Thursday, October 23, 2014

M.A.M.E. Conference

I enjoyed meeting library people and authors from around Michigan today at the Michigan Association for Media in Education Conference, held in Ann Arbor.  Here are a few portraits:
Sandra Novacek and Cynthia Furlong Reynolds signed books after speaking in the Cavalcade of Authors. 

Marquin Parks talked about the importance of humor in writing.
Library Media Specialist Kariana Gonzales organized the Cavalcade of Authors, programs to introduce Michigan writers to conference attendees.

It was great to have a signing time for Elena's Story and talk with the Cherry Lake Publishing/Sleeping Bear Press folks at their booth...and they had cider, ginger cookies and apples to share with customers--Michigan treats to go with Michigan-published books.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kerrytown BookFest 2014

The 2014 Kerrytown BookFest gave out awards Friday evening for the winners of the annual high-school cover contest--scroll down to September 6 to see them on the festival's Facebook page. Art students were asked to re-imagine the cover for Holling Clancy Holling's classic Paddle-to-the-Sea, published in 1941. Out of about 80 entries, eight were chosen as finalists (see them here), and Mariah Rossi's storm-tossed-ship-and-canoe painting placed first. I was one of three judges, and we were inspired by the imagination of the contestants.

The Sunday festival, whose theme was Celebrating the Art of the Book, started with a children's-book breakfast organized by author Shanda Trent, and went on to numerous programs. Here are some samples:
Bookseller Nicola Rooney, receiving the Community Book Award, answers a question from BookFest president Robin Agnew.
Ruth McNally Barshaw, author of the Ellie McDoodle books, gave a drawing workshop for kids.
Author Deborah Diesen interviews Caldecott winners Brian Floca, Philip and Erin Stead, and Chris Raschka.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rolling Down Front Street

The weather was perfect for the National Cherry Festival's Junior Royale Parade held last Thursday in Traverse City. Over two dozen elementary schools constructed floats with Michigan children's books as the theme. From in front of beloved indie store Horizon Books, we watched the results of imagination, handicraft, and lots of work by area families. The floats were also scheduled for Saturday's Cherry Royale Parade. Here are some of my favorites:
Westwoods Elementary School showed the story of Sheep in a Jeep. Behind the jeep: the tree that caused some trouble, with a sign on it: "JEEP for SALE--Cheap!" The first-grade prince & princess wave from the towing Jeep.

Leslie Helakoski's Big Chickens in their feathery finery.
Gloria Whelan's Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five-Mile Poem celebrates a Michigan wonder.
The unreliable narrator of Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs waves to the crowd.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating Michigan Children's Authors

The National Cherry Festival will be held in Traverse City July 4 through 12, with concerts, cherry pie eating & cherry pit spit contests, lots of doings, and on July 10 and 12, parades. Elementary schools are building floats on the theme of Celebrating Michigan Children’s Authors. I'm looking forward to the Sheep in a Jeep float rolling down Front Street.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Claire's Day

Over 700 Toledo-area kids who have made progress in reading got to choose a book as part of the 13th annual Claire's Day book festival, and there were book signings, readings, and activities all day. The festival honors Claire Lynsey Rubini, a book-lover who died at age ten. Some pictures from the day, with some of the authors and illustrators:
Outdoor activities at the Maumee branch library  

Barry Gott, illustrator of the Dino-sports books by Lisa Wheeler

Margaret McMullan, author of historical novels of coming of age in Mississippi
Rebecca Barnhouse,whose novels have a medieval background
Bryan Chick, author of the Secret Zoo books

Dandi Daley Mackall's books cover a wide range.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Indies First Story Time Photos

I couldn't be at the Book Beat in Oak Park, MI for its Indies First Story Time on Saturday, but my Sheep in a Jeep was there, read by Detroit's own Jean Alicia Elster! Look here for photos of the Book Beat's stellar group of authors and illustrators.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Indies First Story Time on Saturday, May 17

Author Kate DiCamillo has started a nationwide storyfest, happening this Saturday to celebrate independent bookstores during Children's Book Week. In my part of Michigan, Shanda Trent and Shutta Crum will be reading at Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, and the Book Beat in Oak Park will have a star-studded cast, including Christopher Paul Curtis, Gloria Whelan, Wong Herbert Yee, Jean Alicia Elster, Kathryn Madeline Allen, Matt Faulkner, and Tracy Gallup. 

Check out the story time at your local bookseller here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Claire's Day

This Saturday I will be at Claire's Day, "a celebration of life, authors, illustrators and reading excellence" in Maumee, Ohio. This children's book festival honors the memory of Claire Lynsey Rubini, who was 10 when she died, but lives on as books are shared with children from the Toledo area. I'm looking forward to the activities.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Healing Arts of Nature

Poster copyright University of Michigan
The University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital and its Nichols Arboretum tried something new this week--celebrating how nature can help healing. The "Arb" is across the street from the hospital and welcomes hospital visitors and the general public to explore its varied terrain and plantings. Two programs, first in the Mott Family Center, then in the 19th-century house that greets people at the Arb's Washington Heights entrance, focused on children's books that draw upon nature, as well as soundscapes made by U-M Residential College students depicting walks in the Arb.
      Tracy Gallup read from her lyrical books about fascination with natural objects and brought some remarkable stones for children to handle. Hope Vestergaard read her Hillside Lullaby, in which animals settle down to sleep. I read Sheep Take a Hike and Raccoon Tune. Julie Piazza of Mott and Elizabeth Goodenough of the Residential College spoke about the collaboration of the hospital and arboretum. Cultural geographer Anja Bieri explained how Soundscapes of Childhood, digital audio walks, were produced in Goodenough's 2012 course, Landscapes of Childhood. Arboretum Director Bob Grese invited families to come and use their imaginations in the Arb.
      Kids got to make their own books at the Family Center, and a young lady who came to the Arb program gave us her own creations, each made of a glossy green leaf, a stem, and tiny blossoms. I'll be back to take a hike--the Peony Garden lies just beyond this gate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Greetings & Readings staff

Time got away from me (taxes! computers! and visiting the beautiful countryside of Maryland), but I want to celebrate the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Conference held earlier this month, where I had the honor to meet educators from all over the state. I loved listening to other authors and illustrators tell about themselves, too. Hats off to conference chair Gayle Glick, who worked for well over a year to put it together, and to the many people who worked with her.
     It's great to meet independent booksellers, too--here's a picture of the folks from Greetings & Readings, who furnished books at the conference.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Start Your Engines!

Cover reproduced with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Curious George Takes a Train, Farmer Dale's Red Pickup Truck, Katy and the Big Snow--these are great company for Sheep in a Jeep in the recently-released collection Start Your Engines: 5-Minute Stories. The stories range from a realistic portrait to zany fantasies, and features lots of rhythmic language (plus truck jokes). If trucks, trains, and construction gear rev your kids up, treat them to this book. The sheep are tickled to hang out with monster trucks and train-riding dinosaurs--though based on their previous driving performance, someone should probably hide the keys from my flock.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Winter of Our Discontent about to be over, after a record-breaking number of days with below-zero temps, and head-high heaps of snow.

Frozen in place by solidified slush,
pelted by snow and the harsh polar vortex,
can a muse come awake from a hibernal hush,
and thaw out a verse from a half-gelid cortex?

It's time for March Madness in the poetry tournament at thinkkidthink.