Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...

I'll remember 2012 as the year I interviewed many of my heroes--individuals who inspired me to be a well-rounded reader, a better educator, and to always, always, always pay it forward. I asked each interviewee to complete this sentence starter: 

*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...

Let's see how they finished it. :) 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Shana Corey's career as an editor. My kids were fascinated to learn about Shana editing books like Junie B. Jones and Babymouse. My fourth graders don't always enjoy editing, so hearing from a professional editor planed a seed in their minds about how important editing is to the writing process. -Colby Sharp 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about how Lincoln Peirce managed to interact with every student during his presentation. -Donna Kouri 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Donors Choose! My project was for a copy of Stealing Magic for every students. These are now treasured gifts. (Sorry! Over 11 on that one.) -Katherine 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what an amazingly engaging extemporaneous storyteller Tim Green is. My students were enthralled. -Laura Given

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about…
I’m so excited about this book because it’s my first mystery, which made it really challenging to write. I had to use new strategies for planning and revising, and it’s a genre that I absolutely love and can’t wait to share with readers. I’ve developed a new school program based on these books, too, and look forward to working with student writers on mysteries of their own. -Kate Messner

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the conclusion of our author presentation where staff members entered the room dressed up as Disney characters who had “crossed over” into the human world, just like in the KK books where the hologram characters are able to “cross over” into the character world. The students AND Ridley Pearson were going crazy upon the arrival of our surprise guests! Another very cool feature of our author visit was the “Author Unplugged” pizza lunch that we hosted for avid KK readers Thirty KK series readers sat around Mr. Pearson and had a Q and A with him about his life, Disney secrets behind the scenes, his upcoming projects, and anything else...nothing was off limits! The students loved their up-close-and-personal-time with our literacy rock star. -Lynne

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about our new school library blog. The comments were fast and furious after Mitali Perkin's visit, including 5th grader remember her fondly, and awed students when Mitali herself commented back. -Erin

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the advice Lauren gave to a student who asked her for advice becoming a writer. Lauren was very earnest and passionate, telling this student to read lots, of course. But to read books once for the pure pleasure, but then to read them again looking at the craft of writing - how the writer created a funny moment, made you cry, made you care about a character. Read thinking about the craft of writing. This was wonderful advice to this avid young reader. -Mary Ann

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...

-Joanne Levy

*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about . . . where I compose my verses.

Artie Bennett: I swim every weekday morning and I’m at my creative peak when I swim. I come up with some of my best verses while doing my laps. And if I’m stuck on a particular verse, I find solutions while doing the crawl. It’s imperative, though, that I jot them down as soon as I towel off lest they slip back into the pool. Something about the rhythm of swimming seems to facilitate versifying. Perhaps it’s because my mind is a blank slate then, ready to welcome inspiration. The other day, I happened to hear the journalist Lynn Sherr discussing her new book, Swim. She also mentioned how swimming is a source of some of her best ideas. Well, excuse me now, Mr. Schu. It’s time to jump into the pool! Look out below! - Artie Bennett 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what Donna is doing this summer. Donna is the 2012 Children’s Writer-in-Residence. She is staying in the slightly haunted third floor apartment at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. If you visit her blog Wild About Words, you will hear about her work with young writers at the Thurber House Writing Camp, her visit to a castle, and her experience looking at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made from 12,408 gumballs! You’ll also enjoy reading about her crazy 26 mile bicycle adventure! -Deb 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Chris Barton's response to who were his favorite authors. He mentioned Judy Blume and an entire class of 3rd graders who were hooked on the Fudge series became ecstatic. It was awesome. -Stacy

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about why I became a writer. The short answer is I fell in love with books as a child reading up in the branches of my “reading tree”. I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than growing up to be a writer and I was right. -Janet Lee Carey 

Mr. Schu, you should’ve asked me about popsicles!! I’m obsessed with them this summer. When I’m not writing, I’m making up recipes for frozen treats, pureeing fruit concoctions, and pouring them into popsicle molds. My favorites so far: peanut butter and jelly, root beer float, watermelon and rosemary, strawberry and balsamic vinegar, peach ginger, corn blackberry, raspberry lime rickey, grapefruit tarragon, French toast, mango coconut…need I go on?? The Tashjian kitchen is THE place to be this summer; I kid you not. -Janet Tashjian

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about…
…the bronze paperweight visible on Bill’s desk closer to the end of the book…or the twist related to the note in Bill’s handwriting reprinted at the end of the book…but how could you know? -Marc Nobleman

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about why I make books. Because it's a question I ask myself every time I'm pulling my hair out over my fourth, fifth or sixteenth rewrite of a story. I want to take complex questions I have about life and invent simple, entertaining ways to address them for young readers. This can be a puzzling, frustrating, agonizing process, but when I finally figure it out, it feels great! Sometimes I find that a question leads me to write a long book, like the 250-page ones in my Clueless McGee series. -Jeff Mack 


Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about how students’ attitudes about books and writing were changed after they experienced Chalk. One teacher told me that he had one student who had refused to write more than a sentence but after reading the book Chalk wrote out his only text for the whole book. Another teacher told me about a student who said he hated books but thatChalk was his favorite book. Another teacher told me about a student with limited oral language skills who through words re-told her the whole story of Chalk. Bill Thomson’s book is magical in more than one way. -Alyson

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about robots. All right, I just wanted to plug my next full-length novel, The Winter of the Robots, which will come out in 2013. It’s about kids who participate in robot battles, who find themselves in the robot battle of their lives. - Kurtis Scaletta

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about why I chose for Ben, Pickle’s protagonist, to be Mexican-American. My mom is Mexican-American and I grew up around that side of the family. When I was a kid there were only a few books with Latino characters, and most were about dramatic, cultural issues (e.g. immigration). I wanted to make a story for a kid like me just doing regular stuff, who happens to be Mexican-American. His culture comes into the story in a natural way. I think (hope!) there will be more and more contemporary books with different cultures. And I’m thrilled that Macmillan chose to put him front and center on the cover! I hope kids can connect with that aspect in a way that I never got a chance to when I was that age. -Kim Baker

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my new books! Next year I will have two new books. Knit Your Bit, A Story of World War I, which was inspired by the Central Park Knitting Bee of 1918, comes out in Spring 2013.

Then next fall, my middle grade novel, The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, will be out. It takes place in 1854 during a terrible outbreak of cholera in London. I hope readers will find out more about my books by visiting my website. Thank you! -Deborah Hopkinson 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Stephen Savage's dog, Trinka. She was adorable, if a bit camera shy. My students were enamored! -Lauren

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about...

AME DYCKMAN: the time I scribbled down a story idea while parasailing! And about my next book, Tea Party Rules, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Viking; Fall, 2013).

DAN YACCARINO: some wonderful real estate opportunities in Florida, because I have loads of swampland property down there. (Do you like alligators?) And about my next book, Kate and Nate Are Running Late by Kate Egan (Feiwel & Friends, October 16, 2012).

Not because I illustrated it, but because it's a wonderful book that I just happened to illustrate.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my Halloween costumes. Since my kids are older, last Halloween was probably my last year for costume-making (until I have grand kids). I have always loved making things and I enjoy the challenge of building a complicated costume. I start 2 days before Halloween and don’t stop until the costumes are finished. Sometimes I’m putting the final brush strokes of paint on as the kids are walking out the door to trick or treat.

Click here to see more costumes. -Tad Hills

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what motivated me to make Pig Three a girl!

When I wrote the first draft, Pig Two was the girl.  I was rather pleased with myself that I had thought to change one of the brothers to a sister, so it would not be an all male cast.  I read the story to Jordan who immediately said, “Mommy, I think Pig Three should be the girl.”  And, I said, “Done.”   So, there you have it. It definitely pays to have kids if you are going to be a picture book writer. -Corey Rosen Schwartz

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my next book. But then again, it’s probably good you didn’t, since I have a hard time talking about something when I am in the big, fat middle of it. But I can tell you I am working on three things, actually.  A picture book, a chapter book, and another novel.  We’ll just have to see which one I finish first! -Shelley Moore Thomas

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about our free lesson plan CD. I’ve just updated it and I’m sure it’s now the most comprehensive source on the Maya and life in the rainforest. It’s cross-curricular and includes everything from math and science to language arts and sport. It’s absolutely free to teachers, librarians and home-schoolers. We can also send you Egmont’s free Readers’ Guide to the Jaguar Stones books. Just email -Jon and Pamela 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about returning to my elementary school library as an adult. Things had changed -- bookcases were in new places, the fish tank was gone -- but the magic was still there, as rich as in my memories. -Caroline Starr Rose

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my dedication. It’s a cute story. When I was 12 years old and had no Christmas present to give to my older brother, Chris, I gave him a little scrap of paper. On the paper, I had written, “I will dedicate my first book to you.” He wasn’t too thrilled, I can tell you! But all these years later, I remembered and I think he even kept that slip of paper! A truly self-fulfilling prophecy. -Patty Lovell 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the types of questions my students asked Sharon Creech.  I always love the spectrum of questions, from the completely tangible “What is your favorite color” and “Do you have a pet?” to the strategic, “What do you do when you get stuck in the middle of a story?” and “How do come up with the titles of your books?” -Jennifer

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my pumpkins. Every October I have fun carving elaborate jack-o’-lanterns. Here’s a photo of a tiger-inspired pumpkin that I carved last week. You can find other pumpkins from past years at my website. -David LaRochelle 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Ame Dyckman’s awesome robot voice. She had us giggling and smiling the whole time she read to us. You also should have asked me about her awesome blue hair. My students and I loved it! -Crystal

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Wazzup? Waznew? I’ll tell you what’s new, Mr. Schu. I just got in the mail the f&g’s (fold and gather copy) of my next book You’re Wearing THAT to School?! which comes out in June of 2013, and I can’t wait. 

Tee-hee-giggle-schmiggle! Tiny the mouse and Penelope the hippo are best friends. Tiny started school last year and has all kinds of advice for Penelope who will be starting kindergarten—advice about what to wear, what to pack for a lunch, what to bring for show-and-tell. But Penelope wants to march to the beat of her own hippo drummer. Sue Cornelison the illustrator has created such funny, fabulous characters! There are even some “Hippo Happy” first-day-of-school tips in the back of the book. I can’t wait until kids get to see the book. In this strange business, you deliver your “book baby”—after years of labor and publishing steps—and you’re so excited to see that baby, but then you still have to put a bag over the baby and keep it hidden from others until your “official” due date. But I got permission to give you a sneak peek at my next “book baby” ; ) -Lynn Plourde

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my super-secret identity, because I’m not just Mara Rockliff—I’m also Lewis B. Montgomery, author of The Milo & Jazz Mysteries series. I took my pen name from the authors of three of my favorite books:The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Charlotte’s Web; andAnne of Green Gables. Knowing how much you love books, Mr. Schu, I bet you won’t have to look up those authors’ names! -Mara Rockliff 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the book I’m currently illustrating because I’m in the throws of my final art deadline. Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo is written by John Lithgow, being published by Simon & Schuster and due out in 2013. I feel very blessed to work on this book (nervous too)—it’s a huge honor. And I can confirm that Mr. Lithgow is a friendly and fascinating man, and very tall. I’m also working on sketches for a companion book to Dog Gone! called Cat Napped. It’s due out in 2014 – meow! -Leeza Hernandez

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my signature dance move. -Tammi Sauer

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about our event at PowerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, NY on December 16 from 3:00 to 4:00. We were supposed to be there on November 10 but the store and some of its stock—including some copies of Unbored—were damaged due to flooding. We’d love everyone who can to come and support this wonderfully creative stalwart of the book community. -Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the “unfortunate hula hoop incident,” but you’ll have to read Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen to discover what that’s all about.

And my web site, where I have FREE reading/activity guides, interviews with amazing industry professionals and a singing hamster video.  -Donna Gephart

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about 
hEr BeauTiful CAt, BeLLa!!! Hey, I didn’t type that. YoU ShoULD have! Yes, I should have. -Bella and Deborah Underwood

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my (thankfully) short career as an Elvis impersonator. Maybe not. -Augusta Scattergood

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about...

My career as a children’s book author (how I got started, etc.).

The convergence of three elements led to my writing books for children: 1) My wife used to be a storyteller and children’s librarian (Barr Branch in St. Louis, MO); 2) I used to supervise coverage of children’s books when I was an editor at Washington Post Book World; and 3) I’ve often made up stories while entertaining our five children. Some of those stories have become books. -Jabari Asim

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about what joy means to me...

And the answer is... I love it when my two daughters  (Haley, 9 and Chloe, 20 months) barge in and grab and touch my old magazines and brushes and glue to make their own masterpieces. -Bryan Collier

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Elvis!  I wrote a lot as a child but never thought about being a writer.  I wanted to be Elvis’ wife—that was the extent of my career plans. -Karen Cushman


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