Conferences: Gatherings and Photos


I had a lovely breakfast with some of the Theodore "Suess" Geisel Award Committee members the day of the award ceremony
I had a lovely breakfast with some of the Geisel Committee members ALA 2008


Signing at Harper Booth at IRA in Atlanta
Signing at Harper Booth at IRA in Atlanta




Illinois State Reading Council...I get to catch up with other speakers, Larry Day, Esther Hirshenhorn, and Kay Winters
Illinois State Reading Council...I get to catch up with other speakers, Larry Day, Esther Hirshenhorn, and Kay Winters
Brenda Dales (right) and Terri Socol (left) organized a Children's Literature Conference where Gordon Korman and I spoke.
Brenda Dales (right) and Terri Socol (left) organized a Children's Literature Conference. Gordon Korman and I spoke there in 2007.


Miami University, site of the conference, is the home of McGuffey's Readers!
Miami University, site of the conference, is the home of McGuffey

Paddle To the Sea DVD

Instead of hyping up the kids with Disney before bedtime, how about trying this  low-key, gentle, but oddly fascinating DVD?  I just watched Paddle to the Sea, a 28-minute, Academy-Award nominated movie that was based on the Caldecott-winning book of the same name by Holling. This movie was created in 1966 and has gentle narration and music. It was recently remastered and released on DVD.

The story follows the progress of the toy boat through the Great Lakes and out to the sea. This would be a terrific lead in to quality children’s books about the water cycle or the Great Lakes. This is the Rain, by Lola Schaefer, comes to mind.  Of course,  you’ll want to read the original book, Paddle to the Sea, as well.

Of course, I spent a lot of time thinking about the fun and mishaps the filmmakers must have encountered as they recreated the journey while dealing with logistics of Niagara Falls, commercial shipping, locks, and so on. Viewing the DVD again, and discussing with kids how the shots were created might yield a lot of good creative thinking. Then perhaps they could write their own story, using this as a model.



There are plenty of people out there to love whales and pandas. But what about woodchucks? I ask you. Who loves them? 

How fuzzy wonderful do you have to be? How rare do you have to be before people notice you?  Where are the woodchuck t-shirts, bumper stickers, and earrings? 

My friend Margaret,  a librarian in Goshen, loves them.  She’s just wild about them. Out in the western U.S., people climb mountains just to see marmots. Oh, hurray, marmots! Watch them scamper up rocky slopes. Well, have you looked at a woodchuck? 

It’s a marmot. It just lives in yards, fields, and woods. 

My husband and I call them “yarmots,” a name drawn from yard marmot, our own personal term.

Come on, let’s appreciate the underappreciated. Okay, so they’ve eaten my garden a few times.  But then I built the big, big, fence suggested by Rodale, the publishers of Organic Gardening. Oh, and I grew so many other plants that the woodchucks can eat, that they don’t think of the garden. They don’t even get around to it.

Libraries and Media Specialists: the Hearts of Schools

One of the things I love about school visits is meeting the extraordinary media specialists who help bring books into children’s lives. A school library, well supported, can be the heart of a school. In schools with great media specialists, where libraries are appreciated, the library is not only a resource for knowledge, it’s an engine that feeds joy, natural curiosity, and a love of learning. The supportive, welcoming atmosphere created by a great library/media specialist spills out of the library, enriching the whole school. The same is true of public library media specialists, whose influence soaks into the surrounding community.
Here is a gallery of some of the creative things media specialists do to celebrate author visits and spice up book talks.

Debbie Maddox, Pelham Road Elementary, SC
spent a lot of time sharing my books before my visit.

Pam Rone, of Niagara Elementary in KY, sponsored a pasta art contest and an Italian banquet to celebrate with the winners. Wow!

Principals get into the act, too, at Boone Grove Elementary in Indiana!

Michele Kolodij of Trumansburg Elementary School, NY has an awesome discovery center, connected to the library, where kids study science in a hands-on way. They studied turtles before my visit. Fantastic!

Knox County, OH school visit activities. Wow!

Wow, Knox County, OH schools had fun with my books!. What extraordinary teachers and students. The countryside near there is beautiful, too.

For Norma Fox Mazer, Mrs. Paouris, and More

You can never make the list long enough, so I’ll just put down a few for today.

For Norma Fox Mazer, who told me, “A novel is not an intellectual Lose Weight Exercise but an emotional journey.”

For my father who long ago wrote me a birthday note and addressed it: “For my daughter who writes about beautiful things and takes pictures of beautiful things.”

For my elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers, especially Mrs. Joye, Ms. Ottewell, Mrs. Paouris, Ms. Kobelt, and Ms. Lasher

For the librarians and educators who take the time to put the right book in a child’s hands

For Mom, who left all those Newbery-winning books lying around the house but never told me to read them, which of course meant I did.

Great Read, Great Lesson

Tamora Pierce: Great Read, Great Lesson
I am a huge fan of Tamora Pierce’s books, especially her two series, “The Magic Circle” and “The Circle Opens.” The Circle Opens is wonderful because it shows the characters from the earlier series no longer as students, but now becoming mentors to younger students. It brings them through the trials and rewards of teaching and would be great to get kids thinking about being mentors, big brothers, big sisters, and so on. Just don’t tell them there’s anything educational in these books. First and foremost, Pierce’s booksare to be enjoyed.