The students of Parma Elementary are the luckiest kids in the universe. Not only do they get to be the host school for Nerd Camp Junior, they also get to host the one and only Katherine Applegate for an author visit September 22. That’s right, we’re hosting Ms. Applegate the day Crenshaw comes out. Somebody pinch me!

Hosting an author on the 11th day of school isn’t the easiest thing in the world. We won’t have time to read Crenshaw or The One and Only Ivan, so we needed a way to be able to throw ourselves into the visit. I’m so thankful that Katherine and Macmillan are throwing a giant food drive to help support hungry children across our great nation.


I’ll introduce the food drive the second or third day of school, and I’m hoping that my students will be as excited about it as I am. We’ll make and hang posters throughout the school, we’ll Skype with other classrooms explaining what we’ve learned about childhood hunger, and we’ll bring in a whole bunch of nonperishable food.


My hope is that you will consider joining us. If you’d like more information about the food drive you can visit the official Crenshaw website.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview Gayle Rosengren


Readers often have certain genres that they hold closest to their heart. For me it has always been historical fiction. Visiting the Nasal River in Jennifer Holm’s Our Only May Amelia and Montana in Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky hold some of my favorite memories as a reader of children’s literature. I’m thankful that these types of books allow readers to visit a time and a place that that our history books often gloss over.

Gayle Rosengren’s Cold War On Maplewood Street is sure to give readers a glimpse of what is what like to live during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I’m thankful that Gayle agreed to answer a handful of my questions.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET?

I wrote Cold War as a means of talking about fear and the best way to deal with it.  By setting the story in the past, against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, I hoped to make it less frightening for readers, while also introducing a significant historical event.  I am so saddened by the disturbing events surrounding young people of today–from 9/11 to school shootings and terrorist bombings.  The message I hope readers will take away is the importance of speaking up when they’re frightened or worried or have a problem they can’t solve on their own.  By communicating their concerns to someone they trust–ideally a parent or teacher–some of their fear is instantly eased at least a little, and they have someone who can hopefully help them find ways to live fully in spite of their worries.   (5)


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

Hearing from kids how much they loved my book.  ☺   (1)

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

First, waiting to see the cover of my book.  Then, waiting to see it in bookstores and libraries and young readers’ hands.   (2)

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

It’s not in print anymore, but I loved the Trixie Belden mystery series when I was a girl and wished all the time that I could be whisked away into her world.  Trixie lived in the country, not the city like poor old me.  She had a best friend with horses, so she got to ride horseback whenever she wanted(!)  She solved mysteries, helped people, and had adventures and traveled to interesting places like New York City, New Orleans, and even a dude ranch in Arizona.  (4)


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

The more you write and revise, the better writer you become. Keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you for stories and characters. And read, read, read because when you’re reading, you’re learning how to be a better writer without even trying!   (3)


Guest Post: Volcanos, by Jon Chad


I’m super excited that Fist Second is releasing a new educational  science comics series.

Below you will find some information about the Volcanos (John Chad, Fall 2016) book.

The world is frozen in a new ice age, and three siblings travel with their mentor on a search for material to burn for warmth, an increasingly desperate effort to keep their tribe alive. Aurora, the oldest of the siblings, uncovers a forgotten bit of natural history-forces of nature known as volcanoes. As she learns more about volcano types, what they erupt, and how strong those eruptions can be, Aurora becomes convinced that volcanoes can provide the heat and life to help her tribe survive.  First Second will be publishing Volcanos as part of the all new Science Comics series in fall 2016.

demo page 1_Color

I’m pretty excited that Mr. Chad has stopped by to share some Volcano facts with us. Take it away, sir!


1) Although it’s hard to pin down the exact number, there are around 1,500 active and dormant volcanoes on Earth’s surface.  At any given time, there are about 10-20 surface volcanoes erupting out there.  That means right now, while you are reading this!!

2) If based on its height from sea level Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth, but if we base a mountain’s height on the place that it grew from, the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa is 9,170 meters tall!  That makes it 322 meters taller than Everest (8,848 meters tall)!

3) Volcanic ash is so much more dangerous than regular ash (from, say, a fireplace) because of its size and shape.  A volcanic ash particle is .001 millimeters wide, making it 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair!?!  As for its shape, fireplace ash is almost circular, while volcanic ash is jagged and barbed.  It ruins electronics and grounds planes on its best days, and crushes houses and forests on its worst!

4) A pyroclastic flow is a cloud of rocks, ashes, and gases erupted from a volcano that can measure up to 1,000 degrees C.  A typical pyroclastic flow races down a volcano‘s side at speeds around 725 kph; this is faster than a cheetah (112 kph), a peregrine falcon (170 kph), and the fastest street legal car (431 kph).

5) The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 sent clouds of ash over 6,000 km away!  The amount of ash ejected into the sky blocked the sun enough to drop global temperatures for FOUR YEARS!!

demo page 2_3_Color 2

Jon Chad is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Northampton, MA.  He teaches bookmaking and design at the Center for Cartoon Studies and has done illustration work for the Professional Amateur Pinball Association, Highlights Magazine, and the FBI, among many others.  He’s also the author and artist of two other children’s books, Leo Geo and his Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth and Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Bob Shea


Last spring Bob Shea visited my school. It was awesome. If you’d like to see just how awesome it was you can click on the image below to see some more pictures from his visit.


I’m very excited to have Bob on my site today to talk about I Will Chomp You! I hope you enjoy the interview.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about I Will Chomp you?

Don’t read it on an empty stomach. 


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

My favorite thing about being an illustrator is making things up out of my head. Things like math have a right answer and a wrong answer, illustration can have many different answers. 


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

Sometimes I go to the deli pretty hungry and say, “Gimme the biggest sandwich you got!” then the deli person gives me a warning that it’s too much food. 

“Not for a hungry illustrator!” I scoff. 

Then I force the behemoth down in front of them to prove I’m brave. 

So I guess, “trying not to throw up” later that afternoon is the hardest part of any illustration project. 

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

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  The candy room inspired a big cake illustration in I WILL CHOMP YOU!

It’s true. 


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


Look at people’s drawings you like. 

Then draw. 

Look at more things. 

Then draw some more. 

#TheYarn Episode 8: Jennifer and Matthew Holm



Jennifer and Matthew Holm are a dynamic comics creating team. In episode 8, you’ll get a chance to listen to this brother-sister team chat about working on The Yarn together.

Please consider supporting our Kickstarter campaign to help us make Season 2 a reality.


If you don’t want to miss an episode be sure to click on one of the images below to subscribe.