TeachingBooks.net

Guest Bloggers: Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome award-winning author, Jen Bryant, and award-winning illustrator, Melissa Sweet as our featured guest bloggers.

Each month, we ask distinguished authors or illustrators to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

 

Jen Bryant (left, photo by Amy Dragoo) and Melissa Sweet (right)

 

Creating The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, the awarding winning author-illustrator team that brought readers A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (Knopf, 2013) and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams (Eerdmans, 2008), respond to questions about their latest splendid collaboration, a picture book biography titled The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Eerdmans, 2014).

———————————

  • What was the most surprising thing you discovered about Peter Mark Roget in the course of your research on the book?

Jen Bryant (author): For me, it was the sheer number of fields in which Roget developed a working knowledge, and in which he also had significant influence. Roget was interested in just about everything and wrote papers, articles, and books on subjects ranging from botany to mathematics and optics to public health. Today, when most people super-specialize in a field or a skill set, this may seem unfocused. But in Roget’s time, when there was no such thing as a professional scientist, this broad intellectual life was encouraged and admired.

Melissa Sweet (illustrator): There were many surprises. The first one was discovering how delicate Peter Roget’s original wordbook is. It’s diminutive and the pages are of very thin paper. I expected a big clunky ledger-sized book filled with lovely cursive lettering, but Roget’s handwriting was hard to read. In all my research, this is the most thrilling primary source I ever held in my hands.

Another surprising moment was when I got a copy of the original Thesaurus and saw how Roget classified his words. For a logophile, seeing his taxonomy is as good as it gets.

 

  • What was the most difficult part of creating The Right Word?

JB: There were many tough decisions to be made all along the way, but most books require those. With this one, there were also a few fun anecdotes that ultimately I didn’t have room to include. For example, Roget became very nervous before a particular social event, where he knew there would be lots of small talk, strangers to meet, and (gulp!) dancing. He was not good at the first two, and he had never tried the third. He paced and counted his steps and changed his clothes a few times before forcing himself to go to the party where, as it turns out, he discovers he loves to dance and is also very good at it.

MS: Deciding on which words to use in my collages was the most difficult for me. The word lists in the art had to make sense for whatever age he was in the art. So putting myself in Roget’s shoes, I walked through a local park taking notes—what might he see and what would that list look like?

Using the 1852 Thesaurus exclusively for inspiration, it was still hard to narrow down which words to choose—I would get lost in the book for countless hours. My copy is completely falling apart!

 

  • What was the most enjoyable aspect of creating The Right Word?

MS: For years I’ve saved ephemera for “some day” and this was that day. It was fun and liberating. I prefer just to use the images as they are—the colors and texture of the old paper become part of the art. If I had made color copies of those images, it would not have been the same.

But on a larger scale, this had to have been one of the most collaborative books I’ve ever worked on. There was more than one conference call with my comrades: Jen, art director Gayle Brown, managing editor Kathleen Merz, and publisher Anita Eerdmans. Everyone contributed to the zillion details that went into this biography. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects.

JB: I have to agree with Melissa about collaboration. Having a small group of people who knew each other well and who also cared deeply about the book, made the whole process much more enjoyable. We each had our individual, solitary roles to play, of course, but as we funneled those together, the project absolutely became a team effort. I used to do a lot of distance running, and our process for this book reminded me more of a cross-country relay than a lonely marathon.

 

  • What is your favorite entry in Roget’s original Thesaurus?

JB: Having lived with Roget for the duration of this project, I believe he relied a great deal on personal courage. And even though he lived at a different time, in a different place, and under very different social and economic circumstances than our previous biographical subject, Horace Pippin, I do think they share this trait. Roget’s entry in the Thesaurus for 861. COURAGE. [absence of fear] includes a plethora of words and phrases, and when I read them, I feel as if he must have evoked them himself on many occasions. My favorite (when used as a verb, to be courageous): “march up to the cannon’s mouth.”

MS: Roget’s entries begin with 1. EXISTENCE and end with 1000. TEMPLE. That alone is food for thought. To my mind, his entries and synonyms read like poetry, but I’m partial to the phrases he included, especially the one for 845. BEAUTY, which reads: “To snatch a grace beyond the rules of art.” It’s so evocative. I’m still thinking about that one.

A preliminary sketch of Roget and his Latin list

Final illustration of Roget and his Latin list

 

  • Any thoughts now that the book is in your hands?

MS: I like imagining Roget getting together with his polymath pals, Erasmus Darwin, William Wordsworth, and other scientists after a night of lectures at the Royal Society. What did they talk about? (What did they not talk about?) I would’ve given anything to be there.

JB: I’d love to bring Roget forward to see how he’d react to our modern world. Would he become more of a specialist? (I hope not!) Would he join a scientific or linguistic think tank? Perhaps he would install himself at a liberal arts college and teach Physiology, French, Public Health, Botany and Math. It’s fun to imagine how he’d interact with Google. I do believe he’d be incredulous (dazed, stunned, flabbergasted, overcome) at the profound and lasting impact of his Thesaurus. Melissa and I would be the first two in line to thank him!

 

 Listen to Jen Bryant introduce and pronounce her name. 

See all available resources about Jen Byrant.

 

 

Listen to Melissa Sweet Introduce and pronounce her name.

See all available resources about Melissa Sweet.

 

 

This text may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. 


TeachingBooks.net

Contests & Giveaways | October 2014

Each month we feature free and enjoyable book contests and giveaways!

We hope you will enjoy the following opportunities as well as the author and book resources available via TeachingBooks.net.

 

Win a free copy of Arto’s Big Move (Elementary)

Arto has lived in the snowy, cold North his whole life – and seven years is a long time. When his family moves down South, he has a hard time accepting it, until a new friend coaxes him out of his shell and shows him change doesn’t have to be so bad.

Owlkids Books is giving away 10 copies of Arto’s Big Move. To enter to win, send an email to marketingintern@owlkids.com with the subject line of “Arto’s Big Move giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 19, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

 To learn more about author Monica Arnaldo, visit her blog!

 

Win a free copy of Of Monsters and Madness (High School)

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Egmont USA is giving away 5 copies of Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday. To enter to win, send an email to michellebayuk@egmont.com with the subject line of “Of Monsters and Madness on TeachingBooks.net” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 21, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

To learn more about author Jessica Verday, visit her personal website!

 

Win a free copy of Spooky Season from the Bramble and Maggie Series (Elementary)

Maggie and her beloved horse, Bramble, find autumn and Halloween a little spooky! All of the books in Jessie Haas’s adorable Bramble and Maggie Series are perfect for grades K-3.

Candlewick Press is giving away 5 copies of Spooky Season. To enter to win, send an email to SpookySeasonGiveaway@gmail.com with the subject line of “Spooky Season” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 21, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

This curriculum guide has discussion questions and activity ideas for each book in the Bramble and Maggie Series!

 

Win a free copy of Be a Changemaker: How To Start Something that Matters (High School)

Be a Changemaker is a how-to guide for kids on taking action to make a positive difference in their communities and the world. It’s hands-on, practical, and has numerous examples of real teens who’ve created projects and organizations that make a real difference.

Simon Pulse/Beyond Words is giving away 3 copies of Be a Changemaker. To enter to win, send an email to ChangemakerGiveaway@gmail.com with the subject line of “Changemaker” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 22, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

To learn more about author Laurie Ann Thompson, visit her personal website!

 

Win a free copy of Friendship Over (The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine) (Elementary)

Ten-year old Celie has quite a few things on her mind: fights with her sister Jo, secrets at school, an increasingly forgetful grandmother, and worst of all, a best friend who won’t speak to her. How can a girl who hates change survive when everything in her life is changing? Your students will love Celie’s heartfelt, realistic diary – the first in a fun new series for grades 3-5!

Boyds Mills Press is giving away 5 copies of Friendship Over (The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine). To enter to win, send an email to CelieGiveaway@gmail.com with the subject line of “Celie” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 23, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Need ideas on how to incorporate Friendship Over in your classroom? Use this educator guide!

 

Win a free copy of Miles is the Boss of His Body (Elementary)

On his 6th birthday, Miles finds himself being pinched, noogied, hugged too tight and tickled by his well-intentioned family and decides he’s had enough! When Miles decrees that he is the “boss of his body,” his whole family expresses support and respect for his personal boundaries. In a colorful, comic-book style, young kids will laugh while learning this potentially life-saving concept that can benefit them for years to come.

The Mother Company is giving away 5 copies of Miles is the Boss of His Body. To enter to win, send an email to taylor@themotherco.com with the subject line of “Miles Giveaway” and please include your mailing address. Everyone who enters will be awarded 20% off the cover price and free shipping.

Deadline: October 24, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Find Common Core related activities in this teaching guide!

 

Win a free copy of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin book app (Elementary)

Join Spookley the Square Pumpkin in this special tale of diversity and self-acceptance that’s just right for Halloween… or any time of the year! Jump inside to find out how Spookley and the other pumpkins discover that being different can save the day!

In honor of Halloween and National Bullying Prevention Month, Oceanhouse Media is giving away 3 copies of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin digital book app for iOS devices! To enter to win, send an email to press@oceanhousemedia.com with the subject line of “Spookley Giveaway.”

Deadline: October 30, 2014 (Open to all addresses)

Preview the book app!

 

Win a free copy of The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream (Elementary)

Consider the dandelion, it lives life fully, flies with beauty, survives storms, endures darkness, and never gives up. It is one of nature’s greatest success stories. Like dandelions, each of us can make the world a brighter place. The trick is to bloom right where we are.

Dawn Publications is giving away 10 copies of The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream. To enter to win, send an email to sandy@dawnpub.com with the subject line of “Dream contest” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: October 31, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Find activities based on The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream in this lesson plan!

 

Win a free copy of Double Reverse (Middle School)

The Franklin High Panthers need a new quarterback. Freshman Jesse Wagner knows the plays, but he feels he’s too small to lead the team. Blending exhilarating plays and poignant life lessons, Double Reverse chronicles one team’s inspiring journey in conquering expectations and seeing themselves, not for how they look, but for what they can achieve.

Peachtree Publishers is giving away 10 copies of this middle-reader chapter book—perfect for football season and reluctant readers! Enter to win by sending an email to niki@peachtree-online.com with the subject line of “Double Reverse Giveaway” and please include your mailing address. No P.O. boxes, please.

Deadline: October 31, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Listen to author Fred Bowen, pronounce and share the story of his name.

 

Win a free copy of Spooky House from the Billie B. Mystery Series (Elementary)

Billie B. Brown is back, using her smarts and common sense in a new mystery series. Like the original early reader Billie B. Brown series, the Billie B. Mysteries showcase teamwork and co-operation and demonstrate reasoning and problem-solving skills in appealing stories featuring true-to-life, engaging characters.

Kane Miller Books is giving away 10 copies of Sally Rippin’s Spooky House, a Billie B. Mystery. To enter to win, please send an email to lynn@kanemiller.com with the subject line of “Billie giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: November 11, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Learn more about author Sally Rippin’s books at the Billie B. Brown Series website!

 


TeachingBooks.net

Guest Blogger: Robie Harris

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome award-winning author Robie Harris as our featured guest blogger.

Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

 

Robie Harris

Twenty Years Later: 

Still Challenging—Still Engaging—Still Relevant

 

For the past twenty years, people have been asking me how I came to write It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Candlewick, 1994). It all began when an editor asked if I would be interested in writing a book for preteens and teens about AIDS. At the time, I didn’t know enough about AIDS to write a responsible book about the disease. But I surprised myself when I answered that what I would write was a comprehensive book that would answer almost every question this audience had about sexual health.

It would include the most up-to-date, scientifically accurate, and psychologically and age-appropriate information kids needed to know and/or wanted to know about sex to make healthy decisions, including information on HIV/AIDS. I also said that “writing honest” would matter, and that this meant not leaving out anything—in text or art.

What I didn’t know on the subject, I learned. Over the next few months I surveyed dozens of experts in the fields of child development, pediatrics, puberty and adolescence, reproduction, biology, gender, sexual orientation, and genetics. I also spoke to parents, librarians, teachers, healthcare professionals, and clergy. I asked them all the same question: “When it comes to sexual health, what information do kids and teens need to know to stay healthy and safe?” I also questioned my family and friends, which resulted in several anecdotes that I wove into the text. And it’s the same question I asked when I began books for younger children, including It’s So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (Candlewick, 1999).

IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL. Text Copyright © 1994, 2004, 2009 and 2014 by Bee Productions, Inc. Illustrations copyright © 1994, 2004, 2009 and 2014 by Bird Productions, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Once I had the information I needed, I began to write It’s Perfectly Normal. But presenting the facts in my voice, while it mattered, wasn’t enough. The voices of children needed to be heard. One day, the idea of two cartoon characters, BIRD and BEE, popped into my head. I saw the BIRD as the child who wants to know the answer to almost every question about sexuality and puberty—and the BEE as the kid who thinks that all of “this stuff about sex” is gross, but becomes fascinated by the science. My hope was that readers would identify with the duo and be drawn into the text. Once my draft and Michael Emberley’s art were finished, experts vetted both for accuracy. (The moment I saw Emberly’s pitch-perfect drawings I knew we were a team.)

Each time It’s Perfectly Normal and It’s So Amazing! have been reprinted, I’ve spent a chunk of time going back to find out what needed to be updated and asked the same question I did years ago. Fast forward to September 9th, 2014, the publication date of the 20th anniversary edition of It’s Perfectly Normal and the 15th anniversary edition of It’s So Amazing!  I spent nearly a year writing, rewriting, and talking with experts, while Michael Emberley was busy creating new and updated art where it was needed. It’s been challenging and fascinating.

Recently I’ve been asked what’s it’s like to work on a book that I began decades ago. The answer: for me, all books are works in progress. And since kids and teens are still reading It’s Perfectly Normal and It’s So Amazing!, I continue to believe—as does Michael Emberley and our wonderful editor, designer, and art director—that this audience deserves nothing less than the latest and best information on the subject.

I’ve also been asked about the changes made to the new editions. There’s more on how to find responsible information about sexuality online and the safe and responsible use of cell phones, tablets, and computers. There’s also new information on the dangers inaccurate or dated Internet sources can pose, including how they might lead to risky or unhealthy behaviors and/or outcomes. A broader definition of the term “gender” and the inclusion of transgender youth have been added.

These are only some of the many changes; if, in the future, additional information comes along that kids and teens need to know, we’re committed to making sure it’s available. And we’ll do that even if those new editions prompt the BIRD to say, “Whoopee! More information!” and the BEE to say, “Oh-hhh, no-ooo… Too-ooo much information….”

 

 

Listen to Robie Harris introduce and pronounce her name.

See all available resources for Robie Harris.

 

This text may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Robie Harris.

IT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL. Text Copyright © 1994, 2004, 2009 and 2014 by Bee Productions, Inc. Illustrations copyright © 1994, 2004, 2009 and 2014 by Bird Productions, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

IT’S SO AMAZING. Text Copyright © 1999, 2004 and 2014 by Bee Productions, Inc.  Illustrations copyright  © 1999, 2004 and 2014 by Bird Productions, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.


TeachingBooks.net

Contests & Giveaways | September 2014

Each month we feature free and enjoyable book contests and giveaways!

We hope you will enjoy the following opportunities as well as the author and book resources available via TeachingBooks.net.

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age (Middle School)

A hilarious middle-grade novel about a misunderstood cave-boy perfect for fans of Ice Age, Happy Feet, The Time Warp Trio, and Platypus Police Squad.

Egmont USA is giving away 5 copies of Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser. To enter to win, send an email to michellebayuk@egmont.com with the subject line of “Lug on TeachingBooks.net” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 18, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Check out author David Zeltser’s personal website!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Nina Nandu’s Nervous Noggin plus an audio CD (Elementary)

Nina Nandu has just moved to a new neighborhood, and she does not want to go to a new school. “I’m waaay too nervous in my noggin,” she tells Granny Nandu. Young children will relate to Nina’s dilemma and delight in the solution. Nina Nandu’s Nervous Noggin focuses on the sound of the letter N. It is one of 26 titles in the award-winning Animal Antics A to Z series.

Kane Press is giving away 10 paperback copies (plus audio CDs) of Nina Nandu’s Nervous Noggin. To enter to win, send an email to info@kanepress.com with the subject line of “TeachingBooks Nina” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 23, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Listen to an audio excerpt from the CD narrated by author Barbara deRubertis! 

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Prairie That Nature Built (Elementary)

This book combines a child’s sense of wonder with an accurate and beautifully illustrated portrayal of the prairie ecosystem. It will help children of all ages understand the interconnectedness of the animals and plants found on the Great Plains and make them want to go experience it for themselves! Back matter offers information and activities for a fuller appreciation of this marvelous, disappearing habitat.

Dawn Publications is giving away 10 copies of The Prairie That Nature Built. To enter to win, send an email to sandy@dawnpub.com with the subject line of “Prairie Book contest” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 19, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Learn more about illustrator Cathy Morrison in this interview!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Dojo Daycare plus a poster (Elementary)

Kaboom, kapow! Mayhem ensues in rollicking rhyme and rhythm when a group of young ninjas arrives at daycare. This is an unbeatably boisterous read-aloud.

Owlkids Books is giving away 10 copies of Dojo Daycare, each with a reading-themed ninja poster. To enter to win, send an email to marketingintern@owlkids.com with the subject line of “Dojo Daycare giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 21, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Keep your eye on the personal website of author Chris Tougas!

 

 WIN A FREE COPY of It’s Perfectly Normal 20th Anniversary Edition (Middle School)

The definitive book about puberty and sexual health for today’s kids and teens, now fully updated for its twentieth anniversary. “This thoughtful, innovative, and comprehensive book helps children with issues that are on their minds anyway — and gives all of us the language we need to share with them.” — T. Berry Brazelton, MD

Candlewick Press is giving away 15 hardcover copies of It’s Perfectly Normal 20th Anniversary Edition. To enter to win, send an email to anne.irza-leggat@candlewick.com with the subject line of “It’s Perfectly Normal Contest” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 25, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Author Robie Harris shares the history of It’s Perfectly Normal in her Guest Blog post!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Pickin’ Peas (Elementary)

August House is giving away 5 free copies of Pickin’ Peas by the award winning author, Margaret Read MacDonald to celebrate the September release of this folktale from the American South.

To enter to win, send an email to steve@augusthouse.com  with the subject line of “Pickin’ Peas,” and write 2 sentences about how you plan to use this picture book in your school. Please include your mailing address. 

Deadline: September 29, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Illustrator Pat Cummings shares her inspiration in this interview!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull (Elementary)

This Halloween, Charlie and Tommy have big plans: First they’re going to win the school costume contest, and then they’re going to eat candy and pizza until they puke! Charlie is thrilled…until he hears that they’ll be watching the scariest horror movie ever. Charlie loves costumes, candy, and sleepovers with his friends, but he absolutely hates horror movies.

Peachtree Publishers is giving away 10 copies of this hilarious chapter book—perfect for Halloween and reluctant readers! Enter to win by sending an email to niki@peachtree-online.com with the subject line of “Squeaking Skull Giveaway” and please include your mailing address. No PO Boxes, please.

Deadline: September 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Explore author Bill Harley’s personal website!

 

howibecameapirateWIN A FREE COPY of the How I Became a Pirate Book App! (Elementary)

Join young Jeremy Jacobs in this interactive book app as he becomes a pirate on Braid Beard’s ship! Explore pictures, learn new vocabulary, and personalize the story with your own narration. Jeremy learns all about being a pirate—from buried treasure to sea chanteys, and pirate talk—but soon finds out what pirate don’t do: no tucking kids in and no bedtime stories! Will Jeremy remain a pirate or will he return home in time for soccer practice?

Oceanhouse Media is giving away 3 copies of How I Became a Pirate book app for iOS devices! To enter to win, send an email to press@oceanhousemedia.com with the subject line of “How I Became a Pirate Giveaway”.

Deadline: September 30, 2014 (Open to all addresses)

Preview this engaging book app!

 


TeachingBooks.net

Guest Blogger: Sylvia Long

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome award-winning illustrator Sylvia Long as our featured guest blogger.

Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

Sylvia Long
Photo © Martha Carlisle

Sources of Inspiration

by Sylvia Long

My interest in the natural world began early. It stemmed from my mother’s infectious excitement on hearing the song of an oriole, then finding its intricate hanging nest at the top of a nearby cottonwood tree. And from my father’s comments on the geology of the landscapes streaming past our car windows on our annual summer vacations—the alluvial fans, volcanic cones, scarp and dip slopes, and the forces that created them billions of years ago. My father also taught us the names of constellations and studied the bark of trees during our woodland walks.

It’s second nature for me now to scan the sky for raptors, trees and bushes for songbirds, and tall grass for a katydid or praying mantis. A walk on the beach or by a stream always ends with my pockets heavy with shells or interesting rocks.

Illustrating nonfiction picture books is a perfect fit for me. Almost as much as drawing and painting them, I enjoyed researching all the various eggs, seeds, butterflies, and rocks for Dianna Hutts Ashton’s An Egg is Quiet (2006), A Seed is Sleepy (2007), A Butterfly is Patient (2011), and A Rock is Lively (2012, all Chronicle Books). The most fascinating thing I’ve learned is how complex nature is and how much is yet to be discovered.

Sylvia Long’s Studio
Photo © Dennis Nessler

Most of my days are spent in my studio. The view from my desk includes an orange and a pear tree, grape vines, a koi pond, and many hungry and thirsty birds and cottontails scurrying about. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a reference library as well as dozens of boxes of natural treasures.

Reference Library

Some of these seeds ended up in A Seed is Sleepy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 An Egg is Quiet includes my ostrich egg and the Anna’s Hummingbird nest, which I discovered just outside my son’s bedroom window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These rocks from my collection can be found in A Rock is Lively. Clockwise from upper left: chrysanthemum rock, granite, sandstone, chrysocolla, and quartz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most recent addition to the series, Nests Are Noisy, will be published in 2015. If you discover an oriole’s nest in that book, you’ll know what inspired it.

 

 

Listen to Sylvia Long introduce and pronounce her name.

 See all available resources for Sylvia Long

 

 

This text may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Sylvia Long. Images courtesy of Sylvia Long, Martha Carlisle and Dennis Nessler. 


TeachingBooks.net

Contests & Giveaways | August 2014

Each month we feature free and enjoyable book contests and giveaways!

We hope you will enjoy the following opportunities as well as the author and book resources available via TeachingBooks.net.

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Evil Fairies Love Hair (Middle School)

Ali just needs to raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies to be granted a wish. Easy, right? Unfortunately, things get “hairy” in this fun middle-grade fantasy.

Clarion Books is giving away 5 copies of Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson. To enter to win, send an email to evilfairybook@gmail.com with the subject line “Hairy Fairies” and please include your mailing address. 

Deadline: August 15, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Deepen student understanding of character development with this Readers’ Theater script!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of My Zombie Hamster (Middle School)

My Zombie Hamster is a laugh-out-loud funny middle-grade debut. Matt’s parents give him a fluffy little mammal for Christmas, a hamster called Snuffles. But the hamster isn’t all that cute — at least not after part of its cheek and belly fall right off — without bothering it a bit!

Egmont USA is giving away 5 Advanced Reader Copies of My Zombie Hamster by Havelock McCreely. To enter to win, send an email to  michellebayuk@egmont.com with the subject line of “My Zombie Hamster on TeachingBooks.net” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 15, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child and Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child (Middle School)

In these funny books, Charlie C. Cooper, fashion trailblazer and reformed bully, navigates the social minefields of middle school. Will she be able to do the right thing, even if it costs her popularity?

HarperCollins is giving away 3 sets of both books in the series: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child and Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child by Maria T. Lennon. To enter to win, send an email to CharlieGiveaway@gmail.com with the subject line “Middle Child” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 22, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Use this CCSS-aligned Discussion Guide for both books in the series!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Three-Ring Rascals #1: The Show Must Go On! (Elementary)

The Show Must Go On!, now in paperback, is the first book in the Three-Ring Rascals series by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise. In their trademark style, bursting with humor and wordplay complemented by illustrations, documents, and graphics, The Show Must Go On! introduces a cast of talking animals in the friendliest and funniest family circus in the world.

Algonquin Young Readers is giving away 10 copies of The Show Must Go On! To enter to win, send an email to algonquinyr@algonquin.com with the subject line of “Three Ring Rascals giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 18, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Find Common Core related activities in this Educator Guide!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Dear Panda (Elementary)

With a little help from her neighbor, a panda from the zoo next door, Florence makes a friend at her new school. This quiet story about finding the confidence to make new friends is the antidote to many back-to-school anxieties.

Owlkids Books is giving away 10 copies of Dear Panda. To enter to win, send an email to marketingintern@owlkids.com with the subject line “Dear Panda giveaway” and make sure to include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 24, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Check out Miriam Latimer’s Personal Website!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, plus a bonus copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Middle School)

Enter to win a free copy of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson, a whip-smart retelling of the Mark Twain classic, written from the point of view of Tom’s supposed love interest, Becky Thatcher. Plus, you’ll also get a free copy of our fresh new redesign of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Compare notes and pick a side!

Simon & Schuster is giving away 25 copies of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and 25 copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. To enter to win, send an email to Education.Library@simonandschuster.com with the subject line “Becky Thatcher Giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Explore the elements of fiction with this CCSS-aligned Curriculum Guide!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Sea Star Wishes: Poems from the Coast (Elementary)

Celebrate summer with Sea Star Wishes: Poems from the Coast. Students (and teachers!) will love this charming collection of coastal-themed poems from award-winning children’s singer, songwriter, and poet Eric Ode.

Sasquatch Books is giving away 15 copies of Sea Star Wishes: Poems from the Coast. To enter to win, send an email to kreingold@sasquatchbooks.com with the subject line of “Sea Star Wishes Giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Students can analyze each poem with these Activities!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Lost and Found (Elementary)

When Justin loses the special hat his grandmother made for him, he looks everywhere he can think of to find it. Everywhere, that is, except the lost and found. Mr. Rumkowsky, the old school custodian, is the keeper of all the lost and found items, and everyone is afraid of him, including Justin.

Peachtree Publishers is giving away 10 copies of Lost and Found — just in time for the start of a new school year!  To enter to win, send an email to niki@peachtree-online.com with the subject line “Lost & Found Giveaway” and please include your mailing address. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)

Deadline: August 31, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses) 

Check out this Interview with illustrator Adam Gustavson, which is full of his artwork!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of A Natural Man: The True Story of John Henry (Elementary)

August House is giving away 5 free copies of A Natural Man: The True Story of John Henry by the award-winning author, Steve Sanfield, to celebrate the September release of this timeless story. 

To enter to win, send an email to steve@augusthouse.com with the subject line “John Henry” and write two sentences about how you plan to use this classic picture book in your school. Please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 31, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Hear Steve Sanfield share the history of his name

 

ThingsYouCanDo_promo_iPad_01WIN A FREE COPY of Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You! Book App (Elementary)

Join the Cat in the Hat as he teaches Dick and Sally all about the basics of healthy living! Explore pictures, learn new vocabulary, and personalize the story with your own narration. Kids will love learning about a broad range of topics including getting enough exercise and sleep, the distance and speed of a typical sneeze, healthy eating, hygiene, drinking water, brushing teeth, and more through a Seussian-rhyming interactive story.

Oceanhouse Media is giving away 3 copies of Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You! book app for iOS devices! To enter to win, send an email to press@oceanhousemedia.com with the subject line of “Oh, the Things You Can Do Giveaway”.

Deadline: August 31, 2014 (Open to all addresses)

Preview this fun and interactive Book App on healthy living!  

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Swamp Where Gator Hides (Elementary)

The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a fun tale about a gator who hides, still as a log. Only gator’s watchful eyes are able to be seen in the swamp. Taking place in the Florida Everglades, this subtropical climate provides ideal conditions for alligators, dabbling ducks, red bellied turtles, cottonmouth snakes, bullfrogs, white deer, great egrets, bobcats, sunfish and more. Who will gator have for lunch today?

Dawn Publications is giving away 10 copies of The Swamp Where Gator Hides by Marianne Berkes. To enter to win, send an email to sandy@dawnpub.com with the subject line of “The Swamp Where Gator Hides giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: August 31, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)  

Students will enjoy rhyme and rhythm with this Reader’s Theatre script!   

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Princess in Black, plus a free t-shirt (Elementary)

Who says princesses don’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black.

Candlewick Press is giving away 5 copies of The Princess in Black, each with an adult T-shirt (size L) saying “This Princess Wears Black.” To enter to win, send an email to                                    anne.irza-leggat@candlewick.com with the subject line of “Princess In Black Contest” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: September 4, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Learn more about The Princess in Black in this Interview with the authors, Shannon and Dean Hale!  

 


TeachingBooks.net

Guest Blogger: Gene Luen Yang

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome award-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang as our featured guest blogger.

Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

Gene Luen Yang

Comics, Then and Now

By Gene Luen Yang

When I was in the fifth grade, I convinced my mother to take me to our local comics shop. While I browsed the shelves, she stood by the door with her arms crossed, silently judging an entire industry. I went home with Secret Wars #4, the latest issue of Marvel’s cosmic, no-holds-barred superhero slugfest. It’s like Homer’s Iliad, only in outer space and without all the boring pathos. It was everything my 10-year-old heart desired.

That evening, I made the mistake of letting my mom flip through it.

She pointed to one of the panels. “Why isn’t this woman wearing any clothes?”

“That’s Volcana. She’s made of molten lava,” I explained. If my mom had simply taken the time to read the story, the reason for Volcana’s sartorial choices would’ve been obvious. “She’s always on fire, so her clothes would just burn off.”

My mother was unconvinced. That was the last time she took me to that shop.

Luckily, a friend from school showed me a workaround. Jeremy had been reading comics since he learned to read. He kept his collection in long cardboard boxes beneath his bed, individual issues neatly sorted by title and issue number. By fifth grade Jeremy was already an expert, a connoisseur of the four-color art form.

One bright Saturday afternoon, when the athletic kids were out on the soccer fields, Jeremy and I arranged to be dropped off at the library. We watched from the window until our parents drove out of sight and hiked 20 minutes to the nearest comics shop. We bought as many as we could afford out of the quarter bin (two each, in case you’re wondering).

We walked 30 minutes back to the library—you can’t go quite as fast with your nose buried in a comic book—and checked out the largest volumes we could find. These would hide our purchases and keep them in pristine condition.

“I didn’t know you were so interested in Egyptology,” my mother said on our way home.

I nodded and looked out the window.

***

Things are different now; kids no longer have to sneak. The graphic novel section of my local library rivals the one at my local comics shop in both size and selection.

Comic books are increasingly recognized as an important part of the literary landscape. They’re published by prestigious houses and nominated for prestigious awards. Today’s librarians, educators, and parents understand their value.

As a visual medium that’s meant to be read, comics act as a bridge between the media we watch and the media we read. Librarians stock them for fans of the format and teachers of second language learners and reluctant readers use them to instill a love of reading in their students.

Comic books have also proven to be worthy of study in and of themselves. They combine two distinct media: words and images. In the hands of skilled storytellers, the relationship between the two can be complex and nuanced. They can support each other, or contradict one another, or pass the narrative responsibility back and forth like a baton.

These days, even my mom reads comics. Admittedly, they’re mostly by me, but they’re still comics.

She still won’t give Secret Wars #4 a fair shake, though. In her mind, Volcana is still nothing but a floozy. I guess some kinds of progress come easier than others.

 

 

Listen to Gene Luen Yang introduce and pronounce his name.

See all available resources for Gene Luen Yang.

 

This text may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Gene Luen Yang. All images courtesy of Gene Luen Yang.

 

 


TeachingBooks.net

Contests & Giveaways | June 2014

Each month we feature free and enjoyable book contests and giveaways!

We hope you will enjoy the following opportunities as well as the author and book resources available via TeachingBooks.net.

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Oblivion (High School)

One year ago, Callie was found in an abandoned apartment, scrawling words on the wall: “I KILLED HIM. His blood is on my hands. His heart is in my soul. I KILLED HIM.” But she remembers nothing of that night or of the previous thirty-six hours.

Egmont USA is giving away 5 copies of Oblivion by Sasha Dawn. To enter to win, send an email to michellebayuk@egmont.com with the subject line of “Oblivion on TeachingBooks.net” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: June 15, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Learn where Sasha Dawn gets her ideas in this Author Interview!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Most Magnificent Thing (Elementary)

For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this picture book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity.

Kids Can Press is giving away 15 copies of The Most Magnificent Thing. To enter to win, send an email to libraries@kidscan.com with the subject line of “Most Magnificent” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: June 20, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Find inspiration to create your own magnificent thing on the The Most Magnificent Thing Book Website!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The One Safe Place (Middle Grade)

In a near-future dystopia with echoes of The Giver and Among the Hidden, Tania Unsworth has created an unsettling page-turner—fast-paced, filled with dread—that’s wholly satisfying, and startlingly original.

Algonquin Young Readers is giving away 5 copies of The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth. To enter to win, send an email to algonquinyr@algonquin.com with the subject line of “The One Safe Place giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: June 24, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Read Author Insights to discover Tania Unsworth’s inspiration for The One Safe Place!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Grizzly Bears of Alaska: Explore the Wild World of Bears (Elementary)

Spend the summer learning all about Alaska’s amazing grizzly bears! This nonfiction children’s book is full of spectacular images from acclaimed wildlife photographer Patrick J. Endres, as well as fascinating facts about the grizzly’s habitat, diet, hibernation, and more.

Sasquatch Books is giving away 10 copies of Grizzly Bears of Alaska. To enter to win, send an email to kreingold@sasquatchbooks.com with the subject line of “Grizzly Giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: June 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Prepare to share Grizzly Bears of Alaska with this Common Core aligned Teacher’s Guide!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of The Grudge Keeper (Elementary)

The townspeople of Bonnyripple count on Cornelius to file away their tiffs and huffs, squabbles and snits. But when a storm flings the people together and their grudges to the wind, the townsfolk must reconcile to save him.

Peachtree Publishers is giving away 10 copies of this witty and whimsically illustrated picture book, signed by the author, Mara Rockliff!

To enter to win your copy, send an email to niki@peachtree-online.com with the subject line of “Grudge Keeper Giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: June 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses. No PO Boxes, please.)

Listen to The Grudge Keeper author’s Audio Name Pronunciation!

 

Icon512WIN A FREE COPY of the Book App for Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body (Elementary)

Come along with the Cat in the Hat in this interactive book app as he takes Sally and Dick for a ride through the human body! Kids will love learning about the human body as they visit the right and left sides of the brain, scuba dive through the blood system, follow food and water through the digestive tract, and a whole lot more!

Oceanhouse Media is giving away 3 copies of Inside Your Outside book app for iOS devices! To enter to win, send an email to press@oceanhousemedia.com with the subject line of “Inside Your Outside Giveaway.”

Deadline: June 30, 2014 (Open to all addresses)

Start your journey with Inside Your Outside: listen to an audio sample from the book app!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Tankborn (High School)

Kayla and Mishalla, two genetically engineered non-human slaves (GENs), fall in love with higher-status boys, discover deep secrets about the creation of GENs, and in the process find out what it means to be human.

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, is giving away 3 signed copies of Tankborn by Karen Sandler. Enter to win here.

Deadline: June 30, 2014 (Open to U.S. addresses)

Delve into Tankborn with these Discussion Questions!

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Whose Trees Are These?  (Elementary)

To live without trees… Is this an option? Have you ever wondered about the role of trees in nature or their relationship to the rest of the environment? Whose Trees Are These? includes scientific details in both the text and illustrations.

Peanut Butter Press is giving away 10 hardcover copies of Whose Trees Are These? To enter to win, send an email to info@peanutbutterpress.ca with the subject line of “Whose Trees Are These? – Giveaway” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: July 8, 2014 (Open to all addresses)

Use this Teachers’ Guide to explore Whose Trees Are These? page by page! 

 

WIN A FREE COPY of Gertie Gorilla’s Glorious Gift plus an audio CD, narrated by the author (Elementary)

Gertie Gorilla’s Glorious Gift is one of 26 titles in the award-winning Animal Antics A to Z series. Each title supports letter/sound recognition, an essential skill in the learning-to-read process. Kids will relate to Gertie’s plan to give Godfrey Goat a grand and glorious gift for his birthday. But the gift gets grubby in a soggy, boggy gulch. What will Gertie do?

Kane Press is giving away 10 paperback copies (plus audio CDs) of Gertie Gorilla’s Glorious Gift. To enter to win, send an email to info@kanepress.com with the subject line of “TeachingBooks Gertie” and please include your mailing address.

Deadline: July 15, 2014 (Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses)

Sample the audio CD for Gertie Gorilla’s Glorious Gift with this Book Reading!

 

 


TeachingBooks.net

Resources Upon Request: Summer Brenner

 

A customer in California recently asked us to create original multimedia resources with author/illustrator Summer Brenner.

In this original Meet-the-Author Book Reading you’ll hear Summer explain her personal inspiration for writing Oakland Tales: Lost Secrets of the Town.

These Book Readings are excellent to share with students before, during, or after they read Summer’s book as a way for them to connect to the book in a whole new way.

It’s our great pleasure to announce these brand new original resources, made upon request.

Summer Brenner

  • Listen to Summer Brenner pronounce her name.

If there’s an author or book that is relevant to your curriculum, and you would like us to find and/or create relevant resources, please let us know.

- See more at: http://forum.teachingbooks.net/?cat=68

 

 


TeachingBooks.net

Guest Blogger: Nick Bruel

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the popular Bad Kitty Series, as our featured guest blogger.

Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

Nick Bruel

Creative Writing and the Tax Code

or

That Really Was The Best Title I Could Come Up With

By Nick Bruel

Good morning, Nick.

Good morning.

Thank you for meeting with me. I know it’s early.

No problem. I appreciate the invitation.

So, how often do you actually talk to yourself in the mirror?

Oh, not as often as you might think. Sometimes if there’s no mirror around, I hold two tin cans with a string attached up to each of my ears. It’s like I’m playing telephone with myself!

That’s pretty neat.

Thank you. I invented it myself.

So, what do you want to talk about today? Fragment sentences? Maybe: we could talk about, improper use; of punctuation – marks!

No, I’d rather talk about creative writing and the tax code.

The tax code? Really? That sounds pretty dull.

True. But this all leads to a point I want to make. 

Sigh. Fine. Go ahead.

Schedule C, my personal favorite schedule on the 1040 tax form, is used for reporting income or loss from a business you operate or a profession you practice as a sole proprietor. An activity qualifies as a business if your primary purpose for engaging in the activity is for income or profit and you are involved in the activity with continuity and regularity….

STOP! Stop this. I’m drifting away here. And the fumes from the cat’s litter box are starting to make me woozy.

Esme

You really should clean it more often.

You’re not the only one who feels that way.

MEOW!

Not now, Esme. I’m in the middle of a heated conversation here. What does all this dreary tax code stuff have to do with creative writing?

It is dreary, isn’t it? But that’s the point I’m trying to make. See, every creative writing teacher I’ve ever had has always pulled out the same old dictum about how to write a story. They always say, “Write what you know.”

What’s wrong with that?

Well, most of the time there’s nothing wrong with that advice. But the advice is incomplete. The problem here is that I happen to know a lot about tax code. I’ve been doing my own taxes for decades. But what I happen to know really isn’t all that interesting in this case. If I wrote a story about tax code, it would likely be pretty dull.

“Bad Kitty Files As A Sole Proprietor Of A Limited Liability Company” — Yeah, I don’t see much of an audience for that one.

Precisely. So really the advice teachers need to give students isn’t “Write what you know about” but “Write what you care about.” Much of the time, those two will be the same thing. But a lot of students, especially the younger ones, don’t really know a lot yet. But that’s okay. Kids compensate for what they don’t know with having an active imagination. It’s their imagination that we all need to tap into, because their imagination is home to everything they care about. We all want kids to write stories, but even more importantly we want them to want to write stories.

Hey, isn’t this why you wrote Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble (Roaring Brook Press, 2014)?

Oh, you shameless promoter, you! Thank you so much for bringing up that book. Yes, this is precisely why I wrote that book. It’s my “Bad Kitty” book about how to write a “Bad Kitty” book. Kids often ask me if I have a favorite “Bad Kitty” book, and I don’t. I really don’t. But having said that, I will go on the record as saying that Bad Kitty: Drawn To Trouble is probably my most important book. I’d never written a book with so much purpose until I wrote this one. I like to think of it as a 128-page invitation to my readers to become writers. I love what I do, and I want everyone to at least try their hand at writing stories for themselves. They just might love writing as much as I do.

It also happens to be the 10th “Bad Kitty” book, isn’t it?

It is. But I almost didn’t write it.

Bad Kitty

Really? Shut up, you liar.

No! Really! There were concerns that this book might come off as too academic. There were concerns that introducing a litany of literary terms like “protagonist” and “antagonist” and “foreshadowing” and “plot point” (Common Core fans, please take note) might put off some readers who only open a “Bad Kitty” book to see an ornery pussycat periodically lose her mind. But I honestly think that underestimates my readers. Kids not only need to be challenged in their reading, but, honestly, I think they demand it.

Got anything more to add?

Not really.

Then, I think it’s time we got to work.

I agree. Deadlines wait for no…

MEOW!

Oh, right. First things first. Now, where’s that scoop?

 

Listen to Nick Bruel introduce and pronounce his name.

Enjoy this Meet-the-Author Book Reading with Nick Bruel featuring Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble. 

See all available resources for the Bad Kitty Series.

See all available resources for Nick Bruel and his books.

 

 This text may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Nick Bruel. All images courtesy of Nick Bruel.