Archive for the ‘Authors’ category

Quirky and Unique

January 23, 2014

Kate DiCamillo is an immensely talented author. The Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor Book are among many of the awards she has received. DiCamillo seems to have the innate ability to know exactly how to create a work that will suck readers into her story and keep them there until the very last page. No wonder she was chosen to be the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature!

I just finished reading Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, a chapter book, written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell. This book has received a lot of buzz. Could there be another award on the horizon for Kate?

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The characters in Flora & Ulysses jump off the pages with their quirky uniqueness. There’s Flora, a cynic, Ulysses, a superhero squirrel, Flora’s mom who’s immersed in writing romance novels, Flora’s dad who is a bit odd, Mrs. Tickham, the next door neighbor, and her great-nephew, William Spiver, who says he’s suffering from temporary blindness. As the story unfolds, DiCamillo cleverly weaves plot and characters together to keep readers emotionally involved and longing for more. Comic book elements add to enjoyment of this skillfully written book that garnered starred reviews and became a New York Times best-seller!

The ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced on Monday, January 27. Will Kate DiCamillo do it again?

Jesse Klausmeier: Creative Author, Creative Book

June 20, 2013

When someone says “open this little book,” do it – especially when it’s Jesse Klausmeier talking to you!


Open This Little Book, published by Chronicle Books, is a charming picture book written by the very talented Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by the equally talented Suzy Lee.

Last Friday, Jesse was at the local library for an author presentation. Her beaming smile and warm personality made everyone feel welcome.


Jesse launched her program by having the audience  join her in singing her favorite song – the theme song from “Reading Rainbow.”  She watched this program as a young child which helped instill her love of reading. Jesse dedicated her book to her parents, grandparents, and LeVar Burton, host of “Reading Rainbow.”


Open This Little Book is based on a book Jesse wrote when she was five years old. Thanks to her teacher parents and her grandmother, Jesse learned to love reading and writing books at a very young age. At bedtime Jesse wanted more than just one story read to her so she devised a clever way to entice her parents into reading more. She placed small books inside a larger book. When her parents opened the larger book – surprise – there were more books to read. Open This Little Book is like that. There are books within a book! Each character, Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear, and Giant, has his own book.


Jesse read her book to us and then got the youngsters in the audience involved. As she read, a child would play a different instrument to represent each character.


Then she had everyone take a closer look at the book and Suzy Lee’s illustrations. Jesse read the book again and had a different set of children use a prop that went along with each character. They sipped tea, tipped a hat, looked at the time, carried an umbrella, and waved a giant hand.


Included in Jesse’s presentation were tidbits about each character’s size as compared to the size of each book inside. She spoke about the problem and solution in the story and commented about the end pages.

During the Q & A time, a little girl presented Jesse with a book she had made about how to write a book. It had excellent advice!


And one little boy offered up a very profound question:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Open This Little Book is a MUST HAVE book. It received two starred reviews and won a 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Though spare in text, this book opens a whole new world of sharing, making new friends, and reading. Suzy Lee’s delightful illustrations fill the pages with clever details and surprises.

Jesse is a person to watch. She’s intelligent, talented, and witty. Her presentation was informative and entertaining. She displayed a wonderful sense of humor as she kept the adorable, roly-poly youngsters and adults actively involved. I give Jesse Klausmeier and her book a starred review! I can’t wait to see more.

Where to find Jesse Klausmeier:

The ALA Conference in Chicago at the Chronicle booth signing books on Saturday, June 29th from 12:30 – 1:30

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL on Sunday, June 30th along with Chris Raschka, Molly Idle, and Loren Long at 1:00



Twitter: @JesseKlausmeier

Read Across America!

March 1, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and it’s the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day! It’s a day to celebrate rollicking rhymes, wacky characters, and a reading revolution created by a man who knew how to entice and entertain young readers with a limited amount of words and a tremendous imagination.

When it came to writing, this is what Dr. Seuss had to say:  “Writing simply means no dependent clauses, no dangling things, no flashbacks, and keeping the subject near the predicate. We throw in as many fresh words we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don’t always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it vital and alive…. Virtually every page is a cliffhanger–you’ve got to force them to turn it.”


On this Wednesday,

pick up a book.

Turn the pages.

Have a good look.

Read it alone.

Read to others.

Read to sisters.

Read to brothers.

Read it wacky

like Dr. Seuss.

Read it! Read it!

To Mother Goose.

But don’t forget,

read every day. 

Dr. Seuss would

like it that way!

While you’re at it, try one of these activities to celebrate Read Across America Day.

Dress up as favorite story character.

Do a Reader’s Theater from a Dr. Seuss book.

Do a choral reading.

Invite parents to school to read or be read to by students.

Invite a local celebrity to read to students.

Choose a favorite author and do a biographical report.

Choose a favorite book and do an oral report.

Create a bookmark.

Make an advertisement for your favorite book.

Do an acrostic poem with the words, I LOVE READING or READING ROCKS.

Play charades, using famous children’s book titles.

Match authors with book titles.

Have a book exchange.

Collect “gently used” books to be given to a charity.

Create a class poem, using Dr. Seuss characters. And…

Don’t forget to wish Dr. Seuss Happy Birthday, and thank him for his creative genius!

Dr. Seuss quotes for readers and writers: 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“Be awesome! Be a book nut.”

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.”

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

 “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Also check out:  Seussville

Competing With The Pope

July 30, 2010

“You know how it is in the kid’s book world; it’s just bunny eat bunny.” Anonymous

Imagine you’re a children’s book editor going through the slush pile and you come across a manuscript written by Benedetto XVI—the Pope! You can’t say no to a submission from the Pope. He’s God’s right-hand man. Since the Pope is infallible, the manuscript is flawless. Editing will be a cinch. This is a windfall from heaven—a miracle for your publishing house. Give His Holiness a book contract!   

Competition in the book industry is brutal. Writers not only compete with one another, but they compete with well-known celebrities who decide to branch out and try their hand at writing children’s books. Some books are well done. Others are not. No matter what, a celebrity name almost guarantees a publishing house a good sell. And now the Pope has written a children’s book. How does a writer compete with the Pope? He’s a celebrity above and beyond all celebrities.   

Gli Amici di Gesù (THE FRIENDS OF JESUS) was published this spring by the Milanese publishing house Piccola Casa Editrice in Italian. It’s soon to be published in English and Spanish.

I have no doubt that it’s an excellent book. After all, it comes from the top, and the Pope is well-versed in his subject matter. I wonder what will come next.


May 28, 2010

“Humor is the oxygen of children’s literature.” — Sid Fleischman

In the May/June issue of the “SCBWI Bulletin,” there is a very touching piece remembering author, Sid Fleischman, who passed away in March. I was never lucky enough to meet Sid Fleischman, but I’ve read his books and have used them in my classroom and library. The humor in his books is infectious. The Newbery Award novel, The Whipping Boy, plus Jim Ugly, and the McBroom series are books that keep my students coming back for more.  

It was said Sid Fleischman was dedicated to his work. He placed great value on his writing time, but he also made time to help and advise aspiring writers. I’ve heard other authors speak of him with words of praise. He was a great role model – talented and generous with his time.   

For some reason I see my favorite authors as timeless – just like their books. When one of them passes away, I am not only sad, but sometimes surprised by their age. It’s a reality check on the passage of time.

I’ve been lucky to be a part of a talented community of writers who willingly share their time and expertise. It is my hope that all writers remember the qualities that make superior authors and mentors as exemplified by Sid Fleischman.

One last thought:

Like Sid Fleischman I write humor. I am wondering if my picture book, which sold in 2006, will ever make it into bookstores. If not, I can foresee my eulogy:  She’s still waiting – in another place – to have her picture book published.

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