Saturday, August 27, 2016

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

I hope your first week of school went VERY well. I loved following along on Twitter. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Your friend,


Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson 

The Marvels by Brian Selznick 

The Inquisitor's Tale | Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino

Hi, Dan Yaccarino! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. It has been way too long since you stopped by to celebrate Boy + Bot with Ame Dyckman

Thank you for welcoming me back, Mr. Schu! 

Thank you for sharing the book trailer for I Am a Story and for providing the ends to my sentence starters. 

The book trailer for I Am a Story will hopefully intrigue people enough to seek out the book and read it. The trailer has exceed my expectations. I think HarperCollins did a fantastic job! I'm so grateful to them for all of their support. 

I created the illustrations both traditionally and digitally. I drew the entire book out in India ink using a brush on vellum, scanned the drawings, and then colored them digitally. I've done about 6 or 7 books this way and I really love the methods versatility. I'm quite pleased with the outcome. 

I hope I Am a Story is a catalyst for discussions about the very essence of story itself. If you read the book, you'll see that the intangible story has been reincarnated into medium after medium over thousands of years, from cave paintings to digital tablets, and will never die. 

Picture books are
 the most important books we will ever read because they're our first books. What we experience in these books stays with us our whole lives, so it's an awesome responsibility to create books for children because you're also creating books for future adults. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my next picture book. It is called Morris Mole and it's about a little mole who lives his entire life in darkness underground until he sees the light. I had so much fun working on this book. I hope it shows. 

Look for I Am a Story on September 6. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Press Release: 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Announced

NEW  YORK, NY – August 25, 2016 – The 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award winner and two finalists were announced today by School Library Journal (SLJ). Sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing, this award honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. The 2016 School Librarian of the Year, Todd Burleson of Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, IL, will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. Laura Gardner of Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, MA and Anita Cellucci of Westborough High School in Westborough, MA were both selected as finalists and will each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

The September 2016 issue of School Library Journal featuring winner Todd Burleson as the cover story is currently available in print and online. To read the full article, visit:

A panel comprised of industry professionals including 2015 School Librarian of the Year, Kristina Holzweiss, judged all nominations based on several criteria including: exemplary service to fulfill the needs of students and the school community; creativity in programming and use of content; collaboration with teacher peers, staff, and administrators; demonstrated student engagement; exemplary use of technology tools; and more.

Quotes about the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award:

Todd Burleson, 2016 School Librarian of the Year
“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. I've never worked harder or had more fun than my time working with students and encouraging collaboration in the library. My passion for learning, I've been told, is slightly contagious and I am excited to share my experiences and continue my professional growth with educators across the country.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal

“These outstanding educators provide an inspiring model for us all, demonstrating how individual, impassioned leadership can make a difference in the lives of young people. School Library Journal is honored to highlight their work through the School Librarian of the Year Award, which underscores the critical role of librarians and media specialists in supporting student engagement and learning. SLJ looks forward to working with the 2016 honorees in advancing the profession and raising awareness in the broader community of the great work that librarians do.”

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager, Scholastic, Library Publishing Division

“These passionate librarians have transformed their schools’ libraries into vibrant spaces that present learning in interactive and exciting ways, paving the path for student success. At Scholastic, we believe recognizing the hard work, creativity and dedication of teacher librarians like Todd Burleson is important to showcase how their roles enrich schools and communities. We are excited to see how the School Librarian of the Year Award winners will share with their peers, fostering future generations of creative-thinkers and joyful readers throughout the country.”

About the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2016 School Librarian of the Year Todd Burleson, Hubbard Woods School, Winnetka, IL
Transforming Hubbard Woods School’s library into an IDEA Lab—an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity—has been the highlight of Todd Burleson’s seven-year tenure as a library media specialist. In an effort to enhance classroom learning and empower students to think critically, Burleson, director of Hubbard Woods’ resource center, established daily blocks of time where students are welcomed into the lab to experiment with hands-on makerspace activities including coding, assembling robots, woodworking, sewing, laser cutting and 3D printing. Burleson extends this theme of innovation outside the library by engaging families in fun competitions and training them to use new technology. When he isn’t working with K–4 students or their parents, Burleson presents his best practices with the library community and colleagues at national conferences, on his blog, and through professional development seminars within his district.

Finalist Anita Cellucci, Westborough High School, Westborough, MA
Library teacher Anita Cellucci created a dynamic and collaborative safe haven for students at Westborough High School, based on a school-wide Guided Inquiry Design Process. Working closely with teachers and guidance counselors, Cellucci used this research model to support students’ social-emotional learning, encouraging them to take the lead in their own individualized learning experiences using print and online tools. In response to a growing number of mental health issues within her school, Cellucci secured a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which promoted awareness and established coping strategies for teachers, students and the community at large. Cellucci also serves as a coach for the school’s Poetry Power Club and the Teen Advisory Board, regularly speaks at education conferences, and facilitates professional development programs.

Finalist Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Through the ongoing support of parent and student volunteers, teacher librarian Laura Gardner, NBCT, established a dynamic makerspace in the Dartmouth Middle School library. Every day, students are empowered by choice as they explore their creativity using the library’s research and makerspace tools including a Lego wall, green screens, Touchcast, and more. To further engage students through leadership opportunities, Gardner brings young volunteers to conferences and committee meetings to present on their unique work in the library. Using social media, Gardner actively stays up-to-date with new technology, shares regular updates with families, and proudly celebrates her students’ accomplishments.

To learn more about the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Award, visit:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gingerbread Man Loose at the Zoo Skype and Book Giveaway

Being a former teacher, Laura Murray, author of The Gingerbread Man Loose at the Zoo, loves to connect with students!  She is very excited to offer a 30-40 min. SKYPE classroom visit for grades ranging from PreK-3, as well as a signed ZOO book, in honor of Gingerbread Man Loose in the Zoo’s book birthday!  This visit will include an interactive book reading, and lots of “show & tell” about finding story ideas, the writing process, revision, publishing, and Q & A with the students. 

A bit about the book: The Gingerbread Man Loose in the Zoo is the fourth in the award-winning Gingerbread Man Loose at the School picture book series.  This smart cookie and his classmates are tasked with solving riddles on a field trip animal scavenger hunt! But a zoo full of critters is a tricky place for a tasty cookie – even a very fast one. Animals galore and a trail of clues make the Gingerbread Man’s latest adventure his WILDEST one yet.

 Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 8/23 to 11:59 PM CDT on 8/25. 

2. You must be at least 13 to enter. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Hi, Fiona Robinson! Thank you for dropping by to finish my sentences. I had fun chatting with you about Ada Lovelace, X-acto blades, picture books, and Anna Atkins. 

Thank you, Mr. Schu! 

The book trailer for Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer was a lot of fun to do! I've never had my work animated before, and though the process was tricky, it was magical to see cogs spinning, butterflies flitting, a horse flying!

If you look under the dust jacket you'll see a case cover featuring hole punched Jacquard loom cards. Ada based her computer program for Babbage's Analytical Engine on similar cards.

Photo and illustration credit: Fiona Robinson 
I created the illustrations in 3D and used over 500 X-acto blades! Luckily I have all my fingers intact...

Illustration credit: Fiona Robinson
I think Ada Lovelace was a fascinating woman. Unfortunately though some of her exploits were not suitable for a picture book!

Picture books are many things to a child; an adventure, a safe haven, a friend.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my next book is about! Well, it's another picture book bio, this time about Anna Atkins, a Victorian lady who created the world's first book of photographs.

Borrow Ada's Ideas from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monsters Go Night-Night Blog Tour

Hi, Aaron Zenz! Thank you for including Watch. Connect. Read. in your Monsters Go Night-Night blog tour. I hope you have a WONDERFUL week celebrating monsters. 

Thank you, Mr. Schu! 

I wrote the words in purple, and Aaron wrote the words in black. 

Monsters Go Night-Night is about the bedtime routine of seven little monsters!  Monsters brush their teeth, take baths, and put on pajamas just like you and I do.  BUT, when given the choice between using a toothbrush or an octopus… Monsters make a very different selection than we would.  The book is a fun, twisty guessing game, where wrong answers are the right ones.

I created the illustrations for Monsters Go Night-Night by raiding the brain of a five-year-old!  All the characters in the book are based off creatures my son Elijah drew years ago as a young’un.  His monsters were always super creative and wildly diverse.  If I were to draw a string of monsters off the top of my head, I would quickly run out of ideas and start repeating myself.  They would start looking like riffs off each other.  But if ten of Elijah’s monster pictures were lying around, it would look as if ten different kids had been in the house drawing!   I marvel at his ingenuity, and the book is part Fan Art of / Love Letter to his drawings.

Bedtime brings…
...the moon her kingdom
...a cricket his muse
...the stars their playground owl her breakfast
...a pillow his purpose
...dreams their liberation

Picture books are marvelous unions of word and art!  I have never, never, never understood why the world thinks that at a certain age people grow out of pictures.  Bah, I say.  Humans never stop being visual!  Art never stops being powerful, delightful!  But because we live in a world that believes pictures are for kids, children are the lucky ones, freely diving into this dance of text and images.  They have a whole industry creating these rich worlds for them.  But also lucky are we taller folk who have not forgotten the 32 pages of magic buried between picture book covers.

Reading is a gateway between worlds – real, imagined, past, present, future, or upside down.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me the meaning of life.  Oh well, there’s always next time…

The monsters are going on tour!  Visit all the great stops along the2016 Monsters Go Blog Tour:
Tues Aug 16  :  100 Scope Notes  
Wed Aug 17  :  Nerdy Book Club  
Thu Aug 18  :  Sharpread  
Fri Aug 19  :  All the Wonders  
Sat Aug 20  :  Playing by the Book 
Sun Aug 21  :  Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)  
Mon Aug 22  :  A Fuse #8 Production  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Happy Saturday, Mr. Colby Sharp!

Hi, Mr. Sharp,

I hope you're having a FANTASTIC weekend!

Your friend,


Please click here to watch Colby's video. 

In honor of Donalyn Miller's birthday, I am giving away a copy of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and a copy of Raymie Nightingale

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 8/13 to 2:00 AM CDT on 8/14. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward.