Friday, February 28, 2014

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake - A Sneak Peek, Review and Giveaway

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake (Eleanor #3)
by Julie Sternberg; Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Amulet Books, March 18, 2014

Disclaimer: Book and Artwork was provided as part of Sneak Peek Book Promotion. Book opinions are all my own.

Description from GoodReads:

I did a mean thing.
A very mean thing.
I HATE that I did it.
But I did.
This is worse than
carrot juice on a cupcake
or a wasp on my pillow
or a dress that’s too tight at the neck.

In the third installment from the team who created Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger, Eleanor’s relationship with her best friend, Pearl, experiences its first growing pains. When a glamorous new student transfers to school, at first Eleanor’s excited about the possibility of a new friend. But when Pearl is assigned to be the new girl’s buddy, Eleanor fears she can’t compete. To make matters worse, Eleanor’s been chosen for the lead role in the springtime musical, which means she has to sing a solo in front of the entire school!

From overcoming stage fright to having a secret crush, young readers will relate to Eleanor as she navigates the bittersweet waters of growing up.

My thoughts on this book:
Note: Though there are no spoilers for Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake, there are references to things that happened in the first two books. 

Since I first read, Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, I have been a fan of Julie Sternberg's books.  She has a very simple but spot on way of capturing important childhood experiences.  In the first book, we meet Eleanor as she is adjusting to her babysitter moving away, and beginning third grade.  Eleanor is now in fourth grade.  She has adjusted to a new babysitter, survived summer camp, and now must face some new childhood challenges.  

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake will resonate with readers who have ever had to tackle new challenges.  Eleanor finds herself in the starring role in a school play where she even needs to perform a solo.  Sternberg provides readers with someone they can truly relate to and a means of exploring the feelings that accompany facing something that seems really scary.
copyright © 2014 by Matthew Cordell

However, the book does not just focus on the issues of performing in a play, and stage fright.  There is also the issue of friendship and what happens when someone moves into school or into a class mid-year.  Eleanor and Pearl are best friends, who spend a few afternoons a week together.  When Ainsley moves to their school from Orlando, Pearl is assigned to be her buddy.  Sternberg helps readers understand changes in friendships, the importance of treating one another kindly, and maintaining someone's trust in ways that children will understand. 

copyright © 2014 by Matthew Cordell

Though I loved Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, I think Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake may have come close to being my new favorite.  Maybe I need to learn a little something from Eleanor, Pearl, and Ainsley about favorites.  If you are looking for a fun classroom read aloud for second or third grade, I would highly suggest giving this one a read through.  Additionally, this series is one of my "go to" referrals for teachers looking for chapter books for young readers moving beyond early readers and first chapter books.   

About the author:
Julie Sternberg received her MFA in writing for children from the New School. She is the author of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

About the illustrator: Matthew Cordell is the illustrator of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, Like Bug Juice on a Burger, Bat and Rat, and Trouble Gum. He lives outside Chicago.

Complete the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win a copy of all three Eleanor books - Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, Like Bug Juice on a Burger, and Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. Open to those 13 years and older with US mailing addresses.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Celebrating 45 Years

2014 marks the 45th anniversary of Eric Carle’s pre-school classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The anniversary will be officially celebrated on the annual “Very Hungry Caterpillar Day” which takes place every year on the first day of spring (March 20th). 

Since its publication in 1969, 36 million copies of the book have sold worldwide and it has been published in 55 languages. That year the book was also named one of the best children’s books of the year by The New York Times, and it has since become a beloved, must-own classic. Today, every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world, a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold.

Eric Carle ( is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. He has illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, and more than 100 million copies of his books have sold around the world. In 2002, Eric and his wife Barbara opened The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art ( in Amherst, MA, a 40,000 square foot space dedicated to inspiring a love of art among children by introducing them to picture book art by renowned artists from around the world.

My Memories of The Very Hungry Caterpillar....

When I first started teaching, I created several lessons around Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I re-created the caterpillar and all of the food that the caterpillar consumes so that children could retell the story using the various pieces.  We also talked about the lifecycle of the butterfly and watched as classroom silkworms formed cocoons and then eventually were transformed into moths. I can honestly say that I have probably read The Very Hungry Caterpillar every year (and multiple times in a year) over the past 20+ years of my teaching career.  It does not matter how many times that I have read it to a group of students or to individual children this book never looses its magic.  I, also, have never tired of watching new teachers discover the work of Eric Carle and to also create their own lessons using The Very Hungry Caterpillar.   

In 2010, I had the chance to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Don't you just love this great car (see photo above) that is right outside of the entrance? In addition to the art galleries inside which contain some of Eric Carle's original artwork, as well as, the art of other well known picture book artists, there is a beautiful library/storyroom, and a very awesome art room that allows both children and adults to create their own collage art. 

Eric Carle and his books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar will always be among some of my favorite books for young children.

Celebrate Very Hungry Caterpillar day by sharing this wonderful tale with a friend!
One (1) winner receives:
·          Two limited edition anniversary totes
·          Two copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar board book (1 to keep, 1 to share)!

Prizing courtesy of Penguin
Giveaway open to US mailing addresses only

Visit the official Penguin site for lots of fun stuff and follow what's happening with the #veryhungrycaterpillar on twitter.

Complete the Rafflecopter below in order to enter for a chance to win the prize pack.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Weeds Blog Tour, Interview & Giveaway

Today, I have something a little bit different for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday.  I am celebrating weeds. Yes, those things that grow when you don't even try, and more often you spend time pulling them up and tossing them away rather than enjoying them.  Here is Cindy Jenson-Elliott to tell us about her new book, Weeds Find a Way

by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; Illustrated by Carolyn Fisher
Beach Lane Books (February 4, 2014)

Thank you Cindy Jenson-Elliott for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing about your new book and some other fun stuff. 

Thank you so much for reading my book and being interested in weeds! The natural world needs a voice. The Lorax spoke for the trees, and I am speaking for the weeds!

I love that you created a book about weeds and that you actually celebrate weeds in the book. Do you have a “green thumb” or instead, like me, the only thing I can successfully grow is weeds? 

I don’t think anyone really has a green thumb. Actually, that term kind of bothers me, because it assumes that either you can or can’t grow plants. Given the right support, anyone can grow plants. For me, the support I need is automatic watering, since it doesn’t rain much here. My system isn’t fancy—just a timer on a hose bib. But it gives people the impression that I do have a green thumb. But don’t knock it if you can grow weeds! It means you have soil that they like, water they like, and are letting things go a bit wild. Not a bad thing.

What inspired you to write about weeds? 

As a school garden teacher, I am often faced with weeds. The first year our garden was up and running, I felt despair over the weeds, and began the hard work of pulling them out—until I realized what a valuable resource I was wasting! I could be teaching about the weeds, not just composting them! I began to appreciate their tenacity and ingenuity—the very qualities we like to inspire in our students! I went to the library to get a book and prepare a lesson, and discovered there were no books for kids about weeds. So, after contemplating just what I wanted people to appreciate about weeds, I wrote the book.

It seems that every author or book lover has a book story, the one book that turned you into a true reader. What is your story?

I fell in love with reading when I read a little book called Annie Oakley, Little Sure Shot. It had an orange cover and was one of the books in the Childhoods of Famous Americans series. I remember where I was standing when I realized that something had changed for me. I was in the basement of my family’s house in suburban Philadelphia, and was struck by—love! It was one of those heart-opening moments when you realize you LOVE something. I loved the story so much. I was IN the story, heart, soul and mind. After that, I could not stop reading. When we moved the next year to the desert of California, I would trek through the 120 degree sun to the library and get stacks of the orange books. I could not believe they had them all the way across the country—a shelf of orange books about kids I could relate to who had lived long ago.

When you think about your journey from writer to published author, who are some of the people that your credit for influencing your work? 

I was very influenced by Mrs. Barnhouse, my 2nd grade teacher at Gladwyne Elementary School in Gladwyne, PA. She introduced me to poetry, and I decided I wanted to be a poet. Of course, no one was a poet that I knew of, so I didn’t believe it was possible. In fact, I didn’t believe it until I saw this book on the shelf of a bookstore for the first time last week. What a miracle! I was also very influenced by my mother, who would take my hand-written stories and poems, from age eight onward, and type them up on a portable manual typewriter, so that I would feel like a real author, with my words in print. She was amazing. In college—Bowdoin College, in Maine—I was on a wonderful literary magazine, The Quill, and my fellow writers and editors would sit around a dinner table and hash over the week’s submissions. It was a rich, funny community of writers and learners, and allowed me to try out writing different things in a safe space. Emotional safety is so important to writers! Poet Steve Kowitt, with whom I took a poetry class many years ago, made writing poetry an exploration of the world. Diane D’Andrade, a former editor at Harcourt who used to teach writing courses at UCSD extension, really kicked my butt and made me write and write and write again each time I took her class. And now, my students influence me. Their enthusiasm for books of all kinds inspires me every day!

If you can spend the day with a character or characters from any book (that you did not write), who would it be and what would you do?

I know this sounds totally nerdy, but I would love to go to Narnia and hang out with Lucy and her siblings and learn to do archery and sword fighting, to run and leap and explore the world. Or, I would love to meet and travel with Lafcadio Hearn. The book about him, Wandering Ghost, is one of my favorite biographies I’ve ever read. It’s an amazing book about an amazing person.

Any new projects that you are working on that you can share with us? 

I am writing about a couple of subjects that I have encountered in my own neighborhood—natural history subjects—one about the ocean, as I am a distance ocean swimmer—and one closer to home.

What has been the funniest or most special question that a student has asked you whether in a letter or at a school visit? 

The thing I like best as both a teacher—I teach every day—and as a writer is when kids share what they have written as colleagues. We are all on this journey of learning to write together, and kids really understand that they are learning and I am also learning. One thing I’m sure every writer has been asked is if we have to color in and type up each book. A good question!

What is currently in your to-read pile?  

On my to read pile is an adult book: Quiet—about introverts. My father gave it to me, as we are both in that special club. I am also reading, at the recommendation of several students last year (and like everyone else on the planet) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I also have a stack of books about Chinese dynasties, as I have a contract to write a book about them for an educational publisher. Also, Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward—which is out soon, and I can’t wait to see it! And I am re-reading my favorite book for working with kids, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Check out the official book trailer for Weeds Find a Way:

For more information about Cindy Jenson-Elliott:
She is the author of fourteen books of nonfiction and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and educational publishers. She is a teacher and environmental educator with an MA in education and a passion for connecting children with nature. In her free time, she enjoys swimming in the ocean and spending time outdoors in San Diego, where she lives and gardens with her family of four humans and three Buff Orpington chickens. Visit her at

To check out all of the stops on her Weeds Find a Way blog tour:

Mon, Feb 24
Growing with Science
Tues, Feb 25
As They Grow Up
Wed, Feb 26
Kid Lit Frenzy
Thurs, Feb 27
Fri, Feb 28
Children's Book Review
Mon, Mar 3
Let's Go Chipper!
Tues, Mar 4
Just a Little Creativity
Wed, Mar 5
Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Mar 6
5 Minutes for Books
Fri, Mar 7
Archimedes Notebook

One lucky reader has a chance to win a copy of Weeds Find A Way by completing the Rafflecopter below.  Please US mailing addresses only and you must be 13 or older to enter.

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Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Storm Watcher Blog Tour: Guest Post from Maria V. Snyder & Giveaway

The Storm Watcher Blog Tour

Feb 19 - Mar 5, 2014

Join us for interviews, guest posts, reviews, and giveaways!

Thank you Alethea and Maria for organizing the blog tour and sponsoring the giveaway!

Time to Geek Out! 
 By Maria V. Snyder

An aspect of writing that I've discovered to be lots of fun is research. I'd never would have thought that when I was in high school and college, searching through microfilms and smelly ancient books for a research paper on a topic I had no interest in. Back then I hated the R word :). But now I can research things that I'm interested in and the knowledge can be incorporated into my novels. Bonus!

My research is done in one of three ways: the Internet, books/magazines, and hands-on. If possible, I'll do as much hands-on as I can. There is no better way to learn and translate that experience for the reader. Some examples of my hand-on research are learning how to ride a horse, how to fence, and how to blow glass. The books I use are usually juvenile non-fiction because I usually only need a basic understanding of the subject (for example bats) and they have big color pictures, which help when I'm describing things (like bats) in the story. Doing research has also sparked ideas for stories or helped with a plot problems. Fist pump!

However, fiction writers just can't dump in all this cool information we've learned. No that would be boring. I've learned that the needs of the story come first. I learned how to blow glass and work with molten glass after deciding Opal Cowan, my main protagonist in the Glass series would be a glass magician. She works with the equipment and the glass during the story so I needed to know how to do this the correct way. Her actions teach the readers about glass blowing. And I want to get it right. A reader once emailed me after she visited Murano, Italy (known for their glass artists). She went on a tour, but already knew everything from reading my books. Score!

With Storm Watcher I had a great deal of prior knowledge. I'd earned my BS degree in Meteorology from Penn State University and I worked at a dog kennel for four months. Again, I didn't want to dump in all this technical knowledge about storms and weather instruments and put my readers to sleep. Instead, the main protagonist, Luke is a weather geek and he mentions a few facts to his friend during a bad thunderstorm. He also builds weather instruments for a science fair project, which helps him re-connect with his father. Awww...

One of the fun things for me was putting together the appendix for Storm Watcher. It's called, Luke's Weather Notebook and I was able to geek out and put in a ton of cool weather information, facts, quizzes, and doodles (I drew about half of those graphics). The appendix also includes an article my sixteen-year-old daughter wrote on why hurricane's have names. Sweet!

Writers do a ton of research for their stories, and we have to be careful not to spend all our time researching and not writing. I'll research the big stuff like glass blowing first, but then I'll start writing and will make a list of research topics as I work through the story. I'm not going to stop to find out what an indigo plant looks like while I'm in the middle of writing. That's something that can be added in during revisions. Yes!

So I'm finally enjoying research and I use it as an excuse to do new things all the time. Ziplining? Research for a clan of people living in the tree canopy. Participating in a mud run? Research for a character being chased through a swamp. Photography class? Needed for a story about a fashion photographer. See how easy it is? I'd bet you can come up with a number of “research” topics, too. Boo Ya!

Storm Watcher is Maria V. Snyder's first middle grade novel.  It was released on October 19, 2013 with Leap Books.

Description from GoodReads: Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.

When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?

For more about Maria V. Snyder: website | blog | facebook | goodreads

To check out all of the interviews, guest posts, and reviews, see the schedule below...

Tour Schedule

Wed 2/19 - The Book Monsters - review & giveaway
Thu 2/20 - I Am a Reader - interview & international giveaway
Fri 2/21 - Unleashing Readers - guest post & giveaway
Mon 2/24 - Bookalicious - review & international giveaway
Tue 2/25 - Kid Lit Frenzy - guest post & giveaway
Wed 2/26 - Sharpreads - review & giveaway
Thu 2/27 - The Mod Podge Bookshelf - guest post & giveaway
Fri 2/28 - The Windy Pages - review, interview & giveaway
Mon 3/3 - Teenage Reader - review & giveaway
Tue 3/4 - Read Now Sleep Later - review & international giveaway
Wed 3/5 - The Brain Lair - review & giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of Storm Watcher and see how Maria put all of her research to use in creating this great story.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 2/24/14

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey.  Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers have adapted it to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

This past week I was a bit all over the place with my reading. I have been working on a presentation for a training that I am doing about Ezra Jack Keats.  As a result, I went to the library and took out as many of Keats books that I could find and sat down and read and re-read them (I did not list them below for sake of space).  It was interesting to read them in publication order and to begin to see things I had missed when I read them years ago.  I have learned so much about Keats and admire his skill and his stories more than ever. 

Here is what jumped out of the pile...

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton Juvenile, February 11, 2014) - This upper YA book by Andrew Smith is not for everyone and certainly not for those who are squeamish about very large insects.  However, I did find it to be brilliant and creative.

Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle (Lunch Lady #10) by Jarrett K. Krosoczka (Knopf Books, January 28, 2014) - What a fun conclusion to the Lunch Lady series. I will miss these books.

Scholastic Reader Level 2: Ugly Cute Animals by Melvin and Gilda Berger  (Scholastic, January 7, 2014)- This has a certain aww factor - seriously, ugly but cute animals?! Loved it.

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah Harrison (Dial, February 6, 2014) - Sometimes ordinary is extraordinary.  Such a cute story.

Ezra Jack Keats: A Biography with Illustrations by Dean Engel and Florence B. Freedman (Silver Moon Press, 1995) - A perfect middle grade biography on Ezra Jack Keats. I really enjoyed learning more about Keats.

Still reading...

Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson (Henry Holt, July 15, 2014) - High fantasy with solid characters and good world building.  Can't wait to get back to this one.

So, what are you reading?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Video of the Week

Normally, I leave the weekly video picks to Mr. Schu at Watch.Connect.Read but recently, I discovered a video that I needed to share.  While I was at the Scholastic Book Fairs, Principals' Advisory Board Meeting in Florida, one of the Scholastic staff shared a video with us called THE READER produced in South Africa.  He did not warn us though that we should have tissues on-hand.

Our discussions, during the meeting, were around creating independent readers.  As we watched, there were so many little things communicated about learning to read in this video.

Motivation.  Determination. Application.

Take two minutes to watch this video, and if you are like me, have the tissues handy.

Note: If you didn't know that Bell's is a Whiskey, you will have no idea about the actual focus of the commercial until the very last scene.  If you stop around 1 minute and 50 seconds, you will miss the commercial focus altogether.  I did have to hunt for a version though that did not have a warning label about drinking responsibly. Thank you to ADWeek for the write up and video.

If you are like me and watch this video multiple times, you will also note some fun details: 

* I love the scene where he is reading a graphic novel called Laugh.

* In another scene, he uses Campbell's Alphabet Soup to write out a short message to his wife.  She in turn uses magnetic alphabet letters on the refrigerator to return a message.

* I also enjoyed when he wrote the word WASH on the dirty window of the car.

To watch the behind the scenes making of the commercial, click here.

This also reminded me of the question, what is your book story?  What is the book that changed your life? Was it a gift? Did you find it in a library? At a bookstore? Did it come from a parent, relative, teacher, or friend? When did you know that you were a reader?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - #nf10for10 event

Thank you everyone for signing up for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014.  It is going to be an amazing year of sharing nonfiction books with one another.

Today, I am joining with Cathy Mere, Mandy Robek, and Julie Balen for #nf10for10 event. 

Here are the rules:
  • What:  10 nonfiction books you can't live without
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, etc.
  • When:  Wednesday, February 19th 
  • Where:  All posts will need to be linked at Write at the Edge.  Then I will move them into a jog resource during the week of the event.  

For my post, I decided to pick 10 of my favorite nonfiction picture book writers or illustrators and list my favorite nonfiction picture book that he or she has written.  The books listed below are listed in no particular order.   And there are so many wonderful authors and illustrators that were left off this list because I only had 10 slots. Here are my #nf10for10 for 2014...

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Young Children, 2011)

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (Balzer & Bray, 2011)

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson; Illustrated by Gennady Spirin (Henry Holt & Co., 2013)

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2009)

Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins (HMH Books for Young Readers 2009)

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young ; Illustrated by Nicole Wong  (Charlesbridge, 2013)

The Hive Detectives: Chronicles of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns; Photographer Ellen Harasmimowicz (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins; Illustrated by Vicky White (Candlewick, 2011)

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone; Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Henry Holt & Co., 2013)

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews below, and if you participated in #nf10for10, please remember to link it up with the jog as well.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Slice of Life - Affirmation Through TED Talks #slice2014

Last summer, I was hoping to participate regularly in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers.  Then life got in the way.  I keep hoping to post regularly.  At this point, I seem to post when I have something that feels important.  If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

When I was a child, I quickly learned that being an extrovert was preferred over being an introvert.  Not only preferred but that it was somehow better to be outgoing than introspective and that there was something inherently wrong with me as a result of my personality.  At the time, it wasn't that anyone specifically commented to me that being an extrovert was better, but it certainly was something I could sense being communicated by those around me.  And surprisingly, the subtle message from childhood became a much more explicit message at various times in my career. 

Over the years, I would watch extroverts in social situations and truly felt pangs of envy. I discovered that if I had a very specific role or task I could manage in a large, unstructured setting.  If I could create a smaller community within a larger one then I could be more successful.  And despite, years and years of experience, I still dislike large social situations.  Give me a small dinner party with a few friends over a large social mixer any day. 

Recently, while I was having dinner with Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer, and Reading in the Wild), she mentioned that she was reading Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and suggested that I also watch the TED Talk by Brown entitled Listening to Shame.  This led me to watch Susan Cain's Ted Talk about The Power of Introverts.

Take a minute to watch Brené Brown's Ted Talk - Listening to Shame.

Now take a few more minutes and watch the TED Talk - The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking 

These two TED Talks resonated with me.  They also made me think about the types of messages that we send to students on a daily basis. Are they messages that affirm or messages that convey that a child is inadequate or broken because of how they approach life or process information? Do we lift up or tear down?

One of the things that jumped out of Cain's talk was the following:

"And the vast majority of teachers reports believing that the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert, even though introverts actually get better grades and are more knowledgeable, according to research." 

Now let's couple it with a quote from Brown's talk:

"Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is "I am bad." Guilt is "I did something bad."

Listening to the two presentations back to back made those statements fall into place in a way that they might not have if I listened to them at separate times.  As teachers, are we communicating a message of shame to students who have a different learning style or preference?  We need to remember that for all of our students it is important to communicate that they are valuable and that their personalities and preferences are not wrong.  In a world where cooperative work is prized, can we create a place for both introverts and extroverts in the process? Can we celebrate that all personalities and learning preferences are valued?

Thank you Donalyn for recommending The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.  I have downloaded the e-book and look forward to reading it.  And thank you Jen Vincent for sending me a copy of Quiet by Susan Cain. Your recognition and affirmation of my personal style is much appreciated.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day - Celebrate with A Few Good Books

Happy Valentine's Day!  Instead of a Valentine's Day Card, I am sharing some of my favorite (new and older) books to celebrate the holiday. 

Here are just a few titles to celebrate the holiday, and since Valentine's Day is more than cards, and flowers and candied hearts, I have included some of my favorite friendship books, too.  Because isn't Valentine's Day really about telling a friend how much they mean to you?

Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine by Wong Herbert Yee 
(HMH Books for Young Readers, December 2013)

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon (Walker Children, December 2013)

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPuchio; Illustrated by Scott Campbell 
(Simon & Schuster, 2011)

Love Monster by Rachel Bright (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, December 2013)

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon (Roaring Brook Press, October 2013) 

Love Is In The Air by Jonathan Fenske (Penguin, 2012)

Forsythia and Me by Vincent X. Kirsch (Farrar, Straus, & Grioux, 2011)

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (Penguin, 2005)

(Disney-Hyperion, 2012)

Oliver by Birgitta Sif (Candlewick Press, 2012)

 What are your favorite Valentine's Day books or books about friends?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Magic Mistake (Oh My Godmother #2) Giveaway

by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Disney-Hyperion, February 4, 2014

Description from GoodReads:
After becoming the most awkward fairy godmother ever, twelve year old Lacey Unger-Ware thought that her magical duties were done for good. In fact, she's just getting started. When Lacey is invited to attend the Godmother Academy it should be a dream come true. But to Lacey it means the total opposite: she'll have to be separated from her friends and family for a hundred years. Um, no thank you!

But this is an offer Lacey can't refuse. The fairy godmother Katarina knows that Lacey will be cursed forever if she doesn't complete the magical test. Now Lacey must find the true love for one special lady and arrange the perfect wedding before time runs out. With her best friends Sunny and Paige along to help, there's a glimmer of hope. But where's a fairy godmother to save the day when you need one? Oh, wait...

The second book in Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson's middle grade series is full of heart and charm, and Abigail Halpin's black-and-white illustrations are irresistible.

For a chance to win a copy of The Magic Mistake on GoodReads, enter here until February 17th.

Just for fun, I asked a few friends what they would ask from their fairy godmother:

"I would love it if my Fairy Godmother would help me keep me organized -- I used to be great at cleaning my room and staying on top of assignments (ok, maybe not really that last part--that was more my mother!) but now I am a complete disaster." - @frootjoos 

"That's a good one Alethea. Is this fairy godmother around all the time? Because I'd totally ask her to do my laundry every week if I could. Oh and do my dishes."  - @fishgirl182

"I think I would ask her to teach me how to ice skate. And sew and cook. I could go on......." - @kimberlybuggie

 "And make me a cake - preferably something with chocolate in it." - @fishgirl182

And a few more wishes...

"I would ask her to take me to the Bahamas and babysit.  By the way, does she have an assistant?" - Kathy, mom & social worker

"I would ask her where has she been all my life? And would she be my life coach, and personal assistant." - Myra, mom and drama educator

Here were the responses I got from my facebook page - a mix of light-hearted wishes to some very serious ones:

I then asked the resident kids at my house what they thought:

"I would ask for help with school work, and buying gifts for my family."  - Jax, Age 13

"I would ask her to help me clean my room and also, to find me some panda things." - KK, Age 7

In the comment section, let us know what you would ask of a fairy godmother.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, stop by Once Upon a Time this Sunday, February 16, 2014 at  2 p.m. for the Launch Party of The Magic Mistake

For more information about Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson check out the links below:

Enter to win one of two copies of The Magic Mistake (Oh My Godmother #2) by using the rafflecopter form below.  Winner must have an US or Canadian mailing address and be 13 years or older.
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