April Fools Hijinx, TLA, Free Stuff, Oh My!

In what section of the library can you get bitten by a snake?

What does a prank-loving author like me do when she’s booked for fourth-grade expository writing workshops on April Fool’s Day? Why, prank the librarian (sorry, David!) and infuse the workshops with a few shenanigans, of course. It was great fun to model the stages of a new essay with the prank-filled day as the topic itself. I find that there’s less wiggling and eye-rolling when I can spark students’ imaginations or tender memories, or when I can tickle funny bones during lessons about writing concepts. Connecting on an emotional or sensory level allows greater resonance and recall when we discuss topic sentences, anecdotes, and transitions. For students, there’s nothing quite like hearing writing lessons from authors themselves, even when the content mirrors their teachers’ lessons. The magic of school visits is in the synergy between book creators, educators, and the students. I hope you’ll find a way to bring an author to your school or library.

The Texas Bluebonnet Award Nomination Was a Thrill!

Having Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness on half a dozen 2018-19 state award lists was a thrill in every possible way. Ending that nomination year as the guest author at the Temple ISD Bluebonnet Extravaganza and the Round Rock ISD Battle of the Bluebonnet Books was a downright honor. I wish I had photos from all of these events. I managed to snag a couple from my hometown Battle. I’m mighty proud and fond of the Round Rock ISD librarians pictured below and ALL library professionals. One of the great benefits of the Bluebonnet nomination was the chance to establish new friendships.

While my home state schools and libraries often share with me the ways in which Step Right Up has been part of the celebrations and curriculum, I occasionally hear of other states’ book award events doing similarly wonderful things to inspire young readers, as with this Vigo County elementary school in Indiana. Thank you, literacy champions!

Does your school lack the funding for an author visit? Here are some resources for you.

Let’s Meet at #TXLA19!

This year’s Texas Library Association conference will be close to home for me, and I sure hope to see you there.

Though my 2019 STEAM-infused book, King of the Tightrope: When The Great Blondin Ruled Niagara doesn’t release until October 1st, Peachtree Publishing has arranged to have a limited number of advance reader copies for TLA attendees. Even I haven’t seen them yet! Stop by the Peachtree Booth #2648 on Wednesday (11:00-11:45) for this special signing. Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Wordswhich was recently named an NCSS Notable Book and has become a useful text in character education units, will be available at the same time. I have two other signings where I will sign all of my books (Tuesday at 3:30 and Wednesday at 2:30 at the SCBWI booth #2530), plus a presentation, a panel, and speed dating. Whew! You can see my full conference schedule here. Let’s meet! Bonus for those who show up for my signings—sweet treats and a chance to win free books!

I’m co-teaching a picture book biography workshop for the Highlights Foundation with author/illustrator Don Tate on October, 2019. And my summer online classes will soon be announced. Click here for more information.
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