I Can’t Stop Thinking About Lily and Dunkin



When I look at the title to this post I can’t figure out if I can’t stop thinking of Lily and Dunkin the characters or Lily and Dunkin the book. Probably a little bit of both.

I had the honor this past week of reading Donna Gephart’s forthcoming book Lily and Dunkin. The book doesn’t come out until May 0f 2016, so writing this post makes me feel like a bit of a jerk. Here I am, writing about a book that can’t be purchased until the end of the school year.

I’m sorry, but I just have to write about this book.

This book.


Lily and Dunkin blew me away. I feel like I spent half my time reading this book falling in love with the characters, half my time thinking about specific kids that I want to hand this book to, half my time thinking about what haters are going to try and say about this book, and half my time crying. That’s a lot of halves, but I’m sure that many of you understand that sometimes we read a book with more than our whole selves. We read a book with the whole world in our heart. That’s how I read this book.

Lily is a transgender girl. Dunkin is a boy that is bipolar. They meet at the end of the summer before their eighth grade year. I am sure that you will hear more about the story in the coming months, but you won’t hear it from me. I want every reader to get a chance to experience this book for themselves. My hope is that their experience with Lily and Dunkin isn’t clouded by my praise, or others critiques.

Today, I’m passing Lily and Dunkin to the captain of the eighth grade football team that I coach. He is an amazing kid, and I know that this book will help him grow into a man that this world needs. I can’t wait to talk to him about Lily and Dunkin!

I think that Lily and Dunkin will have a huge impact on a lot of readers, so I hope that you’ll consider adding it to your to-read list. The world is a better place because this book exists, and I am a better man.

Happy reading!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Will Moses


Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? I know that most of the students in my classroom and all of the kids at my house are big fans. Kids of these timeless tales will love Will Moses’s Fairy Tales for Little Folks.

I’m excited to share my interview with Will on my blog today!

After you read my interview you should totally head to Will’s website and check out all his beautiful work. I REALLY want to buy one of his puzzles.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

5. Can you tell us a little bit about FAIRY TALES FOR LITTLE FOLKS?

Fairy Tales for Little Folks in many ways is an echo of a book I did several years ago, Will Moses Mother Goose. In both books, I tell the story in words and specific page related illustrations and then again, in an overall double page painting that depicts all of the previous illustrations in one large painting and hopefully does it in an interesting and linear progression. I have noted over the years that little kids are drawn to and seem to light up when looking at one of my paintings. I think the colors and the subject matter help with that and the original thought here, was that children would find it a treat to not only hear the stories but then also be able to pick out the various sub-scenes from the larger paintings. Fairy Tales for Little Folks lends itself very well to the concept with classic, time honored stories, retold and illustrated, in a way that I hope children might relate to more wholeheartedly.


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

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. I think I could fit in on just about any page or as almost any character in that book. I seem to identify to some degree with many of those portrayed, both the good and the bad. Even today, having read the book several years ago, I often think of the book and its characters and draw from it for inspiration both personal and professional.


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

Stepping back to check my perspective on what I am writing or paining. Just because I think what I am doing is brilliant it does not necessarily follow that others will think the same. I have to believe in what I am a doing but it is important to remember that others may see my work in a different light than I do.


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

Always allow yourself to use your imagination. Always check that your imagination has not gotten the best of you.

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

The freedom to nap as I find necessary.

10 Minute Review: Mother Bruce


Last week, when my students finished our Mock Caldecott unit, I began shifting my attention to 2016 books. I knew that I had missed some 2015 gems, but in order to be on top of 2016, I felt like I needed to begin planning a new reading year.

Then I got a package.

The package contained Mother Bruce. I set it on a counter in my classroom, and began getting ready for the day. We finished up our morning work, and my students began reading. We paused, like we always do around 9:00 to say the pledge, and then I got an itch to read them a picture book. We’ve been studying nonfiction the last few days, and I just wasn’t feeling my main idea lesson.

mother bruce

As my students headed to the carpet I realized that I didn’t really have a picture book to read them. I grabbed Mother Bruce of the counter, and strolled over to our meeting area. Most of the time I’ve read the text that I read aloud to my students multiple times before I read it to them. This time I was just winging in.

And it was magical.


We laughed, we thought, we discussed Ryan T. Higgins’s wonderful book. Bruce is such a fun main character, and the kids loved how ridiculous he could be at times.

After reading Mother Bruce one of my students came up to me and said that Mother Bruce, Wolfie The Bunny, and McToad Mows Tiny Island are the three funniest books we’ve read all year. I agreed with him. My readers are so stinkin’ smart.


If you’re still looking for great 2015 books to read, I hope that you’ll add Mother Bruce to your list. It’s phenomenal.

P.S. About a half hour after reading Mother Bruce I taught my main idea lesson. It went well. :)


My 2015 Nerdy Nominations


The Nerdy Book Club started a little over four years ago with the first annual Nerdies. Each year I analyze the books I’ve read to see which ones I should vote for.


I hope that you will join in in nominating your favorite books of 2015. You don’t have to fill the form out completely. Heck, I’ll probably leave some categories completely blank. Just take a few minutes and show some love to your favorite books of 2015.


Here is what I’m nominating:

Picture Books Fiction

Mother Bruce

By: Ryan T. Higgins

mother bruce

Wolfie The Bunny

Written By Ame Dyckman

Illustrated By: Zachariah OHora


Yard Sale

By: Eve Bunting

Pictures By: Lauren Castillo

yard sale

Lenny & Lucy

Written By: Philip Stead

Illustrated By: Erin Stead


Nonfiction Picture Books

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Written By: Lindsay Mattick

Illustrated By: Sophie Blackall

finding winnie

Growing Up Pedro

By: Matt Tavares


Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

Written By: Laurel Snyder

Illustrated By: Julie Morstad


Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Written By: Miranda Paul

Illustrated By: Jason Chin


Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Written By: Phil Binder

Illustrated By: John Parra


Early Readers/Chapter Books

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret

By: Bob Shea

ballet cat

Completely Clementine

By: Sara Pennypacker

Illustrated By: Marla Frazee


Graphic Novels

Sunny Side Up

Written By: Jennifer Holm

Illustrated By: Matthew Holm


Hilo Book 1: The Boy That Crashed to Earth

By: Judd Winick


Roller Girl

By: Victoria Jamieson


Squish 7: The Deadly Disease of Doom

Written By: Jennifer Holm

Illustrated By: Matthew Holm


Middle Grade Fiction

The Thing About Jellyfish

By: Ali Benjamin


Gone Crazy In Alabama

By: Rita Williams Garcia


Lost in the Sun

By: Lisa Graff


The Honest Truth

By: Dan Gemeinhart


Milo Speck, Accidental Agent

By: Linda Urban


Young Adult Fiction

Orbiting Jupiter

By: Gary Schmidt


Goodbye Stranger

By: Rebecca Stead


Bone Gap

By: Laura Ruby


All The Bright Places

By: Jennifer Niven


Simons Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

By:  Becky Alberatalli




The Yarn- Anne Ursu: The Real Boy Unravelled



I am very excited to be able to share the first episode in the new series from The Yarn: The Unraveller. We’re modeling this series after the podcast Song Exploder. We’d love to know what you think.

In this episode Anne Ursu shares where she got the idea for The Real Boy, why she wrote the book, and more!

Subscribe to The Yarn on iTunes by clicking on the image below.


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We’re giving away the signed copy of The Real Boy that Anne Ursu reads from in this episode. The giveaway runs through 12/31/2015.