Vermont Author Visits Our School

On November 17, Morrisville, Vermont resident Grannie Snow visited Newport Town School. Snow is the author of a series of picture books entitled “The Adventures of Silas and Opal”, the third of which was just released a few months ago and the fourth of which is on its way. The books feature Snow’s cats Silas and Opal, the first of whom was adopted from an animal shelter and the second of whom was adopted from a house full of cats.

Snow read her books to and discussed them with an assembly of kindergarten through 3rd graders. After her presentation, Amy Mariotti of the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter in Orleans presented about the importance of animal adoption.

Grannie Snow reading to K-3
Grannie Snow reading to grades K-3
Amelia Mariotti- Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter
Amy of PMFAS presenting to grades K-3

After the assembly, Snow visited 4th grade’s library class and spoke to them about self-publishing.

Grannie Snow reading with 4th grade
Snow with 4th grade

Snow did the same with a class of 5th and 6th graders.

We were so pleased to have Grannie Snow visit and wish her all the best in her future endeavors! For more information about the series or to have Grannie visit your school or library, visit her website.

 

The Day the Crayons Came Home

I met the fabulous Drew Daywalt at the Red Clover Conference this year (his book The Day the Crayons Quit won the 2015 award) and was able to buy his new book The Day the Crayons Came Home. He even signed it for us!

I decided to read this to my 3rd grade class today and they LOVED it. I find that Daywalt’s books have a humor that appeals more to older kids and adults, so I thought trying it out with 3rd grade would be a good experiment. And it definitely was a success!

In the book, different crayons that have been lost by their young owner write postcards to him, beseeching him to rescue them from under the couch, from the basement, and elsewhere! To complement this, I printed out postcard templates and cut them out and had my class write a postcard to someone in the building. Most of them chose our principal and her dog, but others chose their teacher and one chose their sibling (aww!) Here we are holding the book and our postcards.

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Of course, we tweeted our photo to Drew Daywalt (@drewdaywalt) to show him how much we loved his book!

This is a great activity to do with 3rd graders if you have a good 30 minutes. Good luck!

Russell the Sheep

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Rob Scotton’s Russell the Sheep is an amazing book to read with kindergarteners. The language is just right for them and the pictures are very silly. In a continuing effort to incorporate math throughout the curriculum, I used this book to practice counting. Russell counts sheep in the book to try and fall asleep, so I had kindergarteners count the sheep as I handed out blank pictures of sheep for them to color. Each sheep had a number on it, and I displayed them in order in my library. The kids loved having their own number and getting to color (of course.) Just an idea that worked well with my kids!

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Red Clover Conference 2015

On October 7, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Red Clover Award Conference in Fairlee, Vermont. The Red Clover Award is an honor bestowed by Vermont schoolchildren on the best picture book of the year– out of a batch of ten very strong nominees! Click on the above link to see the RC website and this year’s nominees!

I visited the Lake Morey Resort for the DCF Conference earlier in the year, and it was so wonderful to be back. It is absolutely beautiful and the staff is amazing. Here I am enjoying the wonderful weather by the lake!

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The keynote address was by the winner of this year’s Red Clover Award. Drew Daywalt wrote the incredible The Day the Crayons Quit, and his keynote was just as engaging. He spoke about his time in college under the mentorship of Jack Gantos (!!!) and how Mr. Gantos knew early on that he would be a children’s author. However, he was dead set on a career in Hollywood, and Mr. Daywalt spent several years in California. He was a PA on the set of “Hocus Pocus”, a screen-writer for several projects, and a director. But when Crayons (a side project) was finally accepted after years of being shopped around to publishers, Drew (and Jack Gantos of course) knew that he was set on a career in children’s literature.

I bought his second book The Day the Crayons Came Home for my school and for myself. Here is a photo of the title page, which he signed for me!

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My first workshop was about using technology to work with the RC books. The presenter showed us the RC website where there are plenty of online activities to do with kids. We also got to Skype with author David Ezra Stein, who wrote one of this year’s nominees I’m My Own Dog.

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My second workshop was with one of my favorite library people Sharon Colvin, the Youth Services Director at the Vermont Department of Libraries. She had found a plethora of activities to do with the RC books! You can see them at the VT Dept. of Libraries site here, as well as some educator resources. Some of my favorites were creating a storytelling jar with prompts for writing (Miss Brooks’ Story Nook) and a family tree out of a paper towel tube and popsicle sticks (My Grandfather’s Coat.) Sharon also gave me three free books at this event! You can see them below.

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The endnote address was by Vermont poet Geoff Hewitt. He recited some of his poetry and gave a lot of suggestions for promoting poetry and literacy in schools: the entire school, even staff, should write non-stop for seven minutes each day, it is okay to break the rules when it comes to writing poetry, and providing lots of prompts.

I had a great time at the conference and learned so much. I can’t wait to share these books with my students!

P.K. Pinkerton and the Pistol-Packing Widows by Caroline Lawrence

I really like P.K. Pinkerton and the Pistol-Packing Widows. The boy was 12 years old and his name is P.K. Pinkerton (private eye.) In the beginning of the book he was mugged and abducted by a lady named Opal Blossom who had found out he was a private eye. She asked P.K. to spy on her fiance who was P.K.’s best friend, Poker Face Jace. Jace had taught him everything there was to know about poker. I shouldn’t tell too much about the book. Hope you like it!

5 out of 5 stars

Review by Lillian, 4th Grader

2015 DCF Conference

On May 1, I attended the 2015 Dorothy Canfield Fisher (DCF) Award Conference at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the resort is truly stunning.

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The DCF Award is one of three book awards in Vermont whose winner is chosen by Vermont students. The Red Clover Book Award features picture books, and the Green Mountain Book Award is for books appropriate for high school students.

The DCF Award is the lovely middle child, and grades 4-8 are invited to read at least five of thirty nominated books (selected by a special committee) to be eligible to vote for their favorite title. This year’s winner was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.

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I serve grades K-6, so I have Red Clover and DCF books in my library. I tend to focus more of my energy on DCF books because grades 4-6 are perfectly poised to embrace the competitive side of the award, challenging themselves and each other to read as many books as possible. Nominated books span a variety of genres, including non-fiction, so almost any reader can find something on the list to interest them!

The conference is organized by the Vermont Department of Libraries, and this year they brought two incredible speakers for the keynote and endnote addresses. The first activity in the morning was the keynote address, and it was given by Steve Sheinkin, author of several historical non-fiction books for children. His newest book, The Port Chicago 50, is on the 2015-2016 DCF list, and he spoke to us about how that project came to be.

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In essence, he worked with an eminent African-American history scholar at Berkeley to recreate the story of fifty African-American sailors in the US Navy who were tried for mutiny in 1944 when they refused to return to work after a ship exploded on their base. The scholar had shared the story in his own book, but Sheinkin worked hard to share the sailors’ stories and make the story accessible to children. Shenkin calls this refusal to work by the sailors an early step in the Civil Rights movement, because the sailors were acknowledging that they were given such an unnecessarily dangerous job because of their skin color. Seeing as how they weren’t even allowed on ships because of segregation…well, they weren’t wrong.

I enjoyed Sheinkin’s talk so much, especially because he shared the archival work he did to prepare to write. I am an archives nerd! 🙂 And, he signed my school’s copy of The Port Chicago 50!

After Sheinkin’s talk I attended a session during which members of the DCF selection committee shared the nominees from the 2015-2016 list by giving a quick book talk. You can find that list here on the Vermont Department of Libraries’s website. Right now I am reading one of the books from this list, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. Featuring two gay fathers and their four adopted children, the family dynamics are unique but the characters are completely familiar and relatable. I am throughly enjoying it!

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After lunch I participated in a session in which I learned about some activities that I could do with students that centered around the books on the 2015-2016 list. Those “Rapid To-Dos” will be on the Vermont Department of Libraries site soon, and I will share that when it is posted! I have a paper copy available for anyone who is interested.

Finally, the endnote speaker! Tim Federle, the author of Better Nate than Ever (on the 2014-2015 DCF list) and a few other books for children (and one for adults called Tequila Mockingbird) was absolutely AMAZING. Hilarious, insightful, entertaining–everything you could want. He shared eight key pieces of advice with us, all along telling us about his past as a dancer and choreographer and his journey to become a writer. Here are those pieces of advice:

1. The setbacks of your life become the most interesting part of your story.

2. Being nice is better than being the best (or even talented!)

3. Perfectionism is overrated in performance; pushing through is underrated.

4. There’s no anti-bully zone in life.

5. Follow your whims as much as you follow your dreams.

6. Confidence is overrated; courage is underrated.

7. Everyone is always starting over.

8. You never know when you’ll meet the person- or the book- that’ll change your life.

He cited The Right to Write by Julia Cameron and Mindset by Carol Dweck as extremely influential to him. He also said something that has stuck with me for the past couple of days (I even made it a Facebook status!)—

“We don’t just need diverse books, we need diverse book-keepers.”

As I build my library’s inventory and do activities with my students, I hope to live up to this!

I learned so much at this conference and I cannot wait to share these new books with my students. Contact me if you would like to know more about what I learned!

Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month! You can find out more about this important month here!

To celebrate, I will be reading poetry books with students during library class as well as working with them to complete at least one poem to potentially be shared at our Poetry Slam (sometime during the last week of April.) We will also be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, where students carry a slip of paper with a poem on it in their pocket during the school day. This can be shared with friends and teachers whenever there’s time!

I wanted to share some of the amazing poetry books we have in our library that you can use for story time or lessons. Of course, we have Shel Silverstein’s and Dr. Seuss’ books available, but I am going to highlight some lesser known titles. I will indicate the books I am using during library class with asterisks. Most of these titles will be available in the plastic bin on the book return cube! Happy Poetry Month!

  • ***Mammalabilia by Douglas Florian ——- Poems and paintings of mammals in their natural habitats!
  • Button Up! by Alice Schertle ——— Poems and paintings of animals getting dressed!
  • This is the Dream by Diane Z. Shore & Jessica Alexander ——- A book-length poem about the Civil Rights Movement.
  • All We Needed to Say: Poems about School from Tanya and Sophie by Marilyn Singer
  • The Great Frog Race and Other Poems by Kristine O’ Connell George ———- Poems about farm life.
  • ***Canto Familiar by Gary Soto ——– Poems about Mexican culture and family life.
  • Poetry for Young People series ———– We have Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.
  • ***Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry by Brian P. Cleary
  • Several books written and edited by Bruce Lansky (If Pigs Could Fly and Other Deep Thoughts, Kids Pick the Funniest Poems: Poems That Make Kids Laugh, Rolling in the Aisles: A Collection of Laugh-Out-Loud Poems, and My Dog Ate My Homework!)
  • Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits
  • ***The Book of Pigericks by Arnold Lobel ———- Limericks about pigs around the United States!
  • Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town by Diane Siebert ———— The rise and fall of a mining town in the west.
  • Asana and the Animals: A Book of Pet Poems by Grace Nichols
  • Awful Ogre’s Awful Day by Jack Prelutsky
  • ***If Not For the Cat by Jack Prelutsky ————— Haikus!
  • Novels in verse by Helen Frost — Diamond Willow, Hidden, and Salt (one of this year’s DCF books)
  • A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms selected by Paul B. Janeczko

As far as “how-to” books, I have How to Write Poetry (which is a Scholastic Guide by Paul B. Janeczko) and a teacher’s guide called Poetry Projects. Those will be behind my desk– just ask!

Happy Poetry Month! ❤