picture book work-along intensive may 25-27

Hello, hello! Over on Facebook a few friends and I have put together an event, a Picture Book Work-Along Intensive, May 25-27 (that's this coming Monday through Wednesday), designed to be a look at current picture books -- what makes them tick? What makes them sell? What makes them work for kids? Or not.


 

If you're not on FB, no worries. Comment and work-along right here on the blog. I'll be summarizing each day's activity in a blog post, so you'll still be able to participate. Suggest titles, tell us what you think, tell us what works for you and your young readers! We're not interested in bashing books in public; we're interested in WHAT WORKS. That's where we'll focus.

We are inviting everyone -- reader, writer, illustrator, parent, grandparent, teacher, whoever you are, if you are interested in picture books, this is for you. We're encouraging your participation and your thoughts and comments and questions and opinions -- we want to learn. We are not teachers in this Intensive, we are all learners.

Any current (or classic) picture books you want to talk about are fair game. For organizational purposes, we are pulling from the following lists, and we have picked up almost all titles from our local libraries:

The Golden Age of Picture Books, an ABPA Panel, at Publisher's Weekly.

Creative Courage for Young Hearts: 15 Emboldening Picture Books Celebrating the Lives of Great Artists, Writers, and Scientists at Brain Pickings.

29 Ridiculously Wonderful New Books to Read With Kids. At BuzzFeed

25 Ridiculously Wonderful Books to Read With Kids in 2015. Also at BuzzFeed but a different list.

The Ezra Jack Keats Award winners 2015.

Participants are already suggesting books not on this list. Here are a few: SIDEWALK FLOWERS; THE OCTOPUPPY; THE CASE FOR LOVING; CHASING FREEDOM; THE BEAR ATE YOUR SANDWICH; SUPERTRUCK. Check the FB event page for particulars on books as well as details about the Intensive. This Facebook page is open to everyone, even those not on FB.

Hope to see you there. This is a drop-in when you can, stay as you like, contribute your thoughts, let's enlighten one another workshop. We're going to be WRITING as well, when you're not hearing from us online. We want to learn, and we want to write picture books. Moderators are moi, Jane Kurtz, Dian Curtis Regan, and Laurel Snyder. Janie and I will be together in person those three days, and we've got 72 books on my coffee table right now, from the Gwinnett County and the DeKalb County Library systems, ready to go. Join us!

xoxo Debbie


green gables love and exploration

Oh, Anne Shirley. Where have you been all my life? YES, friends have swooned over Anne of Green Gables and have told me I MUST READ THIS BOOK, and I have demurred and thought, meh, it just isn't in my wheelhouse, I'm just not interested, she lived in NOVA SCOTIA (wrong... sorta) and I am from the American South and it's going to be twee and saccharine and not at all interesting to me, and...

Well, I was wrong. Even though I haven't yet met Gilbert (RIP, oh no) and have only gotten as far as the first picnic, I know I'm onto something special that is showing up now, to teach me. I just know it. I don't know what I'm going to learn or how it will be incorporated, but in this year of exploration, this is what has come next.

After a spirited conversation while in Mississippi with my cousin Carol, a retired 2nd-grade teacher and librarian, I downloaded the audio book (thank you, Overdrive, and Gwinnett County Libraries!) and listened to it on my way home from Mississippi, where I had spoken at the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival, listened to it as I drove to Montgomery (flat tire at 5:30am and all), and listened to it as I drove from Montgomery, where I spoke at the Alabama Book Festival, all the way home.

Charmed.

Evidently, so is Sarah Mesle. She writes, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, "Ten Things I Learned From Loving 'Anne of Green Gables.'"

This is exactly the kind of kismet that happens when you open yourself up to the universe and say, "teach me." Things come into your path. (Sometimes they are weird things, and things that don't seem to fit together. I just trust them.) People who don't even know you help you on your way. Sara Mesle, thank you. I'm not going to worry about the lack of plot... which was beginning to niggle at me. I'm just going to enjoy myself.

Jonathan Crombie, the actor who played Gilbert in the 1985 mini-series production of Anne, has just died. This is something I likely wouldn't have heard about (as I don't follow the news anymore), except that I had that spirited conversation with my cousin, I started listening to the book, and Carol sent me the news yesterday.

Life turns on a dime. So does death, as Comfort Snowberger well knows. And so does how we parse the world. Carol sent me this ending to Anne, so I could see it and hear it and feel it and be part of her sadness at dear Gilbert's death, and so I could be pulled a bit more into the Anne community. I'll append it here so I can remember...


*****
You can see photos from the Book Festival and the Alabama Book Festival at Facebook and on IG. It's Sunday evening as I write this. Got to get ready for Wolf Hall on PBS. I text through the whole thing with Carol. I've learned to trust her literary judgement, and now I've got her trusting mine. I loved the novels by Hillary Mantel -- "you must watch this!" I told Carol, my Anglophile. One day she and I will get to Great Britain together. I want to be prepared. Maybe Wolf Hall is part of the year of exploration.

Happy Monday, friends. xoxoxo


back to school

Notes on Being a Late Bloomer is here.

The Year of Exploration is here.

 It occurred to me yesterday: I am intuitively doing what I did when I was so young and a single mom, uneducated, needy, and wanting a life for my kids, for myself, wanting to understand the world and to find my place in it. I went to school. I got my undergraduate degree from the many libraries I haunted during those years.

I was barely 22, I was broke, I was alone with two small children, but I had a library card. I still have a library card. Now I have two (we made peace). Suddenly, in this year of exploration, I am back to school and in much the same way. Let's call it a graduate degree.

I'm following my intuition, pulling on strings when an idea comes to me or someone mentions something that rings a "year of exploration" bell. I am truly following my nose here, as well as my list of things I want to explore. These notes are the ones I took when listening to Malcolm Gladwell's THE TIPPING POINT from my library system's Overdrive account. *love* Overdrive.

I don't know what I'll do with what I learned from THE TIPPING POINT, but that's not the point. I know I will use it. I know it's part of the year of exploration. It will tie in with everything else. I've always been a learner; I rarely have a stretch of time in which to learn in depth, intensely. That"s where I am now.

I finally excavated my office. I've been on the road for the past six months -- I've traveled in six months as much as I usually do in a year. I have bought myself some time off the road. My sabbatical starts June 1. I'll still travel. But that travel landscape is going to look different going forward.

More on that later. For now, I've spent the most lovely, rainy Friday afternoon going through ephemera of the past six months on the road. Letters from students, student writing, receipts, little gifts and remembrances, bills and business stuff... "Oh! There's my parking receipt!"... and photographs to remind me of good work done with new friends.

I got on the road 15 years ago when I became so suddenly single, and I've done a good job of taking care of me and mine, I've done good work on the road -- I've learned so much -- and I've written some good books. Now is the time for stillness and learning to love my new hometown, and writing, and learning, and being. Becoming. Something. I don't know what yet. I am trusting the process.

Have a great weekend, friends. I'm going to be off exploring. I'll capture and post exploration photos at Instagram and Facebook (mostly IG, as that's where I chronicle daily life). xoxoxo