Anticipating Book Arrival

Hints were dropped about  secret writing for a book. The news that leaked out intrigued me. Authors I love were listed. I still didn’t understand what or how this book would work. Multiple authors and writing prompts? Finally, an announcement, this book would be published and ready for the world in March. Sight unseen, no clue what it really was about, I took a leap of faith.  I pre-ordered the book on September 7.

For months, I have waited impatiently. I went to NCTE and missed the chance to get an ARC of this book. Finally an email – 


So all day, I sat at my desk working, but listening for the UPS truck to rumble up my street. I hear an engine,  it is stopping in front of my house!

Eagerly, I meet him at the door. Mr. UPS does not know how long I have waited for this book.

Do you know what book this is? Here it is without the book jacket.

And here it is with the jacket.

I have been a fan of Colby Sharp ever since I saw his YouTube video Mr. Sharp Loves Reading. His passion for books and turning kids on to books is amazing. I can’t wait to read this book and share it with teachers.


An Evening at the Library

Last night I spent the evening at the library but didn’t look at one book. I was there for another reason. It all began with the newspaper on Monday. . .

On Monday, our local paper is usually rather skimpy. I guess all their effort goes into Sunday’s paper, so there is less paper and news on Monday. Usually I skim through reading a bit here and there, but not doing any deep reading.

However this past Monday I glanced at this page and my heart beat a little quicker. Can you see why? No, it’s not about women postmasters.

If you didn’t spot it in the previous picture, I’ll zoom in for you.

Now do you see the one word that quickened my heart? Author!

Then I calmed down and figured it was some author I’ve never read. But I did have memories of going to hear Kevin Henkes a couple of years ago. I read on, my heart beat a little faster. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley? Oh be still my heart! I loved The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won. If at all possible, I was going!

I arrived at the library thirty minutes before the talk was to begin. They were selling her books outside the room. I resisted the temptation to buy a book. The room filled quickly, mostly students clutching one or more books. Watching the students made me smile.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley talked about her research and decisions she made as she wrote the book (for example: Ada’s disability, location in England). It took about four years to write each book about Ada. It was interesting to learn that she

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley reads from The War That Saved My Life.

rarely gives her books titles. The working title for The War That Saved My Life was Kim’s New Book That Needs a Title. However, she did select the title for The War I Finally Won. She was explaining the book to her daughter and that was the best way to describe the book. That book had nine drafts because she kept rewriting the character Ruth, so she had to move things around as Ruth became more and more interesting to her. Ruth may be a character she develops more in another book. Another interesting tidbit that came out in the discussion was Patricia MacLachlan was Kimberly’s  professor in college.

The evening ended with a long line of students and adults waiting for their copies to be signed. I walked past them thinking of the memory they just made listening to an author talk about writing and wondered if one of them might be a Newbery or Caldecott winner someday.

Day 29: Spine Poetry

Yesterday, Ramona shared a few writing quotes. My favorite one is, “Catch emerging words and begin to guide them into form, or not.” Susan Branch.

Here are some emerging words guided into the form of a spine poem. Thanks, Ramona!

The secret project

in the best interest of students,

59 reasons to write

a river of words,

wondrous words.

Write like this.

Write beside them,

writing toward home.

I received several new professional books last week. As I contemplated which one I would read first, I had an inkling of a spine poem tickling my brain. I added a few titles that were already on my shelf to create the above poem.

Getting teachers inspired to teach writing is a secret project that love to tackle. Often times many are resistant, but eventually they come around and end up say, “This is my favorite thing to teach.” or “Writing is my class’s favorite subject.” Then I smile because I knew it would happen.

Day 9: Kevin Henkes

I have to thank Facebook for my slice today. I was a Facebook hold out for many, many years. The birth of my granddaughter propelled me to making the move and adding Facebook to my life. So it was just happenstance that I saw a post announcing Kevin Henkes would be speaking at our local library last night. My Wednesday evening plans were set. I would attend. Who can resist the author and illustrator of Chrysanthemum or Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse?

As I drove over to the library, I figured the library parking lot would be filled and I would have to return home. What’s that? There are lots of spaces, looks like I’m staying.

Inside the library, a line has started to form at the door. A sign indicates the doors open at 6:30, looks like I’ll be standing here for twenty minutes. While standing in line, the library staff member tells us that people will be dismissed for the book signing by rows, beginning with the front row. Guess where I sat. Smack, dab, front and center. I’m pretty pleased with myself, for now.

The room begins to fill up. The body heat kicks the AC into full blast. Chatter volume slowly rises as seats are taken. Still pretty happy with my position. Looks like we are out of seats. What? You are bringing people to sit on the floor in front of me? Not so pleased with that development.

Finally, Kevin Henkes is introduced! He begins by telling about his childhood. He’s been drawing since he was two. He writes all his books in a notebook, then types them out on a typewriter. He does not have a computer. (Now that’s hard to believe!) He is a two-finger typer and he only has two ribbons left for his typewriter. He’s a bit nervous about that. He’s superstitious and has some quirky routines. He told some of the back story of where he got his ideas. Just as we tell kids, stories are every where, he told us you just have to notice. Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse is the result of watching a six year old girl in an airport with a purse that played music when you opened it. Her dad was not happy about the purse, but she kept sneaking it open to play the music.

Last of all, he did some quick sketches of characters. Here’s Lily –

Now come the moment of truth, will the front rows be dismissed to the book signing first? No, the interloper floor sitters are sent first. Then the staff begins on the rows. As I make my way out, I see the back people making a dash for the signing. Sigh! What’s this long line? Oh, you had the people who didn’t get into the talk get in line for book signing. Sigh!

Another twenty minutes in line, my book is signed and I am on my way out. I try not to make eye contact with the l-o-n-g line of people waiting. Wearily, I make my way to the car. Tired, but happy for the experience.



Did You Know . . .?

nf10for10The world is filled with wondrous facts and we are so lucky that authors are bringing those wonders right to us through marvelous nonfiction books. Who knew? is a phrase I think every time I read nonfiction. These books landed on my bookshelf during this last year. I’ve also included a photo from one (or two) of the pages from each book, so you can get a sneak peek into the text.

First up, You and Me Together, Moms, Dad, and Kids Around the World by Barbara Kerley. This book shows how families do the very same things all over the world. In the back there is a world map and a thumbnail of the photo in the book with more explanation.


Spectacular Spots and Stripes of All Types are both by  Susan Stockdale. The text is sparse but that does not mean these are easy texts. The vocabulary is rich. Additional information is included in the last pages.



Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith shares the many ways seeds travel and take root to create a wild garden. The illustrations are soft colors and in a collage of many little boxes to study.


 Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner would be a great book to contrast with the wild garden.


We discover that mama is not the only one who builds a nest in Mama Built a Little Nest. Jennifer Ward entertains as she teaches the reader all about birds’ nests. Did you know that the cowbird, whydah, and cuckoo lay eggs in nests and let the nesting bird raise their young?


Steve Jenkins and Robin Page continue to develop books with a unique perspective. Within the pages of this book you can learn not only How to Swallow a Pig, but also how to woo a ewe or decorate like a bowerbird.


Hippos Are Huge, but they are also one of the most deadly animals in Africa. Jonathan London has filled this book with fascinating facts about hippos.


“Nature excels in the least things.” A quote from Henry David Thoreau was the inspiration for Least Things, Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen and photos by her son, Jason Stemple. Each “least thing” has a haiku plus an additional snippet of information.


Are you intrigued by whales? If the answer is yes, find The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond. Every page delivers. This has become one of my favorite books.


Wonder what new titles I will find next?


2015 #pb10for10

10 for 10

Are you ready for the blogosphere to be raining picture book titles? Blogs everywhere will be listing the books they must share with students every year. These are books that will send you to Amazon or your favorite bookstore or a library as you search to find these gems you. just. gotta. have!

The books this year were new to me within the last two months. Some are from the library, some are my very own. In alphabetical order by author, I reveal my list of ten. Enjoy . . .

sophia1. One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail: Sophia sets about trying to convince her family she should get a giraffe for her birthday. She tries to persuade each member of the family with compelling information, but they inform her she is too verbose, effusive, and loquacious. What is the one word  that will get her her heart’s desire?

2. The Little “Read” Hen by Dianne de Las Casas: Little “Read” Hen wants to write a story. henWho will help her? Not the Dog. Not the Cat. Not the Pig. This book is filled with “fowl” language and the pictures must be studied carefully. Have you read Don’t Let the Chicken Drive the Tractor or Where the Wild Hens Are? The final page has the Write Recipe for a Story.

billy3. Billy’s Booger, a Memoir (sorta) by William Joyce: “Once upon a time, when TV was in black and white, and there were only three channels, and when kids didn’t have playdates – they just roamed free in the “out of doors” – there live a kid named Billy.” So the story begins and you learn that Billy (William Joyce) began his writing career in fourth grade. This is actually a double book because you also get another book inside titled Billy’s Booger, the memoir of a little green nose buddy.

4. Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathon London: Did you know that hippos are the most dangerous hipposanimal in Africa? This book is packed with facts about hippos and delivered with craft of a talented writer. The illustrations just beg you to study them for the details you can discover.

look5. Look! by Jeff Mack: Jeff Mack is a master at delivering a tale will limited words. This book uses look and out to tell the tale of a playful gorilla and an annoyed boy. You might want to check out Jeff Mack’s other books Ah Ha! and Good News, Bad News.

6. If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson: At first you think this is just plant seedanother circular tale and it’s about vegetables, so you might pass on this book. If you did that, you would be missing the opportunity to teach kindness vs. selfishness. Gorgeous pictures in this extra large book.

pitter patter7. Pitter and Patter by Martha Sullivan: Follow two raindrops, Pitter and Patter, that fall and take different journeys until they meet again in the cloud.

8. My Dog Is the Best by Laurie Ann Thompson: “My dog is the best. He best dogis fun. He plays ball. He plays tug. He plays chase.” What a great example of stating an opinion and giving supporting details. Simple drawings enhance the text. Perfect for sharing will the youngest of students.

help need title9. Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet: The characters are concerned that you have opened their book and they don’t quite know what to do with a reader. They don’t have a story, so they enlist help in creating a story. A very funny book with loads of voice.

10. You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple: Such a you nest hereperfect companion book to A Nest Is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long and Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward. The human mama tells her young one how mama and papa birds nest with their babies, but you nest here with me is a reoccurring line.

Hopefully you discovered a new title to put on your wish list. Now head over to Google Plus Community page to read more and link your own choices.



Thoughts on ILA

My brain simmered with new learning. My body exhausted from the pace of the previous four days. I needed down time, therefore, no slice last week. Now that time as passed, I’ve gathered some thoughts to share a few experiences from the ILA conference.

The pre-conference I attended was all about vocabulary. A day spent thinking about words and how do we get students to acquire these words. Should students look words up in a dictionary, write a definition, and a sentence? A resounding NO! from all speakers. Context is key to developing an understanding of new words.

Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger shared a format for writing a vocabulary word poem. I have attempted to define the ILA experience using their format. See if you can determine the structure.

An ILA conference gives you the opportunity to expand your learning.

The pace of your day will not be relaxed.

You get up close and personal with authors you adore.

Meals during the day are nonexistent. Pack a snack!

As your brain grows stronger, your muscles do too. Totes become loaded with books, strong shoulders and arm required. Miles are walked between sessions and throughout the exhibit area.

Book budgets explode. The plethora of books at your fingertips make it difficult to resist.

Should you ever have the opportunity to attend, grab it. You won’t regret it. 

Did you discover that the lines alternated from what it is to what it is not, with a concluding line? When students are able to give an example of what it is not, they process the word at a deeper level.

Here’s a glimpse of the books that came home with me. Some are signed by the author 🙂 and many will find their way into classroom libraries this year.

Nonfiction titles

Nonfiction titles

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Fiction titles I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Fiction titles
I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Sigh, what can I say? I love books!