Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Welcome to Wonderland 2

Disclosure: This happened two weeks ago.  I'm a bit behind in publishing this post!

Tuesday we had another book birthday at Castleton Elementary School.  Cupcakes, popcorn, beach jello, watermelon, cookies, and more.  Everything but BALLOONS?  What?! No, it's ok! You're thinking of the other amazing Chris Grabenstein story. This one is fun in the sun.  And the Beach Boys songs are still roaming around in my head.

Fancy bakeries would have the book made out of fondant.  I just printed out 75 covers and topped the cupcakes.

Daniel brought in the jello beach cups. Yum!

Ronan almost has me believing that we ARE at the Wonderland Motel.

I asked Chris a long time ago if he would be able to Skype with us during our party.  Turns out he was in Albany for the day and could literally stop by to our party for 20 minutes.  Lucky us!  That was just enough time to do the Monkey Dance, answer a few questions from my "Chris Grabenstein Quiz" and sign some books.

Chris is like an old friend here in Castleton.  He's had dinner at Doe's twice.  No one else can say that. Yet.  He's visited our school three times, Skyped once and given us a video or two here and there. He's had two galas in his honor--at the first one I practically begged him to show up (and I didn't even know him then) and the second one was the Olympics, so a "kind-of" gala.  It had the energy of the Gala without the gowns and black ties.

The party was super fun and went without a hitch. I couldn't have done it without the help of other teachers, parents, Grandma Dottie, my principal, our future Superintendent and of course, Doe and her husband, Bob, who picked Chris up from his Albany school visit.  I must add that Grandma Dottie was the waitress extraordinaire serving apple juice on trays and you would almost think that Mr. Chevrier, Superintendent-To-Be, was really applying for the Custodian-To-Be job the way he was carrying around the broom!

Chris is BACK!

Happy Book Birthday!

Izzy and Ryan are big Wonderland fans. They even wrote blurbs about it!

We sold a good number of books! Yay!


Even our custodian loves Chris!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mini Reviews of New or Soon to be Released Picture Books

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the School Library Journal Day of Dialog.  The author illustrator panels were amazing as well as the keynotes and publisher pitches.  I feel so much more prepared to dive into my summer reading! And bonus! I came home with literally a suitcase bulging with new books!

Mondays are our fifth grade Reading Ambassador meetings.  So today I put out the picture books that I got last week and had the kids read alone or in pairs some of the books and give me a brief review. They loved all the books they read!  You might want to start your fall book list right here!

Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward 

Review by CC and Kerrigan

"I liked how Dexter was talking to the reader and questions the reader.  It was really funny!"-CC
"I loved his name, Dexter T. Rexter, because it rhymes and it's funny."-Kerrigan.

Dexter tries to escape the library because his best friend, Jack, left him there. Every time Dexter tries to explain something to you, there are all these weird pointy arrows.  It's funny what he writes on them.  For example, the goldfish is an "unhelpful spectator."  Kids of all ages will laugh out loud!

Blobfish Throws a Party by Miranda Paul Illustrated by Maggie Caton

Review by Luc and Zack

Blobfish is lonely at the bottom of the ocean with no lights, no friends and no treats. So he throws a party but everyone hears the message differently.  So how will the beings get to the party?  

We liked how the other animals all heard the party message differently.

Max and Bird by Ed Vere

Review by Brody

The book Max and Bird is a tale of friendship as Bird tries to fly.  This story will hellp younger kids learn that reading can help teach you how to do things and will also teach them a lesson not to eat your friend!

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. McMorrow Illustrated by James Ransome

Review by Demi and Jordan

This book is about a girl who is too shy to sing at her family's Christmas party. Then she goes to sleep and when she wakes up there are toy soldiers and the decorations on the tree come alive.  All of a sudden an army of mice arrives and they are too afraid to fight. They keep running away. Then one of the toy soldiers gets knocked out and his toy drum falls on the floor. What will Marie do to save the day?

We liked how the illustrator made everyone African American and made them look realistic.

Benny Shark Goes to Friend School by Lynn Rowe Reed Illustrated by Rhode Montijo

Review by Katherine

Benny was so mean in the beginning but after he goes to Friend School, he becomes nice and makes friends with Janice the Jellyfish.

Life by Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Review by Lilah

I really liked the pictures and I learned that there's a lot of life in nature.

Anna and the Tooth Fairy by Maureen Wright Illustrated by Anna Chernyshova

Review by Violet and Emma

Anna is a sweet little girl who has a little sister and a wiggly tooth.  Anna has a big imagination. She is a hilarious little girl.  This book was very well written.  We like how the family has a special bond.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Daniel Miyares Part II

The Prologue

Funny how today is also a "rainy day in upstate NY."  The perfect day to share about our day with Daniel last week.  But that right there is the very first email I ever sent to Daniel (including the typos and not the best grammar--proof that it's authentic).  There you have it.  Almost exactly 1 1/2 years later, Daniel walked the halls of Castleton. Wow.

The Day

Author-Illustrator visits with me are extreme.  Breakfast, Announcements, Assemblies, Classroom Visits, Lunch, Book Signings and, if you're lucky, a gala in your honor.  That was Daniel's day in a nutshell.  Exhausting for him. Exhausting for me and anyone else involved but so worth it!

Breakfast with Reading Ambassadors

We had a luau/Surf's Up themed breakfast with the fifth grade Reading Ambassadors.  Pineapple, pineapple turnover cake, coconut maccaroons, etc.


I love to celebrate book birthdays with authors and illustrators so this day was no exception.  Not only did Daniel share That Neighbor Kid and grinned as we sang Happy Book Birthday but he also gave us a little insight on how pictures help tell a story.  How can you give two thumbs up to a story with  these three sentences? 
It was a nice day.  Lou went for a walk. Lou made some new friends.

Daniel could tell you!

Class Visits

Not every author or illustrator will agree to visit classrooms (it's a lot!) but I'm so glad Daniel did!  It made his time with us even more special.  Knowing they only had 5-10 minutes of their time, the classes were prepared with questions and welcome signs before we even walked in the door!


Lunch with Dewey Duty

Happy Book Birthday, That Neighbor Kid!

We tried to serve "friendship" food: mac AND cheese, Reeses PB cups (peanut butter AND chocolate), pretzels, juice boxes (that's in the book), cheese AND crackers, oreos (chocolate cookies AND cream filling), etc. No one went hungry!

Fifth Grade

A few months ago, Daniel made a short introductory video for our fifth graders about his process of book making and especially how he illustrates someone else's work.  It was hard to believe that this day was here and he was about to view all of their artwork and poetry matched together.  We all squeezed together in the art room for a unique experience lead by Daniel.

The Gala

People are still talking about the Gala.  The artwork. Daniel. The poetry.  Daniel. The food.  The music.  Daniel. How lovely and sweet Daniel was. What a sport he was for taking pictures with everyone.  How the library was packed with 200 people.  It was a night to remember.  

I just figured out how to make a movie using Google Photos.  I don't like how it limits you to 50 photos so I tried to choose ones that give the best flavor of the evening.  Note that some were shot by my Dewey Duty helpers using iPads.

Student Reflections

Mr. Reischer had the fifth graders write their thoughts on the Gala and the project as a whole.  Some of them were quite insightful and intuitive.  They all loved the food (especially the meatballs and cupcakes) and Daniel cutting the ribbon with the big scissors. They were very appreciative of the event and loved the opportunity to be fancy. They noticed the fourth grade servers and the MS jazz band and thought those were nice touches to the evening.

"It was fun to dress up and see my artwork and poem on the boards...It was exciting to see what other people turned my poem into and to see how the poets reacted to my drawing."

"I can't stop thinking that I, took a photo with famous Daniel Miyares...My all time favorite though was the big scissors.  I felt as if I was in a movie."

"It was great because we spent so long on this project and so many people came just for us.  I also loved how seriously everyone took this and how many people dressed up."

"I liked how I could express my feeling on the paper! I loved to mix the tempera paints to make this pretty color! I liked to see what the poem turned into! I loved meeting Daniel and seeing him cut the ribbon with huge scissors!"

"When I saw the artwork of the person who got my poem, it wasn't how I would have done it. But, I still liked it.  It showed that you can draw things more than one way."

"I liked seeing everyone's art work and how they explained your poem.  I also liked how hard everyone worked to get this far!"

"Overall, I thought that the event, and the process of the project were awesome and an amazing idea!"

"Since our minds work differently, I loved to see how the person that illustrated my poem illustrated it in a unique way.  I think that people have unique ways of thinking and it was fun to see what other people do with your poem."

And finally..."You guys need a vacation for all you did!"  

Daniel with fifth grade boys

Daniel with Mr. Chevrier (future Superintendent) and his son, Brody

Daniel with two of my 4th grade Dewey Duty helpers who "worked" the gala hence the black and white attire

Daniel with Principal Derby

And Principal Derby's son

Leaping with Mrs. Champigny, decorator extraordinaire, and her daughters

A final leap with Daniel.  From all the students, faculty and families in Castleton...
Thank you!