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Just Spring

Duck in the Truck

Phyllis: e.e. cummings said it best when he described the world as mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. Snow melts and runs babbling away, days lengthen, green sprouts of skunk cabbage and rhubarb poke out. This month we are looking at muddy, squishy, rainy, wet stories in honor of spring. Mud by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Lauren [...]

Constance Van Hoven and Her Reading Team
March 2020

The Stuff of Stars

In this addition to Raising Star Readers, we check in again on a Reading Team that morphs each time we meet them (depending on who’s willing to sit still long enough!). This time around, Connie (Gigi to her grandchildren), is celebrating a reading milestone that will resonate with every book lover. Here’s how Connie describes [...]

Creating Collage

As we move into the spring season, the lesson of hope from The Very Hungry Caterpillar,a book that employs paper collage for its illustrations, inspired these activities.

How’s the Writing Going?

Lynne Jonell

Working on the new middle-grade novel and it's going ...

Lesa Cline-Ransome

Lesa Cline-Ransome

Author Lesa Cline-Ransome is known for her picture book biographies of poets, anti-slavery crusaders, musicians, athletes, and mathematicians. Her novel Finding Langston received a Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. We impatiently waited for the companion novel, Leaving Lymon, which was published in early 2020. Lesa is a wonderful [...]

On the Trail of …

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Here’s one of my deep, dark secrets: I’m a huge fan of the reality TV show “Finding Bigfoot.”

Driving a Compact

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

In my town, parallel parking was known as the “skill most likely to rattle” new driving candidates and ultimately cause them to flunk their on-road driving test. Luckily for me, I was assigned a gigantic pickup truck the day we practiced parallel parking in the student lot for Driver’s Ed class. By the time class [...]

Growing a Nonfiction Reader
and Even a Nonfiction Writer

Candice Ransom

It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.  —Rachel Carson One would never guess from the following excerpts that a certain nine-year-old would grow up to write more than 50 nonfiction children’s books.  [...]


Giant Otto

Such is the narcissism of youth that, sadly, one often learns about some important things about a parent only when they have passed on. Such was the case of my mother. Even as I began to publish, she never told me that she had wanted to be a picture book writer. I only learned of [...]


Lynne Jonell

Sketches are coming in. They are lovely. But I also have some comments.

Jen Bryant

Jen Bryant

Author and poet Jen Bryant is known for her picture book biographies of artists, poets, wordmongers, composers, and playwrights. Her verse and prose novels are well-researched, often focused on an historic event like the Scopes trial or the Lindbergh kidnapping trial or Captain Kidd's buried treasure in New Jersey. Always focused on her next book, [...]

Cardamom Scones

Melanie Heuiser Hill

I adore books that have food details. I like to know what the characters are eating. Even better, I like to know what they’re cooking and baking. And if there’s a food or feast that plays a prominent role in the plot, I’m hooked. Turns out, these are the sorts of books I enjoy writing, [...]

What’s in the Basket?

“Investing in early childhood nutrition is a surefire strategy. The returns are incredibly high.” —Anne Mulcahy I am the head of children’s services at Ericson Public Library in Boone, Iowa. According to Iowa Department of Education, Boone has 1,901 students and 877 of those students are in a free or reduced lunch program (Kids Count, [...]


Lynne Jonell

Inspiration! It's so wonderful when it shows up at my door. And it usually brings its friends ...

What Gets Left Out

Jen Bryant

In my three decades as a professional author, I’ve written about many intriguing, accomplished people: the Wyeth family of artists, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, abolitionist Lucretia Mott, author Peter Mark Roget, poets William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, self-taught artist Horace Pippin, inventor Louis Braille, and most recently Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. In every case, [...]

The Rabbit Listened

In my current regular storytime group, I have a little one who insists he has whatever book I’m reading at his house, too. I hold up a book and he jumps in excitement. “I have that book at my house!” he says, while his parents shake their head behind him. I tease him saying, “We [...]

Knowing Your Past to Make Peace


Welcome to Peace-ology. We are two children’s authors teaming up to review children’s books with peace in mind.  Ellie: The other day, I looked over the shoulder of my five-year-old to see what he was drawing. There was the Ireland flag on the left, the Norway flag on the right, and he was finishing the [...]

Lincoln or Jaguar?

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Names are one-word poems. I often do tons of research to figure out which name is the best match for the individual I’m inventing; it matters that I get it right.

The Crack in the Door:
How I Came to Write Bones in the White House

Candice Ransom

I’ve been keen on dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals my whole life, since I read Roy Chapman Andrews’ All About Dinosaurs. When I was nine, I added paleontologist to my string of future occupations (writer, artist, ballet dancer, detective). My love for Jefferson began when we moved to Fredericksburg in 1996. I was touring James Monroe’s [...]

The Gems: Revolutionize Your Teaching of Writing

Margo Sorenson

The stack of student papers lurks on the corner of your desk, just waiting to be marked and graded. Yes, the rubrics and grading standards will be applied conscientiously, paper after paper. Your students wait, some in dread, some in hopeful anticipation, for your final judgments on their papers. But wait—there's another way to evaluate [...]

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Such a charming book! From Nikki Grimes, we hear the story of a young boy stalling his bedtime, all the while collecting a menagerie of imaginary creatures. This is a child who has well-practiced ploys for avoiding bedtime. His parents respond with playfulness and good humor. Mom and dad are patient but, finally, the child [...]

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