Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Newbery Honor Challenge: 2004

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

Happy Saturday! I hope you're enjoying every moment of the last two weeks of your summer break. I hope you're well!


Best,


John 




Visit Mr. Sharp's blog to find out which book he read.



Jim Murphy talks about his name. 


Jim Murphy provides a wonderful overview of An American Plague.  

Borrow An American Plague from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Author-illustrator Toni Yuly

Happy Friday! I'm celebrating the last day of the first week of the 2014-2015 school year with author-illustrator Toni Yuly. We chatted about Early Bird, her studio, painter Jacob Lawrence, libraries, and picture books. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Toni! 


Early Bird is my first picture book!  She is little, red and full of energy. Early Bird is for 1-3 year olds but it is also a nice book for anyone learning to read as the text is very simple and big!  I see Early Birds outside my window every morning because I am an early bird too!

I created the illustrations for Early Bird with pencil and pen and my computer (Photoshop.)



If you visited my studio I would most likely be in my pajamas, sitting with a big cup of black, decaf coffee and some dark chocolate near by.  It is a small, happy, quiet, bright room.  There is a window that looks out to a mostly neglected, wild yard. My studio is messy and there are a lot of odds and ends around that “speak” to me... thrift store finds... bits of the beach...and a LOT of books!

Picture books are magical things! They can make a huge impression on kids. Any book is cool, but who doesn't like a book with pictures! Picture books like all books have the power to be our friends. They sit in our heads and hearts and speak to us in a million ways you can't explain, but just happens...


Jacob Lawrence taught me so many things!  His “office” was actually a tiny studio space where he worked.  He had a collection of tools and stuff he loved plus some of his work up on the walls...it was a very cool “office.”   He was a multi-talented artist working in many areas including, painting, illustration, printmaking, mural design, etc.  This was very different from all of the other painting professors I had at the time, and I remember being really impressed and I started thinking, hey this guy is a painter, but he also does all of this other stuff too!  Besides many classes, I took 2 independent studies with Jacob Lawrence and during that time I built cardboard wall constructions, experimented with collage and drew and painted some of my most exciting work.

I am grateful to Jacob Lawrence for telling me something that really helped me and stuck with me.  He said, “You don’t have to have a big, fancy studio space. You can work anywhere,”  and I did.  For years I lived in tiny apartments and painted in the corner of my bedroom.  It wasn’t always perfect, but I never stopped working.



Libraries are my heart and soul!  I have worked in libraries for about 35 years and I just love them and the people who work in them.  Libraries are our last, great public sanctuaries, free to all people. I cherish libraries.  Check out all of the amazing things that libraries offer and give your local librarian a hug today!

Reading is something I struggled with when I was a kid.  I was a dreamer and always looking out the window so I wasn’t very good at school until I hit college. I think the best kind of reading is the kind you enjoy!  That could include blogs (like this one!)  comic books, cookbooks, etc.  I hope that people will never lose their love of reading...it does take some time and effort to sit and read something, but reading has the power to change your life in so many ways.


Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my next book is all about!  It is a companion to Early Bird and it is called, Night Owl!  It will be released in January 2015 and I can not wait to share it with the world.  As with Early Bird, Night Owl is for very young kids. The themes are nighttime, sounds, listening, fear and bravery.  I had so much fun creating Night Owl!  Plus a board book edition of Early Bird is coming out at the same time.



I am giving away one copy of Early Bird


Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 8/22 to 11:59 p.m. on 8/24. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 



Borrow Early Bird from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today's #Kidlit Sticker (2014-2015 School Year Gallery)

If you spent a few minutes inside my brain during my morning commute to school, you would listen in on an internal conversation in which I plan which #kidlit sticker I'm going to wear and talk about throughout the day. Once the sticker is created, printed, and attached (with tape) to my body, I will add it to this blog entry. OK? 
Sticker #1 



Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light 



Sticker #2 




















Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato 




Sticker #3


Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo 

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The 6th Annual K-4 Mrs. P's Be-a-Famous Writer Contest




Where and when would you go if you could travel in time?  That is the theme of this year's Be-a-Famous Writer contest.  I thought that kids would love the idea of writing about escaping to another place in time, and that teachers could use it as a class project inspiring ideas of past explorers or inventors, or thinking about what advances might happen in the future.   It’s an ideal opportunity to explore some times and places other than our own. Will the time machine take me to the past or to the future?
The contest is for classrooms only and is FREE to enter. Parents you can still participate by telling your child's teacher about it.
  • ENTRY DATES: SEPTEMBER 1, 2014.
  • Contest Closes: November 15, 2014
  • Winners Announced January 15, 2015
  • For classrooms K - 4th grade
Click here to learn more about Mrs. P's Be-a-Famous Writer Contest.


I interviewed Mrs. P. two years ago. It is worth sharing again. 


Mr. Schu: What inspired you to start the Be-A-Famous-Writer Contest?


Mrs. P: Technology has helped make entertainment for children immersive and visually spectacular. All the kid has to do, really, is sit there and be entertained. I thought it would be nice to offer an option that requires the child to use her or his own imagination and creativity. I'd hate for that to become a lost art. On a more selfish level, I started the contest because I love to read stories written by kids. They can be so funny and surprising and beautiful.

Mr. Schu: I tell all of my students about MrsP.com. Thank you for your entertaining stories and interactive activities. What are you most proud of on the site?

Mrs. P: I love reading to kids, and with my videos, I’m able to reach more of them than I ever could in person. It makes me happy to know that thousands of kids are listening to classic stories and using their imaginations - and if they’re using my read-along feature, improving their reading skills.



Mr. Schu: Please share three of your favorite picture books.

Mrs P: Oh, my, what a challenging assignment! There are so many I love - but I understand you may not have room here for the titles of 12,000 books. Okay, three of my favorite are: Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak


Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein

Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss.

Oh, dear, I’m already thinking I should’ve included Goodnight, Moon and The Giving Tree. But I’ll stop now.

Mr. Schu: Reading is…


Mrs. P: …what you’re doing right now!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Graphic Novels and A #SummerToSchool Twitter Chat




The International Reading Association asked me to share five ways that I pitch graphic novels. Please head over to Reading Today Online to read my post. 

The following information was retrieved from Scholastic's blog

Save the Date: on Monday, August 25th, 2014, at 8pm EST, we'll be hosting a Twitter chat for parents about making the transition from summer to school. Full details are below!
  • WHAT: A #SummerToSchool Twitter chat! 


  • WHEN: Monday, August 25 @ 8pm EST


  • WHY: Because making the transition from summer to school learning can be a challenge for all parents, no matter how old your child is or what his or her learning style may be. Maggie, John, and Bekki will be covering the following topics (and more!) during the chat: 
    • Celebrations (the end of summer; the beginning of school)
    • Social change (friendships, new teachers, relationships, feelings)
    • Routines (establishing schedules, setting goals, managing expectations)
    • Teacher Tips (what teachers wish parents knew about going back to school)
  • Plus, there will be giveaways! Eight lucky winners will be randomly selected during the chat to receive a Reading Under the Stars prize pack that includes a reading blanket, flashlights, battery packs, bookmarks, posters, and select books.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Newbery Honor Challenge: 2003

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

2003 is not a typo. I explain the reason I skipped ahead in the video. :) 


Have a great day! 


-John



Please visit Mr. Sharp's blog to see which book he read. 

I need to watch the movie adaptation of Pictures of Hollis Woods. Sissy Spacek was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Josie Cahill. 



"If you're going to be a writer, you have to be nosy." -Patricia Reilly Giff 













Click here to read a note from Patricia Reilly Giff. 



Download a discussion guide. 



Borrow Pictures of Hollis Woods from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Author-illustrator Jonathan Bean

I put my Friday sentence starters series on the shelf for a few weeks because of my epic road trip. I'm taking the series off that high shelf that you see over there in the corner and welcoming author-illustrator Jonathan Bean to this virtual stage. 
Jonathan and I chatted about Deborah Underwood, a clean apartment, school libraries, picture books, and reading. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Many thanks, Jonathan!  


The cover illustration for Bad Bye, Good Bye tells the story of the book in a nutshell because the title is also an abridged version of the story.

Deborah Underwood and I live on opposite coasts. Careful observers of our book will discover who I think should move where so that we can finally meet face to face.




Cleaning cheers me up when I’m having a bad day at the drawing board. A clean apartment feels like a fresh piece of drawing paper.

Whenever I visit a school library, I look first at the most worn books. Which books have stuck around the longest or gotten the most love?



Picture books are slim saplings on the shelf but branching oaks in hand.

Reading is like throwing open all the windows on a breezy day.




 Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why I sleep on my artwork? When I moved into my current apartment I didn’t know where to put my biggest set of flat files, so I dispensed with a bedframe and threw my mattress on top of them. I now sleep more peacefully than ever!



I am giving away one copy of Bad Bye, Good Bye


Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 8/15 to 11:59 p.m. on 8/17. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 


Borrow Bad Bye, Good Bye from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.