Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy Saturday, Colby!

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

I loved spending time with you in Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio this summer. I look forward to seeing you next week at the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association conference. 

Have a super Saturday!


Click here to watch Colby's video. 

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña  and Christian Robinson 

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo 

Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê and Isabel Roxas

The Secret Subway by Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Press Release: Author Renée Watson Plans to Transform Langston Hughes's Harlem Brownstone

NEW YORK—(July 27, 2016) Harlem-based author and educator Renée Watson announces the launch of the nonprofit organization, I, Too, Arts Collective, with the goal of creating a space for emerging and established authors to gather, create, and showcase their work. The organization’s first project is to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Langston Hughes by leasing the Harlem brownstone where he lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. Currently empty, Watson envisions the brownstone as a space for artists, poets, and creators to come together, mentor one another, and build upon the rich cultural legacy left by Hughes.

“I've walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived many times and wondered why it was empty,” explains Watson. “How could it be that his home wasn't preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I'd pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and I've gathered a group of writers and artists and we are trying to do something.”

“I believe it is important that in a place like Harlem, the historical and cultural spaces where African American pioneers lived and created be preserved,” she adds. “This is not just for nostalgic reasons, but I see a need for young people to know about and understand the legacy they are a part of; the artists and activists who paved the way for them.”

I, Too, Arts Collective is currently seeking donors to help raise funds for their first year of expenses, including renovations to the brownstone and leasing costs. They have until the end of next month to gather the funds, and they’ve established a website where supporters can help them reach their goal:

In addition to her role as an activist and educator in her community, Watson has published several highly acclaimed books. This Side of Home, her first young adult novel, was named a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and received starred reviews from Booklist and BCCB. Her second young adult novel, Piecing Me Together, will be published by Bloomsbury on February 14, 2017. It’s a timely and powerful story about a teen girl named Jade, who’s striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her.

To find out more about Renée’s work and to support the I, Too, Arts Collective, visit her website or email her at

About Renée Watson:
Renée Watson is the author of the teen novels, This Side of Home and Piecing Me Together, and two acclaimed picture books: Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City. Visit her at or on Twitter at @reneewauthor.

About the I, Too, Arts Collective:
The I, Too, Arts Collective is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. Their first major project is to provide a space for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase their work. For more information, visit

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Last Week Told Through Vines


This is one of my favorite spots in Chicago. 


It is always fun hanging out in the Book Fair the night before a Scholastic Reading Summit. 


Andrea Davis Pinkney is a phenomenal speaker and person. 


What's on my table? 

I love that @Spolos and @MsPolos traveled from New York to Texas for the Scholastic Reading Summit. 


This room in the Tobin Performing Arts Center is GORGEOUS! 


The Culture Club performed at the Chicago Theatre. 


 #TheViewfromHere at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Toby by Hazel Mitchell

Happy Tuesday, Hazel! Thank you for dropping by to share Toby's book trailer and finish my sentences. I cannot wait to celebrate Toby's book birthday on September 13. 

Hi John, thanks for inviting us! Toby is so excited for September 13, I am having trouble getting him to sleep! Me too!

The book trailer for Toby still makes me tear up, even though I know the story back - to - front and upside - down, this little dog has my heart. 

I think Toby reflects how a lot of children feel about new situations ... a little scared and not sure what to do. 
Illustration Credit: Hazel Mitchell

Dogs make the best friends!

Picture books are absolutely and totally necessary for the development of children. (And adults).

Reading is like breathing for the soul.

Look for Toby on September 13, 2016. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cover Reveal for Victoria J Coe's Fenway And Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang

Hooray! Victoria J. Coe and I are celebrating the cover for Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny! I wrote the words in orange, and Victoria wrote the words in black. Thank you, Victoria! Congratulations! 

The cover for Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang is impossible to resist! Seriously, who can possibly look away from that adorable face? I love this cover because it captures Fenway’s energy, charm, and irrepressible spirit, while also giving some pretty obvious clues about those evil bunnies. I mean, check out that yucky carrot! Those horns! And the pointy tail! I get shivers just looking at it - in more ways than one!

Visit Victoria J. Coe's website. 
Fenway loves playing in the Dog Park... until he discovers that mysterious creatures have snuck in and ruined Food Lady’s garden. There’s only one thing to do – nab those criminals before they go after their next target, his beloved short human Hattie!

Hattie thinks her friend Angel’s extra ticket to the baseball game is as good as hers. Or it would be, except her parents totally over-react after her rambunctious dog digs up the garden. Determined to get them to say yes, Hattie sets out to show how responsible she is by not only keeping a closer eye on Fenway, but by watching their neighbors’ pet, too. You can just imagine how well that works out.
On January 24, 2017, readers might be surprised to learn just how dangerous bunnies can be. From the tips of their twitching noses to the obnoxious thumping of their hind legs, those little fur balls are about to ruin everything!

Download the classroom guide for Fenway and Hattie
Reading is a great way to open ourselves to new perspectives. Through reading, we can spend time in someone else’s shoes (or paws!) and realize that there are many sides to every story.

School libraries are more essential than ever. In addition to the important reading and research hubs they’ve always been, today’s libraries are also media centers, maker spaces, and safe places to hang out, ask questions, and be yourself. School libraries change lives every day!    

Click here for more information. 
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I’m ready to share some Very Big News! I’m thrilled to announce that a third Fenway and Hattie book is coming in Winter 2018 – and a lot more trouble’s in store! After Fenway is stung by a bee and Hattie sides with the Evil Vet, he wonders if he can really count on his beloved short human after all. I am so excited that I get to spend more time with these characters and I hope readers will be, too.

Look for Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang on January 24, 2017. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bossy Flossy by Paulette Bogan

Hello, Paulette Bogan! Happy Saturday! Welcome back to Watch. Connect Read. 

Hi, Mr. Schu! Thank you for celebrating Bossy Flossy with me. 

Thank you for finishing my sentences. Are you ready? 


Flossy is a strong, opinionated, little girl learning how to channel her bossiness without losing her strength and hutzpah. 

My favorite place to work is upstairs in my studio with my two dogs, a latte, and some Neil Young playing…loudly!

My daughters would say that I am the best mother in the whole world, NEVER too bossy, and ALWAYS right… okay they would probably say I’m very bossy, sometimes right, and I talk to myself a lot, but I make them laugh.

According to Paulette’s daughters…

Sophia: Mom is an expert napper, and a coffee enthusiast.

Rachael: Mom is a world class list maker, and I can always count on her to laugh even when my jokes aren’t funny. And yes, she is bossy.

Lucille: Mom is very loud and she loves to embarrass us, but she says she always has our best interests at heart.

The strangest source of inspiration for me was my daughter’s high school biology project in Ms. Serpagli’s class. Lucille did a children’s book about the systems of the body. It was very cool. The white blood cell was a detective (Detective Albus, latin for white) who searched through the different systems of the body looking for a bacterium on the loose. When she did the art she cut out Detective Albus and the other characters leaving a white border around each of them, and then glued them onto colored paper. I loved the contrast and the way it looked. She even let me help! I was allowed to help cut out the characters and hand her the glue. I was also allowed to help clean up. I loved the technique and decided to try it in Bossy Flossy. I told my editor, Sally, and my art director, April, I had never done this technique before. I showed them a sample and they said go for it! I can’t wait to try it again.

Picture books are little packages of art and literature that are meant to be read, and cherished, and chewed on, and stuffed in diaper bags, and taped together, and passed down.

Reading is an adventure, an escape, a portal into another world, a way to connect with someone, or a way to connect with yourself, a way to feel comfortable, or uncomfortable. Reading is a life long gift.

Look for Bossy Flossy on July 19, 2016! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Ferocious Fluffity by Erica Perl and Henry Cole

Hi, Erica Perl! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. It has been too long since you last dropped by. 

Erica Perl: Thanks, John! I visit your blog frequently as a reader (and watcher), but it is great to be back as a writer.

Thank you for sharing the awesome book trailer for Ferocious Fluffity. What should we know about Ferocious Fluffity before pressing play? 

Erica Perl: Because Ferocious Fluffity is about an adorable classroom hamster who runs amok, I thought it would be fun to make a spoof of horror movie trailers. I also wanted to show a lot of Henry Cole’s amazing art without giving away the ending. And I definitely wanted to use a read hamster, too. I found my star, Hamlet, on our neighborhood listserv… he belongs to two little girls who serve as his agent (their fees were covered by a signed copy of the book). My daughter and a friend helped me film Hamlet, who was very sweet-natured (unlike both his namesake and the subject of this book).

I love the surprise under Ferocious Fluffity’s jacket. 

Erica Perl: Thanks – so do I! I thought it was brilliant to use the scene of kids fleeing from Fluffity in this way. The art direction team at Abrams (including Chad Beckerman and Pam Notarantonio) did a terrific job on the design of this book. Henry Cole and I were both so pleased!

How will you celebrate Ferocious Fluffity’s (7/19) and The Capybara Conspiracy’s (10/11) book birthdays?

Erica Perl: I’m calling 2016 the year of my “Release the Rodents” book tour. I’ll be at The Flying Pig in Shelburne, VT on July 19 to celebrate the publication of Ferocious Fluffity. In October, I hope to celebrate the release of The Capybara Conspiracy with as many capybaras -- er, I mean theater-loving kids -- as possible.

Please finish these sentence starters:

*Henry Cole’s illustrations are perfect at capturing the emotional range of human and animal characters alike. I love working with Henry because his illustrations have such energy and because he always, always makes me laugh.

*Picture books are my favorite kind of books. I love the dance between words and images, and the way you can see new things in them every time you read them, and how they work best when read aloud, like theater. I especially like funny picture books. A friend sent me a note today saying, “the world needs funny books now more than ever.” I couldn’t agree more.

*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I ever had a pet that inspired the character of Fluffity. We had a guinea pig named Violet who bit everyone constantly. I wish I could say that, as in Fluffity’s case, there was a good reason for her behavior. She was just one seriously feisty pig!

Look for Ferocious Fluffity on July 19. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Where Will I Be at ILA 2016?

Saturday, July 9 |10:50 AM -11:10 AM in Scholastic's booth (#2107) | Get on the Independent Reading Bandwagon

Dr. Kimberly Parker and John Schumacher will share strategies for uniting faculty in the independent reading movement. 

Saturday, July 9 | 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM in room 109 | Hooked on Series: Infuse Your Summer Reading with Series Books 

A lively and energetic discussion about summer reading with series books. Serial favorites--Jim Benton (DEAR DUMB DIARY), Nikki Grimes (DYAMONDE DANIEL), Kate Messner (RANGER IN TIME), Tui T. Sutherland (WINGS OF FIRE), and Jude Watson (LOOT) join forces in a discussion about their favorite series books growing up and how their own best-selling series books make invaluable tools for boosting summer reading programs at schools and libraries.

Sunday, July 10  | 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM in Ballroom B, 3rd level | Forging Relationships in New and Known Lands: Your Role as a Reading Ambassador

In this fast-paced session, Scholastic Book Fairs' Teacher and Librarian Ambassadors Donalyn Miller and John Schumacher will share their top strategies and resources for becoming a reading ambassador in your own school community. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Too Many Moose by Lisa Bakos and Mark Chambers

Happy Tuesday, Lisa Bakos! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for dropping by to finish my sentences and share the book trailer for Too Many Moose

Thank you, Mr. Schu! 

The book trailer for Too Many Moose! was created by Mark A. Chambers, the illustrator of the book. As it happens, I'm a huge fan of marching bands, yet Mark didn't know this fact and there were never any art notes in the original manuscript indicating this either - so I was delighted when Mark had Martha leading a marching band in the book and in the trailer too!

Martha decided she must have a pet, and marveled and mulled over what she should get...and just when it seemed like it might be no use...she made up her mind that she must have one....moose! Then Martha quite merrily ordered one more, and one more and one more until she had four! And in no time, Martha discovers that less is more when it comes to moose! 

Mark Chambers' illustrations are marvelously whimsical and the perfect match for my words! I especially adore his endpapers at the back of the book and truly hope to collaborate on more books with Mark in the future. Mark is an award winning illustrator who lives across the pond in a town called Lincoln within the East Midlands of England. 

Download the Too Many Moose! activity kit. 
Picture books have something to offer for everyone at every age! Personally, I can (and do!) spend hours in the children's book section of bookstores and libraries. Picture books make up about 90% of the books on my shelves, complete with a well loved and coveted collection from my own childhood. 

School libraries and librarians are the heart and soul of every school campus. It's where students can find familiar favorites and access new adventures any day of the week. 

Mr. Schu, you should've asked me about my chickens. Unlike moose, you can never have too many!

Borrow Too Many Moose! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Book Trailer Premiere: Soar by Tracy Edward Wymer

Happy, happy book birthday to Tracy Edward Wymer's Soar

Happy Release Day to SOAR!

I’m excited to share this student created book trailer for my new middle grade novel SOAR, which releases today! I wrote this story in 2010, and I’d always hoped that Eddie and his birds would eventually become a book. It’s been a long journey, but today I finally get to share Eddie’s story with the world. Enjoy!

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 near Miss Dorothy’s pond. According to Dad, “It had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws.” But last year, when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad “flew away” for good, leaving Eddie on his own to find the elusive raptor.

Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to befriend Gabriela, the new girl in town. The annual Seventh Grade Science Symposium (which famously won years ago) is coming up, 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 (and former friend), making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie’s quest might be harder than he thought. But Eddie might find help taking flight in an unexpected place.

(published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

Credit for book trailer: Eighth Grade Students from Cortland Junior Senior High School (thank you to author and educator Mike Winchell)

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

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Guest Post by Rebecca Mock

The last phase of Compass South was the final edits and drawing the cover.

(messy color sketch)

The cover for book 1 was a collab between ideas I presented and ideas from Hope and our editor. We wanted to show the two main characters front and center, but I wanted to show their full figures rather than floating heads or cutting them off at the waist. I also wanted to show something scenic. The image became a wraparound cover, a full scene that had a lot of sky, but with Alex and Cleo effectively framed front and center. This was a scene straight from the story--Alex and Cleo running across the wharf in New Orleans, before they are separated.

Cleo’s profile for the spine

It was tricky to get their positions right--they had to look convincingly alive in the space, while still evoking the drama of their "hero" running poses.

(We played with cutting Alex off at the waist, then the foot. But I wanted his full figure in. I finally got the composition and poses to work after this version!)

The main ship from the story--the Anita--needed to be shown in its full glory as well. I had started this book knowing next to nothing about drawing ships. Now I was campaigning to put one right on the cover, to show viewers how majestic and beautiful they could be. The gracefulness and power of ships plays a big role in the Four Points story.

The back cover showed the other main ship--the steamship that Cleo sneaks onto. Now we had both our main "ship" characters. (Also on the front cover I added in a little drawing of Luther, their main nemesis, and a little silhouette of a person on the deck of the Anita--that's The Mate!)

I made sure to also add in plenty of flags, though these aren't seen in the book. But flags are colorful and celebratory. I'm saying “Hooray! Look at this pretty book!” Some of the flag designs were taken straight from the many ship flags seen in Howl's Moving Castle (a favorite film of mine).

And that’s our story! I hope you pick up Compass South, even just to admire the cover, which I’m pretty proud of. Enjoy!

Rebecca Mock is an illustrator and comic artist. Her work has appeared in various publications including the New York Times and The New Yorker. She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is her first book. Visit her online at


June 27th — Supernatural Snark
June 28th — Love is not a Triangle
June 29th — Forever YA
June 30th — YA Bibliophile
July 1st — Sharpread
July 2nd — Watch. Connect. Read.