December 26


I always feel sad and slightly deflated around 11:50 PM on December 25. The thought of putting away my whimsical ornaments and comforting Christmas tree until November of next year leaves me feeling blue. Thankfully, my mood always turns around when I remember the Nerdy Book Club Award winners will appear on this blog from December 26 to January 3.  I love seeing my Twitter feed filled with colleagues celebrating the Nerdies. It warms my heart knowing to-read mountains will grow and fabulous books will be placed into the hands of young readers. 

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2016 Nerdies!  

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Blogger, teacher-librarian, and author Carter Higgins featured They All Saw a Cat on October 4, 2016.

You might have heard about this book.

You might have read the fascinating and buzz-inducing article on its acquisition.

You might have heard Matthew Winner and Brendan Wenzel in conversation here. (And do if you haven’t! It’s a treat.)

You might have seen Emily Arrow’s super sweet song and video. (Kid-tested and approved in my library!)

Click here to read the rest.


School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; illustrated by Christian Robinson

Adam Rex and Christian Robinson visited Mr. Colby Sharp’s school on September 30, 2016.

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Yuyi Morales

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen


Download an activity guide.

Jon Klassen reads an excerpt from We Found a Hat.

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko; illustrated by Tim Miller

The Nerdy Book Club, Mr. Colby Sharp, and I celebrated Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) on February 2.


When I received Julie’s manuscript… Let’s just say that I had a difficult time remaining calm and believing that it was real. The tone and humor spoke straight to my soul. I couldn’t stop thinking about how fun it would be to draw. I loved all the cheeky back-and-forth banter between Snappsy and the Narrator.  I immediately felt like Julie Falatko was a kindred spirit and that I had been handed a gift.

I created the illustrations by first making a lot of drawings with brush and ink of the different parts of each composition. Next I added watercolor to these. Then, I scanned them into the computer and pieced everything together. Finally, I tweaked it digitally, punching up the colors and making all the necessary touch-ups. | Click here to read the rest of the interview.


Shy by Deborah Freedman

Deborah Freedman was the Nerdy Book Club blogger on September 25.
I’m obsessed with books. Obviously. I’m in the club, after all, and isn’t an obsession with books our only membership requirement?
I do read eBooks, but like so many members of our tribe, my husband and I also have actual books in every room of our house, piles of them, as though they have to be there hold up the walls. As though they ARE our walls. Even if we had enough shelves (we don’t), we would still keep those piles of art, story, poetry… read and unread, at arm’s length. We need them there. They inspire us. They connect us to each other and to readers like you.
What a wonderful object, the book! I love that I’m allowed to tell stories with every inch of it. When writing and illustrating I like to think about the whole package, about everything that makes a book a book and what it means to the reading experience: like the jacket, the cover beneath, endpapers, pages that turn, the gutter. –Click here to read the rest of Deborah’s essay for Nerdy Book Club. 

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston


 Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

I premiered the book trailer for Salina Yoon’s Be a Friend on November 12, 2015. Mr. Colby Sharp and I knew right away that we needed to give Be a Friend the trifecta treatment, feature it during an upcoming meeting of the #SharpSchu Book Club, and tell everyone about it at conferences. It is a forever book.
Before you watch Be a Friend‘s book trailer, please read this letter from Salina.
Dear Reader,
I write a lot about that. A friendship between a penguin and a pinecone, between siblings, and even a friendship between a bear and a stuffed animal. Each one is important.
Be a Friend is yet another friendship story, but with a twist. It is unlike any other friendship tale. This friendship saves the boy.
Not from a cliff, not from a moving train, but from the isolation of his own unique world. Dennis’ world is silent, and sometimes it makes him feel invisible and alone.
I was born in South Korea and came to the United States when I was 4 years old. I started kindergarten a year later speaking no English. I could hear things that I couldn’t understand, and I couldn’t say things that I wanted to say. I was shy and stayed silent–until one day, I met a friend who spoke the same language. She pulled me out of the shadows and into the sun. I blossomed. And learned. I was happy, as every child should be.
But the story of Dennis is not about me. It speaks to the universal theme of loneliness due to having special needs, a language barrier, cultural differences, childhood depression, self-identity issues, and other inner conflicts shared by both children and adults. It can speak to everyone because we all have something that makes us feel different inside however it’s labeled. That is what makes us human. But the spark of joy that happens after a connection is made is also human. And wholly universal.
Every person on this planet has the potential to be happy. Sometimes, it takes just one other person to make that bridge. A friend. A teacher. A librarian. A stranger.
Dennis’ story encourages readers to embrace their uniqueness. A quirky, yet universal story of self-acceptance, courage, tolerance, and the power of friendship. Be a Friend will make you laugh, cry, and possibly break out in jazz hands!
Your friend,
Salina Yoon


The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed The Night Gardener on March 14, 2016.

Imagine if you will, upon waking, finding something so extraordinary you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming.  The Night Gardener (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, February 16, 2016) written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Eric Fan and Terry Fan) explores the idea of a single significant act of beauty as the beginning of marvelous changes.  Something or someone is working a kind of enchantment. Click here to read the rest of the review.


Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis

Five Questions (Plus One!) with Carson Ellis


The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Mary Ann Scheuer interviewed Lisa Brown on May 9, 2016.

How do you encourage parents to bring picture books alive for young children when they read them aloud?

It’s funny–there are books I read today that I only hear my father’s voice or my grandmother’s voice reading aloud. I hear my father reading “The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone. He would read it literally–when Grover was covering the pages with bricks, my father would struggle lifting and turning the page and I loved the drama he brought to it. Click here to read the rest of the interview. 

Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk; illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo


Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Charlies Santoso

“Inspired by two ­real-life polar bears, Gus and Ida, who were residents of New York City’s Central Park Zoo, this wonderful story about the loss of a loved one is beautifully told. It’s an example of children’s books at their best.”– Dan Yaccarino, The New York Times Book Review, February 12, 2016


The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas; illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Jennifer Reed featured The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles on June 20, 2016.

This book is one stunning package. Stead’s art and Cuevas’ narrative play off each other and build to form one beautiful, evocative, and thoughtful whole. Click here to continue reading.

Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora

I premiered the book trailer for Horrible Bear! on April 1, 2016. 

Hi, Ame Dyckman! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. I am sooooo excited to share Horrible Bear’s book trailer with everyone.

Ame Dyckman: HI, and THANKS SO MUCH, Mr. Schu! The whole HORRIBLE Team and I are THRILLED to be back on Watch. Connect. Read. and TURNING CARTWHEELS (OW! MY HEAD! Well, it was a good try!) that you’re premiering HORRIBLE BEAR!’s book trailer! The DigiWizards in Little, Brown’s Digital Marketing Department took Zach’s amazing, HILARIOUS art and made this amazing, HILARIOUS animated trailer! (I’m not sure they’re actually called “DigiWizards.” But, I HOPE SO! On their robes!) Our trailer makes me LAUGH every time I watch it!

Click here to read the rest of the interview. 


Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed Ideas Are All Around on March 25, 2016. 

At puppy Xena’s first visit to the vet we were told as a sporting dog she needed long walks every single day.  So we did. In sickness and health (mine) not a day was missed.  There was also a great deal of running, swimming and hole digging (hers).  That’s a lot of miles covered over fifteen years although during the last twelve months the walks became strolls and were shorter with lots of sniffing and pausing on her part.

All that walking for humans does not equal the same degree of senses used as it does for dogs.  Although there is quite a bit of seeing, smelling, and hearing what seems to happen the most is time for thinking unless you are taking a trip through your neighborhood.  That changes the entire experience.  Ideas Are All Around (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, March 1, 2016) written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead is about an author in search of an idea.Click here to read the rest of Margie’s review


Penguin Problems by Jory John; illustrated by Lane Smith

Margie Myers-Culver reviewed Penguin Problems on October 4.

Pointed, perfect pacing is a result of Jory John‘s word choices, sentence structure and keen sense of humor.  By the third sentence, a question, readers recognize this penguin does have a problem and it’s only morning!  As the narrative proceeds John increases the tension by moving from the environment to daily rituals and then to very specific physical traits.  In the sequence where the penguin is seeking his parents, readers will roll on the floor laughing if they have not already done so previously. – Click here to read the full review.


Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian; illustrated by Mike Curato

“I had the great honor of illustrating this important story written by debut author, J.J. Austrian. This was much more than just another project for me. It came at a poignant time in my life, and in our nation’s history.” –Mike Curato

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty; illustrated by David Roberts

Ada Twist, Scientist is a book about absolute curiosity.” -Andrea Beaty

Andrea Beaty reads an excerpt from Ida Twist, Scientist.


Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

“I have a huge love of books that have a timeless and classic bent while also being infused with a certain modern element (like, say, LEO, A GHOST STORY or Greg Pizzoli’s GOOD NIGHT OWL). This book definitely satisfies on that regard: it’s old and yet new, old fashioned and modern, silly and wise. I love it.” -Julie Falatko, author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael López

Teacher-librarian Travis Jonker included Maybe Something Beautiful in his 2017 Caldecott Medal predictions blog post.

“From the front/back endpaper transformation to the way the murals in the book interact with the setting, there’s a whole lot of subtle skill here that I think the Caldecott committee will notice.” –Travis Jonker


Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê; illustrated by Isabel Roxas

Cindy Christiansen featured Let Me Finish! on this blog earlier in the year.

This wonderful story follows the efforts of a frustrated protagonist as he seeks a quiet spot to read where his friends won’t spoil his books.  Our subsequent discussion of boundaries and respect and what that looks like in our classroom will help start our year off on the right path.  As a bonus, it’s a book about the love of reading!