Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Quiet Book


Do you ever pick up a book and wish you thought of that idea? Thats how I felt when I picked up The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, at a store this weekend. Oh what a sweet little book. The poetic text describes all the different kinds of quiet... there is the quiet of not wanting to scare away a little bird, and the quiet right before you yell surprise. The characters are soft and round and they really look quiet. I would have loved this book as a kid and I can see it being really useful in a classroom- after all kids know all about how to be loud. I think this book will help them appreciate the joy of quiet too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I likt yors books vare muh

One of the best parts of school visits is going through the thank you letters afterwards. They are beginning to arrive from last week's trip.

Check out these hip rollerskating foxes:



On the back of this one it says "I likt yors books vare muh":



One packet included some Abigail coloring sheets (you can download them here), I like this kid's abstract approach:



And of course there is always at least one big letter from the whole class:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Furball Friday

The windows are open, the windows are open!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back North

Last week was the busiest I've had in awhile! As I mentioned in my last post, I was traveling down South to give school visits as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book and a few other lovely book gatherings. I am from Virginia, so its always fun to go back there and visit family and friends while I have some book fun. And of course its encouraging to see the first signs of spring that have not yet made their way to Massachusetts:



I had the pleasure of speaking to both little kiddos and teachers... the week began at James Madison University speaking to their kidlit class, taught by the amazing Joan Kindig. Teachers always have such great questions and are so polite, enthusiastic, and fun to talk to, truly its one of my favorite groups to visit.

Then I began my week of visiting little ones. One school I went to was having a "book-in" on the day of my visit. Everyone came to school in pajamas, ate chocolate chip pancakes and waffles, and laid around reading books all day (sounds like a good time to me!). The campus was composed largely of log cabins in the woods and had the most adorable little library I've ever seen. Don't you just want to curl up in one of those rocking chairs and read all afternoon?



Here I am drawing a soccer playing dragon, as suggested by my very cute audience of K-3rd graders:


In my slideshow I start by showing a pic of me drawing as a little kid:


Then I show them all the cats in my house growing up, which inspired me to make up animal stories:


The week finished off at the New Jersey Annual Kindergarten Teacher's spring conference, where they had a "go green" theme, and thus brought me in to talk about What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? A Green Activity Book About Reuse. I had a lot of fun walking through how this book evolved, and what the book making process is like. I went over my favorite art activities from my years spent teaching, such as painting with "texture paintbrushes" and making paper by hand:





Then I described how these led to the activities with reused materials I made up for Old Red Shoe, such as the flip-flop activity:




And of course what you can do with that old red shoe:


These teachers just blew me away with their creativity... they collected 20 pairs of old red shoes and made centerpieces for each of the lunch tables, with green chrysanthemums, that looked like this:




And a decoration for the podium (Dorothy shoes!):


Groups of teachers presented their own recycling activity ideas, including this tri-fold board with ideas about how to combine recycling with math activities:


There were recycling songs with Woodsy the owl (Smokey the Bear's sidekick, remember?) sung bravely for the group:


One teacher made a ring toss with an old soda bottle, an Edible Arrangements box, and some reused tinfoil:


There was also a hockey game made from a pizza box and laundry detergent bottle tops (genius!):


And another favorite, a bowling set made from milk jugs and a tinfoil ball:


Thanks to everyone who made the week so much fun!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Old Red Shoe painting in progress movie

This week I am in Virginia on a whirlwind tour of school visits and presentations to teachers. As part of a talk I'm giving for Kindergarten teachers, I put together this painting-in-progress movie of an illustration from What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? (similar to the work-in-progress posts you see on my blog). It is so hard to explain how an illustration evolves from sketch to finish, it is so much easier to show...




Check out my first painting-in-progress movie for Priscilla here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting ready

Next week I'm headed to Virginia and New Jersey for some book talk fun. In one week I will give 4 school visits as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, 1 college lecture at James Madison University, two presentations at the New Jersey Association of Kindergarten Educator's spring conference, and attend a fabulous book party. A busy week for sure.

To get ready I've printed bunches of school visit brochures to give out to teachers, bookmarks to give out to kids, and just made this new book plate design:


Sometimes schools don't have all the books they've ordered when I come for a visit, or there is not time to sign all the copies at an event... so I these are for those who want a signed book but didn't get one.

Do you have a copy of one of my books and want it signed? If so just send me an email (and then a self addressed stamped envelope) and I'll send you one of these!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Greta painting finished

Continued from last week.





Rally for MA Libraries tomorrow!

From the press release:

Massachusetts library supporters will gather at the State House at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 to rally against the impact of drastic funding reductions to the Commonwealth’s libraries. The Governor’s proposed FY11 budget for the state library budget is a 37.2% cut from FY2009. The rally is sponsored by the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) and Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) whose libraries are struggling to survive and onslaught of budget cuts in municipal and statewide funding at the same time that demand for library services continues to escalate sharply statewide. Services that are threatened by budget cuts include:

* Regional Library Systems, which coordinate the delivery of millions of library books, CDs and DVDS to residents and school libraries of the Commonwealth, and provide electronic research materials integral to learning and scholarship.

* Access to technology that is used more now than ever as so many residents have lost jobs and cannot afford computer and Internet resources. Schools also rely heavily on the informational databases provided by MBLC.

* Literacy programs that empower immigrants through language instruction along with strong school and academic libraries that foster learning, support curriculum, and materials for a growing English as a Second Language population. Library sponsored Homework Centers for students of all ages and abilities. Story hours for toddlers and children, summer reading programs and educational programs for residents of all ages.

* The Commonwealth’s Talking Book Libraries are the “public” libraries for 22,000 active users who are legally blind, or physically unable to use printed books. The Talking Book Library in Worcester and the Perkins Talking Book and Machine Lending Agency are in the midst of a historic transition of talking books from cassette tape to the new digital talking books.

Use of our libraries is at an all time high, with public library borrowing of materials increasing for the 10th consecutive year in 2009, with more than 57 million items transported across the state through regional delivery services.

Please join us at the State House on March 9th to rally for the survival of libraries!

Krista McLeod and Jackie Rafferty, Co-Chairs MLA Legislative Committee
Judi Paradis and Sandy Kelly, MSLA Legislative and Advocacy Chairs

Read more here.

(Via Mitali Perkins)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Greta painting in progress






I'll put up the rest next week!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A wedding weekend in Salem

I've just returned from the most lovely weekend, attending Grace and Alex's wedding in Salem, MA. Being the talented lady that Grace is, just about everything was handmade. There were hand painted paper cranes:



Hand cut papel picado:



And amazing cupcakes topped in little portraits of each guest! Here are me and Bruno, as cupcakes: