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Celebrate all the BEAUTIFUL HANDS!

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Art, Body Smart, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, People Smart, Poetry, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

Celebrate all the BEAUTIFUL HANDS!

August is crazy-busy for teachers and parents of little learners, so grab this book for a quick-prep, interactive lesson: BEAUTIFUL HANDS by Kathryn Otoshi and Bret Baumgarten. The book begins with a question, “What will your beautiful hands do today?” which leads to more questions with inspiration-sparking answers: “Will they lift…/ spirits?/ Or stretch…/ imaginations?” There are also invitations to participate (“What can you lift?” “What can you stretch?”) that will especially hook...

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WHAT THE FUN?! in July and All Year ‘Round

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Early Learning, Holiday, Non-Fiction, Professional Development | 0 comments

Sing it with me! “What the world Needs now Is Fun! WHAT THE FUN?!” I picked something fun for July’s professional development book: WHAT THE FUN?! 427 Simple Ways to Have Fantastic Family Fun by Donna Bozzo. As you can see from my pink sticky tabs, I found lots of quick, easy, inexpensive ideas in WHAT THE FUN?! that work well in classrooms as well as at home, like: p. 35 “Comedy Club…Let the kids spend the day finding jokes and writing their own material.” Riddle and joke books can be less intimidating for...

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Why I’ve Been Quiet for Six Months

Posted by on Jul 21, 2016 in Michigan Author, Non-Fiction, Science, Self Smart, writing | 9 comments

MYSTERY OF LONG SILENCE EXPLAINED! December, 2015: My first two books, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA and DRAW WITH A VENGEANCE (under the pen name, Helen Wrath), were published. January, 2016: I had a stroke. I was in Boston at the American Library Association conference, attending for the first time not only as a librarian, but as a published author. I had a line at my booksigning event, dinner with a book promoter, brunch with my editor, coffee with an agent – and just before leaving for the airport, I lost all the peripheral vision on my...

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Groundhog’s Dilemma is here!

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Early Learning, Holiday, Key Ideas and Details, Michigan Author, Nature Smart, People Smart, Print Motivation, Readers' Theater, Self Smart, Social Studies, writing | 2 comments

It’s self-indulgent, but I can’t resist; my December pick is my new picture book that just hit the shelves, Groundhog’s Dilemma! It’s gorgeously illustrated by award-winning author/illustrator Matt Faulkner (with whom I’m about to celebrate five years of wedded bliss.) Half of Groundhog’s friends want him to predict an early spring, and the other half want a longer winter. Groundhog wants to please everyone, so when February 2nd comes, Groundhog has a dilemma: to see or not to see his shadow? Because the...

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The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 in Early Learning, Fluency, Holiday, Michigan Author, Readers' Theater, Self Smart | 0 comments

I’ve been hooked on Pout-Pout Fish since the beginning (fellow Michigander Debbie Diesen is a long-time friend),  and the newest book, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, is as wonderful as the original. Mr. Fish feels caught up in the “tizzy-busy” rush of the holidays. (Dan Hanna does a brilliant job of tucking jokes in his illustrations of the packed store shelves!) The repetition of these lines not only supports our early readers, it completely captures the overwhelmed feeling many of us get : “For a gift should be...

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“One Family” is one you need for Thanksgiving!

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Art, Counting Book, Early Learning, Holiday, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Print Motivation, Self Smart | 0 comments

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it’s a challenge to find Thanksgiving picture books that connect with kids: I find many “pilgrim and Indian” books that are cringeworthy with stereotypes, or stories about turkeys. This year,  I’m focusing on the “thanks” in Thanksgiving and sharing One Family by George Shannon with pictures by Blanca Gomez. The simple counting book is elevated here to show the beauty of what a family can be. “One is one. One lamp. One clock. One book to share.” A...

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September Bonus List of Books and Activities!

Posted by on Sep 25, 2015 in Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Key Ideas and Details, Letter / Number Knowledge, Michigan Author, Music Smart, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Phonological Awareness, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Professional Development, Range of Reading, Rhyming, Science, Self Smart, Social Studies, Song Books, Vocabulary | 0 comments

Because I gave a presentation to awesome librarians this month and I couldn’t resist sharing all the great ideas we came up with, you get a bonus post this month! And because you’re getting a bonus post, I hope you’ll allow me to indulge in a bit of horn-tooting. My debut picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, illustrated by Matt Faulkner (swoon!) will be published by Charlesbridge this December 1st, and it recently received a good professional review: “Faulkner’s anthropomorphic animals and vibrant colors...

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I’m New Here

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Early Learning, People Smart, Print Concepts, Readers' Theater, Self Smart, Uncategorized | 4 comments

It’s September, the start of a new school year. I have no apples for you teachers, but I do have the perfect back-to-school picture book to teach empathy and point of view: I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Maria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to their schools and to the United States. Through their stories, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to hear a new language, to see a new alphabet, and to try to pick up a new set of classroom expectations. “Back home… I knew just what to do.” All of your students...

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27 Books You Can Use This Year

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Counting Book, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Key Ideas and Details, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Phonological Awareness, Poetry, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Rhyming, Science | 0 comments

During the “Moving Beyond the Basics… Reaching for More” conference on Aug. 11 at the Byron Center High School in Michigan, a roomful of teachers and I read through boxes of books. (Thank you, Annemarie Johnson and Kate DiMeo, for inviting me to share informational picture books and to talk about kids’ book publishing.) ((Have I mentioned that my first picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, will come out this December 1 from Charlesbridge?)) After browsing and brainstorming, we generated a list of 27 books with...

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The Most Magnificent Thing

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Art, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Logic Smart, People Smart, Science, Self Smart | 0 comments

The Most Magnificent Thing

The perfectionist in me was upset to have missed posting last month, so as a reminder to be more patient with myself, I pulled out the very wise, very magnificent book, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. The unnamed girl has an idea for a magnificent thing. She uses all kinds of cool tools like hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches (rock on, tool girl) but she just can’t make in reality the fabulous idea in her head. She works and reworks it, but “(h)er hands feel too BIG to work, and her brain is too full of all the...

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