Tad Hills Trifecta!


I’m super excited to celebrate Tad Hills today with my friends John Schu and Margie Myers-Culver. Be sure to check out their blogs and soak in the awesomeness.

My third of the trifecta is an interview with the man himself: Tad Hills.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

Here are the rules:

1. I give the interviewee 5 questions

2. They have to answer

  • 1 question with 5 sentences

  • 1 question with 4 sentences

  • 1 question with 3 sentences

  • 1 question with 2 sentences

  • 1 question with 1 sentence

3.  They get to pick which question which question to answer with each number of sentences

4. Have fun!


1. Can you tell us a little bit about your characters Duck and Goose?

Duck and Goose are two feathered friends who have lots of fun together. Sometimes they disagree and argue but, in the end, they know that they can always count on each other.


2. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?  

Most if all, I love creating characters. When I’m writing a story I spend a lot of time with them and I get to know them very well- they become my friends, part of my family.  I hear their voices in my head telling me what they want to do and say and I just write it all down. Sometimes the things I hear them say make me laugh out loud.

3. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

There are many difficult things about being a writer but I think the hardest part is just getting started. It can be very frustrating trying to think of something to write about. The harder I try, the less likely it is that I’ll find inspiration. Then, when I’m not trying to think of a story, an idea will suddenly pop into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. Just like when Rocket sniffs the gentle breeze and smells feathers and pine needles, sometimes the smallest thing can light the spark of inspiration.

 4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

 I would love to spend a day in Maine wandering around the rocky coastline and fields picking blueberries just like Sal does.


5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?  

I think it is very important for writers to understand, as Rocket discovers in Rocket Writes a Story, that stories take time and are constantly changing. This could mean rewriting your story again and again so that it is as good as it can be. It could mean not only adding words, sentences and details to your story but also taking out words, sentences and details if they are not helping to make the story better.



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/24/2014





books i loved last week


Emily’s Blue Period

By: Cathleen Daly

Illustrated By: Lisa Brown

I love this hybrid: chapter book/picture book. It does a great job showing a child dealing with the separation of her parents.



Once Upon a Slime

By: Andy Griffiths

Illustrated By: Terry Denton

I love books that are written for kids, that give kids tips about writing.




By: Nic Bishop

Wow! I learned a ton about lizards. Nic Bishop is a master at writing great nonfiction books for children.



this week I'm reading


Princess Lablemaker To The Rescue

By: Tom Angleberger

The Origami Yoda series is one of my all-time favorite series. Huzzah, huzzah!


Slice of LIfe: The Riverman

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

I love when I can remember where I read a book. I’ll never forget where I sat in my house when I finished RJ Palacio’s Wonder, and I’ll always remember sitting in fourth grade when my teacher read the class Hatchet. 

I will always associate Aaron Starmer’s The Riverman with my trip to the 2014 Rose Bowl. Aaron’s book is a book that you want to talk about with someone that has read it. You want to know what they thought, and you want to bounce ideas of of them as you read.

I started The Riverman on the plane

I started The Riverman on the plane

Not having someone to talk to about The Riverman turned out to be a blessing. There is something wonderful about reading a book that you: have heard nothing about, that you know nothing about, and that you have nobody to talk to about it. It is a different type of reading. A type of reading that I don’t get to do to much of anymore.

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.28.03 PM

Reading The Riverman on Hermosa Beach

If you haven’t read The Riverman, I highly recommend you check it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if you always remember where you were when you read it. I’m sorry for not telling you more about what happened in the book. I’d hate to be the reason you miss out on the experience that I had when reading The Riverman.

Go green!

Go green!

Follow The Riverman Blog Tour!

Tuesday, March 18: Alice Marvels

Wednesday, March 19: Book Jems

Thursday, March 20: Maria’s Melange

Friday, March 21: Books and Whimsy

Saturday, March 22: Great Imaginations

Sunday, March 23: Nerdy Book Club & Sharp Read

Monday, March 24: Word Spelunking

Tuesday, March 25: Live to Read

Wednesday, March 26: Read, Write, Reflect

Aaron’s Website: http://aaronstarmer.com/

Aaron on Twitter: @AaronStarmer


Slice of Life: A New Challenge


15 months ago my friend Mr. Schu and I started the Newbery Challenge. We read every single Newbery Medal winning book chronologically. The challenge was a lot of fun. I got to read a lot of great books that I probably wouldn’t have read it if were not for the challenge, and I had a ton of fun making silly weekly videos. My favorite part of the challenge was developing a deeper friendship with Mr. Schu.

Today, Mr. Schu and I begin a new challenge. It isn’t as daunting as the first one. This challenge will only take us a couple of months. I’m excited to see what sort of adventures this challenge has in store.

For more info on the challenge watch the video below.


Slice of Life: Spring Concert Hangman

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Last night my students performed their spring musical at our high school auditorium. Before the program I hung out with them in the band classroom. The kids were super excited and a little rowdy. I decided that a game literary Hangman would be a fun way to keep them from destroying the room and hopefully calming their nerves.

It took a couple of puzzles to get them going, but once we started groovin’ they were amazing hangman superstars.

One puzzle looked like this: _ _ _ _ _ _

Six letters-one word. A girl raised her hand, tilted her head and said, “Mr. Sharp, that’s easy: Squish.” She was right. Amazing!

Another puzzle looked like this:   A    _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _  _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _

With only one letter on the board a student guessed A Crooked Kind of Perfect. Right again!

I’m not sure the game really calmed them down much, but it was a fun way for us to continue to celebrate great books.

Their concert was amazing. I loved watching them sing and dance with giant smiles on their faces. After the concert they all came at me with gigantic hugs. We are getting to that point of the school year where we are all getting extremely comfortable around each other. We’re moving from the feeling of being friends to feeling like a family that has been together forever.

Hooray for a great night of Hangman and music!


Slice of Life: Nerdy Party


It appears as thought all my slices this week will be reflections from the Michigan Reading Association’s annual conference.

Four years ago I attended the conference with no friends. After a session ended, I popped in my earbuds and listened to rap music as I headed to my next session. I didn’t talk to anyone the entire conference.

Photo credit: Laurie Keller

Sharp-Jonker-Schu      Photo credit: Laurie Keller

It is amazing how much things have changed. At this year’s conference I got chatted with friends the entire weekend. One of the highlights of the weekend was the Nerdy party Saturday night. I’m not going to name drop all of the wonderful people that were at the dinner. Our Nerdy community has grown so much in the last few years. It boggles my mind.  You will be hard pressed to find a dinner with as many influential people in the world of kid lit as we had at this gathering.

I learned a lot a few years ago when I attended MRA alone, but I learned so much more this past weekend when I attended the conference with so many dear friends.

If you haven’t written a post for Nerdy Book Club I challenge you to do so. Reading the blog is sort of like attending a conference with earbuds. You’ll get something out of it, but when you write a post you become a part of this community that will give you more than you could ever imagine.

Be Nerdy.

Slice of Life: After the Visit

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Be sure to check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers.

The amazing Linda Urban visited my school on Monday. She spent the day meeting with kids kindergarten though fifth grade. After a long school day, she came back for family reading night.

Linda’s day was capped off with a reading of her picture book, Mouse Was Mad. She read it to a library filled with students and their parents. It was amazing.

Photo credit: Sue Haney

Photo credit: Sue Haney

My favorite part of the entire day wasn’t watching my students perform a reader’s theatre for Linda of Mouse Was Mad. It wasn’t listening to her read A Crooked Kind of Perfect. It wasn’t when she stopped by my classroom to borrow a book, or when she brought it back and taught an impromptu lesson to my third graders.

photo 2

My favorite moment was when Linda Urban read a Mickey Mouse book to my 3 year old daughter AJ. Linda had put in nearly 12 hours when AJ somehow got Linda to read her a book. Linda treated my daughter like she was the most important person in the world. AJ didn’t care that Linda is an award winning author. To AJ, Linda was just a reader with a book.

It was magical.

photo 3