Wednesday, March 30, 2016

REGISTER for the Kate DiCamillo May 13th Virtual Author Event and LIVE Webcast


Join two-time Newbery award-winning author Kate 
DiCamillo as she discusses her newest release, Raymie Nightingale, a masterful, moving novel about an unforgettable summer friendship.

DiCamillo, in her role as National Summer Reading Champion, will also talk directly to students about the importance of summer reading and encourage signs ups at local public libraries for the 2016 program “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” You can learn more about summer reading and Kate’s advocacy for the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) here


Captionless Image


Broadcasting LIVE from Edgewood School on Friday, May 13, 2016, 10:00-11:00 AM CDT. 


Moderated by me.


Click here for more details and to register for the event.  




Look for Raymie Nightingale on April 12. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy EARLY Book Birthday to Ruth Chan's Where's the Party?


Hi, Georgie and Ruth Chan, 

Happy early book birthday to you! Happy early book birthday to you! Happy early book birthday, dear Georgie and Ruth! Happy early book birthday to you! 

I hope you're going to celebrate every day between now and April 5 with catnip, cupcakes, and naps. 

Thank you for taking over my blog for the day! Your guest posts made me smile and grin from ear to ear. 

Happy reading, writing, illustrating, and napping!

Best,

-John 


P.S. Please do not tell Lou Grant I turned over my blog for the day to Georgie before I gave him the same opportunity. :) 

Georgie’s Ingredients for a Perfect Party

1. 1 to 3 cakes (at least).  Because "a party without a cake is just a meeting", according to Julia Child, and although Georgie is not sure what a meeting is, he knows it is not as fun as a party. Georgie also loves the surprise that comes from slicing a cake and seeing what flavor it is, especially since every flavor is his favorite flavor.

2. Lots of sounds.  He loves the hum of kazoo songs, the squeaky sound that balloon animals make, and the crunch-crunch of good food being eaten.  He also loves the sound of all his friends having a good times— laughing, hooting and hollering, singing— and even the quiet when everyone is pooped from partying so much.

3. 1 to Infinity of his friends!  Georgie can (and will) have a party with anyone and everyone.  His favorite thing to do at these parties is to make sure everyone is having a great time, and he's really good at it, too.




Ruth’s Ingredients for A Perfect Party

1. 1 to 3 cakes! I’m a lot like Georgie in that way. I do, however, know what meetings are, and know that things definitely improve when cake is involved. Even though my favorite kind of cake is ice cream cake, I also love frosting. A lot.

2. Karaoke. There is a contingent of NYC-based Kidlit folk who go out to Karaoke on the regular. What better way is there to express creativity, collaborate with others, and forget about deadlines?

3. Authenticity.  What I mean is that people aren’t afraid to be who they are— whether that’s goofy, or quiet, or just constantly grazing by the snack table.  To me, parties aren't just about having a great time, they're also about getting to know people, and some of the best moments happen when different types of people get together.  Much like Georgie and his friends-- they are all so different, but also very unapologetically themselves, however awkward and silly that might be.

4. Unlike Georgie, the perfect party for me ends at 10:00pm, because I like to be in bed by 10:30 pm.  Which also means the perfect party starts at noon!



Look for Where the Party? on April 5, 2016. 

    Monday, March 28, 2016

    Cover Reveal AND First Listen: Divya Srinivasan Illustrates GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES Audio Collection

    Dear Divya Srinivasan,

    Happy Monday! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to finish my sentences. I had fun chatting with you about your beautiful cover art for Grimm's Fairy Tales, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and school libraries. 

    Have a wonderful week!

    Your fan,

    -John


    I created the cover art for Grimm’s Fairy Tales audio collection late at night, after my newborn daughter fell asleep (and before she woke up again crying for a night feeding). I read the stories aloud to her, and took notes on images I thought might represent the stories well. I also made notes in my journal about things in the stories that surprised me. I hadn't read them in so long, and I knew some were gory, but I'd forgotten the details. Rumplestiltskin is a creepy little guy! I usually like to work for many hours in a row, but this was the first time I wasn't able to because I needed to take care of the baby. But that just meant I got to be in the world of Grimm's tales for more days, which was fun!



    One of my favorite fairy tales is "The Shoes That  Were Danced to Pieces", or, as it was titled in the Grimm's collection I had as a child, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I loved the idea of a secret chamber under the palace that was a world of its own with silver, gold, and diamond trees, and a lake, and yet another castle where elegant parties took place! And of course the candy and cake house in Hansel and Gretel is pretty dreamy.


    Photograph Credit: Divya Srinivasan 
    I think fairy tales have a pull because wonderful 
    things will happen along with something horribly dark, and I have no clue if the story will end well for the heroes or not. I just have to keep reading to see what happens, and it's always something interesting and unpredictable. The touch of horror in the stories scared me as a kid, but also drew me in. Even though reading in the car used to make me physically queasy, I couldn't put down my book of Grimm's stories. I'd read it over and over until I was sick.  Every culture seems to have its own tradition of fairy tales… stories full of magic and wonder. My collection of Grimm's tales and my comic books of Indian stories, were among the first books I was excited to read on my own.


    Photograph Credit: Divya Srinivasan 
    School libraries are amazing places to visit, even as an adult. When I do presentations at schools, they often take place in the library. I see so many books I would love read and own, and I try to jot down unfamiliar ones recommended by the librarian, and others that catch my eye. Some books in school libraries might be older versions and have beautiful illustrations that aren't published anymore… such treasures! Whenever I meet a wonderful school librarian (which is often!), I know the students in that school are in great hands.




    Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I hid my daughter and niece's names on the Grimm's Fairy Tales cover art. 



    Read by a cast of award-winning narrators, this collection from Listening Library contains some of the most timeless and enchanting folk and fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Audiobook cover artwork by Divya Srinivasan. 

    On Sale Date: May 10.

    Stories include:
    Rapunzel, read by Katherine Kellgren

    Cinderella, read by January LaVoy

    Little Red-Cap, read by Simon Vance

    Little Briar-Rose, read by Grover Gardner

    Little Snow-White, read by Kate Rudd

    Rumpelstiltskin, read by Jim Dale

    The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces, read by Alfred Molina

    A Riddling Tale, read by Janis Ian

    The Twelve Brothers, read by Graeme Malcolm

    The White Snake, read by Scott Brick

    The Elves, read by Bahni Turpin

    The Six Swans, read by Davina Porter

    The Twelve Huntsmen, read by Dion Graham

    The Goose-Girl, read by Edoardo Ballerini

    Sweet Porridge, read by Jayne Entwistle

    The Golden Goose, read by Luke Daniels

    Eve’s Various Children, read by Roy Dotrice

    Snow-White and Rose-Red, read by Julia Whelan

    The Frog-King, or Iron Henry, read by Kirby 
     Heyborne

    The Sea-Hare, read by Mark Bramhall

    Hansel and Gretel, read by Robin Miles

    For more information, visit 

    Saturday, March 26, 2016

    Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!


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




    Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora 


    Booked by Kwame Alexander 


    The Wild Robot by Peter Brown 



    Thursday, March 24, 2016

    Happy Belated Book Birthday to Liz Wong's QUACKERS!

    Liz Wong sent Quackers out into the world on Tuesday. Today, she's celebrating his book birthday week here. We chatted about Quackers, her process, reading, picture books, and Jennifer L. Holm. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Liz! 


    Quackers thinks he is a duck. He’s a little mixed 
    up. But he lives at the duck pond, and everyone else he knows is a duck, so he must be one too, right?

    When you read Quackers for the first time, I hope it makes you smile, and I hope it makes you appreciate what makes you unique. If it makes you want to adopt a cat, well, that’s pretty good too.




    I created the illustrations with watercolor, combined with digital painting. I hand lettered the book in pencil, cut out little cards and speech bubbles to go behind the text, and assembled it all in Photoshop.

    Reading is my favorite thing to do. I can’t imagine anything better than spending the day curled up with a good book.

    Photo Credit: Liz Wong
    Picture books are a way for kids to understand the 
    world. Seeing themselves reflected in stories is crucial for kids to figure out how to navigate their own lives. For example, if I hadn’t read all those weird Japanese folktale picture books when I was a kid, would I have known what to do when I cut open a giant peach and found a baby inside? Or when a giant sea turtle asked me to get on its back and take me to the kingdom of the sea princess? I don’t think so!


    Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if Quackers 
    is inspired by my childhood. I am part Japanese, Chinese, and Finnish. I was born in Hawaii, surrounded by my Asian relatives and classmates, then when I was nine, we moved to a tiny town in Washington state, mostly populated by people of Finnish descent (which, by the way, is the same town depicted in Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm). For the first time, I looked very different from everyone else around me. Like Quackers, I felt like I was part of two different worlds. It took me a long time to realize that being multicultural doesn’t mean you don’t fit in anywhere – instead, it enriches your world. Quackers comes to love both parts of himself, and I hope your readers will come to love Quackers, too.


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

    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

    Book Trailer Premiere: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

    Dear Melanie Conklin,

    I had this grand plan to respond to email messages and finish a project during a recent flight from Chicago to Orlando. As I waited for the plane to take off, I told myself I would read 10 pages of Counting Thyme before tackling my long to-do list. I read 10 pages and then 20 pages and then 30 pages and then 150 pages. I could not put down Counting Thyme. Thank you for writing a novel that kept me turning pages and worrying about Thyme and her little brother. 

    Thank you for dropping by to premiere Counting Thyme's extraordinary book trailer. 

    Your fan,

    -John 




    Thank you, Mr. Schu, for sharing the book trailer for Counting Thyme here today. You have the best trailers on your blog! Counting Thyme tells the story of Thyme Owens, whose family moves from sunny San Diego to New York City for Thyme’s little brother’s cancer treatment. This is a big move. It’s hard on everyone in the Owens family. For the book trailer, I wanted to focus on these questions: If you had to leave home, what would you miss? What would be worth leaving for? These are the questions facing Thyme at the beginning of her story.



    Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin | Publication Date: 4/12/16. 



    When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

    After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

    With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.
    Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home

    When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

    After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

    With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.
    SEE LESS


    Monday, March 21, 2016

    Video of the Week: Kate DiCamillo Talks about Raymie Nightingale

    You must watch this video in which two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo talks about Raymie Nightingale and how she worried about her soul all the time when she was a child. 



    I hope you will buy multiple copies of Raymie Nightingale on April 12. 



    Please click here to read my interview with Kate. 

    Friday, March 18, 2016

    A Special Message from Dav Pilkey

    Dear Teacher and Librarian Friends: 

    If I were still in a school library every day, I would discuss Dav Pilkey's illustrated video about the importance of reading during the summer with all of my students. It reminds us that reading gives us superpowers!  Will you share it with your students for me? Please. Please. Please. :) 

    Happy watching and sharing! 

    Your friend,

    -John 


    Dav Pilkey mentions Dog Man in the video. It hits shelves on August 30. 


    Thursday, March 17, 2016

    Author Jane Smiley

    Happy St. Patrick's Day! I am celebrating with Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley. She dropped by to chat with me about Twenty Yawns, Lauren Castillo, school libraries, and picture books. I wrote the words in green, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jane! 




    I wrote Twenty Yawns when I couldn't sleep. 

    Lucy and her family all have good intentions. 


    Lauren Castillo’s illustrations are colorful, cheerful, and amusing, loved especially by me.

    School libraries were my favorite place when I was growing up.




    Picture books are always surprising to the author of the text.

    Reading is the best way to learn lots of things, because reading invites the reader to imagine, and therefore to develop an inner life.




    Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what's next.



    Look for Twenty Yawns on April 1. 

    Tuesday, March 15, 2016

    April is School Library Month

    The School Library Month planning committee has been busy getting putting together activities and promotional items to help us celebrate School Library Month. Megan McDonald is this year's spokesperson. She dropped by to chat with me about school libraries, school librarians, ants, reading, and Judy Moody. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Megan! 


    April is spring. Robert Frost said, “Spring is the mischief in me.” When the mischief in me strikes, I take time off from writing deadlines, and head for the beach…with a book.

    April is School Library Month! So grab a book and head for the great outdoors…to read!

    I think school libraries and school librarians
    shape lives.


    The next time you visit a school library,
    watch out for ants! (Keep reading. You’ll get it…)

    My elementary school librarian saw something in me, and put the Little House books in my hand. She first introduced me to Ramona and the Moffats and Homer Price and Caddie Woodlawn. I fell in love with Blue Willow and Half Magic at my school library. She let me check out a biography of Virginia Dare so many times (I got to stamp the due date myself!), that she finally had to ask me to share with other readers.”



    Judy Moody and Stink Moody love to read. Judy reads in her top bunk, Pippi-Longstocking style (feet on her pillow!) They read in the Toad Pee tent. Stink reads by flashlight at bedtime. Judy reads aloud to Mouse the cat.

    Stink loves his factoids. He is trying to read the entire S volume of the encyclopedia. Skinks, skunks, sharks…

    Judy Moody is speed-reading her way through all 56 classic Nancy Drew books. She loves a mystery. Get out the S.O. S. lipstick!

    Reading is the best antidote for any mood. If you’re in a mood—a good mood, a bad mood, a sad mood, pick up a book and read.


    Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the time the ants took over the school library!

    I was very excited when the school librarian invited me to do a book display in the front window. It was early spring, so I decided to feature books about nature. I collected acorns and leaves for props, and brought in a log from the woods to make it look really authentic.

    I didn’t know that there was a colony of ants living inside the log. It was so nice and cozy in the school library, that the (hundreds of) ants decided to come out and explore!


    Please click here to learn more about School Library Month. Happy celebrating! 

    Monday, March 14, 2016

    #SharpSchu Meets Tomorrow Night

    Mr. Colby Sharp and I hope you'll participate in the March #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club tomorrow. Happy reading! 


    Saturday, March 12, 2016

    Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!


    Hi, Mr. Sharp,

    Happy, happy Saturday! I hope you're having a TERRIFIC day! :) 

    Your friend,

    -John 




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




    Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo 




    Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin 


    Friday, March 11, 2016

    Singer and Songwriter Emily Arrow

    I am grateful every Friday a children's literature enthusiast drops by to finish my sentences. This week's special guest is music teacher, singer, and songwriter Emily Arrow. We chatted about Storytime Singalong, Salina Yoon, music education, and picture books. I wrote the words in green, and Emily wrote the words in black. Thank you, Emily! 




    Storytime Singalong: Volume 1 is my debut kidlit tunes album that includes songs inspired by some of my favorite picture books.

    Peter  Brown, Salina Yoon, Kelly Light,  and Peter H. Reynolds are among the list of incredible authors and illustrators I've had the pleasure of connecting with to create songs inspired by their books. 


    My YouTube channel is where you can hear SO MANY SONGS ABOUT BOOKS!

    When I was in elementary school, I played piano and "conducted" the school choir along side my music teacher. 


    Music education is an opportunity for students to learn more about themselves by interacting with the world of sound. 

    Picture books are inherently musical to me; each illustration rings out a chord, each page a lyric, each book a song. 


    Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I'll write you a theme song ;) 


    Order your copy of Storytime Singalong here or here