Kitty Sweet Tooth Makes Her Way to GBF

My students LOVE graphic novels.  Strong readers, reluctant readers, those with attention issues – nearly all my students read graphic novels. They also love dogs and cats, so you can imagine that Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series, John Gallagher’s Max Meow series,  John Green’s InvestiGATOR series (yes, I know gators aren’t dogs or cats) books don’t stay on my library shelves for long – if at all.  I am excited to add Kitty Sweet Tooth to my ever-growing graphic novel collection!

Abby Denson will be part of an “animals and their antics” graphic novel panel, along with John Gallagher (Max Meow), John Patrick Green (InvestiGATORS), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy series) at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21 at our new location, Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park, 506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Abby’s Graphic Novel Author Presentation:  12:15-1:05 pm in the Willa Cather Pavilion. It will be immediately followed by a book signing.

I hope you enjoy my interview with the delightful Abby Denson!

What is your creative space/studio like?

Abby’s creative space – photo provided by the author.

It’s a large room with a couch and a lot of natural light that has two computer workstations and a drawing space. I have multicolor fairy lights hanging around the room and wall art that includes a black cat hanging rug and various Japanese furoshiki cloth hangings with patterns I like. I also have book shelves with lots of comics and graphic novels on them as well as my small collection of dolls and action figures. This includes a Kitty Sweet Tooth plush doll that my editor Robyn Chapman commissioned as a (very thoughtful) gift when the book launched! It was made by the talented Claire Sanders.  

Kitty Sweet Tooth plush doll created by Clare Sanders.

How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?

Mainly, I just want my books to be available to readers, but I love it when my books are part of a nice display, or if they get featured as a recommended read. That’s great! I also hope for my books to be included on ALA recommended reading lists and considered for awards. I love to do library events, and luckily have been able to do several virtual library talks over the past year.

What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your book?

Kitty Sweet Tooth is about friends creating something great for their community together, and it can teach kids about overcoming obstacles and unexpected mishaps through cooperation. It centers on a character who has an enthusiastic love for movies, and she is inspired to share that with her town at the movie theater. I hope it will encourage readers to share their enthusiasm and appreciation for the arts and encourage their own feelings of creativity.

Uniquely Japan is a non-fiction book covering different Japanese cultural topics. I hope that readers will learn a lot about Japan from it, or at least enjoy  looking at my comics, photos, and drawings!

Who is the reader you are writing for? 

Anyone who wants to have a fun and enjoyable read, but is also interested in learning something new. 

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

I’m hoping that my books will make people smile, and I want readers to know that if they are inspired to do so, they can also create their own books and comics. Please go for it!

What do you love most about  your cover art and illustrations in your book?   

For Kitty Sweet Tooth, the entire book was illustrated by Utomaru, who is a brilliant artist! I’m so glad I get to work with her. Frankly, I love everything about her cover art! Though if I had to pick out details, I do especially love the cake that Kitty is holding and also the way the film reel wraps around to the back of the book. Also, there is a totally different (equally gorgeous) cover design under the dust jacket, so please look inside and check it out. Molly Johanson did the amazing design work!

For Uniquely Japan, the cover includes my own illustrations, and I am really happy with the compact hard cover design of the book – the Tuttle team did a great job! I especially like the way the sushi and bento illustrations came out.

[Melissa:  If you would like to read more about Uniquely Japan, here’s the link to an article in Stars and Stripes.]

What has surprised you most about the characters in your book?

 In Kitty Sweet Tooth, it can be surprising how resilient and tough Kitty is (you’ll see more of this in her next book Kitty Sweet Tooth Makes a Movie). Even when different mishaps occur, she and her friends can figure things out together. 

Publishes October 18, 2022.

Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?

Receiving an International Manga Award for my book Dolltopia was really special. Having my work recognized by a board of established manga creators was very meaningful to me. 

I also recently got a very insightful review for Uniquely Japan from UK Anime Network. I felt that they really understood what I was aiming for with the book. Read the UK Anime Network review here.

What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?

Meeting the readers and my fellow authors!

Please join Abby Denson at Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st!

Abby Denson is the author of “Uniquely Japan,” the “Kitty Sweet Tooth” series (illustrated by Utomaru), “Cool Tokyo Guide,” “Cool Japan Guide,” “Dolltopia” and “Tough Love: High School Confidential.” She has scripted comics for Amazing Spider-Man Family, Powerpuff Girls Comics, Simpsons Comics, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, Disney Adventures, and many others. Her work has garnered the International Manga Award, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and IPPY Award. She has taught and lectured at various venues including the Eugene Lang College at The New School and Sophia University in Tokyo.

P is for Puffin: ABCs and GBF

Maryland author-illustrator Timothy Young is a long-time friend of the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and the creator of many wonderful children’s books, including his newest, P is for Puffin: The ABCs of Uncommon Animals, a delightful nonfiction board book for children of all ages.

Melissa with Timothy at 2017 GBF

Timothy seems to love the beautiful Atlantic Puffin which nests in the North Atlantic. In the summer, birdwatchers “flock” to Maine and eastern Canada to catch a glimpse of them.

Fans of Timothy’s picture books will remember that in 2014 he published the children’s book, The Angry Little Puffin, about a Penguin – er – Puffin with lots of feelings. Four years later, in 2018, he published If You Give the Puffin a Muffin, about the same grumpy Puffin who realizes that he’s the subject of another picture book and the target of a rhyming scheme gone wrong.

Timothy will be presenting P Is for Puffin: The ABCs of Uncommon Animals along with June Smalls (He Leads: Mountain Gorilla, The Gentle Giant 11:15-12:05 in the Jim Henson Pavilion (immediately followed by a book signing). 

He will also lead an illustration workshop for teens entitled Drawing Animals: Either Realistic or Funny 2:00-2:45 pm in the Children’s Village Workshop Tent.

I hope you enjoy my interview with author-illustrator Timothy Young.

What is your creative space like? 

I have a great workspace in my home. I moved into a larger room in the house in January 2021 so I could have room to set it up so that half of it is a presentation space for virtual visits. I have so many lights it’s like working in a TV studio! I also have lots of books and toys and other stuff, things I have worked on and things that I just like having around. I also have my drawing table on one end near the front window and a reclining chair by the back window where I can relax, think and read.

How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your new book (or any of your books)?

While it is a board book I would hope that the illustrations and animal facts would appeal to older children who are interested in animals.

Can you tell me about your research process for P is for Puffin?

I have been interested in animals since I was very young. I still have a set of animal cards that my mom signed me up for. I received a new set of cards each month for many years. Many of the animals in the book I already knew about. In picking specific animals for each letter I learned about some animals I had not heard of before like the Shekru and the Fairy Armadillo. I read everything I could find about each animal and picked some interesting facts about each.

Who is the reader you are writing for?  Please describe them.

As with most of my books my first audience is me. I write books that I would have liked reading as a child. I hope that there are kids out there who love to learn about new animals and it sparks their curiosity further. 

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

This book began as another vehicle for my Angry Puffin but as I worked on it I realized I wanted to represent these animals differently. Most of my books are just funny stories. The more I worked on it the more I wanted to do something for these animals I cared about and that’s when I decided to donate my royalties to an animal charity. I friend of mine introduced me to the Wildlife Conservation Network and I was very happy when they accepted my donation. They help quite a few of the animals in my book like the Okapi and the Pangolin and give every penny they raise to organizations directly involved in protecting animals.

What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your book? 

I created my illustrations in a different style than my other books. I wanted the focus to be on the animals and I illustrated them more realistically rather than in a cartoony style. They are still a bit stylized and look friendly and approachable. I spent a lot of time drawing fur. Even digitally it take some time and brush stroke to draw that much fur.

Can you tell us about your creative process? What medium did you use? Could you share images of your work in progress?

In the early stages, when it was more of a story, I drew some of the animals in my usual way. Since I had already written books with a puffin, a coatimundi and a capybara as characters I drew similar versions of those characters in more animal type poses. I then decided to change that and draw them with more detail. Once I have a pencil drawing I inked them and then scanned the ink drawings into Photoshop. I did all of my coloring, detailing and shading in that program. Originally the animals were on solid color backgrounds. At the suggestion of my publisher I added subtle backgrounds to my illustrations.

Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?

If I were in this for awards I would have stopped long ago. Being with a small publisher it’s easy to be overlooked. I toyed with the idea of putting a circle on the cover of “untitled” with the words PLACE CALDICOTT HERE but I liked the blankness of the final design.

The best awards come when you get a note from a parent, teacher or student about that one kid who loves your book so much that they read it over and over or it’s the first book they wanted to read in front of their class. 

What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?

I love the Gaithersburg Book Festival. This is the first one I’m doing in almost three years. I love meeting the readers, I love re-connecting with other authors who I only get to see at festivals and, of course, seeing all over, the volunteers who bring this all together.

Please come to the 13th annual Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st to meet Timothy Young, and lots of other talented children’s authors and illustrators!

As a child Timothy Young always wondered who made the toys he played with, who wrote and illustrated the books he read and who made the cartoons he watched. He grew up to be one of the people who got to do all of them.

His career has included being the head model-maker for the Penny cartoons on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, building Muppets for Jim Henson and sculpting the first Simpsons toys. He is the author/illustrator of 13 books including “I Hate Picture Books!,” “The Angry Little Puffin” and his newest, “P is for Puffin.”

Be a Tree at Gaithersburg Book Fest (the Tree City)

Maryland author, and illustration instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Joyce Hesselberth, will be joining the many wonderful children’s authors and illustrators presenting at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21, 2022.  Joyce will be a featured presenter along with the equally talented Julia Kuo in the Willa Cather Pavilion (12:15-1:05 pm), immediately followed by a book signing.  GBF will be at our new location Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park, 506 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg.

I am not only looking forward to meeting Joyce at GBF, but I am also looking forward to teaching a lesson to my young naturalists this week using Beatrice Was a Tree as my anchor text (a future post will include this library media lesson).

I hope you enjoy my interview with the lovely Joyce Hesselberth.

What is your writing space like?

I have two writing spaces. One is our* studio in Baltimore. It’s a renovated warehouse space and I’m surrounded by all my favorite art supplies there. That’s important because I switch back and forth between writing and drawing. The second place is our den at home, with a cat by my side. 

(*Joyce and her husband, David Plunkert, own Spur Design in Baltimore)   

How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?

I hope librarians will share my books with kids, and also with other librarians. Just sharing books they love is the perfect way for them to promote authors. I also love when they reach out to other teachers. During a recent school visit, we were able to combine a book reading with a hands-on project that the art teacher and I planned together. It was a great way to extend the reading experience and engage kids who like to tell stories with pictures too!

(Note to educators and parents:  Joyce has an Activities for Kids section on her website – check it out for some great extension activities)!

What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your book? 

Most of my books look at the world in a slightly different way. Beatrice Was a Tree is a book about why trees are important, but it’s also a book that asks readers to turn inward and imagine themselves as a tree. I hope they come away feeling that they have a connection to nature.

I hope they come away feeling that they have a connection to nature.

~ Joyce Hesselberth ~

Who is the reader you are writing for?  Please describe them.

I think I’m always writing (and drawing) for myself. Or maybe for myself as a kid! It might sound silly, but if I’m not having fun while writing, then my reader probably won’t have fun reading it, right? 

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

My family has seven chickens. I can list all fifty states in alphabetical order. 

What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your book?   

Since this is a book about trees, there are thousands of leaves in it. I loved drawing each and every leaf. There is something so satisfying about those shapes. I also love that on the cover some of the leaves are shiny. The publisher used a special varnish to make them look that way and if you tilt the book back and forth they shimmer!

What has surprised you most about the characters in your book?

Probably that Beatrice ended up having purple hair! I didn’t plan it that way when I started drawing her, but a lot of the book takes place at night, and the purple just seemed to fit with the deep blues in the sky.

(All shades of purple is my absolute favorite color, so I adore Beatrice’s hair)

Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?

One of my reviewers called my book Kafkaesque and I really like that! Picture books can be weird and imaginative.

(For those of you (like me) not familiar with the term Kafkaesque, per Dictionary.com, Kafkaesque means relating to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of Franz Kafka; marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity).

What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?

People! I’m so looking forward to seeing people in person!

I hope you will join me at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st to meet Joyce Hesselberth!

Joyce Hesselberth’s illustrations have appeared in national ad campaigns, theater productions, and major newspapers and magazines. She writes and illustrates children’s books, including “Mapping Sam,” which won a special mention award in the Bologna Ragazzi non-fiction category. Her most recent book, “Beatrice Was a Tree,” was published in 2021 by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins). Her work has been recognized by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, and the Art Directors’ Club of New York among others. She and her husband David Plunkert co-founded Spur Design in 1995. Spur Design is located in a renovated factory building in Baltimore, Md. Joyce is also a professor of illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Moonwalking with Zetta & Lyn at GBF

Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann will be joining us as featured presenters at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21, 2022, at our new location Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park, 506 Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD.  They will be sharing their co-authored book, Moonwalking, a stunning exploration of class, cross-racial friendships, and two boys’ search for belonging in a city as tumultuous and beautiful as their hearts.

Zetta and Lyn are presenting their book 12:15-1:05 pm in the Ogden Nash Pavilion. MCPS School Library Media Specialist, Joela Paik, will be moderating the discussion. Their presentation will be immediately followed by a book signing.

I hope you will enjoy my interview with Zetta and Lyn.

What is your writing space like?

Lyn: The most unusual feature of my writing space is a giant LEGO town that I’ve been working on for 15 years. It features buildings in the LEGO Modulars series that I built according to the instructions, ones that I’ve modified to suit the needs of the town (such as adding extra floors to several of the buildings), and my original creations that I’ve designed to fit seamlessly into the display. Some of the minifigures in my town look like characters in my various books and are set up to portray scenes in those books. I have a vignette that includes JJ from Moonwalking, even though he leaves his own LEGO pieces behind when he moves from a Long Island suburb to his grandmother’s home in Brooklyn because he doesn’t have the space and has become obsessed with Joe Strummer and The Clash instead. 

Lyn’s Amazing LEGO Town – photo provided by the author.

Zetta: I tend to write all over my apartment even though I do have a designated office that’s bright and sunny (and purple!). I bought an adjustable desk so I can sit or stand when working, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I mostly sit at my desk for Zooms since the bookcase behind me shows off my dragon collection and my latest titles. By noon, I’ve usually moved into the living room—it has a bay window that lets in lots of light, and I can see and hear all the birds in the shared garden. I just moved to Chicago last fall so I’m still getting to know my neighborhood. Since writing for me is 70% dreaming, I spend a fair bit of time gazing out the window, or walking by the lake, or visiting the nearby Japanese garden to gather my thoughts and hear my characters’ voices.

How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?

Zetta: I trust librarians to pair young readers with the right book! I think Moonwalking will have broad appeal because of the alternating viewpoints and different backgrounds of the two main characters. Verse novels are often great entry points for reluctant readers so I hope poetry fans find our book but also folks who might think poetry isn’t for them (poetry is for everyone!). I’ve seen a lot of art in the libraries I’ve visited so it would be great to have a display with work by local graffiti artists and, of course, images of tagged trains from 1980s NYC and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lyn has already assembled The Clash playlists so maybe library websites could make those tracks available to patrons.

What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your book?

Zetta: I tried to create an entire village in Moonwalking and I hope readers will think about their own communities in new ways after reading our book. JJ and Pie seem like opposites but when you go beneath the surface, there are enough similarities to sustain a connection. Pie wants more from his life, he’s outgrowing his childhood friends, and his teacher is nourishing his interest in art. For JJ, playing an instrument is a way to express himself and connect to the themes of resistance in punk music. Things were kind of hectic at home when I was Pie’s age so I hope kids dealing with family drama realize they’re allowed to BE kids and can search for and find adults in their community who can provide the help they need.

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

Lyn: Like JJ, I was not diagnosed as autistic when I was in school, and I didn’t understand why I was bullied and it was so hard for me to make and keep friends. I had a whole lot of other diagnoses that tried to explain, for instance, why I never looked people in the eye, so I wore an eyepatch for months and had to do exercises that never worked. I never had a problem focusing when I read books, but eye-to-eye contact intimidated me. I also experienced selective mutism, and in fourth grade stopped speaking in school altogether for about three months. That time of being too terrified to speak, even if I wanted to, is what inspired JJ’s invisibility when he goes to public school for the first time.
What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your book?   

Lyn: I love the way David Cooper evokes early 1980s Williamsburg, pre-gentrification, with the Domino Sugar factory, the Williamsburg Bridge, the lights of Manhattan, and the graffiti murals on the sides of buildings. One can see the inspiration for the cover in Zetta/Pie’s powerful poems “Bomb” and “Sugarland” right at the beginning, and they set the tone for everything that comes after.

What has surprised you most about the characters in your book?

Lyn: The most surprising thing for me was how different from me JJ turned out to be, even though we’re both autistic and experience the same confusion and fear in new situations. There’s a saying, “When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person,” and it’s true! Kiara in my earlier middle grade novel Rogue was a more autobiographical protagonist, with incidents lifted from my life, but JJ’s life, abilities, and interests are different. My parents gave me music lessons, and I hated them, but JJ embraces music as a way of communicating what he can’t express in words. Except for brief episodes of selective mutism, I was highly verbal and an A student in school. I didn’t really experience what JJ does as a struggling C student until I was out in the workplace and realized that exceptional academic skills don’t always lead to success outside of school.

Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?

Zetta: My books don’t always get reviewed but I think the most meaningful feedback definitely comes from young readers and parents or educators who are sharing books with kids. I often hear from parents who express gratitude for the books I write because like me, they remember all too well how it felt to grow up not seeing yourself in the stories you loved. Teachers tell me that students with little interest in reading became more engaged after finding one of my books—even going on to write their own story. Awards are nice and my career in kid lit started with the Lee & Low New Voices Honor Award for Bird, but so many excellent books never get that sort of recognition…it’s nice to have shiny stickers on the cover of your book but what matters most to me is that my stories resonate with a broad range of readers.

What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?

Lyn: This festival is a first for me. I’ve always been on the other side of the table, listening to the authors’ presentations and hoping to meet them and get my books signed. I look forward to meeting young readers and their families, talking to them about verse novels, how Zetta and I came to write this book, and my process for creating a protagonist on the autism spectrum who is very different from me even though I’m also autistic. I’m especially eager to be at the Gaithersburg Book Festival because the pandemic has isolated us for the past two years and canceled most in-person book events. While going out in public can be stressful for me, I don’t do well with isolation either. It’s too easy for me to hole up with my LEGO town and let my hard-won social skills wither.

I hope you will come to Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st to meet these two authors!

Zetta Elliott is a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels and stories for children. Her poetry has been published in “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices,” and her picture book, “Bird,” won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Her latest book is “Moonwalking.” She lives in West Philadelphia.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is an author, teacher and librarian. Her latest book is “Moonwalking.” As an adult, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and delves into her diagnosis often in her writing. Lyn received her Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and edited the journal “MultiCultural Review” for 16 years. In 2012, she received my Masters in Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in New York City.

Read Alouds & Lunch Doodles

In these days of COVID-19 and wanting to help my students find comfort in hearing (and seeing) their school librarian read to them, I created The Creative Librarian YouTube channel [note: these are now unlisted]and have been regularly posting videos on it.  I know many educators and administrators around the United States are doing the same thing, and it is so heartwarming to see how this is helping bring our communities together (virtually).  I have also been overjoyed to see how many authors and illustrators are creating blog posts, videos, and additional activities for their readers.

Just a few  of them are below:

Happy reading, viewing, listening, and creating!

Omu’s Thick, Red Stew

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to include music and movement in my lessons – especially for my primary grades.   This year’s JumpStart Read for the Record picture book selection, Thank  you, Omu! written and illustrated by Oge Mora had a wonderful music and movement circle time activity for my prekindergarten and kindergarten students. 

I printed and laminated enough of the veggies for a whole class, and brought in a plastic pot and spoon for them to drop the veggies in as we sang and I stirred (and they pantomimed) Stir, Stir, Stir the Stew. Singing and moving to If You’re Thankful and You Know It brought out lots of smiles and laughter among the kids (and adults) in the library.

My first graders explored adjectives that described Omu, drew a picture of her, and wrote a sentence using lots of adjectives. With my second graders, they also explored adjectives to describe her stew, and wrote a sentence about it in addition to drawing and writing about Omu.

As I always do when there is one, I shared the author’s note, as well as a few (there are many!) of the awards the author has received because of her beautiful work. 

I was first introduced to this book when Matthew Winner interviewed Oge Mora on his Children’s Book Podcast in 2018.   This debut picture book was written in homage to Oge’s grandmother’s generous spirit (and her tasty stew).  The beautiful illustrations help the reader to see how the scent of Omu’s thick, red stew pulls her neighbors together as a community.  Omu’s giving spirit is returned to her in a special way at the end of the story.

I sent home a copy of the Thank You, Omu! Activity Guide for Families, in both English and Spanish and encouraged my students to ask their families to cook a big pot of their favorite family recipe and share it with their neighbors.    I hope they did!

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

 

Awesome & Amazing!

I am turning the Big 5-0 in April (where does the time go?!), and have decided my word of the year is ‘spectacular’.  On December 31st, when I look back on my year, I want to describe 2016 as SPECTACULAR!   I challenged my 4th & 5th grade students to pick their word for 2016, and created a Wordle word cloud with their answers.  Awesome and amazing were the most popular words, but I loved the creativity of some of my students when they listed fantabulous, specialistic, and sparkelicious!

2016wordle7As the Creative Librarian, I try to bring creativity into my library, and part of my creativity comes out in my bulletin boards and book spine art!

 
Check out my Bulletin Boards and Book Displays Pinterest board for more examples!

Coding is as easy as 1-2-3-click!

 

csedlogo15

As a lifelong learner, my goal is to learn something new every day, and to inspire my students to do the same.

hour of code banner

Celebrating Computer Science Education Week each year is one of the highlights of the school year for my students.  Each December we participate in the Hour of Code and learn beginning computer programming by coding games such as Angry Bird, Frozen, or Flappy Bird.  Hour of Code often uses Blocky which is a visual programming tool where students click blocks together to write code. To my students delight, Hour of Code added a Star Wars programming game and a Minecraft programming game this year.   Hour of Code encourages students to challenge themselves, work collaboratively, and explore computer science in a fun and engaging way.Hour of Code 2015 (6)

We were thrilled this year to be spotlighted in Montgomery County Public Schools’ MCPS Moment – to view the video, click here. My students did an amazing job during the filming!

Hour of Code 2015 (28)

If you are interested in giving your students the opportunity to explore computer programming, consider some of the following sites.

Blockly Games is a series of educational games that teach programming. It is designed for children who have not had prior experience with computer programming.

Other beginning programming educational websites that use Blockly are listed below (Courtesy Google Developers):

 

Blockly Games

Games for tomorrow’s programmers.

App Inventor

IDE for Android apps from MIT.

Code.org

K-12 computer science.

OzoBlockly

Programming line-following robots.

Wonder Workshop

Robots for play and education.

Open Roberta

Programming Lego EV3 robots.

Gamefroot

Make, play and share games.

Gameblox

Introduction to Game Design from MIT.

Made with Code

Encouraging girls to code.

scriptr.io

Powering your Internet of Things.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go this Summer!

Oh the places you'll go

I would like to thank my students, their parents, and the entire Flower Hill staff for a fabulous first year at Flower Hill Elementary School! We’ve learned a lot, had many adventures and had fun, too, and I am looking forward to another great year beginning in (late) August!

I came across an interesting article in the Washington Post, written by Deb Werrlein, an adjunct professor of English, and include an excerpt here, and link to the full article.  In it she says, “A few weeks ago, my son and I finished reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63: A Novel.” The unusual part is the fact my son will be 18 years old in less than a month. I also read with his sister, who is 14. I didn’t plan to read aloud with my kids for this long. It just happened. As a former adjunct English professor who tutors students with dyslexia, I am an ardent lover of literature. Our home is packed with magazines and novels for all interests and ages. But these days, having a parent who loves and promotes books is not always enough. Reading competes with busy sports schedules, homework, and the ever powerful screens that dominate our kids’ lives. My kids have trouble saying no to the incessant flow of Netflix entertainment that draws them away from books. While they love a good story, they are not bookworms the way I was as a kid. Consequently, I discovered early that reading together encouraged an activity that my kids may have skipped altogether. It’s well known that reading aloud benefits infants, toddlers and emerging readers. Aside from introducing children to a love of literature and storytelling, reading exposes them to written language, which differs from the spoken word. Writing contains more description and typically adheres to more formal grammatical structures than speech. When you choose books that exceed your child’s independent reading level, you promote language acquisition, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension. These benefits foster literacy in young people, but the pluses don’t diminish just because the kids grow up. When we finally turned the last page, I was sad for the end of an era. My son will graduate this June and leave for college in August. But I’m so grateful for the stacks of books and memories we’ve made over the years. From “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” to the Magic Treehouse series, to classics like “Huckleberry Finn,” to fantasy series like Harry Potter, to dramas like “Ordinary People,” and of course, to Stephen King, we’ve shared a lot. Many parents already understand it’s never too early to start reading with their kids.—and it can never go on too long. Reading aloud isn’t only about teaching literacy, it’s about sharing stories, and we can do that at any age. So if you’ve already got a good reading ritual going, don’t stop. And if not, consider plowing through some of that summer reading list out loud. You never know what you might discover together.”

I encourage everyone to read this summer, and for inspiration, provide links to several book lists below:

For more family reading-together ideas, be sure to check out Matthew Winner’s “Let’s Get Busy” podcast!

Wishing you many fun summer adventures through books!

Melissa