Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Halloween! Did you dress up as a crayon yesterday? Are your children excited to go trick-or-treating tonight? It is a rainy and dreary day here in Naperville. I hope it stops raining soon. 

Have a wonderful weekend!


Click here to watch Mr. Sharp's video. 

I visited Julie's house on July 19, 2013. 

Lou Grant and Snappsy 

Watch out, Snappsy! 

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko;illustrated by Tim Miller | Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 Best Books Lists

Welcome to the time of year when Best Books lists start popping up left and right. In order to have all the lists in one place, I will update this blog entry with Best Books lists from October 29 until late January 2016. 

We kick off the BEST OF season with The New Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2015. 

Big Bear, Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh 

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Christian Robinson

Madame Eiffel

Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower by Alice Brière-Haquet; illustrated by Csil

The Only Child by Guojing

The Skunk by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Patrick McDonnell 

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson; illustrated by Sydney Smith

The Tiger Who Would Be King by James Thurber; illustrated by JooHee Yoon

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Trailer Premiere: Surf's Up by Kwame Alexander and Daniel Miyares

I am celebrating Surf's Up's book trailer with Kwame Alexander and Daniel Miyares. They dropped by to chat with me about Bro, Dude, Float, and picture books. I wrote the words in orange, Kwame wrote the words in green, and Daniel wrote the words in purple. Thank you, Kwame and Daniel! 

Surf's Up tells the story of Bro and Dude, two frogs who are on their way to the beach. It's a true story about the magic of reading that I made up.

Picture books are perfect for poets. Write a good poem, get an illustrator, and WA-LA: a picture book. I tell poets all the time, if you want to make a living as a writer, write picture books. 

The first time I saw Daniel Miyares' illustrations in Float, I time-traveled back to my childhood in New York City walking with my mom through Central Park, eating hot dogs, splashing puddles, and taking in the wonder of the world.  

 When I received Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander's manuscript for Surf's Up I thought this would be really fun to read out loud. The dialogue was already imbued with personality. The characters immediately started showing up.But really what hooked me was Kwame’s emphasis on the power of reading. I loved the idea of seeing a character discover the exhilaration of imagination and how a book could take them there. When I saw that happen for kids I did a happy dance inside.

Surf's Up's illustrations are a visual representation of the parallel journeys the characters are on. I tried to keep the illustrations fairly expressive because the story has pace and energy to it…plus the lines between real and imagined get blurred. I felt that required a certain amount of freedom to stylize or exaggerate when needed.

Bro and Dude are great examples of how infectious reading can be. Plus you never know where it might take you.

Look for Surf's Up on February 1, 2016. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Best News of the Month

I have not stopped smiling since Publishers Weekly broke the news that Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo is working on a follow-up to Nana in the City. I cannot wait to read and celebrate Nana in the Country. Congratulations, Lauren!!!!

November Activity Calendar

November is just around the corner. It is the perfect month to celebrate picture books, peanut butter, bread, education, and Barbara O'Connor!

I had a ton of fun putting together the November activity calendar for LibrarySparks. I hope you can find ways to use it in your classroom or library. Please click here to download a copy. 

Have a wonderful month! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I mailed The Marvels to New York and The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie to North Carolina. 


"Raymie's story is the absolutely true story of my heart." -Kate DiCamillo 


I couldn't resist. (Requires sound.)


I donated books to Longwood School's Little Free Library.


I READ FOR THE RECORD with Colby Sharp's students.


I spent the afternoon with Pam Muñoz Ryan. 


Travis Jonker and I talked about these books in Michigan. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! It was fun spending thirty minutes with you, your family, and Travis Jonker this afternoon.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend! :)

Your friend,


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

Travis Jonker and I brought a lot of books to Waterford Township for our presentation for the Oakland County Reading Council.

The Power of the Newbery: Applegate, DiCamillo, Lai, Schlitz, and Stead

Look! Horrible Bear! was waiting for me on my front porch. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Wonderful Morning Connecting with Readers in Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Iowa

7:15: Alarm sounds. 

7:30-7:50: Franki Sibberson and her Mock Newbery Club call me on Skype to talk about the Newbery Medal. I take them on a tour of my home office, show off my 2014 Newbery shelf, hold up a copy of Brian Selznick's The Marvels, and go on and on about how much I love The One and Only Ivan. They mention Echo, A Fish in a Tree, The War that Saved My Life, and Crenshaw

9:15-9:45: Jennifer Reed and her terrific third graders call me on Skype to Read for the Record. Before we read Not Norman together, I take them on a quick tour of my house so they can see my shark (mandatory when you Skype with me) and talk about some of my favorite characters.

Ms. Reed put together this fabulous Animoto video.

10:00-10:30: I call Mr. Colby Sharp and his third graders on Skype to Read for the Record. We...

Did we have fun? 
11:00-11:30: A BRILLIANT group of second graders from Grundy Center, Iowa, call me on Skype to talk about books and Read for the Record.

I had a wonderful morning connecting with young readers, teachers, and administrators! Thank you! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Guest Post by Sue Fliess

Mr. Schu, thank you for watching and sharing my latest writing parody of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." From the first word you write, through the rejections, getting an agent, selling a book and the pressure to stay current. It's all here in a humorous song parody that writers--and likely anyone in the arts--can relate to. Enjoy! 

Visit Sue Fliess' website to watch more videos and read about her wonderful picture books.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I took a bus trip to Milwaukee for Brian Selznick's presentation and book signing for The Marvels.

A mini copy of The Marvels.


Which item do you think made me the happiest?


I brought Punk Skunks to New York City! 

The cast of Allegiance 


This is the best issue of Entertainment Weekly.


I talked about Wolfie the Bunny, A Fine Dessert, and The One and Only Ivan in Wisconsin.


I am the proud owner of a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Video of the Month: Taye Diggs Finishes Mr. Schu's Sentences

Molly Brouillette always comes up with the best ideas. 

1. She asked Nick Bruel to write letters to Winter,  Spring, Summer, and Fall

2. The No Phone Contest was her idea. I still have a package of Starburst to prove it. :)

3. I premiered The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School song thanks to her. 

What's her latest idea? She recorded actor, singer, and author Taye Diggs finishing my sentences. "Mr. Schu, you should have asked me..." are seven words I never expected to hear coming out of Taye Diggs' mouth. Press play. I'm off to listen to Rent.*

Thank you, Molly and Taye! 

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs; illustrated by Shane W. Evans | Feiwel & Friends 
Mom and Dad say I'm a blend of dark and light:
"We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right."
Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them.
Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

*Taye Diggs appeared in the original Broadway cast and the film version of Rent

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy, happy Saturday! I loved Skyping with your students from Times Square on Wednesday. Your wonderful readers had such interesting things to share about Nana in the City, Mercy Watson, and Little Elliot, Big City. I'm counting that experience as this week's #SharpSchu video. Thanks for capturing six seconds of it! :) 

Your friend,


Click here to watch Colby's video. 

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo 

Kate DiCamillo talks about Mercy Watson.

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato 

Friday, October 16, 2015

October #SharpSchu Meeting

Mr. Colby Sharp and I hope you'll join us on October 29 to discuss two of our favorite books of 2015. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Author John David Anderson

John David Anderson dropped by to chat with me about the cover illustration for Ms. Bixby's Last Day, pizza, Mr. Holland's Opus, and cheesecake. (What a variety of topics, eh?) I wrote the words in orange, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, John! 

The cover illustration for Ms. Bixby's Last Day is wonderfully mysterious. What are the boys looking at? Or for? Who is Ms. Bixby? Why is it her last day? Is that balloon about to pop? Why does John David Anderson not just call himself J.D. Anderson, which would be much cooler? (He didn’t think he could pull it off.) The thing I like best about it are the three boys stacked one on top of the other. They all take turns narrating the story, and each brings a different take on Ms. Bixby. But it’s also the story of their relationships with each other, which are tested in their own way. I think the cover speaks to that.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day tells the story of three boys and their epic quest to give their teacher the last day she deserves, even if it means skipping school, acquiring rare and illusive treasures, battling cash-snatching thieves, hiding from over-protective sisters, confronting mysterious and creepy booksellers, and giving each other a hard time. It’s a journey that tests their friendship and reveals, through each boy’s perspective, the impact one teacher can have. It’s like Stand By Me, Mr. Holland’s Opus, and the Holy Grail myth all rolled into one. With more humor. And french fries.

On June 21, 2016, people all across the country will probably order pizza for dinner. I feel safe saying this. Also I will probably see/hear 85 messages telling me who I should vote for for President. Oh, and I will be fortunate enough to see my fourth book with Walden Pond Press hit the shelves. Anyone who forgoes ordering pizza and buys a copy of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day instead will be treated (I hope) to a hilarious, yet poignant coming-of-age story that will be sure to make them go out and eat cheesecake. Which is probably better than eating pizza (it’s really not), and is certainly better than eating my book (though I hope readers devour it anyway).  

Walden Pond Press is the best boss I could ever hope to have. The people who work there—who helped me nurture Bixby from its infancy and shape it into something I’m heart-breakingly proud of—love what they do and have made it their mission to get good books into the hands of eager readers. That’s a noble quest, I think, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.

And because that’s a cheesy way to end an interview, I’m also thankful for pizza. And cheesecake. Which, I suppose, is a doubly cheesy way to end.

John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Minion. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cover Reveal for Island of the Sun by Matthew Kirby

Happy Wednesday! Mr. Matthew Kirby and I are celebrating the release of Island of the Sun's cover. Before you scroll down and ooh and aah about the gorgeous cover illustration, please read his ends to my beginnings.  

 The Arctic Code was released on April 28, 2015. 
I think Island of the Sun's cover illustration is amazing, and lets readers know the series is taking us to some very different places after The Arctic Code.

On May 10, 2016, Island of the Sun will release in bookstores, and I can't wait for readers to find out what happens next to Eleanor, her mom, and their friends.

Reading is one of the most important things a kid can do to become who they're going to be.

Island of the Sun by Matthew Kirby | Balzer + Bray 

Eleanor has shut down the mysterious Concentrator in the arctic, but her mission is far from over. The Earth is still spinning out of its orbit, and growing colder by the day. Their only chance is to find the other Concentrators imbedded around the world and deactivate them before it's too late.
But doing so won't be easy. The Global Energy Trust has branded Eleanor, her mom, and her friends international terrorists, and are tracking their every move. The G.E.T. will stop at nothing to harness the power of the Concentrators in order to preserve the select few people they deem worthy, and Eleanor is soon forced to ask herself whether it's worth risking the lives of the entire human race for a slim chance to save them.
The second book in Matthew J. Kirby's Dark Gravity Sequence is a breathless race across a planet perilously close to extinction, one that will find Eleanor and her friends questioning their connections to it—and to each other.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Guest Post by Maris Wick

the human body with Maris Wicks’ wonderful new nonfiction graphic novel Human Body Theater!  Each
stop on the Human Body Theater blog
tour will feature an original illustration and some facts about one part of the
human body.  Follow along for the next two weeks to collect them
all!Fuse #8, 10/5SLJ Scope Notes, 10/6Sharp Reads, 10/7 The Roarbots, 10/8 Supernatural Snark, 10/9 The Busy Librarian, 10/12Watch Read Connect, 10/13 The Book Rat, 10/14Love is Not a
10/15Librarian’s Quest, 10/16 

What is the largest organ in your body? SKIN!  Well, okay, it’s kind of “on” rather than “in” your body, but it still counts as an organ, and what a fantastic organ it is!  Not only does it come in many different shades and colors, it is home to millions of nerves, capillaries and sweat glands! Nerves of the skin can sense pressure, temperature and pain, capillaries carry blood, and sweat glands help to cool the skin and get rid of wastes. On the surface, skin can have many little details: freckles, moles, scars, birthmarks, not to mention hair!  The human body is covered in approximately 5 million hairs. If you think of your body as an awesome present, skin is the wrapping paper!

Each stop on the Human Body Theater blog tour will feature an original illustration and some facts about one part of the human body.  
Fuse #8, 10/5
Sharp Reads, 10/7 
The Roarbots10/8 
The Book Rat10/14

Maris Wicks lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. She has harnessed the power of her various biological systems to draw comics for Adhouse Books, Tugboat Press, and Spongbob Comics, and written stories for Image and DC comics. Wicks is the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Primates,w ith Jim Ottaviani. When she's not making comics, Wicks works with New England Aquarium. She's especially proud of her pulmonary system. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


I dropped by Books of Wonder to see this phenomenal display for Little Elliot, Big Family.

I met the nicest kindergarten teacher on the subway.


I love being surrounded by books.


I found Ms. Frizzle in Danbury, Connecticut!


What's inside my carry-on bag? 


Look for these picture books in 2016.


I mailed Little Elliot, Big Family to Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Guest Post and Cover Reveal with Tracy Edward Wymer

I never thought I’d write a book about birds. Then I started teaching sixth grade English, and I was thrown into a cross-curricular research project on North American birds. Over several years, my students and I came to appreciate birds and their various behaviors, quirks, and personalities. I was writing a lot during this time, but then one day I thought to myself, “What if there was a boy who couldn’t find a bird? What if he searched for this bird every day, like his life depended on it?” A couple of years later, after hundreds of hours of research, pouring over field guides and websites, I finished a book called BIRD NERD. Which then became MIGHT FLY AWAY. Which then became what it is now: SOAR.      

To be honest, I was nervous about the cover. It’s one of those things where you lie in bed at night and think about what your book will look like on a bookshelf. There are a lot of elements in the story, and I had no idea where the artist would take it. Even I wasn’t exactly sure which angle would best represent the complete narrative. However, I was almost certain that somehow, some way, a bird would find its way onto the cover. Sure enough, that’s what happened, and I couldn’t be more excited about the way artist Brian Biggs captured the essence of Eddie’s story, including the majestic golden eagle. I’d like to give a huge CHIRP (shout out!) to the team at Aladdin for creating something special:

Brian Biggs-artist/illustrator
Alyson Heller-editor 
Karin Paprocki-designer
Mandy Veloso-managing editor
Sarah Kwak-production

SOAR… coming July 5, 2016…

Seventh grader Eddie is determined honor his father’s legacy and win the school science fair in this fun and quirky debut novel.

Eddie learned everything there is to know about birding from his dad, including the legend of the golden eagle, which Dad claimed he saw once down near Miss Dorothy’s pond. According to his dad, the golden eagle had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws. But when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad “flew away” for good, leaving Eddie on his own to await the return of the elusive raptor.

Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to impress Gabriella, the new girl in town. The annual seventh grade Science Symposium is looming (which Dad famously won), and Eddie is determined to claim the blue ribbon for himself. With Mr. Dover, the science teacher who was Dad’s birding rival, seemingly against him, and with Mouton, the class bully, making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie is determined to overcome everything and live up to Dad’s memory. Can Eddie soar and make his dream take flight?

TracyEdward Wymer is the author of middle grade books SOAR (S&S/Aladdin, Spring 2016) and THE COLOR OF BONES, and he is part of the anthology BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (Penguin 11/3/15). When not plowing through stacks of books on his nightstand, he likes to run, write, and root for the Kansas City Royals. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.