August 23, 2014
It's great to see that Frankie Stein has that read-again quality. This smile says it all!
January 28, 2014
What could be better than seeing your newest book at ALA with your agent and your editor! Thanks, ladies. You both made this journey a fun ride.
December 15, 2013
In just a few weeks, I'll be in Bradenton, Florida for the Florida Writers Association's West Mid-Winter Conference and Reading Festival. I love their slogan - writers helping writers. I am anxious to meet all of the people interested in writing for children. I will HELP you with your dreams as much as I can. FWA has put together a faculty that is broad in scope and deep in knowledge. If you're someone who needs another shot of inspiration and skills, go to their webpage: http://www.floridawriters.net/FWA_Upcoming_Events.html and sign up. We'll be waiting for you!
October 29, 2013
Sometimes I read a book and think, Clever. I wish I had written that! What Is Part This, Part That? by Harriet Ziefert fits in that category. I knew when I read the description of the book online that I was going to love it. As soon as I ordered it, I knew that kids were going to love it, too. And they do!
Here are a few examples: A rap song is part TALK and part SING. A bowl is part PLATE, part CUP. These cozy slippers are part SOCK, part SHOE.
I first used this book as a warm-up with a mixed crowd of students and parents at a Literacy Night. The kids were soon making up their own and then asking their parents what they were describing that was . . . part this, part that. Just last week I used it again in a classroom demonstration lesson in second grade at St. Anthony School in Milwaukee. I used the typical modeling design of studying 3-4 examples from the book, then I gave them part of a few and they guessed the rest. And I wrote my own originals on the board. After a few minutes, they were ready to think of their own. And they did. The average 2nd grader listed 5-7 different ones in just ten minutes.
A few of theirs were: A home is part cleaning, part organizing. A pencil is part lead, part eraser. A family is part people, part love. A cat is part purr, part meow.
One of the teachers who was observing that lesson, went back and immediately duplicated the lesson with her second graders. Today she emailed me a sampling of her students' work.
A house is . . . part roof, part bricks. A salad is . . . part lettuce, part veggies. A dime is . . . part money, part metal. A class is . . . part students, part teacher. George Washington is . . . part farmer, part president. I am . . . part skin, part bones. A car is . . . part wheels, part metal.
This is a great exercise to encourage thinking. Even older students could write some of these to warm-up for informational/nonfiction writing. Go ahead and try it. A microbe is part __________, part _________. Government is part ______, part _________. An organ in the body is part ______, part _______. An inventor is part __________, part ________.
Of course, I have to say that of all the second grade offerings, the one that stuck in my heart was: Miss Lola is part thoughtful, part awesome. Who could ask for a better thank you at the end of the day?
September 26, 2013
I remember years ago when I heard an editor state that she was looking for picture book biographies about lesser known people who did something important. My mind raced with ideas. This week I read a book that definitely fits that category.
THE TREE LADY: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins is just such a book. Everything about this story is important and worth sharing with our children. Katherine Olivia Sessions loved nature. She grew up in the late 1800's when it wasn't the norm to see a girl playing in dirt, or studying science, but she did. The author takes us quickly to San Diego where Katherine taught school - briefly. The rest of the story is her vision to turn a desert city into a green habitat. Along the way it was her persistence and hard work that helped her reverse the accepted misconceptions of the people. Tree by tree, plant by plant, San Diego flourished.
This book is a tribute to the necessity for study, thought, collaboration, and celebration. I hope it finds its way into many classrooms, homes, and libraries.
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