On July 28, 2018, I'll be at the Sterlingfest Art & Music Fair in Sterling Heights, Michigan at the SCBWI booth along with several other Michigan-based authors and illustrators. Check out the whole list of local authors here. We'll have our signed books for sale, local restaurants will have food, there's a midway with rides and a soundstage with live music. I can't wait! Festivities begin at 10 AM.
Many, many people I meet tell me about their dreams to write a book, and if it's a book for children, I always refer them to SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), an organization I've been a part of for several years. SCBWI is a global nonprofit organization, with local chapters, that encourages both professional and aspiring writers and illustrators to be informed, focus on craft, and find a critique group. Besides offering conferences and networking with people in the children's book industry, SCBWI also celebrates the books written and/or illustrated by its members.
SCBWI-Michigan, my local chapter, has many upcoming books to celebrate. Take a look at these books coming out this summer and fall. Thanks to Jodi McKay for the image.
Because I write books for children, that means I also read many, many books for children. Many people ask me for recommendations, and so, about eight years ago, I started a blog featuring my favourite books--young adult/teen, middle grade and picture books. Lately, I've been reviewing more picture books than anything else, but I'm still reading everything. I love to discover great books, and I only post about books that I highly recommend.
Also, I'm always sure to point out via tags if an author or illustrator is Canadian (because I'm Canadian!) or if they are from Michigan (I live in Michigan!). So, please, stop by An Education in Books Blog--Must-read books for kids, and leave a comment. See you there!
Because my background is in education and special education, and I do some contract work for an educational foundation, I'm always interested in the latest research. Lately, at work, we've been talking about something called executive function, which is extremely important in early childhood. It's an umbrella term that refers to the brain's ability to plan, organize, strategize, pay attention and remember details. And, it turns out that imaginative play, especially in early childhood, may help develop executive function!
Whatever you want to call it--pretend play, make-believe, fantasy play, imaginative play--it's important for the kids in your life. So pull out the dress-up clothes, put on that stethoscope, or grab those pots and pans and mix up a huge batch of imaginative play.
One of my favourite bookstores, Books & Mortar, is supporting their local Grand Rapids Public School with this nifty promotion.
The sign reads "Please support the Congress Elementary Book Drive. Receive 10% off your entire purchase when you buy one or more books to donate to the classroom libraries at Congress Elementary--right in our backyard!
"Every book has been hand-picked and requested by the teaching staff and will be infinitely treasured as resources that help inspire and empower our next generation of leaders! THANK YOU!"
One of my favourite parts of this book drive is that it involves the teachers at Congress Elementary. Not only have the teachers chosen the books that fit their classroom library needs, but they've been hosting story times at the bookstore. Having been a teacher at GRPS myself, I know that when you are asked what you need to make your classroom better, it makes all the difference. Thank you, Books & Mortar, for being the community bookstore that inspires teachers and students.
Today, in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, I read SALAD PIE with some classrooms in Wisconsin and Texas. One of the classes had questions about the book binding process. I tried to answer as well as I could. Some of the questions were tough: Do they sew the pages together by hand? I thought there was a machine that did it. Why don't the pages fall out? Well, they use glue, too, I think. So, I found this video from Chirp Books that shows books being made in a factory. I hope it answers many more of those questions!
Also, a really fun picture book about the book making process is Mac Barnett and Adam Rex's How This Book Was Made.
Happy World Read Aloud Day! And thank you to all of those children, teachers and librarians that hosted me via Skype or Google Hangouts. It was a pleasure meeting you.
World Read Aloud Day is February 1, 2018. Every year, LitWorld promotes this event to read aloud and change the world.
Kate Messner provides a list of authors that are willing to Skype with classrooms for free in honour of World Read Aloud Day, and I'm one of those authors. If you'd like a free Skype visit, contact me via my contact form. And visit Kate Messner's blog to find out more information about the event and more authors who are doing Skype visits.
SCBWI-Michigan's Merry Mitten event at The Bookman in Grand Haven: We braved the snowy roads for the cozy bookstore along the lakeshore.
The YA authors had a cozy fireplace (you can see the snow piling up outside).
We picture book makers had a cozy corner surrounded by local books.
Thanks to everyone who came out, and to The Bookman, for a beautiful store and lovely welcome! Happy Holidays, everyone.
Saturday, I went to the Frenchtown-Dixie Library in Monroe County, Michigan, for the 5th annual Children's Author Meet and Greet. What an event! I was greeted at the door by Maggie, a local middle schooler, reader and event photographer, and then, I saw this picture book display:
Amy Nielander and I shared a table, full of picture books and activities.
From picture book to YA novels, there were many Michigan authors and illustrators to meet.
Of course, Frenchtown-Dixie library patrons had great ideas for their Salad Pie recipe:
And in closing, the whole group with books, posing for a photo. Thank you to everyone at Frenchtown-Dixie Library for a warm and welcoming event!
On Saturday, November 4 from 12 - 3 pm, a host of Michigan authors will be at the Frenchtown Dixie Library in Monroe County. Come and meet us all! Buy books and get them signed!
Enjoy an Autumn afternoon with 12 amazing authors of books for
children of all ages! Come meet and greet our authors, buy some of their books and spend a couple of hours with us.
Our Guest Authors Include:
• Ruth McNally Barshaw
• Wendy BooydeGraaff
• Kelly DiPucchio
• Debbie Diesen
• Tim Dziobak
• Kathy Higgs-Coulthard
• Dena Jayson
• Kristin Bartley Lenz
• Sierra Masson
• Heather Smith Meloche
• Amy Nielander
• Jordan J. Scavone
Frenchtown Dixie Branch Library2881 Nadeau Rd, Monroe, Michigan 48162
Last Sunday, the 15th annual Kerrytown Bookfest took place in the market space in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The crowd was impressive as were the many vendors. We saw books, new, used and rare; a retro-looking ice cream truck serving treats; made-in-Michigan artwork, paper cutouts and cards.
Last stop was the SCBWI booth, where lots of Michigan authors and illustrators were signing books (including me!).
Kerrytown Bookfest is this Sunday, September 10, 2017 in Ann Arbor. Several Michigan authors and illustrators will be signing books at the SCBWI tent, and Nicola's Books will be selling our books. Below is a selection of the titles we'll have there. Click on the book cover to find more out about the author and/or illustrator.
Michigan has many authors and illustrators who are available and willing to speak at events. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has a nifty website to search for speakers, and the Michigan chapter put together this flyer to find authors and/or illustrators of children's books in specific areas of the state.
One special class in Grand Rapids read HUNDREDS of books in March for reading month, and I got to visit them. We talked about what we love, and how that gets to be part of the stories we write. I love the outdoors, imagination, books, and food. All of those elements can be found in SALAD PIE.
Then we made East Leonard Salad Pie. Everyone wrote down what they would put in Salad Pie, and we put it into a big bowl, and mixed it up.
Here's the recipe for East Leonard Salad Pie, up close. Good thing it's a pretend pie!
Keep reading and writing, East Leonard!
Spring is the perfect time of year to get outside and play. While I highly recommend making Salad Pie with all of those twigs and blossom petals blowing around, I also recommend reading several books about the outdoors. I wrote this post about going outside no matter what the weather, season, or time of day on Nerdy Book Club a few months ago, and it features some of my favourite picture books. Have a look!
On March 16, I visited Hopkins Elementary to share presentations on how I became a writer, the writing process, and SALAD PIE with grades K through 5. Each grade level had a slightly different focus. Here is the third grade class:
The younger elementary grade levels learned about imagination and applied their imaginations to creating a pretend Hopkins Salad Pie.
We mixed up all of their contributions in this big salad bowl and came out with a lovely concoction. Here is the recipe for Hopkins Salad Pie:
Grades four and five discussed the writing process and we came up with the idea for some creative stories, complete with the beginnings of a plot so they could run back to class and write a first draft about. . . Eating Asparagus Ice Cream while in a museum at midnight? Brussel Sprout Brownies while contemplating turning into a unicorn? Tomato Donuts on the roof of the school? I'd love to see how some of these stories end up after revisions.
Thank you for inviting me, Hopkins Elementary, and may your imagination lead the way to many more exciting stories.