5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Corinna Luyken


The Book Of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken is brilliant. I hope to teach until I’m super old, and I will read this book to every student that I teach for the rest of my career. This book is going to help kids in so many ways. I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Corinna was kind enough to answer a handful of my interview questions. Thank you, Corinna!

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about The Book of Mistakes? (5)

 The Book of Mistakes begins with one mistake.  That mistake leads to more mistakes, and eventually, to some good ideas.  

 While this is a book about mistakes in art (and life), it is also a book about perception.  About how we become who we are.  It is about limits and transformation, potential and possibility.

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  1. What is the best part about being a book creator?  (3)

There are two best parts.  The first is that moment of watching something emerge from nothing.  The other is finding out that something I’ve made has touched the heart of another person.

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  1. What’s the hardest part of being a book creator? (1)

Practicing patience can be difficult, and the book industry moves slowly!

  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick? (4)

This is not an easy question, because my answer will change tomorrow.  But for today, I’ll say Pool by JiHyeon Lee.  To make a new friend, to explore underwater with all those strange fish, and then to meet that enormous white creature with the big blue eye. Oh my!


  1. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom? (2)

Be yourself.  Your job as an artist (and human being) is only and always to be the very best YOU that you can be.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Erica Perl

ferociousfluffity 2

We were very lucky to have Erica Perl attend Nerd Camp last week. She was amazing with our junior campers. Erica is a gift to children’s literature. Erica answered a handful of my questions about her new bookFerociously Fluffity.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Ferociously Fluffity?

All the kids in Room 2-D are desperate to hold Fluffity, their adorable new class pet, even though their teacher, Mr. Drake, tells them to wait. When an opportunity presents itself, the students give in to temptation and quickly learn the wisdom of Mr. Drake’s warning. Fluffity bites kid after kid, and her chomping leads to a wild chase through the halls. Who will stop the haywire hamster, and how? Especially when her next victim is… Mr. Drake!


2. What is best part about being a writer?

Sharing my books with kids! Plus, my publicist said she’d bake me a delicious rhubarb pie when I finished this book.


3. What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

Apparently, my publicist was kidding about the pie. 


4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

Hmm, that’s a hard one. Actually, it’s not. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


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

Read everything! Write the kinds of things you love to read, even if you’re convinced that no one else will want to read them. Drawing, dancing, running and all kinds of non-writing activities can give you great “aha!” moments for your writing… just make sure you write them down before they escape. Don’t be tempted to edit while you write – editing interrupts the flow of your writing and works better if you come back and do it later.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Randall de Seve


It has been a while since I’ve ran a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 interview here on the blog, and I’ve missed them. Thankfully, I had the chance to interview Randall about her beautiful new book A Fire Truck Name Red.


5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED?

In A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED, a little boy named Rowan (Gaelic for “red”) wants a shiny new fire truck toy for his birthday. Instead, his grandfather gives him his crusty, old truck, and the promise to fix it up “better than new.” But what could be better than new for a child? That’s the central question of this story. And as Rowan helps to restore Red while listening to Papa’s exciting boyhood adventures with his beloved toy, he answers it: older things and people with stories can be the best of all. (5)

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2. What is the best part of your job?

More than anything, I love reading my stories to children. I love seeing their squirmy bodies settle into the imaginary worlds I’ve created for them. (2)


3. What is the hardest part of your job?

It can be so hard to start a new story! Sometimes I have an idea, and I walk around with it for weeks (or longer), waiting for that first fragile line to come. I know that if I rush it, if I make a false start, I might ruin it. I might break the spell and end up with an overworked mess. (4)


4. Tell us your first reaction to when you saw Bob Staake’s art for A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED.

Yes– it’s absolutely perfect! (1)


5. What advice do you have for young readers and writers?

Readers, keep reading; only good can come of it. Writers, ideas can spring from anywhere, anyone, anything. Keep your eyes and ears open, and when you find inspiration, grab it (in a notebook) before it flees. (3)

Randall de Seve_author photo credit Larry Ford.jpg

Randall de Seve

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/28/16


I haven’t done an IMWAYR post in ages. I’ve missed doing them, so I’m going to try and get back in the saddle.


The Wild Robot

By: Peter Brown

The Wild Robot is Hatchet 2.0! Kids are going to love Peter’s first middle grade novel. The Wild Robot is  a perfect read aloud. 12 year-old Colby would have read this book to shreds.



This image Little Brown created makes me giggle.

The Happiest Book Ever

By: Bob Shea

Bob Shea read us The Happiest Book Ever last week during his author visit. My 9 year old son was cracking up the entire time. Bob Shea just gets kids.


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Last week Mr. Schu premiered the book trailer for Melanie Conklin’s Counting Thyme. I love Counting Thyme. Hopefully, the trailer encourages a bunch of kids to pick up the book and give it a read.


If you haven’t listened to The Book Love Podcast you are really missing out. Penny Kittle has created what I feel is the best education podcast in the universe.


Bob Shea Is Pretty Great

Yesterday, Bob Shea visited the students of Parma Elementary in the afternoon, and then he spent the evening with us for Family Reading Night. It was all very magical.

We had a lot of fun preparing for Bob’s visit.

Bob was amazing with our students during the visit. He made each kid that he talked to feel like they were the most important person in the world.




School ended right after Bob’s visit. He spent the next two hours signing books. I love that Bob draws a picture in each book that he signs. He is such a good guy!

From 5:30-7 parents and students came back to school for family reading night. Over 150 people packed into the cafeteria for dinner and another presentation with Bob. It was magical. Seeing a cafeteria filled with laughing families brought so much joy to my heart. It was a pretty great day.



10 Minute Review: Tell Me A Tattoo Story

When I was 20 years old I got a tattoo with my girlfriend. She got a moon and a few stars on her foot, and I got an Old English D on my left forearm. I got my tattoo on my forearm because my dad had a sweet motorcycle tattoo on his forearm. My dad is the most amazing person I’ve ever met, so trying to be a little bit more like him is something that I’m always trying to do. The girl with the moon and stars tattoo later became my wife, and every time I see that moon and those stars I think back to that day when we were a couple of kids on a date.


That’s my tattoo story.

Allison McGhee has written the beautiful book Tell Me A Tattoo Story. In the book a young boy, curious of his father’s tattoos, gets the background stories to his dad’s ink. Eliza Wheeler has created a gorgeous illustrations that will warm the hearts of young readers.


One of the thing that I love most about this book is how it gives readers a glimpse into the beauty of body art. Society’s take on tattoos has changed a lot since my dad got his work done in the early 70s. Many of the kids in our lives (and our homes) have parents with tattoos, and I’m glad that they know have a book that shows just how magical a little body art can be.

I think it just might be time for me to get tattoo number two.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Jenny Offill

I’m super excited to be celebrating Sparky! today with Mr. Johnny Schu. Head over to his blog to read his interview with Sparky! Illustrator Chris Appelhans.


Sparky is one of my favorite picture book characters from 2014. There is something about that sloth that makes me smile every time I see that book.

I’m excited to be able to interview the author of Sparky!, Jenny Offill.

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



1. Can you tell us a little bit about Sparky?

The girl in the story wants a pet, but her mother says she can only have one if it doesn’t have to be walked or bathed or fed. A genius librarian helps her research the possibilities and she figures out that a sloth would fit the bill. She orders Sparky by express mail, but when he gets there he goes right to sleep. The girl wants to show off her pet to the neighborhood kids so she rashly promises she’ll have a Trained Sloth Extravaganza very very soon.

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

Write about things that matter to you. Seek out experiences you find thrilling or funny or fascinating. Remember that anything can happen in a story (anything!) so don’t worry that your ideas are too weird. If you want to be a writer, read more than anyone else you know.

3. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?
I would go through the wardrobe and into Narnia. I have always wanted to be taken in by kindly beavers. I’d be scared that I’d run into the White Witch though.

The Chronicles of Narnia 2 - The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe Cover

4. What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

There’s no formula for how to write well. You have to trust your own ideas and ignore all the people who tell you you should do something more practical.

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

People send me free books!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Molly Idle


It’s time for another Sharp-Schu-Nerdy Book Club Trifecta. I cannot believe that I get to interview 2014 Caldecott Honor winning illustrator Molly Idle. *pinch me*

Before we get to the interview be sure to check out what Mr. Schu has cooked over at Watch.Connect.Read.


Molly wrote a great Nerdy Book Club post. Be sure to check it out.

nerdy monster


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 Camp Rex?

Like Tea REX, Camp REX, is an homage to the classic Goofy cartoon shorts of the 1930’s 40’s and 50s like, How to Dance and How to Fish. The juxtaposition of serious narration and slapstick imagery has had me belly-laughing ever since I can remember; so I love utilizing that pairing in a picture book! I’m a lot like Cordelia (always forging ahead, determined to do things the “right” way). Rex, and George (Cordelia’s little brother), are much more like my boys- happily doing things their own way. I think Cordelia, and I, could learn a lot from them… (5)


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

My favorite thing about being a writer is making the artwork to tell the story. You know how they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, as I see it, if that’s true, then by the time I’ve finished illustrating a 40 page picture book, I’ve created the pictorial equivalent of a novel! (3)

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

Finding the right words. (1)

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

Harry Potter. No contest! (2)


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

Learn to love your language. Make friends with your thesaurus (which is a synonym finder, not a type of dinosaur). There are so many wonderful words out there waiting to be used well. And if, after considering them all, you still can’t find one that says just what you want to say… draw a picture instead! (4)

Molly's thesaurus!!!

Molly’s thesaurus!!!


Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

By: Annette Simon

Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

My son is a fan of robot books. When I received a review copy of Robot Zombie Frankenstein! I was super excited to see what he thought. I pictured us sitting down on the couch and reading the book together.

I was wrong.

I showed him the book and he quickly snatched it out of my hands and took it upstairs to his room. “Um..Breslin? Do you want me to read you the new robot book?” No response. “Breslin?”

“No thanks, Dad. I’m going to read this book by myself.”

15 minutes later I walk upstairs and say, “Hey Bres-“.

“Dad, I’m sorry, but I’m busy reading this book right now.”

A little while later it was bedtime. “Okay, Breslin it’s time to go to bed.”

“Dad, do you want to read Robot Zombie Frankenstein!, it’s really awesome,” Breslin said. Talk about a smart kid. He totally played me. He knew that I was dying to read the book, and now he had me right where he wanted me: 10 extra minutes before he had to go to bed.

I sat down with my son and Robot Zombie Frankenstein! We spent 15 minutes reading the book, but we never even got to the 32 pages in the middle. You see, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! has one of the coolest inside front and back covers that I have ever seen. On the inside cover you find an array of colorful shapes from the robots inside the book. The shapes are labeled things like: oval, rectangle, line. The back cover has the same shapes, but this time they are labeled the names of the robot parts: eyeball, robot arm, and speediness.

After Breslin went to bed, I snuck into his room and snatched the book. I sat down, by myself, and found that the story was as good as the inside covers.


Be sure to check out Mr. Schu’s interview with Annette Simon on his blog (don’t forget to enter his giveaway) Watch.Connect.Read

Boy + Bot By: Ame Dyckman

I posted this review last week on Nerdy Book Club.

Boy + Bot – By: Ame Dyckman

Illustrated By: Dan Yaccarino

Release Date: April 10, 2012

I received Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman in the mail last Friday. I knew that  Mr. Schu loved the book , so I was excited to give it a read. I waited until my son got home so that we could experience the book for the first time together. He walked in the door, grabbed the book off table, walked over to the couch, looked at me and said, “Dad, aren’t you going to come and read me this sweet robot book?”

Boy and Bot meet in the woods and they hit it off right away. They play in the woods having fun together, until the robot’s power switch turns off. The boy takes care of the robot like his sick mom would take care of him.

My son was very worried about the robot. “Dad, is Bot going to be okay?”

Later in the story the Robot has to take care of the boy. Bot takes care of the boy like someone would take care of a robot.

When the robot oils the boy to try and make him better, my son starting cracking up. He thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. “Dad, that is so silly. Boys don’t use oil.”

Towards the end of the book you will find a two-page spread that feels like a movie montage, filled with pictures of Boy and Bot playing. I know this montage works for the reader, because I have spent the last few days acting out this spread with my son. We take turns being the boy and the robot as we pretend to: splash in a pool, drink from our oil cans, pick apples, pose for pictures.

Don’t read or buy Boy + Bot because this 30 year old dude thinks it is a great book (I do), check out this book because young readers will fall in love with Ame’s book. When I asked my son if he love Boy + Bot, he stole his answer from Bot’s mouth, “Affirmative.”