Friday, October 29, 2010


A neighbor of mine decorates her windows according to classic children's books.  She is my new hero.  I'm SO going to copy this next year.  This year it was Alice in the Looking Glass.  I took the photos at dusk so they aren't the best pics, but I'll go back and get more!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Book I Want

Children's book expert Anita Silvey asked a wide range of public figures: “What children's book changed the way you see the world?”

In her new book,
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book (Roaring Brook, Oct.), she includes answers from more than 100 people, from financiers to actors, from athletes to singers; for this excerpt, we have chosen responses from those directly involved in creating books for young people.

-- Publishers Weekly, 7/20/2009

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Treasure Hunt

I have a tale to tell.  I was thinking of my post for today when suddenly I got side tracked, then lost, then found myself in the middle of cyberspace trying to track down a map.  Stop.  Let me back up and start at the beginning.  
I remember seeing two maps at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Tempe,, when I went there a year or two ago for the Berenstain Bear exhibit. (It was wonderful and showed original first drafts of their books with notes to their editors with illustrations. 

When looking up the website for this newsletter I also saw that in June-Sept of 2011 there will be an exhibit of the life and art of Charles M Schulz.  Another one I’ll go to is Sept 2011 to Jan 2012:  The Art of Warner Bros Cartoons.  After seeing the work of Stan and Jan Berenstain,  I ventured over to gift shop and saw two posters that I loved but didn’t buy.  I should have followed my impulse because I’ve thought of those posters now and again and decided that I would buy them for myself for Christmas.  To Michelle, From Michelle.  I googled and googled and finally came upon them.  One was a map of the setting of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the other was Neverland from the book Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  

Cute, right?  
I found them on a few poster sites but also on a blog called Hey Teach. written by a woman in Prescott, Arizona 

The products I was looking at were in her 2007 archives.  It is the funnest blog with a bunch of products related to the classroom and literacy that are showcased.  Things like Skippyjon plush animals, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day dolls, music boxes that boys might like, and even literature-related Christmas Cards.  I spent hours there looking at all the things I wish I could buy, and that was only from the 2007 part of her blog!  I haven’t even checked 2008, or 2009 yet!  Now I can't seem to go back and find that blog but I did happen upon a great book that is one of my favorites!
So after many “ooh’s and aah’s,”  I glanced at her favorite links and one caught my eye.  “7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast - A Great Site for Book Lovers
Not only is the quote aligned with my Alice’s Adventures fettish but it also has endless amounts of book related fun and information.  The list of sites they love to the right is huge and I haven’t even gotten to that yet.  So…to abruptly end this not so short story…
I went back a day or two later and couldn’t remember the original site that had the posters, then bounced around  cyberspace desperately trying to find the awesome blog that I wish I had bookmarked and not cleared the history for, which had the posters of the maps from the museum that I should have bought two years ago.  I did chance upon a book with other maps from children’s books and promptly purchased it for myself.  Then in a holiday type miracle, I found a slip where I had scrawled the site down and thus you now are receiving your newsletter a few days late but with a wealth more literacy information than you would have had.  
If you check out any of these sites and find something you love, email me back a picture or the link.  I’m sure you’ll have fun treasure hunting like I did.  And you won’t even need a map.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Great One Passes On

Professor Donald Graves passed away on Tuesday 28th September 2010 from pneumonia aged 80. 
I have many of his books and consider them timeless observations of children and writing.  It was his close observation of children that brought forth some of his greatest insights:
  • Like adult writers children must be given the chance to choose their own topics, to have an environment in which writing is encouraged and facilitated, to take greater control of their writing.
  • They must have 'real' readers - people who read their writing to hear what they have to say, not just to correct their spelling and grammar.
  • Children must be allowed to make mistakes, to use approximations in draft writing and to become risk-takers in writing.
  • As teachers we need to shift our attention from simply product and the surface features, to an equal concern with process and meaning.
  • To teach young writers is to teach them the craft of writing.
  • Spelling and grammar are best taught in the context of meaningful writing not simply as decontextualised activities.
  • Teachers (and parents) must become observers of young writers, asking them questions that teach and that focus their attention on meaning not just the surface features of writing and neatness.
  • Writing is about revision and re-writing and that like adult writers, children often need to 'make it messy to make it clear'.
  • He also shared his practical tools for encouraging writers - folders for first drafts, dates to track development, writing conferences, celebration of authors, 'publishing' children's work, blank books in the hands of preschool children with the instruction, 'Why don't you write' and so on.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Lists

I came across this list at this website Found HERE, which gave me an idea for an upcoming class.  Top 10 lists.  

I think this one below could spur on a good discussion.  

10 things I think teachers should unlearn…
1. Teachers know all the answers.
2. Teachers have to be in control of the class.
3. Teachers are responsible for the learning.
4.  Students are obliged to respect teachers.
5.  Learning can be measured by a letter or a number.
6.  Teachers should plan activities and then assessments.
7. Learners need to sit quietly and listen.
8. Technology integration is optional.
9.  Worksheets support learning.
10.  Homework is an essential part of learning.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mo Willems' Final Knuffle

Acclaimed picture-book creator Mo Willems says 2010 is "my sentimental year."
It's a year when two of his picture books -- "Knuffle Bunny Free" (HarperCollins, $17.99) and "City Dog, Country Frog" (Hyperion, $17.99) -- deal with the idea of letting go and understanding that endings are both hard and necessary.

"I think people are sometimes afraid of endings," Mr. Willems said in a telephone interview. "But I like endings. I like to be able to say that a story is complete."

"Knuffle Bunny Free," which Mr. Willems wrote and illustrated, is the third and final book about a girl named Trixie and her beloved stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny. The trilogy began in 2004 with "Knuffle Bunny" and continued with 2007's "Knuffle Bunny Too." Both books won Caldecott Honors.

Of the three, Mr. Willems said that "Knuffle Bunny Free" was the hardest to write.

"It also took the longest. I spent several years on it," he added.

Read more:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Top Books Checked Out at the LIbrary

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thomas turns 65!

Tank Engine Trivia: Fun Facts About Thomas

  • Thomas the Tank Engine was not part of the Rev. Wilbert Awdry's first book. He was introduced in the second book.
  • New characters are introduced every year with their own fictional back stories -- Hiro is the first Japanese engine and Victor is the first Hispanic engine.
  • Thomas has found himself in many sticky situations, which have left him covered in jam, stinky cheese, sticky toffee, ice-cream, flour and mud.
  • More than 80 million pieces of wooden track have been sold globally.  That's 240 million inches -- approximately the distance from New York to Paris.
  • As of 2009, Thomas & Friends could be seen on television in 30 different languages and 185 territories.
Excerpted And Adapted From: Thomas & Friends 65 Fun Facts

Thomas the Tank Engine began as "Edward the Blue Engine" -- star of the many stories the Rev. Wilbert Awdry told his son Christoper in the early 1940s. Christopher, who was sick with the measles, would correct his father if he did not use the same words to tell the stories each time, so Awdry began jotting the stories down. Above, a sketch from Awdry's first manuscript of Edward's Day Out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kids and Technology Study Findings

A few findings from the survey done by Scholastic:
  • 28% of kids (ages 9-17) think that looking through postings or comments on social networking sites like Facebook counts as reading; only 15% of parents agree.
  • 25% of kids (ages 6-17) have read a book on a digital device (the majority on a computer or laptop/netbook).
  • 43% of kids and parents say that, when reading books for fun, it is most important for children’s imagination to be expanded, while about a third say the most important outcome is for children to gain inspiration through characters and storylines (36% kids/35% parents), with about one in five saying it is to gain information (21% kids/22% parents).
  • 86% of kids feel proud and have a sense of accomplishment when they finish reading a book.
  • Only 50% of kids say reading books for fun is extremely or very important; compared to 89% of parents.
  • 71% of parents wish their child would read more books for fun. 75% of children (ages 9-17) say they know they should read more.

The study also reveals that today's children have a broad view of what constitutes reading: 25% of kids (age 9-17) think texting back and forth with friends counts as reading. Most parents don't agree – only 8% of parents count texting as reading.
The report found that the power of choice is a key factor in raising a reader. Nine out of ten children say that they are more likely to finish book they choose themselves. And parents don’t try to overly influence that choice toward award winners or classic literature. Nine out of 10 parents say "As long as my child is reading, I just want my child to read books he/she likes."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Know a Great Teenager? Enter this Contest!

Nestlé has been a proud sponsor of the biennial Nestlé Very Best In Youth program for more than 12 years. Created to spotlight the best in youth leadership, the program identifies teens whose efforts are making a profound impact in lives other than their own.

What You Can Win

Nestlé helps young people, who want to make a difference, 
realize their dreams by donating $1,000 in the name of each
 winner to the charity of his/her choice. Nestlé also awards the
 winner a trip for them and a parent or guardian to Los Angeles,
 California for the Nestlé Very Best In Youth awards ceremony.
 The trip includes round trip coach air travel, hotel accommodations
 for three nights, and spending money. Each contestant will 
receive a certificate of achievement from Nestlé and samples 
of Nestlé products.

Interested in Becoming a Candidate?

Contestants must be between 13 and 18 years of age and have 
parental or legal guardian permission to submit the entry form. 
Contestants must also demonstrate good citizenship, a strong 
academic record, and show how they have made a special contribution
to their school, church or community.
You may apply online for the 2011 Nestlé Very Best In Youth 
competition. To get started, click here. You will need to answer 
essay questions and submit the following:
  1. Two letters of recommendation:
    • One must be from someone connected to your school 
    • (teacher, counselor, or principal)
    • The other can be from anyone, but your parent/guardian
  2. Copy of your transcript or current report card
  3. A parent or legal guardian consent form

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teenage Readers

For those of you who work with struggling readers that are older, here is an interesting article that offers intervention ideas for that age group.  It includes descriptions of Reciprical Teaching, Apprenticeship, Read 180, Language!, SRA Corrective Reading, Strategic Instruction Model (SIM).  I've heard of more but this article gives a good brief overview of the above.  Check it out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Writing Contest is running their contests again

Smory that gets the most views in the month wins $300.
2nd place = $250. 3rd place = $200. 4th place = $150. 5th place = $100.
Fiction for ages 3-8. Written in English. No longer than 700 words
Poetry and rhyme is accepted.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Documentary I want to see

Click on the above title to go to a a two minute trailer for a great movie I want to see.  How do I get my hands on it?  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture Books

The love of every teacher.  The way I like to spend my extra money.  Picture books.  I came across this site and really like it.  What do you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Q and A: Differences in publishing?

Q"  Can you tell us about PublishAmerica?
Victoria: Oh boy, Publish America!!! Well, it's a neo-vanity publisher. Which is to say, it doesn't charge a fee, but gets its money on the back end by encouraging writers to buy their own books. Writers aren't required to buy their own books, as some vanity publishers do, but they receive constant incentives to do so, through discounts and special offers. PublishAmerica claims to reject 80% of all submissions. Which, even if true, isn't enough to ensure high quality (commercial publishers reject something like 97%). It does little or no editing, no meaningful book marketing, and its cover prices are the highest of any POD publisher around. It has a poor contract, its staff are rude and unhelpful, especially to writers who have problems or complain. Its books are badly designed and poorly formatted, and often full of errors introduced in the .pdf conversion process. It has also become so notorious as a bad publisher that plenty of people in legitimate publishing have heard of it, which is NOT the case with most other vanity publishers. For many people in the know, PublishAmerica reflects very badly on an author. Which is a shame, because while PA is ready to publish bad books, it's equally willing to accept good ones and there are some good writers who've gotten hijacked by PA and whose books will never, as a result, get the exposure they deserve.
Jan: Really virtually any print on demand set up is a PARTICULARLY bad idea for a children's writer. They cost far too much and cost is a MAJOR deal in children's publishing...ask any publisher. They have no bookstore placement. They don't get reviewed. You could print your books yourself and distribute them to your friends and get as many readers as your average POD publisher, And if you aren't getting readers...and it's costing you money...what is the point?
Victoria: Speaking of reviews, PublishAmerica authors send out so many books to newspapers and magazines that many reviewers simply won't even look at PA books. Some review sites have a policy against reviewing them because PA authors who've gotten bad reviews have gotten so upset and made trouble for them.
Q: what is POD?
Victoria: POD = print on demand. This is a technology that allows a single book to be printed and bound in minutes as opposed to being produced in print runs of several thousands. Unfortunately, print on demand has become associated with vanity publishing because of the big "self-publishing" companies like iUniverse and Xlibris. Nowadays, "POD" is practically synonymous with "vanity".
Jan: But although printing book by book seems cheap (and the initial outlay is less than having a print run) the per book price is well higher than most readers will pay. You really just can't sell these things.
Victoria: Right. It's also not true that POD books are indistinguishable from offset-printed books, as POD advocates often claim. I've seen a lot of POD books, some put out by very reputable independent publishers, and they just look...cheaper, somehow. Really, POD is a glorified Xerox process and you can tell the difference.
Q: What does "subsidy-published" mean?
Victoria: It means "vanity published." There really is no such thing anymore as a subsidy publisher, in the sense of a publisher that contributes something of value to match the writer's financial investment, most publishers that call themselves "subsidy" publishers are trying to put a nicer label on vanity publishing.
Q: S/elf publishing and vanity publishing are not the same?
Victoria: No, not at all. With self-publishing, the writer is like a contractor, he puts all aspects of the job out to bid--design, cover art, formatting, printing and binding and coordinates different service providers to produce the final product. With vanity publishing, the writer pays for a pre-set package of services. There may be some flexibility with design and formatting, but basically he's paying someone else to do it all. Not only can self-publishing be more cost-effective than vanity publishing (since vanity publishers build overhead and profit into the price), it can result in a much higher-quality product. But it's a lot more work. One more thing -- Some POD-based services, like iUniverse, describe themselves as "self-publishing" services, but this is somewhat misleading, since the service they provide is more similar to the packages provided by vanity publishers. Hence the confusion between "self-publishing" and "vanity publishing"
taken from “Choosing Reputable Publishing Professionals”   with Victoria Strauss           Thursday, March 9, 2006

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cool Pop Up's

If you want to jazz up a lesson, try checking out this site HERE.  It has lots of pop up's, especially for holidays.  I like the Halloween one and the Christmas one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Licensed Characters

Ever wonder about the licensing of our favorite characters?  See if you can answer these questions by reading the following news release…
1.  Who is Hello Kitty’s new friend?__________
2.  Who will be making Chicka Chicka Boom Boom toys?___________________
3.  Who led the way in preschool girl property? _______
4.  What is the name of the new television series based on Richard Scarry’s books?______________
5.  What new show on PBS will support performing arts curriculum?_____________________
6.  What blue faced characters will be starring in an upcoming film with new coloring and activity books by Modern Publishing?________

Scholastic Is Sweet on Angel Cat
Scholastic has acquired the license for Angel Cat Sugar, a Japanese property from the mind of Hello Kitty creator Yuko Shimizu. Two books for girls 4–8 will launch in the school market this fall, followed by those two titles plus two more in the trade starting in January 2010. Four to six additional titles are planned for that year, with formats including 8x8s, readers, sticker books, book-plus and novelty books. They will tie into seasonal themes and include extras such as punch-out ornaments or scratch-and-sniff elements.
“We have been looking for younger licenses to balance out the older boy properties that sell so well for us, and Angel Cat Sugar fills that niche,” says Lynn Smith, director of licensed publishing, Scholastic Trade. “It’s simply adorable and we just loved the idea of creating young, fun, girly books with glitter, stickers and more.”
Angel Cat Sugar, which was introduced in Japan in 2002 and has many licensees worldwide, does not yet have any media support or major manufacturers on board in the U.S. market, aside from a juniors’ apparel line being tested at Wal-mart. “We loved the idea that, because there is no media component, we would have a hand in developing the world of Angel Cat Sugar,” Smith says.
S&S Has More Moxie
Simon & Schuster is building on its relationship with Moxie & Co. by giving the licensing agency representation rights for a half dozen additional properties. Moxie has been licensing Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for Simon & Schuster since 2005. Both continue to expand; Nancy Drew saw new deals in the last year for apparel, accessories and bags, following longterm success in categories such as interactive games.
The agency will seek licensees for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, David A. Carter’s Bugs, Marissa Moss’s Amelia, Matthew Van Fleet’s Cat and Dog, Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear and Little Pip, Little Quack, and Pendragon. The first licensee signed for any of the new properties is Manhattan Toy for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom developmental soft toys.
Meanwhile, Moxie & Co. is actively looking for more literary properties, talking to publishers, literary agents and authors and recently signing a deal with Suse MacDonald for Alphabet Animals. “Our goal is to add more iconic, classic books with staying power,” says co-owner Laura Becker.
Her partner Arlene Scanlan estimates that publishers and writers contact the agency at least once a week, on average, about licensing representation, adding, “We’re in a good spot right now, cyclically, for children’s publishing properties.”
Ni Hao, Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon has authorized 19 books based on its series Ni Hao, Kai Lan through the end of 2010, including titles from Simon & Schuster (storybooks), Random House (coloring and activity), Publications International (sound books), Readers Digest (supernovelty formats) and LeapFrog (Tag electronic readers).
The network is collaborating with Simon & Schuster and Random House on retail and cross-promotions, according to Paula Allen, Nickelodeon’s new senior v-p, global publishing. Target exclusively launched one book, along with a handful of toys, in May; Jade Liana, the actress who voices Kai Lan, will read and sign two of the Ni Hao titles at the Target Book Festival in Minneapolis in September, where Ni Hao will be the focus of the children’s section. Target, Borders and Kohl’s are end-capping the books, and Nickelodeon is talking to Barnes & Noble, Borders and about promotional events. Licensee Mega Brands will promote the books on its Ni Hao, Kai Lan packaging, while some book titles will feature call-outs for Fisher-Price and Vtech toys.
Ni Hao, Kai Lan follows in the footsteps of Nickelodeon’s other leading preschool girl property, Dora the Explorer, which launched with four books. “Dora paved the way for a new generation of preschool tie-in publishing,” Allen says. “It’s been a top publishing property for almost a decade now.”
Busy Time for Busytown
Cookie Jar Entertainment has signed a number of new licensees for author Richard Scarry’s characters, in conjunction with the debut of a new 52-episode television series, Busytown Mysteries, which will launch this fall. NCircle Entertainment is on board for six DVDs, Cookie Jar has created a Web site called that includes an immersive world and a fan club, and Simon & Schuster will introduce a new line of books, based on storylines from the TV series, in summer 2010. Current licensed products, for boys age 2-5, include board games from I Can Do That, puzzles from Cardinal and cake decorating supplies from DecoPac. Toys, plush, home furnishings and gifts are planned. 
According to Lisa Streff, Cookie Jar’s senior v-p of domestic consumer products, the series has the look of the classic books, and many of Scarry’s most popular characters appear in it. Pointing out that there hasn’t been any merchandise on the market for quite some time, Streff says retail-specific promotions are planned with mass and mid-tier retailers and that the company is in talks with bookstore chains as well.
Angelina Heads Beyond Ballet
Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, a new 3D-animated series, will begin in September on PBS Kids. In the show, Angelina goes to a performing arts school and learns about new forms of music and dance; it includes 11-minute live-action segments that demonstrate dance techniques and exercises.
“This will revitalize the brand while remaining true to the original books,” says Gary Krakower, senior v-p licensing and live events at licensor HIT Entertainment. “It’s an awesome way to enhance the arts curriculum. It’s a new, vibrant show and it serves a real need, especially as it relates to arts education.” The first merchandise will roll out this fall in a program at FAO Schwarz featuring plush and dolls from Madame Alexander, home décor from Toy Workshop and costumes from Rubie’s. In fall 2010, the consumer product range will expand to include toys, apparel and other categories that will be available across mass retail outlets.
Also in fall 2010, Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap imprint will launch a tie-in book program, featuring 8x8s, readers, sticker story books and novelty formats, according to Francesco Sedito, v-p and publisher of Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan. Three to four titles are expected to be released per season through 2012. Grosset’s last Angelina tie-ins, to a previous 2D-animated series, were released in fall 2007; the most recent original picture book from Viking was published in 2005, with the entire backlist reissued since then. Sedito expects some cross-promotion with other Angelina licensees. “Wherever there’s an opportunity to hold hands, we will,” he says.
In Brief
Nordstrom will exclusively sell children’s apparel in its Midwest and Northeast stores based on the Planet Color by Todd Parr brand. The clothing will be produced by Jen’s Ideas.... Grosset & Dunlap will publish three titles for boys 7-10 tied to Warner Bros.’ Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in spring 2010.... Modern Publishing will release Smurfs coloring and activity books, licensed by Sony. The classic blue characters will make their comeback in an upcoming film.... Majesco Entertainment is introducing interactive games for the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms based on The Daring Book for Girls.... Warner Bros.’ licensing program for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince includes manufacturers NECA and Corgi International for toys, Mattel for a Scene It game, and Noble for wands, chess sets and sculpts, among others.
By Karen Raugust -- Publishers Weekly, 8/20/2009 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

JK on Oprah

So who watched the interview this past friday on Oprah with JK Rowling?  Here's my two cents on it.

1.  I want to visit that hotel in Scotland where she finished her final book.  Not only is it beautiful, but now it's got the creative mark on it.  The Balmoral.  It's on my bucket list now.

2.  I knew most of the info in the interview but always like to hear an authors perspective on rejection.

3.  I didn't like all the conversation about how hard it is to be a billionaire and how afraid they are to take it for granted.  I don't think the average person could relate.

4.  They referred to Jo's speech at Harvard which I've linked HERE titled The Fringe Benefits of Failure.