The Qwikpick Papers: The Rat With The Human Face


I fell in love with my first Tom Angleberger book back in the spring of 2011. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda was in our Scholastic Book Fair, so I picked it up for my fourth graders. I took it home that night to check it out, and ended up reading it cover to cover in one sitting. I was hooked.

Through a little bit of research I was able to figure out that Mr. Angleberger had published two previous novels under the pen name Sam Riddleberger. I quickly picked up those books and devoured them. It doesn’t take many pages to realize that Tom is a master at creating characters that middle grade readers can’t help but fall in love with.

Tom’s latest book Qwikpick Papers: The Rat With The Human Face is long overdue. It’s crazy to think that it was 8 years ago that he published the first Qwikpick Papers book. In The Rat With The Human Face Lyle, Marilla, and Dave are back and they are looking for a new adventure.


One of the things that I love most about The Qwikpick Papers is how Tom celebrates kids from that live in the trailer park. At times I think that kids that live in trailers are made to feel inferior to kids that live in houses. Lyle and Marilla live in the trailer park, but that doesn’t define them. This isn’t a book about kids trying to find a better life outside of the trailer park. It’s a book about kids. Kids that want an adventure. They just so happen to live in the trailer park.

I hope that every middle grade classroom and school library purchases this book for their readers.

I hope that kids read this book and fall in love with the characters like I did.

I hope that it makes kids want to go on crazy adventures.

I hope you like The Rat With The Human Face as much as I did.

Student News Teams Are The Bomb


I’ve always wanted to be a part of student led announcements. Empowering students to share their stories and the stories of their school can be a very powerful thing. At Parma we are trying to do this. We started about a month ago with a group of about 15 fourth and fifth graders. The students meet in my room before school on Wednesday and they work throughout the week to put together segments.

We are just getting started and we have a long ways to go, but I could not be more proud of the work they are creating. This work is truly the students. I do nothing but give them space, tips, and some iPads. They do all the work and all the editing.

I should write more about this and I will, but for now I hope you enjoy episode two!

Panther News S1 E2 from Colby Sharp on Vimeo.

Creating Characters


Today, in the third grade I got to work with a great group of third graders (my awesome students) on creating characters. We are just kicking off our fictional writing unit and the kids are eager to get to work.

I got some pretty awesome responses that I shared with my students. They were inspired.

Here are a few of the tweets. If you click on the image of the tweets you will go to a Storify I created that has a lot more tips shared by my author friends.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 4.08.37 PM

My students loved hearing tips from some of their favorite authors. They were inspired to write. Heck, even I was inspired to write. I can’t wait to write more about the character I created: Jackson-a fourth grade baseball loving boy that can’t stand music class or his older sister Jane.

Don’t these boys look determined to create some amazing characters?

Two heads are better than one.


I’m hoping to do a better job of sharing some of things that are happening in my classroom. My intention was never for this to become a book blog. I’m all about the books, but I miss writing about the fun stuff I’m doing in my classroom.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Russ Cox

faraway friends


I’m excited to chat with Russ Cox today about his book Faraway Friends. Be sure to check out his wonderful responses and don’t forget to check out the Faraway Friends trailer found after his response to question one.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Faraway Friends?

Faraway Friends is my first book that I wrote and illustrated. It is about Sheldon, an astronaut wannabe, seeing his best friend move away, while thinking his friend has moved to Jupiter. Inspired to see his friend again, he decides to build a rocket ship and fly to Jupiter. After completing his ship, he blasts off to the outer regions of space, only to have his fantasy end when his rocket ship falls apart and he realizes that he is still on Earth. During this time, a new friend lands right under his nose and they begin a space adventure together.

2. What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I enjoy interacting the words with the pictures to help moving the story along, often times creating new words.
faraway friends

3. What’s the hardest thing about being an author?

Grammar, spelling, and punctation can be tricky when writing or finalizing a final draft. I often times have to go look up words and grammatical rules that I may have forgotten. You do not want to look bad when submitting your story to your agent or an editor.

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

This was the hardest question by far. With so many choices in the book world, it was hard to narrow it down to one, and it is not my favorite children’s book of all time (Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel). I select The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. This one has everything that I love in a book which is humor, silliness, odd characters, and very twisted story telling.

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

Read, read, and read some more. There are infinite number of worlds and adventures you can read about which will influence your creative writing and drawing.

Did Independent Booksellers Get a Free Pass? 


I have noticed that a lot of people have been looking closely at diversity when it comes to books being published, author panels at conferences/book festivals, and book award lists. All of these things bring important awareness to the diversity or lack their of in children’s literature. 

With that being said why is it that the E.B. White picture book list is not being ridiculed? The E. B. White list is created by independent booksellers. This year’s list contains all male book creators. I would expect to see a comment like: didn’t women create great picture books in 2014?



Instead: silence. 

I hope that this is because nobody noticed, but part of me feels like it is because book creators are afraid to call out the people hand selling their books. If it is the later-shame on the people fighting the battle of more diversity in kid lit. 

You can’t point fingers at teacher/library organizations and give a free pass to booksellers. 

If you are going to be in a part if this conversation either be all in or all out.