a way an author can only dream of.

Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect Pet, and Swashby and the Sea are my upcoming titles, releasing in July 2015, Fall 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Land Shark (Chronicle Books) is illustrated by Ben Mantle and tells the tale of a shark-loving boy who cannot be converted to a dog-loving boy no matter how much his dog acts like a shark. Or can he?

Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick), illustrated by Matt Myers, follows a pirate’s journey as he searches for the perfect pet.

And Swashby and the Sea (HMH) is the story of an unlikely friendship between a retired pirate and his new neighbors.

As you probably noticed, I have an affinity for pirates, pets and alliteration.

Elena Giovinazzo and I are great friends! She is smart, enthusiastic, dedicated and an absolutely brilliant agent. She challenges me to write the best stories I can and works tirelessly to find them the right home.

Click here for more behind-the-scenes information. 
School libraries are playgrounds for the mind, where the cold never bites and the wind never blows and it never, ever snows except in your imagination.

Download the Stick and Stone activity kit. 
Reading is Essential with a capital E, which also stands for Excellent, Empowering, Entertaining, Educational, Exciting and Enjoyable.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my favorite word is. It’s, wait for it, - Anticipation. It’s wonderful to have good things to look forward to – especially new books!

Borrow Stick and Stone from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman and Deborah Zemke

I am always on the lookout for great early readers. When I find one, I want everyone to know about it. Robin Newman's The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake is one of the best early readers I've read this year. It is hilarious and has a fun twist at the end. 

Robin dropped by to chat with me about Wilcox, Griswold, dogs, school libraries, and reading. I wrote
the words in orange, and Robin wrote the words in black. Thank you, Robin! 

The book trailer for The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake is DY-NO-MITE! Cynthia Nugent at Rascal Media did an amazing job on the trailer. For more info about her work, please go to

Detectives Wilcox and Griswold are two hardboiled mouse detectives, working their beat from a shoebox at the back of Farmer Ed’s barn. They are MFIs, Missing Food Investigators, and on their seminal case, they’re on the hunt for Miss Rabbit’s missing carrot cake. (Note: The names of the animals have been changed to protect the good guys.)

Illustration Credit: Deborah Zemke 
Deborah Zemke’s illustrations are AWESOME!!! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that my characters could be so irresistibly adorable. Her illustrations blow me away!
Download a reading guide
My English Cocker Spaniel, Madeleine, is ever-hungry, ill-mannered, spoiled rotten, and the most-beloved member of my family. She is a hoarder of tennis balls and rubber ducks. A world-renowned food vacuum, she can often be spotted scouring the streets of New York. Madeleine also loves to swim, but her favorite activity in the whole world is picking up her boy from school. (Ironically, this English Cocker Spaniel was born on the Fourth of July.)

Madeleine is named in honor of our late Cocker Spaniel, Cookie, and in tribute she’s named after madeleine cookies and the character of Madeline.

Explore Robin's website. 
Reading is like having your own special magic wand. It can transport you to places near and far; introduce you to characters that are dear to your heart; and make you laugh when you’re having an incredibly bad, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Did you know writing for kids is the best job in the world?

School libraries are extremely under-appreciated. They should be treated like the Holy Grail and funded accordingly. I still remember my grade school library. It was located in the basement in a windowless room next to the cafeteria. And I also remember the librarian. She had these amazing super powers. She always knew exactly which books you would like and she would have them waiting for you when you walked in the room.
Take a look inside Creston's Spring 2015 catalog. 
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my next Wilcox & mystery. It is The Case of the Poached Egg, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books, Fall 2016). Penny, the egg, has been poached! Not poached as in boiled, but poached as in egg-napped. Was foul or fowl play involved? Detective Wilcox and Captain Griswold are scrambling to crack this case before they have an omelet on their hands.



   Image Source: Wikipedia




Proceed with caution. Suspects considered dangerous.

I am giving away a copy of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/22 to 11:59 PM on 4/23. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Borrow The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.