I have been writing “5 Things I Loved About Last Week” posts this fall, and I have found them to be very helpful to my state of mind. Last weekend at NCTE I found out that there is this awesome community that writes similar posts and links them up over at Ruth Ayer’s blog. How cool is that? I’m all about being a part of communities, so I am going to move my thankful posts from Sunday to Saturday so that I can join in on the fun.
Here are five things I loved about last week (NCTE edition)
1. Meeting Someone New
Each year I travel to NCTE to learn from experts and to spend time with some of my best friends. I have found that it is the time spent with friends between sessions, during a run, or in a taxi-that often lead to some of the best learning of the conference.
This year I met Ruth Ayers at the airport. We kept running into each other throughout the conference. I learned right off the bat that Ms. Ayers is someone that you want to be friends with. She is kind, thoughtful, and she pushes you to think deeply.
I’m thankful that I met Ruth at NCTE.
2. Jenni and Kirby
Jenni Holm and Holm and Kirby Larson are two of my favorite people in the whole entire universe. I met them both at NCTE 2011 in Chicago, and I now consider them to be amazing friends. Getting a chance to spend time with them at NCTE was such a joy.
3. Nerdy Book Club
At NCTE 2011 Nerdy Book Club didn’t exist. At NCTE 2012 we did a Nerdy Book Club session. At NCTE 2013 it felt like Nerdy Book Club had a presence. It was hard to go to a session or walk through the hotel lobby without seeing someone that had Nerdy Book Club ties. I cannot wait to see what Nerdy Book Club has in store for NCTE 2014.
Getting a chance to chat with Donalyn, Cindy, and Katherine (I always think of her as part of the people that help run Nerdy) filled my heart with such joy. They make me a better teacher daily.
I presented twice at NCTE. Once as a part of the Nerdy session, and once with some pretty important people in a room big enough that it made me feel like throwing up. Both presentations went pretty good, and I learned a lot about myself as a presenter. I’m thankful that I was able to see what I did right, while at the same time being able to identify how I can get better.
I was proud of how I did in both sessions.
5. Year of the U
I got an opportunity to chat with both Linda Urban and Anne Ursu at NCTE. There is not secret that they I feel they have written two of the best 2013 middle grade novels. There is no secret that I feel that they are both deserving of recognition from the Newbery committee.
The best part of getting a chance to chat with them was it helped me remember that there are more important things in this world than the Newbery medal. The impact that their books have on young readers isn’t something that you can give a sticker to.
I’m hoping that if you are reading this post, that you have a lot to celebrate this week as well!
I got a chance to meet Ms. Wallace at NCTE last year in Vegas. I found her ESPN past fascinating, and I was super excited when I got a chance to read her novel Muckers earlier this fall. I loved Muckers. It is a great young adult novel that will reach so many readers. I hope you check it out.
I’m honored to be able to interview Ms. Wallace on my blog today.
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 Muckers?
Muckers is a story about perseverance and the courage to stand up for what and who you believe in, especially amidst prejudice. It’s inspired by a true story I discovered in a box of letters about a 1950 northern Arizona high school football team in a decaying mining town. Despite being the smallest squad in the state and facing ridicule because they were integrated (Mexican-Americans were forced to attend different schools in some Arizona towns), they made a run for the state championship. I modeled the football season in Muckers after that team and created characters I’d imagined experienced the hardships of that time period. Since I was able to interview those heroic surviving players, it’s a pretty accurate glimpse of what post World War 2 America was facing, from the Korean War to the Communist scare, and how football helped break down those barriers.
2. What is your favorite thing about being a
(In the spirit of my favorite picture book author Jon Scieszka, I changed the question.)While working at ESPN, it became clear to me that sports can alter attitudes more profoundly than politics; athletes work their way into our hearts for many different reasons, but while there, we can begin to see the world differently. In writing about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, I saw how being the first athletic woman many kids had ever seen back in the 1930s and 40s, gave them permission to be athletic, and to be strong and independent. It’s no coincidence that civil rights issues can be accelerated by athletes.
3. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
Starting a new project and seeing nothing but blank pages. When I finish a book, I always wonder if I have any more creativity left for another. But after some rest I rediscover that creativity is endless; it’s our energy that needs to be refreshed.
4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any crook(
book) which crook( book) would you pick?
Muhammad Ali, who incidentally, was considered a criminal for refusing to be drafted and fight in the Vietnam War. Standing by his beliefs, the boxing legend was sentenced to prison and stripped of his boxing license.
5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?
Write down your great ideas when they happen, otherwise, you may not remember them in the same spectacular way.
Thanksgiving seems like the perfect day to list a few books that I’m glad came into the world during the year. My goal is to complete this list in 13 minutes. Not much thinking, hardly any writing, just a blitz of books.
Here we go!
The Real Boy
By: Anne Ursu
The Center of Everything
By: Linda Urban
County By 7s
By: Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Story of Fish and Snail
By: Deborah Freedman
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
By: Liesl Shurtliff
Every Day After
By: Laura Golden
Squish 5: Game On!
By: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
By: Sandra Neil Wallace
God Got a Dog
Poems by: Cynthia Rylant
Pictures by: Marla Frazee
This Journal Belongs to Ratchet
By: Nancy J. Cavanaugh
By: Kirby Larson
By: Tim Federle
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
By: Peter Brown
It is really hard to stop at 13, but rules are rules.
I haven’t done a “Slice of Life” post in a while, but nearly ever session I attended at NCTE made me feel like I should be writing a lot more. Seriously, it was like everywhere I looked Ruth Ayers was standing their looking all kind with an imaginary thought bubble circled over her head saying: Colby should be writing more. Then I had to run into Kate Messner who always ask everyone: So… what are you writing?
Here we go!
When I arrived at the Boston airport after a busy weekend at NCTE, I went straight to the gift shop to look at notebooks. They had tons of notebooks. It made me think that the airport is a place filled with writers. It is a good feeling. Author, Louise Borden shared with me a what she knew about the notebooks they had, and I settled on a slick green one.
With my notebook in hand I tried to find a quiet place to sit down and get some writing done. Then, I noticed that the football game was on television at the airport sports bar. I sat down to watch the game, but found that I was much more interested in getting some writing done.
I had a great time filling a handful of pages in my new notebook. My head was filled with ideas from the conference, and getting them down on paper felt both wonderful and scary.
I’m really looking forward to writing every day. Yup. I am going to write in my notebook: Every. Single. Day.
A few months ago I tweeted this.
— Colby Sharp (@colbysharp) May 1, 2013