Friday, July 3, 2015

Author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Happy, happy, happy Friday, friends! I am celebrating this beautiful July day with author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. We chatted about Book Scavenger, a special map, Sarah Watts, reading, and San Francisco. I wrote the words in orange, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jennifer! 

Emily and James are way better at puzzles than I'll ever be! I love puzzles, but I'm not opposed to flipping to the solution page after a good effort of trying. Studying the "how" of a puzzle helps me learn more tricks for my next puzzle-solving attempt and usually prompts an "oh cool, so that's how that works" response. But I can't imagine Emily and James flipping to the solution page. Especially Emily--I think she would be horrified to read this answer.

Garrison Griswold thinks books make the world a better place. He also wants to inject happiness and fun into everyday life in order to counteract the bad and difficult stuff.

This map amazes me! It is so exciting that people are actually hiding and finding copies of Book Scavenger. I hope that trend continues!

Explore Sarah's website. 
Sarah Watts’ illustrations are awesome. She has such a fun, cool flair. And she designs fabric too! I've grown a little bit addicted to following her on Instagram . . .

Creative Spaces is an inspiration. I'm always interested in how and where creative people work, and I love thinking about decorating and design and organizing. Starting the Creative Spaces interviews five years ago gave me a way to participate in the children's literature world that I have been passionate about my whole life. I have been humbled and amazed by the people who have shared their workspaces on my blog, and I hope to feature a whole bunch more in years to come.

Read Margie Myers-Culver's review
Have you played book cover BINGO? It is a game I hosted on my blog to tie in with the Creative Spaces interview series. I made Bingo boards filled with book covers from the authors and illustrators I featured in my interviews, and gave away some of their books as the prizes. For a month I posted new covers to call out Bingo spaces, until enough winners scored Bingo. It was SO MUCH FUN! I would do it again in a heartbeat if it hadn't been so time intensive for me to create the Bingo boards. I created 150 unique boards manually by making a table in Word and dragging and dropping each cover into place, and then saved the file as a PDF (so people couldn't cheat and rearrange their covers). If anyone out there knows a way to make automated Bingo boards with a selection of book covers, I'd love to hear about it!

Reading is comforting. An escape. A window. A doorway. A secret passage. A rocket ship. Enlightening. Brain-expanding. Essential.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me... If I could play a game with any person or group of people, who would you pick and what game would it be?

I'd like to play Capture the Flag with all the characters in Book Scavenger, ideally at Chrissy Field in San Francisco on a crisp blue-sky day, topped off with a round of It's-Its enjoyed while lounging on picnic blankets.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dan Santat's Caldecott Influence

Question: Which Caldecott Honor book influenced Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat? 

Press play for the answer! 

Do you remember the first time you read David Shannon's No, David!? It was an instant hit with my third graders when I student taught. I use it every year to introduce and discuss interjections and exclamatory sentences. 

Which Caldecott book influenced you? 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Penny & Jelly: The School Show Blog Tour

Hi, Maria Gianferrari! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show. Are you a list maker like Penny?

Maria: Thanks, Mr. Schu!

You're welcome! Are you a list maker like Penny?

Most definitely! I usually have multiple lists going at one time—to do lists (for work and stuff around the house), shopping lists, to read lists—they’re endless, and yet satisfying at the same time.

I'm the same way. I often create a to-do list after I finish a series of tasks just so I can check things off a list. :)

Explore Thyra Heder's website. 
Did you and Thyra Heder communicate at all while she was illustrating Penny and Jelly: The School Show? How did you respond the first time you saw the finished illustrations?

Maria: No, but I could tell Thyra was a fellow dog-lover, and I loved her style from the first moment I saw her initial sketches of Jelly. She really infused Penny and Jelly’s characters with warmth and humor. She really is the perfect illustrator for this book!

Explore Maria's website
I bet waiting for a picture book to be published is not easy.  Please tell us about Officer Katz and Houndini, Hello Goodbye Dog, Coyote Moon, Highway Hawks and Terrific Tongues.

Maria: It’s not easy, but it’s worth the wait for that magic moment you see an illustrator breathe life into your words. I feel so grateful and fortunate to have been matched with such incredibly talented artists!

Officer Katz and Houndini wants to capture his nemesis, the elusive escape artist, Houndini, but he’s constantly foiled. Will he be able to save Kitty City? You’ll have to tune in to find out! It’s a zany tale complemented by Danny Chatzikonstantinou’s humorous and quirky art. It will be published by Aladdin Books for Young Readers in October 2016.

The canine character, Moose, in Hello Goodbye Dog hates saying good-bye to his person, Zara, and chaos ensues as he tries to say hello. It will be published by Roaring Brook press (winter 2017). I believe I’ll be getting some sketches from illustrator Patrice Barton soon. I love her work, and am so excited to see what she’ll come up with!

Coyote Moon and Highway Hawks will also be published by Roaring Brook Press, in July 2016 and summer 2017 respectively. They’re narrative nonfiction stories with a poetic bent about predators hunting for their families, a coyote mother, and a red-tailed hawk father. Bagram Ibatoulline’s art for Coyote Moon is absolutely gorgeous and stunning. It’s so intricately detailed that it’s almost photographic, and yet it has atmosphere and dynamism. And Caldecott winner Brian Floca will be illustrating Highway Hawks—how lucky am I?

Terrific Tongues is also a work of nonfiction that’s more concept-oriented, about fascinating creature tongues. It will be published by Boyds Mills Press. An illustrator is currently in the process of being selected—I can’t wait to hear who it will be!

Wow! You're going to be very busy over the next three years. Congratulations! 

Visit Toadstool Bookshop the next time you're in New Hampshire. 
How are you going to celebrate Penny and Jelly: The School Show’s book birthday?

Maria: I’m hosting a book launch at my local hometown indie, the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, NH, with family and friends. I’m nervous and excited! We’re going to have a photo-booth, so that kids can pose with Jelly, and pretend to be Penny, trying on a variety of talents with props. You can follow it on Instagram: @pennyandjelly.

Please finish these sentence starters:

The best thing about being a writer is working at home and hanging out with Becca, my beloved dog, all day long. Isn’t she beautiful? Yes!

Picture books are inspiring, engaging, educational works of art that touch the heart.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the second Penny & Jelly book, Penny and Jelly Slumber Under the Stars. I just reviewed the proofs, and I think I’m even more in love with Thyra’s artwork for this book than The School Show. There’s a character modeled after me and our pet rat, Lucia, which is so sweet! It’s scheduled for release in June 2016.

Thanks again so much for having me, Mr. Schu!! Thank you, Maria! 

I am giving away a copy of Penny and Jelly: The School Show

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 7/1 to 11:59 PM on 7/3. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Follow Maria’s blog tour:

  • Friday, June 26th: Kidlit411/Sylvia Liu & Elaine Kiely Kearns

  • Monday, July 6th – Friday, July 10th: Emu’s Debuts virtual book week launch

  • Monday, July 13th: Bildebok/Cathy Ballou Mealey

Borrow Penny and Jelly: The School Show from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Video of the Week: Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen on Picture Books

5 Things I Love About This Video

1. The first thing I look at when I see Jon in person or in a video is his hat. :) 

2. "I think this is the luckiest job." -Jon Klassen

3. You can see Lauren Castillo, Paul Rodeen, and Lori Kilkelly in the background getting ready for Lauren's signing for Yard Sale. (Sherri Duskey Rinker makes an appearance at 1:26.) 

4. Scholastic's "Open a World of Possible" campaign is highly visible during the interview.

5. Jon inspired me to re-read Sam and the Firefly

Monday, June 29, 2015

Speeches, Vines, and Photographs from the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet

Before you look at the photographs and vines from the 2015 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet, I highly recommend reading Kwame Alexander's, Dan Santat's, and Donald Crews'  acceptance speeches. Their words will inspire you, make you cry, and leave you feeling proud and honored to live in a world in which such remarkable people are creating the best books for young readers.

I loved watching Cece Bell's reaction to her EL DEAFO cake.

What do you think ran through Cece's head as she cut into her character's head?

You can hear the energy in the room.

I had one of the best seats in the house.

Congratulations, Lauren Castillo! 

w00t! w00t! w00t!

Congratulations, Kwame!

This is my all-time favorite vine. I wish I didn't have to rush it at the end, but I only had 1% battery left. Isn't that an annoying feeling? 




Jennifer Reed's Beekle purse 

Victoria Stapleton's Beekle earrings 

The Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder programs 

Look inside the program. 

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat models his Beekle tie.

Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander looks dashing in his blueberry/Newbery suit. :) 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Last Week Told Through Vines


Today's #bookstack for the summer #BookaDay Challenge.


My Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla goes everywhere with me.


Cynthia Lord brought her Newbery Honor plaque to the Scholastic Reading Summit. 

Look! It is Donalyn Miller!

This was my favorite display at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Phoenix.


I gave away these books during my workshop at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Phoenix.

Pam Muñoz Ryan played her harmonica during her presentation at the Scholastic Reading Summit. 


Greetings from San Francisco!


What's inside my tote bag?

I am having a hard time waiting for WAITING to be released.

One Day, The End is one of the best books of the year. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Q&A with Author-illustrator Amanda Driscoll

Hi, Amanda! Thanks for dropping by Watch. Connect. Read. to chat with me about Duncan the Story Dragon. I adore the front and back endpapers. Please describe them for those who do not have Duncan the Story Dragon in front of them right now.

Amanda Driscoll: Thank you for having me! The front endpapers show Duncan hurrying off with a stack of books, eyes closed in anticipation of reading that perfect story. He is set against a monochromatic background of dots, inspired by the spots on his back. A tiny mouse peeks from behind a dot.

The back endpapers show the unfortunate results of Duncan’s enthusiasm for books. (Fire breath is a hot mess for this book-loving dragon.) The corner of the page is “burned”, and a remorseful Duncan says, “Oops. Sorry about your book”, while the mouse says, “Whoa. Must have been a good book.” You have to love the mouse!

Illustration Credit: Amanda Driscoll
What planted the seed for Duncan the Story Dragon?

Amanda Driscoll: The initial seed was planted many years ago, with my own love for reading. I knew I wanted to write a book that would convey to kids the joy of reading in a fun, kid-friendly fashion. I also thought that a dragon character would be interesting to illustrate. Then one day the two ideas merged: a dragon who loves books. From there, the central problem came easily. Fire breath and books are a combustible combination.

I am a HUGE fan of books about books and reading. I know it is hard to narrow it down to a handful of titles, but what are some of your favorite books about books?

Amanda Driscoll: One book about books that I find utterly charming is Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. It captures the way I feel when I read. The illustrations are simple yet so expressive. Another favorite is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the magical story gives me goose bumps every time I read it. I love the quirkiness of The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. I’m a big fan of his style. I also have to mention the oh-so-clever This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne. It’s not exactly about reading, but it’s incredibly inventive.

If we visited your studio right now, what would we see?

Amanda Driscoll: You would probably first notice my “Wally Wall”. I am currently illustrating my second book, Wally Does Not Want a Haircut, due out next summer from Knopf Books for Young Readers. I covered one wall of my studio in dummy sketches so I can refer to them as I’m working. Next you might notice an abundance of snack bags littering my desk. I nibble while I work.

Illustration Credit: Amanda Driscoll 
Please finish these sentence starters:

Reading is a doorway to other worlds and a pathway to new friends. Books let us know characters intimately. We see inside their minds and understand their feelings in a way no other medium can rival.

Visit Amanda's website

Picture books are vital to developing a child's love of reading. The moments spent reading to a child are magical. Even when my kids had become independent readers, I still read them picture books because that time together was so special.

Photo Credit: Amanda Driscoll
Bella and Molly are my two rowdy rescue dogs who should be given partial credit for every story I’ve ever written. They demand a walk every day, and I use that time to dream up stories or hammer out plots. Something about the movement of my feet frees up my mind. I remember the exact spot where the idea for Duncan the Story Dragon hit me. I spent the rest of that walk working out the plot then came home and started writing.
Amanda Driscoll and Dragon 
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me for a synopsis of Duncan the Story Dragon in 140 characters or less. I love economy of words!

Duncan the Story Dragon is about a dragon who gets so excited by stories that he breathes fire and incinerates his books.

121 characters and I even used the word “incinerate.” ;-)

Borrow Duncan the Story Dragon from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.