Archive for the ‘School Visits’ Category




Entangled Roots: Once a Frog, Always a Frog

Filed under: Community, Family, Pondering, School Visits

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

– Mister Rogers


For those of you who are new to the blog. I guess I should warn you. I can’t separate my personal life from my writing life. They are inexplicably intertwined. I usually do my best to create some connectivity between the branches, but sometimes they simply are what they are–grafted together. In the past, I’ve blogged about the school my children have attended. I’ve written with joy and hope. (Room 100 Holds the Secret to Fighting the War on Terror. Are You Interested?) I’ve also had the heart crushing disappointment of writing about administrative failure. (A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small: An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District)

Today I get to write about entangled roots…

Yesterday I had the pleasure of returning to my boy’s old elementary school. The one from before we moved. We returned for HUGS Day, which is an epic field day and party. A celebration. It’s a great day to be a FES Frog. But for the Sabatini’s it was a little bit like the ups and downs in one of those bouncy houses. We were so excited to see all our friends again, but at times, no matter how much fun we were having, it was a little bitter sweet. We were forced to look at what we’d been missing–what we are still missing until school comes to an end next week. The boys and I discussed it afterwards and came to the conclusion that being there had far outweighed the small hurts that left little bruises we’d have to recover from later.

Here were some of the big bounces that made the day great…

Small bounce house

Yeah–HUGS day is a bouncy house bonanza!


 Good friends fall right back into place.

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Sharing the experiences of a new school with the old school.


 Visiting familiar friends of a different nature.


Reengaging partners in crime <3


Eating too much.


And singing and dancing–a HAPPY teacher flash mob.

But life is strange and somewhere in the middle of snacks, flash mobs and catching up with friends, I overheard conversations that caused me to step back. Everyone was talking about the up and coming 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony (which we are happily participating in) and the last day of school. Everyone was discussing all the expected tears–how hard and sad it was all going to be. Huh? My mind spun a little trying to connect the dots. Then understanding hit me like a lightening bolt as I realized what I had been missing.

We were no longer standing in the same place our friends were.

We had already grieved the loss of things the way they were. We had had to say goodbye and it had been hard–really, really hard. For us, school being over will be a kind of relief, an end of a particularly rough and knotted branch of our lives. Everyone else at FES is now poised to be standing on the very thin line between the past and the future, with all the emotional and actual baggage that comes with it. And while we might be physically standing next to everyone on that thin line, it isn’t the same.  We are like a group of friends who has opted for different paths through the woods. We will arrive at the same destination–but now we have very different stories to tell about our journey to get there.

But sometimes there are advantages to hearing someone else tell the tale of their journey. This week in particular, as we meet back up to celebrate moving up, I’d like to share what we learned on the road less traveled to an FES graduation.


We’ll all be okay. We’ve got this, because we have each other.

Often in the hustle and bustle of our growth–our forward momentum–we forget about our roots. Our eyes gravitate to the part of the tree that is easy to see. We forget about the strength and beauty of the roots–the parts that have nurtured us and held us in place while we’ve grown. The part that is hidden. FES has given us everything we need to anchor us to the best parts of ourselves and each other. I know this because when my boys had their lives painfully pruned back, they continued to be resilient, to grow and thrive. They are firmly woven with their past, their mentors and their friends, which has allowed them to remain standing, no matter how hard the wind has blown.

Over the next week, the 5th graders at FES will begin the process of branching out–of growing up. They will often take different paths as they grow. But we are very lucky because these kids are all trees in the same beautiful wood and it is my suspicion that beneath it all–their roots are entangled–adding more strength and support for the years to come. It has been my family’s pleasure to be a part of the FES family. Once a frog always a frog. And that is the truth. But being one thing doest limit you from being more things. Love is not limits–it is opportunity. So I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone at our new school. I’m so very lucky because they grow strong and sturdy trees with beautiful roots there, too. They mended and supported us when we were a little broken. They cared for us like we had always been there–instead of what we really were–shell-shocked transplants. And now, because we haven’t moved too far, we have roots in two wonderful places. All that is left to do is entangle them even further. Be prepared to make new friends…

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.


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Highlights from the Hudson Children’s Book Festival

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Author Events, Book Signings, Check-it-out, Community, School Visits, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I had an amazing time at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival this weekend!!!

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What an amazing group of book loving people. Let me share some of them with you…

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Setting up–the calm before the book storm. <3

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It’s me!!!!

HBF Kim signing

Signing TOUCHING THE SURFACE for some very special fans.

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Tiffany Schmidt and her amazing books were a teen magnet all day long.

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K.M. Walton and Jennifer Castle hanging out with one of the many fabulous volunteers.

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Jodi Moore and Dragon giving a tutorial on how to make your very own puppet.

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I had the pleasure of sitting next to the extremely talented Hudson Talbott.

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And my fellow Apocalypsie –Tiffany Schmidt

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Made a brand new friend, Bruce Hopkins. Feels like I’ve known him for years.

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Jodi Moore, Dragon and I got to have an early celebration with SCBWI Crystal Kite winner Kit Grindstaff. Congratulations on her win for her debut novel THE FLAME IN THE MIST.

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SQUEE!!!!! MY CRITIQUE GROUP GOT TO HANG OUT WITH THE INDOMITABLE ELLEN HOPKINS ALL DAY LONG!!!! (ALL CAPS INTENTIONAL) And don’t forget  the bonus SQUEE!!!! Megan, Jodi and I got to hang out all weekend together. We hadn’t seen each other in A YEAR!!! Seeing them was the BEST! <3

It was an amazing day. The book lovers in Hudson already feel like family.

I hope I get a chance to see them a lot more often. And I can’t thank them enough for hosting this wonderful event and having me be a part of it.

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A Recap in Pictures of the NYC Teen Author Festival

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Reading, School Visits, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

A recap of the NYC Teen Author Festival!!!!



Thursday March 21st was the NYC Big Read Event. And I was with this fabulous group at the High School of Fashion Industries.



Alexandra Monir, Aaron Hartzler, Kimberly Sabatini, Amy Spalding, Kody Keplinger, Jessica Spotswood,Tiffany Schmidt and Sarah Mlynowski

Besides loving the students at the High School of Fashion Industries, I loved their library and the special Charles Nolan room…





 And everything is always better with a little lunch!!!!


Saturday March 23, Symposium at the NY Public Library!!!!!

IMG_3893 A FABULOUS Panel!!!!

Defying Description: Tacking the Many Facets of Identity in YA

A.S. King, Aaron Hartzler, Marissa Calin, Jacqueline Woodson and David Levithan



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And this panel was so big I couldn’t get them all in one shot LOL!

Under Many Influences: Shaping Identity When You’re a Teen Girl

Katie Sise, Kathryn Williams, Jen Calonita, Hilary Weisman Graham, Deborah Heiligman, Amy Spalding, Kody Keplinger and Moderated by Terra Elan McVoyIMG_3898IMG_3897 2

And…Born This Way: Nature, Nurture, and Paranormalcy

But unfortunately, I had to leave and meet my hubby and kids before the end of the event. Although perhaps it wasn’t so bad because after a yummy dinner, we took the boys to see…


Although, not my favorite Broadway show, the boys loved it and I really got a kick out of the sets and the stunts.


Breakfast in a room with a view, then off to Books of Wonder!!!! Which was WONDERFUL!!!! And spotted….K.M. Walton in Books of Wonder with a reader absorbed in EMPTY. I had to take this photo LOL!

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IMG_3914 2And Aaron Hartzler signing my copy of his memoir, RAPTURE PRACTICE. (Available April 9, 2013)

IMG_3918OMG!!!!! And me, Fan-girling all over A. S. King!!!!!

DID YOU HEAR ME???? I GOT TO CHAT WITH A.S. KING!!!! *Does a little dance of fan-girlishness*

As you can see…NYC Teen Author Festival…made of AWESOME! To celebrate, I’m giving away my original copy of EMPTY by K.M. Walton because I couldn’t resist picking up a signed copy. *grin*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you enjoyed the recap and I really hope to be a part of the NYC Teen Author Festival in the future.

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How Authors Get Paid

Filed under: Community, Fan Mail, School Visits, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

You’ve all heard some of the terminology about how author’s get paid. This is important stuff. Advances and royalties are two words that immediately come to mind and rightly so. It’s normal to want to be paid fairly for the work that you do. No one would ever expect a Hollywood movie star or a pro-athlete to donate their time for the sake of entertaining us. We also don’t expect doctors to show up for hugs and lollipops. Police get a salary and so do an army of teachers struggling under the weight of how to create learners instead of test takers. Everyone gets paid for the work that they do. Some more than others, but we all get paid.

But there are times in most professions when we realize that we do what we do, for bigger and better reasons than money. Those movie stars use their capitol to support very worth while charities. They have a reach and influence that most of us can’t ever imagine. In just one of many instances, a pro-athlete shows up for the survivors of the Newtown shooting, helping to remind us who our heroes really are. Doctors donate a percentage of their services to those in need. A police officer buys a homeless man shoes. Teachers use the very small amount of money they make to buy books for their classrooms.

Young Adult authors want to make the lives of children better. In a way, tweens and teens are our true employers and while those readers do buy books, we really get paid in fan mail–with humor, insights and honesty.

Just a sample of the thank you letters from two middle schools I recently visited…

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*   “You have inspired me to work on my basketball skills.”

*   “I hope you enjoyed us, but I know we enjoyed you.”

*   “Thank you for being a good friend to all of us…It made me think about going to the library after school to do homework.”

*   “I have something tragic that happened in my life. I think that if I let my feelings out on paper it will make my life a whole lot better.”

*   “You encouraged me to read more. And yes, I remembered to think about you when we proofread,”

*   “Thank you for answering my 17 questions…I’m reading your book and I love it. I’m a good reader but I’m slow. From your biggest fan…”

*   “Thank you for being nice to me…”

*   “What I learned from you is how to follow your dreams…One day I will make a book about dreams…I will buy your book and have a good joyful life. PS Buy my book later.”

*   “One thing I learned is if you ever want to become a writer don’t stop the first time they reject your book. Keep going on, change some stuff so it sounds better.”

*   “…I thought about it a little, and realized I should probably do the same thing because it isn’t good to keep things to yourself the way I do. So, I’m going to try to open up more to people and myself…I say this because I did what you said and wrote down some personal things that I kept away from people and it actually felt good to write it down…Thank you very much for teaching me something about myself.”

*   “…The fact that you took the whole day to come and meet every single class individually, really shows how cool of a person you truly are.”

*   “I was ecstatic when you told us about your writing style. That got me so excited because you said that not all authors planned out their stories to an extremity. I, like you, do not plan out my stories. I find writing can be much more exciting when you are writing a story and you just can’t wait to find out how the end plays out.”

*   “You also inspired me because of how you never found yourself good enough.”

*   “P.S.: Team Trevor forever!!! <3”

*   “Hi, your visit was very special…I also hope that I grow up with the same kind of encouragement and influence that you had in your life…If you have a chance, please come back and give our class the encouragement we need in life.”

*   “When you showed us the process of how to get a book published I was absolutely stunned! After I saw all the papers inside that single binder my jaw literally dropped….Rick Riordan may be one of my favorite authors but you will always be my favorite too.”

*   “Also, hearing about how much you wrote when you were younger was inspiring because I’m the same way now (Thanks for the “no tearing out” warning by the way.)”

*   “My sister just finished your book, so I got it. Like your editor, I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.”

*   “I also realized that people don’t need to be published authors to be writers. People just need to write.”

*   “As you may be able to tell I’m not that good of a writer, but it’s always good to know what I might be getting into if I were to be an author.”

*   “Also it was unbelievable how great your handwriting was in elementary school.”

*   “I liked how your were really enthusiastic when you were speaking, so everyone would pay attention. I did not read your book, but I’m hoping I can get my hands on it to see how great it is after so much hard work.”

*   “Your book is going to be a big success because when I started reading I couldn’t stop or put it down.”

*   “Thank you so much for visiting our class and teaching us about the process and joy of becoming an author. You specifically connected with each of us which made it a lot more real. It’s funny because I find myself a lot like you were growing up…”

*   “Than when you came, it inspired me to write again and I LOVE IT!!!! Thank you so much for letting me do what I really love.”

*   “I too have ripped out the pages of my journal. I did this because writing things down was dangerous. Dangerous because it makes things more than thoughts in my head. Dangerous because it makes them real. Your visit lets me hope that one day I will be in front of a class showing them the pages of my ripped journal. I extend my most sincere gratitude for this, for allowing me to hope.”


As you can see, no matter how much or how little money I make as an author, it’s obvious that I’m very, very rich. This is why I love what I do. It also reminds me how carefully our children are watching and listening. I love it when I get the chance to be the change I want to see in the world. Any favorites? And yes, I laughed and cried as I was reading. How could I not?


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Addiction–Why School Visits are as Awesome as Chocolate Covered Potato Chips and a GIVEAWAY!

Filed under: Community, Contests, School Visits, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I have a new addiction and it is so much healthier than the chocolate covered potato chips from the alps.

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And yes, I sampled them when I went down to take the picture. Wouldn’t you? LOL! But hey–back on task–let’s talk about my other addiction. Squee! It’s school visits. Seriously people, they make me very, very happy. I’ve mentioned before that I was a teacher and that I was ok leaving the profession because it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. But author visits–It’s like taking a salty potato chip and dipping it in your favorite chocolate. It just works. It feels really good. I get to take the best parts of me (that I brought to the table as a teacher) and combine them with the heart and soul work I’m doing as a writer. Seriously, I could go on and on ad nauseam, but vomit isn’t pretty, so I’ll stop right after I tell you about the middle school boy who asked me to sign his arm yesterday. He mumbled something about not realizing he should have gotten the book. *heart squish* The thing is, there is more than one amazing thing going on when you’re an author for young adults. You have the potential to connect thorough your book, but you also have the weird ability to connect outside of your book. When you talk to a classroom of students, there may be kids who don’t pick up the book you’ve written, but they still hear what you say. And those words might be the right words at the right time. The possibilities and the potential are endless. But I promised to stop babbling. *covers mouth with hands*

Did you really think I’d shut up? Silly you. If you are located in the Hudson Valley area, I would love to arrange a visit to your local school. If you’re interested, let a teacher or librarian know that I’m available and how to contact me.


And because not everyone is close enough for me to stop over while my kids are in school, I’m doing a TOUCHING THE SURFACE giveaway for your favorite middle school or high school. Anyone can enter and the contest details are below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

And in case you still want to chat, I was wondering if any of you have stories of influential guest speakers visiting you in school. Did they make an impact on you? Didn’t have any guest speakers or they were duds? What author would you have loved to come and speak to you?

Thanks so much for spreading the word!

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My First Official School Gig and the Feedback You Don’t Want to Miss

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Family, Fan Mail, School Visits, Writing

Last Wednesday I went to my middle son’s 4th grade class and talked about writing. It was my first official school gig and I loved it. The former teacher in me enjoyed having a captive audience again. The mom in me loved getting to know my son’s classmates better. The writer in me had so much fun talking about something I love. And all of me sucked up their energy and exuberance like a sponge. I couldn’t help but see that I’d put a small ripple out into the world, but now I’m busting my buttons because it was a bigger ripple than I’d guessed.  This is what came home to me over the weekend…

They sent me the most wonderful thank you notes–or as I think of them–love letters. Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite parts with you…


Dear Mrs. Sabatini…

“Thank you for coming in to talk about writing. Like you, I love writing! That talk really helped me with different ideas for my writing.”


“You inspired me because even thought it took a long time to write touching the surface You never gave up.”


“You inspired Me To: write lots of books also public books. I learned It might take a lot of work to write a Book but its worth It! Also you have to Fix a lot when you Make it.”


*This letter was in Braille–“You did an awesome job making your stupendous books. You make me almost not afraid to write! Your poem was really funny, and your stories you told us were awesome.”


“You inspired me by you telling me your speech. PS I can beat you in a gun game.” (I may have joined in on a little shoot’em up, finger fun, going on at the bus stop LOL!)


“I have awhole list of things that inspiered me LIKE…

-When you made the photo board


-Loved all most all of the authors that you’ve met.

You see, a have alot more reasons why but I ran out of room on the paper. I’am almost done with my new book called The fuzz problem. Thank you for coming.”


“Thank you for all the amazing tips you gave me for being a writer. Just from hearing you talk, I have been writing much better and coming up with better ideas. That talk changed my writing life.”


“Things I learned from your visit:

-Writing a book takes a long time.

-Never try to hit a cat with a metal shovel

-Writer’s block is more like writer’s pause.

-there is alot more to making a book than writing it.



“I learned…if you writght something you are a wrighter.”


“Your inspirational speech really inspired me to think that dreams do come true. Like when you said that you never thought you could be an author…look at you now! Being a mom, an author and an AMAZING dancer (p.s. I loved the 9-11 number!) I just don’t know how you do it!”


“I want to say thank you for coming and inspiring me. I also learned a lot about publishing, like I never knew there was a copy editor. I will be sure to read your book when I am older. Do authors ever write by hand these days? Were you a reader when you were little? You brought out the writer in me.

P.S. Did you ever meet Judy Blume?

P.P.S. How many drafts did you make?

Keeping a diary (kind of. I already keep a journal but I used to write only lists. now I am going to write the best and worst parts of my day.)

Writing. I feel like now that will calm me down too. (Although I’m not dreaming of being an author.)



“Thank you for coming. We apprecait that you told us all that stuff. If I was you I would todaly write that much. But right now i’m in a lower stage than you. So when I grow a little bit I will grow a lot. If you can make a detective book my mom would love it. All that stuff that you told use really is going to help use. I hope that if you can make more and more books that you could be a famuase anther. And if I ever wont some help to wright, I will always go to you.

P.S. If you ever get a cat don’t kill it with a shovel.”


I’m assuming you don’t need any prompts for your comments. ROTFL! And in case you’re wondering–author–BEST JOB EVER! Tomorrow I’m going to the second grade. I can’t wait!






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