Avi: We Need to Honor That

door knocker
Every par­ent, teacher, and librar­i­an wants chil­dren to read. The rea­sons they wish for this are end­less­ly var­ied, rang­ing from edu­ca­tion­al skills, enter­tain­ment, to learn­ing a les­son. Some­times, how­ev­er, we need ask, what is it about read­ing that chil­dren like? I’ve come to believe the answer lies in the dif­fer­ent way kids and adults read books. When adults read a book, they encounter a sit­u­a­tion, a char­ac­ter, a detail, which enables them to say, “That’s some­thing I have expe­ri­enced.”… more

Chris Van Dusen: Illustrating Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Chris VanDusen
  Leroy Ninker first appeared in Mercy Watson Fights Crime as the criminal. Did you consciously change his appearance for Leroy Ninker Saddles Up to make him a more sympathetic character? I’m not sure that I consciously changed his appearance. I tried to make him look like the same character. In the original series he was wearing a robber’s mask which gave him a slightly sinister look.… more

Steve’s Spaghetti Sauce

In Leroy Ninker Sad­dles Up Maybelline’s favorite food is spaghet­ti. Here we share our best recipe for a savory sauce to top any pas­ta. Serves four (or one hun­gry horse).
Steve’s Spaghetti Sauce
The secret of this savory spaghet­ti sauce is the pepperoni.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Serv­ings: 4
Author: Steven Palmquist
Ingredients
1 15- oz can toma­to sauce1 6- oz can toma­to paste¼ cup sher­ry or white wine1 tsp beef stock con­cen­trate such as Bet­ter Than Bouillon®7 oz 12 pkg turkey pep­per­oni or regular2 tsp gar­lic salt1 Tbsp dried pars­ley1 tsp dried oregano1 tsp dried basil
Instructions
Using a microwave-safe plate, arrange 7 oz.
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Skinny Dip with David LaRochelle

Skinny Dipping
Favorite holiday tradition?  Without a doubt my favorite holiday tradition is carving pumpkins. It has become such a trademark of mine that people start asking in September what I plan to carve for the upcoming Halloween. I’ve learned to jot down possible pumpkin ideas in my sketchbook throughout the year, but it usually comes down to crunch time (the week before Halloween) before I finally decided on the 4-6 pumpkins I carve each year.… more

Hands-on History for Spatial Learners

When I was in ele­men­tary school, I was nev­er more excit­ed than when the teacher told us we could make a dio­ra­ma or a minia­ture scene of a pio­neer set­tle­ment. The con­cept, plan­ning, and build­ing were thrilling for me. Even though my fin­ished work sel­dom approached the daz­zling dis­play I could see in my head, I learned a great deal about his­to­ry, engi­neer­ing, sci­ence, and card­board from my for­ays into build­ing a small world in three dimensions.… more

Packing Your Bags

by Lisa Bullard One of the basic writ­ing exer­cis­es I use with kids starts with hav­ing them cre­ate per­son­al “Time Cap­sules” (down­load the activ­i­ty). It’s a great way to explore how writ­ers build a char­ac­ter through the use of “telling” details — in this case, the items a char­ac­ter val­ues the most. But a person’s stuff can reveal more about them than just the obvi­ous.… more

Mother-Daughter Book Club

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill In a meta-move (we’re not usu­al­ly so cool), our moth­er-daugh­ter book club has start­ed the Moth­er-Daugh­ter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Fred­er­ick.  We read the first book last month and the sec­ond is sched­uled for our next meet­ing. I’m not sure we’ll be able to stop there. It was good we held them until the girls were the age of the girls in Frederick’s first books — the tim­ing is per­fect now.… more

Skinny Dip with Toni Buzzeo

Skinny Dipping
What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Although only my father is Italian, I grew up with a strong connection to my Italian heritage. And really, when does one’s heritage shine more brightly than the holidays? So, every Christmas Eve finds me with my family in our Maine farmhouse kitchen making homemade ravioli. My husband Ken rolls out the dough that has been resting on the counter under a bowl for several hours while my son Topher and I wrestle the circles of dough he provides us into folded cushions of deliciousness that we drop into a boiling pot of salted water.… more

Melissa Stewart: A Fresh Look at Expository Nonfiction

door knocker
by Melis­sa Stewart Nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion. The words have a nice ring to them, don’t they? Expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion? Not so much. Rhymes with gory, pur­ga­to­ry, deroga­to­ry, lava­to­ry. Gesh, it’s no won­der expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion gets a bad rap. And yet, plen­ty of great non­fic­tion for kids is expos­i­to­ry. Its main pur­pose is to explain, describe, or inform. As far as I’m con­cerned, this is a gold­en moment for expos­i­to­ry non­fic­tion because, in recent years, it’s gone through an excit­ing trans­for­ma­tion.… more

Book Talk, Book Shop & Book Swap

by Mau­r­na Rome As my stu­dents pass through our class­room door, the morn­ing buzz begins. The kids are already remind­ing me… “It’s Fri­day, Mrs. Rome!” We all know what that means. It’s Fri­day Fun Day! It’s time for “Book Talk, Book Shop, and Book Swap.”  The kids in Room 132 do not seem to care about miss­ing out on the usu­al “Fun Day” menu choic­es of extra free time, videos, or games.… more

A Writing GPS

GPS_clip
For a cou­ple of years run­ning I was hired for two-week “writ­ing road trips” across the south­west­ern Min­neso­ta prairie. On my dai­ly jour­neys I often passed with­in a few miles of the banks of Lau­ra Ingalls Wilder’s Plum Creek. But I didn’t have time to stop and vis­it Famous Author Land­marks. I had been hired on as a “Famous Author” myself, to vis­it a series of schools and talk to stu­dents about writ­ing.… more

Skinny Dip with Nikki Grimes

Chasing Freedom
What keeps you up at night? My brain! I can't shut it off. I'm constantly bombarded with thoughts about what's on my to-do list (I live or die by the list), what arrangements I need to make for the next conference, book festival, or school visit; what work I need to do to elevate the relationships of my characters or ways to make them more authentic; what manuscript I need to concentrate on next (I'm always juggling three or four at one time).… more

Reading Ahead: Levitate Your Brother!

Big Magic for Little Hands
by Vic­ki Palmquist We recent­ly host­ed a Har­ry Pot­ter par­ty for adults for which every­one was asked to per­form a mag­ic trick. Some peo­ple fierce­ly addressed the chal­lenge. Some peo­ple pan­icked. Some peo­ple bought a trick off the inter­net. I turned to Joshua Jay’s Big Mag­ic for Lit­tle Hands (Work­man Pub­lish­ing Co). Cit­ing all the ben­e­fits of learn­ing to per­form mag­ic, the author reveals that he was­n’t a read­er until he need­ed to know about mag­ic.… more

Reading With Older Kids

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill Our first-born turned eigh­teen this week. This prompt­ed many trips down mem­o­ry lane about his child­hood, as he is now an “adult.” I was rather tick­led to real­ize that so many of our fam­i­ly mem­o­ries have to do with books — all the cool books we’ve read, the cool places we read them in, and the times we’ve read when the oth­er par­ent­ing pro­to­cols didn’t quite seem to fit.… more

Skinny Dip with Gennifer Choldenko

Skinny Dipping
What keeps you up at night? Generally I wake up worrying about my kids or my career. The middle-of-the-night scenarios are dire: accidents, Alzheimer’s, awful reviews, abject humiliation in one form or another. Unfortunately I’m a world-class worrier, so there I am lying in a pool of sweat whipped into a fretting frenzy when suddenly an idea pops into my head.… more

Bookstorm: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up 

Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse — until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters — Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy — for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive.

Skinny Dip with Kate DiCamillo

Skinny Dipping
Do you remember any book reports you wrote or gave while in elementary school? No one has ever asked me this question before! Here is the truth: I don't remember doing one, single book report. Have I blocked the memories out? Or did I really not do any? I'm thinking it's the latter. Truly. Describe your all-time favorite pair of pajamas.… more

Git along, doggies!

The images below are a small part of a larg­er pho­to or book cov­er. Each of the images per­tains to a book in this mon­th’s issue. Can you guess what these are? When you believe you’ve decid­ed, click on the image and you’ll see if you’re right.  My, you pay care­ful atten­tion! Well done.… more

Katherine Tillotson: Illustrating Shoe Dog

I have always been attracted by collage. In the past, I have enjoyed cutting up patterned paper and arranging the pieces in unexpected ways. The computer has made it possible to re-imagine the technique of collage. Now I am able to combine marks that would have been impossible to mix if I was working conventionally.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up! Companion Booktalks

Actual Size
Let these help you get start­ed on the Book­storm™ books: Actu­al Size, writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Steve Jenkins Ani­mal parts or whole ani­mals shown in actu­al size (a squid’s eye!) Try to guess the ani­mal by look­ing at just one part Ide­al for com­par­ing and contrasting
Bill Pick­et: Rodeo-Ridin’ Cow­boy,
 writ­ten by Andrea Pinkney, illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Pinkney True sto­ry of an African-Amer­i­can rodeo star You won’t believe his trick for qui­et­ing bulls and calves Biog­ra­phy of a true-life action superhero
Black Cow­boy, Wild Hors­es,
 writ­ten by Julius Lester, illus­trat­ed by Jer­ry Pinkney True sto­ry about one of the many African-Amer­i­can cowboys Find all the cam­ou­flaged critters!… more

Literary Madeleine: The Horse

madeleines
I am not a horse person. Oh, I survived a week at Girl Scout riding camp and years later when I was on the staff at a Y camp I enjoyed helping bridle and saddle horses for the early morning trail riders. But I’ve never been truly comfortable riding or, maybe especially...

Horse Stories in Children’s Literature

Leroy Ninker Sad­dles Up rides on the with­ers of a great many pre­vi­ous books. A time­line is only an at-a-glance his­tor­i­cal sur­vey, of course; still, we cre­at­ed this one to high­light some of the sem­i­nal books in a long his­to­ry of horse stories.  more

Teaching the Future

Animal Shenanigans
by Rob Reid I am for­tu­nate to teach three sec­tions of children’s lit­er­a­ture each semes­ter to future ele­men­tary teach­ers, future spe­cial edu­ca­tion teach­ers, and future librar­i­ans. It’s tru­ly a fun gig. I was asked by the Bookol­o­gy folks to share those books and top­ics I teach to these bud­ding professionals. I open each semes­ter by intro­duc­ing myself and read­ing my cur­rent favorite inter­ac­tive pic­ture book.… more

Nancy Bo Flood: Creating Cowboy Up!

When you conceived of Cowboy Up! was the poetry format a part of your plan? If not, when did that occur? I was standing next to the fence watching a young girl riding her horse barrel-racing, speeding around the arena, kicking up dirt and smiling from ear to ear. I thought, I want to do that.… more

Heather Vogel Frederick: Borrowed Fire

door knocker
In Absolute­ly Tru­ly, my new mid­dle grade mys­tery set in a book­shop in the fic­tion­al town of Pump­kin Falls, New Hamp­shire, a first edi­tion of Charlotte’s Web goes miss­ing. There’s a rea­son this par­tic­u­lar book fea­tures so promi­nent­ly in the sto­ry — it’s a nod to my lit­er­ary hero, E. B. White. E.B. White and I go way back. He’s one of the rea­sons I became a writer, thanks to Charlotte’s Web, which was one of my all-time favorites as a young read­er (it still is).… more

Teaching the Future

Animal Shenanigans
by Rob Reid I am for­tu­nate to teach three sec­tions of children’s lit­er­a­ture each semes­ter to future ele­men­tary teach­ers, future spe­cial edu­ca­tion teach­ers, and future librar­i­ans. It’s tru­ly a fun gig. I was asked by the Bookol­o­gy folks to share those books and top­ics I teach to these bud­ding professionals. I open each semes­ter by intro­duc­ing myself and read­ing my cur­rent favorite inter­ac­tive pic­ture book.… more