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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Close Encounters of #alaac18

It's been so long since I wrote my own blog post that I almost feel like I have forgotten how.  I hope this will get me back in the swing of things for the summer. There are many great books I want to share! In the meantime, I found myself in New Orleans last weekend to celebrate libraries, librarians, illustrators, authors, publishers, books, book promoters, narrators...

My takeaways from #alaac18 here in the form of ten memorable encounters of the conference. Not in any particular order and certainly not all inclusive:

Pura Belpre winner, Ruth Behar's parents:  The moment after the beautiful Pura Belpre Celebration where I ran up to Ruth Behar's parents and exclaimed, "I'm from Briarwood!  I went to PS 117!" We are family!

Caldecott honor winner, Elisha Cooper:  Leaping with Elisha Cooper at the Macmillan Dessert Party on Friday night.  My second graders were fans of Big Cat, Little Cat since the beginning so this was a thrill for me!  Best part about this encounter?  I found out his newest book is about a canoe trip on the Hudson River.  I screamed! Book birthday at Schodack Island State Park, right?  Stay tuned.  ALSO--One of Mrs. Warland's favorite books is Elisha's Homer! She loves sharing it when she is a guest reader.  After that book birthday event, you know where dinner will be! Note to self: Send Elisha some good upstate honey when you get a chance.

MATT CORDELL con familia:  From seeing the Caldecott medalist at the Macmillan Dessert Party in his spiffy vintage red jacket (and not dipping our fingers into Elisha's honey), to hanging with his kids (and chatting about Simpsonville with his mom) atop of New Orleans, I had to be pinched multiple times that I was actually living in reality. And then the speech.  Matt hit every emotion and just nailed it.  I couldn't leap fast enough to an ovation when he finished his final words.


Mover and Shaker, Rocco Staino: Did you know that I want to be Rocco when I grow up?  Lucky me, we were seated next to each other at an Abrams breakfast so I took some notes on how to work on making that happen. Here we are with author, Ellen Potter, who currently lives in Maine but will be a New Yorker soon!

2017 Geisel winner, Laurie Keller: My "date" for the banquet was Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut, We Are Growing, Scrambled States of America, Do Unto Otters...and her newest book, Potato Pants).  I am really glad I put my star-struckedness aside and was just able to hang out, talk about hotmail, where she lives in Michigan, the call, her awesome jewelry from Israel...And then, bonus, on the other side of me was her editor extraordinaire, Christy Octtaviano. We talked picture book biographies (one of my favorite genres), Junior Library Guild, teenagers, the college process...Yeah, I had a pretty darn good seat that night. Thank you, Lucy and the Macmillan family!

Nancy Paulsen:  I have admired editor extraordinaire, Nancy Paulsen's work for many years and I always get a thrill when she likes, comments or retweets my tweets (just happened this morning).  And there she was! Don't be shy, Stacey, I said to myself and a few minutes later we were chatting.

Old and new friends: Powdered-sugar-everywhere-Beignets with Texas rockstar Becky Calzada.  Just screaming and hugging, Texan 2018 Caldecott Committee member, Sylvia Vardell.  Walking the exhibit hall with Coloradan and former Geisel Committee member, Amy Seto-Forrester.  Literally sharing a delicious dinner with Californian #TeamKwame member and old friend, MaryAnn Scheuer.  Squeezing into a phone booth with virtual (and now IRL) Floridian school librarian, Jennifer Underhill at the super hip Penguin event at the Art Garage. Riding a rickshaw with New York friend, Sue Kowalski.

Crown creators, Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James:  Listening to their speeches at the CSK breakfast was one thing but then getting a book signed for my rising sixth grade upstate New York farmer boy and telling them all about how Crown is Zach's favorite book was something even better.  I'm delivering it to Zach at the farm tomorrow morning.

Laurel Snyder with Jonathan Auxier:  I was sitting waiting for a session when my eyes drifted to the name tags of  Laurel and Jonathan. "OMG! OMG!" This Orphan Island and Night Gardener fan was beside herself. And then we got to hang out for a bit...

Dion Graham and Kirsten Cappy: To myself I was trying to strategize what to do next after the banquet on Sunday when my eyes recognized the name, Kirsten Cappy of Curiosity City on her badge.  "I get your emails!" Kirsten was hanging with her friend, Dion, who just won the Odyssey Award for his narration of Trombone Shorty. We saw Trombone Shorty at the opening session.  I got a great big bear hug from Bryan Collier at the banquet so this was a perfect end to memorable evening and an unforgettable conference.

Who else? Feeling like you were eavesdropping on Michelle Obama and Carla Hayden in their living room.  A hug from Kwame, two photo ops with Mr. Schu, almost a "wave" from editor, Grace Kendall, a leap with Nathan Hale, a boomerang with Rafael Lopez, Juana, Pablo, Celia, book reviewer Barb Langridge, Trevor, Jenny, the Rosen family, everyone-knows-Barbara Moon, catching nonfiction rockstar, a hug from Sophie Blackall, salutations with Melissa Stewart for one second or two...

And my passing ship, roommate, Alicia Abdul.  It was fun experiencing the conference with you (sort of!).  No joke--we saw each other for enough seconds on Sunday so she could zip me up and button my clasp! We did have fun together on Friday night! I do believe she was shocked to see me actually tired for the first time in my life on Monday morning. But what do you expect when you get about 6-8 total hours of sleep over a three day period? Ahhhh...but I am completely caught up now. So when's the next event?