Monday, December 22, 2014

Last Week Told Through Vines


I bought three copies of Comics Squad: Recess! 


Such creative marketing, eh? 


What's on the hold shelf? 


Wolfie the Bunny gave Lou Grant a carrot filled with catnip. Thank you, Wolfie! 


I mailed Gone Crazy in Alabama to Aurora, Illinois. 


Look for these picture books in 2015! 


What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Are You Ready to Have a WONDERFUL WINTER?

Dear Winter,

Hi.  How’s it going?

I know you’re busy.  I’m busy.  You’re busy.  We’re all busy.  But I’m really hoping that you’ll take a moment to hear me out, because this is important.

Could you just not go too crazy this year?

I think you know what I’m talking about.  You’ve had a real habit these past few years of getting a little out of hand with the snow, with the ice, with the cold, and with everything else you tend to bring out.  I get it.  You like to show off, and I can appreciate that.  But, Winter, you can really wear us out after a while.

There’s a rumor circulating (I’m not sure where I heard it) that you’re trying to prove yourself because of all this global warming going around.  We’re all getting a little warmer, and you like to remind us that you’re still in charge three months of the year.  I don’t know if that’s what you’re really thinking – it’s not for me to say – but that’s what I’m hearing.

Winter, you really don’t have to try to impress us.  You already have a lot going for you.  For one thing, you have your own Olympics.  That’s amazing!  And don’t think Fall and Spring aren’t just a little jealous about it.  (Don’t tell them I told you.)

Illustration Credit: Nick Bruel 
It’s just that after a while, 30° feels pretty much the same as 20° which feels the same as 15°, and none of it feels good.  Cold is cold.  Freezing is freezing.  You can be cold and freezing without turning my nose hairs into hundreds of tiny icicles piercing my nostrils.

Do you know how long it takes me to put on all those coats and sweaters and scarves and such just to go outside?  It gets to the point that I really have to schedule it into my day.  I’ve timed it.  Twelve minutes!  That’s the average amount of time it takes me just to go get my mail when you’re around, Winter.  Twelve minutes!

And then there’s the snow!  Holy salami, the snow!  Your snow costs me a lot of money, Winter!  Are you aware of that?  Every time it snows, I have a big choice to make… do I shovel the driveway out myself, me with my bad back, or do I hire the neighbor kids to do it for me?  When they knocked on my door last year, they told me they’d charge twenty dollars.  Not so bad.  Seemed fair.  But when they were done, all of a sudden the rate was twenty dollars each!  EACH!  There were five of them, Winter!  And they all demanded twenty bucks.  And do you know where they put all that snow, Winter?  Right next to my car!  I had to spend the next half hour digging out my own car, me with my bad back, after shelling out a hundred dollars to those little….

I’m sorry.  That wasn’t your fault, Winter.  But this all goes to illustrate just how frustrated we all get after a while.  It used to be that everyone was really happy to see you.  “Hey, look!” they’d say.  “It’s Winter.  Let’s go ice skating!  Let’s build a snowman!  Whoopee!!”  But they don’t do that so much anymore.  If anything, come April I’m used to hearing people say “Whew!  I thought that guy would NEVER leave!”  I’m not the one saying this.  Not me, Winter.  But I do hear it from others.

So, maybe… just maybe… you could go a little easier on us this year.  I like having you around, but maybe… just maybe… you could not linger around quite so long.  I’m not saying that you have a habit of overstaying your welcome, but you know how it is.  No one wants to be the last guy to leave the party.  Don’t be that guy, Winter.

I want to end on an upbeat note, Winter.  So, let me be the first to thank you in advance for all the sledding and the skating and the snowball fights I’m going to have in the next few months.  But maybe we could avoid having too much of a good thing this year.  Okay?

Thanks for hearing me out.

Your friend,

Nick Bruel

I am giving away a signed copy of A Wonderful Year

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 12/21 to 11:59 p.m. on 12/23. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Look for A Wonderful Year on January 6, 2015. 

January #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

Colby Sharp, Cece Bell, Lauren Castillo, and I hope you'll discuss   El Deafo and Nana in the City with us on January 28, 2015. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp, 

Happy Saturday! I hope you enjoy every moment of winter break. I'm looking forward to celebrating dozens of books with you in 2015. 

Have a great day!


Visit Colby's blog to watch his video. 

The Art of Secrets by James Klise 

Comics Squad: Recess 

Toad Weather by Sandra Markle; illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez 

Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo; illustrated by Jamel Akib

Lend a Hand by John Frank; illustrated by London Ladd

Revolution by Deborah Wiles 

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato 

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Best Books of 2014: 5-1

Travis Jonker and I are counting down the top 20 books of 2014. Head on over to Mr. Jonker's blog to read our annotations

20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee | Beach Lane Books

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast featured Marla Frazee on September 28. 

RS: What was the genesis of The Farmer and the Clown, emotionally?
MF: This one was very interesting, because I don’t know if you like clowns, but I don’t like clowns.

Read the full interview here

"I do remember when I was about eight years old seeing Where the Wild Things Are for the first time. I was already a reader of words, but what floored me about that book was the three page turns where Max' room turns into a forest, and I just was blown away by that. I mean, I felt like it was a miracle. I could not believe that somebody could make this common child's bedroom turn into a forest with just three page turns. I just wanted to grow up and figure out how he did that and learn how to do it myself." - Marla Frazee

Marla Frazee talks about All the World.

Image Credit: Marla Frazee 

Revolution by Deborah Wiles | Scholastic Press

Deborah Wiles reads from Revolution.

Deborah Wiles attended the Miami Book Fair. 

Download "A Guide to Teaching and Talking About The Civil Rights Movement with Books for Children and Teens." 

"It felt natural to include song lyrics, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other ephemera of the time. I wanted to create an immersive experience for the reader."-Deborah Wiles

I highly recommend subscribing to Deborah's blog.

Countdown is the first book in the 60s Trilogy. 

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen | Candlewick Press

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen visited my school library on October 15

I created this Blendspace lesson to help my students prepare for Barnett-Klassen Day. 

Please click here to download the full interview. 

El Deafo by Cece Bell | Abrams

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson [Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin)

Jacqueline Woodson reads an excerpt from Brown Girl Dreaming. 

Brown Girl Dreaming won the 2014 National Book Award. 

This video provides a nice overview of Jacqueline's work. 

Jacqueline Woodson presented at the 2014 National Book Festival. 

Jacqueline Woodson accepts the 2014 National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming


20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Books of 2014: 10-6

Travis Jonker and I are counting down the top 20 books of 2014. Head on over to Mr. Jonker's blog to read our annotations

20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier | Graphix (Scholastic)

I created this Blendspace lesson to help my students prepare for Raina Day! 

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by G. Brian Karas | Clarion (HMH)

Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate talks about Ivan. 

Download the Ivan discussion guide. 

Katherine Applegate, G. Brian Karas, and Anne Hoppe participated in a Sharp-Schu trifecta.

Katherine presented at the 2013 National Book Festival. 

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo | Clarion (HMH)

The Sharp-Schu Book Club celebrated The Troublemaker on July 23. 

Browse Lauren's shop

Jules Danielson caught up with Lauren in June.

The Scraps Book by Lois Elhert |Beach Lane Books

"Trust me when I say, The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert is amazing with an A+!  It's a museum of her life's work.  It will find a place in my selection of Mock Caldecott books for 2015." -Margie Myers-Culver 

"I grew up in a house with a younger brother and a sister, a mom and a dad, and everybody seemed to be making things. I thought everybody in the world lived that way. It wasn't until I got to be an adult that I realized that this was rather unusual because my mother and my dad had other jobs to do.  And so they would make things in their spare time. And they understood that I was interested in art and so they made a bargain with me. They said they would put up a folding table for me to work on. As long as I kept working I could keep my mess on this table and I wouldn't have to clean up every time I wanted to make something. So I grew up getting art supplies from both of them. My dad was a woodworker. My mom was a seamstress. So I had the most beautiful fabric, wonderful colors, and a lot of textural things from my dad like nails and wire and wood."-Lois Ehlert

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon | Dial (Penguin)

Look for Dory and the Real True Friend on July 7, 2015. 

20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Top 20 Books of 2014 (15-11)

Travis Jonker and I are counting down the top 20 books of 2014. Head on over to Mr. Jonker's blog to read our annotations. 

20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton| Candlewick

"One of the things i have been trying with my books is to tell stories as much as possible through images rather than through words. If the story can be read without language, it should have the ability to be understood by the very young." - Chris Haughton  

Download an activity kit.

Read all of Chris Haughton's books

Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli | Disney-Hyperion

Watch the book trailer for The Watermelon Seed

Lil' Readers buttons by Greg Pizzoli 

Pizzoli's pals appear on a READ poster. 

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light | Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins)

Kelly Light participated in a Sharp-Schu trifecta.

Why Picture Books Are Important by Kelly Light

Becky Anderson sat down with Kelly Light. 

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm | Random House

Top 5 Reasons Why Science is Cool! 

The Fourteenth Goldfish was a Global Read Aloud selection. 

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd | Scholastic

Download the A Snicker of Magic activity booklet. 


20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1