Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Successful World Read Aloud Day

I should go back and count and figure out how many years I've been volunteering to Skype with classes on World Read Aloud Day. At least five years, probably more than that.

Today was another wonderful morning talking to students all across America. One girl asked me who my favorite character is out of all my books. I told her it's really hard to choose because my characters become kind of like my children - I love them all! But, I said, Nora in My Secret Guide to Paris is a lot like me because she really wants to go to Paris and you know, I've never been there. When I wrote the book, I did a lot of research and used Google Earth to explore the city. But guess what - in May my dream is finally going to come true because I'm going to Paris!

When I told them that, the kids spontaneously cheered for me, and it was just the happiest thing I've seen in a while. I wish I could take them all with me. But since I can't, the good news is they can read the book and visit Paris that way, just like I did when I was writing it.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A poem for this Sunday

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, November 2, 1883

photo credit:

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon and more "Girl" titled books

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill won the Newbery today! It's a beautiful book.

by Kelly Barnhill - middle grade fantasy

Here are a few other books from 2016 with "Girl" in the title off the top of my head.

By Karen Rivers - middle-grade magical realism

by Monica Hesse - young adult historical fiction

by Lisa Schroeder - middle grade fantasy
coming in paperback March 27, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Poetry Friday

Small Things Help Too

Today I fed the birds.
Sometimes the world can feel
like one horrible ball of pain.
If you're like me, you ask yourself,
what can I do?
What can I possibly do?
Some days we find big things to do.
Serve the needy.
Feed the hungry.
Give to a good cause.
As I watched the birds scamper
around the yard, eating the seeds,
my heart rate slowed,
my brain calmed
and for a moment, 
the world 
felt peaceful.
It wasn't a big thing.
Not even close.
But the change 
in my world
There's always
something we can do,
isn't there?
Today I fed the birds.
And today the birds fed me.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Is writing hard?

I'm sitting here by the fire watching the snow fall while reading a book I received for Christmas called IF YOU WANT TO WRITE: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Euland.

The description for the book online starts out like this: "For most, the hardest part of writing is overcoming the mountain self-denial that weighs upon the spirit, always threatening to extinguish those first small embers of ambition."

On Thursday, I actually had someone ask me, "Is it hard?"
"What?" I replied, wanting to make sure I understood exactly what she was asking.
"Writing a book. Is it hard?"

It's a complicated one, that question.

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
Sometimes the words flow, sometimes they don't.
Sometimes characters talk and talk and talk, sometimes they don't.
Sometimes your inner critic stays nice and quiet and sometimes she YELLS IN YOUR EAR.
Sometimes it doesn't matter that there is laundry to do and floors to mop while other times it is impossible to write a single word unless the house is spotless.
Sometimes social media isn't a distraction while most days it is impossible to stay off of it for longer than ten minutes.
Sometimes it is as joyful as walking through a field of tulips and sometimes it is as painful as going to the dentist to have a cavity filled.

So why do we do it if sometimes it is hard, or even painful? If sometimes the business side of publishing hurts so, so badly?

In IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, she speaks about a letter van Gogh wrote about the creative impulse.

"But the moment I read van Gogh's letter I knew what the creative impulse was. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way you try to show this beauty to others..."

Whenever I talk to kids in Skype visits or in-person school visits, I often get the question - why do you write? The desire to write comes from a place of love and enthusiasm, just as this author says. A love of stories. A love of books. A love of words. And a desire to share that love with the world.

Yes, sometimes writing is hard. But as the coach says in that wonderful film "A League of Their Own," that's what makes it great.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My new year's wish for you

Let us read voraciously.
Let us read widely.
Let us read because it allows us to visit new places.
Let us read to better understand the world and the people in it.
Let us read to grow empathy in our hearts and minds. 
Let us read for comfort.
Let us read for pleasure.
Let us read for the beauty of the written word.
Let us read for any reason at all.
Please...let us read.
Happy new year!

From Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel