Unplug and Read Bluebird

My name is John Schu, and I spend too much time tweeting, blogging, emailing, reading status updates, bouncing from blog to blog, and getting lost in the Internet. I publicly pledge to spend less time tied to a device  during Screen-Free Week, April 29-May 5. (I'm counting on you to hold me accountable.)

What will Screen-Free Week look like for me?

1. My blog will be dark from April 29 to May 5. 

2. I will not watch television. 

3. I will only use email for work-related business. 

4. I will not tweet more than five times per day (Oh, this is going to be very hard for me.)

5. I will read outside and go on a nature walk. 

6. I will daydream and stare at the clouds. 

7. I will visit independent bookshops and museums. 

8. I will read, read, read, read, read, read, and read.

9. I will encourage my students to participate in this important event. 

10. I will tell two strangers about Screen-Free Week and give both of them a copy of Bob Staake's Bluebird

Mr. Schu: Imagine you’re standing in front of thirty enthusiastic first-grade readers. A boy in the front row raises his hand and asks, “What is Bluebird about?”

Bob Staake: BLUEBIRD is a story about friendship, loneliness, compassion, loss -- and how we as children (and adults) deal with those very deep issues. I think the most unusual thing about the book is that the story is told using only pictures -- and no words. Creating the book like this really opens the door for each individual child to interpret the story in their own individual, unique and personal way.

Mr. Schu: I read that you came up with the idea for Bluebird while walking through Central Park. What did you see/hear/feel that planted the seed for this powerful wordless tale?

Bob Staake: While walking through Central Park I began noticing how everyone seemed to be happy and had a friend to share their time with. I then saw one little boy who seemed to be a loner in his own little world. I wondered if he needed a friend, and then noticed all the birds chirping, flying and playing in the park -- and I could't help but wonder if they noticed the boy like I did. As I watched all of this, I felt there might be a way to tell a very emotionally rich story about a lonely boy and a bluebird who connect with one another. Before I left Central Park I basically had the entire story written out in my head and couldn't wait to get back to my studio to sketch it all out.


Mr. Schu: What do you hope young readers will want to discuss after reading Bluebird?

Bob Staake: Many of them will be shocked when they come to the end of the book, but maybe what they THINK happened really didn't. Among a classroom of children there can be many different ways to interpret the final scenes of BLUEBIRD -- and I hope those scene will spark among children a discussion about friendship, loyalty, loss, compassion, and so much more.


Mr. Schu: If you invited us inside your studio, what would we see?

Bob Staake: Lots of drawing pens, brushes and pencils, but probably even more antique toys, trinkets and BOOKS. If there were any more books in my studio I'd run out of room and would have to draw while sitting on the roof!

"Let the sketching begin." -Sketch courtesy of Random House
Mr. Schu:  I am a huge fan of wordless books. They have a special section in my school library. Please share three (I know it is hard to narrow it down to three) of your favorite wordless books.

Bob Staake: I hate to name ANY because I may forget mentioning the wordless picture books created by my friends! I WILL tell you this; as a young child, my love of books came out of my love of looking at pictures. More often than not, I would go to my library and pick out books for their pictures. I would study them, become mesmerized by the colors and shapes, and then create my own stories - without even reading the printed words. In many ways, that's what I do today when I create my own picture books. I see all these colorful scenes in my head and then I write a story to go along with them.
Mr. Schu: Why should people participate in Screen-Free Week?

Bob Staake: You know how good your blanket feels when you get into bed at night? A book is the same way. You touch the pages, you feel the paper, you smile when you hold a picture book. That not only helps you develop a love of reading, but it's also much easier to hold a book in your hands instead of a 48" flash screen TV!

Please complete the following sentence starters: 

*Picture books are like peanut butter and jelly. The pictures are the peanut butter, the words are the jelly. They're both great alone, but together they taste even BETTER!

*Reading is more fun than a barrel of vowels, consonants and monkeys!

*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…
You have asked me some very good questions today! Do you think you can come to my studio tomorrow and help me finish my next picture book? If you're good, I will pay you with five peanut butter sandwiches (but only one glass of milk).
Thanks Mr. Schu!!!!

Bob Staake has authored and/or illustrated over 50 books, including The Donut Chef, Hello Robots, Look a Book, This Is Not a Pumpkin, and Pets Go Pop. The New York Times named Staake's The Red Lemon one of the 10 best illustrated books of 2006. 

I am giving away one copy of Bluebird

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/1 to 11:59 P.M. on 4/3. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Bluebird will be released on April 9, 2013. 


  1. That's some pledge you're taking! I am definitely thinking of ways to reduce my screen-time that week too.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts