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1. StoryMakers | Jennifer Oxley & Billy Aronson

STORYMAKERS - Jennifer Oxley & Billy Aronson (Peg + Cat) Featured Image

We’re trying to make math cool … It’s for everybody
and it’s everywhere. It’s a part of your life.
— Billy Aronson

Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson are the team behind the award-winning PBS series “Peg + Cat”. Peg is a little girl whose life is a big math problem, which she solves with her best friend, Cat. Her world looks like math as the backdrop is graph paper and various items are made from simple shapes. The animated television series Peg + Cat has won seven Daytime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation (Jennifer Oxley), and Outstanding Writing in a Pre-School Animated Program.

Parents and teachers who want to continue the STEAM fun offline can turn to the Peg + Cat books written by the series creators. In this episode of StoryMakers Rocco Staino, Billy Aronson, and Jennifer Oxley discuss the creative vision for the series and several themes central to the  series of books. Fun, simple mathematics, diversity, and a seamless flow are essential to the success of the books and television series.

Oxley and Aronson offer encouraging messages about mathematics that will inspire children, parents, and teachers alike.

We’re giving away three (3) sets of books for this episode of StoryMakers. Each set includes a of copy of Jennifer and Billy’s picture book, PEG + CAT: THE PIZZA PROBLEM and PEG + CAT: THE RACE CAR PROBLEM. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on June 7, 2016. ENTER NOW!

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ABOUT THE BOOKS


Peg + Cat: The Pizza Problem
Peg + Cat: The Pizza Problem - Jennifer Oxley & Billy Aronson
By Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
Published by Candlewick Entertainment

What do fractions have to do with pizza? The stars of the Emmy Award winning animated series “Peg + Cat” serve up a delicious new episode.
It’s lunchtime at Peg’s Pizza Place. Peg and Cat are excited to take their first order from the Teens only to learn that some of their customers want a whole pizza while one of them wants half a pie. How can Peg and Cat make half a pie when they don t know what “half “is? Luckily, Ramone and Mac are there to help, with a slice up the middle of the pizza. As more customers come in, things get entertaining, with Peg singing a jazzy song and Cat doing a dance. But soon there’s another problem: four orders, but only two and a half pizzas left. Peg is totally freaking out until Cat reminds her that when it comes to halves and wholes, it’s all in how you slice it.


Peg + Cat: The Race Car Problem - Jennifer Oxley & Billy AronsonPeg + Cat: The Race Car Problem
By Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
Published by Candlewick Entertainment

Peg and Cat, stars of their own Emmy Award winning animated TV series, zoom into a picture book and put math skills to the test in a lively racing adventure. Peg and Cat have built an amazing car out of things they found lying around. They’ve named her Hot Buttered Lightning (since she’s built for speed), and they plan to win the Tallapegga Twenty. If they can make it out of the junkyard, that is. It’s a good thing Peg knows the best shape to use to make wheels and how to count laps to see who is ahead. And it’s lucky that Cat reminds Peg to keep calm when she’s “totally freaking out.” Will Peg and Cat be the first to complete twenty laps and win the Golden Cup? Or will it be one of their quirky competitors? Count on Peg and Cat to rev up young problem-solvers for an exciting race to the finish.

ABOUT JENNIFER OXLEY

Jennifer Oxley was born in Hollywood, California and caught the filmmaking bug early – she made her first film at the age of seven. Since then she has directed fifteen short films for Sesame Street, as well as the award-winning adaptation of Spike Lee and Tanya Lewis Lee’s children’s book, Please, Baby, Please.

Her latest film, The Music Box, was acquired by The Museum of Modern Art for their permanent children’s film collection. Her work in children’s television includes directing and artistic credits. Jennifer is the recipient of an Emmy Award for her role as director on Little Bill, and she created the look and animation style of The Wonder Pets!, which won an Environmental Media Award and the prestigious Japan Prize.

Most recently Jennifer teamed up with Billy Aronson to create Peg + Cat for PBS Kids, and is co-founder of 9ate7 Productions.

Source: 9ate 7 Productions

CONNECT WITH JENNIFER OXLEY
Website | Facebook | Twitter

ABOUT BILLY ARONSON

Billy Aronson is a playwright and writer. Aronson is probably best known for creating the original concept behind the Tony award-winning rock opera Rent. He’s written several plays and musicals. Also, he’s written for popular children’s shows, and cartoons including Courage the Cowardly, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, and Beavis and Butthead.

Aronson attended Princeton University. He counts several plays by Shakespeare, Looney Tunes, and The Brothers Grimm among his influences. Billy Aronson is a co-creator of Peg + Cat for PBS Kids, and is co-founder of 9ate7 Productions, with Jennifer Oxley.

Learn more about his playwriting, television work, and  here.

CONNECT WITH BILLY ARONSON
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StoryMakers
Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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The post StoryMakers | Jennifer Oxley & Billy Aronson appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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2. Live From #KidLitPalooza!

Stay tuned this morning as I add to this post about #KidLitPalooza, live from this amazing event that connects children's authors to students!

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3. StoryMakers | Julie Hedlund & Susan Eaddy

STORYMAKERS - Julie Hedlund and Susan Eaddy Featured Image

Author Julie Hedlund and illustrator Susan Eaddy collaborated on My Love for You Is the Sun, a beautiful book that celebrates the many ways we express love for others. In this craft-based episode of StoryMakers, Eaddy teaches Hedlund and host Rocco Staino how to make a relief sculpture based on the illustration style used in the book. The author and illustrator provide examples of additional activities parents, caretakers, and teachers can do with children. Viewers are encouraged to explore color and texture creation.

Julie Hedlund is familiar to many aspiring and established children’s literature authors. She is the founder of 12×12, a year long picture book writing challenge where members write 12 drafts in 12 months. Hedlund celebrated five years of the 12×12 challenge in early 2016.

We’re giving away three (3) prize packs for this episode of StoryMakers. Each prize pack includes a of copy of Julie Hedlund’s picture book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN and art supplies to make your own clay art inspired by Susan Eaddy’s work. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on May 31, 2016. ENTER NOW!

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ABOUT ‘MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN’


My Love for You Is the Sun
My Love for You Is the Sun - Julie Hedlund
Written by Julie Hedlund, illustrated by Susan Eaddy
Published by Little Bahalia Publishing

My Love for You is the Sun is a love letter from parent to child, written in verse and expressing that timeless and unconditional love through metaphors from the natural world. My love for you is the sun, a tree, the rain, a river but of course, its also about more than familial or parental love, its about the universal, infinite nature of love itself, and as such, will hold crossover appeal for all ages. Edited by best-selling childrens book author Emma Walton-Hamilton, and illustrated with the amazing clay art of Susan Eaddy, this melodious tour of parent-and-child animals in their various habitats will mesmerize children at bedtime, and help them feel a connection with the loved one sharing it with them. With soothing verses evoking the beauty and wonder of the natural world, combined with stunning, hand-sculpted clay illustrations, this book is one families everywhere will read again and again.

ABOUT JULIE HEDLUND

Inspired by my two children, I began writing picture books. I took a course in children’s book writing and joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in order to learn more. All while continuing my “day” job.

Finally, in the fall of 2009 I attended a regional SCBWI conference in Denver. I was swollen with inspiration, hope and desire to not only write, but to make a career from writing. On the drive home, I had an epiphany — “What if I could feel as inspired, driven and hopeful every day as I do today?”

So I made the decision to leave my job – right as the world economy collapsed. Everyone, myself included, thought I was crazy, but I no longer felt like I had a choice. I knew I needed to give a writing career a shot, and that I needed to start immediately.

I began writing my blog, signed up for a few social media networks, wrote another picture book manuscript, signed up for an SCBWI national conference in New York and never looked back.

People often ask me why I write for children. I write for children because I want to make their lives better through books.  Yes, books educate children, give them adventures, escape, and entertainment.  But books also give children hope.  And what could be more important and profound than that?

Read more, here.

CONNECT WITH JULIE HEDLUND
Website | Facebook | Twitter

ABOUT SUSAN EADDY

One of the reasons I enjoy clay so much is that I don’t really know how to do it.  Each illustration is a discovery process as I study nature and animals and try to figure out how to bring them to life in clay.

My finished clay critters live in pizza boxes, and I suspect that they play at night while we slumber.

I was an Art Director for fifteen years, and won some international 3D illustration awards and a Grammy nomination. But my passion is, and always has been, illustrating and writing for children.

I am the Regional advisor for the Midsouth SCBWI, and a member of the SCBWI Bologna Team. I love to travel and have done school visits anywhere in the world from Taiwan to Alabama to Hong Kong.

Read more, here.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN EADDY
Website | Twitter

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StoryMakers
Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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4. Classroom Connections: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

age range: 10 and up
genre: contemporary fiction
setting: New York City
Melanie Conklin’s website
Preview the first three chapters

Please tell us about your book.

Counting Thyme is the story of Thyme Owens, an eleven-year-old girl whose family moves across the country for her little brother’s cancer treatment. It’s a story about family, friendship, and finding your place in the world when life throws you a curveball.

What inspired you to write this story?

The idea for this story came to me after I read a bunch of middle grade books with protagonists who were facing serious illnesses. I wondered what it would be like to be the sibling of a gravely ill child. I wondered how the conflicts at home would influence the conflicts at school. I thought it would be especially tough if you were just starting middle school, with all of the social pressures involved at that time in life. Thyme’s story grew from there!

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?

In my past life as a product designer, I did a ton of research at the outset of every new project. It’s no different for me with books. Once I have an idea, I conduct an audit—which is a fancy way of saying that I cast a wide net and gather research from all of the reputable sources in that subject area. With Counting Thyme, I gathered a tremendous amount of information online, because research hospitals are very interested in sharing knowledge. I also read countless blogs posted by parents of pediatric cancer patients to gain insight into their everyday lives and the ups and downs of treatment. When I had questions, I posted them on discussion forums and parents graciously answered, helping me understand the intricacies of their world.

What are some special challenges associated with writing middle grade?

My favorite thing about MG fiction is the way it explores tough topics in an honest way, while preserving a safe space for young readers. It’s tough to nail that balance. It took many passes of revision to balance the emotion and the information in Counting Thyme, so that readers can understand what’s happening without being bogged down by too much medical information. My favorite books are the ones that manage this balance effortlessly (although I now know that a lot of effort goes into that!).

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

Because Counting Thyme is set in New York City, there’s a lot going on in the story. Thyme’s family moves into a multiple story apartment building, so she experiences living with close neighbors for the first time, which is a great touchstone for talking about the different ways that people live. There are also characters of many different backgrounds and ethnicities, which is what makes NYC so wonderful. This theme provides an opportunity to talk about different family traditions and cultures. Other themes touch on sibling relationships, honesty versus secrets, what it means to be a friend, and what it means to be counted (in your family, and in the world at large).

The post Classroom Connections: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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5. The Author behind the Pseudonym

Have you ever wondered why Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote as Lewis Carroll? Or why Theodor Seuss Geisel better known as Dr. Seuss had not one but two pseudonyms? Find the answers in the following infographic reblogged with the kind permission of Jonkers Rare Books.  


The Author Behind the Pseudonym #Infographic


I've been playing the literary name game and came up with Bobby Anne Harding for a possible pen name. This combination of my nickname, middle name and mother’s maiden name has quite a ring to it don’t you think?  If I wanted to disguise my gender, I could use the shorter and more masculine sounding Bob Harding.

What pen name would you / do you use?

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6. StoryMakers | Susan Verde and Emily Arrow

STORYMAKERS - Susan Verde and Emily Arrow Featured Image

Yoga isn’t only for adults. More American parents are introducing their children to the ancient practice which originated in India. Preliminary studies show it is beneficial for reducing stress and improving mood. Certified yoga instructor and author Susan Verde wrote I Am Yoga, a picture book which helps children explore mindfulness through relationships and movement. The book is one of several kid lit collaborations between Verde and the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. His relaxed illustration style helps convey Susan Verde’s message of peace, stillness of mind, and tranquility.

Reflecting the swelling ranks of adult yogis, a growing number of kids are now doing yoga, as health experts, researchers and educators note the promise of initial research suggesting the ancient meditative movement practice may help little ones relieve stress, calm anxiety and improve mood – along with helping address ADHD, without drugs.

Susan Verde and StoryMakers host Rocco Staino were joined by — via satellite —  kid lit singer and songwriter Emily Arrow. Arrow has written and performed songs based on children’s books. Together, Verde and Arrow collaborated on a song and music video for I Am Yoga. Emily Arrow’s song lyrics draw heavily from the book. Arrow’s latest CD, “Storytime Singalong, Volume 1”, is a combination of songs based on popular kid lit and tunes for young readers.

Watch Susan Verde’s interview at the Westchester Children’s Book Festival.

We’re giving away three (3) prize packs including of copy of Susan Verde’s picture book, I AM YOGA and Emily Arrow’s STORYTIME SINGALONG, VOL. 1 CD. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on May 25, 2016. ENTER NOW!

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ABOUT ‘I AM YOGA’

I Am Yoga - Susan VerdeI Am Yoga
Written by Susan Verde, illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds
Published by Harry N. Abrams

An eagle soaring among the clouds or a star twinkling in the night sky … a camel in the desert or a boat sailing across the sea yoga has the power of transformation. Not only does it strengthen bodies and calm minds, but with a little imagination, it can show us that anything is possible. New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and author and certified yoga instructor Susan Verde team up again in this book about creativity and the power of self-expression. I Am Yoga encourages children to explore the world of yoga and make room in their hearts for the world beyond it. A kid-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included.

ABOUT SUSAN VERDE

Susan Verdeis an award-winning children’s book author, elementary educator, and a certified children’s yoga instructor. Her books highlight the unique manner in which children see the world. Her stories focus on their interactions with their surroundings with emphasis on problem solving in a calming and mindful way. Susan’s books are used to teach children how to express gratitude and to support each other.

Susan became a certified kids yoga instructor and children’s book author, after several years in the education field. “Her stories inspire children to celebrate their own, unique stories and journey. Her writing also inspires adults to let their inner child out to dream of infinite possibilities… and maybe come out for a spontaneous game of hopscotch every now and then.”

Susan’s latest book, The Water Princess, will be published in late 2016. The book is another collaboration with he bestselling, award-winning, author and illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds. Peter and Susan have collaborated on The Museum, You & Me, and I Am Yoga. Susan lives in East Hampton, New York with her three children and dog.

Read more, here.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN VERDE
Website | Twitter

ABOUT ‘STORYTIME SINGALONG, VOLUME 1’

Storytime Singalong CD cover Storytime Singalong, Volume 1

Emily Arrow is the 2015 winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Children’s Category for her song “The Curious Garden Song”. The song was inspired by the book THE CURIOUS GARDEN by Peter Brown. Emily was also a finalist in the 2015 Great American Song Contest and the 2014 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Emily Arrow creates literature inspired music for children, cultivating an appreciation and love for singing, songwriting, literature, and art. She performs storytimes of her original music regularly in Los Angeles at Once Upon A Time Bookstore and Children’s Book World. Emily is touring in support of the album at schools, bookstores, and libraries around the country!

Click here for a track listing.

ABOUT EMILY ARROW

Originally from Ohio, Emily played the piano, read a lot of books, and led a neighborhood “kids only choir.” Fast forward to now and…she’s still silly, she still sings incessantly, and she still loves books! She is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and earned her graduate-level teaching certification in Orff-Shulwerk Levels I & II. After graduating Emily became a K-6 music teacher at a performing arts-based elementary school in Los Angeles. During her time teaching, she found that her passion was collaborating with the library, art, and technology departments. Which led her to her current career as a kidlit singer/songwriter!

Read more, here.

CONNECT WITH EMILY ARROW
Website | Twitter | YouTube

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StoryMakers
Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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7. An Interview with Rebecca Behrens, Author of The Summer of Lost and Found

While I was reading Summer of Lost and Found I wanted to sit down and have a good talk with Rebecca. I hope this interview will read like the conversation I wish we’d had — because in many ways that’s exactly what it is: two authors talking about our experiences writing about the island of Roanoke.

Have you been to the island of Roanoke? Your descriptions of the island, from the flora to the town of Manteo to the historical sites, were so vivid!

Thanks! I have been to Roanoke, and I hope to visit the island again. I spent a week there when I was working on the third or fourth draft of the book. It was thrilling to visit a place that has captured my imagination since I was a kid. And the island didn’t disappoint me. I love traveling to places with a lot of history and a lot of natural beauty, and Roanoke certainly has both. I am a bit of a plant nerd (Nell’s mom has one of my dream careers), so I was really interested in the vegetation on the island—I took tons of photographs to document it.

I found it interesting that my Alis and your Ambrose both contrast London with Roanoke. Such a different world it must have been for those 1587 colonists. And Nell experiences some of the same, coming to the island from New York City.

I found the similarities in their impressions of Roanoke so interesting, too. I love the passage in Blue Birds in which Alis compares Roanoke with London. I think both Alis and Ambrose remark on how the island’s fresh smells are a delight, coming from the stinky streets of London.

The contrast between those two places was something that I thought about a lot while writing the book—how jarring it must have been to travel from the London crowds to a less developed place. Moving is difficult, at any age and in any time period. But it’s hard to even imagine what an adjustment coming to Roanoke would have been for early colonists. While I was visiting the settlement site at the Roanoke Island Festival Park, one of the guides pointed out how important tradespeople were in the colonist community. They couldn’t buy building supplies for their new homes, so they needed woodworkers and blacksmiths. It made me wonder about things like the state of the colonists’ shoes—they couldn’t simply go purchase more if they wore them out while traipsing around the island. (Hopefully one of the colonists was a cobbler?) The colonists weren’t only leaving most of their worldly possessions behind, but also their ways of daily life.

It’s funny, but I realized while making the trip from NYC to Roanoke that I was imitating/recreating the experience of my main character, Nell. I had already researched the island, but even so I found many things to surprise and delight me when I experienced it firsthand. Some of Nell’s observations are really based on my own—things I noted or was intrigued about, like how green and forested the island is, as opposed to sandy-beachy, or how some of Manteo’s architecture incorporates the look of English building styles.

When I was writing Blue Birds, I sometimes struggled with the hazy aspects of the history. My editor was the one who taught me that history can be hazy but stories can’t. In other words, for the sake of the story, I had to come down on one side or the other when it came to certain events that historians are unsure about. What decisions did you have to make when creating Ambrose’s story about aspects of history that weren’t clear cut?

I love that lesson from your editor—and I will use it in the future! When writing historical fiction, I have a hard time straying from facts. My tendency is to get bogged down in the details I’ve uncovered during research—I want to include every single interesting fact. I have to remind myself that my first priority is to tell the story, and overloading it with historical details, as fascinating as I find them, might not serve the story—or my reader. For example, at first I tried to incorporate real artifacts that have been uncovered in and around the island, but eventually I decided to fictionalize most of the ones in the book.

The historical record so far doesn’t offer a definitive conclusion about what really happened to the Lost Colonists, and I found that both frustrating and kind of liberating. I was fortunate in that a Roanoke historian read the manuscript for me and critiqued the historical accuracy. Luckily, the choices I made about the more ambiguous elements were plausible enough that she didn’t object. There have been some great archaeological finds in the past few years (I think you and I had a Twitter conversation last summer about the Site X artifacts that made big news), so even if it makes some of the history in my book inaccurate, I hope at some point the truth is uncovered!

It’s both strange and satisfying to read someone else’s story that deals with the same characters in mine, ones based on real people. I had the same experience when reading Cate of the Lost Colony, another Roanoke story. It’s almost like I’m in a club with a handful of authors. What was that like for you?

I am thrilled to think that I’m now in the club of Roanoke authors! Before the book went off to copy edits, I only read nonfiction about the island and the Lost Colony. I was really concerned that other authors’ unique visions of Roanoke would influence mine. The day I turned in the last revision, I pulled my copy of Blue Birds off the shelf because I had been dying to read it. “Strange and satisfying” is a great way to describe reading other fiction about Roanoke. I felt like I knew your characters before I even met them on the page because the story and setting of Roanoke were so familiar to me. Some of Alis’s beautiful observations almost felt like déjà vu after spending so much time imagining characters that would be her contemporaries. But at the same time, your Roanoke story shed new light on the island and its history and people. I’ve incorporated this idea of how perspective affects historical fiction into a writing workshop—in which several kids choose the same historical setting, event, or character and independently write a short scene about it. When they compare their writing, it’s so interesting to see how much each writer’s perspective shifts the focus.

Was there anyone from the 1587 colony that especially intrigued you? I was fascinated with Thomas Humfrey, the only child to travel to Roanoke without a parent. I originally had Thomas in my story, but later blended him with my George Howe Jr. character.

Wow, I wasn’t aware of that part of Thomas Humfrey’s story—that is fascinating! What a brave kid. I thought a lot about George Howe Jr., actually, because of how his father died on the island. It was so sad to think of a child going through an experience like the long and trying journey to Roanoke, and then losing a parent—I think only six days after they arrived. Early on, I considered making George a central character in my book, but I ended up focusing on another colonist.

Like Ambrose, Nell is missing her father and is lonely for a friend. What else do your two characters have in common? What does this show us about the past and the present?

I think both Ambrose and Nell are very curious and loyal. Their friendship blossoms despite their city-country differences because they are both so passionate about exploring their surroundings and uncovering the history around them. Now that you bring it up, what they have in common might show how being in that middle-grade “age of wonder,” and starting to discover the world around you, is a universal experience. I loved how the friendship between Kimi and Alis developed in Blue Birds, and seeing what those girls shared. It’s interesting that so many Roanoke stories express this theme in unique ways.

I see we both read Lee Miller’s book, Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony. What did you think of her theory that the pilot Simon Fernandez tried to sabotage the colonists and that abandoning them to Roanoke was part of the plan?

I found that a really intriguing idea (I do like a good conspiracy theory!), and Lee Miller makes a convincing argument. But I’m not convinced there is enough research to back it up at this point. For now I’m more inclined to think that Simon Fernandez was an opportunist—and probably a jerk—but not necessarily a saboteur. I’m curious to hear what you think about this!

I’m with you on this one. In addition to Fernandez’s strong personality, I think John White wasn’t the strongest leader. It feels inevitable that they clashed. Speaking of Governor White, what do you think really happened once he left the island?

Oh, this is so hard to answer. The kid in me, who fell in love with this history mystery, still wants to believe that something creepy or shocking befell the colonists. When I was visiting the Roanoke Island Festival Park museum, I looked at a binder full of theories that kid visitors had written down: alien abductions, massive hurricanes, Spanish spies and pirates all played a part. Because of the famous “CRO” carving, I believe some colonists left the island to join Manteo’s village on Croatoan. But based on some recent archaeological discoveries—and what a guide at Fort Raleigh told me when I was visiting—I think it’s also likely that a group colonists left the area to head “50 miles into the main,” toward the Chesapeake, where they would have an easier time setting up a permanent colony. Over the years, the group(s) probably slowly dissolved as many of the colonists assimilated into Native communities. I loved the way Blue Birds ended and explained what happened, and I was so satisfied by the last scene! (Also, the song that Alis overhears is one that I actually sang in a youth choir, and it has stuck around in my head for the past couple of decades, so I enjoyed that detail very much.)

This is the second book you’ve written that blends the past with the present. I’d love to hear your thoughts behind doing this.

I’ve loved history, and historical fiction, since I was a kid. I think the books I’ve written that blend contemporary with historical are sort of a natural expression of that enthusiasm. I didn’t consciously try to do this, but the way my characters stumble onto history might reflect how my own fascination with it developed as a young reader—I’d come across a factoid or visit a historical site with my family and get completely wrapped up in that story of the past. Nell and Audrey (from my first book, When Audrey Met Alice) both do that. I do kind of hope readers might want to dig deeper into some of the historical content in my books—or that they inspire kids to explore whatever history topics fascinate them.

I did just finish a third book, though, and it is all historical fiction. That was a new (and fun) writing challenge, to focus only on the past!

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for indulging me in this conversation. I hope our paths cross in person someday soon. Readers, learn more about Rebecca and her books, including her newest release, The Summer of Lost and Found, at her website, www.rebeccabehrens.com.

The post An Interview with Rebecca Behrens, Author of The Summer of Lost and Found originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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8. StoryMakers | Mother’s Day Special

StoryMakers - Mother's Day Special 2016 Featured Image

In the spirit of celebrating moms KidLit TV produced a Mother’s Day special inspired by Josh Funk’s popular rhyming picture book, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are best friends who find out there is only one drop of syrup left in the refrigerator. Soon the friends embark on a hysterical and sometimes treacherous dash to get that one last drop. Of course they they both learn a valuable lesson — but the end is anything but typical.

StoryMakers host Rocco Staino and Josh Funk were joined by dad and travel blogger Jason Greene (One Good Dad). Together the trio cooked up a Mother’s Day breakfast fit for a queen … A queen who loves pancakes, French toast, strawberries and cream! If you’re still thinking about what to do for the special lady in your life — whether she be your partner, wife, or mom — we highly recommend watching this episode. If that’s not enough to keep you glued to the screen, two of Jason’s children make a special appearance.

What’s your idea of the perfect Mother’s Day? What’s your favorite breakfast dish? Let us know in the comment section below!

We’re giving away three (3) copies of Josh Funk’s picture book, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on May 18, 2016. Enter now!

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Download the free Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast activity kit.

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ABOUT LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST


Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast - Mother's Day Brunch
Written by Josh Funk; illustrated by Brendan Kearney
Published by Sterling Publishing

A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight!” ever! Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s only one drop of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast … even without a drop of coffee!

ABOUT JOSH FUNK

Via Josh Funk Books
Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as picture books – such as the award-winning Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (Sterling), as well as the forthcoming picture books Pirasaurs! (Scholastic 8/30/16), Dear Dragon (Viking/Penguin 9/6/16), It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk (Two Lions, 2017), and more.

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

CONNECT WITH JOSH FUNK
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

ABOUT JASON GREENE

Via One Good Dad
From the time I was a child, my dream was to become an actor and a writer. After college, I set out along with my wife to chase that dream. We arrived in New York City and I was ready to “make it.” After a few years of auditioning and bit parts here and there, my wife gave me the news that I was about to take on the biggest role imaginable — the role of a daddy. After my son was born, I became a stay-at-home dad and now I’m a proud papa of 4 children. Being a stay-at-home dad has changed the way I think about myself and the world around me. And that has lead me to become a dad blogger and travel blogger.  My blog touches on parenting challenges and rewards, faith, travel, entertainment, sports, sponsorships and reviews, or whatever else is keeping me from getting that great night of sleep I so desperately need.

CONNECT WITH JASON GREENE
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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StoryMakers
Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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9. Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction

Julie Berry is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Passion of Dolssa, the award-winning, All the Truth That’s in Me (2013, Viking) and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (2014, Roaring Brook), and six other critically acclaimed titles for young readers. She grew up in western New York and holds a BS from Rensselaer in communication and an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. Before becoming an author, she worked in software sales and marketing. She now lives in southern California with her husband and four sons. Find her online at www.julieberrybooks.com, or on Twitter.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

For The Passion of Dolssa, both character and era came first, or rather, both found me independently. For a long time I’d been fascinated by the brave young women mystics of the Middle Ages. I had wanted to explore them more in some kind of project. Quite separately, I thought it would be fun to write a main character who was a matchmaker. In yet another corner of my brain, an idea rolled around about a group of three sisters, witches in a very small sense of the word, running a tavern (although young). In another disconnected vein of my life, I was taking a history of the Middle Ages course, where I learned for the first time about the violent history of anti-heresy warfare and inquisition in southern France in the 13th Century. Then one day I had a sort of eureka moment where all of these separate strands braided themselves together as one story idea. And I was off and running.

How do you conduct your research?

Muddlingly. I try to immerse myself as much as I can in books about, and written during, that time period. One of the most important things, I find, is determining which are the most credible, current, trusted academians whose books will best help you unravel the complex past. History (the study of the past, as opposed to the past itself) is anything but monolithic and unanimous. Our study and understanding of our past is constantly changing. So I think it’s vital to be a critical consumer of historical sources, and pay close attention to choosing well whom to trust. Once I know what I’m looking for, it’s often a hunt to acquire rare or out-of-print titles that I need. I try to read as much as I can that was written during that time period, also, so I can hear the voices and language of the time (filtered through the lens of who’s doing the writing – too often it’s only the elite and the empowered). I generally need to read my important sources twice.

In addition to lots of reading, I spend a lot of time with maps and museum resources, trying to see as much as possible what the world I envision actually looked like. I look for music historians who can help me hear their nearly lost tunes, and for historically based cookbooks so I know what ingredients they had and how they cooked. I’m chasing down all sorts of things like when would the sun have set at that latitude at this date, and what did they eat/wear/shoot/burn/drive/marry, etc.. Best of all, whenever possible, I try to go to the location where my story takes place. I need to absorb the sense of place as much as my senses allow me to. 

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I fear I don’t have a specific system for anything in my life. “Dive in and muck around” is pretty much my approach.

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

I usually write in tandem with the research. I’m quite comfortable making changes later as I need to. But I think getting to know a character and getting to know her world can happen in tandem, so long as you’re willing to make painful changes if needed. For example, if you reach a point where you realize that your character has attitudes or opinions she couldn’t possibly have had at that place and time, you have to be willing to perform radical character surgery. But that said, I find that I can hum along on both tracks. Writing a rough first draft as I research helps me focus my inquiries onto things I actually need to know.

What is your favorite thing about research?

Oh, I could just stay right in the research rabbit-hole and never come out. I love, love, love the learning. At first, all the strange names and places are generally bewildering. Most complex historical texts will introduce you to a long list of players in the drama of the past, and it’s a lot to keep track of. In my last book, just about every man, no lie, was named Raimon. “Everyone’s Named Raymond,” basically. So the magic, for me, is when I’ve studied enough and taken enough notes to reach the point where it’s all clicking. I remember who’s who and where’s where and why it all matters. When I can coherently explain it to someone else in detail, then I know I’m ready to make a good story with it. It feels terrific to reach the peak of that mountain.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

The pill that was hardest for me to swallow, but most necessary, is accepting that fact that no matter how hard I work to be accurate, I can’t ever be fully accurate in my depiction of the past. This is because, no matter how I try to understand their world, their beliefs, their cultural context, I can’t stop myself from being someone who looks at it from the anachronistic perspective of their future. I am looking back. I know how their story ends. And I’m a child of a different planet, so to speak. The past is a country I’ve never visited, nor can I. Even the most devotedly researched book remains a work of artifice, of pretend, of illusion. So, in a sense, the hardest part of this job is that you know from the get-go that you’ll fail. Art comes into play as you accept those limitations and reach toward the ideal of truth, beautifully if possible, anyway.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Stuff that’s generally unprintable. 😉

Why is historical fiction important?

I’m not sure how many people would ever decide to study the past, preserve it for future generations, and distill what it has to teach us, if they didn’t learn to care about it, somewhere along the line. I think historical fiction, especially the highest quality historical fiction for young readers, helps link young minds to the past through the caring they come to feel for real and fictitious characters, now dead. The hallmark of good fiction is how it tells the truth and enables empathy. By pointing that understanding and caring toward the past, we help young people – not just the future historians, but future thinkers of every kind – see themselves as heirs of a tremendous legacy and the forebears of a hopeful future. In other words, as a part of, but not the center of, humanity.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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10. Middle Grade Books Are Not About You and Me (With a Nod to Colby Sharp and Linda Urban)

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I few weeks ago I shared a link to a blog post by teacher Colby Sharp. In it he talked about picking up a middle grade book and feeling like he’d seen it all before. Then he read these words by author Linda Urban:

Colby went on to say “middle grade books are not about you and me” (in other words, the adults out there).

I’ve thought so much about Colby’s and Linda’s words these past few months. They’ve helped me solidify some of my ideas about children’s literature, actually. While I will always, always, always believe a good book is a good book for everyone, regardless of age (though not all books are for every reader, which is another discussion entirely), Linda has reminded me that children’s literature is first and foremost for children.

Of course I know this, but I think sometimes I bring an outside perspective (as both reader and writer) that doesn’t always serve the work best. Rather, this is where I’d like my focus to be:

  • If this book is for a young reader, what is it they’ll discover that will be meaningful and ring true?
  • What am I willing to say as an author that might feel trite or old news to the grow ups but could be new and important to young readers?
  • Am I willing as a reader not to have my needs met first when I am reading middle grade?

I’m curious what readers here think.

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Middle Grade Books Are Not About You and Me (With a Nod to Colby Sharp and Linda Urban) originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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11. Meet Local Authors, ABQ Readers and Teachers!

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Fri-Sun — April 15th, 16th, 17th
Barnes & Noble, Coronado Mall (6600 Menaul Blvd)

From SCBWI-NM:

Nearly 20 local authors and illustrators will be giving talks, readings, and signings over this three day event. We will also have a table set up with as many local authors’ and illustrators’ books as we can get our hands on! Many autographed copies will be available.

*Bonus, the fair coincides with Barnes & Noble’s Educator Appreciation Week—meaning all educators (K-12) that have signed up for an education membership with Barnes & Noble, will get 25% off their purchases!

This is a huge event for New Mexico’s chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators — the first of its kind. I’ll be there Sunday, April 17 from noon to two and will read Over in the Wetlands and give a presentation about Roanoke’s Lost Colony. (If you’re an elementary teacher, be sure to pick up a copy of Blue Birds. It’s on the New Mexico Battle of the Books list next year).

BNFlyer02_SCBWI2016_BW

Please spread the word. I’d love to see you there!

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Meet Local Authors, ABQ Readers and Teachers! originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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12. StoryMakers | Nick Bruel’s ‘Bad Kitty’

STORYMAKERS - Nick Bruel Featured Image

Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty is everyone’s favorite mischievous feline. Recently, the series creator and Bad Kitty herself were interviewed by Rocco Staino on StoryMakers. The Bad Kitty series is a favorite of early readers and those who’ve been introduced to chapter books. Bruel discusses the evolution of the Bad Kitty series — from picture books to chapter books; his inspiration for going against the sometimes syrupy sweet kid lit grain; and how Bad Kitty went from page to stage. Nick Bruel has appeared in the Princeton Book Festival and Carle Honors episodes of StoryMakers.

Watch KidLit TV’s Bad Kitty short, here.

We’re giving away three (3) copies of Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet and a MerryMakers Bad Kitty backpack pull. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2016. Enter now!

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ABOUT BOOKS

Bad Kitty Goes to the VetBad Kitty Goes to the Vet - Nick Bruel
Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel
Published by Roaring Brook Press

When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she’s sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it’s time for this sick kitty to go…to the vet. When Kitty’s family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor’s office, it’s a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all…a shot. Once the shot is administered, Kitty is cast into an ingenious dream within a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut out of PussyCat heaven forever. This ninth installment of the popular Bad Kitty series from Nick Bruel is chock-full of brilliant supporting characters and, of course, the crankiest bad kitty you’ve ever seen.

ABOUT NICK BRUEL

Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books, among others. He is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and during his down time, he collects PEZ dispensers and grows tomatoes in the backyard. He lives in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Carina and their lovely cat Esmerelda.

CONNECT WITH NICK BRUEL
Website | Bad Kitty Books | Bad Kitty on FacebookTwitter

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StoryMakers
Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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13. Listen in on the What Should I Read Next podcast

I recently talked with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy on her new podcast, What Should I Read Next. We discussed verse novels, why I’m uncomfortable talking publicly about books I don’t enjoy, and being a generous reader.

After recording, I realized I misspoke about something and want to set the record straight. I said Mimi from Full Cicada Moon could have been friends with my May Betterly, if the two had been real girls. But I realized it was my Alis and Kimi that I thought would befriend Mimi. You can find literary friends for May here.

Anne and I had an invigorating conversation, one that left me with two new library books on my nightstand. I hope you’ll listen in!

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Listen in on the What Should I Read Next podcast originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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14. From Novel to Movie: Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger

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Greenhorn , middle grade novel by Anna Olswanger. | DarcyPattison.com Anna Olswanger’s middle grade novel, GREENHORN (See Review), was made into an indie film. It’s a dream that many of us have, to see our story on the big screen. I asked her to tell us about the process.

Anna’s introduction to the story

In 2014 I co-produced a short indie film adaptation of the novel. The film premiered at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. It was named the 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival in Memphis, and subsequently aired on public television in Memphis and Kentucky. In February, 2016, it was part of the Festival Internacional De Cine Judio en Mexico and will screen on March 27, 2016 at the International Children’s Film Festival at L.A.’s WonderCon.

TMW Media has just started distributing the film so that libraries and schools can purchase the DVD with public performance rights and show the film in classrooms. TMW is also distributing the film on Amazon to individual viewers. The film could be a tie-in to Holocaust Remembrance Day in May and International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January. The discussion guide for the film is online at the distributor’s site:

GreenHorn Video. Adaptation of novel by Anna Olswanger. | DarcyPattison.com

When did you decide that this book would make a good film?

I think every author hopes that her book will be optioned for film, and as a literary agent, I am used to getting my clients’ books into the hands of film producers. In the case of Greenhorn, I thought that the story had conflict, a strong climax, and a poignant resolution, the right elements for a good film. I just didn’t know how I would interest a producer in such a short book.

How did you find the contact to adapt it to film?

A potential client, who is a screenwriter, submitted a children’s book manuscript to me. It wasn’t a manuscript I could successfully represent, but we began a conversation about her work and she suggested that I show Greenhorn to a director she had worked with. I did contact him, and he liked the book. He asked me if I would like to co-produce the film with him.

As the author, what involvement did you have in the script? Did you have rights of approval/disapproval?

Because I was the co-producer, I was able to read the script and comment on it. My main concern was authenticity. I wanted to make sure that anyone familiar with that era of history during the 1940s would be convinced by the film.

Once the book goes to film, who is in charge? Where does the buck stop? When the book is adapted for film what is the author’s role? Nothing? Or do you have veto rights on decisions? For example, Ella Enchanted became a farce almost in movie format, a far cry from the book itself. Authors worry. What if their “baby” is misunderstood?

As a literary agent, I can confirm that the interpretation of the producer and screenwriter is of concern to authors. But unless you’re a big name author, you have to let go of your book when you option it. You’ve been paid money by someone who is excited by your story and has a vision of it as a film, and you have to trust that this person’s vision will enhance your book. If you don’t trust the producer, then don’t option the book. I think the situation is similar to being the author of a picture book text and having to let go when the illustrator comes on board. The picture book author has to let the illustrator have her own vision of the story. You can’t control what the illustrator sees. However, I was in the unique position of being both the author of the book and the co-producer of the film, so I was able to read the script and make suggestions for changes.

As the author, what surprised you about the film adaptation?

I remember from my days as a college theatre major how quickly and deeply friendships are formed among cast members, but it surprised me to see similar friendships develop among the boys who were in the cast of this film. It was fun to watch them play around during the times when we weren’t filming. See the wonderful photo of them after we filmed a scene.

The director/screenwriter, who happens not to be Jewish, recently told me he wants to develop a feature-length version of the story to flesh out the backstory of the children and their lives outside the yeshiva. It constantly surprises me how this story resonates with people, especially people who have no connection to the Holocaust or even Jewish history.
Hurrah! It was fun for these actors to star in  GREENHORN, by Anna Olswanger | DarcyPattison.com


Actors formed close ties during the filming of GREENHORN by ANNA OLSWANGER. | DarcyPattison.com


The indie film, GREENHORN, by  Anna Olswanger is a poignant Jewish story. | DarcyPattison.com

Will the process change how you write your next book?

I don’t think so, but the process has made me see how satisfying it is to see work in one medium take on a life in another medium.

Is there any money in all of this for you, the author?

Greenhorn is a small indie film, and as the co-producer I had to raise the funds to pay the actors, the production staff, the travel and hotel expenses for the crew during filming, props, hair dresser, catering, music, post sound design, and insurance. We didn’t budget in fees for the director or producers, or for me as the author, so there isn’t money in this for me. Even so, I would do it again.

Trailer for Greenhorn


If you can’t see this video, click here.


Darcy’s note about developing your own PR package:
For publicity purposes, Anna presented me with a complete package. She quickly answered some key questions about the process of creating a film from a novel. When she sent me the answers, she included interesting photos, details about where the film had aired, how to buy the movie on Amazon, links to a free discussion guide, suggestions on when it might be appropriate to view the film in an education setting, and a great movie trailer easily available on YouTube. If you’re doing publicity for a book or movie, this is a case study in how to do it right!

The post From Novel to Movie: Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger appeared first on Fiction Notes.

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15. StoryMakers On Location| The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems

STORYMAKERS Mo Willems Featured Image

StoryMakers host Rocco Staino caught up with Mo Willems at the preview for The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems, a retrospective of Willems’ work at the New-York Historical Society. The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibit contains many pieces that show Willems’ process as he created some of kid lit’s most memorable characters. He hopes children create their own art after they leave the museum. The author and illustrator briefly discussed The Thank You Book, the 25th and last book in the Elephant and Piggie series.

Mo Willems has had a huge impact on the lives of children. As a television writer for Sesame Street he garnered six Emmys. His witty one-liners inspired children to quote characters from Codename: Kids Next Door amongst other familiar cartoons. In 2003 his first picture book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, was published and since then it’s been a stream of accolades; three Caldecott Honors, two Geisel Medals, five Geisel Honors, and a place in the Picture Book Hall of Fame.

Willems’ surly pigeon, the mismatched pair of Elephant and Piggie, and everyone’s favorite Knuffle Bunny are a few of the characters visitors will get to see evolve via the exhibit.

The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibition brings together original art, sketches, and inspirational drawings from Willem’s most popular series, plus stand-alone classics such as Leonardo the Terrible Monster and That is NOT a Good Idea!. It displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness, and the desire, as Willems says, “to think of my audience, not for my audience.” His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.

The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems is open now, until September 25, 2016. Click here for ticket information, directions, and more.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art organized the exhibition, which is supported by Disney Publishing Worldwide.

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StoryMakers On Location - Mo Willems
ACTIVITIES

Click the images or links below to access fun activities with characters from Mo Willems’ books!

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Coloring Sheet of the Month

ABOUT THE THANK YOU BOOK


The Thank You Book
The Thank You Book - The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion, 2016)

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone … someone important.

ABOUT MO WILLEMS

#1 New York Times Bestseller Mo Willems began his career as a writer and animator for PBS’ Sesame Street, where he garnered 6 Emmy Awards for his writing. During his nine seasons at Sesame Street, Mo also served as a weekly commentator for BBC Radio and created two animated series, Nickelodeon’s The Off-Beats and Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City.

While serving as head writer for Cartoon Network’s #1 rated show, Codename: Kids Next Door, Mo began writing and drawing books for children. His debut effort, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! became a New York Times Bestseller and was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004. The following year Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale was awarded a Caldecott Honor. The sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too: a Case of Mistaken Identity garnered Mo his third Caldecott Honor in 2008.

In addition to picture books, Mo created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of “Easy Readers”, which were awarded the Theodor Suess Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009 and  Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. For older audiences he has published an illustrated memoir of his year-long trip around the world in 1990-91 entitled You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons and Don’t Pigeonhole Me!, a collection of 20 years of his annual sketchbooks. His books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Read more: Mo Willems FAQ

CONNECT WITH MO WILLEMS
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ABOUT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical is the oldest museum in New York City. New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered political, cultural and social history of New York City and State and the nation, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs are one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

The New-York Historical Society’s museum is the oldest in New York City and predates the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly seventy years.

Read more: New-York Historical Society

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16. KidLit Auction: Bid on a Verse Novel Critique

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KidLit Auction for John and Betsy MacLeod

Recently one of our own in the KidLit community, Betsy MacLeod, and her husband John, were dealt a cruel blow when John was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Beyond the heartbreaking reality of his diagnosis, John and Betsy are faced with enormous and mounting medical expenses, many of which are not covered by insurance. To help them financially and in spirit, we are offering wonderful items through this online Kidlit Auction, which will run from March 17th to March 30th, 2016.

Signed books, artwork, manuscript critiques, vacation homes from Vermont and Cape Cod to Scotland, and more will help raise money to improve the quality of what remains of John’s life.

Join me in supporting John and Betsy MacLeod. I’ve donated a full verse novel critique (which will include manuscript notes and an editorial letter) as well as a signed copy of Blue Birds. If you are an aspiring verse novelist or know someone who is, please spread the word. And please share with others you know who might be interested in supporting the MacLeod family.

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post KidLit Auction: Bid on a Verse Novel Critique originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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17. StoryMakers | David Walliams’s ‘Demon Dentist’

StoryMakers On Location - David Walliams Featured Image

David Walliams is the bestselling author of Demon Dentist and several other middle grade books. Also, Walliams is a comedian who is best known to adults as the star of the popular English comedy, Little Britain. StoryMakers host Rocco Staino interviewed Walliams on location at New York City’s Path1 Studio.

We’re giving away three (3) copies of David Walliams’s Demon Dentist. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2016. Enter now!

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ABOUT DEMON DENTIST

Demon Dentist - David WalliamsDemon Dentist
Written by David Walliams; illustrated by Tony Ross (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Something strange is happening in Alfie’s town. Instead of shiny coins from the tooth fairy, kids are waking up to dead slugs, live spiders, and other icky, terrible things under their pillows. Who would do something so horrific? Alfie is sure that Miss Root, the new dentist in town, is behind it all. There’s nothing Alfie hates more than going to the dentist, but to solve this mystery, he may have to book a dreaded appointment … (Via Harper Collins)

Read a sample, here.

ABOUT DAVID WALLIAMS

Via Harper Collins UK
Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book Demon Dentist was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers Ratburger and Gangsta Granny were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of Gangsta Granny dominated the UK charts in 2013, remaining at number one for a colossal 22 weeks.

David is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK. Following the Christmas 2012 success and BAFTA nomination of the BBC adaptation of his second book, Mr Stink, starring Hugh Bonneville, Gangsta Granny was aired in 2013 over Christmas. Walliams’ books have achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and it comes as no surprise that countless broadsheet reviewers have compared him to his all-time hero, Roald Dahl.

David is well known for his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created Little Britain, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs and is now shown in over 100 countries. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.

In September 2011 David swam 140 miles from Gloucestershire to Westminster raising £2.5 million for Sports Relief. David has also proved popular in his role as a judge on TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent, where he found inspiration for one of the characters in his bestselling novel Ratburger.

CONNECT WITH DAVID WALLIAMS
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18. Straight From the Source: Author Kate Hannigan on Writing Historical Fiction

Kate Hannigan writes fiction and non-fiction for young readers. She got hooked on historical fiction when she discovered a copy of The Thorn Birds on the tippy-top highest shelf when she was in seventh grade – clearly forbidden reading, which made it even better! She used to work in daily newspapers but now spends her time down the rabbit hole researching her next books. The Detective’s Assistant was named a 2016 Golden Kite Award winner from SCBWI, a Booklist “Best of 2015” pick, as well as a “Best of the Best 2015” book with Chicago Public Library. Visit Kate online at KateHannigan.com.

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Why is historical fiction important?

It’s a window into the past, and for children who are meeting historical figures for the first time in our books, it’s so important that we engage and inform as well as entertain. If a reader really takes to a historical fiction work, then that might open up a whole new world to them. They might dig deep into learning more about a particular era in history, or pursue more historical work. It’s very exciting!

What kinds of sources do you use? 

I try to do full-immersion research, and I tap from anywhere I can find material. Right now, for a new project, I have a couple documentaries I’m watching, stacks of library books (shhh, don’t turn me in, but I use FOUR cards for our public library; mine and my three kids’ cards), original writing or reporting when I can find it, as well as museum trips so I can see and absorb all I can.

For The Detective’s Assistant, I was wandering the Chicago History Museum when I saw their beautiful exhibit of Daguerrotypes. And I knew at that moment that a framed photo like I was seeing in the museum would play a part in my book.

To get a sense of the language of the times, I try to read books that would have been in circulation at the time my book is set. So for The Detective’s Assistant, I read books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which published in 1852 but would have still been read and discussed when my book is set in 1859. Sister Carrie, which came later, helped me understand the desperation a woman might feel moving to the big city and trying to fend for herself in the 19th century.

I found a copy of “Godey’s Ladies Book,” the popular magazine of the 1850s, for sale on eBay. So I got an 1856 copy and read what women in my book might have been reading. And newspapers! I am a former newspaper gal, so my heart is with newspaper research. The headlines, the way stories are presented, the language of the times: newspaper archives are a rich source of understanding the day to day living.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

Sometimes the subject of our research has been obliterated by time. For the research into Kate Warne’s life, I had to rely on Allan Pinkerton’s writing. But the Great Fire that wiped out Chicago in 1871 destroyed Pinkerton’s detailed record-keeping of his operatives and cases. So what I could find of her was very limited.

What is your favorite thing about research?

It is endless! It’s like falling down a rabbit hole.

What’s your least favorite thing about research?

It is endless! It’s like falling down a rabbit hole!

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

There was a whole lot of Underground Railroad research in my book, as well as the buildup to the Civil War. And best of all, Abe Lincoln. I learned so many interesting things by reading so much about this era. I’d say the most interesting thing I read, among so many wonderful anecdotes, had to do with the connective tissue of Life.

People might already know this one, but it was fascinating to me to learn that Lincoln’s son Robert was once saved from grave injury or death by John Wilkes Booth’s brother, Edwin Booth, a popular actor. Robert Lincoln was waiting for a train in 1863 or ’64 when he was jostled by the crowd and fell into the gap between a moving train and the platform. Robert Lincoln recalled the incident later:
. . . the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.
Such a human moment – one individual coming to the aid of another. We know what transpired just a year or so later between Edwin’s brother and Robert’s father. It reminds me how our lives are all so closely intertwined. And it’s one of the reasons why I love history!

The post Straight From the Source: Author Kate Hannigan on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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19. Egyptian Author Jailed for Sexual Content in Book

lifelifelifeEgyptian author Ahmed Naji will serve two years in prison for writing “sexually explicit” content in his book, Using Life.

The sentence comes after the novelist was found guilty of violating public modesty laws when an excerpt from his book was published in a magazine. CNN has the scoop:

A man had complained that Naji’s writings caused him heart palpitations, sickness and a drop in blood pressure. Prosecutors took the case to court, arguing that Naji’s use of “vulgar” phrases to describe genitals and sexual intercourse constituted a “disease destroying social values.”

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20. StoryMakers | Carol Weston’s Ava Wren Series

STORYMAKERS - Carol Weston

Carol Weston is the author of more than 15 books and serves as “Dear Carol,” the advice columnist for Girls’ Life magazine. Her book Ava and Pip was said to be “a love letter to language,” by the New York Times Book Review. Carol joined StoryMakers host Rocco Staino to discuss the books in the Ava Wren series, her book of advice for teens, and her upcoming book titles. The Ava Wren series imparts wonderful and sometimes difficult lessons about growing up, friendship, responsibilities, and the dreaded first crush. Ava and Pip is a 2015 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and Ava and Taco Cat was named a 2015 ABC Best Books for Young Readers (American Booksellers Association). 2015 Newbery Honor Book Roller Girl author Victoria Jamieson illustrated the covers for the Ava Wren series!

We’re giving away three (3) bundles of books signed by Carol Weston. Each bundle includes a copy of Ava XOX, Ava and Taco Cat, and Ava and Pip. Enter now!

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ABOUT THE AVA WREN SERIES

Ava XOXAva XOX Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Love is in the air-and Ava thinks she’s allergic Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes What? ? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they? To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help-but, uh oh, it’s not as easy as she imagines. Don’t miss how it all began in: Ava and Pip and Ava and Taco Cat. Ava and Taco CatAva and Taco Cat Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T. When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco? Ava and PipAva and Pip Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip’s 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest. But uh-oh, Ava should never have written “Sting of the Queen Bee.” Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?

COMING SOON

The Speed of Life (September 2016) Written by Carol Weston Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Amazon Pre-order

“The Speed of Life is the kind of book that you want to read speedily, all at once, because the characters are so engaging, the voice of the narrator pitch perfect, the situations convincingly real and raw, the humor and liveliness of the prose such fun to follow, and the feelings of that time in a teenager’s life when everything can go from awful to awesome in a heartbeat are so vividly captured. You won’t want to put it down. But my advice is slow down and savor this delightful book, full of cariño, funny and heartfelt, and (spoiler alert) not just for teens.”

— Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

ABOUT CAROL WESTON

Carol Weston was born in Armonk, New York, but lives in Manhattan. She’s a Phi Beta Kappa comparative literature graduate of Yale, with an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. She’s been on the Today show and Oprah, and The View. She loves cats, walks, art museums, and her husband Rob makes a mean paella. Carol has two daughters; one works for NBC and one co-started Birch Benders Micro-Pancakery. CONNECT WITH CAROL WESTON Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter CONNECT WITH KidLit TV Facebook Group Facebook Page | Newsletter | Pinterest | Twitter YouTube StoryMakers Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

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21. Straight from the Source: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb on Writing Historical Fiction

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb is the author of The 13th Sign, Selling Hope ,and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different . Watch for John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy this month (written as E.F. Abbott) and  Miss Daisy’s Job summer 2017. Tubb can be found far too often on Facebook and Twitter.  Oh, and she has a website, too.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

An era or idea usually precedes the character for me, and once I’ve done some research, it becomes clear what kind of character would struggle in that setting. It can be painful to write the underdog or the outsider, but it’s usually much richer story if that’s the case, and I find it’s easier to do so knowing a lot about what constitutes “underdoggedness” in a certain era. (I think I just made up a word. ☺ )

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I still use the system that my freshman English teacher, Linda McGill taught us! The method is this: each source gets a number depending on when I’ve read it/taken notes from it. Each notecard (more on that in a bit!) is one fact, and it’s coded with that source number and the page number or the specific URL where the information was found. After I’m done researching (which for John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy was four months, but for Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different was four years), the notecards are spread and shuffled EVERYWHERE to create the story outline. Once the outline is complete, the cards are finally put in subject-order, things like “Church,” “Medicines,” “Foods,” etc.

While I’m drafting the book, I look at these categories often: “Hmmm, what kind of a hymn would be sung at a funeral?” And because it’s coded with a source and page number, I can always go back to that source. For every book I’ve written, I’ve needed to, at some point, relocate a source to clarify a fact. So it’s a useful system for me. Thank you again, Ms. McGill!

And regarding notecards: I don’t use them any more, although I did for both Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different – my debut – and Selling Hope. Everything is in a Word document now, though all facts are still coded with a source and page number!

What kinds of sources do you use? 

For Autumn Winifred Oliver, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a goldmine of primary sources: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an archives located in the basement of the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center. Cookbooks, photographs, hymnals, school books: all used by the folks who lived in Cades Cove, Tennessee.

For Selling Hope, I found an amazing resource in the online photograph collection hosted by the Chicago Historical Society. (Since the writing of that book, many local libraries, historical societies and universities have done this for their city. Be sure and use those historical societies! They LIVE for requests like the ones historical fiction writers ask!)

For John Lincoln Clem, I watched hours of Civil War reenactors on YouTube, particularly the drummers. It was critical to the book to capture the sound and cadence of the drum calls, and this was amazingly helpful. I use YouTube a lot. A LOT. Also eBay, which, when you search for a year and/or a city, will often produce fantastic results: jewelry, books, clothing, dinnerware, etc. I’ve also used classic advertisements to describe cars and clothing, and the want ads (my FAVORITE!) to gather unique and wonderful vocabulary for an era. Each book has taken me to unique places that I didn’t know existed.

What is your favorite thing about research?

My favorite thing about research is that it often builds my plot and my characters for me. I mentioned above that I sometimes craft a character based on who might be an awful fit for a certain time and place. In Selling Hope, for example, Hope is a homebody who longs for permanence based largely on my research of those nomadic vaudeville troops.

Research also often uncovers plot points that I know I’ll want to include in my story. In John Lincoln Clem, the research I did on the Civil War uncovered the fact that some soldiers, in their boredom, would pick a louse – a single lice bug – off their body and “race” them across a tin plate. The winner would get out of chores or win brass buttons. I knew this was a story kids would eat up, so it became part of the plot of the book. 

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

The answer is there, it just needs dusting off, possibly while wearing white gloves. Search and ye shall find! That, and writing historical fiction, to me, is just like writing contemporary fiction but with a more thorough setting, a tighter lens. What people want – love, togetherness, family, health, friends, to make a difference – never changes. Themes are everlasting. So uncovering what people want, and looking at that need within the scope of the era, is a very satisfying way to tell a story.

Why is historical fiction important?

Because themes are everlasting – because people still want now what they’ve always wanted – historical fiction reflects humanity’s attempts at achieving goals. Sometimes those goals are achieved beautifully. Sometimes they are a disaster. Historical fiction shows readers that our ancestors worked and played and struggled and won and failed – and survived. Humans have attempted many different ways to survive. Historical fiction reflects our wins and our losses.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Straight from the Source: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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22. Four Places to Find Authors Who Want to Vist Your School

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Perhaps you’ve considered inviting an author to talk to your students but are unsure what to do. Maybe a neighboring school has just brought in an author to great success and you’d like to do the same.

But how exactly do you proceed? How do you find an author who does presentations? Are these visits free (and if not, shouldn’t they be)?*

Finding authors

Probably the most comprehensive list of authors who do school visits can be found through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Speaker’s Bureau. Here you can find authors, illustrators, and children’s book translators by region or within a certain radius from where you are. Want someone who writes for a certain age range? You can do that, too.

For example, when I entered “All” (for authors, illustrators, or translators), “New Mexico,” and the age range 5-10, I was able to find six authors and illustrators who met that criteria. Because SCBWI is an international organization, you can find speakers from every corner of the globe and many who are willing to travel.

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Another way to find authors is to visit publishing websites directly. Scholastic, for example, has an Invite an Author page, where you can search a list of authors available for school and Skype visits. Here’s a similar page from Random House Children’s Books, one from Penguin, another from HarperCollins.

Author Kim Norman also hosts a blog called School Author Visits by State, where you can quickly scan lists of authors, arranged alphabetically by state, who are ready and willing to present at schools.

One final way to find an author to visit your school is to simply Google a few of your favorites. Many authors include on their websites information about school visits as well as presentations prospective schools can choose from. Here are a few examples I think are especially great:

Alexis O’Neill
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Kate Messner
Don Tate
Deborah Wiles
Gordon Korman
Kekla Magoon
Barbara O’Connor
Terry Lynn Johnson

Once you’ve booked that author, consider reading these articles filled with great advice on making your visit spectacular.

Ten Tips for a Perfect Author Visit :: Nerdy Book Club
The Authors Answer: What Made Your Best School Visits Great? :: Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker
The Perfect Author Visit :: Dan Gutman

*More on this second question in tomorrow’s post

 

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

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23. Why Pay Authors for School Visits Anyway?

book posters illinois

Yesterday I shared tips on finding authors who are interested in school visits. Today I’m going to bring up compensation, a topic that is never easy to discuss but is nevertheless necessary, especially if you’re interested in inviting an author to your school. Let’s look at some commonly-held assumptions about authors and visits and contrast them with a more realistic glimpse at things.

Assumption #1: Shouldn’t authors offer free school visits? After all, it’s great for publicity. Some authors do offer free visits, whether when first starting out (I did that) or by offering one or two free visits each year (I’ve done that, too) or in other situations when they choose to do so. But here’s the thing:

An author is a professional. Just as we wouldn’t expect a plumber to fix a leak in exchange for publicity, we shouldn’t expect the same from an author sharing her expertise with young readers.

There’s an unspoken assumption attached to this one, the idea that once an author sells a book she has it made. In truth, it’s safe to say many of us make less (in many cases far less) than your average teacher. All of my books have sold for less than what I received my first year teaching, and that was in the mid-nineties in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the US. For an author, there’s no such thing as a steady income. Selling new books to a publisher can be sporadic, if it happens at all. I share this because I think it’s important to have a sense of how slow and precarious establishing oneself in the writing world can be. 

Assumption #2: We’d like to have bookseller come when you’re at our school. Aren’t book sales enough to cover an author visit? Thank you to every school that considers book sales! To give a child the opportunity to own a book — any book — is a gift. And there is special meaning attached to a book written by an author the child has met. Unfortunately, though, book sales are not the same as compensation.

For example, for each book I sell, I earn around $1 for a hardback and $.50 for each paperback. So while selling books at a school visit is wonderful, it is primarily a benefit for young readers.

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Assumption #3: I’ve just looked at your rates. You sure expect to make a lot of money an hour! If you click through to my author visits page, you’ll get sense at what I charge for visits in the Albuquerque area, within New Mexico, and out of state. While some authors choose not to list their prices online, I like having that information available to anyone who might consider inviting me to present at their school.

An author’s rates can’t be translated into hourly fees. When a school pays for an author visit, not only are they compensating the author for the work she does that day, but all the preparation that went into the presentations beforehand, the time spent traveling to and from the school, and the author’s time away from her writing desk. An author visit isn’t just an event, it’s an experience, one that takes time and preparation to get it just right.

Assumption #4: There’s no way my school can afford to bring an author in. Not true! Scholastic has produced a great document about preparing for an author visit, which includes ideas for fundraising. SCBWI offers the Amber Brown Grant, which annually gives one school “an all-expense-paid visit from a well-respected children’s author or illustrator.” Here’s another page with information on funding, another on grants. Perhaps money earmarked for field trips might be used for a school visit (think of it as a field trip coming to the school). Or maybe the PTA could help out. And don’t forget Skype visits, which cost significantly less.

Dan Gutman shares a wonderful quote from a student on his Perfect Author Visit page.

I am now reading more than any other part of my life thanks to Dan Gutman.

Isn’t this ultimately the wish of every author and teacher? An author visit is an opportunity to hook young readers, keep them reading, and serve their creativity, writing, and imaginations for years to come. It’s an investment, for sure, one I wholeheartedly believe is worth making.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Why Pay Authors for School Visits Anyway? originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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24. Top Posts of All Time

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In 2009 I stopped teaching without any publishing prospects, but with the burning conviction it was time to put everything behind my efforts to finally sell a book. I did what every other aspiring author was doing then: I started a blog.

A few months later, I signed with my first agent. Four months after that, May B. was under contract. Through highs and lows this blog has been a constant, a place for me to think through ideas, share bits of encouragement, introduce readers to new books, and celebrate my own. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are entirely new, I thank you for the ways you’ve added to the conversation and become a key part of my writing life.

Over the next few months I plan to highlight key posts that have risen to the top. Today’s are the posts that are read most often (I wrote this before last week, when this post, now the top post of all time, went live). While my sense is most regular readers are aspiring writers, it’s interesting to note these posts almost exclusively speak to teachers, librarians, and parents looking to share books with their children.

Running a Book Club for Kids

The first post in a series based on my experience running after-school book clubs, this post has been number one around here for years. Included in the post are links to the rest of the series.

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The Gift of Friendship

I love knowing that the second most-widely read post on the blog is essentially a love letter to my dear friend, Jamie C. Martin, whose own book comes out later this year. The post touches on the ways friends bolster and inspire us, in this case how Jamie pushed me to be brave when writing Blue Birds.

Third-Grade Book Club Reading Lists

Straight from my after-school book club days, this is the list I used with third-grade readers, plus a run down of everything I included in my Welcome to Book Club handout.

Classroom Connections: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Lynda’s had a pretty phenomenal year, hitting the NYT Bestseller’s List with her second middle-grade novel, Fish in a Tree, and going on to win the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award, which “embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” This interview includes links to Lynda’s website and educator’s guide.

Fast Five: Novels About Teachers and Their Students

This one’s been a favorite for a long time, with a number of oldie but goodies sure to inspire.

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Reading in the Wild: 5 Things Wild Readers Do

Teacher turned author turned Scholastic Press guru, Donalyn Miller, has written two glorious books about reading and teaching that I devoured. This post is one of several that grew out of her second book, Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits. Read our interview based on Donalyn’s first book, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, here.

Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Top Posts of All Time originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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25. Classroom Connections: The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone

The Last Boy at St. Edith’s
age range: 8-12
genre: contemporary fiction
Lee Gjertsen Malone’s website

This is a funny, emotional book that will quickly become a favorite to many a reader, regardless of age. Sweet, funny, exciting—a spectacular debut. — Kirkus, starred review

Humor mixes with more serious issues in this clever debut. — Booklist

Malone’s debut is a sweet, candid novel about fitting in, messing up, and making amends. — Publisher’s Weekly

Please tell us about your book.

It’s the story of a boy named Jeremy who goes to an all girl’s school that tried to go coed but failed. He ends up being the very last boy left at the school, because his mother works there and won’t let him transfer, so he hatches a plan with his best friend to pull some epic pranks in an effort to get himself expelled.

What inspired you to write this story?

It began with a conversation with my husband. He went to an all-boy’s school that went coed a few years after he graduated, and we got a fundraising newsletter from his alma mater. As a graduate of public schools, I was fascinated with the whole idea – why a previously single gender school would decide to go coed, and, because this is where my mind goes, how would they know it would work? And what would happen if it didn’t work, and instead of there being more and more kids of your gender each year, there were fewer and fewer?

And the same time I was also thinking I wanted to write a book about a strong boy-girl friendship that was tested by growing up, and the combination of those two ideas got me started writing this book.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I love doing research, even if it’s not obvious in the finished book. I love it almost too much. For this book I researched a lot of things – saint names, the economic development of western Massachusetts, and how doorknobs are put together. Oh, and pranks. Lots and lots of pranks.

What are some special challenges associated with writing middle grade?

First, I think that while it’s true that in any novel every scene has to have a purpose, in middle grade I think it’s even more important – because of the space constraints, every scene needs to do double and triple duty. There’s also the tricky issue of the middle grade voice. It’s not easy to find that balance where your kids sound like kids and the story feels like something they would be interested in without becoming a parody of the way kids talk.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

The book touches on a few topics I think would be great for classroom conversations. The first is gender – what does it mean to act like a boy? What does it mean to act like a girl? And why does it matter? Do you need to have friends and role models like yourself in order to know how you are supposed to be?

Secondly, Jeremy, the main character, is a lot of ways a cultural norm in our society. He’s white, male, middle class. He wouldn’t stand out at all in a lot of places. But he definitely does stand out at St. Edith’s. Which leads to the question, what makes something a norm anyway? How can you decide what’s normal without considering the context?

And finally, the main characters make some really bad decisions in the book that seem like good ideas at first. They never intend to hurt anyone with their pranks but they end up causing a lot more trouble than they expected. I think it’s interesting to think about what you should do when something you never intended to cause people trouble backfires.

What do you think of the blog? I’d love to hear from you.
Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Classroom Connections: The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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