Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Horn Book Fanfare

 From Horn Book Magazine:

Fanfare is the Horn Book’s selection for the best books published for children and teens in 2011. Publishing trends being what they are, the editors make no attempt to provide a balanced list (where’s the folklore?), but you will find the thirty choices fairly evenly divided among picture books, fiction, and nonfiction. Do note crossovers: many of the books are suggested for a range of ages, and several straddle genres: is Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes’s beautiful Swirl By Swirl nonfiction, picture book, or poetry? The Fanfare books are selected by the reviewers and editors of The Horn Book Magazine from the more than five hundred books reviewed each year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Neil Gaiman Talks to Shaun Tan

From The Guardian: Illustrator, author and Oscar-winning film-maker Shaun Tan (left), with Neil Gaiman. Photograph: Colin McPherson
If you are a fan of Shaun Tan and Neil Gaiman, then you must read a conversation between the two in The Guardian. The two met this year at the Edinburgh book festival where Shaun was teaching a masterclass. 

I particularly like the following exchange in which they are talking about writing as a way to find out what you think about something:

NG: I'm going to learn something I didn't know when I began. I'm going to discover how I feel and what I think about it during the process. I will break off little bits of my head and they will become characters and things will happen and they will talk to each other.

ST: Exactly, creating a character is like impersonating another being, so that you can find out what you think about something. You really find out what your style is when you diversify – setting something in a fictional landscape, the far future or distant past. A lot of people think of style or personality in terms of things you do often, but it's not really. It's what you do under duress, or outside of yourself. I don't feel I know myself really well because – again it's that emotional thing – sometimes I feel a little embarrassed by the amount of emotion that comes out in a story. I don't realise that there's so much of it locked up or in denial and then it comes out in the process of doing this conscious dreaming exercise.

NG: I love your stuff because you're never told what the emotion is. You get to feel it on your own and you get to discover the emotions along the way.

Do read the entire conversation!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

National Day of Listening: Thank A Teacher

From NPR, November 24, 2011

StoryCorps started the National Day of Listening, a day when Americans are encouraged to record an interview with a loved one on the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, StoryCorps is asking people to take a few minutes to thank a favorite teacher — with a tweet, a Facebook post, a call, a card or a face-to-face interview.

Guest host John Donvan calls his ninth grade biology teacher to offer thanks, and talks with Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps and the National Day of Listening, about the project and the importance of appreciating teachers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Peter Sis: The Conference of the Birds

A Feathered Gathering: All the birds of the world gather to hear the hoopoe bird speak in author and illustrator Peter Sis' The Conference of the Birds. Sis painstakingly painted thousands of birds by hand in to bring his new book to life.
From NPR, November 16, 2011

Twelfth century Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar's epic poem The Conference of the Birds is now adapted in a gorgeously illustrated book by Peter Sis. A MacArthur fellow and Caldecott award winner, Sis is known for his many children's books, where a boy might be transformed into a firetruck or a New York City neighborhood becomes a fantastical playground.

The Conference of the Birds is Sis's first book for adults. It's the story of thousands of birds who fly off on a perilous journey over mountains and oceans and deserts in search of a king.

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kirkus Best Children's Books of 2011

Kirkus' Best Children's Books of 2011

Kirkus' "best of" list is much larger than others published so far, with 54 titles. In many ways, this is as it should be. Of the hundreds of children's titles published this year, there are more than a few outstanding books. With 54 books on the list, readers get a much better sense of the field. However, that doesn't really help those of us trying to whittle down our Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc., lists, now does it?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Publishers Weekly Best of Children's Books 2011

Publishers Weekly has released its Best Children's Books of the Year list.

I agree with many of the books on the list: Monster Calls, Beauty Queens, Inside Out and Back Again, Dead End In Norvelt and Between Shades of Gray.

There are a few I haven't read (for example, Legend doesn't release for two more weeks) and a few others that I didn't think were that strong.

But, there was one obvious omission from the list: Okay for Now. Hmmm......

What did you think? What other titles do you think should or should not have been on the list?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

National Book Award Winner 2011 for Young People's Literature

WINNER: Thanhha Lai, Inside Out & Back Again
(Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) - Interview

Franny Billingsley, Chime
(Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc. ) - Interview coming soon.
Debby Dahl Edwardson, My Name Is Not Easy
(Marshall Cavendish)
Albert Marrin, Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books) - Interview
Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now
(Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) - Interview

Young People’s Literature Judges: Marc Aronson (Panel Chair),
Ann Brashares, Matt de la Peña, Nikki Grimes, Will Weaver

In Persuit of Longer Picture Books

Make Way for Stories: There’s A Good Reason Why People Are Passing Up Picture Books is an article written in School Library Journal by author Anita Silvey in response to the NYT article Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children. Her premise: 

If I could chart a course to rescue picture books, I’d suggest that we establish the writer again as half of the equation. We need real stories, and long stories, that can be read more than once. I, by the way, don’t believe that critics change books. I believe geniuses—like Wanda Gag, Virginia Lee Burton, Robert McCloskey, Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Ruth Krauss, Chris Van Allsburg, and more recently Shaun Tan—reinvent the form. Someone who creates contemporary picture books is probably working right now on a title that’ll revitalize our understanding of and ideas about picture books.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best of... Lists

Tis the season for the "best of..." lists, least of which is the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2011.

The Book Review annually asks a panel of judges to choose 10 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books from among the thousands of children’s books published during the calendar year. Here are the favorites this time around, ranked in alphabetical order. They put together a fantastic slide show of the titles.

That Saturday Children's Book section of the NYT also had a great collection of articles on children's and young adult books. Here are just a few:

Holiday Songs
Children’s books about holiday songs

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
Written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, reviewed by Walter Dean Myers

Picture Books About Unusual Animals
Two picture books concern adventures with unusual animals. Reviewed by Lisa Brown.

 Picture Books About the Alphabet
The alphabet leaps to life in these new picture books. Reviewed by Ben Zimmer.

Books About Mouse Adventures
Mice make a voyage by sea and roam Victorian London in these middle-grade novels. Reviewed by Elisabeth Egan

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club

NPR has a new book club -- for kids! The Back-Seat Book Club is for kid who likes to read. Every month, NPR picks a Back-Seat Book Club selection. After reading the selection, then readers can send in questions. At month's end, some of your questions to the book's author during our afternoon radio program, All Things Considered.

The first selection for the new book club started last month, was Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. This month the selection is the classic, Phantom Tollboth by Norton Juster. See photos sent in by book club members reading Phantom Tollboth.

So many of my friend listen to NPR during their daily commute to work. What a good idea to get them involved in children's reading by setting up a Back-Seat Book Club. Way to go, NPR!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Hunger Games Trailer

Have you seen the new trailer for The Hunger Games, premiering today? If not, go check it out right now and let me know what you think!

In theaters March 23, 2012.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Webcasts from Scholastic

From the Scholastic OOM blog:

While not every kid “gets” history right away, it’s one of the most important subjects they need to take while in school.  It’s hard sometimes to see how things that happened 10, 20, 100, or 1,000 years ago have anything to do with today’s world. That’s why the upcoming webcasts – Dear America: History Speaks and The First Thanksgiving are so important, because they teach kids the importance of history in captivating, engrossing ways.  “You’ll never know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been,” said Jennifer L. aka my mom.

The first webcast, Dear America: History Speaks, takes place on Wednesday, October 26th at 1 p.m. and will feature Dear America® series authors Lois Lowry, Kirby Larson, and Andrea Davis Pinkney.  The award-winning authors will virtually talk to students about the art of writing historical fiction including how to craft compelling stories, conduct research and develop characters. Teachers will have access to tons of useful tools like free classroom discussion guides, whiteboard-ready slides and activities and more.  Visit to register your class today.

The First Thanksgiving, the second classroom event, broadcasts on November 16th at 1 p.m.  The virtual field trip will take students to the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass. where they will meet Colonial and Wampanoag interpreters and learn what life was like during the first Thanksgiving.  Teachers can visit to access the webcast and get free classroom discussion guides, activities and book lists.

Many schools are not able to afford as many field trips as they could in the past, but Scholastic has made it so that students will get the experience for FREE!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children's Authors in Richmond

There are two author events happening in Richmond, VA that might be of interest to local children's literature lovers.

On Thursday, September 27th, National Book Award winner Katherine Erskine will be speaking for the Children's Book Bank of Virginia. She will be at The Library of Virginia from 11:30-4:00 and the Children's Museum of Richmond from 4:30-8:00. Registration is here.

Newbery Award Honor winner Kathi Appelt will be presenting at the James River Writers Conference, October 6-8, at the Library of Virginia. Registration is here.

Of course, don't forget about The Joy of Children's Literature Conference at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA on October 15!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"I cannot see your face but in some far-off place, I hear you laughing — and I smile."

-- Shel Silverstein

NPR has a great article on the posthumous publication of Shel Silverstein's book, Every Thing On It, titled: Shel Silverstein's Poems Live On In "Every Thing."

From the article:

Every Thing On It includes 145 poems in all. Silverstein eliminated many of them from his earlier books, not because he didn't like them, but because they just didn't happen to fit in the perfect order he was looking for in a given collection. Toni Markiet, editor of the new collection, worked on other projects alongside Silverstein. Markiet says the poet paid close attention to every last detail.

"He would move a piece of art over an 18th of an inch ... and look at how it looked on a page," she tells NPR's David Greene. " ... It's a slight adjustment, but to him, it mattered. I think one of the reasons his books are still so immensely popular after almost 50 years is that every tiny detail was considered."

Night Circus

I just finished listening to Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The audio book was performed by the incomparable Jim Dale, which was treat in and of itself!

NPR did a nice story on Night Circus and author Erin Morgenstern that you might be interested in titled "Night Circus" Comes to Town with Magic, Mystery.

Summary from Amazon (best book of September):

Jim Dale
Erin Morgenstern’s dark, enchanting debut takes us to the black and white tents of Le Cirque des Reves, a circus that arrives without warning, simply appearing when yesterday it was not there. Young Celia and Marco have been cast into a rivalry at The Night Circus, one arranged long ago by powers they do not fully understand. Over time, their lives become more intricately enmeshed in a dance of love, joy, deceit, heartbreak, and magic. Author Morgenstern knows her world inside and out, and she guides the reader with a confident hand. The setting and tone are never less than mesmerizing. The characters are well-realized and memorable. But it is the Night Circus itself that might be the most memorable of all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

JCL Conference - Only a Month Away!

The first Joy of Children's Literature Conference is only a month away - October 15th!!

Register now to reserve your space for what is sure to be an amazing day with this line up of authors:

          • Pamela Duncan Edwards
          • Candice Ransom
          • Sara Lewis Holmes
          • Laurie Krebs
          • Kim Norman
          • Ellen Potter (via Skype)

Another wonderful reason to attend is that the conference will be held in the brand new School of Education at The College of William & Mary. This state-of-the-art building is just a pleasure to be in and the new Professional Development Center where the conference will be held was built as part of the building.

Additionally, the city of Williamsburg where The College of William & Mary is located, is just beautiful in the fall. Consider visiting Colonial Williamsburg, only a few short blocks away from the School of Education, after the conference.

Any way you look at it, The Joy of Children's Literature Conference on October 15th is the place to be! Enjoy a day full of joyful learning, connecting, and collaborating around children's literature and then an afternoon and evening of fall fun in Colonial Williamsburg.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Join Me At The National Book Festival

Next weekend is the 11th Annual National Book Festival and this year, for the first time, it will be held for two days! If you have never been, do yourself a favor and go. Your favorite authors talking about your favorite books in the nation's capitol -- what more could you possible want?

An unprecedented 112 authors, poets and illustrators will speak and meet with their readers at the 2011 National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress. The event, to be held Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 on the National Mall – rain or shine – also will offer more authors and activities for young readers than ever before.

The event is free and open to the public. Saturday hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday hours will be from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Authors’ speaking and book-signing schedules are available on the festival website,

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the first lady, are the honorary chairs of the event. The distinguished benefactor of the event is David M. Rubenstein, who co-chairs the National Book Festival Board with Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

"Following on the great success of the 2010 National Book Festival, our 10th anniversary, the National Book Festival Board decided last January to make this a two-day event," Billington said. "We expect book-lovers to be delighted with the number of poets, authors and illustrators we’ve assembled this year, including several winners of major literary awards.

"The authors’ talks will be a bit longer, and we believe festival-goers’ access to authors in the book-signing area will be made a bit easier."

Festival fans will find the usual array of author pavilions this year – History & Biography, Fiction & Mystery, Poetry & Prose and Contemporary Life, along with a pavilion aimed at Teens and another for Children.

Target -- the distinguished corporate benefactor of the National Book Festival -- will sponsor the "Family Storytelling Stage," a pavilion offering briefer presentations by more than 20 authors and musicians whose books and performances are devoted to very young readers. The sponsorship is part of Target’s commitment to helping more children read proficiently by the end of grade 3.

"We are delighted that Target has helped us take our already very family-friendly event to a whole new, very young audience of book-lovers," said Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress and executive director of the National Book Festival. "The Family Storytelling Stage will carry the banner for this year’s National Book Festival theme, ‘Celebrate the Joy of Reading Aloud.’"

On Sunday, the National Book Festival will convert its spacious "Pavilion of the States" into three new genre pavilions: State Poets Laureate, "The Cutting Edge," and Graphic Novels.
Author lineups in all pavilions include:
  • Children: Mary Brigid Barrett, Harry Bliss, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Carmen Agra Deedy and John McCutcheon, Tomie dePaola, Jack Gantos, Joe Hayes, William Joyce, John Bemelmans Marciano, Patricia McKissack, Dorie McCullough Lawson, Sam McBratney, Julianne Moore, Jon J Muth and Chris Van Dusen
  • Family Storytelling Stage: Wally Amos, Tom Angleberger, Mac Barnett, Michael Buckley, Angela Farris, Daniel Kirk, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Josh Lewis, Tom Lichtenheld, Loren Long, Cedelia Marley, Julianne Moore, Lauren Myracle, Jane O’Connor, Matthew Reinhart, John Rocco, Mark Pett and Gary Rubenstein, Ellen Sabin, Bob Shea and Lisa Yee
  • Teens: Cassandra Clare, Susan Cooper, Sarah Dessen, Jack Gantos, Gordon Korman, Uma Krishaswami, Patricia McKissack, Shelia P. Moses, Kadir Nelson, Katherine Paterson, Gary D. Schmidt, Brian Selznick and Rita Williams-Garcia

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roald Dahl's "Quirky" Writing Space

To the left is a picture of Roald Dahl's writing hut. Apparently, this is were he wrote most of his beloved stories over his long career. I love to see where authors write, don't you? And I think kids are also interested and even fascinated by the idea that real authors write real books in real places and are sometimes "quirky."

Dahl's long time illustrator, Quentin Blake, wrote an article for The Guardian in which some of Dahl's quirkiness is revealed. Your students might think some of these insights are quite fabulous!

From The Guardian article,

I didn't go into the shed very often, because the whole point of it as far as Roald was concerned was that it wasprivate, a sanctuary where he could work where no one interrupted him. The whole of the inside was organised as a place for writing: so the old wing-back chair had part of the back burrowed out to make it more comfortable; he had a sleeping bag that he put his legs in when it was cold and a footstool to rest them on; he had a very characteristic Roald arrangement for a writing table with a bar across the arms of the chair and a cardboard tube that altered the angle of the board on which he wrote. As he didn't want to move from his chair everything was within reach. He wrote on yellow legal paper with his favourite kind of pencils; he started off with a handful of them ready sharpened. He used to smoke and there is an ashtray with cigarette butts preserved to this day.

The table near to his right hand had all kinds of strange memorabilia on it, one of which was part of his own hip bone that had been removed; another was a ball of silver paper that he'd collected from bars of chocolate since he was a young man and it had gradually increased in size. There were various other things that had been sent to him by fans or schoolchildren.

On the wall were letters from schools, and photographs of his family. The three or four strips of paper behind his head were bookmarks, which I had drawn. He kept the curtains closed so that nothing from outside came in to interfere with the story that he was imagining. He went into the shed in the morning and wrote until lunchtime. He didn't write in the afternoon, but went back later to edit what he'd done after it had been typed out by his secretary.

He wrote in the shed as long as I knew him - we worked together for 15 years from 1975 to 1990 and I illustrated a dozen of his books. I would take my drawings down to Gipsy House for him to look at while sitting on the sofa in the dining room. I don't think he let anybody in the shed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Wonderstruck

Today is the long anticipated release of Brian Selznick's Wonder Struck!

I am a big fan of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the 2008 Caldecott Medal and will be turned into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese and released November 23.  

Playing with the form he created in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

NPR has a great story, Wonderstruck: A Novel Approach to Picture Books.

Horn Book has a nice review and The Atlantic's review includes lots of illustrations from the book.

Best of all, listen to Brian Selznick talk so passionately about his creative process in the video below. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later,,,

Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
We all know where we were on September 11, 2001. Some people were affected more directly than others, but we were all affected. We all remember where we were at the time we learned of the terrorist attacks, and more importantly, we knew or quickly found out where our loved ones were.

I was working with a first grade student at a local elementary school where my son was also in second grade. As I was leaving the building, a colleague told me what had happened. I thought it was best to leave Derek in school even though all of the schools were later locked down. In the days that followed, the images of the attacks greatly affected Derek and in response, he wrote a poem about angels flying from a burning building. I was so happy that he could use poetry as a way to convey his emotions about such a horrific event.

Derek in front of his dorm.
Little did I know then, that ten years later, my son would attend college in New York City. Two weeks ago, my husband and I took our only son to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he is majoring in writing. He is a poet. We are so very proud of him.

Even though it has been very difficult to let him go, I am happy that Derek is in NYC - which is an education in and of itself. He will be there for the 9/11 events, but most of us will not. Yet, we will all reflect on the events that occurred on 9/11 in our own way. 

I am thankful to the many policemen and firefighters that were so brave, but I am also very thankful to the thousands of teachers across the country who were also brave and stood with our children, even when they may not have known where their own children and family members were at the time, and helped them feel safe. Ten years later, many of those children have become teachers themselves and are teaching the children of today about the events of September 11, 2001.

There are two picturebooks I share with my preservice teachers that are not specifically about 9/11 but are dedicated to them in some way. The first is Mary Pope Osborne's tale tale, New York's Bravest, which is dedicated to the 343 New York City firefighters who gave their lives to save others on September 11, 2001.

The other is The Man Who Walked Between the Towers written and illustrated by Morticai Gertstein and also won the 2004 Caldecott Medal. The story takes place in 1974, as the World Trade Center was being completed, and a young French aerialist, Philippe Petit, threw a tight rope between the towers and spent almost an hour walking, dancing, and performing tricks a quarter of a mile in the sky. The documentary of Philippe Petit's amazing feat, Man On Wire, won an Oscar in 2009.

While not directly about the events of 9/11, both of these books honor the spirit of those who gave their lives and of New York City. More literature connections to 9/11 are on the blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rocking Out with Pete the Cat

Last Thursday was the first day of classes at William and Mary. I decided that my first day of class read aloud was going to be Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin. I played the audio so we could rock out. Most of these students are fairly new to the School of Education. I'm sure that starting class by rocking out with Pete the Cat was a new experience for them. But, they were good sports and jumped right in. The song is contagious!

I'm not the only one who started the first day of school with Pete the Cat. Check out Many's blog post at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Love the shoes, Mandy! I see a new trend starting...

What was or will be your first day of school read aloud?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exciting new project: Many Voices, One World

I have an exciting announcement that I believe is quite timely right here at the beginning of the new school year.

I have started a new project, Many Voices, One World. The purpose of the Many Voices, One World project is to provide access to an online collection of picturebooks written in dialect that are read aloud by people who convey an authentic voice of the book.

Today, there are many children’s picturebooks that reflect the language variation found among the many and various cultural groups in the United States. These books do much to validate the cultural values, customs, beliefs, attitudes, and mannerisms of these cultural groups for children.

My hope is that the online read alouds included on the Many Voices, One World project website can be used by teachers to share picturebooks that provide a rich source of culture and diversity to the classroom.

Right now, there is only one book available, but it is a wonderful book: Don't Say Ain't written by Irene Smalls and performed by Anne Charity Hudley. Don't Say Ain't is the perfect "first" book for the collection. Below is the review from School Library Journal:
Dana and her friends Cindybelle and Ellamae live in Harlem in the 1950s where Dana's godmother reminds them, "Don't say ain't, children. People judge you on how you speaks!" When her goddaughter's high scores on a special exam provide access to an advanced, integrated school, the girl isn't quite as enthusiastic as Godmother. Children snicker when her teacher corrects her speech, while at home, her friends call her "Miss Smarty Pants." One day, her teacher announces plans to visit each student's home, and Dana is first on the list. When she arrives, Dana is surprised to learn that "-Godmother knew Mrs. Middleton's mother back in Charleston, South Carolina." However, she is absolutely stunned when her teacher exclaims, "Honeychile, I ain't gonna eat more than one piece of your famous peach cobbler." Confused at first by the woman's use of nonstandard English, Dana is smart enough to discover an essential truth. She reconciles with her friends and announces, "If you want to say `ain't,'-/Just say it at home./And when you roam,/Speaking proper sets de tone-." Engaging, richly hued oil illustrations effectively capture the characters and setting. The flap copy notes that New York City schools were first integrated in 1957, and Smalls portrays the advantages open to a select group of students with subtlety. This perceptive and useful title can be used to generate discussion on a variety of issues.
The online read aloud of Don't Say Ain't is beautifully done. The illustrated pages turn automatically as the story is read aloud by Anne Charity Hudley. Anne is an Associate Professor of Education, English, Linguistics, and Africana Studies at The College of William & Mary and the coauthor of Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools.

The publisher of Don't Say Ain't requires that access to the online read aloud be password protected.  Therefore, if you are an educator and would like to share the online read aloud of Don't Say Ain't with your students, please follow the directions on the Many Voices, One World website to received access.

It is my hope to add many more books to the project over the years. There is a great deal of work involved to create each online read aloud and the project currently has no funding.

Please share your thoughts with me about this project and help me to spread the word about this wonderful resource. If there are books you would like to have included in this online resource, please let me know.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure to be published

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, which began as an online story of 27 biweekly installments on, will soon be available in book form from Candlewick Press.

his story-game was a collaboration between the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, one of the center’s reading-promotion partners. The story was originally available at, a Library of Congress website devoted to books, reading, literacy and libraries.

"The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" is a buoyant, spontaneous experiment--a progressive story-game like those played by children where one person begins a story, stops at a cliffhanging moment, and the next person picks it up and continues until everyone in the group has the opportunity to contribute. And just as in those games, the contributors to "The Exquisite Corpse" invented characters that spontaneously erupted out of their imaginations; plotlines that tumbled forth, some realized, some lost; and conflicts with no logical solution in sight. The story is about two kids, Joe and Nancy, from the circus whose parents are caught in another dimension.

The contributors to "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" are some of America’s most gifted artists and storytellers: M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Timothy Basil Ering, Jack Gantos, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, Jon Scieszka and Chris Van Dusen.

More information about "The Exquisite Corpse," including links to accompanying educational materials, is available at "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" from Candlewick Press will be available at local libraries and bookstores in hard or soft cover beginning Aug. 23.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event

You definitely don't want to miss his year's August 10 for 10 Picturebook Event hosted by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek.  Thirty-two bloggers, including myself, have posted their top 10 picturebooks.

I have already added numerous titles to my picturebook wishlist! How about you?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

10 for 10 Picturebook Event

Picturebooks. Who can resist them? Old and young alike, there's a picturebook for everyone. But, keeping up with the best of them can be daunting. That's why you might be interested in Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek's 10 for 10 Picturebook Event.

In event hosts bloggers who have chosen 10 picture books s/he could not live without and wrote a post about the titles.  Each blogger puts her/his own spin on a collection. Last year (the first year for the event) there were over 400 "must have" picture books.

There are so many ways to create this list. I could list 10 of my all time favorites or 10 new releases which I plan to use in my class this year. But, I've decided to focus on 10 new nonfiction books. Why? Because nonfiction is vastly overlooked in the classroom and because these new nonfiction picturebooks are amazing!

The nonfiction titles I chose to include range in age/grade level appropriateness and also include both biography and informational text. All of them however, are wonderful.

See Google preview
The first book on the list must be Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg. I think most teachers are familiar with Van Allsuburg's work, but Queen of the Falls is his first foray into nonfiction. And, as with his other books, the illustrations and the writing is brilliant!

She could remember standing in a park near the falls, hypnotized by the sight and sound, and holding her father’s hand as they took a walk that would lead them closer.
That’s what everyone wonders when they see Niagara . . . How close will their courage let them get to it?
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Annie Edson Taylor, seeking fame and fortune, decided to do something that no one in the world had ever done before—she would go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.

This book has already made many midyear Caldecott prediction lists. Read a review here.

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Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos.

This book was on many short lists for the Newbery Medal last year. The authors have done a wonderful job of taking a great deal of information and condensing it into a comprehensible and captivating story that touches on many topics in the elementary and middle school curriculum. From the book:

In the Age of Sugar, Europeans bought a product made thousands of miles away that was less expensive than the honey from down the road.  That was possible only because sugar set people in motion all across the world–millions of them as slaves, in chains; a few in search of their fortunes.  A perfect taste made by the most brutal labor: That is the dark story of sugar.  But there is another story as well.  Information about sugar spread as human knowledge expanded, as great civilizations and cultures exchanged ideas.  In fact, while sugar was the direct cause of the expansion of slavery, the global connections that sugar brought about also fostered the most powerful ideas of human freedom.
 Read an analysis of this book here.

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Husband and wife team Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have a new Time To... series of nonfiction books for young readers. Time to Sleep, Time to Eat, and Time for a Bath are all titles in the series now.  

These books are deceptively simple. The introduction to Time to Sleep reads:

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Like you, animals need to sleep. But, they get their rest in lots of different ways. There are animals that sleep during the day, and others that snooze after the sun goes down. A few just take short naps, but some may be awake for only a few hours a day. There are animals that lie down to sleep, and creatures that doze while standing, hanging upside down, floating in the water -- even flying.
The first opening has an illustration of a giraffe in the middle of the couple page spread.  The text to the left of the giraffe states, "Once I get down here, it's hard to get up." Then, text to the right of the  giraffe states, "The giraffe sleeps less than two hours each day. It can sleep standing up or lying down, curled into a ball." And so it goes with each animal...a really catchy caption followed by more information (Did you know that a white stork sleeps in flight? Me either.). Included in the back is a brief glossary of each animal with more information.

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There are a lot of picturebooks about friends, but not very many that are nonfiction. Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships written by award winning author Catherine Thimmesh is a pièce de résistance! Take a moment to watch the brief video below the book's description and you will know why.

Description: What makes a camel friends with a Vietnamese pig? Or a wild polar bear pals with a sled dog? In this young preschool book, Catherine Thimmesh makes us wonder at the truth and mystery of unlikely animal friendships. Because the stories behind these friendships are true, not contrived, captured by photographers in many countries ranging from Siberia to Japan, they not only give readers insight into animals but challenge preconceived notions about compatibility. This book also expresses tolerance of differences and makes us look at the kindness of animals—and humans—a little differently.

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Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is an example of excellent biography. The brilliance of this book lies in the format. The chapters alternate between learning about Amelia's life  and her disappearance.

With incredible photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself—plus informative sidebars tackling everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying (tomato soup)--the reader stays engaged and informed.

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You may already be familiar the The Scientists In the Field series from Houghton Mifflin. My first enounter with this series was the Tarantula Scientist written by Sy Montgomery and photographed by Nic Bishop. I was so impressed with the authority of the author, the amazing photographs and the bibliographic information in the back of the book that has become a hallmark of this series. Two new titles, The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson and The Manatee Scientists by Peter Lourie do not disappoint.

Description for The Elephant Scientists: In the sprawling African scrub desert of Etosha National Park, they call her “the mother of all elephants.” Holding binoculars closely to her eyes, American scientist Caitlin O’Connell could not believe what she was seeing from these African elephants: as the mighty matriarch scanned the horizon, the other elephants followed suit, stopped midstride, and stood as still as statues.

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Description for The Manatee Scientists: John Reynolds does an aerial count of manatees from the Florida sky; Lucy Keith spends a weekend rescuing manatees trapped in a dam in Senegal; and Fernando Rosas takes the author on an Amazonian boat trip, looking for a young manatee he released back into the wild, with emotional results. These scientists are working hard to save manatees: docile, large sea mammals who are eaten in some parts of the world, feared in others, and adored in still others. But factors such as human encroachment, disease, environmental hazards, and being hunted are causing their numbers to decline: they are an endangered species, in need of help.

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This is the up-dated version of Kathleen Krull's popular book, Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought), which now includes Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Description: Every U.S. president is the focus of public scrutiny, but how well do we know these men? What kind of fathers do presidents make? Husbands? Neighbors? Other books focus on the historical achievements of those who have occupied our country's highest office; Lives of the Presidents looks instead at their bad habits, silly nicknames, and strange pets. Every president--from George Washington to Bill Clinton--is included, with an emphasis on those who have had the greatest impact on history. Discover their high points, low points, and the times in between. In this stunning addition to their acclaimed series, Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt take us beyond politics and photo opportunities, revealing the entertaining, complex, and very real lives of the presidents.