Being the Red Carpet

Stack Conf 8_16I returned home from the 2016 SCBWI Conference loaded with memories, notes and a come-hither stack of books—lots with stickers on the covers. So far I’ve read seven of them and wanted to tell you about them pronto . . .

So much for pronto. Another week has flown by and I’ve read another book instead of writing. Too much longer and I’ll have to start reading them over again. So here goes.


Picture Books

Little Poems 4tinyLittle Poems for Tiny Ears, by Lin Oliver and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, was published by Penguin Books in 2014. I bought two copies—one for a baby due to enter the world right about . . . now

. . . and the other for my favorite one-year old. The poems read as if written with her in mind.

Titles include: “My High Chair,” “The Kitchen Drawer,” “My Daddy’s Beard,” which rhymes with weird.

I can’t wait to see which poems are her favorites.

As a plus, the book “Wraps itself” (helpful as I raced to mail one), and it has a page of stickers in the back.

crayons quitThe Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, and published by Penguin Young Readers’ Books in 2013, manages to be silly and universal. Most children, present and past, have had an intimate relationship with those inanimate objects, We can empathize with their point of view.

We knew the pain of watching our favorite colors grow too short to hold while the ones we didn’t like still had pointy tips. And we stripped and colored with the side of the colors we really, really needed for large areas so we didn’t have to miss recess to get the ocean or sky finished.

Once the paper sleeves were gone, lights colors like yellow left black or purple marks in the sun. Who ever heard of a purple sun?

my crayonsBoxes of more colors signaled more choice in life and often an increase in status. With the move from eight to sixteen colors, the crayons got thinner, more grown-up. We eyed the kids who had boxes of thirty-two wondering if we could talk our moms into an upgrade.

Some kids had boxes of sixty-four. Then we knew envy and felt the kids who had one hundred twenty-eight must be spoiled beyond belief.

The book is great fun although a little long. But each color’s letter of resignation can be read individually, and you’ll find your favorites.

Middle Grade

Monsters ringBruce Coville’s The Monster’s Ring, was originally published in 1982 and republished twenty years later by Random House Children’s Books. The book earned its staying power. Katherine Coville, his wife, is the illustrator.

Russell wants to turn the tables on a bully. Magic finds him one Halloween, and he makes the most of it—although he does forget his mom’s advice about always reading the directions first.

The book entertains and engages as it reveals a hidden layer. Russell learns something about himself and revenge.

Three Books with (Grown-up) Stickers

Teddy MarsMolly B. Burnham won this year’s Sid Fleishman Humor Award for Teddy Mars: Almost a World Record Breaker. The book was illustrated by Trevor Spencer and published by Harper Collins in 2015.

Like many kids, Teddy Mars obsesses about The Guinness Book of World Records. But who wants to merely be an observer of other people’s records? How hard could it be to set a record of your own?

The book opens on the third day of the school year. Sign or not? You decide.


A single shareI’ve never read a Linda Sue Park book I didn’t want to read again. A Single Shard, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2001, won the Newbery Medal in 2002. There is great emotional depth in this story about Tree-ear, an orphan in twelfth-century Korea. His dreams are bigger than finding enough to eat and a warm spot to survive the winter. Are they even possible for a boy with no family in a culture where occupations pass from father to son?

And don’t skip her acceptance speech for the Newbery at the front of the book.



Enchanted AirEnchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings, by Margarita Engle and published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division in 2015, has three stickers on its cover: the Pura Belpre Award, The Golden Kite Award, and a finalist for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction.

Is it a fascinating story, a book of poetry, History, an addition to diverse literature, or a memoir?

It manages to be all of the above.

Although considered Young Adult, I think older middle grade students would also be enchanted. And, for children who have lived the experience of being pulled by loyalty and love to two cultures, this could be one of those books that functions as an emotional lifesaver.

Young Adult

LegendLegend, written by Marie Lu and published by the Penguin Group in 2011, compels the reader to flip the page—repeatedly in this dystopian novel.

The two main characters, June and Day, are opposites in education, class, and loyalties in a polarized society.

But they are alike and evenly matched in so many other ways including their desires to serve something greater than themselves, protect the people they love, and to seek justice. But what those values mean to each of them puts them on opposing sides . . . and makes for a good read with more good news . . .  there’s a sequel!

97 candles

Ninety-seven pipe cleaner candles to celebrate the day!

In a recent span of fifteen days, my family celebrated three birthdays that spanned four generations and ranged from a first birthday to a ninety-seventh. I’m reminded that rarely does life offer us only one stage at a time.

Oh, and “being the red carpet’? The theme at the SCBWI conference this year was On the Red Carpet. The ball on Saturday always features a costume contest based on the theme. Here’s our San Diego group.

red carpets

We won the costume contest!!!