Monday, September 29, 2014

The Journey of Journey (or...We celebrate Aaron Becker and interview him!)

For people who know me, you know that Journey, by Aaron Becker, was one of my favorite books last year (and ever).  Last year as we completed our Mock Caldecott unit, it took every ounce of restraint to not "influence" the decisions of my students.  In the end, Journey was the winner of our school mock Caldecott. And we all celebrated when it was chosen as a Caldecott Honor book by the Caldecott committee last January.

How could we share our love for this book with others???...

Answer:  "The Journey of Journey"

Our copies of Journey--ready to go out!

We purchased six copies of Journey and will be distributing them to various Little Free Libraries.  It is our hope that these copies will be enjoyed by many, many people.  As they circulate, we will keep track of where they are "journeying".  It is our hope that people will contact us and let us know that they've read it (and where they were when they read it!).
Our inside message.  We hope to hear from our readers!

The launch of our "Journey of Journey" also coincided with the recent release of Aaron's newest book, Quest.  To say that we were excited about this book was an understatement!  Knowing that I was planning on sharing Quest with students next week, I gave my third and fourth graders the opportunity to have a sneak peek of the book trailer and the book.  They could choose to come to the library during their lunch recess to be the first in the school to see these.  Imagine my delight when on a sunny, seventy-five degree, beautiful Michigan afternoon...NINETY students came to the library!  We watched the trailer (twice) and then began the book.  I must admit, reading a wordless picture book to 90 students is a bit of a challenge, but, challenge accepted...we jumped right in.  They were so excited and the discussion that occurred with each page turn was...well...magic!

Watching the book trailer for Quest by Aaron Becker

At long last...we get to read Quest!

The discussion was so awesome, that we actually didn't finish the book before it was time to head to they all came back the next day to finish!!!!

After reading Quest, we worked together to formulate questions for Aaron, who graciously agreed to be interviewed for Kids Talk Kid Lit.  It was hard for us to narrow down our questions, but here they are!  (Aaron's answers are in red!)

1.)  What do you like best about being an author/illustrator?

It’s a job that doesn’t require a lot of the things that other grown up jobs require: long meetings, commutes, phone conferences. I get to draw pictures all day and write stories. How cool is that?!!

2.)  When did you know that you wanted to write/illustrate children's books?

I started writing books when I was about eight years old, so it’s something I’ve always done. But Journey wasn’t published until I was about 38 years old. So it took me 30 years!!!

3.)  What inspired you to write this trilogy?

The architecture and places I wanted the girl to journey to. I drew a big picture of a castle one day and that’s where it all began.

4.)  When you started writing Journey, did you already know that it would be the first story in a trilogy?

Not at all, but once I was done, I realized I had created this whole world with lots of other things going on that never made it into the final book. I wrote out the general stories for the 2nd and 3rd books at the same time, so the trilogy was planned from that point forward. There’s lots of cool stuff still to come!

5.)  How did the girl and boy get the red and purple markers at the beginning of Journey?

Great question! And there is an answer! There’s a long back story about where the six colored markers come from and it involves an elder king and his three sons and the purple bird. And a black marker. And a white marker. Some of this will be hidden as backstory in Return but you really have to dig for it! But the markers make their way into our world so that someone in the fantasy realm won’t find them and use them for evil. It’s a much longer story as to how the girl and boy actually end up with them!

6.)  Can you give us a hint:  What will the setting be of Return?  Will there be any new characters?

The story still takes place in Pallonezia near the castle, but there’s some new underwater stuff and a cave. There are no brand new characters, but let’s just say that a character we met in Journey (briefly) comes back to play a much larger roll.

7.)  What are your writing plans after Return?

I have no idea! I’m thinking of working on a book with words in it. Maybe something with all of the backstory I’ve developed for the Journey Trilogy but in a middle-reader format, like a lost journal with pictures. But I also have some non-Journey related ideas too!

8.)  What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The Art of Star Wars by Carol Titelman. My copy is completely demolished from so many readings.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer theses questions.  We appreciate you and your books very much!!!!

Thank you so much to Aaron for taking the time to visit Kids Talk Kid Lit.  Be sure to check out Journey and Quest from your local library.  Whenever possible, please support independent bookstores.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Can I just say?...What a difference a year makes!

Today was the first day that I saw students in my library.  Yes, we started school last week, but I didn't see students because I had the privilege of helping the two new teacher-librarians in my district get their libraries up and running.  Imagine helping new librarians AND actually knowing what I'm talking about! What a difference a year makes!

Students came into the library at their scheduled times...sat where they knew they were supposed to sit and immediately started raising their hands (some frantically) to share with me what they had read this summer! What a difference a year makes!

When I shared some of the many new books that are going to be in the library this fall, the students could not wait to see them.  When I held up Mark Pett's The Girl and the Bicycle, I heard, "Oooh, just like The Boy and the Airplane!  When I shared Greg Pizzoli's Number One Sam, someone asked "Is the crocodile in this one too?"  When I shared Bob Staake's My Pet Book, one of my most quiet students whispered, "Bluebird"!  What a difference a year makes!

When I shared Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord, one student turned to another and said, "I hope it's as good as Rules.  When I shared book six in Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series, book three in Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl series, and Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus from Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series, students literally cheered!  What a difference a year makes!

Wow!  What a difference a year makes...and what an awesome year it was!!!