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1. Living in my Illustrations

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Being an illustrator is great fun.  Why?  Because you can use your imagination to go places you’ve never been and do things you’ve never done. For instance, I have always wanted a log cabin up in the mountains.  As a teen, I used to imagine having a studio up a flight of wooden steps to a big room. It would have rafter ceilings and a window seat for me to look out of.  It would be warm and cozy and I could sit and do my art all day long near a roaring fire in the wood stove.

When I began thinking of places for my character Burl the bear to live in, I made it just like “I” wanted it!  Warm and inviting!  When you walk through the doorway of my story, you will find a home that lives in my imagination. It will be a place that I love and I will revisit it many times as the story progresses. I must be passionate about what I draw or it becomes listless and boring. This process is what makes a story believable.

My experience tells me that children notice the tiniest of details.  I did a school visit after Peepsqueak was published by Harper Collins Publisher.  I read the book to the children and then we talked.  Through out the story there was another story going on in the book. It was a little tiny mouse who appeared on many of the pages.  The children did not miss it. They even commented on the mouse as I read to them.  I let them in on a little secret.  I named the mouse Elliot.  When I told them his name they all squealed with delight and pointed to the cutest little boy in their classroom who was named Elliot!   He was beaming.  Suddenly he became part of the story. He was so happy!

These are the things that make a story magical in the eyes of children and adults alike.  Its also why I continue creating images.  I love seeing characters develop.   I love finding their voices. .. what they are like… what they like to do.  It does not stop when I leave the studio.  I think about them all the time, until I finally know how they would react in any given situation. That way they become very believable creations and loved by all.

Stay posted,  Burl and Briley are growing on my heart daily.  I can hardly wait to illustrate the books that are in my mind!


Filed under: how to write, My Characters

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2. Books to Celebrate and Teach about Adoption

Adoption image

National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family.

Picture books provide a medium to discuss, celebrate, and learn about adoption and exploring the definition of “family.”

Book recommendations:

Bringing Asha Home

Journey Home

The Best Thing

Chinatown Adventure

Discussion Questions during and after reading:

  • What does “family” mean to you? How might the word mean something different to people?
  • What does it mean to be adopted? What might be some challenges for a family with an adopted child or for a child who is adopted? What might be some benefits for a family who adopt a child or for a child who is adopted?
  • How is this character’s family similar to and different from your own family?
  • How do this character and family share and have fun together? What do you enjoy doing with your siblings and family members?
  • How does the character feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the story? How does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • How would you describe this character’s relationship with his/her parent in the story?

Activities:

  • Learn more about the country from which the character is adopted. On which continent is the country located? What countries border this country? What language is spoken there? How many people live in that country? Who are some famous people from that country? Find a recipeof a food from this country to make.
  • Share and reflect on this list of famous adoptees or adopters from TeacherVision by Beth Rowen.
  • Draw a family portrait of your own family.
  • Write a paragraph describing what makes your family unique and why you are proud of your family.

Further reading about adoption:

Jill EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations Tagged: Adoption, children's books, diversity, Educators, holidays, multicultural books, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, Transracial adoption

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3. Disney Unleashes Trailer For ‘Cinderella’ Movie

Disney has unleashed a new trailer the live-action Cinderella film adaptation. Thus far, it has drawn more than 50,000 ‘likes” on Facebook.

The video embedded above offers glimpses of Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother, and Lily James in the titular role. This movie is scheduled to hit theaters on March 13, 2015. (via BuzzFeed)

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4. THE MAGIC TREE is available for preorder!



Just a quick post to let you know that a book I illustrated this past summer, The Magic Tree, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! If you are looking for a cute book to help boost your child's self-esteem, this would be it!

This children's book is also written by Dr. Michal Noah, best-selling author of "A-Z The Universe in Me"!

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5. My Euphoria at Discovering Anaphora: by Beth Ferry

The Use of Literary Devices in Picture Books: Part 1        Beth_Ferry_photo
by Beth Ferry

As parents, we are constantly teaching our children about the world: rules, facts and essential life truths such as: Be kind. Be patient. Bees sting. Eat your vegetables. Don’t eat the sand. Say please and thank you. Don’t step on that ant. As they grow older, teaching can morph into school related lessons: spelling tools, vocabulary words, and math tricks such as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. As they grow even older, teaching becomes somehow more life affirming: Don’t drive and text. Be kind. Be true to yourself. Do your best. Hold your head up high. High school only lasts for four years.

In return, our children teach us how to be patient and forgiving. How to be creative and inventive. How to be happy. Watching them grow and learn has taught me a lot about myself, and I am a better person because I am a parent. But it is a rare event that I learn something academically new from my children. There are plenty of instances where I’ll encounter something I absolutely once knew, but have lost on the journey to adulthood, like, you know, the sum of interior alternate angles or how to balance a chemical equation. My college major was English after all. So imagine my surprise when, while reading aloud my new work-in-progress, my teenage son says “That’s anaphora.”

Stop the merry-go-round. What is he saying? Is it Latin? Text-talk? A new girl in his class? He explains it is a literary device he is learning about in AP English concerning rhetoric. What? He shows me his list of literary terms and I suddenly morph into a kid in a candy shop, marveling over this plethora of devices that I am unconsciously using and about which I have heard nary a whisper. I scurry off to devour this list, to taste each device and explore my own skill in using such lofty literary language without even knowing it.

There are reasons that these literary devices exist. It is because they work. The use of these devices makes writing stronger, more lyrical, more beautiful. Without even knowing it, I bet you will find your work peppered with polysyndeton, anadiplosis and euphony. Here are some of my favorites:

Alliteration. This one you will know as it is very common in picture books. I love alliteration and I’m sure you are familiar with the repetition of similar sounds in the beginning of successive words. I use them a lot in titles such as Stick and Stone or Pirate’s Perfect Pet.

Anadiplosis. This is the repetition of the last word of the preceding clause in the beginning of the next sentence. So it is almost like a word-segue between sentences. It’s hard to do, but very effective. The most recent and perfect example I can think of comes from the lyrics to the song “Glad You Came” by The Wanted:
Turn the lights out now
Now I’ll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink
Drink it if you can

Anaphora. This device is like alliteration but involving words instead of sounds. It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause or sentence. The opening of A Tale of Two Cities is the perfect example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . It was the epitome of anaphora.

Anastrophe. Using this device allows the order of the noun and adjective to be reversed – think Yoda. It is also knows as hyperbaton, from the Greek meaning ‘transposition’. Poe uses this device to great effect, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing.”

Assonance. Like alliteration, assonance repeats sounds, but the sounds produced by the vowels only, such as “purple curtain”. In the same vein, consonance is the repetitive use of the consonant sounds, usually at the end – stuck, streak, luck. You probably use both of these without even knowing it.

Beth will return with MORE LITERARY DEVICES next month.  Rest assured…there are LOTS more!

Beth Ferry lives and writes near the beach. Her debut book, Stick and Stone, will be released on April 7, 2015 by HMH. Land Shark (Chronicle) will be released in Fall 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick) follows in Fall 2016.  stick and stone cover


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6. Dan Gutman Pitches a Book With a Rap Song

Have you ever tried to pitch your book using an unconventional method? Writer Dan Gutman recorded himself performing a rap song about a new project starring a musical dinosaur named “Rappy the Raptor“.

Thinking outside the box worked in Gutman’s favor; he signed a contract for a six-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The video embedded above features his “pitch” song—what do you think?

Artist Tim Bowers created the illustrations for Gutman’s picture book. The publishing house has scheduled a release date for April 21, 2015.

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7. ‘The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs’ Turns 25

The True Story of the Three Little PigsThis year marks the 25th anniversary of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, first published this book back in October 1989.

Author Jon Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith’s parody picture book was inspired by a classic fable. In honor of this occasion, we’ve put together a list of three ideas on how fans can celebrate.

(more…)

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8. Andersen Press to Publish UK Edition of Patrick Modiano’s Children’s Book

Catherine CertitudeAndersen Press has acquired the exclusive UK and Commonwealth rights to Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano’s only children’s book, Catherine Certitude.

The Bookseller reports that the United Kingdom-based company plans to make some early copies available for the holiday season. The official publication date has been scheduled for March 2015.

Gallimard, Modiano’s publisher in France, first released the book in 1988. French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé (a.k.a. Sempé) created the illustrations.

David R. Godine, a Boston-based publishing house, released an English edition in the United States in 2001William Rodarmor served as the translator for that project. Follow this link to read an excerpt. (via The Guardian)

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9. Bryan Cranston Narrates ‘You Have to F***ing Eat’

You Have to Fucking EatBreaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston recorded a four-minute audiobook of Adam Mansbach‘s new children’s book for adultsYou Have to F***ing Eat. In an interview with The New York Times, Mansbach commented that Cranston “reads with such nuance.”

Audible has made the digital audiobook available for free until December 12th. Follow this link to download it.

Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L. Jackson served as the narrator for the audiobook edition of Mansbach’s previous titleGo the F*** to Sleep. Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton read the story out loud during an appearance on the Rooster Teeth podcast; click here to watch a video that captured Burton’s recitation.

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10. Gothic Tales for Christmas

Three gothic novels by Australian authors will intrigue primary-school aged (and slightly older) readers who enjoy reading about danger cloaked in mystique and how children can overcome this. Withering-by-Sea (ABC Books) is written and illustrated by Judith Rossell, whose talent is really taking wings. She has also illustrated picture books, which include Ten Little Circus […]

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11. ‘The Circus’ Hits Kickstarter

Artist Sarah Kaufman created a series of paintings and became inspired to use her pieces for a new children’s book entitled The Circus. She hopes to raise $9,000 on Kickstarter to cover the cost of self-publishing.

Kaufman’s artwork features whimsical subjects including a floating ship, flying dogs, and elephants walking on stilts. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The book will also be submitted for consideration for major children’s book awards (Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and Moonbeam Children’s Book Award). The design and layout of the book has already begun. It will be approximately a 12X12 hardcover with nice, big illustrations for the kids to enjoy, and maybe the grown ups too.”

(more…)

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12. Illustrator Interview – Frané Lessac

Naturally, my greatest reason for inviting an illustrator to be interviewed on Miss Marple’s Musings is because I admire her/his art, but often it is also because I am a little nosy (what writer isn’t?) and I want to find … Continue reading

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13. First Look, Second Look, Third Look: Close “Reading” with Book Art

I’ll admit it: I was looking for a Native American book by a Native American author to write about in light of Thanksgiving and National American Indian Heritage Month as many teachers do this time of year.

This Land is My LandThis led me to reread and re-experience the Children’s Book Press treasure, This Land is My Land, by artist George Littlechild. As winner of the 1994 Jane Addams Picture Book Award and 1993 National Parenting Publications Gold Medal, This Land is My Land is a notable treat for students and readers of all ages.

The book features 17 of the artist’s mixed media paintings organized to portray Native American history in North America and Littlechild’s own heritage and childhood. As I studied Littlechild’s paintings and read his accompanying essays about each, I felt as if I were on a gallery walk with my own earbud connected to the artist.

Although this picture book would make a great counterpoint to many Thanksgiving books out there, This Land is My Land is valuable beyond the Thanksgiving-relevant content. It is a great example of how art is a powerful medium for critical thinking development and can be integrated into literacy instruction (not just the assigned art block a couple times a week).

Click on the image to read the text

So, what does close reading (or “looking?”) look like with art?

Like a text, a piece of art is another place for students to engage with multiple times and each time diving into another level of meaning and interpretation. Using art in the classroom relates to the reading standard 7 of the Common Core, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Additionally, many of these questions are questions we would use with students in the close reading of a text.

Below is an example of how students can progress with their observations and thinking. I separated levels of questions into three viewings based on level of complexity, but of course one could (and should) return to a worthwhile painting many, many times.

First look (literal comprehension/understanding)

  • What is happening?
  • What patterns do you see? What images, colors, and symbols do you see repeated or used most often in this painting or across paintings?
  • What materials does Littlechild use?
  • How does Littlechild use positive or negative space?
  • How does Littlechild use the foreground and background?
  • Who is the narrator?
  • What are some common ideas or events portrayed in his artwork?
  • What is the central idea of the painting? What is the central idea of the paintings taken altogether? What makes you think so?

Second look (higher level thinking/interpretation of meaning)

  • What effect do repeated colors, images, patterns, or symbols have on his art and the central idea?
  • What effect does a specific material, such as shells or sequins, have on his art and the central idea?
  • What does “Indian” mean to Littlechild?
  • How does Littlechild’s background (childhood, heritage, identity, family relationships) affect the subjects, themes, and materials of his paintings?
  • What has Littlechild learned from his elders? What does he want viewers to learn from or think about events in the past and our heritages?
  • What is the mood of one piece of the artwork or the collective body of artwork? What makes you think so? What colors, patterns, materials, or images does he use to convey mood?
  • What is the purpose of his art? Why would Littlechild create this painting or assemble these paintings into a collection? Why talk about these events and his heritage and childhood at all?
  • Who do you think is the intended audience of This Land is My Land? What might Littlechild want them to do with this narrative and perspective?
  • How does Littlechild demonstrate pride in and appreciation for his heritage? How does he convey pain in Native American history? How does he convey the closeness of his community?

Third look (higher level thinking/analysis of artist’s craft/structure/methods)

  • Why does Littlechild choose to start the book with a dedication to his ancestors and include their photographs?
  • How is the collection of paintings organized? How does the chronological structure convey or confirm his central idea? How does this mixed media collection compare to a biography in book form?
  • Why does Littlechild choose the title and painting for the book cover: This Land is My Land? He doesn’t like the song, “This land is your land, this land is my land,” or its meaning; so, why does it fit as the title and cover painting for the book? What does this choice tell us about the central idea of the book? What message does he want to convey to viewers?
  • Why does Littlechild use photographs in the painting, instead of just drawing the figures? What effect do the photographs have on the story he is telling and on the painting itself? (Repeat this question for feathers, sequins, shells, and feathers)
  • Why do you think the artist chooses to use the motif of stars? What do a “star” mean in this context? the number four? horses?
  • Why does Littlechild choose art/mixed media collage to represent events in his own life and convey his the central idea?

For further reading on integrating the Arts with the Common Core, check out these fantastic resources:

How are you integrating art with the Common Core? What tips do you have for choosing high quality art to teach? What art are you using already? Let us know!

Jill EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: art education, CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, literacy, Native American, reading comprehension

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14. Netflix to Adapt ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’

Count OlafNetflix plans to create a new original series based on A Series of Unfortunate EventsLemony Snicket wrote 13 installments for his popular children’s book series so there is plenty of material to source for story lines.

According to Deadline, “Netflix is producing the project, which is being fast-tracked, with Paramount Television. Paramount was behind the 2004 movie starring Jim Carrey, which grossed $209 million worldwide.”

Netflix has a track record for using books as inspiration for its original series projects. House of Cards debuted in February 2013 and Orange Is the New Black came out in July 2013.

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15. Where’s The Book?: Find it and Win!

It’s been six weeks since the launch of my MG historical book WHEELS OF CHANGE.  WoCCover01Many wonderful friends and acquaintances have asked me how things are going and where the book can be found. I suppose things are going well…how does a writer really know?  As far as where the book can be found…I have no clue.  Except for the Barnes&Noble bookstore at ROWAN UNIVERSITY where the launch took place, I have yet to spot it in local libraries or stores. Which brings me to this:

For the MONTH OF NOVEMBER, I am hosting a challenge to all my viewers and supporters out there. If you send me a photo and brief description of where you spot the book, I’ll send you one of my handmade cosmetic/toiletry bags as a thank you. I’ll give away SIX…one for each week the book has been out in the world.  (They make great gifts if you don’t need one yourself).    It’s been said that it “Takes a village” to bring a book out into the world.  As an author of children’s books, it’s been one of my dreams to have my book in libraries.  If it’s in YOUR “VILLAGE” LOCAL LIBRARY, please let me know!  

bags

So, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS WHEELS OF CHANGE?     I can’t wait to find out!


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16. Harriet Can Carry It Launch Party: Part 2!

Everyone at Star Bright Books would like to extend our warmest thanks to anyone who attended the launch party for Harriet Can Carry It at the Old Town Newhall Library on November 1! To hear that almost 100 people were in attendance at the event is incredibly exciting and inspiring, and we greatly appreciate the support.

The event included a talk by the author about his journey as an author, the author's performance of his very own super-fun Harriet song, a silly auction, as well as the celebration of Harriet Can Carry It and all of its wonderful merit. For those who were unable to attend, no need to feel down; here are some awesome pictures of the event to lift you up!

Thank you Kirk Jay Mueller for putting together this awesome event and thank you everyone, once again, for your attendance and ongoing support of our book.





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17. Discovery Children’s Museum Hosts the Storyland Exhibit

Discovery Children's MuseumThe Discovery Children’s Museum is hosting the “Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites” traveling exhibit.

According to the museum’s website, the curators created seven “three dimensional, bi-lingual (English and Spanish) play and learning environments that highlight the six pre-reading skills.” The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) define those skills as “disposition to read, print awareness, letter knowledge, sound awareness, vocabulary, and narrative skills and comprehension.”

They drew inspiration from the following titles: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault, Abuela by Arthur Dorros, and Tuesday by David Wiesner. The closing date for this exhibition has been scheduled for January 04, 2015.

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18. I'm My Own Dog Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for asking us to join the I'm My Own Dog blog tour. They're giving away a copy of the book, and David Ezra Stein answered some questions for us! Read on and enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget (US, ends 11/14).

   

About the book

Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.

About the author

David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.

Find out more about him at www.davidezra.com.

   

Q & A with David Ezra Stein

Alethea at RNSL: I loved I'm My Own Dog. Do you have (or have you previously had) a pet like this? How did you develop the alternative view he takes on ownership?

David Ezra Stein: Hi Alethea! Thanks; I have had quite a few pets in my life. When I was a kid I was allergic, so I had mainly guinea pigs, fish, and a snake. I think all my books, and especially the characters, come from my own emotions and my relationship to the demands that life makes on me. When I wrote this book, I was feeling a desire to be true to myself, and suddenly I became aware of the voice of this dog character. He began telling me about himself. I wrote it down. Then I followed through by figuring out what the rest of his life would be like. I realized he would eventually need someone else, and that’s where the man came in.

RNSL: This book is quite hilarious. What do you think developed your particular sense of humor?

DES: Oh, thank you so much. I guess I had funny parents and also, I think I had a rough time in childhood in some ways, and humor is always what got me through, and gave me a sense of power. If you can laugh, you can survive. I was attracted to humor and gobbled it up wherever I could. Sesame Street was a big influence. In the ‘80s we had so many really funny movies. For example, Spaceballs absolutely blew my mind as a kid. I was rolling in the aisle of the movie theater, getting popcorn stuck to my clothes. Commercials were also little haikus of humor. Calvin & Hobbes comic books were a huge inspiration.

RNSL: You have a great, loose, flowy style of illustration. Can you tell us a bit about how you started drawing and creating art?

DES: I tried almost every medium as a kid. My parents were both artists. I scribbled right onto the pages of books I liked. To be part of the art. I was always attracted to ink: the blackness against the white paper, and the way it flows. Even though I am a city guy, I have had an affinity for the natural world all my life. I used to go out painting with my mother at about age 10 and try to capture the beauty of old houses and gardens. It’s always been a value of mine to be a fine artist, like Van Gogh or Matisse. In college I got into drawing out on the spot again, which is wonderful to do in New York City. I could do that every day. I still do it whenever I can. Now I bring watercolor, too, another flowy medium, as you say.

RNSL: You both write and illustrate your stories. Do you prefer one mode over the other, and why or why not?

DES: They are both ways of getting an idea down. Especially in the early stages of a book. I can’t do just one. I love going to the painting stage, though. There is a delightful wordlessness about it, like music. It says things that can’t be said in words.

RNSL: I have two cats, who aren't so much independent (they still need me to open the food cans) but who sometimes behave as if I am quite an inferior, hairless, clumsy feline. My husband is often considered the better cat in the household (he is warm and a bit furry, and excels at paper ball games). Do you think you will do a story for cat lovers sometime in the future? (In a very roundabout way, I'm asking what you're working on next.)

DES: Ha, ha! Sounds like you might have a book in there, yourself! Yes, I am open to doing a cat book. I love cats, actually, and have rescued a couple. They are so interesting and weird, as well. Uncanny would be the word. For now, I have a frog book coming next summer, called Tad and Dad. It’s about a little tadpole who jumps into Dad’s lily pad every night. Think co-sleeping with frogs.

RNSL: Thanks for answering my questions, David! I'm off to draft that picture book...

alethea_signs_nl2014.png

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/14/2014.

  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 

  3. One set of entries per household please. 

  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 

  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 

  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 

  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here

  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

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19. More Exciting News for Harriet Can Carry It!

Online book reviewer Jen Robinson has written a wonderful review of Harriet Can Carry It on her website, jkrbooks.typepad.com. Newly available in both hardcover and paperback formats, Star Bright Books is very excited about the warm reception that Harriet is already garnering from readers. 
       
With careful attention to detail, Ms. Robinson highlights elements of the plot, the descriptive writing and vocabulary, the illustrations, and the book’s animal glossary as some of the book's best aspects.  Also commenting on the experience of reading Harriet, Ms. Robinson writes:  Harriet Can Carry It is an entertaining picture book that introduces kids to marsupials in a light, yet memorable manner. It would make a fun read-aloud for schools or libraries." 

Here at Star Bright, we are very delighted to see words such "memorable" and "fun" appear in reviews of this title. In addition to the lessons that we hope Harriet will convey to its young readers (one of which Ms. Robinson comments on in her description of "the idea that it is ok to say no when people are making unreasonable requests"), it is one of our deepest wishes that this book, and others, will inspire readers to pursue reading as an activity that brings enjoyment, fun, and happy memories. As a children's book publisher, this is one of our fundamental goals, and we thank Ms. Robinson, as well as anyone who shares their thoughts with us, for continuing to inspire our devotion to this goal.

The full review can be found at Jen Robinson's Bookpage, at http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/2014/10/harriet-can-carry-it-kirk-jay-mueller-sarah-vonthron-laver.html

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20. GalleyCat Exclusive: NY Times Unveils 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year List

unnamedThe New York Times Book Review has unveiled its annual list of the “10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books” of the year.

Shelf Awareness children’s editor Jennifer M. Brown, Caldecott Medal-winning artist Brian Floca, and Caldecott Medal recipient Jerry Pinkney sat on this year’s judging panel. See the complete list below.

Here’s more from the press release: “Since 1952, the Book Review has convened an independent panel of three judges from the world of children’s literature to select picture books on the basis of artistic merit. Each year, judges choose from among thousands of picture books for what is the only annual award of its kind. Lists of past winners of the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award can be found on NYTimes.com/Books, along with a slide show of this year’s winners.”

(more…)

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21. HarperCollins Publishes a Bilingual Edition of ‘Goodnight Moon’

Goodnight Moon - First Book bilingual edition - front jacket coverHarperCollins has released the first-ever bilingual version of Goodnight Moon.

Goodnight Moon/Buenas Noches, Luna, an English-Spanish board book, has been made available on the First Book digital marketplace at a discounted price for educators and programs serving children in need. The executives at the publishing house were inspired by First Book’s Stories for All Project to create this special edition of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s beloved picture book. The mission behind this project is to address the lack of diversity in children’s books.

Rhian Evans Allvin, the executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, had this statement in the press release: ”Having a treasured book like Goodnight Moon available as a bilingual edition means so much more than just making a classic bedtime story more accessible. This creates opportunities for very young English language learners to enjoy a cozy story time in their native and learned languages and to create a culture of reading in classrooms and homes. It is also a sign of respect: that we value ALL of our children and families.”

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22. Activism-Themed Picture Book is Featured On Kickstarter

Jason and Danica Russell hope to raise $35,000 on Kickstarter for their alphabet-themed picture book, A is For Activism.

They hope to use this book to inspire their children and other readers to give back to the world. The funds will be used to cover the cost of self-publishing. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“This book is not just for the earthy, the urban, the hipster, the hippy, the traveler, the militant extremist, the organic, the already active activists, but… for the cool kids all over the world, looking for a way to matter in that world. This book is for anyone who wants to get involved, and give back, but feels overwhelmed about where to start. We believe, it is never too soon for kids to start thinking about kindness, and pro-active problem solving in big and small ways.”

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23. Terrible in pink?

A Terrible Lizard’s soliloquy moves us to empathy, or maybe not in the gorgeously tactile T is for Terrible (Macmillan)– a 2005 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year by Peter McCarty. Children’s novelist Julie Lake (Galveston’s Summer of the Storm) walks us through the Paleozoic pastel pages, while I handle the not-so-steadicam. Recorded after hours in  Julie’s primary school library that Julie set... Read More

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24. Reading Paired Texts to Increase Student Engagement

In the fall of 2012 a news story emerged that astronomers had discovered a planet largely made out of diamond. Third grade at my school spent the first two quarters studying the solar system; therefore, this news was received with irrepressible glee in my classroom. Although the media nickname “Lucy” was lost on my students (as in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), the wonderment and rejuvenated commitment to the content was obvious.

Seeing that scientists were still studying and discovering facts about our solar system and distant others was exciting to my students and made them feel like they were on the frontier learning alongside real astronomers. Pairing the news article with The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System spurred very creative journal entries throughout the unit, including envisioned future discoveries of all sorts of substances for planets: kitten fur, gold, bubbles.

Incorporating current events and news stories into the classroom can engage students with a renewed sense of purpose and interest. Pairing a news article with a book on a similar topic or theme offers students greater context and a sense of relevancy for the content they are learning, and perhaps a jolt to the creeping apathy over a curriculum students had little input in selecting.

Seven Miles to Freedom (1)So, what does it look like to use paired texts in the classroom?

One example is using the picture book biography, Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story. In May 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it had discovered the Civil War ship of Robert Smalls. Pairing one of the articles with the picture book biography provides students opportunity to practice comprehension and the third component of the Common Core reading standards: integration of knowledge and ideas.

Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

The following example can be adapted for grades 3–7. Read the picture book, Seven Miles to Freedom, aloud to the whole group or have students read to themselves depending on their reading level. Focus questions may look like this:

  1. How does the picture book describe Robert Smalls?
  2. What character trait would best describe Robert Smalls based on what he says, does, thinks, feels and what other characters say and think about him?
  3. Why do you think the author of the picture book wants to share this story with young people?
  4. How does this story help us better understand the events in Robert Smalls’ life?

Read the news article second. If the news article is above students’ reading level, read the article aloud as they follow along with individual copies. The questions for the article will mirror those questions for the picture book:

  1. How does the article describe Robert Smalls?
  2. What character trait would best describe Robert Smalls based on what he says and does and what other people quoted say and think about him in this article?
  3. Why do you think the NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program wants to find and rescue the ship/signify the ship’s location now after all these years?
  4. How does this news article help us better understand the events in Robert Smalls’ life and the picture book Seven Miles to Freedom?

 

Follow up questions looking at both texts together:

  1. What events and details do both texts agree on?
  2. Create a timeline of events using both the picture book and news article.
  3. How are these texts both examples of nonfiction? What sub-genres of nonfiction are they? How do they present information similarly and differently?

 

Resources about Robert Smalls:

  • Explore a reading guide and learning activities for Seven Miles to Freedom from OurStory, a website created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to encourage adults and children in grades K–4 to read historical fiction and biography together
  • Read about Robert Smalls’ ship, Planter, and a report about the discovery from the Voyage to Discovery, a multi-media initiative to highlight African American maritime history from the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program and the National Association of Black Scuba Divers

 

Resources for connecting Lee & Low titles with news:

 

Bonus: A fragment from Amelia Earhart’s airplane was recently identified. What book would you want to pair with this news story for students? Share with us!

Jill Eisenberg

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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25. Getting Kids Talking About Books! Our Kids’ Reading Guide:

The annual Kids’ Reading Guide has been released! Handpicked and reviewed by Australia’s leading booksellers, the Kids’ Reading Guide showcases all the very best recent-release, in-stock books for kids. It’s a fantastic guide for Christmas Gifts! Follow the links below to order your books from Boomerang Books today. Use the promo code “krg14″ to receive […]

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