Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere for I Don't Want to Be Big by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt

Make sure you turn up the volume on your computer before you watch the book trailer for Dev Petty and Mike Boldt's I Don't Want to Be Big. You're going to have the awesome song featured in the book trailer stuck in your head for the REST of the week.

Thank you, Dev, for taking over my blog for the day. 

As kids are wont to do, they sometimes (by luck or by design) point out things you don't really want pointed out as a parent.  Sometimes they say something that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you think.

It was just one of these moments that led me to write I Don't Want to be Big, my followup to I Don't Want to be a Frog.  And this moment happened right when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write a followup about.  I considered the obvious (if you haven't read the book, this won't make sense to you but trust me. it's hi-larious)- I Don't Want to be a Badger.  But since I really like Badgers, this seemed somewhat disingenuous.  What's more, badgers are pretty mean and I'd rather not make another enemy in the animal world- sorry again cuttlefish!  So there I was, trying to figure out what to write about and I found myself at dinner imploring my daughter to eat her food so she would grow big and tall (that's in the parent manual I sometimes forget to put away). 

Now here's the thing.  She's on the small side, but is a perfectly healthy height and weight- her lovely doctor says so- she's just small.  Her great grandmother didn't crack five feet and she lived to be 106, so the small genes seem to pay off in our family.  Anyhoo, she looked at me and said “I don't want to grow big.” Naturally, I asked “Why?” And she answered, “I like being small.”


Now, I shouldn't be surprised.  This is the same kid who once posited that we humans were not, in fact, real but just toys being played with by a giant and we were just too wrapped up in ourselves to notice.  But I digress...She likes how she is.  And while she knows she will inevitably grow, she didn't see any real reason to eat food she didn't want simply for that purpose.  I probed further about this...She said she liked being able to fit in small places and be carried around and she was good at surprising people.  She is, seriously good, which can be a real problem when you're cooking dinner.  They were all pretty swell points when I stopped to think about it. 

I wanted to write a book for her- for the kid who's happy how she is and who's a little skeptical about the strings attached to growing big...Ipso Facto...I will have to get an apartment and a job if I'm over four feet.

So there I was with a I Don't Want to {insert thing here}- that felt pretty good.  The only trouble was that I had no idea how to write a followup to a book I probably didn't really know how to write in the first place.  Should I try to figure out what people liked about Frog and copy it exactly?  Should I be totally different or totally referential?  My analytical side had me sketching diagrams about what was good and what wasn't- trying to sort of backwards engineering things. 

Leave it to my kids, again, to make sense of things.  “Just make kids laugh,” they suggested.  Make kids laugh, eh?  Well, I'd read Frog SIX BILLION TIMES and had a good sense of the moments that kids found funny and those other moments I thought were hilarious and they smiled politely.  I had answered dozens of questions about the book from kids who wanted me to talk about certain parts or certain characters.  So I decided that the best guide for writing this book was those kids, my kids, kids. 

I wrote my little followup.  I tried to write things that honored my kid and her individuality (also her semi-occasional smartypantsness) and the kids who like to laugh and don't always do exactly what their parents expect.  I Don't Want to be Big will be out in a little while- on October 11th, to be exact.  The unbelievably talented and charming Mike Boldt illustrated it beautifully again- with characters that pop off the page in a simple but bright way.  There was a lot of me in my debut book I Don't Want to be a Frog, about finding the good part of things you don't really like about yourself.  I Don't Want to be Big is then, about other people finding the good part in the things you DO like about yourself even if they run counter to expectations.  We're all going to grow, one way or the other...up or side to side...we might grow restless or grow roots...but I'm pretty sure however small she is, she's going to grow, even if she doesn't eat that last piece of broccoli.   

Dev Petty writes the words for picture books.
She used to be a painter in movies- like in the Matrix films and others...But now she's only artistic enough to be dangerous.

And telling stories is so much fun. She happens to like the kind that make you laugh a little and think a little.

Dev lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's great at word jumbles, sandwich making, and finishing thi--
She is the author of I Don't Want to be Big, Claymates (Little Brown 2017), There's Nothing to Do (Doubleday 2017) and her debut book, I Don't Want to be a Frog. 

Look for I Don't Want to Be Big on October 11, 2016. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Cover Reveal for This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Happy Tuesday! I am thrilled to reveal the cover for Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang's This Is Just a Test. The cover is so intriguing and will pop on shelves. I cannot wait to celebrate it on June 27, 2017. Thank you, Madelyn and Wendy, for dropping by to reveal the cover! :) 

Hi everyone! Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Shang here, teaming up just like Cagney and Lacey (or maybe Laverne and Shirley) to introduce you to the cover of our forthcoming book, THIS IS JUST A TEST.

We love the orange color and lately we’ve started seeing it in different places, like here, on the side of Chef Bon’s Yum Truck.

In our book, David Da-Wei Horowitz is supposed to be getting ready for his bar mitzvah and a school trivia contest. But it’s hard to concentrate when he’s surrounded by dueling friends and his dueling Chinese and Jewish grandmothers, not to mention the threat of nuclear war. Keeping his mouth shut seems like a good way to keep the peace, both domestically and abroad. But that comes with an even bigger set of problems.

THIS IS JUST A TEST (Scholastic) comes out on June 27. It was inspired, in part, by our 80’s memories of popped collars, being the ‘onlies’ at our respective Virginia middle schools, and watching The Day After on TV. Writing is usually a pretty solitary endeavor, but the two of us talked so much while we were writing this book that yes, we do finish each other’s sentences. And when we went on our separate summer vacations, it sometimes felt like we were each operating with only half a brain. We've been in the same writing group for years, but a pivotal moment in our friendship came when we discovered that Rona Jaffe’s Class Reunion was the first ‘grown-up’ book we had stolen from our mothers to read.

Thanks so much, Mr. Schu, for unveiling our cover, which was designed by Nina Goffi. (Nina also designed the cover for Badger Knight by fellow Virginia author Kathryn Erskine!)

 In honor of our reveal, we're sharing our 80-est fashion moments. For Wendy, it was when a girl in her gym class told her that her light-blue-and-yellow purse was “boppy." Wendy was totally unsure whether that was an insult or a compliment. (For the record, it was a compliment.) For Madelyn, it was owning an add-a-bead necklace to which she never added any beads. She ditched it in favor of a Dark-Side-of-the-Moon button her sophomore year of high school.

Thanks so much for tuning in,

Madelyn and Wendy 

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Guest Post by Trevor Lai

It's an honor to share the CG-animated book trailer for PIGGY with you and your readers, Mr. Schu! Piggy is the world's sweetest little pig, and he gets a chance to prove it when he meets Kate. Encouraged by their shared love of reading, Piggy puts his imagination to work creating one spectacular diversion after another, hoping to impress her. But does Piggy really need to move mountains to make Kate his new friend? Or will Piggy learn how making a friend can be as simple as sharing? Ever since I began writing and drawing at the age of four, it's been my dream to create storybooks and cartoons. PIGGY's book series and animated trailer bring both of these dreams to life, and I hope you enjoy his adventures to come! 

Piggy by Trevor Lai | Bloomsbury| Publication Date: 12/20/2016 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere for Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan

Hi, Stephen Shaskan! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. It has been a long time since you last dropped by. November 11, 2011, to be exact!

Stephen Shaskan: It’s been too long. The last time I was here my debut picture book A Dog is a Dog was just released. Since then, I’ve written and illustrated my second picture book The Three Triceratops Tuff, illustrated Punk Skunks written by Trisha Speed Shaskan (my awesome wife), and most recently, I have written and illustrated Max Speed.

You’ve been busy!

Stephen Shaskan: You’ve been very busy yourself. Congratulations on all your continued success! Thank you for being such a wonderful advocate for children and children’s literature.

Thank you for all you do! And thank you for finishing my sentences. :) 

The book trailer for Max Speed sets out to capture the adventure that awaits the reader.  I really wanted to create a high adrenaline Harold and the Purple Crayon.

On a pedagogical side, the book is a fun approach to many common childhood fears that are often acted out during imaginative play. While I was a preschool teacher, a day didn’t go by that I didn’t hear the words “hot lava.”

Max likes fast cars, jet packs, and adventure!

I think Max’s car is awesome! It’s based on a 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Spider (Aston Martin, if you are listening you can send me an email and I’ll send you my address so you can deliver my new car for all this free advertising). To me, this car really screams toy car. James Bond drives a different model of Aston Martin. When I was a child, I had a bedspread that had an old timey car covering the whole thing. I would pretend that it was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was written by Ian Fleming who also wrote James Bond.

Reading is a powerful means to learning, thinking, questioning, playing, creating, and doing.

Picture books are a gateway to literacy and visual literacy. They reflect the world of children and connect them to words and images. They are also: mighty, beautiful, fantastic, stunning, funny, and loving.

Look for Max Speed on October 11, 2016. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere for I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt and Scott Magoon

Hi, Adam! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read! 

Adam Lehrhapt: Hi, Mr. Schu! 

Hi, Scott! I cannot believe this is your first time here. 

Scott Magoon: Hello, Mr. Schu! 

Thank you for allowing me to premiere the trailer for I Will Not Eat You. I'm grateful you finished my sentences, too! :) 

The book trailer for I Will Not Eat You is SUSPENSEFUL! In the book itself, the suspense builds until Theodore needs to make a big choice. I tried to capture that (without giving too much away!) in the trailer, too.

Scott Magoon’s illustrations had me doing the happy dance all over my house. Seriously! I'm not kidding. I've been a huge Scott Magoon fan for a long time. Secret: I even told the good folks at S&S how much I liked Scott's art during one of my very first conversations with them back in 2010. And they remembered! I'm so unbelievably happy they paired us up for this book. I think Scott's EAT YOU art is PERFECT! Bonus Secret: I sometimes hug it. It's THAT good.

Theodore is a little bit like me. Okay, he's a LOT like me. He can be grumpy. He likes things to stay the same. He thinks EVERYTHING is food. (I love food too!) But, as we see through the story, Theodore's not SO set in his ways that he can't change a little...

One of the things I didn't mention about Scott's awesome art on our book is all the little details he included. From the first endpapers where Theodore’s cave is in a bleak and desolate world, to a funny little surprise when the bird flies away (dare you not to laugh!) to the fantastic wordless spread and right to the final endpages, where Theodore’s world is ripe with color and possibilities... WHEW! It's just an amazing visual ride. I hope readers love it as much as I do.

I think the book trailer for I Will Not Eat You features the most perfect piece of music ever selected for a book trailer! It is entitled "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Mr. Edvard Grieg. Its title could almost be our book’s title. Great choice, Adam! Crank it up.

I created the illustrations for I Will Not Eat You so that the cave gets closer and closer and closer as you turn the pages—to build suspense.

When you look under the dust jacket you’ll see what happens.

Picture books are like a cave—you’ll never know what is inside until you go in.

Borrow I Will Not Eat You from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Library Magic | A Guest Post by Adam Shaughnessy

Libraries are magic.

Does that surprise you?

It shouldn’t. Magic is the child of possibility—the possibility of something more, something fantastic beyond our everyday experience. Libraries are houses where infinite possibility waits just behind every page turn and every screen swipe. Each book is a grimoire with the power to change and transform the reader.

Think about it.

Haven’t you ever wondered about all the conventions of order that have been imposed on libraries over the many years of their storied history? Alphabetization. Card Catalogs. Dewey Decimal Systems. Whispering. Those institutions were not arbitrary inventions. They were created to try to reign in the wild magic that sleeps beneath the surface of every library.

It is not enough, though; the magic still abides. It will wake at the spine-crackling sound of a newly opened book, or the sound of footsteps, muffled by well-worn carpet, as children scurry to their favorite spot for story time.

The magic of libraries is an old magic, too, older than many people realize. Though modern in appearance and function, libraries carry on an ages-old tradition. They are the descendants of the storehouses built by the Shi and the Wu, the historians and the diviners of China’s Shang Dynasty. Those storehouses collected the statutes and genealogies of a nation. They marked the first efforts to chronicle a civilization’s culture and encourage its spread.

Libraries are the heirs of the royal archives of the lost Hittite Empire, whose keepers collected prophesies and the first contracts of peace. Libraries and archives helped birth history itself as humankind took its first, faltering steps away from prehistory. Down through the long centuries libraries have upheld their charge as the collectors of and caretakers for the knowledge of civilizations.

And, of course, if libraries are magic, then librarians are workers of magic.

They are Gandalf; if there is lost knowledge that is hidden (of rings or other, lesser things), secreted away in a dark corner or lost amid a glut of readily available data, they will find it.

They are the goddess Seshat, in the old ways, the keepers of the House of Books and the House of Architects. They lay the foundations for civilizations and ensure that they are built true—and through their records they hold those civilizations accountable to truth down through the ages.

They are Scheherazade, and they will enchant you with tale upon tale until you cannot help but love them.

Draw a line connecting all the libraries of the world and you will have a map of true ley lines. Be warned: if you choose to walk those old straight tracks you should know that your journey will take you someplace new, someplace undiscovered. Though you may go there and back again, you will not return the same person.

Libraries will change you. The changes may be subtle or too small to notice at first. You may not see them directly, but you will catch glimpses of them in enlightened attitudes and broadened horizons. You will see reflections of the changes in the increased confidence that comes from a better understanding of your community, your country, and your world—and, through those things, a better understanding of yourself.

Libraries are magic.

Adam Shaughnessy is the author of The Unbelievable FIB series and loves libraries. Algonquin Young Readers is celebrating the publication of the second FIB book, Over the Underworld, and National Library Card Sign Up month throughout the month of September using the #MagicOfLibraries.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Book Birthday to FEED ME WORDS!

I convinced my mom I was too ill to go to school the day the fourth-grade teachers at my elementary school hosted a spelling bee. I told her I threw up inside my closet. When she asked why there wasn't any vomit on the carpet, I told her I cleaned it up. The thought of standing in front of the school was too much for me to handle. I would have hurled in front of the entire school.

 Do you have a spelling bee memory from childhood? 

In honor of the release of FEED ME WORDS!, I asked authors to share spelling bee memories. I hope you will share your memories in the comments section. :) 

When I was a kid, I was the best speller anywhere. I never missed a word. In fact, there was a story about me in the Columbus paper. When a new kid would start at school, I always demanded the teacher have a spelling bee so I could see if I was still the best speller. I always won. --RL Stine

I don’t think I ever actually participated in a spelling bee, but in terms of words that I remember having childhood spelling issues with, I will admit that I was much older than I care to say (well into my teens, and possibly a fully grown adult) before I realized the word “scissors” was not spelled “scizzors.”  In the pre-spellcheck era, it was possible to be blissfully ignorant for much longer than it is now. -Deb Diesen

When I was in grade school I was so bad at spelling my teachers were seriously concerned there was something wrong with my brain.  Meetings were held.  I was told I had to carry a dictionary at all times.  And this was back when a dictionary was an actual book, not an electronic device, so carrying one in your pocket meant there was a serious risk the weight would pull your pants down.  Luckily, it turns out, that to be an award-winning, best-selling, internationally-successful author who delights millions of children with fictional creations - spelling is not so important.  It more about ideas and capturing the imagination.  Sadly there are no 'imagination bees'.  I think I would have done better at one of those. PS. I live in Australia and we did not have spelling bees here when I was a girl.  So if you want to get out of participating in your local spelling bee, all you have to do is - build a time machine and travel back to Sydney in the 1980's.  Good luck. --R.A. Spratt, Friday Barnes: Girl Detective Series

Here is a dumb word: mystical. Okay, it's actually not that dumb. It's actually pretty great. Mystical. It's one of those words that sounds like what it means. It's fun to say. It is not, however, fun to spell. In fifth grade, in the final round of the spelling bee, I completely butchered mystical. I don't remember what I did wrong. Probably something with the “y” and the “i.” But I did it wrong and then the spelling bee was over and I'd come in second place, and the guy who got first place won his very own thesaurus and I didn't even know what a thesaurus was but I totally wanted one and basically life as I knew it was over. But then something surprising happened. My friends charged the stage - literally charged it, like I was some kind of spelling celebrity - and gave me hugs and said how cool it was that I was the last girl standing. And maybe they were right - that was pretty cool! I may not have gotten a thesaurus that day, but I did get a ton of support from my friends, and that was even better.  --Abby Cooper, Sticks & Stones

We didn't have spelling bees at my school. We did have spelling and vocabulary tests, though. I remember one test where the entire class missed the word "silhouette." No wonder, it is a pretty tricky word. I also remember learning some useful tricks for spelling certain words, which I still rely on today. So, to remember how to spell the words "eerie," and "cemetery," our teacher (Mrs. Von Rosenberg) taught us to say, "E, E, E, said the three eerie ghosts in the cemetery." You know, since "eerie" and "cemetery" each have three Es. And my sister's teacher told her that you could tell "desert" and "dessert" apart because you always want two desserts, whereas one desert was more than enough. --Amy Young, A Unicorn Named Sparkle

When I was in the fourth grade, our elementary school was brand new, and I was the first spelling bee winner they ever had, and the first representative at the citywide spelling bee. Though I didn’t win the citywide event (having been eliminated for spelling ‘parse’ p-a-r-c-e), I received a New Collegiate Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary inscribed by my school principal and it’s sat on my desk ever since.—Stuart Gibbs

Borrow Feed Me Words from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cover Reveal for You Don't Want a Unicorn!

I did not drink any coffee this morning because I felt energized after reading Ame Dyckman and Liz Climo's guest blog post about You Don't Want a Unicorn! Wowsers! Thanks, Ame and Liz! 

THANKS, dear Mr. Schu! HOWDY, pals-to-books pals! Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidlit Author Ame Dyckman here, absolutely BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS—Oops. Wet purple hair dye. Gotta clean those spots later—because RIGHT HERE on Watch. Connect. Read., my AMAZING illustrator Liz Climo and I get to share with you THE COVER of our upcoming LB Kids book, YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN!

You guys, I LOVE Liz’s UNICORN! cover SO MUCH, when I saw it, I JUMPED in my time machine (you won’t believe what you can find on eBay these days) to travel back across the Time-Space Continuum Thingy to show it to little Second-Grade-OBSESSED-With-Unicorns-Me!

But I jumped out again. ’Cause I’m pretty sure THIS would’ve happened:

ME: “BEHOLD! BEHOLD the FABULOUS LIZ CLIMO COVER of the UNICORN book we get to write in the future so long as you don’t EXPLODE WITH HAPPINESS right n—!”

SECOND-GRADE ME (eyes shining): *POPS*

ME: “Uh-oh.” *POPS*

So, I’m really glad I didn’t go there. (Then? Whatever!) ’Cause I’m REALLY glad we get to show you NOW!

Are YOU ready for Liz’s YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN! cover reveal?

Okay! NO popping, folks!



’Cause as our kid protagonist soon finds out, even if you THINK you want a unicorn…
You don’t.

Tell us about your AMAZING cover, Liz!

THANKS AME! Hi everyone!! The cover, like the rest of this amazing book, was super fun to draw! This is the first book I've illustrated that I didn't write myself, and I must say - I had SUCH a blast bringing this wonderful, hilarious, wild & crazy adventure of a story to life! The cover is just a glimpse of the super fun time that's waiting beneath the cover - It's a fantastic read for kids and parents alike!! 

SEE?! Isn’t Liz AWESOME, you guys?!

*Does “I’m a Lucky Little Author” Dance. Ignores The Cat’s laughter.*

WAIT, gang! That’s not all! One of you Mr. Schu’s Watch. Connect. Read. readers will…

WIN AN F&G (advance floppy copy boneless book thingy) of YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN!, which doesn’t even publish ’til Valentine’s Day, 2017, SO…IF YOU WIN, IT’LL BE LIKE YOU’RE TIME-TRAVELING, TOO!

I KNOWWW! THANKS for the okay* on this, LB Kids!

*I am Mostly Positive I asked for okay on this. If not, I’ll time-fix it later. And my Bad Eighth Grade Perm.
How do you enter the giveaway? Just look for Mr. Schu’s (@MrSchuReads) “RT to enter” Tweet, and RT it! SO QUICK AND EASY!

That’s all for now! Gotta rinse my hair dye, and our unicorns were partying again. There’s… clean-up to do.

*Grabs Official YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN! Cupcake Shovel and Ceiling Spackle*

Until next time, book pals, no matter where/when you go, HAPPY READING!

Ame Dyckman is the award-winning author of Wolfie the Bunnie, Horrible Bear!, Boy + Bot, and Tea Party Rules. Ame lives in New Jersey with her family, pets, and hair bow collection. 

Liz Climo grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Los Angeles after college to work as a character artist on The Simpsons. She started a comic blog,, and is the author and illustrator of Rory the Dinosaur. Liz currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their daughter. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cover Reveal for Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books

Hello, Michelle Markel! As a member of the 2014 Newbery committee and as someone who has read every book that won a Newbery Medal, I am SOOOO EXCITED to reveal the cover for Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. Thank you for stopping by to share the cover and finish my sentences. I greatly appreciate your time! 

Michelle Markel: It’s a pleasure to be here, Mr. Schu!

The cover for Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books makes me smile. It captures the humor of the book, and shows the connection Newbery had with children. He understood their tastes and interests, and offered them an incredible gift: an extensive line of books that would establish the kid lit industry.

Did you know John Newbery made itty bitty books kids could carry in their pockets? His Little Pretty Pocket Book cost 6 pence, but for 2 pence more, he threw in a ball, or a pincushion. 

Nancy Carpenter’s illustrations are full of sweetness, verve, old-timey color and details that bring the mid 1700’s to life.  I love how fictional characters show up, and that John Locke, enlightenment philosopher, gets to have a cameo.

One of my favorite Newbery traits was his sense of playfulness- at a time when most literature for kids was preachy and serious. His first book included a letter from Jack the Giant Killer, along with rhymes about popular children’s games.

Nonfiction picture books should offer “instruction and delight” which was Newbery’s motto. I’d love to take John to a modern children’s bookstore. I think he’d be pleased and astounded by his legacy.

Reading is liberation. It frees you from the limitations of your singular life, and lets you experience other worlds, other sights, other ways of seeing and being.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about The History of Little Goody Two Shoes, Newbery’s blockbuster hit. You might think a do-gooder heroine would be a bore, but her story was inspirational. Goody (aka Margery Meanwell) starts off as a raggedy orphan with only one shoe, and ends up in a coach and six- a bit like Cinderella. She rescues animals and educates them- including a raven who sits on her shoulder and recites poems. How cool is that?

Michelle Markel writes informative, enjoyable children’s books at her home in Los Angeles. She’s the author of Tyrannosaurus Math (a CCBC Choices reading list selection), The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau (a PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing winner, Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, and a Storytelling World Resource Honor Award winner), Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 (a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winner, a Bank Street College of Education Flora Stieglitz Straus Award winner, and an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Honor Award winner), and Dreamer from the Village (a Notable Children's Book of Jewish Content and a New York Public Library Title for Reading and Sharing).

Look for Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books on April 4, 2017. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Video of the Week: Christian Robinson on PBS NewsHour

Dear Colleagues, 

Please, please, please watch this video and share it with your students. All of Christian Robinson's books belong in every classroom library, school library, public library, and personal library collection. He's a genuine article and one of the most talented illustrators. 

Thank you! :)


Friday, September 9, 2016

Cover Reveal for Bubbles by Abby Cooper

I am so excited to share the cover for BUBBLES, my second middle grade novel. The cover is such a fantastic representation of the book and the thought bubbles twelve-year-old Sophie sees over people’s heads. While my first book, STICKS & STONES, had a large focus on the way we see ourselves, BUBBLES explores our relationships and perceptions of others and the ways they can change. It also explores what it means to take a risk. Sometimes, risk-taking involves exciting adventures, like riding a roller coaster or racing in a triathlon. Other times, it’s simply about being open and honest with the people you trust and remembering that no one can help you solve a problem unless they know what it is. I hope you love the cover of BUBBLES as much as I do!

Bubbles by Abby Cooper | Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) | Publication date: July 18, 2017

Twelve-year-old Sophie Mulvaney's world has been turned upside down after Mom loses her job at the TV station and breaks up with Pratik, who Sophie adored. Add to that the project at school that forces Sophie to take risks when she couldn't feel less adventurous and Viv Carlson trying to steal Sophie's best friends, and you would think that nothing else could possibly go wrong. But there's more: Sophie's also started seeing bubbles above people's heads that tell her what people are thinking. Seeing other people's thoughts should be cool, but it's actually just stressful--what does it mean that Pratik wishes she and mom were eating with him? What does Viv Carlson's risk project have to do with Sophie? And when she finds out through the thought bubbles that her best friend Kaya likes her other best friend, Rafael--the very same Rafael that Sophie has her own crush on--Sophie has to find a way to figure out how to deal with knowing more than she should.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

I feel like the RUDEst person. I scheduled this blog post to run on June 12, 2015 (yes, 2015), but it never went live.  I just found it in my drafts folder. SORRY!!! 

Better late than never, eh? 

Happy reading!


P.S. I owe you a large cake! 

I wrote the words in purple, and Rowboat wrote the words in black. 

Rude Cakes is the title of my book because calling it At Least One Kid I Know Sure Acts a Lot Like a Petty Dictator Sometimes and It Would Behoove Her to Get Her Narcissistic Act Together Or Else… seemed a titch wordy (and shrill). The book was maybe a little bit inspired by my daughter, who still mistakes my wife and me for vassals. But she’s working on it.

I created the illustrations for Rude Cakes because those good-for-nothing book elves I’ve been waiting for forever never EVER show up (freeloaders), and eventually some patsy has to draw the pictures or there will only be a bunch of words, and BJ Novak already nailed that puppy out of the ballpark, so you gotta stop whining someday and start drawing because Sergio Ruzzier isn’t showing up to ghostdraw the book either. Because he’s busy. Or so he said.


The barcode on the back jacket will turn out to be some people’s favorite part of the book, and it would not be surprising if some folks within this disenchanted constituency try to return it (or re-gift it).  I hope they prove to be a very small minority, but the book is already printed and there’s nothing I can do about the fact that some people simply don’t know how to experience joy, and it’s not my fault that barcodes are unsightly or that the book elves were no-shows and that Sergio was busy.

The Maurice Sendak Fellowship was the single most important creative reboot of my whole entire life.

My favorite cake is my daughter. It used to be hazelnut, when I was little. And for a long time after it was coconut layer. The bakery around the corner from me makes an almost indescribably refreshing strawberry shortcake. And my wife makes a wow-worthy pineapple upside-down cake. But when push comes to shove, it’s my daughter. She’s a cream-cheese frosting girl, by the way.

Picture books are not one of the Twelve Labors of Hercules not because they didn’t exist back then (a minor technicality), but because they’re so preposterously hard to pull off well. Who would care about some “legendary” muscleman in a lion skin still weeping at his desk because he couldn’t get his pictures to dance with the text?  

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why the book is dedicated to Antoinette (Portis). It’s because she understands how a picture book works (or doesn’t) better than anyone I know. And because without her tireless pompoms, and generous heart, and brilliant brain, I don’t think I would have had the courage to stay afloat. 

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

Monday, September 5, 2016

Videos of the Month: Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Acceptance Speeches

"And sometimes when you grow up outside the reach of the American Dream, you’re in a better position to record the truth. That we don’t all operate under the same set of rules. That our stories aren’t all assigned the same value in the eyes of decision makers." -Matt de la Peña 

"Publishers, librarians, agents, educators, booksellers, writers, and illustrators, we are all connected by our love of books and the children who read them, and our profound belief in the power of stories to shape lives." -Sophie Blackall 

"In creating picture books, a new world opened up. The book itself became my muse—a vessel that could hold all of the joy and sadness of my growing-up years, all the triumphs and tragedies. By using my personal history, the work became more layered, the drawings more meaningful. Art became the bridge that carried me from the past I wanted to escape into the world I wanted to inhabit. My childhood was limited, but I learned that through my own creativity, the world was limitless." -Jerry Pinkney