Monday, October 15, 2018


She said I was the best dressed there.  A bit of an exaggeration but I still shared that with my friend who was with me when I bought the dress. Because of that, I stared at my wardrobe for a long time.  "How would the 'best dressed' dress to school?"  In the end, I chose a new dress that said friend from above picked out, leggings, a scarf and denim jacket.  Oh yeah, and my signature red high top chucks.

Today was our Skype visit with Laurie Keller.  LAURIE KELLER! She's HUGE! I was nervous and excited!

Every third grader was asked to bring in a potato to draw some pants on it. FUN!

We've been talking so much about author purpose, it was refreshing to ask that question and have them all say in unison, "make us laugh." Exactly.  And laugh we all did.

First I read the book aloud and then we called Laurie.

Some fun facts we learned about Laurie:

  • Laurie loves drawing with markers.  In fact, on her favorite page of the book she used markers to draw all the potatoes running into the store.  I think she's the first illustrator we've met who uses markers.  

  • French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes...She loves them all but fries are her favorite way, hands down.  Steak or shoestring? We forgot to ask!
  • Red has always been Laurie's favorite color but now she is entering an orange phase. What could that mean?
  • I had read in Book Page that Laurie did not know how to fold a fitted sheet.  Mrs. Warland to the rescue! This morning, she gave Laurie (and all of us) a step by step lesson at the conclusion of our Skype.
  • There is no plan for a sequel but Mrs. Warland had a great idea if there is one--Potato needs glasses because he has EYES! That Mrs. Warland is a clever one! 
Last night I pulled out our Scrambled States of America game to bring to school.  I love that game!  And right there in the small print, "based on the book by Laurie Keller."  How cool is that? 

Well, I'd say we are well on our way to gathering some good information about Laurie for when she visits Castleton ;-)We even have a head start on our meal for "dinner at Doe's."

Thanks, Laurie, for a great Skype.  We laughed. We drew pants on potatoes and we even threw in some home economics skills.  I just hope I didn't disappoint in the fashion area,

PS-Thank you Lucy and the crew at Macmillan for seating me in between Laurie and her editor, Christy Ottaviano, at the Caldecott-Newbery banquet.  If that had never happened, today wouldn't have happened.

Laurie showing us her favorite page

Our Leap!


Dear Vineyard Vines, Simon and Schuster and First Book,
     Last week my 6th grade Reading Ambassadors worked hard on designing these #WhalesForACause. I especially like Evan's (see above), who chose to include the titles of many of his most recent favorite books written by authors he loves.  And Izzy's creation who went above and beyond to glue a horn on her whale.  Her favorite author is Adam Gidwitz.  Is it a coincidence that his new series is called The Unicorn Rescue Society?
     Thank you for donating books to kids in need. If you ever need recommendations, now you know who you could turn to.
Stacey Rattner, Leaping Librarian and her Reading Ambassadors
Castleton Elementary School
Castleton, New York



This is Zach's.  Can you tell he's a dairy farmer?


Books and authors in Evan's whale: Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King, The Vanderbeekers of 141 St by Karina Yan Glaser, Slider by Peter Haut, The Someday Birds by Sally J Pal and Booked, The Crossover and Rebound all by Kwame Alexander.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Whole World in Our Hands

"Wake up, Rafael!" the alarm whispered. "It's 5:30 AM and you are about to dazzle 80+ third graders in a little town in upstate New York." And dazzle he did.  The kids loved him (you know because they listened and were attentive).  The teachers adored him ("He was great!" "That was amazing!" "When is he coming?") and all I could think of was the chant we will recite when he does visit. (I'll give you a hint: It's very similar to the one we sang for Matt Cordell.)

Prior to dialing, we read the book together.  Wait, back up a minute.  Way prior to his visit, like the night before prior, I baked 90 cupcakes.  C'mon.  What's a party without cake? And what's a party about the beautiful diverse children in this world working together to take care of our planet without CONFETTI cupcakes?  Not one flavor but all of them sprinkled throughout the batter.  We talked about author's purpose.  We were informed of illustrator's purpose. And now I'm sharing that even a librarian has purpose.

Rafael was energetic, inspiring and didn't give us a single hint that he'd rather still be in bed.  I had mailed him a package earlier in the week with coffee, chocolate covered espresso beans, some upstate apples and biscotti.  I felt terrible about scheduling a before sunrise Skype, but Rafael kept insisting that it was ok.

He showed us some of the early sketches from the book, talked about the process and even gave us a tour of his studio.  We asked a few questions including, "What's your favorite color?"  Purple and orange but he also likes black since black has all the colors.  He had us hunting for the Eric Carle book, What's Your Favorite Color? because of course, we wanted to see immediately how he creatively included color in his gray octopus.

Even though we were celebrating We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands, my students still had questions about The Day You Begin.  "Why did you feature the ruler throughout the book?"

Every time you open my books I want you to discover something new. [I like to include] symbols that mean something or send a message. The ruler sends a message to kids to think “How am I measuring up to other kids?”

Wow.  That's deep.  The teachers were all nodding in amazement.   Of course.  I shared with Rafael and the students that we are always thinking of "author purpose" but consider this--the illustrator has purpose, too.  You can bet I'll be asking that now!

"What inspired you to make this book?"

I wanted to make this book with the message about coming together, diversity, being kind to each other and acceptance. It’s not about me or you but about us. My inspiration is that the future is in your hands. Take care of the planet.

Finally we sang "Happy Book Birthday" took our leaps and then said farewell.

I promise you that if I have it my way our salutation was a very weak goodbye paired with a strong "see you soon." Don't you want to hear 500 voices chant RA-FA-EL-EL? I thought so. Hasta la vista!

Who could resist not seeing these kids in person? 😉

It's like it was practice picture day!
Ms. Martin and Mrs. Hannah's class

Mrs. Pryde's class

Mrs. Yager's class

Mrs. DeMassio's class
Thank you for dazzling us my friend.

PS-Rafael has illustrated many books since he began in 2004 (a fun fact we learned today).  I don't have as many as I wish I did in the library. Don't worry, when he comes, I will have all of them!  But I did pull out the ones I have and Mrs. DeMassio's kids were thrilled to be able to check them out.