Sunday, September 23, 2018

Year #4 of Princeton Book Festival

It's hard to believe that for the past four years, my son and I have made the trek to attend the annual Princeton Book Festival #PPLBookFest, but we have and it continues to be worth it.  It doesn't hurt that my grandmother lives a half hour away so it becomes a weekend of books and Bubby.

We were very late leaving Castleton.  Why?  Because at ALA I was given an ARC of SWEEP by Jonathan Auxier and had not read it yet.  I began it Thursday and it had to be finished before I saw him at the festival.  Well, I stayed up late, woke up early and closed the book (after reading all the excellent back matter, too) at 9:00 am.  We were on the road an hour ish later. It was so good and I promise to blog about it before the big book birthday on Tuesday! So, yes, I was able to chat with Jonathan about it (Are you Jewish? No but...Trees in houses seem to be running themes in your books. This was not scary like The Night Gardener but crushed my heart in other ways.)

Jonathan is a tall guy and his leap is "off the page!"

I was THRILLED to see old friends:
Lauren Castillo with her newest book that got an amazing review in the NYT recently!

Anna Kang and Chris Weyant who will come to Castleton ONE OF THESE DAYS!

I met Ellen Potter at ALA in NOLA and now she is a New Yorker in the Syracuse area and a friend!  

Ame Dyckman ran out of Misunderstood Shark before I got there but we still got to take a leap!

The photo dedicated to Matt Cordell: Bob, Not Bob! authors Audrey Vernick and  TEXAN, Liz Garton Scanlon.
The incomparable Sophie Blackall who WILL be at CES someday soon, maybe even this year?
Looks like I'm squeezing her hand for dear life!

HAPPY to finally meet IRL some new friends:

Stella Diaz will be on my Newbery list!

I promised Abby Hanlon she will never forget this leap!

I love Shaking Things Up and Susan Hood's newest (and first middle grade) Lifeboat 12.
Plus, she's a Matt Cordell author, too!

Torrey Maldonado seemed to always have a crowd when I walked by. 
But I got lucky he was right behind me on the checkout line.
Tight will be on my Newbery list, too!

I've met Greg Pizzoli before but never really chatted.  He's the illustrator of Crunch, which I read to first graders on the first day of school.  "Did they sing 'Happy Birthday'?" he asked.  "They did!"
Who's mouth is open wider???

I'M STILL IN AWE when I chat with some folks who I wish were my friends:

Another Newbery list book.  Two years ago at the same festival I bought a copy of Liar and Spy (my favorite).
Then I came home only to find out I already owned a copy.  At least I remembered this year so as not to buy a third!

The only time I really saw my son smile yesterday was when he told Wendy Mass that The Candymakers is his favorite book.

Every time I see David Wiesner I tell him about our Surf City, Long Beach Island connection.
This time we talked about mini golf.  It didn't hurt that my son was wearing his Flamingo Golf t-shirt.

Susan Verde (also a Matt Cordell author) is our Gala author this year and our theme is "I am...ME!" piggybacking her "I Am" books with Peter H. Reynolds. We finally met IRL but of course, I never got a photo :-(.  I did get one with John Parra who illustrated Susan's latest book, Hey, Wall, that we will be featuring at our October Monthly Morning Assembly.

Shhh...Don't tell anyone (except me because I'd love to know that you read to the end of this post) but Mrs. Kelliher and I are going to dress up as the "I Am Peace" character for Halloween this year. I discreetly asked Susan if she had any of the hats and she told me that a woman made three of them and told her that she would never make any again. Hmph?! I guess they were really hard to sew or crochet?  Well, I put a query out on Etsy tonight to a woman who loves to crochet.  Stay tuned.

Check out this stack of books for my library:

All in all a wonderful day to be a librarian.

I am taking up a collection though.  Send all donations to the Princeton Police Department:

Dear Princeton Municipal Court, 
Please pardon my negligence in feeding the meter.  I was too caught up in leaping with a slew of superstars that I became irresponsible in my parking payment duties.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What I'm Loving RIGHT now

Three books I recently read that I 💗 right now.  Highly recommend for TBR, to share and/or to read over and over again:

Over the weekend I finished Front Desk by Kelly Yang.  I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.  Did you catch my very succinct tweet review on the book?  “Mia is MY HERO.” After immigrating from China to California, Mia’s family discovers the reality that living in America may not be the land of wonderfulness that they had dreamed about. "We're immigrants.  Our lives are never fair." Our heroine cannot accept that fate and perseveres in all areas of her life to make life fair--the motel she and her parents live and work at, school and her friendships.  The ending is as satisfying as diving into a crystal clear pool in the middle of July and then coming out and sharing pizza with good friends.

A couple of weeks ago I read a book that also takes place in Southern California, Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger.  I'm sorry to say that you will have to wait until February to read it but it will be well worth it. Mark your calendar now for a trip to your favorite indie book store and extra time to read.  Then take out your plan book because this is one you are going to want to share with your students.  Did you love Because of Mr. Terupt?  What about Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary School?   It's almost like Operation Frog Effect completes the trilogy (with Mrs. Bixby's Last Day as an add on). Diverse fifth graders each sharing their own point of view.  There's even a poet and screenwriter.  A classroom teacher we love who pushes the envelope. Kids standing up for what they believe in. But don't think that this has been done before.  Buyea gives his fifth graders one voice.  Shovan's book in verse has another and Scheerger's a third.  Like three kids from the same family.  Similar features but very different.  "The world feels too dark for my candle to make much of a difference." Yet, these ten year old superheroes, with Kermit by their side, figure out how to get their voices heard. With the simple power of the pen, inspired by Harold's purple crayon, you will be rooting for them all till the end. This book is "frogtastic", "frogerful" and "frog-alicious." One good thing about having to wait till February? Gives you enough time to collect journals for all your students.

Of course, I loved finding this in the book!

I really cannot get enough of The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez.  I can't count how many classes I have read it to but yesterday was the ultimate feel good experience.  All 80 of our third graders joined me in the Common Area outside of the library.  Each had a clipboard, a pencil and paper folded in quarters.  Their task was to listen to the book once without seeing the illustrations and draw what they heard. Everyone was silent.  Then we read through it a second time and compared our illustrations with those of Rafael's.  I was nervous they might get restless hearing it again.  But like me, it appeared they could read it over and over. Their understanding of the theme went way beyond what I would have imagined, especially since we were discussing it in such a large group. It was for sure a #daymaker and #weekmaker.  Could this be another Caldecott-Newbery sticker year?  I wouldn't mind.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Twas the night before the night before

If I only looked at the mercury, I would not believe that it was time to go back to school in upstate New York.  My son just informed me it was going to be 89 tomorrow.  This is not a typical September. But what is typical is that kids will be back in my library on Thursday.  I can hardly contain my excitement!

Today was our first official day back.  I knocked on doors to collaborate.  I got philosophical. "Kids need to be given choices in what they read." And I already cried. "Why aren't things going the way I hoped they would go?"  All in all it was a good day and I can't wait to take a million leaps on Thursday.

I made it onto our faculty meeting agenda tomorrow.  It says, "School Year Theme--Stacey Rattner" but really I have more in store than the theme.  And, for the first time I am giving everyone a little goody bag with the following:

  • Fun Pen--So they can "Make Their Mark" for Dot Day to be celebrated for the first time school wide on September 14.
  • Chocolate--Self explanatory but also a reminder that I have a chocolate dish in my library always full for those days you need to reap the benefits of cocoa.
  • A K-Cup (Donut shop brand)--Because some days you need a pick me up and I love all things donuts.
  • Tea--Sweet Dreams flavor.  Some of us are not coffee drinkers (what?!) and prefer tea.  Or, maybe a nice cup at home is just what the doctor ordered after a long day at school. And mindfulness is a big push this year so what better flavor than "sweet dreams."
  • Free Prep Pass-I found this idea on Future Ready Librarians Facebook page and when I mentioned it to my friend, she thought it was the greatest idea ever.  She was already ready to redeem hers! With an expiration date of June 26, 2019 (yes, could our last day of school BE any later?), teachers can redeem this coupon for a free 30 minutes.  It's really a win-win.  I get to be with the kids and they can take a break.  I'm so fortunate to have a flexible schedule that allows me the ability to offer this opportunity to my colleagues.
I also made up postcards using Canva (also thanks to Future Ready Librarians and Shannon Miller)  that have my extension (it's seven digits long), the link for the library webpage and the link for Overdrive.  I put the database logins and passwords on the back.  Unfortunately, they haven't arrived yet from Overnightprints (the name is deceiving) so I will have to hand those out at a later date.  Ha! Maybe mail them! I already have my daughter on call that if they are delivered in the morning, she needs to rush them over to me at school. 

TA Bag
The teaching assistants are getting bags, too, minus the prep pass.  I couldn't leave them out and I wanted to make sure they knew that I appreciated them. There's a QR code on their card that links them directly to Overdrive.  I want to take away as many obstacles to finding books as possible.

"Come for Chocolate. Stay to Collaborate." Honestly, I fill my calendar without the bribery.  I just wanted to remind them all that I couldn't do any of this or be successful without them. 

And now to go set my alarm and have some "sweet dreams."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Broadway Bound

Hello Lulu
Well hello Lulu
In October your story will be sure to rise above the pack

Hello Lulu
Well hello Lulu
I can't wait to put you in upon my stacks

Well, you get it. Lulu the Broadway Mouse by debut author but veteran actor, Jenna Gavigan, hits the shelves this fall.  And although I may be a tad bias--yes, my Twitter bio says that I love all things NYC and theatre (spelled "re" by the way) and this book is for lovers of all that--I did love this book and think it will appeal to young people with all kinds of interests, but especially those of Broadway.  Do you have a thing for cute, talking mice?  Now I do.  Do you know the feeling of wanting a dream to come true so badly it hurts? Sure.  Was/is there a mean girl in your life? We can all name at least one.

Lulu lives in the basement of the famous Shubert Theatre "home to hits and flops, thousands of debuts and hundreds of return engagements" with her mouse family.  Her mother works in the costume department while Lulu hangs out with the actors, young and old.  Lulu's dream is to leap, well in her case, jete, from backstage to performer.  But a mouse, really? Even Lulu doesn't believe it can come true and her friends try to help her see the reality.
"The way the people in this theatre think? The way they think of you? They don't see you as a mouse.  They see you as a little kid, and a talented one at that; you know this show just as well as they do, if not better.  But most people? Regular people? They're just too closed-minded and ignorant to understand. They'd be scared. And we can't have audiences being scared because they might never come back." (p.42)
Inside the Shubert
We want our readers to believe in the impossible.  And they will.  This is a fantasy book that comes to life and feels as real as any singing and dancing teapot and candelabra feel like real life on the stage and film.

It's a feel good kind of story that will make for a fun read aloud in third or fourth grade. Pair it with images of the city, the history of the Shubert Theatre (Hello, Dolly! 
is there right now--hence my pathetic introduction and one of my very favorite shows premiered there in the 70s, A Chorus Line) and a conversation about theatre and plays.  Great conversations will also ensue about choosing kind, friendship and of course, hopes and dreams.  Then when you are finished you could go see a local play or put one on yourselves. Maybe write a Reader's Theatre script from one of the chapters.  Or write a prequel or sequel chapter. Do a class mock Playbill.  Oooh...I'm getting myself excited and it's only July.
Outside the Shubert in January!

So even though you may not have access to celebrate with a cake from Amy's Bread in or even a  candy bar from Duane Reade, don't kiss the year goodbye without reading and sharing Lulu with a wide audience.

More about Jenna Gavigan and Lulu from Playbill here.



Last week Mrs. Warland and I journeyed to the city for a bookish day.  So it began at the KidlitTV studios because Kwame invited me to be a guest on his live "Smoked Salmon" episode of #Bookish. If you have Facebook, you can watch it here with this link:

In the afternoon we met Jenna Gavigan for the first time in the West Village for iced tea so we could make some book birthday plans for Castleton. I was taking my chances since I hadn't read the book yet! Phew! Good thing I love the book!

Then Caldecott Honoree, Elisha Cooper, met us and we had fun talking about parenthood, the Hudson River and the New York Times, Modern Love essays. Elisha just happens to be the author/illustrator of Mrs. Warland's favorite book that she always shares when she is invited to be a guest reader.  He surprised her with her own copy (and now signed) of Homer! #WhatADay

Monday, July 9, 2018

One Brave Soul

I can't stop thinking about Jarrett and how brave he is. I'm also extremely sad that I am #NotAtnErDCampMI and will have to wait even longer for a hug...

Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father and Dealt with Family Addiction

Current teens who spent their elementary years reading and re-reading Jarrett Krosoczka's Lunch Lady books are going to be thrilled to know that Jarrett is back.  This time he's the one donning the heroic yellow gloves as he lets the readers peep into his young childhood through courageous and heart wrenching words and images in his new graphic memoir.

Keep tissues handy and make sure you have a few hours set aside.  You won't want to stop reading.  This graphic novel is filled with love, hope, strength, the search for family, and words and images that will make you wonder, "What is a mother? Who is a mother?" Warning: You will continue to keep Jarrett in your thoughts days and days after finishing. As an outsider, I have always viewed Jarrett as a success story, the famous graphic novelist, the one whose books are torn and are forever checked out of my library.  Now he's offering us a raw glimpse into his struggles, his bravery, his family and sharing how his art became his first line of therapy. Maybe I won't stop thinking about him till I see him again for a big hug and the opportunity to say, "Thank you."

March 2013 with my then 6 year old Zack
In 2013, Jarrett visited my school right before the launch of the first Platypus Police Squad book. We were the first to serve him root beer floats.  At the time, my son was in first grade and fell hard, so hard that he began to set his sights on RISD for college.  Then we became Jarrett groupies, going to see him as often as we could, traveling the nearly two hours to events. Every time Jarrett saw Zack, he would embrace him as if we had been lifelong friends.  Zack is a bit older now and has sadly veered off the graphic novelist path a bit but he will always be a fan of Jarrett's. And I guess the same goes for Jarrett as when I finally ran into him and Gina before the Caldecott-Newbery-Legacy Banquet, the first thing Jarrett said was, "How is Zack? How old is he now?" This short memory is bringing tears to my eyes.  Here we are in a room filling up with the best of the best and the most talented authors and illustrators and publishers and librarians and Jarrett is asking me about my son.  Wow. He is a brave soul with a heck of a huge heart. 💕 But we didn't need his book to tell us that.

Me with Jarrett and Gina before the banquet last month

And I found this Twitter thread so fascinating and inspiring:

Monday, July 2, 2018

You Make House Calls?

I told my mom that I was going to be seeing some of my students today.  "I didn't know you made house calls," she said jokingly.  Not exactly.

More like farm and ice cream calls.

The Farm Call

Zach will be the fourth generation farmer at Dutch Hollow Farms.  He was one of my fifth grade Reading Ambassador stars last year and his favorite thing was to surprise his siblings as the guest reader. During Picture Book Month in November, Zach fell hard for the then unknown, Crown. It was always his first choice book to share with the younger classes.  I distinctly remember him exclaiming in the library,  to no one in particular, "I LOVE this book!"

In not so many words, I was able to share Zach's story and pictures to Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James last week. They loved it.  Proof that the book speaks to anyone and everyone.
7th from the left in the striped shirt is Zach.  Holding the book is another great Reading Ambassador, Olivia

Today I met Zach and his family on his farm.  I got a special tour of the beautiful Jersey cows, and even one that was only hours old. It was so fascinating! I learned so much.  My husband had to hear all about it at dinner.  Being there really gave me a further appreciation of farming, the farm industry and where our food comes from. There's gotta be a picture book in this somewhere.

Then I handed out my goodies. Pure joy.  Yes, I was happy to make a farm call, even in this weather!

PS-They each got #Caldetatts, too!  Jonathan was in the second grade class that did Mock Caldecott with me and remembered all the books!

Ice Cream Call

This morning I read this tweet:

My immediate thought was, "I gotta tell Chase!" So, I text his Mom and we begin our plan to get out the reinforcements.  Next thing you know, it's 7pm and we are outside of our local soft ice cream place, literally melting, lacrosse, Magic Tree House, Japan, aquariums, 4H (how ironic I was at a farm today), wrestling, John Deere, football, and HILO.  If you haven't followed the Judd Winick/Hilo mission real quick--Rising fourth grader Chase, is a big fan.  He skips into the library frequently to send Judd mini videos begging him to come to Castleton.  Now the launch date for Book 5 is official.  Time to find out Judd's snow boot size and book his flight to the north east.

Here you go, Judd.  Just because it's summer, doesn't mean the #presidentoftheJuddWinickFanClub is on vacation.


And just some farm photos I could leave out:

The brand new baby calf