Friday, October 24, 2014

Not Really a Newbery Honor Video

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! Greetings from Ankeny, Iowa! I'm proud of us for modifying the Newbery Honor Challenge!

Have a great day!


Borrow Lauren Castillo's Nana in the City from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Author-Illustrator Evan Turk

Did you have an eventful week? Did you read a book that you could not wait to recommend to someone? Did you ask questions that allowed your students to look at the world differently? Did you do something that allowed you to step outside of your comfort zone? Did you do something that makes you truly happy? I hope so! 

Are you ready for me to stop asking you questions and get on with the main attraction? Yes? I thought so.  Author-illustrator Evan Turk dropped by to chat with me about Grandfather Gandhi, reading, picture books, and a lizard. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Evan! 

Arun Gandi and Bethany Hegedus are wonderful collaborators! It was such an honor to work with both of them on my first book, and to be able to see what each of us brought to the final product. I feel like the book kind of came out of a magical intersection between the beauty and poignancy of Arun’s lessons and memories from his grandfather, the emotional heart of Bethany’s writing, and my illustrations.

The illustrations for Grandfather Gandhi were inspired from many different sources. It was important to me for the illustrations to not be the austere portrait of Gandhi that is usually portrayed. This story is really about the emotional turmoil of a young boy and his relationship with anger, so I wanted that to take center stage. I looked a lot of surrealist art, like Giorgio de Chirico and RenĂ© Magritte, and that influenced the way the shadows take on a life of their own in showing Arun’s anger. I also looked at a lot of Indian art, textiles, and shadow puppets to give the book the intensity of emotion and the feeling and texture of India. The bright colors, patterns, and graphic shapes became a way to show Arun’s transformation throughout the book and his struggle between light and dark.

When I was in elementary school I loved writing and illustrating picture books. I guess not much has changed in that aspect! I had one about a baby spoonbill and its father, one about my stuffed baby sloth Speedy and his journey to get a job in Costa Rica, and one about a poison dart frog who ended up in a bunch of escapades with hyenas, I think. They usually revolved around an obscure animal species, and some horribly traumatic (and random) event. My love of The Lion King and other Disney movies had convinced me that all good stories have some very tragic death or missing parents.

Reading is a great way to learn how much you don’t know about the world and other people.

Illustration credit: Evan Turk 
The people of Marrakech are the inspiration for my next book, called The Storyteller! It will be my first book as both author and illustrator, so I am very excited to be working on it now. The book is a story, within a story, within a story about a young boy who inadvertently becomes an apprentice to a master storyteller and learns the power of stories and passing them onto others. Morocco has a nearly 1000 year old tradition of public storytellers, who hold hundreds of stories in their minds and perform them in public squares as a living oral history. This tradition, though, is dying out in the modern age. I had the opportunity this fall to go and hear one of the last master storytellers in Marrakech, as well as his young Moroccan apprentices who have created a program to preserve this piece of global heritage.

Reading is a great way to learn how much you don’t know about the world and other people.

Picture books are a perfect combination of art, storytelling, and an audience that is receptive to learning.

Illustration credit: Evan Turk 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me, “What job did Speedy the sloth go to Costa Rica for?” He worked as a cashier in a snack shack run by a lizard. His best friend was a (human) boy who also worked there, but as I said, there was often a tragic event

Borrow Grandfather Gandhi from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Travis Jonker and I Want to See Your Hold Shelf

Mr. Travis Jonker and I want to see your hold shelf. Please take a picture of it and email it to mrschureads at gmail dot com. If you tweet it, please include #HoldShelf. 

You can also film it (see above). Photos and videos are due on Wednesday, October 29. The gallery goes up right here on Thursday, October 30

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 27 is Raina Telgemeier Day!

Award-winning author-illustrator Raina Telgemeier is meeting with my fourth and fifth graders on October 27th. Everyone is SOOOOOO excited to spend time with her. 

 I created the following Blendspace lesson for my students to review everything we've learned about Raina. Perhaps some of you will find it useful. Happy watching and exploring! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Week Told Through Vines


Eureka! Which book do you want to read first?


I love supporting local independent bookshops. 


Happy book birthday to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole!


This cake looks too good to eat. 


Three items for a display about Raina Telgemeier.


What did first graders check out today? 


The Game's Afoot at Drury Lane Theatre. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I know that we're taking a break from the Newbery Honor Challenge, but I wanted to take you on a quick tour of my school library. I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend. 

Your friend,