Body Parts Blog Tour: Mouth


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My son is obsessed with the human body.  Earlier this year I watched him give a 10  minute impromptu presentation to my uncle about the large and small intestines. It may have been the coolest use of a tape measure that I have ever seen. When Maris Wicks’s Human Body Theatre arrived on my doorstep this past summer, I knew that my kid would be stoked. He was. The book was devoured multiple times, and for the next several weeks he randomly shared facts he learned in the book with pretty much every person he came in contact with. You are going to want to check out this book.

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I’m excited to participate in the Human Body Theatre blog tour. Below you will find an image and a description of a body part from author Maris Wicks.



Inside your mouth lives a super-strong muscle: your tongue! Now, I’m pretty sure that none of us can do push-ups with our tongue, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get exercise. Your tongue works day and night to move saliva to the back of the throat to be swallowed (our bodies produce up to 2 liters of saliva a day!). Your tongue also helps to move food around your mouth while you are chewing.  Aside from its muscle-y-ness, the tongue is equipped with roughly 10,000 taste buds. Also called papillae, taste buds detect the flavor, texture and sensation (think “minty” or “spicy”) of foods.  Here’s the catch (and you probably know this already): foods taste different to different people! Our taste buds might be doing the same job, but our brains interpret flavor and texture and say “YAY!” or “NAY!” or “meh.”  Just as we grow, our sense of taste grows with us, and even once-hated foods can become favorites (so go on and give those Brussels sprouts another try).

Maris Wicks lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. She has harnessed the power of her various biological systems to draw comics for Adhouse Books, Tugboat Press, and Spongebob Comics, and written stories for Image and DC Comics. Wicks is the illustrator of the New York Timesbestselling Primates, with Jim Ottaviani. When she’s not making comics, Wicks works with New England Aquarium. She’s especially proud of her pulmonary system. 

Lenny and Lucy Trifecta: The Stead Interiew


Be sure to visit Mr. Schu’s blog to read his portion of today’s trifecta.

Philip Stead is on Nerdy Book Club today. Check out his essay by clicking on the image below.

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At some point today I’m going to be asked the question: How’s it going? I love that question. Usually I answer by saying some either, “Wonderful”, or “Living the dream.” When I’m asked that question today I’ll say, “I’m happy.” The freakin’ Steads are on my blog today. How could I not be happy?

It is both an honor and a joy and a privilege to have the opportunity to interview the amazing Steads today. I hope you enjoy reading their responses as much as I did.

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INTERVIEW – Erin & Philip Stead

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Lenny & Lucy?

ERIN: Lenny & Lucy is a book that I restarted five different times because I didn’t feel like the art was quite right. I tried all different ways to make the pictures fit the story. Looking back, I guess that makes sense because the story itself is about being uncomfortable and looking for ways to make things better. Or at least that’s what I think the story is about. Really, it’s up to our readers to create their own meanings for Lenny & Lucy.


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

ERIN: Go outside and look around. Think about the things you like and why you like them. Read books, comics, anything, and remember you are never too old for picture books.


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

PHILIP: I would say The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, and Erin would say Sector 7, by David Weisner.


4. What is the hardest thing about being an author?

ERIN: The hardest thing about being an author is time. I never feel like there is enough of it, especially when I know how important it is to spend time doing nothing every once in a while.

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

ERIN & PHILIP: In our opinion, we get to make books for a better audience than authors and artists who make things for adults. On our best days, we feel like we have a job that contributes something positive to the world. We get to have a job that we believe in. Also, we get to spend almost all of our time with our best friend, our dog, Wednesday.


Fable Comics Blog Tour: George O’Connor


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I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Fable Comics. Many of my third grades are new to fables and this beautiful graphic novel is a huge hit that is introducing my students to some pretty awesome stories that they had missed.

Below you will find my interview with Fable Comics contributor George O’Conner. Enjoy!


  1. What is it about retelling stories in your own words/pictures that you love?

For starters, retelling an existing story gives you a departure point for your comic; instead of a big, blank piece of paper, or computer screen, you already go in with a pretty good idea of the structure of the story you’ll be telling. Having that little bit of structure allows for me to be very creative in my retelling, as I’m not worried about ma king the plot work, etc. It’s like being in a band and playing a cover song. You know more or less how it’s going to go, but you can have a lot of fun with your interpretation.


  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?

In an instance like like this, when I’m adapting a story, I read the source material many times. With the Hermes fables I did for Fable Comics, it turns out there were multiple versions for each fable, so I read every version I could find and cherry-picked my favorite iteration, much like I do when I’m working on my series Olympians. After I have my source material squared away I start doodling in my sketch book, key scenes of the story, and assemble those key scenes into thumbnail layouts. From the thumbnails I do detailed pencil roughs, into which I lay the finished dialogue and text to get editorial feedback. 

After editor supremo Chris Duffy tells me it’s an incoherent mess/ the best thing he’s ever read, I do the finished black and white artwork, in this case with a brush, and scan it in to my computer, color it in Photoshop and then finally assemble the whole thing together with my text layouts. Reading this now it sure sounds like a whole lotta work, and I guess it is. Maybe one of these years I’ll figure out a way to streamline this process a little.

  1. Please please please tell me about your work space.

Okay, but only because you said please.

I have a couple of work spaces actually- one is a studio in Gowanus I share with a bunch of my cartoonist pals for camaraderie and a break to the hauntingly lonely lifestyle of the cartoonist. My personal setup there is actually quite vanilla, just a drafting table, chair and lamp, but I do have some amazing studiomates- Jason Little, Ellen Lindner, Khary Randolph, Reilly Brown and Ada Price.

My home studio is much more exciting, set-up wise. My drafting table is flanked by an entire wall, top to bottom, of Masters of the Universe action figures. There are bookshelves crammed with comics and books, piles more on the floor, and my imac with cintiq. Also, if we’re lucky, my cat is sleeping on the printer at any given time.

  1. Tell me about the first story you remember writing.

Oddly, I cant remember any specific story I really remember from way back when– I do remember telling the serialized adventures of a kind of weird monster I designed by holding out my hand, making a  beak with my thumb and forefinger, and using the remaining fingers to create a fringe on his head. If you look carefully on the attached photo of me at my childhood drawing board, you can see this guy near the top in conversation with an alligator. He had many exciting adventures.

From the publisher:

From classics like “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Grasshopper and the Ants” to obscure gems like “The Frogs Who Desired a King,” Fable Comics has something to offer every reader. Twenty-eight fables from different cultures and traditions are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by twenty-six different cartoonists. Edited by New York Times bestselling Fairy Tale Comics’ Chris Duffy, this jacketed hardcover is a beautiful gift and an instant classic.

Fable Comics is:

James Kochalka and ‘The Fox and the Grapes’
Tom Gauld and ‘The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse’
George O’Connor and the ‘Hermes’ fables
Sophie Goldstein and ‘Leopard Drums Up Dinner’
Charise Harper and ‘The Belly and the Body Members’
R. Sikoryak and ‘Lion + Mouse’
Jennifer L. Meyer and ‘Fox and Crow’
Eleanor Davis and ‘The Old Man and Death’
Jaime Hernandez and ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’
Simone Lia and ‘The Crow and the Pitcher’
Graham Chaffee and ‘The Dog and His Reflection’
Maris Wicks and ‘The Dolphins, The Whales, and The Sprat’
Vera Brosgol and ‘The Hare and the Pig’
Kenny Widjaja and ‘The Demon, The Thief, and the Hermit’
Corinne Mucha and ‘The Elephant in Favor’
Liniers and ‘The Mouse Council’
Mark Newgarten and ‘Man and Wart’
Israel Sanchez and ‘The Milkmaid and Her Pail’
Ulises Farinas and ‘The Great Weasel War’
R.O. Blechman and ‘The Sun and the Wind’
Graham Annable and ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’
John Kerschbaum and ‘The Grasshopper and the Ants’
Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline and ‘The Thief and the Watchdog’
Gregory Benton and ‘The Hen and the Mountain Turtle’
Roger Langridge and ‘Demades and His Fable’

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SLJ Good Comics for Kids features Fable Comics editor Chris Duffy, 9/21

Charlotte’s Library features James Kochalka and ‘The Fox and the Grapes,’ 9/22

Musings of a Librarian features Tom Gauld and ‘The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,’ 9/23

Sharp Reads features George O’Connor and the ‘Hermes’ fables, 9/24

Fly to Fiction features Sophie Goldstein an ‘Leopard Drums Up Dinner,’ 9/25

Supernatural Snark features Charise Harper and ‘The Belly and the Body Members,’ 9/26

It’s All Comic to Me features R. Sikoryak and ‘Lion + Mouse,’ 9/27

Ex Libris Kate features Jennifer L. Meyer and ‘Fox and Crow,’ 9/28

The Roarbots features Eleanor Davis and ‘The Old Man and Death,’ 9/29

Fleen features Jaime Hernandez and ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf,’ 9/30

The Book Monsters features Simone Lia and ‘The Crow and the Pitcher,’ 10/1

The Brain Lair features Graham Chaffee and ‘The Dog and His Reflection,’ 10/2

Librarian in Cute Shoes features Maris Wicks and ‘The Dolphins, The Whales, and The Sprat,’ 10/3

Women Write About Comics features Vera Brosgol and ‘The Hare and the Pig,’ 10/4

The Busy Librarian features Kenny Widjaja and ‘The Demon, The Thief, and the Hermit,’ 10/5

The Book Rat features Corinne Mucha and ‘The Elephant in Favor,’ 10/6

Read. Watch. Connect features Liniers and ‘The Mouse Council,’ 10/7

Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup features Mark Newgarten and ‘Man and Wart,’ 10/8

Jenuine Cupcakes features Israel Sanchez and ‘The Milkmaid and Her Pail,’ 10/9

Bumbles & Fairy Tales features Ulises Farinas and ‘The Great Weasel War,’ 10/10

Graphic Policy features R.O. Blechman and ‘The Sun and the Wind,’ 10/11

The Book Wars features Graham Annable and ‘The Hare and the Tortoise,’ 10/12

Sturdy for Common Things features John Kerschbaum and ‘The Grasshopper and the Ants,’ 10/13

Kid Lit Frenzy features Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline and ‘The Thief and the Watchdog,’ 10/14

Maria’s Melange features Gregory Benton and ‘The Hen and the Mountain Turtle,’ 10/15

Read Write Reflect features Roger Langridge and ‘Demades and His Fable,’ 10/16

Crenshaw Trifecta



I always associate my friendship with Mr. Schu with the book The One And Only Ivan. Mr. Schu and I were friends before Ivan, but it was our love for that book that helped us take our friendship to the next level. It seems fitting that today we celebrate Katherine Applegate’s latest novel together today. Please visit Mr. Schu’s blog to see his celebration of this beautiful book.

Katherine has written a beautiful post for Nerdy Book Club today. It’s a must read!


For my third of the trifecta I’ve decided to share how the students of Parma Elementary have prepared for Katherine Applegate’s author visit (Today. She’s coming today!!!).

Hosting an author visit the eleventh day of school is a little tricky. I usually spend a little bit of time each day for about a month prepping my students for an author visit. Thankfully, every fourth and fifth grader in our school has already had Ms. Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan read aloud to them. The Parma third graders started the year as the only students not familiar with her work.

I kicked off the year reading aloud my students the first book in Katherine’s Roscoe Riley Rules series. It was a gigantic hit!


We also watched a bunch of Katherine Applegate videos.

The most powerful piece of author visit prep for the students at Parma has been participating in the Crenshaw Food Drive. Watching the Parma students come together to do their part to fight childhood hunger has been inspiring.


We kicked off the food drive by bringing Mrs. Woolworth’s class to my classroom where our students spent some time together learning about childhood hunger. It was a lot of fun leading a lesson with 50 kids.


We watched this powerful video.

After a quick lesson, and a quick video the kids got hard at work creating food drive posters to hang in the hallway.

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The kids hung the posters in the hall, and we only had one more step before our food drive could officially be underway. We had to let our Parma families know. My principal, Ms. Haney, uses this cool all-call system that allows her to record a message that gets sent to each parent via a phone call. We decided that it would be cool for the food drive to have students record the message instead of Ms. Haney. My class drafted a message, selected a couple of students as readers, and then sent them to the office to record the message that would be sent to 400+ sets of parents.

My little friends in Ms. Haney's office before they record their message.

My little friends in Ms. Haney’s office before they record their message.

The results of the food drive have been amazing. I’m so proud of these kids. I can’t wait for them to meet Katherine Applegate.





What Should Our Students Expect From Us? A “Passion Talk” by Alaina Sharp


Throughout the end of July and early August I watched my lovely wife craft her “Passion Talk” for the Team Jackson Educational Technology Kickoff. I got to watch her talk evolve into something that has really pushed me as an educator. Today, I’ll walk into my classroom thinking about what my students deserve to be able to expect of me. I hope you are able to get as much out of her talk as I was.