Friday, May 29, 2020

If You Come to Earth

Oh boy. Three times could be a charm, right? 
In my mind, Sophie Blackall has done it again.

Thanks to Day of Dialog, Chronicle and Edelweiss, I was able to read and share the digital F&G of Sophie's newest fabulousness, If You Come to Earth, with a few of my 5th grade Reading Ambassadors today.  It was my first time looking at it as well and together we dropped our jaws, examined the beautiful masterpiece and yeah, even got a little teary.  The colors. The message. The inclusivity. The details. No beat was missed. She even tipped her hat to her beloved lighthouse and sea.

But don't listen to me.  This is what the kids had to say:

"This should be read to the whole school.  It's beautiful. The wording is very nice. Even kindergarteners will understand what it means and what the main thing that it is all about.  I think teachers will like it, too...The message is that people on Earth can do lots of things together and apart...working together is always better instead of hurting each other."-MH

"The message is that we should take care of our planet and cherish it more than we do."-SS

Here's a simple but to the point review, 
"πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘Great book."-NR
"Accept who you are and what you are are.  People can be sick and cured and then climb mountains.  Some things are hard but nothing can be impossible."-MH (She is reading All the Impossible Things right now by Lindsay Lackey. Lindsay and Sophie inspired her to say this.)
I know what I will be doing on September 15th.  Getting out my birthday candle for a party with blue "Earth" cupcakes, of course. That celebration cannot come soon enough. 

From the chat box during our meet


Thursday, May 28, 2020


I'm going to make this brief and to the point.
Everyone (young people, old people, parents, educators, administrators, stakeholders, everyone) needs to read this book. I mean, look what I wrote in my book journal after I listened to the it.  No notes. No quotes. No review, really. Believe me, I could have filled many pages with quotes but yet, just this:

Jason Reynolds was an amazing morning and luncheon keynote yesterday at the School Library Journal's Day of Dialog.  Jason with Ibram X. Kendi, the adult STAMPED author, kicked off the day inspiring us all.  "Words matter," Jason said. "Strive in each moment to be anti-racist," Kendi plead. Jason described racism as a virus. People can be asymptomatic and still pass it on.  STAMPED is the vaccine and we all need to ingest it. He said it. I say it. Everyone needs to read this book.

My 17 year old daughter sat with me for the lunch keynote and didn't move until Jason disappeared. All I wrote in my notes was, "AMAZING! IMPORTANT!" He became the topic of our dinner conversation that turned to the current events then anger and ultimately, tears. She wants to make a difference. She wants Jason's and #OwnVoices books to be a part of our curriculum. She feels so passionate about this that she wants to do the research and present to the BOE and I support her.  I just forwarded her this article from SLJ and this one.  

I can't speak to the print version of the book, but I will say, the audio of STAMPED is so powerful.  Odyssey and Grammy worthy for sure. Jason reads it and I felt like he was reading to me. I'm sure the print is just as good.  I'll let you know because we'll be getting a copy delivered to my house. I can safely say that my daughter doesn't read my blog so I can share that I ordered her a copy as a graduation gift. I may just slip in a few pages (or the whole book) myself sometime this summer before she embarks on her next chapter. I wouldn't be surprised if she packs STAMPED in among her toothpaste and extra long sheets.  It's that essential.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Like everything else, my son's 8th grade field trip to Philadelphia was canceled. Today is the virtual visit.

If it is a fraction as good as the #CarleArtInPlace exhibit, then it will be a worthwhile day.

I just sat and soaked in all the art in this virtual exhibit. Elisha Cooper shared the link on his Instagram so I initially went to view his page only. I couldn't figure out how to click on the "chapters" or "rooms" until the end and am very grateful for that.  Every time I turned the page I wondered if it would be him.  
But ahhhhhh....
Not yet. 
My eyes widened.
It was just another fabulous artist, sharing beautiful art and thoughtful messages in an enviable space . Take my advice and don't skip.
Grab a drink (almond milk for me) and a treat (bookbirthday chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting), a cushy-comfortable spot and enjoy. 

I loved Sandra Boynton and YoYo Ma's collaboration.

It was wonderful to see Ashley Bryan. I hold a special place in my heart for him.

When I walk through my neighborhood and observe the only children playing alone or with parents, I can't help but feel for all of them. I want to share Carson Ellis's Only Children Hang Tight to these kids.

Like Dan Santat, I, too want to learn how to play the ukulele but I promise I will not be building my own.

Elisha and I are both planning to send our daughters off to college this fall. Spending all this extra time with her is going to make the separation even harder. Back home, I will look up from my desk and see us in Dublin, NYC, Spain, the beach...the many, many places we traveled together.  I might cry but ultimately, I know these memories, like those around me, will save me from falling deep into my sorrow.

Melissa Sweet.  Ryan T. Higgins.  Peter Sis.  Fellow Cincinnatian with Loren Long, Will Hillenbrand. LeUyen Pham. And more... 

Which artist or art spoke to you the most?

PS-Be sure and visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for ideas on how to do art at home, virtual storytimes, and more!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Bicycle, Bicycle

The weather was pretty fabulous this weekend.  The sun was out.  The sky was blue. It wasn't too humid or hot. Perfect for a bike ride.

When I graduated from HS, my parents got me a brand new bike. A ten speed! I know. It's crazy to think about now but back then it was SO exciting! I signed up for a biking class in college and had dreams of being a super star.  I was about to say "the next Lance Armstrong" but the world didn't really know who he was yet in 1987 (Did you watch the 30 for 30 on him Sunday night?  It's really good but rated PG-13 at least). Well, my dreams got shot pretty fast, if dropping out after the first day is fast, and I didn't really get on a bike again until graduate school.  No Tour de France for me. My daughter says there's an essay in this whole story so stay tuned.

Anyway, if it's a rainy day and you want to teach yourself how to draw a bike, check out this video:

Whenever I think of biking and books, believe it or not, I think of Major Taylor.  There's a story behind that, too.

When the current juniors were in fifth grade, we had our first gala.  We were still in transition from our "phenomenal people project" to "author gala".  Back then we came up with this project based learning idea that Mr. Lemoncello was opening up a new wing of his library dedicated to phenomenal people. Students researched and came up with extraordinary displays for this wing of the "library."  I wore my first gown and Mr. Reischer a donned his tie.  We invited Chris Grabenstein.  "We're only a 2 1/2 hour train ride up from the city," I practically begged.  Unfortunately, he couldn't make it but he did put a gala in his third book AND dedicate Book 2 to us.  I guess I forgive him πŸ˜‰.  Speaking of Chris Grabenstein, did you know Book 5 will be out in August? Mark your calendar.

Oh, but I digress.  Justin did his phenomenal people project on Major Taylor after reading the Lesa Clines-Ransome and James E. Ransome biography, Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist. What was he going to do for the gala?  No worries. He figured it out. I still remember his dad hauling in his bike for his display. (I just spent too much time trying to find a picture but my phone and google photos don't go back as far as March 2015. Where could they be???)

Check out the book and then read this resource guide from the Major Taylor Association. The resource guide is chock full of information and activities, including a word search.

Last year Mrs. Kelliher's Newbery book group was The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christin Uss.  This means we have multiple copies of the book in our library (check them out before tomorrow!).  Since it was on the Texas Bluebonnet List last year, there are a ton of resources on this page including a printable bike craft.

When I started thinking about this post, bike songs keep rolling (all puns intended) into my head.  Of course, Queen, but what about this Sesame Street one? It will surely make you giggle and smile.

 Now...go get your red (or 17 year old orange Trek, in my case) bike, enjoy your ride and may your tires always stay filled with air...

Friday, May 22, 2020

Happy Birthday, PACMAN!

Today was PACMAN's 40th birthday. Wow. Like other birthdays, this meant I was thinking about him and the MS all day long.

Of course, this also reminded me of Erin Entrada Kelly's We Dream of Space. Yes, I am still thinking about that book.  Fitch is really into pinball in 1986 and pinball machines were definitely losing their momentum by then. Probably Pacman and the Ms had something to do with that.

We all know kids who love video games whether they are our own (not mine surprisingly), our students, our kids' friends.  You know who they are.  How are they spending their time now since school is virtual?  More video playing time? Less? Do they want to read books about video games or something entirely different? I know I want to just plain read.  Doesn't matter what it is as long as it grabs me and I can escape for a bit. I'm SO looking forward to an extra day to attack my TBR pile this weekend!

Speaking of the weekend, a few of my students and I went to a bedtime story hour tonight with Angela DiTterlizzi compliments of Wellesley Books.  It was great! SHE was great! I want her to come to CES!  She read her brand new book, The Magical Yet. I can't wait to share this book with all my students.
"There's a place beyond where we are now."
-Angela Diterlizzi 
(I want to print that out and hang on my wall of inspiration.)

Then, we got a bonus read aloud of her book, Just Add Glitter.

I am thinking of sending some glitter to the three kids who attended tonight. Their parents won't mind too much, right? I mean, we could all use a little glittering up these days.  If you have some around, break it out and sprinkle it as your leap.  Just blame Pacman. Birthdays always deserve glitter.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hot Potato

Thanks to Lindsay Lackey I introduced myself to Arianne Costner. Not important why or how but just that it happened and for that I am grateful.  I always love making new literary friends.

Arianne's book, My Life as a Potato, sounded like the perfect middle grade read.  The first chapter is posted on her website and a bunch of us read it today at what I called an "Un-Birthday" party.  In hindsight, maybe I should have said it was a "Spud Birthday." I brought a bag of potatoes. One boy showed me his potato plant and encouraged me to grow some, too.  If the first chapter was engaging and funny, I can't imagine why lies ahead.  We were all hooked.  So much so that I promised them I'd get the ebook between now and Friday at 2pm so we can read on. 

Be sure and check out Arianne's website. You can find out what kind of potato you are (me, Russet), learn a potato dance and find a recipe for Ben's version of Potato Casserole (which I really do love and always have a bag of shredded potatoes in my freezer in case I get a craving).

Speaking of potatoes...

I love Laurie Keller's Potato Pants. We had a super fun book birthday party when it came out. All the kids brought a potato and we made our own Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads. Did we eat some potato chips afterwards? We should have if we didn't...

Is this meant to be or what? A read aloud of the book by DayTripper, a guy that goes all around TEXAS (!) exploring every corner of the state. I'll call that fate.

So stick that rotten spud in some dirt, watch it grow and in the meantime, let me know what kind of potato you are.

And I apologize in advance for this one but...

I can't think of potatoes without the Wiggles classic, Hot Potato. I admit, I did like those guys oh so many moons ago...

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wear a Mask

I needed the Kleenex during Governor Cuomo's press conference today. Again.
This time it wasn't what he was saying but rather what he was projecting-the five top winners of his "Wear a Mask" PSA campaign.  Sigh. I wanted RTWJAZ to submit but alas, it was too late. The contest surely was meant to weed out the last minute-ers since when I went to check the deadline it had already passed. Anyway, not sure my 13 year videographers could have competed with these seemingly professionals. That's ok. They are working on a video right now for a different campaign. Stay tuned.

Anyway, did you catch the PSAs? Use this link to vote. I have two favorites.  Which one is yours?

Voting closes this Monday, May 25. I'll try not to be a procrastinator and miss out. Again.

Bonus Stuff

I think I posted this before, but Jarrett Lerner has this great download of an activity sheet with a mask. Check out his website for so many other great activities. And just a little plug for Jarrett since he is always so good to all of us--He has a book coming out soon! Something to leap about for sure! It's on my Edelweiss TBR pile as we speak.

And my cousin sent me this today about an organization in Pittsfield, MA.

Finally, Lily and Noah made masks for their National Honor Society project. Pretty cool:

So even though the contest is over doesn't mean you can't post your own #WearAMaskNY PSA on social media. What would YOU say?