This time from School Library Journal. I’m brimming with pride!
“’Truman was small, the size of a donut—a small donut—and every bit as sweet’ accurately describes a turtle who has a very close relationship with his Sarah. The tiny reptile knows something’s up when Sarah gives him extra green beans, buttons up a brand new sweater, takes a large backpack and leaves the apartment. Though she’s left him before, he’s unsettled by the activities of the morning, especially when he sees her through the window boarding a city bus. After waiting “a thousand hours,” and she still hasn’t returned, he makes the decision to go after her. His plans on how to get out of his aquarium, leave the apartment and board a bus make for an entertaining tale of love and (temporary) loss. Charming and humorous illustrations were created using gouache, colored pencil, charcoal and brush marker and finished digitally. Tiny Truman is endearing and his adoration, concern, and determination are reflected on his little face. VERDICT A heartwarming tale of devotion that will be enjoyed by children and their adults.”
What a way to start the week! This review makes my heart sing. Oh, Booklist – Truman and I thank you!
“’Truman was small, the size of a donut—a small donut—and every bit as sweet.’ So begins the utterly heartwarming story of a tortoise and his girl, Sarah. Truman lives on a windowsill overlooking the big, loud city. When, one day, Sarah packs up her bag and boards a bus, Truman decides to do the impossible and go after her. He manages to escape his tank, journeying out over the couch and across the endless rug, but he finds that the world is much bigger and scarier without Sarah. Just as he prepares to go outside and board the bus, the front door opens, and Sarah returns! Children will be eager to hear what their pets go through while they’re away at school, and the uplifting story of friendship and bravery will satisfy widely. Using gouache, brush marker, charcoal, and colored pencil, Cummins has rendered in Truman a character so indisputably adorable that, coupled with Reidy’s soulful characterization, he will have readers of all ages falling in love.”
I hope your tulips are blooming, your temperatures are warming and your school year is winding down well!
I’ve been busy wrapping up my final school visits for the year and my last few bookstore stops for my picture book, PUP 681 (Macmillian/Holt/Godwin, 2/19). Then I fire up for a big summer with the release of another picture book, TRUMAN (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) – a first day of school story! – in July. Phew! It’s going to be fun!
And speaking of books …
My good friend, Boni Hamilton, is seeking contributors for her latest book. Her bio and specific request is embedded below. Please contact Boni directly if you’re interested. And feel free to mention my name.
Who’s Boni Hamilton?
Boni Hamilton combines her love for children, teaching, writing, and technology into books for teachers about improving instruction through the use of digital tools in the classroom. During two doctoral programs, Boni has focused on effective instruction in the K-12 environments. Boni’s expertise in working with culturally and linguistically diverse students comes from five years of working on a multidisciplinary team of university professors to design online learning modules for math and science teachers of multilingual students. Boni’s role ranged from finding resources and designing modules to working directly with classroom teachers as they struggled to adapt their instructional practices to better serve their multilingual students. The end result is a book to help K-12 classroom teachers effectively blend good instruction for multilingual students with thoughtful use of digital tools to increase the academic accomplishments of students who are linguistically and culturally diverse. Boni earned her Ed.D. degree from the University of Northern Colorado and Ph.D. degree from the University of Colorado Denver.
For my current book on using technology with students who are learning English as an additional language (ELL, EL, ESL, ESOL, etc.), I am looking for individuals with the following profiles to contribute to my book. There is no pay for contributions other than bragging rights and a copy of the final book. Contributions are about 500-1,000 words and focus on how a teacher or student used a digital tool, website, or device to enhance learning while supporting language development.
Types of individuals and contributions:
Classroom teachers in classrooms with diverse learners, including language learners. These contributions would be about the use of a technology device/tool or the implementation of a technology-based project that enhanced multilingual students’ ability to comprehend content, improve in language skills, or share their culture(s) with others. Examples are writing books in dual languages, using a translation dictionary, creating collaborative multimedia projects that included speaking, cross-cultural exchanges with students in other places, use of pictures to enhance comprehension, or using an online simulation for hands-on experiences (or a myriad of other ideas). Teachers could also write about using digital resources to enhance their instruction for multilinguals as in developing graphic organizers, alternative assessments, using videos, flipped classroom experiences, use of an online platform that includes audio feedback, etc.
Multilingual students who can write about their backgrounds and the digital tools they find helpful. The goal is to demonstrate the wide array of students who sit in classrooms and the importance of understanding their backgrounds in order to provide rich instruction. Also, this is where students can point out what was memorably helpful in their school experiences. Student contributions would consist of a
brief background (home country, home language, previous schooling before entering US schools, reason for being in US schools, when they entered US schools and their language level at the time of entry, parental schooling/employment [optional], and goals for adulthood [optional]),
first-year memories of being in American schools, and
digital tools that have been helpful in either gaining language skills or understanding the academic concepts in classrooms.
Specialist teachers who can highlight some aspect of working with multilingual students in regular classrooms. What digital tools can be good resources and how should they be implemented? Ideally, the focus would be one or two tools. For instance, a specialist recently told me about having students audio-record their thinking in Seesaw (https://web.seesaw.me/) and developing speaking portfolios. I’d love also at least one specialist/classroom teacher team to write about collaboration.
Anyone who is interested or who knows of a good person for me to contact can get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Virtual visits are always a treat, but they take on extra value and depth when students lead the lesson. Such was the case with Laurie Ann Moore’s Copper Hill Elementary (Ringoes, NJ) 3rd-grade class. The students’ readings of their thoughtful and personal poems and presentation of their related artwork not only made for a most-memorable 30-minute visit but also provided a perfect example of just one more way picture books can be used as powerful teaching tools!
Inspired by Light Up the Night to be Creative Communicators
by Laurie Ann Moore
As a teacher who believes in the power of using mentor texts to inspire student writing, one of my favorite projects this year involved using Jean Reidy’s beautiful book LightUp the Night. After I read the book aloud to my students, we talked about the rhythm, rhyme and mood of the prose. We shared how we all have certain places that make us feel happy and secure just like the boy in the book. We brainstormed places that make us feel this way and then each student wrote a poem about their “own little piece of the universe” with the similar rhyme scheme, rhythm and mood we enjoyed in Light Up the Night. We used a creative presentation app called Wixie by Tech4 Learning to illustrate our poems and put them together into a class slide show using Google Slides. This project was perfect for meeting ISTE standard #6, Creative Communicator- “Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.” Our work is proudly displayed on our class website for all the world to see!
What made this project extra special was that we SKYPED with Jean! Each of the students had a one on one moment to share their poem and artwork with Jean. She celebrated each student’s successes in a remarkably warm, enthusiastic and genuine way. Her words filled them (and me!) with pride. That was a day I am sure my students will remember and cherish for a long time!
Laurie Ann Moore has been an educator for 27 years and has enjoyed working with students of all ages. Her passion is technology integration in the classroom. She leads workshops and gives presentations on a variety of technology topics and works with educators inspiring them to effectively use technology in their own classrooms. Follow Laurie Ann on Twitter: @MrsMooreFRSD and see her students’ work at: http://tinyurl.com/MrsMooreCopperHill
Teachers and librarians – Check out my page just for you. There you’ll find FREE classroom resources – including Curriculum Guides linked to learning standards – as well as information on my high-energy, educational and interactive school visits.
A tiny tortoise discovers just how brave he is when his girl unexpectedly takes a bus headed away from home.
Truman, like his girl, Sarah, is quiet, “peaceful and pensive,” unlike the busy, noisy city outside their building’s window. In just the first few spreads, Reidy and Cummins manage to capture the close relationship between the girl and her pet, so it’s understandable that Truman should worry when he adds up the day’s mysterious clues: a big backpack, a large banana, a bow in Sarah’s hair, extra green beans in Truman’s dish, and, especially, Sarah boarding the No. 11 bus. He’s so worried that he decides to go after her, a daunting feat for a tortoise the size of a small doughnut. Cummins’ gouache, brush marker, charcoal, colored pencil, and digital illustrations marvelously convey both the big picture of Truman’s navigation of the house and his tortoise’s-eye view of things. And the ending, when Sarah arrives home in time to scoop him up before he slips under the front door, stuttering her amazement at his brave feats, is just right. Sarah and her mother have pale skin and straight, black hair; other city dwellers are diverse. Peaceful and pensive like Truman himself, this book charms; there’s just something uplifting and wonderful about the whole package.
Never underestimate the feats an animal will brave in order to be reunited with their loved ones. (Picture book. 4-8)
My latest book PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is based on the true story of Luna, a rescued sea otter who now lives at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. It’s a heart-filled and hopeful tale about family and love which Kirkus – in their STARRED review – calls “unabashedly adorable.”
Whether for a unit on sea otters or mammals or simply as a new addition to your literacy curriculum, my PUP 681 Curriculum and Storytime Guide offers 26 pages of ideas and activities to bring the book to life across a variety of subjects. Developed by an educator and tied to core learning standards, this free resource is my way of saying thank you for all you do. Click here to view it, download it and share it with your fellow teachers and librarians.
Would you like Autographed Book Stickers? E-mail me.
Teachers and Librarians, see my FREE resources including Virtual Visits and the PUP 681 Curriculum Guide and Storytime Kit. Or how about a school visit? Just e-mail me.
If you’re as excited about PUP 681 as I am, please help me spread the word. Here are some sample tweets to get you started:
Do you know a young reader with enough love to fill an ocean? Then they might love PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
For the young animal lover in your life, PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is a hopeful tale about family and love. It’s available now from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
PUP 681: A SEA OTTER RESCUE STORY is “unabashedly adorable” (Kirkus STARRED review) and it’s available now from author @jeanreidy and illustrator @ashleycrowley and @MacKidsBooks. https://tinyurl.com/y66q2vus
Here’s a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago. But it seems even more appropriate on the eve of World Read Aloud Day. Enjoy your reading, everyone!
Engaging the Picture Book Crowd
Whether it’s through quiet, cuddle time, conversation or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!
I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up. So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories – including their own – that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.
I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.
Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.
On the heels of a weekend stuffed full of gratitude, comes an extra dollop of good news … a bright, shiny starred review for PUP 681. “Unabashedly adorable.” Thank you, Kirkus!
“An abandoned baby sea otter is rescued and sent to live out her life in an aquarium—where she learns the deepest meaning of “family,” in this tale inspired by a real-life rescued otter pup.
‘When the moon slipped under the mist and the sun began to burn through, a tiny one opened her eyes.’ These poetic words are on the recto of a double-page spread of a pale, watercolor seascape. At the left, an immediately appealing, dazed-looking brown sea otter sits draped in seaweed. Over the next two pages, there are four more depictions of the baby, in equally adorable positions, lessening the sting of her plaintive situation. She appears near death when, in driving rain, a young woman shows up and gently bundles her into a blanket, calling the otter Pup 681. The tale is told in third person, but most of it is through the supposed thoughts and even dreams of the otter, who at one point feels so lonely she sickens. Her unnamed, sweet-faced rescuer, a woman of color, again revives her, and a fascinating otter fact is cleverly revealed. The gentle humor of the artwork and the descriptive, sometimes-rhyming text combines with excellent layout to create a compelling tale. If the ending words were describing a human’s lesson learned, they would seem mawkishly sentimental; because the lesson applies to Pup 681’s “tiny otter heart,” they simply provide appropriate closure. An author’s note and a smattering of otter facts follow.