Posts Tagged ‘Jon Scieszka’

Dec

4

2014

Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide–Fabulous Non-ficition

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Lots of people groan when they hear non-fiction, especially kids. The first thing that often comes to mind it BORING! But I’m here to tell you that you’re just not reading the right books. Here are some of my favorite children’s non-fiction reads that will knock your socks off.

 

1.  Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo

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Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing! They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door. But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work. Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard to find snail in a forest.
A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away. Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?

In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners. Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, Sniffer Dogs will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.

My boys LOVED this book so much. It’s loaded with pictures, vignettes and so much interesting information. All I can say is that next time I see Nancy she’s in trouble because my kids are REALLY pushing for a puppy and we are considering. LOL! If you already have a dog, you’ll learn a TON about what makes your dog an amazing sniffer. And I’m always a sucker for a book that has inspirational heroes in it. This is an all around great read for kids and adults. My copy is being passed around the family as we speak.

 

2.  Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

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In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.

Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Steve speak more than once and I loved hearing his transformation from “boring” text book writer to award winning author. He has learned the art of capturing the truly interesting tidbits of our history and is able to weave them together in a story like fashion that begs you to turn the page. Bomb was a captivating read and after finishing it, my boys have gone on to read more about Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust out of curiosity. We’ve also read some of Sheinken’s other books and they don’t disappoint either.

3.  Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

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How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.

Funny man, Jon Scieszka has always been a favorite at in the Sabatini house and I’ve seen crowds roar with laughter when he gives a presentation, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I had tears running down my face reading the chapter about the Scieszka boys on vacation in the backseat of the family station wagon. I swear it was the best laugh I had in 2014. My kids still talk about it and after we got done reading it together, I kept finding boys in bed pouring over the stories again and again.

4.  Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey

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In history class, you’ve studied people who lived long ago. But do you know just how gross daily life was in the United States around the time of the American Revolution? • People rarely bathed. • They didn’t wash most of their clothes regularly. • Their teeth were rotting. • Bedbugs feasted on people as they slept. • Lice crawled through their hair (and their wigs) day and night. Ready to step out for a breath of fresh air? Well, look out, because the streets were filled with poop. Don’t believe it? Hop in a time machine and travel back to June, 1770, in the pages of this book!

Just put Lois’ book in my shopping cart for my own boys! I’ve been long over due to read this one and I’m so excited. I was in the audience when Betsy Bird was singing it’s praises and that is all the confirmation that I needed! The boys are going to love this one. Merry Yucky Christmas to Me :o)

5.  Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

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Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.

Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

Sadly, bullying can happen at any time in your life, but for kids who look upon their favorite authors as rockstars–this is a powerful book. But it always helps to know you’re not alone. Dear Bully is a heartfelt reminder of how deeply the kid lit community is invested in it’s readers. So proud to be a YA author. <3

If I haven’t convinced you to buy non-fiction with these fabulous suggestions, remember that non-fiction is becoming a very big component of the common core curriculum. And while lots of the things about core curriculum give me hives–I LOVE anything that gets kids to read diverse material. Reading non-fiction with your kids is strengthening an important intellectual muscle that will serve them well in school and in the future. Go out and buy and read these amazing books!!!!!

Are there any great non-fiction children’s books that I need to put on my TBR list? Please share!

I’ll be back next week with more holiday book buying suggestions. Please feel free to share these with all your reader friends. I know all of these authors will be mighty appreciative. You can find more of my Best Books Holiday Shopping Blogs here…

*Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide-Some of Kim’s 2014 Favorites

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Aug

31

2011

SCBWI LA 40th Anniversary Conference-Part 9

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Conferences, SCBWI

This is it!  I’m ready to finish this up and move on.  Fasten your seat belts and get ready for your final SCBWI LA Conference installment!

This is not John Green.  Not a single one.

Nova Ren Suma, Julie Strauss-Gabel and Michael Bourret fill in for the missing John Green. (unable to make it due to medical issues)  I was seriously bummed not to get to meet one of my favorite authors, but so happy for my friend Nova (author of IMAGINARY GIRLS) to get this opportunity.  

I wasnt the only Nova fan!  Every crowd should have an enthusiastic Mike Jung in the back LOL!  (If you’re lucky)
Some highlights from their discussion…
*Nova-When something really scares you, its probably the right thing to explore.  I picked Michael as an agent because he pushed me to grow as a writer.
*Michael-I know that I’ve lost out on clients because I’ve been honest about what my expectations were.
From my own experience, I can’t agree more.  A great fit with your agent is the foundation you need and it will increase the chances that you’ll find an editor who is also an amazing match.
Time for the 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon
We had a wonderful slide show, looking back over 40 years.  It was amazing.  Wish it was posted some place so that I could share it with you

This was dessert.  Everything about this made me smile.

Listening to the speeches of the Golden Kite recipients.  They were fantastic–so proud of them.

A special keynote from the impeccable Richard Peck.  I adore this man.  

Hanging with the Apocalypsies…Emily, Kim, Tamara and Mike.

This is when that big lunch and dessert became a problem.  Navigating the halls in a chocolate coma, I didn’t get to Bruce Coville’s workshop in time to get a seat or a piece of rug.  This picture was taken from the door with my hands up over my head.  The good news was that I could hear him just fine.

Bruce Coville-AT THE INTERSECTION OF PLOT AND CHARACTER: THE PLACE WHERE STORIES HAPPEN.
GAHHH!!!! Every word out of this man’s mouth is genius.  I’ll try to pick the best ones to share with you…
*Stories happen when a character is forced to make a difficult choice.  NEED DRIVES THE ACTION.
*Use yourself, steal from everyone around you.  Cast the book as if you are writing a play.
*Characters should have…
     -an agenda (theirs, not yours)
     -some inconsistencies (do you know anyone who doesn’t?)
    
*Plot is what happens when desire meets obstacle.
*If there is no chance to crash if you have not jumped.
Because the universe is fair, and wanted to make up for my inability to even cross the threshold of Bruce’s workshop, I was able to snag front row seats for the final keynote of the conference.  *squee*  While we waited for…drum roll…Laurie Halse Anderson.  We decided to take some pictures.  Guess who joined us?  Linda Sue Park!!!!!

Jodi, Laura, Edna, Amy N., Linda Sue Park, Kim and Amy S.

Then Linda switched out with our buddy Jeff so he could get in the picture too!
Laurie Halse Anderson-DARING THE UNIVERSE
Laurie, means so much to me.  I can’t put into words the effect that she has had on my life, the impact she has made.  The places I’ve dared to go because I knew I had a friend along for the journey.  Yes, because of her I have become someone who dares to disturb the universe.  I love that, I love her and I want a T-shirt that says it!  

Here is what you just can’t miss…
DO YOU DARE DISTURB THE UNIVERSE?
*Art disturbs the universe.  When we create it we make our neighbors nervous and our politicians fret.  
*We gather here to collect our courage.
*Revolutions of the soul are a scary thing.
*If you don’t jump, the wings never come.
*To write is to terrorize yourself.
*When things get bad, just remember, BABY…YOU’RE GOING TO DIE.  Puts it in perspective. Ha!
*It is your obligation to disturb the universe the best that you can.
*THIS IS OUR WORK.
*In 20 years, you will be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.
*In children’s literature, we are not competitors, we are co-conspirators.
And here are the best co-conspirators that any of us could possibly have.  *sniff* 
Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser taking a bow after 40 years of love, dedication and brilliance.  <3

Dan Santat signing a book for the boys.

Kim and Dan giving K.L. Going the thumbs up.  (Dan is illustrating her new picture book)
The amazing author/illustrator Marla Frazee.  I adore her picture books.  *heart squish*

No one can blame me for sneaking Jon Scieszka the bunny ears.  He’s just mad because he didn’t think of it first. LOL!

No need to get teary about the end of the conference–yet.  It’s off to KidLit Night at the Pink Taco!!!!

What you don’t know is that we’re hungry enough to eat the table!  (Can you see me leaning in?)

Apocalypsies!!!!  Gretchen, Kim, Emily and Debra.  I love these gals!!!!

We ate.  We hung out.  A few of us even did the Pitch Slam with Mary Kole. 
 It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone.  The conference was amazing, but it was time to go home to the other people we love, to return to our writing, to once again sleep more than 4 consecutive hours and to begin to dream about going again next year.  Ummm and to do laundry.  *head thunk*
I know that these recaps have been endless.  I hope I was able to capture a little bit of the magic of the experience and share it with you.  Because honestly, I wish you’d been there too.  If you have any recommendations for things you’d like to see in future conference blogs–let me know and I’ll see if I can make it happen.  Hope to see you at a conference soon.  :o)

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Aug

22

2011

SCBWI LA 40th Anniversary Conference-Part 6

Filed under: Conferences

OMG!!!IT’SJUDYBLUME!!!DIDYOUHEARME????IT’SJUDYFREAKINGBLUMEFOLKS!!!!

That’s pretty much all you heard in the ballroom at this point.  We were all a little bit a whopping load of excited.

Lin Oliver and Judy Blume

I vacillated between trying to jot down every syllable she uttered and just wanting to just sit there and take in the moment.  It was remarkable to hear Judy Blume speak.  This is a tough one to convey properly, it was once in a lifetime experience.  I’ll try to give you a little pice of the wonderful…

*We start the book on the day that something different happens.

*We write children’s books because it is what comes naturally to us.  Right now EVERYBODY wants to write for children–we are so hot.  We went from…”Judy, when are you going to write a REAL book?” To being the moneymakers for the publishers.

*In her 20’s (the early 60’s) she had two kids and a traditional husband who wanted her to be home and perfect.  “The expectations for my life were very disappointing to me.”

*Her life made her physically sick and when she changed it, all her illnesses disappeared.

*Writing not only changed my life, it saved my life.

*Don’t listed to anyone else, don’t worry about who your audience is, because if it’s good–your book will find one.

*(In response to a question) I don’t think about my legacy.  If I thought about all of you when I write, I would be too scared to write anything.  When I die, I’d like a little stone that says…Are you there God?  It’s me, Judy.

*heart squish*

 
Next up, a workshop.  How can anyone in the world interesting after listening to Judy Blume?  You find some wonderful folks to make you laugh.

Libba Bray-HELLO, MY NAME IS…GETTING PAST THE FIRST DATE WITH YOUR CHARACTERS

Libba gave excellent advice and I’ll give you a few awesome tidbits, but as I’m reading over my notes, I can’t help but be disappointed because I couldn’t capture her wit on paper.  So be warned, Libba in person is unlike anyone you’ve ever met before and I mean that in the very best of ways.

*Read as far and wide as you possibly can.

*Feel free to read the mediocre and the bad–it will make you feel better and it’s instructive.

*Writing should cost you something.

*Question the assumptions, stereotypes and pop-culture.

*Revision is my only extreme sport.  :o)

Now we must follow funny with more funny…

Jon Scieszka-THE MYRAID POSSIBILITES OF FORM, STYLE AND GENRE

Oh, I have not laughed this hard in a very long time.  Seriously.  And once again, I can not support the high level of hilarity with my notes.  As I look over my scribbles, I’ve realized that after the first comment, they are practically illegible.  Just funny, little tidbits that relate to a well, crafted humorous stories.  I’ll prove it to you…

*I got a masters in fiction writing, which qualified my to paint apartments. Ha! (Swear, this is the only one that will make sense.)

*Writing skinny books with cool covers.

*Tipping hat to Frog and Toad. Cowboy and Octopus–two weirdest best friends ever.

*Slaughter Ball.  Boys-“Yeah!”  Girls-“Why would you do that?”

*Oh, sorry mom–I think we broke Greg.

*3yo-Alzheimers patients on acid.  Everything is a little freaky and then it starts all over again.

*This stuff is not rocket science folks!

Trust me–just laugh.  I know what I’m talking about.

If you’re back on Wednesday…Norton Juster.  You don’t want to miss it.  Just sayin’.

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