Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate

Niki Barnes is one of the most enthusiastic members of my personal learning network. She's a well-read second-grade teacher, a blogger, a risk taker, and a thoughtful friend. 

I invited Niki on Watch. Connect. Read. to finish my sentences about the time Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate Skyped with her students. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Niki! 

The One and Only Ivan is the 2013 Newbery winner! How can you not smile after reading that sentence? Those words make everyone that has read The One and Only Ivan happy, don’t they? I could not wait to show my students the 2013 ALA media awards. They clapped and shouted and then they clapped and shouted some more. They were beyond excited. The One and Only Ivan has stayed in my students' hearts like no other book this year.

My students and I prepared for our Skype visit with Katherine Applegate by researching and learning about the real Ivan.  One of my students suggested we Skype with Katherine Applegate after we finished The One and Only Ivan. I asked my amazing school librarian Travis Jonker to look into it. I was shocked and excited when Travis said that Katherine was willing to Skype with us. I also read aloud another book by Katherine Applegate titled Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs. My students were laughing at all of Roscoe’s antics throughout the book. The students have been reading and enjoying the other books in the series ever since.

Katherine Applegate told my students that everyone can write a story. She said you just need the words “What if?” and then two subjects for your story. For example, “What if a dog and cat got married?” I thought that was a brilliant idea for generating story ideas.

Katherine also told us she wasn’t able to meet the real Ivan. She went to visit him at the Zoo in Atlanta but it was a cold and rainy day. Ivan never came out to visit.

My students also enjoyed hearing about Katherine’s pets and seeing some of them during our Skype visit. Katherine was so fun to talk to that my students and I didn’t want the Skype session to end. I am so grateful that my students were able to Skype with such a talented, funny and sweet author.

Plush Ivan and the real Ivan.
I connect my students with authors and other schools
by using Twitter and collaborating with my school librarian Travis Jonker. I can’t believe how many amazing things have happened because of Twitter. First, I found out that my school librarian is really well known on Twitter (who knew?). I connected with one of my favorite Skype buddies- Mr. Schu on Twitter and also through Travis Jonker. I took the plunge into Skyping with authors this year. Travis set up the Skype sessions with the authors from Twitter. I have also formed fabulous friendships with authors, teachers and librarians from around the world who have recommended amazing books for me to share with my students. I am so glad that I listened to Donalyn Miller when she said to get a Twitter account. It has been a life changer for me and a blessing for my students.

Mr. Travis Jonker is famous! And don’t take my word for it….ask Katherine Applegate! While we were Skyping with her she said to my students, “Did you know that Mr. Jonker is a famous librarian?” What was really cute was my students said “Yes!” They know Mr. Jonker is famous because I showed my students the magazine with Mr. Jonker on the cover. In fact, they still call him Mr. Celebrity every time they see him.

Mr. Jonker is an amazing librarian. I am so lucky to work with him on so many fun and creative reading projects. We have a great time working together to get students excited about reading.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about your amazing blog! When we finished reading Ivan we visited Watch. Connect. Read. to see the pictures of you with the real life Ivan. I also showed my students your autographed book of The One and Only Ivan that includes Katherine Applegate’s autograph and Ivan’s thumb print. After I showed my students your blog, many of my students went home and told their parents about Ivan. My students couldn’t understand why their parents didn’t know who Ivan was….because clearly everyone knows who Ivan is! He is a famous gorilla in my classroom and he will always stay in their hearts.

Borrow The One and Only Ivan from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops


  1. I have clearly been missing out because I didn't know about Travis Jonker! Will look him up on Twitter. I also haven't read IVAN, but can't wait to!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts