Sunday, December 02, 2012

Knowledge Quest--Personal Learning Networks PLNs

A big thank you to the Children's Book Council for inviting me to write an article for the November/December issue of Knowledge Quest, the bi-monthly magazine published by AASL (American Association of School Librarians). This entire issue is on PLNs or Personal Learning Networks and is full of useful information for authors, librarians, or anyone looking to extend their social media outlets beyond the sphere of Facebook, Blogger, Twitter and most popular on-line venues.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

October was a busy blur of a month. On the 29th of said October, Hurricane Sandy roared through, creating an enormous AFTERMATH (capital letters required) that took homes, businesses, power for weeks, and most devastating—several lives. The ripples of loss due to Sandy continues in New York and New Jersey and will for some time to come. 

Here's to helping those who have lost so much.
Happy and healthy wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Awesome Autumn!

A few things I'm enoying this October...I hope you are, too.

Apple picking.
Festival fun.
Falling leaves.
Happy smells...and smiles.
Books, books, books!
Pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns—
BOO!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

The "dog days of summer" refers to the time between July 3rd and August 11th, when the days are long and humid and there's a feeling of inactivity or stagnation. 

Most dogs I know don't pay attention to the calendar.

I hope you're enjoying the dog days of summer, whether it's vacationing, visiting family or friends, or sitting under a tree with a great book and a pitcher of your favorite icy drink.



Friday, August 10, 2012

THE GREAT BEE COUNT! August 11, 2012

Some people count money.
Some people enjoy counting crows.

Saturday, August 11th, spend 15 minutes outside and count bees.
Be a part of the NATIONAL GREAT BEE COUNT!

The project has been gathering information since 2008 and now boasts the largest single body of data about bee pollination in North America.
"We want people to report what they see."
Bees need help surviving in the modern world.

*Photo credit:
 Susan Taylor Brown


Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer, Bees, John Green

It's been a wonderful 2012 so far, buzzing books from school to school. Thanks to all the student worker bees, teachers, and librarians I've met during this school year. It's also been a joy to meet some of my favorite people (or bears) such as Corduroy and author extraordinaire John Green.

Wherever you are, I hope you get to read a lot of books this summer and to quote awesome John Green:
DFBTA!  
DON'T FORGET TO BE AWESOME!


Saturday, June 02, 2012

YEAR OF READING and Neil Gaiman's bees

I'm sending a special thanks to Australian blogger 366 Books: My Year of Reading for her lovely post about THESE BEES COUNT! and recognizing that bees are vital as nature's farmers.



Neil Gaiman is a bee enthusiast, too. Check out this amazing hi-speed video of him installing new bees into a hive. Video credit to Matt Kuchta for this fabulous piece.  I've tried to upload it, but if it doesn't show, visit this Vimeo link to see the bees.

http://vimeo.com/40830178


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN by Tiffany Strelitz Haber

 Buzzing about an "Onster" today! 
Everyone knows that the M in “monster” stands for MEAN. But what happens when a monster can’t be mean any more? Is he still a monster at all? 

There's one way to find out with this special "Onster" in Tiffany Strelitz Haber's debut picture book, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEANillustrated by Kirstie Edmonds (Holt/Macmillan), out this July.



Here's Tiffany holding her very cute, un-mean monster.



Enjoy the buzz on Tiffany and her new picture book, 
THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN.

If you were a bee, would you be a) the queen (She lays around 1500 eggs a day for two to three years), b) a drone (impregnates queen and dies), c) or a worker
(Works non-stop building hive, pollinating, gathering nectar, making honey, feeding baby bees. Lives about 6 weeks and dies)? 
Oh my. I'm not a big fan of those life spans! Nor am I keen on becoming the egg-laying extravaganza. I'll go with worker.  Sound like a good combo of chaos and productivity, without the torture of monotony. Go workers!


Same question for your main character, Onster? Queen, drone, or worker?I'm gonna say The Onster would go for the same. He's clearly domestic: "Sweeping, heaping, light house-keeping, organizing drawers."

Have you ever competed in a spelling bee? If so, what was your winning or losing word?
I was obsessed with spelling bees growing up! I will never ever forget that after correctly spelling probably 70 of the trickiest words you can imagine, in a row, to finally earn a spot in the big "school wide" bee...I choked on my first turn with NINETY. I went for NINTY. Game over.

Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat. Did you eat your vegetables when you were a kid? 
I know I loved spinach.

What's your favorite fruit or vegetable? 
Going with artichokes.

What's Onster's favorite fruit or vegetable? 

He grew up on eyeball soup, so I think his exposure to fruits and veggies has been limited up until now


Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower? 
I don't know. I'm awful with flower names  :-(  I always wished I knew more about that kind of stuff. Maybe one day....

Are flowers mentioned in your latest book? 

They sure are! And they are also the focus of the most amazing illustration by KIRSTIE EDMUNDS about half way through the story.



Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar?   
Oh honey, there’s no contest. (honey)







Friday, March 30, 2012

Springing!

Spring has a arrived and if you have books about trees and bees like I do, then you're busy sharing them, especially this time of year.




I have a lot of fun events coming up which means I get to meet lots of wonderful students, teachers, and librarians and talk trees, bees, and even seas (since I'm working on that book for 2013). Another fun way authors share books is at book festivals. I'll be going to a few this Spring, including the wonderful Albany Book Festival on April 28th and the huge, spectacular Hudson Children's Book Festival on May 5th in Hudson, NY. 

Guess who's going to be at the Hudson Children's Book Festival, too?
  The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature! Walter Dean Myers himself!  



Check out this great YouTube commercial with kids from Hudson, NY with info about the festival and featuring lots of great books.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: PIECES OF US by Margie Gelbwasser


The buzz is all about Margie Gelbwasser and her new young adult novel PIECES OF US, which is now available at your favorite bookstore. Margie's first book, INCONVENIENT was a great page-turner and I'm sure this new story will be the same. Check out the Bee Book Buzz with Margie, a fellow KidLit Author, and visit her website to see a list of her upcoming events.




If you were a bee, which would you be and why?
Queen, drone, or worker?
Confession time: I had no idea what the responsibility of each bee was so I had to look it up. I'm definitely a worker bee because she has the most responsibility. I feel I always have to take care of everything.

Same question for your main character in PIECES OF US? Queen, drone, or worker?
That's a tough one. I have four characters, and I don't know which title best suits each one if any. In the sense of all of them feeling they have a variety of responsibilities, I'll say they're worker bees. But I can see how they would fit into each of the three categories, especially the drone. The drones are victims, and each of my characters has been victimized in some way.

Bees pollinate most of the fruits and vegetables we love to eat. When you were a kid, did you eat your vegetables?
I always ate my veggies. The only vegetable I hated then and still do is brussel sprouts. I have yet to find a recipe that makes this veggie edible.

What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
I love all fruit. They're all so yummy! Favorite vegetable? I'd say the potato. There is so much you can do with it!

What's your main characters' favorite fruit or vegetable? 
All my characters go to lake houses in the summer. The houses are in the Catskills in Upstate New York, with the woods as a backdrop. Katie's and Julie's grandpa always goes berry picking, and then their grandma makes delicious jam and punch from the berries. She gives some of the berries, jam, and punch to Kyle and Alex's grandparents. So, I would say berries are the characters' favorite fruit.

Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower? 
My full name in Russian is Margarita. My sister named me after her favorite flower, the daisy. Because of this, I've always been partial to the daisy. :-) However, my hubby recently bought me roses and the house smells so nice, so I like these too.



Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try? 
There was only one candle on the cake, so yes. :-)


Have you ever competed in a spelling bee?
I did! When I was in elementary school, we had them every week in class. I did pretty well. But in junior high school we had this qualifying exam for like the National Spelling Bee. Did not very well that time.

My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment. What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults? 
I'm trying to get more involved in charity work, like working in a soup kitchen or shelter.

Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar? 
I love the different kinds of honey and the various textures it has, but I also LOVE sugar cubes. Don't really have them now, but they were a special treat as a kid.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: Baseball Fan-Grateful-for-Salad-Rock Star Author Audrey Vernick

It's an exciting day at the hive! These bees are buzzing books with writer pal extraordinaire Audrey Vernick. She's the author of several great books for kids, including two new fabulous picture books, SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR and BROTHERS AT BAT: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR (Walker Books for Young Readers)illustrated by Kirstie Edmunds, is the essential primer on everything rock ’n’ roll. With an interactive text that encourages young readers to get up and move and retro illustrations that balance fantasies of stardom with real-world rocking out, this book has something for everyone—budding singers, musicians, and their parents, too!
After the bees rock out, it's time to buzz over to the ball field where the bases are loaded with Audrey's second picture book out this Spring. BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM (Clarion Books for Children), illustrated by Steven Salerno, has already hit a home run with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Junior. He says, "I was lucky to play in the big leagues with my brother as a teammate and my dad as our manager. It was a very special time. The story of the Acerra brothers brought those memories back. It is a wonderful illustration of what a great game baseball is and how it brings families together on many different levels. BROTHERS AT BAT is a story any baseball fan will enjoy and one that we all should know." 
BROTHERS AT BAT will keep you buzzing through the pages to discover more about a truly fascinating family. The Acerra family had sixteen children, including twelve ball-playing boys. It was the 1930s, and many families had lots of kids. But only one had enough to field a baseball team . . . with three on the bench! The Acerras were the longest-playing all-brother team in baseball history. 


Audrey Vernick has plenty to buzz about with her new books. Read on to read her Bee Book Buzz:
If you were a bee, which would you be and why?
Queen, drone, or a worker?
I suspect I might unionize. These options are limited—we must fight for more choices! We will not be oppressed bees any longer! But if forced to choose, I would likely be a worker bee, though my nectar-gathering skills definitely need some work.

Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat. Did you eat your vegetables when you were a kid?
I did, but it was easy. I was the third child. My mother no longer bothered trying with traditionally not-kid-friendly vegetables like brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc. We ate a lot of broccoli, green beans, and salad. In our family at that time, cauliflower was kind of exotic….

What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
I love roasted root vegetables, spinach sauteed with garlic, cherries and melons in the summer. I’m also kind of pathetically grateful whenever someone makes me a tasty salad.

What's your main character's favorite fruit or vegetable?
In Brothers at Bat, a nonfiction book, there are 16 children in the family—12 brothers who formed their own baseball team, and four sisters. I would guess that the brothers would be happy whenever a fruit or vegetable reached them.

Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower?
I have a history of annoying children on school visits, because they always ask what’s your favorite _________ and I say I only have one favorite and that’s my favorite ice cream flavor (Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz), but you just reminded me that I also have a favorite flower: ranunculus.

Are flowers mentioned in your latest book?
They are not, and so I shall offer you a bit of Audrey Vernick lore to compensate. My family took a cross-country trip when I was two. While I was sitting in my stroller, someone handed me a carnation, and when backs were turned I ate it as though it were a lollipop.

How old is your main character?
In Brothers at Bat, there is a 25-year age span between the youngest and oldest brother.

Have you ever competed in a spelling bee? If so, what was the winning or losing word for you?
I have, but I don’t remember the losing word. My daughter came in second in her elementary school spelling bee a few years ago. I was impressed that she knew how to spell tsunami, but I forget what word—a much easier one than tsunami—was the losing word.

My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment. What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?
I can’t call baseball a cause, but I sure do love it.
I donate my time to a number of literacy organizations. In terms of financial support, I always find myself seeking out organizations that provide food and fight hunger.

Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar?
Sugar. Lame, but true. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Buzz, buzz! THESE BEES COUNT!


I've been buzzing around a lot these days. Read Across America, World Read Aloud Day, and a few hive visits, too. I also stopped over at Dare to Read for a fun interview about my Road to Publication.  
Check out this fabulous book trailer by Sarah Snow, fabulous illustrator of This Tree Counts, This Tree, 1, 2, 3, and These Bees Count!


video

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: DOT by Patricia Intriago

Follow every DOT for a fun adventure through this whimsical book written and illustrated by KidLit's own Patricia Intriago. By the way, DOT is a finalist for the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards.



Enjoy this Bee Book Buzz with Patricia.

If you were a bee, which kind (queen, drone, worker) would you be and why?
Definitely a worker bee. I love to work and I enjoy the camaraderie of women friends. I would be happy spending my days nestled deep within flowers all day. Plus, I look good in a yellow jacket.

Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat. Did you eat your vegetables when you were a kid?
Yes, I had no problem with vegetables and I love them today. I forced my sons to eat their vegetables as young children and today they willingly eat their vegetables without being told. Although sometimes peas are a problem.

What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
Tender lettuces and herbs of all kinds are my favorite vegetables (assuming herbs are in that category). I could even be happy just smelling them. As for fruits, I love cherries, peaches, plums, and barely ripe bananas. If avocado is a fruit, we can add those too.

Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower?
I love flowers: Roses and Andromeda for their smell. I love to visit the Bronx Botanical Garden in the late spring when their roses are in bloom; it’s amazing how differently roses can smell. Cabbage roses are my favorite flower for their beauty. I love hydrangeas (especially the light green ones). I’ve always wanted to have a garden made up of different kinds of white flowers. Growing up in Miami, there was a gardenia bush outside my bedroom window. In the morning, my room would be filled with that strong fragrance and it was heavenly. (I’m not a huge fan of tulips, carnations or impatiens.)

Are flowers mentioned in your latest book?
I’m trying to find a way to use a flower in my next book (because I love them so much) but it’s taking a lot of thought.

Wax on, wax off. Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try?
Because of the huge waste of wax, I only allow one candle on my cake. Yes, I was able to blow it out.

 My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment. What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?
I would like people to know that I stand for kindness, fairness and seeing things with a sense of humor.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: POOPENDOUS! by Artie Bennett

Get ready. The Bee Book Buzz today is all about a fun, new picture book—POOPENDOUS! by Artie Bennett. His first book, THE BUTT BOOK is fall-on-your-backside, laugh-out-loud hilarious. I heard Artie read POOPENDOUS! at a indie bookstore to a stupendous group of kids and their parents. It's a close call as to who was laughing harder at his new book—those kids or their parents. Yes, Artie has a way with rhyme, especially when it comes to poop.

Enjoy the Bee Buzz with Artie Bennett. No need to hold your noses for this sweet interview. 


Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat. Did you eat your vegetables when you were a kid?
I can't say that I did, for we didn't eat many vegetables when I was a kid. We were a meat-and-potatoes family, with the occasional can of creamed corn or green beans tossed in. But I made up for it when I went off to college in Georgia and discovered a world of fresh vegetables. Wonderful things like kale and collards and crowder peas were a revelation to me. Now I don't feel fulfilled unless I have several servings of vegetable per day.
What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
I go bananas over bananas. I can eat one a day and never tire of them. Come to think of it, I rarely get sick, so perhaps "A banana a day keeps the doctor away."


I love all green veggies: broccoli, spinach, asparagus, Brussel sprouts. In fact, I never met a green vegetable I didn't like!


Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower? 
Hmm. I think I love irises. They're delicate but showy, and come in such a lovely rainbow of colors.

Are flowers mentioned in your latest book?We don't mention any specific flowers in Poopendous!, but we do have a verse about "growing umpteen beans and greens galore." And we talk about how "critters who feast on fruits help those plants to put down roots." And interestingly, my first children's book, The Butt Book, has a bee butt right on the cover!
Wax on, wax off. Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try?
I didn't have a cake for my most recent birthday, but at my age, it would take the help of a swarm of bees to blow out all the candles in one whoosh!

Have you  ever been stung by a bee?
Yes, when I was a rambunctious youngster. But the swelling soon went down and I didn't blame the bee for being a bee. 

Were bees part of your childhood in other ways?
Yes, I was a great speller as a lad and participated in--and won--many local spelling bees. And these days I can even spell hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian. Didn't think I could do it, did you?

Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar?

I love them both and could never pick one over the other. I like sugar in my coffee and honey in my tea. And there's nothing like a dollop of honey to ease a sore throat and put everything right!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: JEREMY OWL & UNDER THE BANYAN TREE by Toni De Palma

Today's Bee Book Buzz is all about Toni De Palma, KidLit author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novels JEREMY OWL and UNDER THE BANYON TREE. Toni's young adult novel out later this Spring is THE DEVIL'S TRIANGLE about 17-year-old Cooper, a bad boy who gets another chance at life after he burns his school and dies in the process. When he returns to earth, Cooper realizes that earning a chance at heaven is not as important as gaining the love of the girl he loves.







Here's the Bee Buzz with Toni. Enjoy!

If you were a bee, which would you be and why?
Definitely a worker bee. Worker bees get things done. Nobody ever wrote a book without putting a lot of effort and work into it.

Same question for your main character? Queen, drone, or worker?
All of my characters are worker bees too. Their stories compel them to act and to use their wits when facing major challenges.

Bees pollinate most of the fruits and vegetables we love to eat. When you were a kid, did you eat your vegetables?
I must confess, I hated vegetables, but now I love them. Someone once told me that as kids, our taste buds are very sensitive so the strong taste of vegetables is actually a turn off to us. I'm not sure that this is scientifically true, but my tastes have definitely changed now that I'm an adult.

What's your favorite fruit or vegetable? (more than one is fine)
I love spinach! As a kid I used to watch Popeye with my grandpa all the time.

What's your main characters' favorite fruit or vegetable? 
Jeremy would rather dissect something creepy and crawly. He's not too particular when it comes to food. Irena loves tropical fruits like mangoes. Cooper is too busy battling the Devil to think of food. He's currently on a diet of fast food, I'm afraid.

Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower? 
I love sunflowers and daisies.

Wax on, wax off. Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try? 
Yes, but only because my husband didn't put the total number of candles that reflect my age :)

Have you ever competed in a spelling bee?
I never did, but my son did. Ironically, the word he lost on was success. He's not forgotten how to spell it since!

My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment.
What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults? 
I love animals, especially dogs!!

Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar? Honey - it's natural and a gorgeous color. I love the way it reflects the light as it dribbles into my tea.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bee Book Buzz: ZAPATO POWER #4: FREDDIE RAMOS MAKES A SPLASH by Jacqueline Jules

If you haven't met Freddie Ramos, you're in for a treat in today's Bee Book Buzz. You'll want to run right after this character in ZAPATO POWER, a fun chapter book series by KidLit Author Jacqueline Jules, to see how he uses his amazing shoes.


In ZAPATO POWER #4: FREDDIE RAMOS MAKES A SPLASH, the boy with super-powered purple shoes attends a summer camp with swimming lessons. Over the week of July 4th, Freddie must deal with a bully who has just moved into Starwood Park, a fear of putting his head into the water, and the disappearance of his special shoes from the boys’ locker room. To make matters worse, someone is messing up Starwood Park with wads of sticky purple bubblegum. Can Freddie save the day and his summer?



Here's the bee book buzz with Jaqueline Jules...
If you were a bee, would you be a queen, drone, or worker?
This is a tough question. What am I? Or what would I like to be? The life of a queen bee sounds much more appealing than a drone or worker bee. But lying around doing nothing but laying eggs is not the life for me. I am a worker bee— a workaholic who doesn’t know what to do with herself when she’s not writing, teaching, or promoting her books. Most of the time, I find work invigorating and a busy life of keeping a community buzzing sounds the most fulfilling. In the human world, activity is a much better lifestyle than couch potato.

Same question for your main character? Queen, drone, or worker?
Freddie Ramos from the Zapato Power series is definitely a worker bee, someone who likes to move at super speed helping others.

Bees pollinate most of the vegetables and fruits that we love to eat. Did you eat your vegetables when you were a kid? What's your favorite fruit or vegetable?
My father had a huge vegetable garden in our backyard when I was growing up. Our whole family spent a lot of time weeding the garden and picking vegetables. I can remember eating homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and even corn during the summer. These days I like to munch on apple slices and celery while I am working at the computer. In the evening, I enjoy oranges for dessert. And it’s not that unusual for me to have berries with a sliced banana for breakfast. I am not a strict vegetarian, but vegetables and fruits are the main component of my diet. At restaurants, I am usually happiest with a grilled vegetable platter.

What's Freddie's favorite fruit or vegetable?
Freddie Ramos likes carrots best, just like his pet guinea pig, Claude the Second. Crunchy foods like carrots help Freddie think when he’s trying to solve one of the Zapato Power mysteries.

Bees pollinate plants and flowers, too. What's your favorite flower? Are flowers mentioned in your latest book? While I’m not much at picking favorites of anything, I will choose the Daylily as a flower I admire. It is easily transplanted and tends to thrive, even under harsh conditions. I once wrote a poem about Daylilies. Here is an excerpt:

Daylilies, wait in my new yard—
dense and in need of division.
Daylilies, willing to move without fuss
to a less crowded spot
where they will brighten the view
from a different window.
Daylilies—can be ripped from the earth,
carried miles away, and still bloom
with bright orange smiles in a new location.
They are tolerant of drought,
equally in love with sun or rain,
able to extend their long green arms with ease.

Wax on, wax off. Beeswax is useful for so many products, including skincare items and candles. On your most recent birthday, were you able to blow out all of your candles on the first try? I’m at the age where I only do one candle, so I had no problem with it.

How old is Freddie? I haven’t told the reader the exact age of my character, Freddie Ramos, in Zapato Power. I’m hoping readers in grades kindergarten through fourth grade will connect with him, and giving him a precise age might dampen that. In my mind, Freddie is a third grader.

My causes are bees, trees, seas, and all things affecting our environment. What's important to you besides writing for children and or young adults? I work part-time in an elementary school as a writing resource teacher, so I am passionate about education and literacy projects for children. I am also passionate about health care access for everyone who needs it.

Books and bees make life sweeter every day. If you had to choose: Honey or sugar? I enjoy dipping apples in honey, so if I could have just one for a special occasion, I would choose honey.