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Books and life in a school library

Archive for November, 2007

Auction One for Snowflakes Begins Today


Auction 1 will begin accepting bids on Monday, Nov. 19 at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. All bids must be placed before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, Nov. 23 at 5:00 p.m. Don’t forget that 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and that all but $25 of the winning bid is tax deductible.Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.)

“Little Girl and Rabbit” by Annie Patterson


 Look at that sweet girl, all bundled up in red and holding a small fur ball of warmth. Can you feel the cold?  This is Annie’s first auction entry for Robert’s Snow. She was inspired to work on this project for its amazing opportunity to do something good for the world, and participate with other children’s book artists, many of whom are her heroes.

Today in Barrow, Alaska the high is 16 degrees and the low is 12.  The wind chill makes is feel as though it were -4 degrees.  The sun rises at 12:33 PM and sets at 1:50 PM.  This is the home of Annie Patterson, my final artist for Robert’s Snow.

Annie has lived in Barrow, Alaska for the past six years. . Barrow is a small village at the tip of Alaska, only accessible by airplane. It has been home to Inupiat Eskimos for thousands of years.

She grew up in Washington State and attended the Art Institute of Seattle. She worked at the local library here for 5 years, and really enjoyed it. A mall world story: her children’s librarian is from Woodland Washington about 30 minutes north of Vancouver, where I teach.

Annie is currently working on illustrations for a children’s book about sea turtles right now. She has spent a lot of time learning about them by looking at lots of pictures and videos of tropical underwater scenes. Illustrating books brings her into another world.

The book Whale Snowby Debbie Edwardson and illustrated by Annie, won several awards including the National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council- Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004 and  Notable Books for a Global Society, 2004.

Here is how Annie answered my random questions:

What are you currently reading?

Making Color Sing, by watercolorist Jeanne Dobie, is at the top of the stack next to my bed. It’s a watercolor how -to book with great tips on mixing yummy colors. I actually have stacks of books and magazines all around the house, waiting for me. Among them are Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Children’s Book Illustration Step by Step Techniques by Jill Bossert, Snow White, illustrated by Julie Monks, Sadie Brower Neakok, a biography of an Inupiat Eskimo woman who lived here in Barrow Alaska all her life. Her father was one of the first white whalers, from Massachusetts I believe, to settle here in the early 1900′s, and her mother was Eskimo. Sadie had an influential life here and there is a playground named after her. I love magazines too and have them all over; everything from Communication Arts to Cloth Paper Scissors to Juxtapoz. Also, I have many sea turtle books next to my drawing table, because I’m working on illustrations for a picture book about them. And then there are my daughter’s books which are usually strewn across the floor and well read. Lot’s of board books. She loves the Karen Katz lift the flap books, and I Spy books.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Charlotte’s Web. I used to climb a giant old cedar tree stump in our yard in Washington State, with my yellow Labrador dog friend (yes he climbed up too) and draw pictures of farm scenes like those in Charlotte’s Web. Also, the book Cricket in Times Square was fascinating to me; I loved looking at the Garth Williams illustrations so much. Also, all of the Richard Scary books. My mom still has one of my childhood drawings of a little bear in a purple dress, fashioned after the Richard Scary characters.

Chocolate: Dark, Milk. or White?

Dark, milk, and white….in that order. Hehehe.

Whom would you most like to meet?

Lisbeth Zwerger, the Austrian illustrator.

If you were not an artist, what would you like to do for an occupation? It’s difficult to imagine not being an artist. As most of us artists say, it’s just who I am. I’d like to write my own books. I’ve got stories in the back of my mind waiting to be put to paper, and now I have a toddler and get to see into her magical little childhood world, getting lots of new ideas. I’m also interested in graphic design, children’s book design, typography, etc.

Do you prefer the Alaskan winters or summers?  

 I prefer the summers, definitely. There is more to see and do outside. However once in a while, amazing things happen in the winter sky with the Northern Lights, and sometimes the moon is out too, and there’s this otherworldly glow across the snowy landscape- and those times sort of make it worth going through the cold dark winters, because it’s just so beautiful.

Be sure to visit Annie’s website.  You can see more of her illustrations.  Don’t forget the first auction begins tomorrow.  Which snowflake will get your bid?

Hapy Reading. Happy Bidding.


Poetry Friday: Give Thanks

Squash, Milwaukie’s Farmer’s Market
Fall 2007

 bountiful autumn
family, food, friends, blessings
love surrounds, give thanks



This was the inspiration for the Poetry Thursday group.  Students wrote their poems on the inside of a photo card (the photo above on plain cards w/ envelopes).  They could take them home to share. Our group is growing!

I can’t help myself I have to share!

Turkey dinner
Love surrounds

–Sabrina, 4th grade

Beautiful Autumn

Is falling, falling, far
Leaves falling
Friendship is coming
Love is whistling

–Makayla, 4th grade


A nice day
Eating sweet turkey and salad
Being with your family
And friends
The best part

–Darina, 3rd grade


Shadowy figure
Unable to approach
Against the brushwood gate
This autumn night
Fall in the cold of the night

–Denae, 4thgrade (Denae missed this week but I discovered this wonderful gem in her book).

Kelly at Big A, little a is heading up the round-up this week.  Enjoy! This Sunday, I will feature Annie Patterson, my final artist to interview for “Bloggin’ for a Cure.” Monday the auction begins!!

Happy Reading. I am finishing Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson for my book club meeting on Sunday.


Keeping It Simple: Family Library Night


Tuesday was Family Library Night. Families came in their comfortable clothes and pajamas to spend time reading in the library last night.                                                        The library filled with students from all grade levels.


Soon the pages were heard turning. Any child attending receives credit for being there.  After four visits, they get to select a book from the “Treasure Trove of Books.” ( A big wooden chest of books).


Five books are given away that evening. Names are place into a basket. I choose the first winner and each winner selects a name as well.   Last night, the five winners were:

Ember R., first grade
Sarah E., Second Grade
Kaylin, Kindergarten
Dustin H., Third Grade
Katie H., Fifth Grade

This is such a simple idea; to wear pajamas to school. More families attended than ever. I hope math night will have as many attending in two weeks.

Happy Reading.


Liza Woodruff: “Shoveling” in the Bids for Robert’s Snow


Ooh, I shiver looking at the little dog in the snowstorm and the hot cocoa looks so warm and inviting. This is Liza Woodruff’s third snowflake for the  Robert’s Snow Auction. This auction benefits the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the memory of Robert Mercer, a life cut short by cancer.

            “Shoveling”, inspired by one of the last big snowstorms to hit Vermont (home for Liza), is this year’s theme.  Her family shoveled an incredible amount of snow in order that the children could wait for the school bus (Hmmm, in Portland, OR, school would have been closed),  There is nothing like shoveling to get your mind thinking about a steamy warm cup of hot chocolate.  Liza imagined this little dog dreaming the same thing after he finished shoveling the path to his front door.  Liza lives near the Canadian boarder with her husband, two children and dog Isle (snow shoveler in training).

Liza is currently working on an adorable book for Dutton called Do You Like to Kiss a Dog?.
It should be published in Fall 2008. Liza mainly illustrates , but she is working on some ideas for her own stories, as well.

Some random questions for my snowflake artist: 

What is on your nightstand?
I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards and The Queen of the Tambourine, by Jane Gardam.

Chocolate: Dark, milk, or white?

I really wouldn’t say no to any chocolate, but I guess if I had to pick one, it would be milk chocolate
Favorite childhood book?

As a child, I loved the book The Secret Garden.  I also loved many picture books- the book Miss Suzy, especially.
Whom would you like to meet?
The person I would have most loved to meet, Roald Dahl, is no longer with us, unfortunately.

If you were not an artist, what occupation would you choose?
If I weren’t an artist, I would love to be a veterinarian

Finally, participation in this auction has been especially meaningful to Liza.  She, too, has a close family friend who is struggling with cancer and it has been difficult to see him so sick. Please visit the other illustrators today and get ready to start bidding on these wonderful treasures of original art while helping to raise money for cancer research.

Happy Reading.


Snowflakes Keep Falling on My Head

A big thank you to Jen Robinson, who prepared the schedule with the lead in and everything.  On a day when I am working on national board writing, it is greatly appreciated.

As you know if you’ve been visiting any children’s book blogs for the past few weeks, Robert’s Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 200 children’s book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. The snowflakes will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to cancer research. You can view all of the 2007 snowflakes here. Jules and Eisha from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast have found a way for bloggers to help with this effort, by blogging about individual illustrators and their snowflakes. The idea is to drive traffic to the Robert’s Snow site so that many snowflakes will be sold, and much money raised to fight cancer. The illustrator profiles have been wonderful so far – diverse and creative and colorful. And there are lots more to go.

Here’s the schedule for Week 5, which starts Monday. As previously, this early schedule links to the participating blogs, instead of to the individual posts. You can find links to the posts themselves, and any last-minute updates, each morning at 7-Imp. Jules and Eisha have also set up a special page at 7-Imp containing a comprehensive list of links to the profiles posted so far. Also not to be missed is Kris Bordessa’s post summarizing snowflake-related contests to date over at Paradise Found.

Monday, November 12

Tuesday, November 13

Wednesday, November 14

Thursday, November 15

Friday, November 16

Saturday, November 17

Sunday, November 18

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you’re so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert’s Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

See also the following note from Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader:

Note to Blog Readers about Blogging for a Cure: When Jules of 7-Imp put out her call in September for bloggers to interview/feature artists who had created snowflakes for Robert’s Snow 2007 at their blogs, a number of artists had not yet sent in their snowflakes to Dana-Farber. As time was of the essence to get Blogging for a Cure underway, we worked with the list of artists whose snowflakes were already in possession of Dana-Farber. Therefore, not all the participating artists will be featured. This in no way diminishes our appreciation for their contributions to this worthy cause. We hope everyone will understand that once the list of artists was emailed to bloggers and it was determined which bloggers would feature which artists at their blogs, a schedule was organized and sent out so we could get to work on Blogging for a Cure ASAP. Our aim is to raise people’s awareness about Robert’s Snow and to promote the three auctions. We hope our efforts will help to make Robert’s Snow 2007 a resounding success.

Enjoy the week.  Happy Reading.


A Snowflake and a Contest

anettesimon.jpg          “Let it Snow” by Annette Simon 

Beach, sand instead of snow, growing up in Ohio without an ocean nearby and now living in Ponte Vedra , FL; those thoughts all figured into Annette Simon’s snowflake, “Let it Snow”.  Her snowflake will be in the first auction, November 19-23 at Robert’s Snow. 

Annette says, “The beach is a great place to make up stories about what you can see (or not).”Look at her snowflake closely.  “Do you see “that faraway boat”, the “tiny triangle”? She imagines it’s hosting a party; “on my snowflake’s boat, kids are dancing. Trust me.” 

Why did she use simple shapes?  Annette says that she could say it was for “purely aesthetic/design reasons or for lack of time due to the antics of a teenage son. Either sound suspicious. Both are true.” 

However, the snowflake sparked a new idea for a book involving all kinds of ocean things.  Annette told me she is dancing with the starfish these days and went on to say, “if the snowflake sells at all, I will consider it a success. I am truly humbled to be in the company of these artists.”  It will sell I am sure. 

Some random questions for my snowflake artist: 

What is on your nightstand?
On my nightstand: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (embarrassed
to say I’ve not yet read); March by Geraldine Brooks (haunting), Talk  
Talk by E.L. Konigsburg (she’s from Ponte Vedra), Eat Pray Love by  
Elizabeth Gilbert, Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Sara  
Fanelli, and Artist to Artist by the folks at the Eric Carle Museum  
of Picture Book Art

Chocolate: Dark, milk, or white?Mmmm. Dark chocolate. Dark. Dark. Dark.

Favorite childhood book?
From The Mixed-up Files of  Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (and yes, I acted like a  blithering idiot the first time I met her), E.B. White’s The Trumpet  
of the Swan
, my aunt’s Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew collections. Oh,  
and the first book I ever truly read on my own: Green Eggs and Ham by  
Dr. Seuss. (Love love Dr. Seuss.)
Some childhood book-related trivia: My mom’s maiden name is Carroll.  
Though we all know, Lewis Carroll was not the real name of the author  
of Alice in Wonderland, it was not my fault that all my elementary  
school friends thought we were related. Nope. Not one bit.
More trivia: In third grade, I won a poster contest for Fire  
Prevention Week. It was the first time I was paid for my words and  
artwork (five whole dollars that I promptly spent on colored pencils  
and chocolate), and my poster was displayed at the town’s new  
firehouse (Grand Opening). I felt like a celebrity.

Whom would you like to meet?
George Clooney and I  share the exact same birthday. And of course, one day I would like to tell him in person.

If you were not an artist, what occupation would you choose?
I can’t imagine not doing art in some form. For a while, I dreamed of  leaving advertising to be an art teacher. However, I’ve realized I  simply do not have the kind of patience good teachers must have. (I  bow down to teachers. No kidding.)

Annette Simon has recently made her foray into the kidlitosphere world.  Her opening comment to me was, “Don’t you just love the kidlitosphere?” Her book, Mocking Birdies, was a finalist for The Writers’ League of Texas Teddy Awards, a pick for  the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ 50 Books/50 covers exhibit, and named a Best Book for Children by the Association of Booksellers  for Children.

Leave a comment.  Your name will be in a drawing for a copy of her book.  Annette graciously donated a book to my library and a book for the drawing.  I told her to let me pay for it and she said,” no way.”  Therefore, I will bid on her snowflake instead.  It reminds me of California winters as a child.  I will draw the winner on November 19.

Please visit the other illustrators today and get ready to start bidding on these wonderful treasures of original art while helping to raise money for cancer research.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: November


Okay, I have set aside sharing student poetry on the first Friday of each month.  Then Jenna shares this poem with me.  If I wait until the next first Friday it will be December so…I am sharing November by Jenna.

November rain wind and wild

November darkness sweet and mild

The taste of November so bitter and mild

–Jenna, second grade

Lunchtime poetry was amazing yesterday.  The second graders come in first.  I share with them some examples of haiku from the One Deep Breath site.  “Loneliness”is this week’s prompt. I think to myself that might resonate with students.  Ha!

Second graders are eating their lunch, trying out vegetables from Jenna’s lunch and then writing about them. And then it is time for them to go back to class. 

My fourth graders arrive.  They  decide to play mancala and eat lunch. Their response to “are you going to write poetry today?” is “yes, we are going to eat, write, and play.”  I love it. 

For more Poetry Friday, please visit this A Wrung Sponge.

Happy Reading.


Tuesday Tidbits: Schedule for Robert’s Snow, Guess Who Won Something, and a Contest Announcement


This week’s schedule for Robert’s Snow,  an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 200 children’s book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates.

Monday, November 5

Tuesday, November 6

Wednesday, November 7

Thursday, November 8

Friday, November 9

Saturday, November 10

Sunday, November 11

Perhaps you will want to bid on  a snowflake in the Robert’s Snow auction. They make a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), while supporting an important cause.


Me, yes, that’s right, I won the fabulous Matt Phelan print over at A Year of Reading.  It is a darling little snowman.  Finding out that I won the print was a real pick me up for the day.  The intensity of working on the national boards has gotten to me a bit.  The news of winning made me smile.  And yes, I did will at the Blogging Conference.  Maybe I should get a lottery ticket.


 Last week I finally got the contact information for Annette Simon. In her first email response she asked if she might donate her book, Mocking Birdies, to my library. Wow! So I emailed her back and said “Thank you, how wonderful and I would like to buy a second book as a prize incentive to read about her snowflake on Friday.  She won’t let me buy the prize.  I am just going to save that money for the auction!

Return on Friday. Read about Annette Simon and her snowflake. Leave a comment and your name will be in the hat for a drawing.

Happy Reading.


“Within Reach” Featured Snowflake by Joy Allen


“Within Reach” by Joy Allen is her third entry for the Robert’s Snow Auction.  When I asked Joy what was her inspiration for this snowflake, she responded,”Cancer special goals, things that are hard in life…are often so close and yet so elusive.  Something like a snowflake.  And yet, each time we reach, each time we try, we grow closer to obtaining our own special snowflakes.  My little boy reaches out in play grabbing for his moment. Robert lives on through his snowflakes as well.”

Wow, wow, wow. I do not think that Joy Allen could be more right on.  I had fun looking at her website: and .  As a teacher librarian, I am always on the look out for new books and possibilities for the library.  I discovered that Joy illustrated for American Girls and is currently illustrating for the Cam Jensen series, one of the favorites in the library!   She has several picture books out, Being Friends and The Book of Boy for Girls and the Book of Girls for Boys.

She currently lives in northern California in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains.  She loves to take her dog hiking each day by the pond behind her house. He chases turkey and deer. She tries to take the stickers out of his tail.

A few more things I found out about Joy:

What is she currently reading? Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (her second reading of the book).

Favorite childhood book: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett

Chocolate: Dark or Milk? She will take any “Yum!”

Who would you  most like to meet? My new baby granddaughter that will be born in May. She has four grown children and four wonderful grandchildren.

If you weren’t an artist, what occupation? ”That;s a hard one since I am doing what I always wanted t do. I like music so it would be fun to sing on stage. But I also think it would be great to be a doctor and make a great contribution to many people.

Joy, you are making a great contribution to many who enjoy your books and illustrations. Look for her wonderful snowflake during the third Robert’s Snow auction, December 3-7, 2007.  Maybe her snowflake will be within reach for you. 

Happy Reading.