Let’s Get Busy with author Audrey Vernick

Audrey Vernick (@yourbuffalo), author of So You Want to be a Rock Star (@BIGPictureBooks), Brothers at Bat, and Screaming at the Ump (@HMHKids), stops by to talk about writing critique partners who are magic, the good stuff in manuscripts that sometimes gets cut, and getting the facts just right.
Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes
Audrey Vernick homepage
Screaming at the Ump book trailer
Picture book author illustrator Matthew Cordell
Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Purchase Audrey Vernick’s books from your local independent bookstore

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New from Flowerpot Press.

I recently had a chance to check out more titles from Flowerpot Press and I’m happy to share them with you now..

Why Do Sea Turtles Look Like They are Crying? by Jennifer Shand, Illustrated by T.G. Tjornehoj
Our youngest readers are full of questions. Why Do Sea Turtles Look Like They are Crying? answers a selection of queries children might have about sea creatures using humor and clear explanations. Why do blue whales not have teeth? Why do starfish have sticky feet? Why do fish not have eyelids? You can see where this is going. Before giving an explanation, the text offers up a silly reason. Do starfish have sticky feet because “they spilled maple syrup all over the floor?” Of course not! The explanation is straightforward and the animals included offer enough variety to attract readers to multiple readings. The watercolor illustrations in this series are realistic and allow for readers to explore the physical characteristics of the animals. This, juxtaposed with the same lifelike illustrations depicting sea turtles with boo-boos and fish with night lights, works nicely for the target audience in helping to make a meaningful connection to the text.
Other titles include:
Why Do Pigs Roll Around in the Mud? (previously reviewed here)
Why Do Camels Have Long Eyelashes?
Why Do Bush Babies Have Huge Eyes?

Simple Simon by Melissa Everett, Illustrated by Carrie Wendel
This retelling of the classic nursery rhyme has bright, attractive illustrations and colorful text. This particular variation on the text has clever simon tricking the pie man with a sort of riddle. The rewritten text reminds readers, “Simon taught us a lesson. Calling people names is a mistake.” The illustrations center on Simon and the pie man, but in the background visitors to the carnival are busy riding the merry-go-round, buying sweets, and being entertained by the musings of a clown. Upon retellings, readers can track different background characters to see how they spent their day at the carnival. Despite being tricked out of a slice of pie, it’s nice to see the pie man depicted as good-natured and willing to accept Simon’s cleverness.
Other titles in the Re-Versed Rhymes series include:
Horsey Horsey
Star Light Star Bright
This Little Pig (previously reviewed here)
There as a Crooked Man
Where Oh Where as my Little Dog Gone
Three Little Kittens
Pocket Full of Posies

The Book That I Love to Read by Joe Fitzpatrick, Illustrated by Mark Kummer
The narrator of The Book That I Love to Read speaks directly to the reader in order to communicate why he loves the book so much and to discover why it may also be the prefect book for you. This includes sharing that everything that he loves because everything that he loves is included in the book. Pirates, monsters, cool words, and things that are silly are just a few of the things that his boy loves. (But “this book definitely does not have dolls!”, explains the narrator after discovering that his little sister got into his book and added some illustrations of her own. 
The text is engaging and keeps up great energy while remaining inviting and conscious of the reader. The illustrations have a cartoon quality and are reminiscent of Nick Bruel’s art in Who is Melvin Bubble? This would make a great read to share with young children to start a conversation about reading interests and finding friends through reading.

Children’s Picture Dictionary (World of Wonder I Know About series) edited by Tammy Hunter, M. Ed.
This children’s picture dictionary boards “over 1,234 word” and includes full color images to accompany a selection of the words appearing on each page. While the layout is colorful and the images eye-catching, the font size for the definitions (which is smaller than that used for the words and parts of speech) may be difficult for some children to read. 
It is unclear how the publisher selected which words would include an accompanying picture and some words, such as double, equator, or extinct included in the page above, may have benefited from an image to help support understanding for the young reader. Overall, the bright, clear images and colors used in this dictionary’s layout should encourage exploration of the source from young to school-aged children.

The Rocket’s Red Glare by Peter Alderman, illustrated by Bea Moritz
Have you recently stopped to think about the words contained in The Star-Spangled Banner? Those inspired words carry a deep history, the extent of which most people know broadly at best. I’ve lived in Maryland for most of my life and our home is a 30-minute drive from Fort McHenry, known famously for its role in the War of 1812. Did you know, for example, that Mr. Francis Scott Key boarded a British ship voluntarily in attempts to free his friend, Dr. William Beanes? The men were not taken prisoner, but were also not allowed to return to their ship until the battle had ended. Did you know that the flag that flew over Fort McHenry throughout most of the battle (the storm flag) was replaced with an even bigger and brighter set of stars and stripes (the garrison flag) at the order of Major George Armistead to signal that the United States had persevered?
The words of the famous poem are accompanied by a narrative explaining a sort of play-by-play from the perspective of Mr. Key throughout his time on the H.M.S. Tonnant, along with paintings rich with cannon explosions, surrounding ships, and a war-torn flag. The text concludes with an explanation of how Mr. Key’s stanzas were first set to music by an actor named Ferdinand Durang, but later became widely recognized when Baltimore newspapers printed the stanzas and instructed readers to sing the words to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English pub song. It’s an incredible history and it’s captured beautifully in this picture book. The book also includes a CD with a version of The Star-Spangled Banner recorded and sung by Grammy nominee Jo Dee Messina. 

Note: Review copies sent from the publisher. Want to review these and other great reads from Flowerpot Press on your blog? Send them an email here

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The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke (First Second Books., and the )

First Second is the publisher of outstanding graphic novels for readers of all ages. They’re the publisher behind Zita the Spacegirl, Astronaut Academy, Sardine, Adventures in Cartooning, and a ton of other instantly recognizable titles. This month they bring us a picture book that just might make you wild and crazy by way of The Zoo Box by Ariel Con and Aron Nels Steinke.

The Zoo Box by Ariel Con and Aron Nels Steinke
(July 14, 2014)
Mom and dad go out for the evening and leave a brother and sister to put themselves to bed in the opening scene of The Zoo Box. With a promise to take the kids to the zoo the next day if they’re good, the siblings are left to their own accord and not long after find adventure in their attic. A box marked “DO NOT OPEN” is too enticing to leave be, and what follows is a romp of a story.
Steinke’s art style draws these characters to life and places them in a threatening situation without ever giving the reader a sense that there’s anything to worry about. In this way, the surprise and shock of what the children discover as the animals lead them to the zoo feels less dreamlike and more something for readers to ponder. And I mean that in the very best way. The message that the reader is left with is never one that was preached or overly emphasized. Like good stories, The Zoo Box calls for readers to themselves become the siblings in the story trying to put right the predicament they’ve found themselves in.
Cohn’s story is her perfectly complemented by Steinke’s pastel palette and round-edged illustrations. There is something so unfailingly kid-like in the dialogue between the siblings and each beat of the story, from discovering the box to following the train of animals through the woods to the brother asking to buy popcorn at the zoo, feels natural and true to how a school-age child would react if brought into a magical world such as we see in The Zoo Box.
In a paneled picture book that will have wide appeal with readers of many different ages, this graphic novel will also appeal to the adults reading aloud the story. Pair with zoo and wild animal read alikes such as Jumanji, Wild About Books, and A Sick Day for Amos McGee.
You can preview the first pages of The Zoo Book on McMillain’s homepage by clicking here or browse some of the book’s cool layout on First Second’s blog here. As for Aron Nels Steinke and wife Ariel Cohn, let’s hope there are many more collaborations in the future!

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Let’s Open an Indie Bookstore! (#LGBpodcast with Beth Panageotou)

Episode 67: Talking the why of supporting your local indie, the how of starting an indie from the ground up, and the vision behind a space built on community and built from a love of literacy.
Beth Panageotou (@epan11), founder of Page’s Corner and co-founder of the #virtualbookclub (@vbcbooks), stops by to talk about GreenRow Books (@GreenRowBooks), independent bookstores, and building community around a common story.
Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes
Click HERE to support the IndieGoGo campaign - "Read Local with GreenRow Books!"
GreenRow Books homepage
GeniusCon project
Virtual Book Club and co-founder Niki Ohs Barnes (@daydreamreader)
Page’s Corner
BonBon Break online magazine

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Upcoming releases from Chronicle Books

Two great follow-ups to two of last year’s most memorable picture books are making their way to readers very soon.

Here’s what Chronicle Books has to say about these upcoming releases. 

By Lizi Boyd
On sale August 12, 2014
Click HERE for look inside Flashlight.
There’s no need to be afraid of the dark when you have your trusty flashlight! In the follow-up to the acclaimed Inside Outside, Lizi Boyd creates a wordless world that reveals secret friends with the beam of a Flashlight.

Flora and the Penguin
By Molly Idle
On sale September 30, 2014
Click HERE for look inside Flora and the Penguin.
Flora is back for an encore! In Flora and the Penguin, the heroine we met in the Caldecott Honor book Flora and the Flamingo finds a new feathered friend.

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The Best Book in the World by Rilla (Flying Eye Books)

Australian-born Rilla Alexander has created an ode to reading that is both whimsical and understated.

The Best Book in the World by Rilla
(July 29, 2014)
There is something special in this book that transcends the work itself. Rilla has crafted a story about the power of books to take us places, but in her text it’s as if she has written an incantation to breathe the words alive. I say this not only as a teacher librarian, but as a person who would consider chanting these words aloud to the smiles and excitement of a room of children as we prepare to embark on a story adventure.

Here’s a sample of the text:
"Take the first step. Turn the first page. Read along. Read out loud. Or in your head. Follow the story. Up, under, over here. Where will it take you next?"
The design work is beautiful throughout the book and the illustrations have an almost retro feel, perhaps hinted at through the color choices or the use of strong geometric shapes throughout the spreads. While capturing the notion of the shared experience of stories as well as the adventures in which a good book can place you in the center, the pictures are vibrant and communicate not only a great joy, but also a propulsion forward.
The book’s pace slows nicely to a stop at the conclusion where we see the main character carried off to bed to sleep in the arms of a good book, reminding us that the story doesn’t stop at the last page because we can simply turn back to the start and enjoy it again.
 Rilla Alexander's print work is beautifully packaged into a story that's as much about the adventure of storytelling as it is about reminding us all what we draws us to books time and again.

You can preview The Best Book in the World on Flying Eye's site through a photo set showcasing Rilla's outstanding work. 

Note: Review copies sent from the publisher.

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ISTE through Selfies.

Earlier this week I spoke with Sherry Gick, my GeniusPal and collaborative partner, on the Let’s Get Busy podcast about the importance of building meaningful professional partnerships with others in your building and through your PLC (You can listen to the episode by clicking here). These relationships serve to support our students and provide them with a deeper, more meaningful learning experience, but they also serve to challenge us, the members of the relationship, to learn and to grow and become something better than our former selves. It’s for this reason I believe the term educational soul mate is gaining some traction.

Today I’m dedicating this blog post to the great friends I encountered at the 2014 ISTE conference in late June/early July. Some are new. Some have known me a while. And some I met for the first time face to face despite connecting over Skype more than a dozen times. It’s these relationships and for these relationships that I continue to emphasize the importance of connecting with others online.

The point cannot be overstated.

In a profession as solitary as can be that of a teacher librarian, finding that professional learning community that can support professional growth, introduce you to new tools or practices, and, most importantly, reinvigorate your instruction can be the tipping point in whether or not you have staying power in your current role.

So apropos to Atlanta, where ISTE was hosted this year, and on the conversation of friends, let’s crank up track 11 of The Zombies’ classic album Odyssey and Oracle and look rehash those people who help me grow and become not just the teacher librarian I am today, but the one I will be tomorrow.

I met some names I knew from Twitter and some new people.

I met some people IRL that, thanks to Skype, felt like old friends.

I got to see friends whom I now look forward to running into whenever we travel to professional conferences.

I made new memories with friends.

I got this glorious pic sent to me of my #Wondertwin holding a copy of my book.

And I have photo-evidence of what brought me out to ISTE (this time at least) in the first place: The Wandoo Planet Team and ISTE’s publication of the book I co-authored.

And I’m saving a place for when I meet you, reader. Because it means a lot to me that you’ve been on this journey with me and that you’ve allowed me to share all of my experiences with you.

Can I send you off with a blessing? Would you mind?

Okay… here we go…

May your photos be filled with the people you love. The people who see light in you. The people who challenge you to grow out of yourself and into something even more beautiful. And may you see those people reflected in everything that you do. For it is in the journey together that we truly come to understand ourselves and one another.

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Let’s Get Busy with teacher librarian Sherry Gick

Episode 66: Talking epic karaoke competitions, drastic paradigm shifts, and letting your nerdiness shine.
Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic), teacher librarian in Rossville, IN and author of the Library Fanatic blog, stops by to talk about educational soulmates, building collaborative partnerships within the school building, and adopting a willingness to fail.
Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes
The Library Fanatic blog
Earth Pals project
GeniusCon project
Collaboration friends mentioned: 
NancyJo Lambert (@NancyJoLambert)
Andy Plemmons (@plemmonsa)
Shawna Ford (@ShawnaFord1)
Shannon Miller (@ShannonMMiller)
PD is not a 4-Letter Word (ISTE Ignite Session by Jennie Magiera)
Jennie Magiera on Twitter (@MsMagiera)

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Let’s Get Busy with the author illustrators of Simply Messing About

Episode 65: Talking picture book art, process, supplies, and inspiration.
Simply Messing About (@SimplyMessAbout) is a blog about the creative process of making picture books. The creative minds behind Simply Messing About, picture book author illustrators Renee Kurilla (@ReneeKurilla), Tracy Bishop (@TracyBishopArt), Christina Forshay (@ChristinaForshay), and Laura Zarrin (@LauraZarrin) stop by to talk about sketchbooks, Tracy’s pen collection, and helping other artists and people in the kidlit community along the path of creating art for children’s literature.
Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode NotesSimply Messing About homepage
Renee Kurilla's homepage
Renee on the Let’s Get Busy podcast (ep. 54)
Tracy Bishop's homepage
Tracy’s Pinterest Board
Christina Forshay's homepage
Laura Zarrin's homepage
Purchase Books from your local independent bookstore
Ninja by Arree Chung
Don’t Turn the Page by Rachelle Burk
The Sketchables blog
The Picture Book Junkies blog (@PBJunkies)
PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)

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Let’s Get Busy with author illustrator Scott Magoon

Episode 64: Talking kids with iPads, perspective garnered from work as an art director, and adventures in the nut house.
Scott Magoon (@smagoon), author illustrator of Breath (@SimonKids) and illustrator of The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House (@lbkids), written by Eric Litwin (Pete the Cat), stops by to talk about the work of an art director, creating digital art with kids, and crafting a quiet story.
Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

Episode Notes
Scott Magoon's homepage
The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House book trailer
Purchase Scott Magoon’s books from your local independent bookstore

Available now!
Purchase locally whenever possible.
Available July 29th, 2014!
Purchase locally whenever possible.
Book Trailer for The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House

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