Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Smart Surfers Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Sarah Albee (Via Skype That Is!)

Even though it was 0* outside, that didn't stop Sarah Albee from Skyping with us. She put on 5 layers of clothing and headed to the library where she had a private room, complete with a fancy leather chair, to Skype with us.  Trust me, the fancy leather chair made her look like a very author! She shared with us the author's note from her upcoming book which is tentatively titled, She's the Man. The book will have short biographies about 20 woman who wore pants. We were blown away to learn that women were arrested or executed for wearing pants! Holy moly! Who knew?! We can't wait for this book to come out so we can find out more.
What else did we learn?
*She spent a summer in Hawaii! She loved catching toads and lizards while she was here. She can't decide if the best mangoes are from here or Cairo, Egypt.
*She loved reading magical realism in fourth grade along with sections of the encyclopedia.
*When she is on a deadline she will head to the library to write. If she is at home, she can get distracted by laundry, unloading the dishwasher and other things in her house.
*Don't worry if your writing isn't as good as you want it to be. Don't be afraid to revise, get your first draft down and change it. 
*Read a lot! If something you read moves you, read it for pleasure first, but then go back and reread those sections that you love and try to figure out how the author did what they did. 
*She's been a writer for over 20 years, writing fiction and nonfiction. When she first started writing nonfiction, she was assigned topics to write about. She loves writing fiction too but loves discovering cool stuff that others haven't written about. 
*She has the complete opposite of writer's block. She has so many ideas and just doesn't have time to write them all down.  If she finds something really interesting to write about, she can find someone to publish it.
*What's the coolest nonfiction fact that she's learned? There are too many! She shared with us one she learned just that day. Did you know that there was a Germanic tribe that was so used to the cold that they only wore a cape. Yup, back naked except for a cape! They would climbed up the mountain range, throw  down their shields and toboggan down the mountain on them! That's just insane. Sarah was wondering if they at least had on boots. 
*What makes her happy? Her kids and the goofy things that they do, being an author, doing what she loves, researching and talking to kids about books.
What makes her sad? Turning on the news and seeing all the problems in our country. A good sad? Beautiful books that make her cry.
What breaks her heart? When a pet dies.
Thank you Sarah for braving the cold to Skype with us. We had the best time!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Na Hoe Wa'a Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Beth Ferry (Via Skype That Is!)

It was pouring snow outside but that didn't stop Beth Ferry from Skyping with Na Hoe Wa'a for World Read Aloud Day. She read Stick and Stone to us, which was her first book to be published. We looked carefully at the end papers which told us the orgin story of Stick and Stone. The story is amazing and Beth shared that this story reminds us that no matter how old we are, we not only need good friends but we have to be a good friend too. She also shared with us that she got the idea for the book by listening to the radio. Drops of Jupiter by Train came on the radio and when she heard the line, "Your best friend always sticking up for you." Words started popping into her head and the next thing you know she had a story!
WAIT! Are you ready for the coolest thing?! We were the first group of kids to get hear Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish!  The kids were laughing, making observations about the pictures and had huge smiles on their faces the whole time she was reading it to them. I can't wait for it to come out and buy it for the library. 
Here are some other cool things we found out.
*She likes to write in her pajamas in bed! She gets out of her bed, grabs her computer and gets back into bed, where's it's nice and warm and cuddly.
*Her favorite books are mysteries. She's never tried to write one, but thinks it would be fun to try.
*She loves reading and wished it could be her job. But since that isn't really a job that you can have, she thought wouldn't it be great to make the thing that she loves, books! She wanted to write books as awesome as the ones she was reading. We think she totally succeeded on that!
*Her ideas come from using her 5 senses and paying attention to what is going on around her. She was looking out the window one day and thought, "Why are there so many squirrels?" She knew nothing about them and started learning what they eat, where they live and that became her lastest book Squirrel's Family Tree. One time she was at the beach and thought about what might come ashore and Pirate's Perfect Pet was born. Ideas are everywhere!
*She shared with us some of her favorite picture books, City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, Poor Doreen:  A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael Kaplan and Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.
*What makes her happy? Reading to kids 
What makes her sad?  Climate Change
What breaks her heart? All the pollution in the oceans because the animals can't speak up and don't have any say about what is happening to their homes.
Beth, we had a blast with you! Thank you for helping us celebrate World Read Aloud Day!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Traveller's Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With E.D. Baker (Via Skype That Is!)

The Traveller's and I were lucky enough to be the first group of kids that E.D. Baker has ever Skyped with! She read us the first chapter of Maggie and the Flying Horse. She left us with a cliffhanger which is super unfair! She also read us the first chapter in The Wide Awake Princess. The kids loved hearing that too. She also talked to us about A Question of Magic, her stand alone fairytale about a young girl becoming the next Baba Yaga, which the kids loved.
Here are a few other things we learned from E.D. Baker.
*She writes at her desk, which is where she Skyped to us from. Sometimes she will take her notes to bed with her to work. Sometimes she will walk up and down her driveway thinking about her stories.
*When she was in fourth grade she liked reading science fiction, adventure and mystery books.
*To be better writers, she suggests that we set aside time every day to write. She also shared that we should read a lot and read all different genres of books. We should then write the type of stories that we like to read.
*When we asked her about her favorite fairytale she says she can't chose just one because she likes so many of them. She doesn't like stories where the princess has to wait around for the prince to rescue her. She thinks the princess should be strong and be able to rescue themselves.
*She loved The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
*What makes her happy? Spending time with her family and seeing movies.
What makes her sad? People who lie
What breaks her heart? A story where the character dies.
Thank you so much E.D. Baker for helping us celebrate World Read Aloud Day. The kids loved it and the minute we ended our Skype, raced to the shelves to grab more of your book. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Dolphins Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Elly MacKay (Via Skype That Is!)

 The Dolphins have fallen in love with Elly MacKay's books, especially her illustrations. They were so excited to have a chance to celebrate World Read Aloud Day with her.
She shared with us some of the sayings from Red Sky at Night like "Ring around the moon, rain will come soon." We had never heard any of the sayings before and thought they were really interesting.
Elly brought out a little box that had her art supplies in it, a bottle of ink and an old fashioned pen. She makes tiny drawings and then cuts them out. She keeps all her little bits (pictures) in a tin because they are so small and she doesn't want to loose them. She showed us how how she puts the pictures into the little theater she's built and how she can move the pieces around and easy change the color of the background. The background is a large piece of yupo paper that she has covered in ink, salt and oil. She will also spray the paper.
She shared with us that when she gets stuck, she gets a big piece of yupo paper and splatters ink all over it. She looks at it, turning it all around to see if she sees anything interesting in it. If she does, she cuts that "thing" out. That's what you're seeing on the picture to the left. She asked us what we saw in the picture and we saw all sorts of things, fish, turtles, a person. So cool.
What else did we learn?
*Her studio is in the attic of her house and she likes to sit by a window full of plants to create.
*She loved The Dark by Robert Munsch as a child and Millicent by Jeannie Baker. She loved how Ms. Baker made her pictures out of everything like cut paper, play dough, plasticine. She thinks that this book is what really inspired her to make art the way she does.
*We got a sneak peek of her upcoming book called The Tallest Treehouse. It is about 2 fairies named Pip and Miff. We can not wait  to read it when it comes out this Spring.
*What makes her happy? Nature
What makes her sad and breaks her heart? Seeing animal habitats being destroyed.
Thank you so much Elly for showing us how you create you amazing art. We learned so much!
Click here for a fantastic video of how she makes her art.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Na O'opu Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Anne Marie Pace (Via Skype That Is!)

 That was a close call! We had a time mix-up and our Skype session   for World Read Aloud Day with Anne Marie Pace came very close to having to be rescheduled. Lucky for us, Anne Marie was still free and we were able to make it work. Phew!
At the start of our Skype session her cat jumped up onto her desk and was walking back and forth in front of the camera. All we could see was her cat's tail and the kids thought that was hilarious. We were talking and laughing so hard that her two dogs heard us and wanted to join the Skype by barking. We loved it!
She told us that she had wanted to write a book about the holidays in February so she decided to combine two of them, Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day and got Groundhug Day! We loved the story and learned a lot about Groundhog Day which the kids had never heard of. We've never seen groundhogs either!
Here's just a snippet of what we learned from Anne Marie.
* She lives very far away from us! To get to her, we would have to fly to California and then drive for 5 days! Yikes that's far!
* She can write anywhere but likes the comfy couch in her family room or her desk. She also has a treadmill desk so she can walk and type on her computer. It's tricky, she has to walk slow, but she can do it!
*In kindergarten she liked Go, Dog. Go! and in first grade she loved Little House in the Big Woods. In second grade her teacher read Charlotte's Web and she just loved it.
*Her favorite book of hers is usually her latest one. Her newest book, Sunny's Tow Truck Saves the Day will be out on March 5th. It's about a family heading out for a picnic but then they get a flat tire. We are super excited to read it.
*While Vampirina Ballerina isn't based on anyone, she learned a lot about ballet from all the years that her daughters took ballet.
*What does she love? Sharing her books with children and playing games with her family.
What makes her sad? When her friends are disappointed about something
What breaks her heart? Bullying. It's not hard to be nice to others.
Thank you so much Anne Marie for helping us celebrate World Read Aloud Day and for being so flexible with the time!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Na Honu Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Laura Gehl (Via Skype That Is!)

 Laughter first thing in the morning is the best! Na Honu and I got to do just that when we Skyped with Laura Gehl for World Read Aloud Day. She read My Pillow Keeps Moving to us and the kids were laughing throughout it with huge smiles on their faces.  We learned some really interesting things about the book.
1) She doesn't have a pet but her daughter is hoping for a fish for her birthday.
2) The idea for the book came from a game she would play with her son Seth before he would go to bed at night. Laura would lie her head on him and pretend to sleep. He would wiggle and squirm about and she would say, " My pillow keeps moving. I need to return it to the pillow store!" Boom! A story was born.
3) There are no words on the first 5 pages of the book, other than the signs, for a really important reason. She thinks it is important for the pictures to tell us a part of the story that the words don't. She showed us the page that shows the man listening to music and pointed out that the pictures on the fireplace mantle were only of him. When we saw that mantle later in the book, the pictures had changed, just like the man had.
4) The illustrator Christopher Weyant hid his daughters initials in the book at least 3 times. I have also spotted one of his other characters, Monty, hidden in the book as well.
We also had so much fun playing a game of "Pillow Says" with Laura.
So what else did we learn from Laura?
*She likes to write in her living room on a grey sofa
*She loved A Birthday for Frances when she was in kindergarten and sang us the birthday song from it.
*A lot of her ideas come from her kids. She keeps a list of her ideas and looks over it before she starts to write.
*Why is the underwear white in  A Big Pair of Underwear? She thinks the illustrator must have thought "tightie whites" was a silly word so he made the underwear white.
Lastly, What makes her happy? Her kids, reading a good book and chocolate
What makes her sad? People who don't take of nature
What breaks her heart? When her kids are sad.
Thank you Laura for celebrating World Read Aloud Day with us!

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Shooting Stars Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Laura Magaziner (Via Skype That Is!)

 "Noooooo!!!!" was all that could be heard when Lauren Magaziner ended her reading of Case Closed: Mystery in the Mansion. It was a cliffhanger and we have no idea what information was about to be revealed! Needless to say the book has an even longer waitlist now.
We are kinda obsessed with the choose your own adventure/pick your path style of writing and had so many questions about that.
*As a child, she loved video games because she got to decide where the character/player would go, who they would talk to and what they would do. She thought it would cool to replicate that in a book and a choose your own adventure book is perfect for that.
*She has a giant whiteboard at her house where she maps out the 6 different plots in the story. Each plot has its own color. She keeps track of the essential clues and red herrings for each scene here. She draws arrows on the whiteboard to show the choices in the plot map and where you can jump in and out of plot lines. We tried to picture how huge this whiteboard must be to contain all this information and just couldn't fathom it.
1) Lauren likes to write at home either at her desk, on her couch or lying in bed with her computer resting on her stomach. When she doesn't want any distractions, she will go to a cafe and not turn on the wifi.
2) She thinks Harry Potter is the best thing in the world. She also loved to read Ella Enchanted, Sideways Stories From A Wayside School and books by Roald Dahl when she was in fourth grade.
3) How can we become better writers? Read as much as you can,  you will learn so much that way. It's also important to reread what you read. When you read it a second time, read it like a writer. Study the clues the author gave you about the character, ask yourself how the author got you to care about the character.  Also, write as much as you can.
4) She also gave us some great book recommendations! She suggested The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller, who went to our school and all of our fourth graders have met. She also suggested Frazzled by Booki Vivat. She also suggested a very scary book, Thornbill  by Pam Smy and Lockwood and Co. by Jonathan Stroud.
5) What makes her happy? Writing, anything that is funny-like whimsical ridiculous things. If you look at her character names in Wizardmatch  you will see what I mean.
What makes her sad? Death
What breaks her heart? The book The Science of Breakable Things
Thank you Lauren for celebrating World Read Aloud Day with us! It was great meeting you.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Dragonflies Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Jenny-Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Via Skype That Is!)

 The Dragonflies discovered that while author/illustrator Jenny-Sue Kostecki-Shaw lives in a different state than us, we have several things in common. She has goats, ducks, chickens and a garden. We have classroom gardens and gardens at our homes. She loves to create art by finger painting, cutting, coloring and collaging and so do we!
It was the perfect segue into her book Same, Same But Different. The kids loved reading along with her and saying "same, same but different" with her every time it popped up. While reading the story to us she taught us how roosters crow in Spanish and Hindi. We even got to sing the alphabet in English and then she taught it to us in Hindi. So cool! 
What else should you know about Jenny-Sue?
1) A lot of her ideas come from real life experiences. When she was living in Nepal and India, teaching art and English, she and her new friends wrote letters and drew pictures to her friends in the United States. They then wrote and drew pictures back to her and her new friends in Nepal and India. Same, Same but Different came from that experience. My Travelin' Eye is about her.
2) She writes everywhere! She always carries a notebook with her  and when an idea hits, she writes it down. She can be in her car, walking, anywhere and if for some reason she doesn't have her notebook with her, a napkin works too!
3) She loved Richard Scary books when she was younger because of all the details in the pictures. She also loved books by Ezra Jack Keats. 
4) When she asked one of  our students what types of books he likes to read he said, "Bug books" and she recommended Du Iz Tak? to him since it is written in bug. She also suggested Inky's Amazing Escape by Sy Montgomery which is illustrated by her friend Amy Schimler-Safford. She also loves Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal.
5) What should we do to become better writers? Read! Write! Tell Stories! When it comes to art we need to draw and draw.
6)) What makes her happy? Being outside and in nature, being with those that she loves
What makes her sad? When people aren't kind to each other.
What breaks her heart? Seeing other people who are sad.
Thank you Jenny-Sue for helping us celebrate World Read Aloud Day!




Monday, February 4, 2019

Na He'e Nalu Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Susan Tan (Via Skype That Is!)

Na He'e Nalu love to laugh and that is exactly what we got to do with Susan Tan during our World Read Aloud Day Skype.
Here are some things you need to know about Susan.
1) She thinks books are awesome and loves that you can write more than just books. You can write video games, comics, movies, the possibilities are endless. 
2) She likes to write on her phone. Since she is writing on her phone, she can write anywhere! When she goes to new places, exciting ideas pop into her mind and when she needs quiet she goes to her favorite desk in the library.
3) Writing can be fun and hard but we need to keep writing. She shared that it is also a good idea for us to read our writing out loud so we can hear what we wrote and decide if it makes sense or not. 
4) When Susan was a first grader, she loved reading picture books and comic books, especially Superman and Wonder Woman. When she got older, she liked fantasy books like James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
5) Her favorite memory to retell in Cilla was when she put glitter glue on her head! Since she was bald she tried a lot of different things to liven up her head. She tried taping bows on, but that hurt when it came time to take the tape off. One time she put glitter glue and stickers on her head! She doesn't remember how she got the glue off, but she thinks it involved a lot of scrubbing. She also drew on her head with markers! That came with a "Do not try at home" warning and lots of laughter.
6) She had some great book recommendations for us.  Jasmine Toguchi by Debbi Michiko Florence, Engine Nerds by Jarret Lerner and Front Desk by Kelly Yang are her chapter book favorites. Hands Up!  By Breanna McDaniel, Rabbit and Possum by Dana Wulfekotte and Drawn Together by Minh Le are her picture book favorites. She read Rabbit and Possum to us which is written by the illustrator of Cilla Lee-Jenkins! It was so funny!
7) What makes her happy? Books and meeting students who want to know more about stories and books.
What makes her sad? She shared with us that when people get older they sometimes give away their favorite childhood books because they think they shouldn't have them anymore. She gave away her Animorphs books and that made her sad.
What breaks her heart? When she has to leave her grandparents pug Maisy and Maisy gives her a look like, "Why are you leaving me?"
Thank you Susan for a super fun, laugh filled World Read Aloud Day Skype!

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Philosophers Celebrate World Read Aloud Day With Stacey McAnulty (Via Skype That Is!)

Before writing The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, Stacy McAnulty had never met anyone who had been struck by lightning. While on her book tour for Lightning Girl, she met several people who had been. She shared that she read articles about real people who had had terrible things happen to them, survived and then had a new amazing talent or skill,  acquired savant syndrome. She knew she wanted Lucy to become an acquired savant but didn't want it to be from a bloody incident like the stories she had read. Trust me, they were gnarly and we loved it! She also wanted to remind kids to that lightning can be dangerous.
What else did you learn from Stacy?
1) While she can write anywhere and does, she likes to write at home. Her dog Rayka, a German Shepard we got to meet, likes to be under her desk as she works.  She has 2 other dogs, Jack, who is also near her when she writes and Munchkin, who likes the couch.
2) We wanted to know what books she liked to read when she was a 4th grader and it turns out she didn't like to read. Her teacher had the class read everyday after lunch and assigned her How To Eat Fried Worms. The book was a challenge for her and rather than read it, she counted the words, which made it look like she was reading and is what Lucy does in the book. She did enjoy Shel Silverstein's poetry, especially Where the Sidewalk Ends.
3) She suggests that we read and read all sorts of books, comics, poetry, science fiction etc. to become better writers. She also told us to be patient with ourselves when we write. She shared that the first draft, while it sounds brilliant in your head, probably stinks. That's ok, rewrite it, work on it, make it brilliant.
4) We got a sneak peek of what she is working on right now! She has a book coming out on September 3rd called The World Ends in April. It sounds so good. She is also working on a first draft of a book that should come out in 2020 called A Penny Doubled which also sounds amazing! I don't know if I am allowed to tell you what it is about, but trust me the kids were super excited about the premise. 
5) She is currently reading You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly.
6) What makes her happy? Her family, finished projects and writing 'The End'
What makes her sad? Injustice against kids
What breaks her heart? Reading a book that has a dog die in it. 
Thank you so much Stacy for helping us celebrate World Read Aloud Day!