Don’t Worry, Get Happy with Paul Noth

The 10th Gaithersburg Book Festival is right around the corner, and I am excited to share the third in my trilogy of interviews with GBF featured children’s authors.   Paul Noth will be a featured author paired with Jonathan Roth for both their book presentations, and a children’s workshop entitled Creating Characters with Character, where Noth and Roth will help elementary age kids come up with characters that are fun, interesting and have meaning to the creator. They will brainstorm ideas, draw figures, come up with meaningful motivations and, of course, cool character names.

Paul Noth, known for his witty cartoons regularly appear in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, has also written for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Late Late Show, among other television shows.  He hasn’t been known as a KidLit author till of late. He is the author of How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens (April 2018) described by School Library Journal as “Strange and original with just the right amount of juvenile humor, this story features odd and endearing characters and a wonderfully weird plot.” At the Gaithersburg Book Festival he will be speaking about  How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth (January 2019), which Kirkus Reviews states that it is … “a story where everyone deserves to be the main character.”   Coming in September 2019 is How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead which promises to be another “laugh-out-loud” funny book for middle grade readers.    

How did your journey take you from The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and evening talk shows, to children’s books?

I’ve always wanted to write both picture books and children’s novels. Once my work started appearing regularly in the New Yorker, several agents reached out to me asking if I had ideas for kids’ books, so that provided the opportunity.

What is one (or more) thing(s) that you really want your readers to know about you?

Sometimes I think the less they know about me the better. I like my books and cartoons to speak for themselves. But if they have to know something, it’s that I have two dogs, Watson and Biscuit.

Who is the student you are writing for?  Describe him/her.

He or she treasures funny books and cartoons as much as I do.

What are you most looking forward about the Gaithersburg Book Festival (can be more than one thing ;-D )

I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Jonathan Roth again. He and I hit it off last time. We work well together.

When you tell other authors and illustrators about GBF, what do you say?

I say it’s a great festival and well worth the trip.

What message do you have for your readers?

Thank you for reading my books! I know the second one, How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but book 3, How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead is out in September!

What message to you have for educators, and especially for school librarians?

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Please visit www.paulnoth.com for more information about him!

Gaithersburg Book Festival will be held on May 18, 2019, 10 am – 6 pm on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall.  Visit the website here!

Paul’s books will be available for sale at the Politics and Prose Book Store tent.

Paul Noth and Jonathan Roth

Author Presentation:  Begins at 12:15 pm

Location:  Willa Cather Pavilion

Children’s Workshop: Creating Characters with Character

Time: 11:15-11:45 am

Location: Children’s Workshops Tent

Exploring the Amazing Natural World with Susan Stockdale

The 10th Gaithersburg Book Festival is right around the corner, and I am excited to share the second in my series of interviews with GBF children’s authors! Susan Stockdale is a local author / illustrator and a true gem – her books are fantastic, fabulous, and just plain awesome.  

Susan will be leading a children’s workshop entitled Let’s Create Fabulous Fishes!  (10:15 – 11:00 am in the Children’s Workshop Tent).  She will read her picture book, Fabulous Fishes, then guide children in exploring different fish shapes, colors and patterns to create their own fish using oil pastels on black paper. Then the young artists will complete their art piece by adding a title to their artwork.

I caught up with Susan in April and want to share our conversation about her research and artistic process.

Your picture books – especially Fantastic Flowers and Fabulous Fishes – have a definite joyful feeling to them – what inspires you to create your books? 

I want to excite young children about our amazing natural world, which is always my muse. As a former textile designer, I delight in finding patterns in everything I paint, and nature presents a treasure trove of them.

Can you tell me about your art?  Your books indicate that the art medium is acrylic on paper.  What is your creative process?  How large are your paintings for your picture books? Do you create art using other mediums?

I gather reference photos of my subjects, create many pencil drawings of them and select those I like best for my final illustrations. I submit my drawings to scientists for their feedback to ensure they are factually accurate and revise as necessary. I then trace each drawing onto Bristol paper. For each color, I apply many layers of acrylic paint to give the image a flat, crisp appearance. I work solely in acrylic, my favorite medium, and my paintings are the same size featured in my books.

As a school library media specialist, I teach my students the importance of using multiple reliable sources for research, and citing sources.  I love that each of your books include a thanks to specific experts that helped with your research, a visual glossary, and a bibliography at the end.  Some include an interactive activity.  Can you tell me about your research process?

I research my subjects in magazines, books and reputable online resources; consult closely with scientists; visit natural history museums, zoos and other venues; and, when possible, view my subjects in their natural habitats. My most exotic research trips have been to Africa and the Galapagos Islands. Once I’ve gathered sufficient information on my subjects, I begin writing my manuscript. The poem always comes first, followed by the addendum.

Some of my research resources for Stripes of All Types: (l-r) books; websites; a trip to Costa Rica; visits to museum exhibitions; consultant Dr. Kris Helgen, former head of the Mammal Division at the National Museum of Natural History


Your picture books are wonderful examples of nonfiction genre of animals, and of poetry.  Why did you decide to write your books in a lyrical, rhythmic, and rhyming form?

I didn’t make a conscious decision to write in rhyme when I began creating children’s books. This form just came naturally to me. I’m sure it’s because my mother, a published poet, rhymed words together all the time when I was little. This had a wonderful influence on me. I love how rhythmic rhyme engages children in a fun and musical way. Children learn to anticipate the rhyming word and make predictions, so rhymes help them learn to read.  

What message do you have to students about the importance of research?

Research is essential to conveying accurate facts. I particularly enjoy the surprising information I uncover while researching, such as how Red-billed Oxpeckers “hiss when started, alerting their hosts to possible danger.” I included that fact in my Bring On the Birds addendum.

What is a message from you that I can share with my educator colleagues

Encourage students to read more nonfiction. It sparks their curiosity and opens their minds to the world. It helps them develop background knowledge they need to be academically successful. Also, studies show that reading more nonfiction early on helps children reach the appropriate reading levels in later grades.

What is a message from you that I can share with my students?

When I present at schools, children often tell me that “when I grow up, I want to write and illustrate books.” My response? You don’t have to grow up to do this! You can create your own books now. All you need is a few pieces of paper folded in half, a pencil, and an idea. Have fun!

To learn more about Susan and her books, please visit her website here.

Let’s Create Fabulous Fishes!

TIME: 10:15 am – 11:00 am

LOCATION: Children’s Workshops Tent

AUDIENCE: Elementary School students

Gaithersburg Book Festival will be held on May 18, 2019, 10 am – 6 pm on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall.  Visit the website here!

Susan’s books will be available for sale at the Politics and Prose Book Store tent.

GBF – The Greatest Book Festival!

As an enthusiastic member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival Committee, I was thrilled to see our lineup of featured children’s authors and illustrators, which included: Dianna Hutts Aston, Cece Bell, Gennifer Choldenko, Paul Czajak, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Laura Gehl, John Green, Steve Light, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Dave Roman, Aaron Reynolds, Syl Sobel, Maris Wicks, Timothy Young among others.

Paul Czajak reads Monster Needs Your Vote.

A family oriented event, the GBF also offers outstanding  (if I do say so myself!) series of children’s and teens workshops and other entertainment in the Children’s Village and Young Adult Pavilion.

2016 Children’s Workshops included:

 

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Despite the rainy (and cold) weather, our dedicated guests arrived in full rain gear.  And stayed.  And listened. And participated in the many author talks and workshops.  It was a wonderfully creative and enthusiastically attended community event, led by a group of totally awesome lovers of literature…Cannot wait for next year’s event!

Gaithersburg Book Festival

The 2016 GBF Children’s Village:  About  100 Reasons to Bring the Kids on 5/21

 

GBF: Opportunity for Deeper Connection with Authors and Illustrators

Gaithersburg Book Festival: Opportunity for Deeper Connection with Authors and Illustrators first appeared on the GBF website on January 4, 2016. Click link to GBF website here

By Melissa McDonald

As an elementary school librarian, my favorite part of the Gaithersburg Book Festival is the opportunity to listen to the children’s book authors and illustrators read their books and talk about their inspiration and their craft.  I can read a book aloud to my students with enthusiasm, providing the voices of the different characters, and emphasizing what I think are the important parts on each page.  However, nothing compares to an author reading aloud his or her own book to their adoring audience, or watching the illustrator start with a blank piece of white poster paper and creating the book characters in front of our eyes.  It is magical!  That moment when the author and illustrator connect with his or her readers is a great one indeed.

Throughout my school library I have pictures of myself with authors and illustrators – I think it is important to show my students that the people who create their favorite books are real people – to show them the connection we have through their written word and art.  When I am able, I like to video their talk and book reading, and love to share with my students as most of them are unable to attend events such as these.

51mdbfxwdgl-_sx258_bo1204203200_Last year I enjoyed Michelle Knudsen’s reading of Marilyn’s Monster and listening to Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss how they worked together to create the book. Because of these videos, my students were able to connect with the book, the author, and the illustrator on a deeper level than if I had simply read the book to them.  For this I am deeply grateful, and hope that this is one way in which I can encourage life-long readers.

Michelle Knudsen’s Website: http://www.michelleknudsen.com/

Matt Phelan’s Website: http://www.mattphelan.com/

Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38zCZCqG06M

Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss creation of  Marilyn’s Monster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AemRfey6Og8

Melissa A. McDonald is a school library media specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools and a member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival planning committee.

 

Pocket Poems & Journeys

Every month there are celebrations both large and small in the Flower Hill media center. We celebrate learning, connecting, collaborating, creating – and reading!

April is not only School Library Month:

school library month

…but also National Poetry Month, and April 30th was Poem in Your Pocket Day.   poem in your pocket day

If you visited our school during the month of April you would have noticed our large bulletin board inviting all to pick a poem or two from the pockets, and share them with others.   Throughout the month (and into May) we have been exploring different types of poems – Haiku, List, and Book Spine Poetry, to name a few. Book spine poetry is a bit eclectic, and it’s created and read by stacking books so that the title of each book is one of the lines in the poem. Below are a few examples of book spine poetry that my fourth grade students created:WP_20150414_14_12_47_Pro[1]

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We read Guyku (haiku poetry for boys) by Bob Raczka and Peter H. Reynolds and my 4th grade students created some fantastic Guyku and Galku (haiku for girls) –

Diego Guyku

Ryan Guyku

Samanthagalku

During the week of April 27th – May 1st, many of my classes connected with students in other states via Google Hangout. We collaborated together to create some wonderful list poems with our new friends in New York and South Carolina.  We read a few selections from Falling Down the Page –  A Book List Poems, edited by Georgia Heard. and then, using Google Docs in real time, we created poems together, alternating lines, and color coding the poem to help!  If you’d like to read some of them, please click here.                               

The month of May was filled with industrious students finishing book trailer videos, researching and creating online newsletters, learning about effort and persistence, taking care of the earth, and much, much more!

I will be preparing my 2015-16 library book order soon, and have asked all the students to give me input. I have several book catalogs available for them to peruse, and they can add their suggestions to the wish list.

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The Black-Eyed Susan Book awardees were announced on Saturday, May 2nd. I attended the event, and knew my students would be thrilled to find that The Day the Crayons Quit (educator guide), and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (website) were this year’s KidLit winners!  All three have been very popular titles in our Flower Hill ES library, and rarely stay on the shelves – if they make it back on them at all!  WP_20150504_07_37_53_Pro[1]

On June 16th, I was thrilled to be a guest reader in the Story Time Tent at the 6th annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.  I read two great books by Patrick McDonnell – Wag! and The Monsters’ Monster. WP_20150516_10_38_52_Pro[1] Both have wonderful messages of friendship, kindness, and love, and both have downloadable activities from the publisher’s website.  I also volunteered in the Edgar Allan Poe Pavilion, and there was able to listen to many authors of adult literature.  At one point during the day when I wasn’t volunteering, I had the opportunity to listen to Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss Marilyn’s Monster, a delightful book about a little girl who has been found by her monster yet, so she decides to go out and decides to go out in search for him herself, and the adventure that ensues.  (Michelle reads her book to us)

 (Matt gives writing tips)

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Another book I like to finish my year out with is The North Star  by Peter H. Reynolds – a quiet book about a little boy who learns to follow his guiding star.  I love sharing this book with my 4th and 5th graders and getting them to think about their own strengths and following their own paths to greatness.

WP_20150512_19_29_41_Pro[1]Reading is my super power, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my love of books and learning with my students.  I have spent many enjoyable hours this weekend listening to The Busy Librarian’s podcasts, and have been so thrilled to learn more about authors and illustrators (and everyone in between) and their amazing books and hope that I’ll be able to stretch my media center budget to include the purchase of all of the books I have heard about on the Let’s Get Busy Podcast.  If you haven’t discovered Matthew Winner’s fantastic website or podcast series, you need to do so quickly by clicking here!