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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Jane Yolen, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Insights Gleaned from Jane Yolen

A critical part of developing your craft as an author is research. Research involves a wide array of activities. It includes reading as much as you can in the genre you’re writing in. It involves attending writing conferences, networking with editors, agents and other authors. Part of it includes taking classes or reading the latest and greatest books on how to improve your writing. It also includes learning what other authors have to say on being an author.

As part of my recent research activities, I’ve been visiting the websites of some of my favorite children’s authors, one of which is the notorious and supremely talented Jane Yolen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read one of her books only to say to myself, “Wow! That’s exactly the kind of book I wish I had written.”

In reading Jane Yolen’s “Random thoughts on writing and on children’s books” found on her website, here are a few highlights that resonated with me.

“I generally do not think out plots or characters ahead of time… I want my own writing to surprise me, the way someone else’s book does.”

“Sometimes [a work in progress] seems promising, sometimes brilliant, sometimes just plain stupid. And that may be the same piece on alternate days.”

“Intuition works best when you remember that “tuition” is part of it.”

“Know this about being published: it is out of your hands. Even if you do everything you can think of to affect that outcome, you cannot make an editor take your work.”

And perhaps my favorite;

A writer puts words on a page. An author lives in story…  Learn to write not with blood and fear, but with joy.”

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2. Three Questions With Jane Yolen: Advice For Young Writers, Books, Tea and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME

For Part 1 of my YOU NEST HERE WITH ME series, please see Three Questions With Heidi Stemple.

Photo: Jason Stemple.

I was thrilled to meet Jane Yolen at a recent SCBWI conference, and even more excited when Jane read my f&g of Where Are My Books? and liked it (see photo at the very end of this interview). Jane Yolen is the renowned author of many children's books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Her books, poems and stories have won many awards, including the Caldecott Medal.

You can find Jane at her website, JaneYolen.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. She and her daughter Heidi Stemple run a Picture Book Boot Camp (next one is Sept. 10-13, 2015), which is a Master Class in her home:

Her newest book is YOU NEST HERE WITH ME, a picture book co-written with Heidi Stemple (see Heidi's Three Questions interview in Inkygirl.com earlier today) and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, published by Boyds Mill Press in March 2015.

Synopsis of YOU NEST HERE WITH ME:

This lyrical bedtime book is an ode to baby birds everywhere and to sleepy children, home safe in their own beds. As a mother describes how different species of birds nest, secure and cozy with their mama birds, she tucks her own child into bed with the soothing refrain, “you nest here with me”—easing her little one and readers alike to slumber. Perfect for a young audience, this poetic text begs to be read aloud, and is accompanied by Melissa Sweet’s incredibly warm and original art.

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

Photo: Heidi Stemple.

Like most writers, I have an enormous research library in my home and when I am working on a particular project, those books get scattered around my writing room.

As I am currently working on two very different manuscripts--one set in the Holocaust (the first section in the Lodz Ghetto) and the other a graphic novel trilogy set in 1930s Edinburgh, I chose to pick out a book from each of those piles to feature in the photograph. At the top is a day-by-day catalog of what happened during the ghetto years in Lodz, and in the second materials about Scotland through the ages. Fiction has to take the real and massage it into a story that nay (or may not) have actually happened. We recreate (hi)story and bring our readers along.

Photo: Heidi Stemple.

From Jane, about the photo above: "I can't seem to write without a cup of tea (British decaf with demarara sugar and a splash of Lactaid milk.) I keep making cuppas coming all day long."

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

Read, read, read.

Write something every day.

Never take no for an answer.

Don't believe your reviews--either good or bad.

Heart on the page.

Know that books are not just written, but rewritten.

(Above: Listen as Jane reads and critiques her very first poem)

 

Q. What are you excited about right now?


Two of my old books recently splashed out big: HOW DO DINOSAURS GET WELL SOON (Scholastic) won the Colorado One Book Award, and BAD GIRLS (Charlesbridge)--written with daughter Heidi Stemple--won the Magnolia Award, Mississippi's Children's Book Award for the middle grades. Plus the latest book Heidi and I just published--YOU NEST HERE WITH ME (Boyds Mills) with amazing illustrations by Melissa Sweet--has recently had a tremendous start and after only a month is getting a second printing.

But honestly, I am always most excited about the manuscript I am working on now. That's where my heart is, where my soul is. That is where my tomorrow is.

 

------
For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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3. Great Interview With Jane Yolen

Years ago, Jane Yolen was my on-line, secret mentor, which means I was kind of stalking her. I'm over that, but I'll still snatch an opportunity to take a look at an article about her.

Kirsti Call interviewed Jane Yolen at Writers' Rumpus, and both interviewer and interviewee were terrific. "How do you decide what to work on?" Great question. Yolen's response to the "What is your favorite book that you've written?" question. Excellent.

It was an interview that made me feel I was reading something new. Well, I was.

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4. Best New Kids Stories | March 2014

Wow! This is a great month for picture books—amazing picture book authors and sensational illustrators star in this month's new release kids books. Plus, The Penderwicks in Spring is here!

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5. Jane Yolen Presents Her Eponymous Mid-List Author Grant

After Lin leads us in a Happy Birthday serenade to Jane Yolen, Jane takes the podium.

Jane speaks about starting and re-starting careers, explaining the motivation for her establishing the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award.

This year there was an honoree (Jane Mitchell) and a winner, and the winner was here - Jane called Sanna Stanley up on stage to applause!




Congratulations to both Jane Mitchell and Sanna Stanley!

And you can find out more about the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant here.

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6. The LGBTQ Q&A

With conference faculty guest agent Tina Wexler, agent Jennifer Laughran, Art Director and Author Laurent Linn, Best-Selling and Award-Winning Author Jane Yolen, editor Emma Dryden and editor and publisher Arthur A. Levine, our group of more than forty attendees gathered to share and talk about  writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes in works for children and teens.

In moments ranging from hilarious to somber,  topics covered included picture book art notes (dos and don'ts), gender non-conformity, gender challenges in the English language, and the urgent need for more books with LGBTQ diversity.

At one point, an ally voiced a concern about writing from a queer perspective, and the consensus was to not hold back about writing from other points of view (outside your own.) To do your homework, to run it by people who are members of that community...

Arthur: "I urge you to not be self-conscious"

Jane: "In terms of getting it right. In terms of getting the feelings right."

It was a great conversation and the room was filled with a sense of warmth and community. We sat in a circle, each person sharing their name and what they're working on, with our conference faculty (and myself) chiming in with thoughts, advice and insights.

Once the session ended, many participants stayed to exchange contact information and mingle. The pictures are from that part of the evening:




I was honored to host - my thanks and appreciation to the panel and all the attendees!

Lee


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7. "When I'm Good, I'm Very Good. But When I'm Bad I'm Better."

 Mae West spoke those provocative lines in the movie I'm No Angel, and women have been identifying with it ever since. But women were bad a lot further back than that 1933 movie. Find twenty-six of the world's most notorious females in Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, with illustrations by Rebecca Guay.

Modern Times and Changing Gender Roles


If Salome dropped her veils today, would we call her bad? Or would we arrest her parents for a variety of crimes against a child? If Mata Hari made up a whole new self tomorrow and danced her way into a criminal lifestyle, would we execute her or send her to counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder? Would we encourage Lizzie Borden to move into her own apartment, Bloody Mary to establish an ecumenical council, and Typhoid Mary to take some nursing courses at a community college? Would we still consider these women bad? Or would we consider them victims of bad circumstances? As our world changes, so does our definition of bad. Especially when it comes to half the world's population--the half that happens to be female.

With women's relatively new rights--to speak out, to vote, to have power over their own bodies--comes a new set of responsibilities. Women are no longer required to do a man's bidding--no matter whether that bidding is legal or not. But no longer can a woman say that she was just followign a man and count that as justification for bad acts.

We measure guilt and innocence today on a sliding scale. And never has it been easier for the general public to "weigh" the misdeeds of its favorite modern-day bad girls. The nightly news, tabloids, blogs, and the fast pace of the Internet all make sure of this. Today, as throughout history, the court of public opinion is capable of swaying or tempering the criminal courts.

Now that you have been introduced to some of history's bad girls, you will have to decide for yourself if they were really bad, not so bad, or somewhere in the middle. And perhaps you will see that even the baddest of bad girls may have had a good reason for what she did.

from the Conclusion of Bad Girls

March is Women's History Month!

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8. Top 100 Picture Books #30: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

#30 Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (1987)
55 points

When I read this book, I can feel and hear the snow crunching under my feet. I can actually hear the silence. – Susan Lang

It seems appropriate that just as the weather warms up for summer we take one last plunge into winter at its deepest and darkest.  This wintery tale marks the appearance of yet another Caldecott Award winner on the list and there’s nothing better for evoking the chills brought on both by nocturnal cold, and the awe inspiring appearance of meticulously rendered wildlife.

The plot as described by Publishers Weekly reads, “A girl and her father go owling on a moonlit winter night near the farm where they live. Bundled tight in wool clothes, they trudge through snow ‘whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl’; here and there, hidden in ink-blue shadows, a fox, raccoon, fieldmouse and deer watch them pass. An air of expectancy builds as Pa imitates the Great Horned Owl’s call once without answer, then again. From out of the darkness ‘an echo/ came threading its way/ through the trees.’ Schoenherr’s watercolor washes depict a New England few readers see: the bold stare of a nocturnal owl, a bird’s-eye view of a farmhouse.”

In the Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature Ms. Yolen is described as, “one of today’s most prolific and experimental writers of fairy tales.”  Because the entry is primarily concentrating on her work as it applies to the story The Lady and the Merman.  So it’s funny that while Norton’s mentions her various books, it doesn’t whisper a word about the fact that her book Owl Moon won a Caldecott.  It reads instead that, “She writes with grace and painstaking care to create tales that evoke the atmosphere of long ago and other worlds, employing metaphors and symbols in unusual combinations that produce new associations.”  And then here today we instead find picture book that is realism incarnate.

In fact, in Cullinan and Galda’s Literature and the  Child (5th edition) the book gives Owl Moon a close look specifically in a section called “Contemporary Realistic Fiction”.  Says the title, “The story is deceptively simple, for poetic prose evokes powerful images of the cold, dark winter night, the silence, the beauty of the woods white with snow, and the adventure that child and father undertake.”  And in terms of the Caldecott winning illustrations Cullinan and Galda go on to say, “His [Schoenherr’s] pictures correspond to what the text is saying, but they also transcend it.  His use of light and white space is extraordinary, making the dark spruce woods and winter night seem lit from within.  In most of the pictures the father and child are small, insignificant intruders in the forest of towering trees and pristine snow.”

Does the name “Schoenherr” sound oddly familiar to you?  Do you have the vague feeling that you’ve seen it on books recently, though perhaps not with the first name “John”?  Perhaps you are familiar with a talented young man by the name of Ian Schoenherr then.  An artist of uncommon talents, Ian is the son of John and has put out such laudable books as Cat & Mouse and (now on bookstore shelves) the unbelievably useful to children’s librarians Read It, Don’t Eat It.

In terms of Owl Moon, Jane’s website allows you to see the

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9. 2 New Hanukkah Books

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 5, 2012

In case you’re looking for some new books to spice up your “Books that Celebrate Hanukkah” collection, here are two titles that we think you’ll love reading (and cooking with) as you celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Maccabee Meals: food and Fun for Hanukkah

By Judye Groner & Madeline Wikler; Illustrated by Ursula Roma

Reading level: Ages 5-10

Paperback: 64 pages

Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing (August 1, 2012)

Chow your way through Chanukah with this kid-friendly cookbook that provides recipes for eight kinds of latkes (and much more), crafts and games for eight themed parties, and tidbits of factual information about the holiday itself.  Illustrated dreidels highlight the degree of difficulty for each recipe: One dreidel means no cooking or baking is required. Two dreidels means the recipe may require chopping or slicing. Three dreidels means a hot stove is used to boil or fry. Safety tips are party etiquette are offered up, too. Here comes Chanukkah! Use this cookbook and you’ll have so much funukah! And … don’t forget your yamaka!

How Do dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?

By Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Mark Teague

Reading level: Ages 0-4

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (September 1, 2012)

This bestselling writer and illustrator duo hit the spot (AGAIN!) with their zippy rhymes and entertaining illustrations. Gigantic dinosaurs with their juvenile and mischievous antics take the edge off  any holiday tension and manage to encourage good behavior. A lesson in manners and a laugh, what more could you ask for? This book is a guaranteed must-read all eight nights of Chanukah.

Looking for more Hanukkah books? Try our lists from previous years:

8 Hanukkah books: One for Each Day

Kids’ Hanukkah Books: One for Each Night

Original article: 2 New Hanukkah Books

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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10. Christmas Books: Five of the Best New Gift Books for Christmas

By Bianca SchulzeThe Children’s Book Review
Published: December 6, 2012

The Christmas Quiet Book

By Deborah Underwood; Illustrated by Renata Liwska

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (October 16, 2012)

It’s impossible to keep quiet any longer. It just has to be shouted loudly to everyone: We love the winning combination of Deborah Underwood’s sweet and pitch-perfect “quiet” holiday moments and Renata Liwska’s gentle and charming drawings that make you wish you could reach into the pages and give each and every character a warm embrace. Make a little book bundle and include the original The Quiet Book and The Loud Book—three books and a piece of ribbon and you have the perfect gift for any young child—go the extra mile and tie a little stuffy on top, too.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

By Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Mark teague

Reading level: Ages 0-4

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (September 1, 2012)

Get ready to roar with laughter with your preschooler. The bestselling combo Jane Yolen and Mark Teague are back again with their winning “How Do Dinosaurs” series. The oversized, egocentric, juvenile dinosaurs wreak havoc through the house for the first half of the picture book—they have no regard for the special traditions of Christmas. As per usual, good behavior is highlighted in the second half and a lesson of “how not to act” is delivered brilliantly. This is a must-have Christmas book, especially for fans of prehistoric animals.

Christmas Magic

By Kirsten Hall; Illustrated by Simon Mendez

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Hardcover: 20 pages

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (October 2, 2012)

With lyrical verses that have a nostalgic quality and a unique art form that allows every painted illustration to change with a simple pull of a tab, this is a Christmas book that will hold an audience captivated.

The Nutcracker: A Magic Theatre Book

By Geraldine McCaughrean; Illustrated by Kristina Swarner

Reading level: Ages 2-7

Hardcover: 24 pages

Publisher: Chronicle Books (October 3, 2012)

We can’t resist the magical movement of this new take on The Nutcracker. Large die-cut board pages have been made to be handled and allow the cast of characters to literally dance there way through the story. This Nutcracker version gets our vote based on the delightful illustrations and inventive paper-engineering—”A Magic Theatre Book” is definitely the write description.

Stable in Bethlehem: A Countdown to Christmas

By Joy N. Hulme; Illustrated by Dan Andreasen

Reading level: Ages 1-3

Board book: 22 pages

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books; Brdbk edition (October 1, 2012)

Not just a numbers primer for babies and toddlers, the stunning artwork of Dan Andreasen and Joy N. Hulme’s gentle rhymes also introduce the littlest readers to the religious beginnings of Christmas.

Looking for more suggestions? Try our lists from previous years:

20 of the Best Kids Christmas Books

Christmas Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

Original article: Christmas Books: Five of the Best New Gift Books for Christmas

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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11. LGBTQ&A

Since 2008, SCBWI has hosted an invaluable LGBTQ&A at their national conferences.  Hosted by Lee Wind (I’m here. I’m queer. What the hell do I read?), the LGBTQ&A is a great place for writers and illustrators to talk with editors, agents, and authors about issues and the current market for stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming or questioning youth characters and themes. 




This year the panel was honored to welcome Jane Yolen, (author of over 300 books for children and teens), Bruce Coville, Ellen Hopkins, and editor Michael Strother. In the opening remarks, Jane was asked about her book SISTER LIGHT, SISTER DARK where she offered insights into the matriarchal society in the story. She was followed by Bruce Coville who when talking about AM I BLUE? said that some people didn’t think humor had a place in LGBTQ. But Bruce pointed out that laughter could be an entry point on the topic.

It was a great segue into Ellen Hopkins’s comments about normalizing through books. There was a heart wrenching moment when she talked about the struggle of some kids and teens, about suicide and depression because of bullying or confusion or lack of acceptance. And Ellen said that until we get to a place where kids are no longer killing themselves, we as authors need to keep writing about LGBTQ topics. Normalizing through books

The panel got into a discussion on craft, and Jane told the attendees that their characters should come about organically. Let them tell you their story. Michael, an editor at Simon Pulse, told the group that it’s important that their characters have other attributes, and that they’re not just gay. Make them real, fleshed-out people. 


Towards the end, a great Q&A session helped the large group of attendees get specific answers to their writing questions. It was comfortable and exciting, and writers and illustrators were able to stay after to talk privately with the panel. 






For more information and book recommendations, visit:

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12. The Autograph Party

Almost the moment Mo Willems' keynote speech ended, people started lining up to get their books signed and we kid you not, the line ran the length of a football field (that's 100 yards, for those of you unfamiliar with the sport, or 91.44 meters if you're Canadian).

It's no wonder people are so excited to have their books inscribed, when you share the room with the likes of Julie Andrews, Mo Willems, Shaun Tan, Jane Yolen, Tomie dePaolo ...

We could and should go on, but we'll let the pictures speak for themselves. 

Mo Willems

Shaun Tan fans standing in a queue (do they say that in Australia?)

Shaun Tan

Mark Teague and Floyd Cooper

Meg Rosoff and David Ezra Stein

Lin Oliver and Theo Baker

Tomie DePaola and Jane Yolen

Margaret Peterson Haddix and Matthew Kirby

Arthur Levine is a full-service editor. Here, he's opening
the book to the right page for an inscription.














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13. Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? and Other Prehistoric Picture Books

In Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? young Dave's uneventful trip to the museum takes an unlikely and entertaining twist. From the book's inside flap:

Dad takes Dave to the museum to see the dinosaurs. Dad is sure he knows all there is to know about these amazing creatures. But soon Dave gets the feeling that Dad has one hugely important fact very, very wrong.

Because, you see, as Dad and Davey pass each dino, the dino seems to come to life!

This is one of those terrific books that relies upon dramatic irony via the illustrations, because Julie Middleton's text doesn't let on to what's happening. Young readers, however, can certainly see for themselves that toes, tails, and terrible jaws are moving! During a read-aloud, a "knowing" adult will wisely avoid  being in on the joke, as children love to scream and point out the "secrets" that adults (because of their advanced age and failing eyesight) apparently don't notice for themselves.

Artist Russell Ayto's whimsical images are half the fun, showing us giant-headed monsters balanced on impossibly tiny legs. The creatures' equally understated, overstated, and improbably body part dimensions are fun to discuss as well. The format is large, with plenty of open space on each spreads that lends credibility to the size of the space and the dinosaurs themselves.

And this fantastic book can be yours! Peachtree Publishers is offering a giveaway copy of Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? to one lucky winner. 

Simply email me at keithschoch at gmail dot com (using standard email format) with the phrase Dinosaurs Live! and you're entered! That's it. No need to jump through any more hoops! Following the blog (to the left) would be appreciated (and you would be in some really good company), but is by no means necessary. 

Contest is open to US only, and ends Friday, March 1st, 11:59 PM EST.

Below you'll find some terrific companion books with activity extensions that could work equally well with Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? In addition to being mistaken about dinos, some adults are also mistaken in thinking you can ever have enough dinosaur books!

Cretaceous Companions
For the younger set, Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow is a wonderful combination of a dino book and a first-day-of-school-jitters book. Harry's toy dinos help him makes new friends, and even assist another shy boy in acclimating to his new surroundings. Adrian Reynolds' bright and sunny illustrations are perfect for sharing and discussing during read-alouds. Check out other titles in this series including Harry and the Dinosaurs Say, "Raahh!" and Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs.

Extensions:
  • Students can bring in one of their own "prized possessions" and discuss what makes it special. 
  • Students might want to create their own simple paper plate dinosaurs, which can be displayed with a colorful bucket on the bulletin board. 
  • Students could imagine that they have a real, live dinosaur for a pet. How would that work? How would you feed him? Where would he sleep?
  • Looking for a fun and easy cooking project? Check out these fossil cookies.

Marvelous, Monstrous Models
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley with illustrations by Brian Selznick ("many of which are based on the original sketches of Mr. Hawkins"). Working with scientist Richard Owens, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins wanted to create such perfect models of dinosaurs that anyone who gazed at his creations would see into the past. By using just the bits and pieces of fossils, bones, and teeth that had been found by early palaeontologists, Waterhouse filled in "gaps" by thinking of existing animals which the dinosaurs might have resembled. This book chronicles his triumphal premiere in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham Park (when tens of thousands of spectators, including the Queen, gaped in wonder at his creatures), as well as his tragedy in Central Park (when vandals under the vindictive order of Boss Tweed destroyed his dinosaurs destined for the Americans). Although we now realize that many of Waterhouse's guesses were somewhat inaccurate, no one can dispute his ability to light the imaginations of the thousands who viewed his works.

For more explorations into what we've learned about dinosaurs since the earliest days of their discovery, check out Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs by Kathleen Kudlinksi and S.D.Schindler.A terrific book for helping students understand that science never rests!

Extensions:
  • Students can use clay to design their own dinosaurs. They don't need to sculpt one specific, real-life dino; instead, they should simply use their imaginations to create an original prehistoric monster. Since scientist continue to discover new dinosaurs all the time, who's to say what the next dino discovery might look like?
  • Students might also enjoy building their own prehistoric pasta pets. Show students pictures of assembled dino skeletons in museums. Explain that while these models take many years to collect, piece together, and display, today students will create their own models using pasta as bones. Given a wide variety of different pasta shapes, students can assemble their own dinos by gluing their selected noodles to black construction paper. Once partially dry, the pasta will need a second coat to affix it well to the paper. 
  • For a look at how those dinosaurs get to the museum, check out the book (coincidentally called) How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland. This book explains how dinosaur bones go from the earth to you, the museum visitor, via fourteen other people, who are named and collected in a House-that-Jack-Built type progression.
Bold and Beautiful
A wonderful abecedarium can be discovered in An Alphabet of Dinosaurs by Peter Dodson, with paintings by Wayne D. Barlowe. Familiar favorites mix with newcomer neighbors on full spreads that features two text sections (one for emerging readers and another for fluent readers) and a full color illustration. The vivid and uniquely imagined colors and patterns of these dinos is what caught my eye when I first viewed this book. In the books' introduction we read: "The paintings in this book show the dinosaurs as we now think of them. Gone is the image of slow-moving giants. Gone is the picture of tail-dragging lizards. Instead, we see vibrant, active dinosaurs living in a world filled with brightly colored animals and plants.

Extensions: 
  • Taking a cue from this book, students can create their own unique dino patterns on simple coloring sheets. They can either color with vivid colors (danger! stay back!, bold colors (look at me!), muted colors (I need to hide), or patterns which create camouflage (to avoid being seen by prey or predator).
  • Older students can be given a simple white dino silhouette (shape) and a variety of a magazine from which to choose pictures. After choosing a large picture which can serve as a background, students will color in their dino shape to camouflage into the background.
Dino for a Day
In Jim Murphy's Dinosaur for a Day, older readers can explore a typical day in the life of a Hypsilophodon, a 90 pound herd animal that depended upon its wits and its companions for survival. Additional information from the author precedes and follows this din's "biography," providing for a complete profile of one specific creature. Mark Alan Weatherby's gorgeous paintings put us at dinosaur's-eye view with our surroundings, a perspective rarely seen in other dino books.

Extensions:
  • Have each student choose a dinosaur, and write about "a day in the life of..." Students may need to do some research on which dinosaurs lived in which period, and many students may discover that their dinos and their friends' dinos might have shared the same habitats!
  • Instead of a dinosaur, have students choose any other animal (or use an animal they've already researched). Require that students illustrate their "daily routine" with view that would be seen from their critter's perspective.
  • Create dino fossils in the classroom.
Modern Monsters
What if dinosaurs were alive today? How would our daily lives be different? In If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today, author Dougal Dixon answers that question with frightening predictions of predatory sea creatures that hunt sperm whales, and tyrannosaurs that terrorize longhorns. The photo-realistic illustrations are amazing as they juxtapose the prehistoric past with the present.
Can you picture yourself flying in a jet across peaceful skies, and suddenly seeing a Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur with the wingspan exceeding a small airplane? Can you imagine seeing your trashcan tipped over at the curb, not by a raccoon or even a coyote, but a scavenging carnivorous dino called Coelophysis? Students will love the retouched photos, so disturbingly realistic that one might begin to wonder, "What are the chances of the dinosaurs coming back?"

Extensions:
  • Challenge students to draw dinosaurs in modern day settings. How would their traits and habits affect their interactions with people?
  • Challenge students to put dinos to work. If they existed today, how could their size and strength be helpful to humans?
Wordless Wonders
Two clever books that tell neat dino tales are Time Flies by Eric Rohmann and Chalk by Bill Thomson.

Extensions:
  • The wordless format of both books offers the perfect opportunity for students to tell their own stories. Students can "write" similar books as a group, and tell their own stories.
  • Students might also be challenged to write the tales they "see" using poetry rather than prose.
How Do Dinosaurs...
From Jane Yolen and Mark Teague come the fantastic series of How Do Dinosaurs... books including How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Kids will love all the dinos that Mark Teague includes, and they'll also appreciate the funny and fun-to-recite rhymes of Jane Yolen.

Extension:
  • Brainstorm a How to... problem with the class and write a similar story as a group, or challenge pairs or teams to come up with their own ideas (focusing on social skills seems to work well here).

Don't forget to enter to win!



1 Comments on Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? and Other Prehistoric Picture Books, last added: 2/22/2013
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14. Compiling Rigorous Thematic Text Sets

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

One aspect of the Common Core that I get asked questions about all the time is thematic text sets.  What are they?  How do you know which books to use?  What types of texts should you be pairing together?

Fear not!  I’ve compiled some examples of text sets that cover one topic and span multiple genres and reading levels and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these sets with you.  Some of the titles you may already have in your classroom library, and others I think you’ll enjoy discovering.

A-Full-Moon-Is-Rising

Theme/topic:  The Moon

Grade: 2nd

Informational Text:  The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons (Shared Reading)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • can be used to address informational text standards

Nonfiction Poetry:  A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer  (Read Aloud)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • provides information regarding moon-related festivals, traditions, holidays, and celebrations
  • can be used to address informational text and literature standards

Realistic Fiction: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen  (Guided Reading)

  • the moon plays a central role in the setting of the story
  • can be used to address literature standards

Realistic Fiction:  Surprise Moon by Caroline Hatton (Independent Reading)

  • discusses celebrations and festivals related to the moon 
  • can be used to address literature standards
from A Full Moon is Rising

from A Full Moon is Rising

What books would you put on this list?  Add your favorites in the comments!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Resources Tagged: A Full Moon is Rising, Book Lists, Caroline Hatton, common core standards, common core text sets, fiction, Gail Gibbons, guided reading, independent reading, informational text, Jane Yolen, literacy tips, Marilyn Singer, Nonfiction poetry, Owl Moon, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, realistic fiction, shared reading, Surprise Moon, text sets, The Moon Book

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15. U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate: ‘Poetry should be read out loud even if you are all alone in a room.’

Happy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with J. Patrick Lewis, the United States’ current children’s poet laureate.

Lewis (pictured, via) worked as an economics professor for many years. The sighting of a moonbow (a white rainbow) inspired him to write his first children’s story.

He has since gone on to write more than eighty books and has collaborated with other respected members of the industry including prolific children’s writer Jane Yolen, illustrator Sophie Blackall, and artist Michael Slack.

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. David L Harrison – Poetry, Anthologies, Educational Books and IRA

Just thought I would point out why I’ve started posting interviews with published authors – Answer: I feel writers can gain useful information and ideas of what others have done to get published and maybe use something talked about during the interview to further your career. In this post I ask David L Harrison, who has over 90 children’s picture books published, about the anthologies he has participated in and educational books he has written to help children learn to read.  I hope this interview sparks some new ideas for you.

Lets Write Teacher Guide240KATHY: Can you tell us about the journey you and your book “Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison” took to get published? 

DAVID:

I’m the poet laureate for Drury University, which implies that I should do something to promote poetry in particular or writing in general. While brainstorming for a project, one wag compared me to Mister Rogers and suggested that the university should create some sort of electronic program with me providing writing talk for kids based on my forty years of experience. The notion caught on.

We tested the idea with me in a classroom visiting with a student, reading a poem or two, and offering advice. We quickly LetsWriteJournal240acquired a producer, a studio, and Drury’s backing for the cost of professionally producing twenty DVD sessions. I wrote scripts divided into four tips each on five subjects: getting started, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and revising. Each video session lasts five minutes and is meant to be shown in the classroom to help set the stage for the teacher’s follow-up lesson.

Dr. Lauren Edmondson (interim director of the School of Education and Child Development at Drury) joined me in writing a teachers’ guide and a student writing journal to accompany the DVDs. She will also teach a graduate credit course on “Let’s Write” for those who wish to enroll online.

We’ve come a long way from the original, casual suggestion and I’m proud of the result. The kit – 20 video sessions, 1 Teachers’ Guide, 20 Student Writing Journals, and 3 of my trade books used as examples in the guide –retails for $499.00 and will be introduced at the International Reading Association annual conference in San Antonio beginning April 19. The goal is to place the kit into elementary schools as an aide to teaching writing in grades 3-5.

KATHY: I see your poetry has been included in a number of anthologies during the last two years. Did these opportunities come to you from your blog?

DAVID:

Probably a few did. My blog has 1,200+ followers and I’ve made many friends since this blog journey began in 2009. However it happens, I was in half a dozen last year plus about that many slated for 2013.

dare-to-dreamKATHY: Do authors make any money when they are included in an anthology or do people mostly do it for exposure?

DAVID:

Money? Nah. It’s fun, though, to be invited to join a group of other poets to make a new book. The editor who pulls it all together might make money if the book sells. I always hope they do! But to a certain extent this current wave of anthologies is the answer for poets to want to get their work out there where readers might see it. The poet receives a flat fee per poem or a royalty based on sales. In royalty cases, the more poets, the smaller the piece of the pie.

KATHY: How did you connect with Jill Corcoran for Dare to Dream…Change the World anthology?

DAVID:

She sent me an invitation to participate in the book she was planning. I was paired with Jane Yolen. We each wrote a poem about a young boy named Nicholas Cobb, who made a difference in the lives of others by raising money to buy coats for children in a shelter. Here’s the link to Nicholas’s website:http://www.comfortandjoytexas.org The book has already was selected as a winner for the 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society Award!

KATHY: How did the series of books with Shell Education develop?

DAVID:

dhl-and-mjfMary Jo Fresch is a professor at Ohio State University with special research interests in Spelling/Word Study, Children’s Literature, and Early Literacy. We wanted to do a book together and settled on using poetry to help preK-1 kids develop reading skills. We worked on the manuscript for some time and eventually shared it with Dona Rice at Shell Education. She and the staff liked the idea and suggested that we divide the approach into five parts: short vowels, long vowels, consonants, rimes, and consonant blends. That required me to write a total of 96 poems, each based on a distinct sound that needed to be modeled as part of that week’s lesson. Mary Jo wrote the introductory text and provided clever, practical classroom activities to follow each poem.

The last step was to record all 96 poems on CDs that are attached inside the back covers of each book. Mary Jo and I were flown to California for the recording in a studio near Shell headquarters. It was a day filled with good vibes and laughter.

KATHY: Can you tell us a little bit about Shell Education? And in what way is IRA involved?

DAVID:

ShortVowelsShell Education and its sister publishing imprint, Teacher Created Materials, is a strong member of the educational publishing industry. Everyone on the staff is a former teacher and that means that they understand what goes on in the classroom. They are always searching for ways to respond to the needs of teachers and their books reflect that partnership. I love working with them. Another favorite of mine is Tori Bachman at International Reading Association. Tori wears a lot of hats, including book acquisitions. Thanks to discussions between Tori and Dona, IRA is co-branding “Learning through Poetry” so that we appear in both catalogs. How cool is that!

KATHY: Would you be able to share part of one of your “Learning through Poetry” books with us?

Rimes DAVID:

Mary Jo and I will give a 55 minute presentation at IRA on this subject to help teachers see how to apply our approach in their classrooms. It begins with a poem. My job was to make sure that this was a collection of poetry for young children, not a group of sing-songy, didactic lesson-poems. In every case I began by making a list of words with the sound I needed. After staring at the list long enough, sooner or later an idea would begin to form. From there it was a matter of writing a poem the same way I always do except for the restriction of using words with the same sound as much as possible.

For example: “ack” became: 

SNAKE ATTACK

When my brother
needs a snack,
he opens every
box and pack,
gobbles every
pile and stack,
empties every
jar and sack,
looks like he
could pop
or crack,
but soon
his snack
attack
is back.

And “ing” became

TEMPTATION

Money in my pocket,
Ching a-ching ching.
What will it buy me?
Thing a-thing thing.
Might buy a cell phone,
Ring a-ring ring.
Might buy a bracelet,
Bling a-bling bling.
Might buy a chicken,
Wing a-wing wing.
Might buy an ice cream,
Ding a-ding ding.
Might buy a CD,
Sing a-sing sing.
Money in my pocket,
Ching a-ching ching!

I’ve written my share of poems inspired by a picture, a conversation, a thought, even one word. Starting from a single sound was an entertaining challenge!

A Perfect Home for a Family240KATHY: Is your new book from Holiday House titled “A Perfect Home for a Family” available for purchase?

DAVID:

Yes, as of March 1. Four years ago we had raccoons in our attic. They drove us nuts with their nightly stirrings. We fussed and fumed and finally had the roof torn off and replaced. Later I realized that from the raccoons’ perspective, we must have been quite a nuisance too. That notion is what drives the story, which is wonderfully illustrated by Italian artist Roberta Angaramo. Sometimes it pays to see things from the other fella’s side!

KATHY: What are you working on now?

DAVID:

I have a series of three poetry books going, one each for grades 3-5; three collections of original poems for trade publishers; and a new picture book trying to find its best form.

KATHY: Do you have any words of wisdom for the authors and poets who visit this blog?

poetrybookDAVID:

Thanks for having me, Kathy. And thanks again for creating my website and blog spot. I didn’t set out to blog but I’ve met a lot of nice people that way.

As for advice? Old timers must guard against reminiscing about the good old days. It took me six years to sell my first piece back in the 60s so I can’t imagine that today’s market is any tougher than that! It’s different, for sure, and anyone who aspires to see his/her name on the cover of a book should spend whatever time it takes to become familiar with the current market. I preach patience. Set goals that you can reach and climb on their backs like ladder rungs as you move farther and farther up toward success. Lastly, make it your best. I’d rather write one story well than ten stories poorly. Editors feel that way too.

Thank you David for answering my interview questions and thank you for sharing so much of your poetry expertise on your blog www.davidlharrison.wordpress.com Here is David’s Website address: www.davidlharrison.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, Interview, poetry Tagged: David L Harrison, Globel Society Award, Jane Yolen, Jill Corcoran, Let's Write Kit, Mary Jo Fresch, Shell Education

0 Comments on David L Harrison – Poetry, Anthologies, Educational Books and IRA as of 4/4/2013 12:25:00 AM
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17. David L Harrison – Poetry, Anthologies, Educational Books and IRA

Just thought I would point out why I’ve started posting interviews with published authors – Answer: I feel writers can gain useful information and ideas of what others have done to get published and maybe use something talked about during the interview to further your career. In this post I ask David L Harrison, who has over 90 children’s picture books published, about the anthologies he has participated in and educational books he has written to help children learn to read.  I hope this interview sparks some new ideas for you.

Lets Write Teacher Guide240KATHY: Can you tell us about the journey you and your book “Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison” took to get published? 

DAVID:

I’m the poet laureate for Drury University, which implies that I should do something to promote poetry in particular or writing in general. While brainstorming for a project, one wag compared me to Mister Rogers and suggested that the university should create some sort of electronic program with me providing writing talk for kids based on my forty years of experience. The notion caught on.

We tested the idea with me in a classroom visiting with a student, reading a poem or two, and offering advice. We quickly LetsWriteJournal240acquired a producer, a studio, and Drury’s backing for the cost of professionally producing twenty DVD sessions. I wrote scripts divided into four tips each on five subjects: getting started, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and revising. Each video session lasts five minutes and is meant to be shown in the classroom to help set the stage for the teacher’s follow-up lesson.

Dr. Lauren Edmondson (interim director of the School of Education and Child Development at Drury) joined me in writing a teachers’ guide and a student writing journal to accompany the DVDs. She will also teach a graduate credit course on “Let’s Write” for those who wish to enroll online.

We’ve come a long way from the original, casual suggestion and I’m proud of the result. The kit – 20 video sessions, 1 Teachers’ Guide, 20 Student Writing Journals, and 3 of my trade books used as examples in the guide –retails for $499.00 and will be introduced at the International Reading Association annual conference in San Antonio beginning April 19. The goal is to place the kit into elementary schools as an aide to teaching writing in grades 3-5.

KATHY: I see your poetry has been included in a number of anthologies during the last two years. Did these opportunities come to you from your blog?

DAVID:

Probably a few did. My blog has 1,200+ followers and I’ve made many friends since this blog journey began in 2009. However it happens, I was in half a dozen last year plus about that many slated for 2013.

dare-to-dreamKATHY: Do authors make any money when they are included in an anthology or do people mostly do it for exposure?

DAVID:

Money? Nah. It’s fun, though, to be invited to join a group of other poets to make a new book. The editor who pulls it all together might make money if the book sells. I always hope they do! But to a certain extent this current wave of anthologies is the answer for poets to want to get their work out there where readers might see it. The poet receives a flat fee per poem or a royalty based on sales. In royalty cases, the more poets, the smaller the piece of the pie.

KATHY: How did you connect with Jill Corcoran for Dare to Dream…Change the World anthology?

DAVID:

She sent me an invitation to participate in the book she was planning. I was paired with Jane Yolen. We each wrote a poem about a young boy named Nicholas Cobb, who made a difference in the lives of others by raising money to buy coats for children in a shelter. Here’s the link to Nicholas’s website:http://www.comfortandjoytexas.org The book has already was selected as a winner for the 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society Award!

KATHY: How did the series of books with Shell Education develop?

DAVID:

dhl-and-mjfMary Jo Fresch is a professor at Ohio State University with special research interests in Spelling/Word Study, Children’s Literature, and Early Literacy. We wanted to do a book together and settled on using poetry to help preK-1 kids develop reading skills. We worked on the manuscript for some time and eventually shared it with Dona Rice at Shell Education. She and the staff liked the idea and suggested that we divide the approach into five parts: short vowels, long vowels, consonants, rimes, and consonant blends. That required me to write a total of 96 poems, each based on a distinct sound that needed to be modeled as part of that week’s lesson. Mary Jo wrote the introductory text and provided clever, practical classroom activities to follow each poem.

The last step was to record all 96 poems on CDs that are attached inside the back covers of each book. Mary Jo and I were flown to California for the recording in a studio near Shell headquarters. It was a day filled with good vibes and laughter.

KATHY: Can you tell us a little bit about Shell Education? And in what way is IRA involved?

DAVID:

ShortVowelsShell Education and its sister publishing imprint, Teacher Created Materials, is a strong member of the educational publishing industry. Everyone on the staff is a former teacher and that means that they understand what goes on in the classroom. They are always searching for ways to respond to the needs of teachers and their books reflect that partnership. I love working with them. Another favorite of mine is Tori Bachman at International Reading Association. Tori wears a lot of hats, including book acquisitions. Thanks to discussions between Tori and Dona, IRA is co-branding “Learning through Poetry” so that we appear in both catalogs. How cool is that!

KATHY: Would you be able to share part of one of your “Learning through Poetry” books with us?

Rimes DAVID:

Mary Jo and I will give a 55 minute presentation at IRA on this subject to help teachers see how to apply our approach in their classrooms. It begins with a poem. My job was to make sure that this was a collection of poetry for young children, not a group of sing-songy, didactic lesson-poems. In every case I began by making a list of words with the sound I needed. After staring at the list long enough, sooner or later an idea would begin to form. From there it was a matter of writing a poem the same way I always do except for the restriction of using words with the same sound as much as possible.

For example: “ack” became: 

SNAKE ATTACK

When my brother
needs a snack,
he opens every
box and pack,
gobbles every
pile and stack,
empties every
jar and sack,
looks like he
could pop
or crack,
but soon
his snack
attack
is back.

And “ing” became

TEMPTATION

Money in my pocket,
Ching a-ching ching.
What will it buy me?
Thing a-thing thing.
Might buy a cell phone,
Ring a-ring ring.
Might buy a bracelet,
Bling a-bling bling.
Might buy a chicken,
Wing a-wing wing.
Might buy an ice cream,
Ding a-ding ding.
Might buy a CD,
Sing a-sing sing.
Money in my pocket,
Ching a-ching ching!

I’ve written my share of poems inspired by a picture, a conversation, a thought, even one word. Starting from a single sound was an entertaining challenge!

A Perfect Home for a Family240KATHY: Is your new book from Holiday House titled “A Perfect Home for a Family” available for purchase?

DAVID:

Yes, as of March 1. Four years ago we had raccoons in our attic. They drove us nuts with their nightly stirrings. We fussed and fumed and finally had the roof torn off and replaced. Later I realized that from the raccoons’ perspective, we must have been quite a nuisance too. That notion is what drives the story, which is wonderfully illustrated by Italian artist Roberta Angaramo. Sometimes it pays to see things from the other fella’s side!

KATHY: What are you working on now?

DAVID:

I have a series of three poetry books going, one each for grades 3-5; three collections of original poems for trade publishers; and a new picture book trying to find its best form.

KATHY: Do you have any words of wisdom for the authors and poets who visit this blog?

poetrybookDAVID:

Thanks for having me, Kathy. And thanks again for creating my website and blog spot. I didn’t set out to blog but I’ve met a lot of nice people that way.

As for advice? Old timers must guard against reminiscing about the good old days. It took me six years to sell my first piece back in the 60s so I can’t imagine that today’s market is any tougher than that! It’s different, for sure, and anyone who aspires to see his/her name on the cover of a book should spend whatever time it takes to become familiar with the current market. I preach patience. Set goals that you can reach and climb on their backs like ladder rungs as you move farther and farther up toward success. Lastly, make it your best. I’d rather write one story well than ten stories poorly. Editors feel that way too.

Thank you David for answering my interview questions and thank you for sharing so much of your poetry expertise on your blog www.davidlharrison.wordpress.com Here is David’s Website address: www.davidlharrison.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, Interview, poetry Tagged: David L Harrison, Globel Society Award, Jane Yolen, Jill Corcoran, Let's Write Kit, Mary Jo Fresch, Shell Education

8 Comments on David L Harrison – Poetry, Anthologies, Educational Books and IRA, last added: 4/30/2013
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18. Quote of the Week: Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen Quote


0 Comments on Quote of the Week: Jane Yolen as of 8/10/2013 3:42:00 AM
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19. Quote of the Week: Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen Quote


0 Comments on Quote of the Week: Jane Yolen as of 8/11/2013 2:46:00 PM
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20. COMINGS & GOINGS: The Rochester Children’s Book Festival, November 16th

I’ve always heard great things about the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, but never got invited. I tried to weasel an invitation a few years back (clever Cynthia DeFelice reference), but that went nowhere. Finally, at last, I wore ‘em down. Good thing, too, because I’m hoping to promote my SCARY TALES series as well as, you know, meet some kindred, book-loving spirits. So if you are near the area — a teacher, a librarian, or merely a stalker — please stop by and say hello.

Some of the many authors & illustrators who’ll be there: MJ & Herm Auch, Julie Berry, Michael Buckley, Peter Catalanotto, Bruce Coville, Cynthia DeFelice, Jeff Mack, Daniel Mahoney, Matt McElligott, Linda Sue Park, Matt Phelan, Robin Pulver, Jane Yolen, Paul O. Zelinsky, and more.

Holy crap! What a list of luminaries! My knees are sweating already. I better pack a clean shirt.

I’m looking forward to it, with thanks to my publisher, the kind folks at Macmillan, for putting me up with a family of Armenian immigrants at a nearby trailer park for the weekend. I just hope they remember to roll out the red carpet. Remember, I’ll only eat the blue M & M’s.

Happily, the event places me in close proximity to my oldest son, Nick, who attends Geneseo College. And by “attends” I mean, I certainly hope so!

Over Halloween, he and some friends decided to go as “Dads.” I functioned in an advisory capacity, the content of which he politely ignored. My big idea was to get a Darth Vader helmet and cape, then pull on one of those t-shirts that reads: “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD!”

Because, you know, irony!

Anyway, check it out. Nick is the one in shorts, pulled up white socks, bad mustache, and “Lucky Dad” hat. Hysterical, right?

Lastly, hey, if you happen to be in Elmira, NY, on November 6th, or Richmond, VA, on November 13, you can catch a lively, fast-paced musical based on my book, Jigsaw Jones #12: The Case of the Class Clown.

I did get to see it a few years ago, with a knot of dread in my stomach, and came away relieved and impressed. Everyone involved did a great job and, to be honest, the story is sweet, too.

Here’s the info on Richmond, VA (where, coincidentally, I’ll be visiting middle schools in early December, mostly giving my patented “Bystander/Anti-Bullying/Author ” presentation. Anyway, the info I promised:

Families, elementary schools and preschools are encouraged to make reservations soon for performances of a children’s show.

A 55-minute performance of “Jigsaw Jones and the Case of the Class Clown” will be performed at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Civic Hall Performing Arts Center in Richmond.

The show is based on a children’s mystery series written by James Preller. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones and his friend, Mila, are investigating who’s playing practical jokes. It includes music and humor.

“Jigsaw Jones” is presented by Arts Power, a professional theater company touring the nation.

Admission is $2 per student because a grant from the Stamm Koechlein Family Foundation is helping offset the cost for Civic Hall’s Proudly Presenting Series educational programming.

Teachers and chaperones are admitted free.

For Elmira, click here or call: 607-733-5639 x248 (and tell ‘em Jimmy sent ya!)

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21. PiBoIdMo Day 13: Jane Yolen Does the Work She Was Meant To Do

janeyolen© 2013 by Jane Yolen

I have a Muse who works overtime, or at least that’s how it looks from the outside. But I think about something my late husband once said. An ardent birder and, in his retirement, a bird recordist whose tapes now reside in both the Cornell Library of Natural Sounds and the British Natural History Museum, he was known in the birding community as “a lucky birder.” That meant he seemed to find more rarities and more hard-to-see birds than anyone else. But his response was, “I show up.” And that’s what I think the Muse actually is: the writer showing up every day and doing the hard work of writing.

If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens.

Let me tell you about a picture book I recently wrote because of a haunting photograph I saw on line. If I had stopped to think about its saleability, I wouldn’t have started it. But I plunged in.

parisangelThe photograph was of an apartment house in Paris on which a three story, three-dimensional angel with widespread wings had been carved on the facade. There was a newspaper story about how the angel had been built and survived World War II.

I knew there was a story there, and three things leaped out at me: angel, Paris, World War II.

Before I knew it, I was beginning to write a picture book (40 page picture book at first which I eventually got down to the more ordinary 32 page format), called “The Stone Angel.” It was about a Jewish family and the daughter about six or seven narrates. The Nazis come in, the yellow stars, escape to the forest where they live with Partisans, and then their escape across the mountains to Spain and then to Britain where they stay in the country till war’s end. And on their return, the father’s job is reinstated and he finds an apartment in, yes, the angel building.

A picture book? Really? Not a novel? It sounds like the plot of a novel. Yeah, I kept hearing that in my head and I kept dismissing the idea. I finished the picture book, sent it editor Jill Santopolo who was doing my fairy tale novels. It was not her kind of thing at all.

And in two weeks, she’d bought the book, found an illustrator, helped me shrink the text to a 32 pager (saying, “I love this as a 40 page book and if we can’t make it work at 32 pages with the same power, I can make the case for the longer picture book.”).

But sometimes the magic works.

guestbio

owlmoonJane Yolen is an author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl MoonThe Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.

Jane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.

Her website JaneYolen.com presents information about her over three hundred books for children. It also contains essays, poems, answers to frequently asked questions, a brief biography, her travel schedule, and links to resources for teachers and writers. It is intended for children, teachers, writers, storytellers, and lovers of children’s literature.


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 13: Jane Yolen Does the Work She Was Meant To Do, last added: 11/13/2013
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22. Illustrator Saturday – Ruth Sanderson

This week we have a real treat with Ruth Sanderson. If you don’t recognize the name, I am sure you will recognize her art.  Heck, you might even have last year’s Lenox Collector Plate with her artwork or collector’s plates with a Night Before Christmas theme around your house.

I got lost in her website for days, so you might want to stop by her site later when you have some time to browse.  I am going to do the best I can to show off her talents, but they are so many, it is going to be a challenge.

Ruth was born in 1951 in Monson, Massachusetts, where her two favorite place to play were the woods and the library.  In the woods she could imagine magical  creatures living in the tangled underbrush and if she was very, very lucky maybe catch a glimpse of one of them.

At the library. She could identify with characters that were brave and got to do exciting things. One of her treasured possessions was a battered copy of  Grimm’s Fairytales.

She fought over Black Stallion books with her best friend about who was going to be the first to read the next new adventure, when it came into the library.  After reading the stories they would gallop through the woods on their own imaginary stallions.

She decided she wanted a career in art. After spending a year at a liberal arts college where the art courses were all abstract, she transferred to the Paier School of Art, so she could take a combination of traditional drawing and painting courses and commercial courses as well.  Since she really wanted to make a living with art, she decided illustration was the  way to go. The modern fine art scene did not appeal  to her.  The illustrators she admired were Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and  Mark English.

When she graduated in 1974 from  the Paier School of Art in Connecticut, an agent in the children’s field took her on and  soon she was busy doing children’s illustrations.  After five years, she started to do some full-color covers. The books she read as a child, the Black Stallion series and the Nancy Drew  series were being put into paperback for the first time and she got the assignment for 18 covers in each series. She did some black and white picture books and an edition of The Little Engine that Could.

In the early eighties she struck out on her own without an agent and began to do a number of Golden Books and quite a few full color jackets for young adult novels.

She got her ”big break” into the “trade” market with the assignment to illustrate an edition of Heidi  with one hundred full color paintings. Up to this time she had only used fast drying mediums for assignments, such as watercolors, colored  pencils, airbrush and acrylics. Heidi had a one-year  deadline so she decided to paint it in oils, which had always been her  preferred medium. She went on to illustrate The Secret Garden and then her first fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty, which was retold by Jane Yolen.”

In 1988 Jane introduced  her to Maria Modugno, the children’s book editor at Little, Brown, who expressed an interest in having her do a fairy tale for them, and gave her the opportunity to retell it herself. The Twelve Dancing Princesses took a year and a half of work and was published in 1990.

Rose Red and Snow White  was her next retelling for Little, Brown. She invented a dwarf. This was the first character that she painted in a realistic manner which was invented without reference materials.

Ruth has illustrated 80 books and has written

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Ruth Sanderson, last added: 3/17/2012
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23. Five Family Favorites with Catherine Newman

Five Family Favorites: Leading Bloggers Share their Family Favorite Books, #1

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 8, 2012

We’re very happy at TCBR to unveil our first installment of a new monthly column called Five Family Favorites by leading family, parenting, and book savvy bloggers. To kick-off our first FFF, we give you the lovely Catherine Newman of Ben and Birdy fame. Catherine is author of the award-winning memoir Waiting for Birdy and a frequent contributor to many anthologies including Crush and Because I Love Her. She is also editor of ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. We’re thrilled to share her family’s all-time favorite books. Enjoy!

Amos and Boris

By William Steig

I actually wanted to name our son Boris—but, sadly, my partner did not share my enthusiasm. “Bwo-ris,” I said emphatically, with my grandmother’s Russian accent. “No?” No. Nonetheless, the book, a favorite from my own childhood, became and has remained a favorite in our household as well. If you know Sylvester and the Magic Pebble or The Amazing Bone, then you’re already familiar with William Steig’s delightfully watery illustrations and refreshingly literate text. This book is no exception, and it is a joy in every way. Amos, a seaside mouse filled with an explorer’s curiosity, builds a boat, loads it with provisions (this catalogue of goods—including biscuits, acorns, honey, and a yo-yo—is the children’s favorite part) and sails away. All goes swimmingly, until:

One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his boat, gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all. Overwhelmed by the beauty and mystery of everything, he rolled over and over and right off the deck of his boat and into the sea.

Holy clam and cuttlefish! But just as Amos is wondering what it would feel like to drown (I have always loved the existential candor of this part, though other parents may want to edit) along comes Boris the whale. What follows is a touchingly profound story about unlikely friendship and lifelong loyalty, with an excellent powerful-things-come-in-small-packages message to boot: while Amos cannot reciprocate in strength, he has the intelligence to help Boris in turn, when the big, big-hearted whale needs it most. (Ages 5-8. Publisher: Square Fish)

Owl Moon

By Jane Yolen

Inter

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24. New England SCBWI Conference 2012

This year’s NE-SCBWI Conference (my sixth) was different for me. As the On-the-Spot Critique Coordinator, I was one of numerous volunteers responsible for making a successful conference. In my position, I felt deeply obligated to the attendees, wanting to facilitate proper connections to editors/agents, and I’d promised these same professionals that I’d do my best to secure them additional critiques. In truth, I was scared. Since becoming the On-the-Spot Critique Coordinator less than a month ago, I have secretly fretted, while my daily early-morning writing time turned into early-morning e-mail communication, chart-making, and teaching myself how to make a spreadsheet. (I am also a committee co-chair for the upcoming New Jersey SCBWI Conference.) My manuscripts lay untouched; my muse went on strike.

Preparing for the conference reminded me of my earlier years in the business of writing for children, when I was unsure and questioned my abilities. Self-doubt hinders your growth as an artist. So I stopped thinking about What Might Not Happen (that the on-the-spot critiques would be a failure) and I began to believe that I could, indeed, pull this off. But to do this, I had to call on my Inspired Frame-of-Mind, which is strong, determined, and follows the muse with much delight, like a kitten chasing an unraveling ball of red yarn. I write what my characters tell me, and on some level, believe they are the ones shaping their stories, not me. I continue to struggle with writing for my blog, for that voice comes from a different place, where self-criticism has rented a tiny room and ignores my weekly eviction notice.

So in my Inspired Frame-of-Mind, I faced the task of being a successful conference coordinator: I worked diligently and focused on being positive, while doing everything possible to sell these critiques. The bar to succeed is set high due to the tireless efforts of our region’s longtime coordinators, who have given so much of their time over the years: Marilyn Salerno, Joyce Shor Johnson, Kathryn Hulick, Melissa Hed. Valarie Giogas. Laura Pauling. Melissa Stewart. Casey Girard. Betty Brown. Sally Riley. Jean Woodbury. Linda Brennan. Jennifer Carson. Joannie Duris. Anna Boll. Jennifer O’Keefe. Greg Fishbone. Francine Puckly. Margo Lemieux. And Shirley Pearson, who I hope can one day step out from behind the registration table to pursue her own dreams. I apologize in advance for not listing every name, though my gratitude is intended for all. Thank you! The NE-SCBWI Conference reflects your efforts, selfless dedication, and enthusiasm for our wonderful community. A community filled

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25. Liebster Award–Surprising Turn from Rejection

Coming home from any trip, short or long, requires a person to reacquaint herself with location, premises, and obligations therein. Ask anyone who travels semi-regularly.

When I returned today from Central Washington, fatigue schlepped my belongings upstairs, unlocked the door and returned to the car for another load. Sister did the same. Once ensconced inside, again occupying our apartment, the next order of business was computer, email, and whatever had darkened our cyber thresholds during our absence.

Embedded within the hundred plus emails of my main inbox were two from editors. I didn’t need to read them. I knew they contained rejections. They’d arrived too quickly from new venues I’d submitted to the previous week.

Rejection

Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They sat there, staring at me, daring me to protest. I couldn’t. Rejections are a fact of life for every writer. The first time I saw Jane Yolen post about receiving a rejection for a story, I almost cheered; not because she’d received bad news, but because she’d received bad news was willing to flaunt that rejection on Facebook for all the world to see.

I gathered strength from that act of personal/professional bravery on Jane’s part. She was the first well-known working writer whom I’d seen admit to receiving that palest of pink slips from an editor. Hope sprang to my heart. Perhaps I wasn’t a terrible writer after all.

Now, all this time later, I’ve begun racking in my own pile of pale pink slips. I’ve an area of wall beside my desk which will soon be decorated with them as a constant reminder that if I stop receiving them, it’s because I’m not sending out any work for judgment. The reminder to keep writing will be lurking, available for loud recriminations should I forget.

After I’d dealt with mail, uploaded work to go out for guest blog this coming week and another small bit of brainstorming I’d done yesterday, As soon as I got up from a short nap, I returned to my secondary email inbox and found another rejection. The personal note was nice. Still, it will go on my Wall of Encouragement.

All of this rejection could have turned maudlin, but I was saved by Randy Hill. Randy is a super-duper poet with an engaging personality and talent. I found his comment on Claudsy’s Blog about dropping in to collect my Award. I was confused. Award?

I did as instructed and slipped over to his second abode, “Coudfactor5.” He’d posted a lovely piece about poetry and encouragement and how Jlynn Sheridan had honored him with a Liebster Award for creating and operating a ki

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