Monday, July 28, 2014

A Guest Post by Jen Malone

Today I’m welcoming debut middle-grade author Jen Malone to Watch. Connect. Read. with a trailer reveal for her upcoming release At Your Service (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Mix). To celebrate the reveal, Jen is hosting a giveaway for two entire classroom libraries of buzzed-about ARCs and published books to one teacher or school librarian. If you’re not a teacher/librarian yourself, you can still enter and, if chosen, you’ll be able to nominate the teacher or school of your choice to receive these giant box-o-books (one of middle grade titles and one of YA titles)!

First, a little about my book:

A love letter to NYC full of insider dish, At Your Service tells the story of thirteen-year-old Chloe Turner, who lives at the uber-fancy St. Michele Hotel alongside her concierge father. Desperate to follow in Dad’s footsteps, Chloe earns the role of Junior Concierge, helping to ensure the hotel’s youngest guests have memorable trips to her favorite city. Her life is backstage passes and cupcake parties until the day Chloe loses a princess in the middle of New York City! Racing from tourist site to tourist site, can Chloe find the young royal before her mistake becomes international news?

And HERE'S the trailer:

If you'd like to win a copy of At Your Service (PLUS the rest of these books below, including the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid School Planner and a signed Big Nate) for the teacher/librarian/school classroom of your choice, please use the Rafflecopters at the end of this post to enter. One contest is for the middle grade books and one for the YA books. You may enter either or both. Two winners will be announced on August 8th. Good luck!

Enter to win these MG books:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win these YA books:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The August Sharp-Schu Book Club Meeting

Colby Sharp, Amber McRee Turner, Brian Won, and I hope you'll join us on Tuesday, August 26. 

Enter the Giveaway 

Borrow Circa Now and Hooray for Hat! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Newbery Honor Challenge: 2008

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I hope you're having a wonderful week. I predict we read the same book this week. You read Feathers, right? I hope so! :) 

Your friend,


Visit Mr. Sharp's blog to watch his video. 

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson 

Jacqueline Woodson reads from Feathers

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and Shane Prigmore

It doesn't seem possible that August is just around the corner, but I just looked at a calendar. It is true. Teachers and librarians are starting to discuss books that they will share and read aloud during the first week of school. I'm throwing Sue Ganz-Schmitt's Planet Kindergarten into the back-to-school book lists conversation. 

Sue  dropped by Watch.Connect. Read. to chat with me about Planet Kindergarten, musicals, picture books, and school libraries. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Sue! 

Planet Kindergarten is a giant leap for kindergarten-kind. Young explorers boldly go where they have never gone before.  Our hero navigates the unknown reaches and alien inhabitants of this strange new world. This story will have new kindergartners ready for liftoff!  

Shane Prigmore’s illustrations will make this book a classic. They are timeless. clever, and truly out of this world. Shadowy parents let the hero own the story. There are alien classmates that will remind you of your all-time favorite out-of-this-world characters. The cafeteria style space food will have kids begging their earthling lunch ladies to update their menus, and there is a splashdown that will make NASA astronauts green with envy. Shane has animated nearly every Dreamworks movie you have heard of from Coraline to the Lego Movie and has won two Annie Awards (like the Oscars but for animation) for his brilliance.  He knows what kids likes, and their shadowy parents too.  

When I was in kindergarten I loved story dictation time more than anything.  I wrote my first space novel.  It was epic.  

I produce children’s musical theater.  I like to say yes to new opportunities Mr. Schu.  Just like when you asked me to finish your sentences (quite an honor BTW).  So when a friend asked me to help produce a Dr. Seuss musical called Seussical, I said yes, even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into.   In Hollywood, they say never work with children or animals.  Well I did.  There was an elephant named Horton, a couple of birds- Mayzie and Gertrude, some wild monkeys and about one hundred kids.  From casting all the way to closing night of the show I was swept away by the talents, focus, and confidence of these kids from Kindergarten through 6th grade.  For seven years I have volunteered for the job.  These kids – whom I wanted to help inspire – have inspired me to get over my own life-long stage fright, and I actually performed two songs on Broadway in RENT.  I figured if they could get on stage so fearlessly so could I!

School libraries are like the Starship Enterprise.  They take kids to  distant realms that can seem familiar and suddenly they know they are not alone out there.  There are also new frontiers that are so unlike their own to explore and discover.  A school library without a librarian is like the Enterprise without a captain to navigate the craft.  They are so very important to the future of our kind.

Reading is a portal.  With a book you can travel light years away and be back in time for dinner.  

Picture books are able to inspire kids for a lifetime.  My favorite book as a kid was The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.  It is about having a goal and being undeterred no matter what doubting voices you encounter along the way.   It was my dream when I was five to write books to help kids. It was a challenge to get here, but I had to press on no matter what. Besides helping kids learn to navigate kindergarten, I have written Even SuperheroesGet Diabetes, and The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally AllergicFairytale in order to help children understand their own and others' medical challenges.  

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what it was like to be the first children’s book author in deep space.  When you launch a new book, you have to be ready to go anywhere.  

so when NASA called for a mission I was ready. 

I already had the spacesuit, so I was a Schu-in.

Borrow Planet Kindergarten from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Road Trip Advice for Rocket

Every year when we hit the road we bring along a new mascot. We know what to expect on our fabulously fun road trips, but sometimes our mascot is unsure and a bit apprehensive. They have heard of being left alone in a hotel room while John and Donna go eat, or have heard rumors of hours spent in a dark bag or purse waiting to see daylight, or even horror stories of accidentally being dropped onto the dirt. This year some of our past mascots joined forces to calm Rocket’s nerves and to offer some advice that will guarantee a successful trip.

Babymouse said, “Road trips are filled with activities from morning to night. Sometimes you just need to remember to stop and smell the flowers.”

Ivan suggested, “You will be in the car with the same people for hours on end. Sometimes you may start to go a little batty and feel like getting short with someone. Remember to always CHOOSE KIND.  

Frankie Pickle remembered feeling tired and that McDonald’s stops were life savers. He instructed Rocket to, “Always get the largest Diet Coke possible when stopping at McDonald's. Don’t forget to order it with extra ice. It can get really hot out.”

Argyle warned, “Sometimes, late at night, you may be a little sleep deprived and things may appear to be what they are not. Actually, sometimes things can seem downright scary, especially when on isolated roads. Do not watch any horror movies before the trip. It will only increase your overactive imagination.”


Not surprisingly, Ivan seconded Argyle’s advice.


Scaredy Squirrel told Rocket that he should not always feel as though he needed to go to costly attractions. He wisely stated, “Sometimes the best things in life are free.”

Pigeon, once again, was a bit self-centered and jealous that he does not get to join in the fun again. He taunted Rocket and said, “Good luck. You’ve got big boots to fill.”

Knuffle Bunny explained, “You may think you are driving forever and might wonder if you are ever going to get to your destination. You will. Remember, it’s a small world after all.”

We hope Rocket heeds their advice. He will have plenty of advice to share with next year's mascot.

(This post was written by Donna for Let's Go Somewhere on 7/30.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The July #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting Took Place Last Night

Did you miss the July Sharp-Schu Book Club meeting? Fear not! The entire conversation has been archived for your reading pleasure.  A big, huge, humongous thank you to Varian Johnson, Lauren Castillo, and everyone who participated in last night's meeting. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Books Are You Promoting on the Road, Mr. Schu?

Selecting the twenty books that I will promote during this year's reading road trip is not an easy job. There are so many wonderful books that I want to "read" in front of wacky roadside attractions and tell random booksellers, librarians, servers, and just about anyone who will listen to me about. Spreading book joy is one of my biggest missions in life. 

After much hemming and hawing, I selected the twenty books this morning. They are currently locked up in a secret cabinet in my basement. Not really, they are in an adorable Little Elliot, Big City tote bag that's in the middle of my messy home office. Would you like me to take out one of the picture book gems and share it with you? Yes! OK. 

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd | Chronicle Books | Publication date: August 14, 2014. 

Stunning, right? Creative, right? Masterful, right? Dramatic, right? You cannot wait to read it, right? I ask too many questions, right? 

Add this one to your to-read list. This isn't the last time you've seen this wordless wonder featured here.

(I also posted this on Let's Go Somewhere on 7/30!)