Christmas Ahoy! by Erin Dealey and Kayla Stark

Hello, Erin Dealey! Happy Children's Book Week! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! I’m thrilled you’ve returned to celebrate Christmas Ahoy! What ran through your heart the first time you saw illustrator Kayla Stark’s cover design? 

Erin Dealey: Hi John! Thank you so much for having me back to celebrate Christmas Ahoy! My heart was so very happy to see Kayla Stark’s wonderful cover. You can feel the fun, can’t you? I love the color palette, all the boat details (even in the back matter), and the excitement and humor in Kayla’s illustrations throughout the book. It’s a counting book + LOTS of boats + holiday adventure for young and old.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Parades are a big part of our family holiday traditions. In fact, I wrote Christmas Ahoy! during the pandemic when—like so many events—the annual holiday boat parade was cancelled. I looked for a picture book to fill the void for the boaters in our family and discovered there weren’t any. I’m so excited to share Christmas Ahoy! with everyone who loves parades, boats, and books!

Story is AIR. Stories sail into our hearts like boats and take us on incredible adventures. Stories share pieces of our world, pieces of our lives, that we may not have known exist. Things that we may not have even realized we need. Every day. Like air.

John Schu, you should have asked me why I want students to realize Writing Is NOT Like Math. In our classes, when Ss put away their math books and take out their writer’s notebooks, or physically switch from one class to the next, they tend to approach each subject the same way.

You get an assignment. You do the assignment.

You turn it in, you get it back, and get your grade.

Fun fact: Long ago, I wanted to be a Math Teacher. (!) I loved math, partly because I had great teachers, and also because with math, you were either right or wrong. And if you were wrong, there was a formula to fix it. No big deal.

Writing, however, is personal. To this day I remember how I felt when the teacher circled my writing. The corrections made me feel like I was wrong. (I became an English teacher, by the way—ready to “help” with my red pen, like those before me. It’s the way we were taught to teach writing and I’m as guilty as anyone. Then writing took over my life and changed my perspective…)

Now, every chance I get, I tell students Writing is NEVER Wrong. Writing is a Language ART. Art—and writing--can be messy when you start. The goal is to turn writing into reading so others can enjoy it too. I want Ss to see the words, sentences, and ideas in their first drafts like a lump of clay. Just as a potter uses tools to shape the clay into a work of art, writers use spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar to turn WRITING into READING. I’ve seen firsthand that, when we help students see writing as an ART, young writers and readers blossom.

You can find #BookBirthday interviews on Erin’s blog

As well as extensions for her books at

Connect with Erin on:

Twitter: @ErinDealey

Instagram: erindealey

Pinterest Erin Dealey

Facebook: Erin Dealey

Find Erin’s Reading Song and Freebies at Dealey/Links

Look for Christmas Ahoy! on July 15, 2023. 


Popular Posts