10 Minute Review: The Thing About Jellyfish


A few times a year I read a book and I think: if teachers read this book aloud it will change lives. The Thing About Jellyfish begs to be read aloud. It begs to placed in the hands of young readers. I’m begging you to read it when it comes out this fall.

Suzy is dealing with a tragedy. A girl that has been her best friend for a very long time has died in a way that Suzy cannot understand. Suzy feels like their is more to the story.

Since the death of her friend Suzy has decided to stop talking. She doesn’t talk at school, at home, or to her counselor.

One of the things that I love most about this book is how Ali Benjamin plays with time. We learn very early that Suzy and her friend had a bit of a falling out, but we don’t know why. The book moves back and fourth from present time back to the previous year of school. I believe that these flashbacks help young readers see the importance of the choices we make, and how you never know what impact your decisions will have on the world around you.


If you are looking for a great book to hand to a kid, a teacher, or a friend I highly recommend you pre-order The Thing About Jellyfish from your local independent bookseller. This heartprint book is going to change lives. You don’t want to miss it.

Happy Saturday Mr. Schu (and Ms. Castillo)!!


I’m very happy that fellow Team 81 member Lauren Castillo decided to join the Saturday morning video party today. You can watch her video below.

Don’t forget to go to Mr. Schu’s blog and watch his video!


Finally, my video. Warning: it contains spoilers to Eve and Lauren’s Yard Sale.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Nora Raleigh Baskin


ruby jacket

A fourth kid and Nerd Camp has sort of thrown my summer reading for a loop so far this year. Thankfully, the books that I have read have been pretty darn awesome. One of my favorite books of not only the summer, but also of 2015 is Nora Raleigh Baskin’s Ruby On The Outside. I’m guessing that if you give it a read you’ll feel the same way.

It was such a joy to be able to interview Ms. Baskin. I hope you find something interesting in the interview below.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Ruby On The Outside?

Well, you might think that Ruby -whose mom is in prison – is about someone who is nothing like you. Ruby has been visiting her mom in Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities for as long as she can remember and she tries hard to make sure nobody at school finds out. Or maybe you’d think that Ruby’s story is very similar to yours. But when we read we get to live inside the head of someone else and we have the opportunity to develop true empathy. We learn that we are not all that different after all. Ruby’s wish to be accepted, to have true friends, and learn about herself is everyone’s story. (5)

ruby cover

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

My favorite thing about being an author is the freedom to experiment with language and words and punctuation, structure, run-ons and fragments, plot and characters, and weave it all into a story. (1)

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

Coping with failure is the hardest thing about being a writer. I put all my heart and soul into my work, but sometimes it doesn’t work, or doesn’t get bought by an editor, or doesn’t sell after it’s bought by an editor. The hardest thing is finding the courage to put more heart and soul out there in the world and try again. (3)

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

I’d want to spend a day inside the world of one of my favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. But it comes with the caveat that I get to be Fern and talk to the animals (2)


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

Take risks and be original. Write from your heart, always. Avoid clichés at all costs. Find someone, or many someones, who are really nice and only show those people your writing until you’re much older. (4)