Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Reaction Videos

I am grateful ALSC posted the 2016 Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder reaction videos. I hope you'll stop what you're doing and watch them right now! Happy watching! 

Colby Sharp, I love that everyone in the banquet hall saw your students reacting to Finding Winnie winning your Mock Caldecott. :) 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: The Storyteller by Evan Turk

I'm celebrating The Storyteller's book birthday and book trailer with author-illustrator Evan Turk. Congratulations, Evan! Thank you! 

I am very honored to announce the premiere of the trailer for The Storyteller here at Mr. Schu's! The Storyteller is the tale of a young boy in Morocco who inadvertently becomes an apprentice to one of the last master storytellers. Morocco has a nearly one- thousand-year-old tradition of public storytelling that is in danger of dying out. Inspired by this tradition, and the new generation of Moroccans that have taken it upon themselves to keep it alive, I wrote The Storyteller to talk about the power that stories have to nourish us all. I hope you'll enjoy the trailer and check out the book. The trailer features music from a Moroccan Gnawa band based in Brooklyn, InnovGnawa. 

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together.

But as the kingdom grew, the people forgot the dangers of the desert, and they forgot about the storytellers, too. All but one young boy, who came to the Great Square for a drink and found something that quenched his thirst even better: wonderful stories. As he listened to the last storyteller recount the Endless Drought, and the Glorious Blue Water Bird, he discovered the power of a tale well told.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cover Reveal for The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Thank you so much for letting me visit, Mr. Schu! I’m so excited and honored to be here!
When my three sons were younger, we took lots of summer road trips in our old minivan. They weren’t always easy for my autistic middle boy, who didn’t like the change, strange foods, or strange places.

So we’d try to make things as smooth as possible. For instance, we’d always eat at places that served his preferred food source—because, as he once put it: “I figure you can survive pretty much anything, as long as you can order the chicken nuggets.”

With that, a story idea hatched in my brain. 

The Someday Birds is my own neurodiverse heart-gift to kids who are different, kids put in tough situations, kids dragged into journeys they don’t want. It’s about self-acceptance, about learning how to feel more at ease in the world. There’s some humor and some heartache, and birds, lots of birds. (Charlie adores birds, and fervently believes that learning bird-behavior is the ultimate key to understanding human behavior.) 

I’m so proud to reveal this lively, flighty cover of a book about a lively, flighty family—and to be revealing it on your site, Mr. Schu.  Didn’t artist Julie McLaughlin and designer Heather Daugherty do an incredible job?

Mr. Schu: Yes! Thank you for dropping by to reveal the cover. Congratulations! 

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla | HarperCollins Children's Books | Publication Date: 01/24/2017

Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets. And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird sketchbooks, and his safe and comfortable routines.

But his perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling fast, since his war journalist father was injured. Now, life consists of living with Gram, trips to the hospital, and wishing things were different.

When Dad is flown from California to Virginia for further medical treatment, Charlie ends up having to travel across country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. Along the way, he decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see in the wild, someday… Then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay.

Debut author Sally J. Pla has written a middle-grade novel that is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for a boy who doesn’t quite understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.

Sally J. Pla has three sons, a husband, and an enormous fluffy dog. She lives in a house near lots of lemon trees in Southern California, where she’s hard at work on her next novel for HarperCollins. Taylor Martindale Kean of Full Circle Literary represents her.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Snow White by Matt Phelan

Hi, Matt Phelan! 

Hi, Mr. Schu!

Thank you for dropping by to share Snow White's book trailer and chat about Samantha White and reading. 

You're welcome! Thank you! 

Snow White tells a story of greed, jealousy, lost hope, and evil… and how pure goodness can ultimately conquer all of those things.

Samantha White is an ordinary girl who has had tragedy in her life, but still believes that there is beauty in the world.

The Seven are homeless boys living in the shadows of the city. They are smart, brave, and loyal to each other, but they are also jaded and mistrustful of the world. Their names are a guarded secret.

Reading is dreaming while awake.

Look for Snow White on September 13, 2016. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus by Edward Hemingway

Hi, Edward Hemingway! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read! Thank you for dropping by to celebrate Field Guide to Grumpasurus.

Edward Hemingway: Thanks John! It’s great to back. I love your blog! I hope you are well, and that you are staying out of trouble (the bad kind, at least).

Indeed! :)

What should everyone do before watching Grumpasaurus’ book trailer?

Edward Hemingway: Press the play button of course! And then enjoy some sweet and simple animation brought to you by The Mill- an award winning and world famous VFX and Creative Content Studio.

I love surprises under dust jackets. Thank you for creating a case that is different from the cover illustration.

Edward Hemingway: You’re welcome! I wish I could say I did it just for you. But if I’m honest, I have to give all the credit to my amazing art director at HMH, Christine Kettner, as she came up with the idea and design. She’s a wonder. And was never once grumpy with me.

Have you ever met a Grumpasaurus?

Edward Hemingway: Everywhere and often! There may even be one living with me at this very moment…in my own home! But right now he’s at work.

If we visited your studio, what would we see? (Hi, Sophie Blackall! Hi, Sergio Ruzzier! Hi, Brian Floca! Hi, John Bemelmans Marciano!) 

Edward Hemingway: You’d see 4 famous children’s book authors hard at work on new books, and one additional author typing frantically on his computer at his VERY MESSY desk.

Please finish these sentences:

Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship and Bad Apple’s Perfect Day are both still in print, praise Jesus.

School libraries are literally literary staycations. Bon Voyage!!!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about MY MISERABLE LIFE, written by Francesca Lia Block and illustrated by yours truly, born into bookstores on Tuesday, June 28th. 

Borrow Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: A Tiger Tail by Mike Boldt

Hello! Mike Boldt here. I don’t know about you, but when I was young, I remember being extremely nervous on the first day of school. Now, only a couple weeks away from my next book, A TIGER TAIL’s release, I have that same nervousness all over again. It’s quite an odd sensation, as the entire time I was working on the book I couldn’t wait to share it with the world.

Thankfully, wonderful folks, like Mr. Schu here, give us a stage and instill confidence through encouragement and remind us of the importance of reading. That it’s not about us as authors and illustrators, but about those who are coming up behind us, about passing on pieces of joy, understanding, hope, and encouraging them to set their imaginations free.

A TIGER TAIL is a story about Anya, the tiger tail she wakes up with, and the challenges of dealing with a situation like this on the first day of school.

Thank you for watching this book trailer. And thank you to Mr. Schu!

A Tiger Tail by Mike Boldt |Simon and Schuster | Release Date: July 5, 2016 

The following interview is from when Mike and I revealed the cover for A Tiger Tail. I wrote the words in orange, and Mike wrote the words in black. THANK YOU, Mike! You're the best! 

A Tiger Tail 
tells the story
 of Anya, who wakes up one morning with a tiger tail. Not like a ponytail or pigtails, but a real tiger tail. This is a disaster in most circumstances, but especially today, which also happens to be Anya's first day of school.

I hope A Tiger Tail's cover piques the interest of anyone who has had to deal with something that's been out of their control - despite their best attempts.

I created  A Tiger Tail's illustrations based on one of my nieces who not only looks like Anya, but WHO shares her name and some of her personality. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cover Reveal for Joseph Kuefler's Rulers of the Playground

Hi, Joseph Kuefler! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. I cannot believe this is your first time visiting.

Hello Mr. Schu. I can’t believe it either. Watch. Connect. Read. has become such a regular presence in my Twitter feed, I was beginning to think I’d created it myself.

How funny! Well, I am glad you're here today to share the GORGEOUS cover for Rulers of the Playground. Please tell us about the characters on the cover.

Thank you for the invitation and thank you for the compliments. Well, the characters on this cover are a few of the many children cast in RULERS. The book centers around Jonah and Lennox, the two children dressed in formal attire. Both are attempting to take over the playground and claim it as their own. Both are full of confidence—they’re wearing clothing from the French Revolution to the park, so that’s probably pretty obvious. And both take their conquering just a little too far.

On the far left you’ll see a redhead and her dog. That’s Augustine and Sir Hamilton Humphrey Hildebrand III. They come into play at the end.

What planted the seed for Rulers of the Playground?

As I was exploring which book to write as a follow-up to Beyond the Pond, so many social issues were coming to a head at once: Black Lives Matter was in full swing, the Middle East was (and still is) managing a number of conflicts, Russia had moved into Ukraine aggressively, and closer to the world of picture books, We Need Diverse Books was transforming the discourse within our industry. The recurring theme in all this was, to me, a question of territory and ownership. What can we call ours? How do we coexist? What impact does power have on the powerful and those subject to their rule?

I know this is probably a heavier set of topics than you were expecting, but for me, picture books are a vehicle for processing the world—its pains, pleasures, tensions. Picture books allow me to explore and process the existential.

So, back to the book, I realized, for a child, the playground is a microcosm of the world. The same dramas I was witnessing in my community and in the media unfold on the playground every day.

The last thing I’ll say is that I really wanted to contribute to the Diverse Books movement. I’m white and male, and I didn’t experience a great deal of adversity as a child, but I still felt obligated to contribute in whatever way I could. I wanted to write a story that made room for a child of every ethnic background. And I really wanted to cast a black female character in a lead role. Whew…that was a lot. Still with me?

I love how Jonah’s park is featured on the front endpapers, and Lennox’s park is featured on the back endpapers.  

The end papers for this book were so fun to create. I love to play with the end papers for each book and make them a player in the story in some way. Alessandra [Balzer] and I played around with a few options for end papers. When the idea of the maps was brought up, we all knew it would offer kids two corners of the book to get lost within.

I think Sir Hamilton Humphrey Hildebrand III is the perfect name for Augustine’s dog.  Did you play around with a lot of different names? (Did it come to you while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack?) 

Haha. No, I had no idea Hamilton would become the craze it is today. And, sadly, I’ve never heard the soundtrack. I’m more of a Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix soundtrack guy myself. I was going to name the dog Harry Potter, but I didn’t want J.K.’s lawyers to come calling.
Given the baroque qualities of the main characters, I knew a ridiculously ornate name was needed. Throughout the book, Hamilton also expresses a certain pretension. Sir Hamilton Humphrey Hildebrand III had the right rhythm and grandiosity. It came pretty quickly.

Please finish these sentence starters:

I think Minnesota is America’s best kept secret.

Picture books are an artist’s confession pounded into pulp and ink. They have been for me, anyway.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me how I came up with the names for the book’s main characters.
Jonah, Lennox, and Augustine are the names of my children. It’s such a rare treat to find your name in a picture book. I wanted to give that gift to my kids.

This was so much fun. Hopefully I lived up to the Watch. Connect. Read. reputation. 

Of course you did! Thank you, Joseph! I look forward to the next time. 

Look for Rulers of the Playground in 2017.