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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Candace Fleming

Bookstorm™: Giant Squid

Giant Squid Bookstorm

Giant SquidGiant Squid provides an excellent opportunity to teach about one of the most mythical, unknown, and yet real creatures on earth, the Giant Squid. The incredible illustrations by Eric Rohmann help the reader’s perception of how large this deep sea creature is and how mysterious. Found so deep within the sea, there is very little light. How did Eric Rohmann create the sense of this water darkness and the release of ink, a defense mechanism? How did Candace Fleming write with spare text and yet tell us so many fascinating details about the Giant Squid?

Our Bookstorm will take you into further exploration, studying bioluminescence, other deep sea creatures, ocean ecology, oceanographers, and more.

There are excellent resources in the back matter of the book as well. We trust you will find inspiration and resources aplenty within the Bookstorm to accompany your study of Giant Squid. 

Downloadable

You’ll find more information about Candace Fleming on her website. And read about illustrator Eric Rohmann on his website.

There’s a Teaching Guide available for Giant Squid, written by naturalist Lee Ann Landstrom.

BOOKSTORM TOPICS

  • Bioluminescence
  • Deep Sea Creatures
  • Fiction
  • Giant Squid, in particular
  • Oceans
  • Relative Size
  • Scientific Exploration

Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.

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Word Search: Presenting Buffalo Bill

Presenting Buffalo BillWhen Candace Fleming chose William “Buffalo Bill” Cody as a subject for her latest biography, she was intrigued by his storytelling, exaggeration, propensity for marketing, and the truth of his life’s adventures and accomplishment. After reading her book, we’re intrigued by the man, not the legend, who would most likely be using Twitter and Instagram to promote his Wild West shows today. If you love puzzles and games, we hope you have a good time solving this Word Search. 

Simply use your mouse or touch pad to draw a line over your found words and the program will mark them off for you. Words can be found forwards, backwards, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. As you find a word, it will be highlighted on the board and it will disappear from the word list.

Have fun!

Hidden Words

Puzzle by mypuzzle.org
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Candace Fleming Tames the Wild West

credit: Michael Lionstar

credit: Michael Lionstar

Our thanks to author Candace Fleming for sitting still long enough to answer in-depth questions about her conception for, research into, and writing decisions for Presenting Buffalo Bill: the Man Who Invented the Wild West, our Bookstorm™ this month. Fleming’s answers will inform educators, providing direct quotes from an oft-published biographer of beloved books that will be useful for teaching writing and research skills in the classroom. 

When did you first suspect that you’d like to write about William Cody?

Buffalo Bill Cody 1875

William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, ©1875

My first inkling occurred the morning I opened my email to find a message from editor Neal Porter. The subject-heading read: “Yo, Candy, want to do a book?” Neal had just returned from a trip to Cody, Wyoming, where he’d bumped into Buffalo Bill. Neal was not only intrigued by Bill, but he also realized that it had been decades since an in-depth biography of the showman had been written for young readers. But who should write it? He thought of me. Even though Neal and I had never worked together before, we’d been making eyes at each other for years. He hoped this project would finally bring us together. But I wasn’t so sure. Buffalo Bill Cody? In my mind, he was just another dusty frontiersman. A myth. A trope. Still, I decided to give him a shot (no pun intended) and ordered up his autobiography through inter-library loan. As I opened the book’s cover, I remember giving a little yawn. My expectations were low. And then … I fell into his life story. What a self-aggrandizing, exaggerating, exasperating, endearing, amusing, question-provoking storyteller! The man who wrote that book mystified me. Who was Buffalo Bill? Was he a hero or was he a charlatan? Was he an honest man or a liar? Was he a real frontiersman or was he a showman? I found myself suddenly brimming with questions. And I was eager to discover the answers. ©

At what point did you know that you’d present his life in terms of truth and maybe-not-so-true?

Buffalo Bill Cody by José Maria Mora

Buffalo Bill Cody by José Maria Mora

I knew right away that I would have to address the ambiguities in Will’s story. In fact, it was one of the reasons I was drawn to the project. I love the gray areas in history. I’m not just talking about gaps in the historical records. You know, those places where we don’t know for sure what happened. I’m talking about those places where we don’t know what to make of the historical truth. For example, Benjamin Franklin owned slaves. How do we fit that with with our image of the jovial, witty inventor and statesman? What are we to make of that? Or, take Amelia Earhart. Many of the most often-repeated stories about her aren’t true. Amelia made them up out of whole cloth. She lied. How does that jibe with our image of the daring, but doomed aviator? What are we to make of that?

Too often, especially in nonfiction for young readers, we avoid the gray areas. We don’t include these truths because we’re worried what kids will make of them. But I believe these areas are especially important for young readers … and most especially for middle school and teen readers. These are readers who are struggling to discover who they are and what they can be; they’re struggling to figure out their place in the world.

What’s right?

What’s fair?

What’s moral?

The last thing they need is another sanitized, pedestal-inhabiting, never-do-wrong person from history.

Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West ShowAnd so I decided to include both Will’s versions of events, as well as accounts that conflict with his. I intentionally incorporated opposing viewpoints from both historical figures and modern-day historians. And I purposely refrained from drawing any conclusions from the historical evidence. Instead, I chose to just lay it before my readers. Why? Because I want them to wrestle with the ambiguities. I want them to come to their own conclusions. I want them to see that stories—especially true stories from history—are not black and white. They’re gray.

Who was right?

Who was wrong?

I don’t think it’s my job to tell them. I’m not sure I could tell them.

Rather, I choose to tell all sides of the Wild West story—Will’s side, the Native performers’ side—with what I hope was equal clarity and compassion. What choices do each make under pressure? Why? No one is all good. No one is all bad.

You see, it’s in the gray area between those opposing values that I hope readers will ask themselves: What would I do in this situation?

By including history’s ambiguities, I am “kicking it to the reader,” as my friend Tonya Bolden likes to say.

And this, I believe, is the purpose of nonfiction in the 21st century—to encourage thought, not simply to provide facts for reports.

When you begin your research, how do you lay out a strategy for that research?

I confess I never have much of a strategy plan when I begin researching. Instead, the process is pretty organic. I start with archival sources. What’s already been written and collected? I focus on primary sources: letters, diaries, memoirs, interviews. This is where defining, intimate details are found. As I read, I keep an open mind. I’m curious and nosy and I ask lots of questions. I actually write those questions down on yellow ledger pads. And let me tell you, I end up with lots of questions. I won’t find the answers to all of them. I may not even try to find the answers to all of them. But in this way, I remind myself that I’m exploring, making discoveries. In truth, I have no specific idea of what I’m looking for or what I’ll find. I let the research lead me. And, slowly, I begin to understand what it is I want to say with this particular piece of history.

In those initial stages, do you use the library? The internet? Other sources?

In the first throes of research, I’ll use the Internet to discover the collections and archives that hold my subject’s papers. I’ll search for autobiographies and other firsthand accounts of the person’s life. I’ll note the names of scholars or historians whose names pop up in association with my subject. That’s the very first step.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Did you visit the McCracken Research Library or the Buffalo Bill Center of the West?

The McCracken Research Library is part of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. In fact, the library is just down the stairs from their museum. Yes, I visited both. And I spent a week in the library, culling through years of scrapbooks kept by Will, and Annie Oakley and others, reading memoirs and letters and diaries.

Would you recommend that your readers visit those locations?

I would definitely recommend the museum to my readers. So much of the detritus of Will’s life is on display: his buffalo skin coat, his favorite rifle that he named Lucretia Borgia, the famous stagecoach from the Wild West. They even have his childhood home moved in its entirety from Iowa to Cody! The place really brings Will and his times alive.

Buffalo Bill's personal saddle

Buffalo Bill’s personal saddle

What do you find to be most helpful about visiting a museum where artifacts are on display?

Those artifacts—leftovers of a person’s life, if you will—are so human. Sometimes we forget that a person from history was real flesh and blood. But then we’ll see that person’s well-worn carpet slippers, or read a love letter he wrote to his wife, and we’re reminded of that person’s humanity. Despite his place in history, he still suffered from both love and sore feet, just like all of us do.

How do you go about finding an expert to consult with about your book?

 During research, certain names starting appearing again and again. I will not only note these names, I’ll do a quick Google to check on qualifications, as well as how up-to-date their scholarship is. For example, a name that’s cited again and again in Cody research is Don Russell. But Russell wrote his seminal work almost forty years ago. Certainly, his work is valuable, but it’s no longer the most recent scholarship. Young readers deserve the latest discoveries and newest interpretations. History is, after all, an ongoing process, one in which new facts are discovered, and old facts are reconsidered. So I turned to Dr. Louis S. Warren, a highly respected scholar of the Western US history at the University of California, Davis, as well as author of the critically acclaimed Buffalo Bill’s America. He very generously offered to read the manuscript, making several suggestions for changes, as well as pointing me in the direction of the latest Cody scholarship. He also suggested I contact Dr. Jeffery Means, an associate professor of Native American History at the University of Wyoming and an enrolled Member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe for his unique perspective on my book, particularly in regards to Great Plains Indian culture.

Do you research the photos you’ll include in the book at the same time as you research the historical and biographical elements? Or is that a separate process at a separate time?

I do my own photo research. While researching, I keep an eye open for things that might make for interesting visuals. I keep a list, and in most cases, a copy of those images. But I never know what I’m going to use until I start writing. The text really does determine what photographs end up in the book. Because of this, I always end up searching for photos late in the project.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West show poster

How did you write the dramatic scenes from the Wild West Show? They’re filled with tension, vivid descriptions, and a movie-like quality. Were these actual scenes in the Show? And were you present to see them performed? It sure seems like it.

Presenting Buffalo BillIt was important to open each chapter of the book with a scene from the Wild West. Not only was I trying to show the parallels between Will’s personal experiences and the acts that eventually sprang from them, but also I wanted readers to have a clear understanding of what the show entailed. The best way to do this, I decided, was to write those scenes in a way that would make readers feel as if they were actually sitting in the stands. I wanted them to feel the tension, the excitement, the drama of the performance. I wanted them to experience (at least in a small way) the awe that show goers felt when they watched those re-enactments of buffalo hunts and Pony Express riders. After all, this is vital to the book’s theme—that the Wild West created our collective memory of the American West; that we still tend to think in tropes, and those tropes come directly from Buffalo Bill Cody. So, I wrote those scenes in great detail, almost in slow motion. Not a single description is made up. Everything comes from the historical record, including thoughts and comments from the people in the bleachers. I merely used present tense to make the action feel more immediate. But the action really and truly happened just as I’ve presented it.

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Vinegar Pie

Vinegar Pie
Serves 8
As Martha Stewart explains, "This dessert gets its apple-pie-like flavor from cider vinegar, a technique used in covered wagon days, when fresh produce was scarce." The cooks in Buffalo Bill's day would have been familiar with this recipe. Don't miss reading more about those days in Presenting Buffalo Bill by Candace Fleming.
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Prep Time
35 min
Total Time
3 hr 25 min
Prep Time
35 min
Total Time
3 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  2. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1/6 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  9. 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon water, divided
  10. 3 large eggs, divided
  11. 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar or sanding sugar
  12. Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim edge of dough to rim. Roll out remaining disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate, along with dough in pie plate, until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Whisk in brown sugar, flour, spices, salt, vinegar, and 1 cup water. Lightly beat 2 eggs, and whisk into mixture. Return bowl to pan of simmering water, and cook, stirring often, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour filling into crust, and place top crust over filling. Trim excess, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold under bottom crust. Press to seal, and crimp as desired. Beat remaining egg with remaining teaspoon water; brush top of pie with egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Use a sharp knife to slash 6 vents radiating out from center of pie. Bake pie until golden and surface has puffed, about 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 45 minutes. Serve slightly warm with ice cream.
Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/939300/pioneer-vinegar-pie
Adapted from http://www.marthastewart.com/939300/pioneer-vinegar-pie
Bookology Magazine http://www.bookologymagazine.com/
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Skinny Dip with Candace Fleming

bk_stuartWhat’s the first book you remember reading?

The first book I remember reading on my own is E.B. White’s Stuart Little.  I was seven years old and it was the Saturday before Christmas – the day of St. John Lutheran’s annual holiday party. I loved that party! The potluck. The carols. The visit from Santa Claus (really Pastor Frankenfeld in a red suit). 

My father had spent the morning decorating the church’s community room. 

My mother had spent the afternoon baking sugar cookies. 

And I had spent the entire day asking how much longer until we went. 

No one noticed the snow coming down until my Uncle Howard stopped by. “Six inches and more coming,” he reported. “We’ll be snowed in by dinnertime.”

He was right. The party was cancelled. My parents were left with six-dozen cookies and one very whiny second grader. I stomped. I pouted. I flung myself on the sofa and howled. The last thing I deserved was a present. But that’s exactly what I got. My mother went to her stash of gifts meant for Christmas morning and returned with Stuart Little. She also gave me a plate of warm cookies.

ph_Skinny_FlemingCookiesI took both to the bay window in our living room. Settled in the window seat, I turned to the first page. And fell into the story. I was delighted, enchanted, completely swept into the story. I got all the way to the part where Stuart sails across the pond in Central Park before the real world returned. I blinked. It had gotten so dark I could no longer see the words on the page. I blinked again. And when had I eaten those cookies?

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

This was the first time I experienced the transporting power of a good book. I’d traveled to New York City without ever leaving Indiana. Amazing! It made me hunger for more of these “travels.” I quickly became an adventurer through books, visiting places I could never travel to on my bike, or in my parent’s Chevy. And whenever possible I bring along some cookies.

Describe your favorite pair of pajamas you’ve ever had.

My favorite pair of pajamas? That’s easy. It’s the pair I’m wearing right now, the ones made of blue flannel and patterned with black Scotty dogs sporting red hair bows. I like them because they’re big and roomy have been worn to threadbare silkiness and because the right sleeve is stained with blue ink from the Bic pen I use to write all my first drafts. They’re working jammies, the best kind.

bk_FamilyRomanovWhat is your proudest career moment?

The first time I saw my book at the public library. That was my proudest career moment.  After all, I’ve long known that libraries are sacred spaces, the repositories of all good things in life (picture books, story hour, librarians). So when I found my book on the shelf, I was overwhelmed. Me! Included in this place! I looked on in wonder. I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t. Want to know a secret? I continue to look myself up whenever I find myself in a library I haven’t visited before. I still get that electric thrill. I still look on in wonder.

What television show can’t you turn off?

ph_claire-underwoodI simply can’t turn off House of Cards. I binge-watch every new season, spending hours on the sofa, popcorn and cat in lap. Oh, that Clare Underwood is a manipulative piece of work. Looove her! I’m drooling for the next season.

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?

Ice dancing.  Does that seem like a typical female response? Who cares! As a person who has two left feet, I adore the notion of gliding gracefully across the ice in the arms of my partner, while performing twizzles and dance spins. I also think the costumes are pretty spiffy. Sigh. A girl can dream. 

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Books about Boxes

Boxes have many stories to share, stories to inspire, and stories to help us learn and be creative. Here are a few of the stories that boxes have to tell. You might well expect to find books about creative play and cardboard boxes, but there are books for a range of young readers here and boxes comes in many shapes and colors.

 

365 Penguins

written and illustrated by Jean-Luc Fromental
Holiday House, 2012

A family find a penguin mysteriously delivered in a box to their door every day of the year. At first the penguins are cute, but with every passing day they pile up and they cause the family significant problems. Who on earth is sending these critters? This book holds math concepts and environmental concerns within its story, which is quite fun. Ages 4 to 8.

Beryl's Box

 

Beryl’s Box

written by Lisa Taylor
Barron’s Juveniles, 1993

When Penelope and Beryl must play together at Penelope’s house, Beryl isn’t interested in Penelope’s plentiful toys. She wants to play in a cardboard box, imagining all sorts of adventures. Penelope is intrigued and soon the girls become friends. Ages 3 to 6.

A Box Story  

Box Story

written by Kenneth Kit Lamug
illustrated by Rabble Boy
RabbleBox, 2011

The author and illustrator uses pencil drawings to convey all the ways in which a box is not just a box. Ages 3 to 7.

A Box Can Be Many Things  

A Box Can Be Many Things

written by Dana Meachen Rau
Children’s Press, 1997

An early reader about a box that’s being thrown away and the two kids who rescue it for their own adventures, slowly cutting the box up for the supplies they need, until there isn’t much left of the box. Ages 3 to 6

Boxes for Katje  

Boxes for Katje

written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Stacy Dressen-McQueen
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003

A heartwarming story about a community in Indiana which, upon hearing about Holland’s struggles to find enough food, clothing, and practical items after World War II, sends boxes of supplies to Olst, Holland. Ages 5 to 10.

Cardboard  

Cardboard

written and illustrated by Doug TenNapel
GRAPHIX, 2012

In this graphic novel, Cam’s dad is feeling depressed and there isn’t a lot of money to buy Cam something for his birthday. He gives him a cardboard box and together they work to create a man from the box. It magically comes to life and all is well until the neighborhood bully strives to turn the cardboard man to his evil purposes. Ages 10 and up.

Cardboard Box Book  

Cardboard Box Book

written and created by Roger Priddy and Sarah Powell
illustrated by Barbi Sido
Priddy Books, 2012

If you’re in need of ideas and tips for making your own cardboard creations, or even if you are full of ideas, you’ll be inspired by this book that helps you figure out how to make some amazing but simple cardboard contraptions. All you need is simple household art supplies like a pencil and glue and scissors. And maybe a little paint. Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision).

Cardboard Creatures  

Cardboard Creatures: Contemporary Cardboard Craft Projects for the Home, Celebrations & Gifts

written and created by Claude Jeantet
David & Charles, 2014

What else can you do with cardboard? Sculptures, of course. There are clever animals to make here, designed by an architect who has her own shop in Paris where she sells her intriguing cardboard art. You and your children can make these things, too! Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision)..

Christina Katerina and the Box  

Christina Katerina and the Box

written by Patricia Lee Gauch
illustrated by Doris Burns
Boyds Mills Press, 2012

When Christina Katerina’s family buys a new refrigerator, her mother is excited about the refrigerator but Christina Katerina is excited about the box. She can do all kinds of things with a box, including a castle and a playhouse. Ages 3 to 7.

Harry's Box  

Harry’s Box

written by Angela McAllister
illustrated by Jenny Jones
Bloomsbury, 2005

When Harry and his mom come back from the grocery store, he grabs the box the groceries came in and sets off for adventure with his dog, traveling the high seas, hiding from bears, and everything he can think of before he falls asleep to dream of more! Ages 3 to 7.

Henry's Freedom Box  

Henry’s Freedom Box: a True Story of the Underground Railroad

written by Ellen Levine
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, 2007

This is the true story of Henry Brown, a boy born into slavery who is forcibly separated from his mother to work in his owner’s factory. As a man, his wife and three children are sold away from his life. He makes plans with other abolitionists and mails himself in a box to freedom in Philadelphia. Ages 5 and up.

Meeow and the Big Box  

Meeow and the Big Box

written and illustrated by Sebastien Braun
Boxer Books, 2009

For the preschool set, this book about a cat who creates a fire truck from a box is filled with bright colors and textures, and just enough text to read aloud. There are several more Meeow books. Ages 2 to 4.

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes  

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes

written by Eve Sutton
illustrated by Lynley Dodd
Parent’s Magazine Press, 1974; Puffin, 2010

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-aloud, this dynamic duo tells the story of an ordinary cat who likes to hide in boxes while cats around the world do astounding things. Ages 3 to 7

Not a Box  

Not a Box

written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
HarperCollins, 2006

Narrated by a rabbit, this story of the many possibilities of a box (It’s NOT A BOX! Oops, sorry.) are drawn with a simple line that inspires anything but simple ideas. New York Times Best Illustrated Book. Ages 3 and up.

Roxaboxen  

Roxaboxen

written by Alice McLerran
illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1991

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-Based on a true story from the author’s childhood, the kids in Yuma, Arizona use found objects, but particularly boxes, to create a city where they spend endless hours playing and making up stories and creating memories that will last a lifetime. The book has inspired children around the world. There’s a park in Yuma to commemorate the site of the original Roxaboxen. Ages 4 to 7.

Secret Box  

Secret Box

written and illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2011

There are secret messages hidden in secret boxes to be discovered in secret places … a wordless book provides beautifully crafted images with intricate details that provide much to think and wonder about, ultimately encouraging the reader to create the story. There’s time travel, magic, and puzzles within this book. Good for ages 4 and up.

The Secret Box  

Secret Box

written by Whitaker Ringwald
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2014

When Jax Malone receives a gift in a box for her 12th birthday, she and her friend Ethan soon discover it’s not a gift but a cry for help from an unknown great-aunt. Setting off to solve the mystery of the box and provide the requested help, the kids are soon on a wild, crazy, and dangerous road trip … a fast-paced tale and the beginning of a series of books. (The author’s name is a pseudonym, by the way, a mystery in itself.) Ages 8 to 12.

Sitting in My Box  

Sitting in My Box

written by Dan Lillegard
iilustrated by Jon Agee
Two Lions, 2010

From the safety of a cardboard box, a little boy reads a book about Wild Animals and—behold!—they come to visit him. How many animals can fit in the box? It’s a cumulative story and the wording makes it a good choice for a read-aloud. Ages 2 to 5.

Tibet Through the Red Box  

Tibet Through the Red Box

written and illustrated by Peter Sís
Greenwillow, 1999

When the author was little, his father kept things inside a red box that his children were not allowed to touch. When the author is grown, he receives a letter from his father, telling him the red box is now his. The red, lacquered box holds secrets about his fathere’s experiences in the 1950s when he was drafted into the Czechoslovakian army and sent to China to teach filmmaking. At the time, Czechoslovokia is a secretive country behind the Iron Curtain. The father is soon lost in Tibet for two years, where his adventures must be kept secret but are shared with his son. The book’s illustrations are inspired by Tibetan art. Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Ages 7 and up.

What to Do with a Box  

What To Do With a Box

written by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Chris Sheban
Creative Editions, 2016

What can’t you do with a box? If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure. Read this out loud to your favorite kids and watch the ideas light up their eyes. Ages 4 to 7.

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Interview: Candace Fleming

credit: Michael Lionstar

credit: Michael Lionstar

Bulldozer’s Big Day is a perfect read-aloud, with wonderful sound and action opportunities on most pages. Did those moments affect your decision about what verbs to use?

How lovely you think it’s a perfect read aloud. I worked hard at the story’s readability. Not only did I strive for a pace and cadence, but I wanted the story to sound as active as the plot’s setting with lots of bumping and clanging and vrooming. Additionally, I thought long and hard about those working verbs. You know, the shifting, mixing, chopping each truck does. They had to have a double-meaning, applying to both construction trucks and baking. And they had to be in groups of three, because… well… three just sounds good, doesn’t it?

While most readers and listeners will think the “Big Day” is a birthday, you never use that term. Why?

It was redundant.  Readers can see that the big trucks made a cake for Bulldozer’s sixth birthday. They don’t need me to tell them. Interestingly, every time I read the story aloud to kindergarteners they spontaneously burst into the “Happy Birthday” song. I’m not sure I’d get that response if I’d had the trucks shout the words. It’s one more way for them to find their way into the text – and I did it accidentally.

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

written by Candace Fleming 
illustrated by Eric Rohmann 
Atheneum, 2015

There is a perfect turn-around late in the story, when we go from “mashing, mashing, mashing” to a quieter moment, then the suspenseful “lifting, lifting, lifting.” This suggests to me that you are not only skilled at dramatic narrative, but a veteran classroom reader as you quiet the students down from that high-energy mashing to get ready for a resolution.  Do you remember your first author visit to a classroom? What have you learned over the years about reading your books aloud?

I do remember my first author visit. I was terrified. But the kids and teachers were so lovely, I was immediately put at ease. And this strange thing happened. I turned into an actor. Seriously. Standing in front of that library full of first graders, I suddenly discovered a talent for talking in voices and acting like different animals. Me?! I became a storyteller. That’s what I know from years of reading my books – and others’ – aloud. You have to be dramatic. You have to be suspenseful. You have to lick your chops if you’re reading about a hungry tiger, or wiggle your bottom if you’re reading about a puff-tailed rabbit. Kids love it. In truth, so do I.

Were you ever disappointed on a childhood birthday?

You mean that year I didn’t get a pony?

Do you enjoy birthday celebrations now?

Absolutely! I’m especially enamored of the cake. And don’t you dare ask me how old I’ll be on my next one.

 

 

 

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Interview: Eric Rohmann

Bulldozer’s Big Day
written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Atheneum, 2015

interview by Vicki Palmquist

What’s the illustration tool you turn to more than any other?

Graphite pencil. Simple, efficient, erasable, feels good in the hand, makes a lovely line with infinite possibilities for line variation. Did I mention that it’s erasable? Always forgiving!

What illustration technique haven’t you tried that keeps calling out to you?

Relief printmaking. The technique gives you so much—the quality of the mark, the layering of color look different than anything I can make with any other technique.

What do you do when you’ve run out of inspiration? What gets you going again?

Making something. Looking at something others have made. It’s a big world out there and there is plenty to see.

ph_EricRohmann-studio

Eric’s studio

Who is your favorite illustrator who is no longer with us? And it could be more than one person.

William Stieg…and  Helen Sewell, Wanda Gag, Maurice Sendak, Crockett Johnson, Robert McCloskey, Virginia Lee Burton, James Marshall…just to name a few.

Did winning the Caldecott (medal and honors) change how you think about your work?

Yes. It made me more attentive, more dedicated, more aware of my audience. It also took off the pressure of ever thinking about such things again!

How and where do you and Candy talk over a new project?

bk_OhNoEverywhere and anywhere. Bulldozer’s Big Day was begun on a car ride from Indianapolis to Chicago. Giant Squid at an ALA hotel room. Oh, No! in Borneo while walking in the jungle.

If you could sit down with four other book artists, living or dead, and have dinner and a conversation, who would they be?

This is not fair! Just four? Hmmm… William Stieg, Beatrix Potter, M.T. Anderson, Maurice Sendak. 

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Slideshow: Block Print Illustration

Eric Rohmann’s wonderful illustrations for Bulldozer’s Big Day were made using block prints, also called relief prints.  This technique has long been used to illustrate children’s books, especially early ABC books such as the The Ladder to Learning by Miss Lovechild, published in 1852 by the New York firm R.H. Pease.

Ladder

The Bookologist has put together a slide show of some of our more recent print-illustrated books. Many of these are Caldecott medal or honor books. You can find an interesting discussion of Caldecott books illustrated with printmaking techniques here.

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From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

Atheneum, 2015

Welcome! It’s the first Tuesday of the month and time to launch a new month of Bookology. Our October Bookstorm™ has as its centerpiece the wonderful picture book Bulldozer’s Big Day, the first time we’ve focused on a picture book for young readers.

Bulldozer’s Big Day was written by Sibert honor author Candace Fleming and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmann. We will feature interviews with both, beginning today with our conversation with Eric Rohmann.

Rohmann’s block print art for Bulldozer triggered a discussion between various bookologists about other print-illustrated children’s books, and put together a slide show of some of the stand-outs of the last couple of decades. Have your own favorite? Let us know.

Our regular columnists will be writing through the month about their latest book or writing discoveries; today: Reading Ahead author Vicki Palmquist on Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart, a new middle grade novel by Jane St. Anthony and many other books that deal with “Laughter and Grief.”

Don’t forget to check out our two latest Authors Emeritus posts about Virginia Lee Burton and Lynd Ward, who both used block print techniques in their illustration work.  

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Eric Shabazz Larkin, illus.
Readers to Eaters, 2013

October is a month of change in the northern hemisphere, so why not change a world record? Two organizations are looking to claim the world record of most children-read-to-in-a-day.

On October 19, 2015, Points of Light, a Houston-based nonprofit, will attempt to establish a new world record by rallying volunteers to read to over 300,000 children in 24 hours. The campaign book for this attempt is Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, written by Bookology columnist Jackie Briggs Martin!

The current world record is held by the nonprofit Jumpstart, which in association with Candlewick Press, has for ten years run a global campaign, Read for the Record® that generates public support for high-quality early learning by mobilizing millions of children and adults to take part

Noah Z. Jones, illus. Candlewick, 2005

Noah Z. Jones, illus.

Candlewick, 2005

in the world’s largest shared reading experience. This year’s attempt is scheduled for October 22; the campaign book is Not Norman: A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett.

And, finally, it is a truth universally acknowledged that any October issue of a magazine must include something related to Halloween.  We’ve got that covered with this month’s Two for the Show column: “What Scares You?,” in which Phyllis Root and Jackie Briggs Martin discuss the role of fear in books for young readers and spotlight a few books that deliver on a scary promise. Look for their conversation October 14.

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit Bookology.

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Bookstorm™: Bulldozer’s Big Day

Bookstorm-Bulldozer-Visual_655

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

written by Candace Fleming 
illustrated by Eric Rohmann 
Atheneum, 2015

It’s Bulldozer’s big day—his birthday! But around the construction site, it seems like everyone is too busy to remember. Bulldozer wheels around asking his truck friends if they know what day it is, but they each only say it’s a work day. They go on scooping, sifting, stirring, filling, and lifting, and little Bulldozer grows more and more glum. But when the whistle blows at the end of the busy day, Bulldozer discovers a construction site surprise, especially for him!

An ideal book for a read-aloud to that child sitting by you or to a classroom full of children or to a storytime group gathered together, Bulldozer’s Big Day is fun to read because of all the onomatopoeia and the wonderful surprise ending.

In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. For Bulldozer’s Big Day, you’ll find books for a variety of tastes and interests. The book will be comfortably read to ages 3 through 7. We’ve included picture books, nonfiction, videos, websites, and destinations that complement the book, all encouraging early literacy.

Building Projects. There have been many fine books published about designing and constructing houses, cities, and dreams. We share a few books to encourage and inspire your young dreamers.

Construction Equipment. Who can resist listening to and watching the large variety of vehicles used on a construction project? You’ll find both books and links to videos.

Birthday Parties. This is the other large theme in Bulldozer’s Big Day and we suggest books such as Xander’s Panda Party that offer other approaches to talking about birthdays.

Dirt, Soil, Earth. STEM discussions can be a part of early literacy, too. Get ready to dish the dirt! 

Loneliness. Much like Bulldozer, children (and adults) can feel let down, ignored, left out … and books are a good way to start the discussion about resiliency and coping with these feelings.

Surprises. If you work with children, or have children of your own, you know how tricky surprises and expectations can be. We’ve included books such as Waiting by Kevin Henkes and Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne.

Friendship. An ever-popular theme in children’s books, we’ve selected a few of the very best, including A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by the Steads.

Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.

Downloadables

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Chapter & Verse picks the winners … or not

In CLN’s Chapter & Verse, with six of our bookstores reporting, we had no clear winners for our mock Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards. Steve and I have visited many of these locations, talking with the book club members. Each book club has its own character. The members bring different life experiences, different reading preferences, […]

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Peace

Peace is elusive. It is a goal of some people at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people sharing all the world …” Is […]

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Bank Street’s 2010 Choices

We eagerly await the annual list of books chosen by the Bank Street College of Education as books that work well with children from birth to age 14. Each year, the Children’s Book Committee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the […]

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