Category Archives: Surprise Sunday

May 21

A SERIES FICTION KIND OF GIRL by Heather Alexander

Have you ever played Nancy Drew the Spy On the Prairie? This game filled my fourth-grade afternoons. It’s best explained as a mash-up of storylines from three of my favorite literary heroes at the time—Nancy Drew, Harriet M. Welsch, and Laura Ingalls—intertwined as only a bookish ten-year-old can. Each day brought a new adventure and […]

May 14

Celebrating Nerdom With Mike Merschel’s ‘Revenge of the Star Survivors’ – post by Kate Hannigan

As a nerd, someone married to a nerd, and a mom raising three little nerds, I’ve always felt among my people at Nerdy Book Club. When I had the chance to read Revenge of the Star Survivors (Holiday House, April 2017) by Michael Merschel, I knew this was the perfect place to share it. It’s […]

May 07

Love and Books by Donalyn Miller

  Yesterday, Don, Sarah, and I drove three hours to Cedar Park (near Austin) for Don’s sister and brother-in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary celebration. The trip got off to a rocky start. Sarah was grouchy and argued with me about her outfit of blue jeans, Gatsby t-shirt, and Converse, which I deemed inappropriate for the occasion. […]

April 30

TACKLING TOUGH TOPICS WITH HUMOR by Robin Reul

When I first sat down to write my YA contemporary debut MY KIND OF CRAZY, I knew that I would be broaching some difficult topics like mental illness, abuse, poverty, and alcoholism. Not exactly the stuff of high comedy, but in taking a page from my own life (see what I did there?), I know […]

April 23

What’s in a Name? by Augusta Scattergood

Most of the writers you and I know agree: giving a character just the right name is crucial to her personality. Motivation, appeal, distrust, dislike, or whatever we’re trying to make you feel as a reader turns on finding exactly the right moniker. Most of us love that process.   Two examples hop quickly to […]

April 09

Desertification by Donalyn Miller

Our oldest granddaughter, Emma, is eight. She looks just like her mother did at the same age. Long limbs accessorized with a rotation of Band-Aids that move from one knee to the next. Wind-blown dark blonde hair that needs brushing. Piercing blue eyes that have already mastered the skeptical shade throw passed down through generations […]

March 12

It’s Not About Us by Donalyn Miller

  Two weekends ago, I volunteered at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, a two-day event in Irving, Texas. I travel to lots of literacy and literature conferences, but it’s a rare treat to attend such a fantastic conference without leaving home. The first day of the festival is an Educator Day for teachers and […]

March 05

Magick, Science, and Why It Matters by Mary Losure

I began writing Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d when I learned that as a boy, Isaac Newton kept a tiny, secret notebook. In it, he wrote down snippets from two books he’d borrowed from an apothecary: Mathematicall Magick and The Mysteries of Nature and Art.  I hoped the story of a magic-seeking […]

Layering “Texts” to Deepen Understanding as Students Read (Secretly modeling how to be passionate about inquiry) by Shelli Thelen

History is an important window for all students to view the world through. As a child, I learned about American history and ancient civilizations. I was not interested in history as a student until we began to learn about more contemporary events that occurred in the 20th century. As a fifth-grade teacher of social studies […]

February 19

A Gift I Give Myself by Julie Potvin Kirchner

When I got home from NCTE last November, there were several colleagues surprised to hear I had paid for the entire trip, with the exception of the cost to cover a reserve teacher, out of my own pocket. They wondered how and why I would choose to do this. The reasons are many and continue […]