Saturday, February 16, 2019

Yes, Dragons Get Colds Too!

This book, DRAGONS GET COLDS TOO, is hot off the press, dragon breath and scales included. The hilarious Rebecca Roan has written an irresistible book full of laughs and tips for taking care of your sick dragon. The illustrations from Charles Santoso are eye-catching, and endearing. We’ve created some hands-on fun that will go right along with your copy of the book. Tip: Your dragon will not get well without this step-by-step advice!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Staff Motivators to Survive the Winter Doldrums

If you are an educator, then you already know that January and February are looooong months. Especially if you live in a region where you don’t get any snow (i.e. SNOW DAYS)! We’ve created some ways for you and your staff to escape the winter blues.
-Fill snack size baggies with mini-marshmallows and make sticker or paper labels that say “Snowman Poop,” “Marshmallow Kisses,” or “Cloud Fluff.” Pinterest has lots of label ideas! Place them in staff mailboxes when no one is around to see you!

-Decorate the staff bathrooms. Hang snowflakes (made by your students) and quotes about happiness and being inspired. Ask your students to give you some quotes of their own. (These usually get lots of laughs from staff members.)

-Sponsor a staff scarf exchange. Invite everyone to clean through their closet or drawers looking for that scarf (or scarves) they never wear anymore. Encourage everyone to wash the scarf before the exchange. Pick a day to bring in the scarves and display them on the table. Then go shopping for a new scarf! (Also, you get to keep a scarf for every scarf you bring in. If you bring in three scarves you take three!) You can also do it anonymously where each participant chooses a name and gives a scarf to the person they choose. No matter which way you exchange, pick a day where everyone wears their new scarf to school. Take a group picture as a keepsake for everyone. If you happen to have any leftover scarves, donate them to a local charity.

-Hot Chocolate Friday: Meet up in the lounge or library to drink hot chocolate. Everyone can bring their favorite kind or ask your PTO or social committee to sponsor the event. Use your hot chocolate Friday to talk about your weekend plans NOT the stressors of work.

-Host a book exchange. Encourage staff members to clean out their bookshelves looking for books for both children and adults. Bring the books in and display them on tables. Have some browsing time then choose your new book(s). For every book you bring in you take home the same amount. Post pictures on social media to spread the book love and to inspire others to have book exchanges too.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Chat with Laurie Wallmark

We are extremely lucky to have the talented Laurie Wallmark on our blog! She has wowed us with her books, ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE and GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE, and now she has another must-read. Thank you, Laurie, for giving us an inside look into your writing life and your most recent book.
How long have you been an author?
I’ve been writing for about twenty years now. My first book wasn’t published until 2015, though.

What made you want to become an author?
Unlike many of my kidlit author friends, I wasn’t interested in writing as a child. I was a math and science kid all the way. Other than a few poems and songs, the only writing I did was for school assignments. One day, I had an idea for a middle grade novel, so I decided to see if I could transform that idea into an actual book. I did, and that book became the first step on my path to being a writer. It’s now one of my trunk novels, hidden away, never again to see the light of day.

I’m always on the lookout for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) whose achievements have been overlooked. In fact, I keep a list of possible subjects for future biographies. Hedy co-invented a vital piece of technology that helps keep our electronic communications safe from hacking, yet most people only know her as a movie star with a pretty face. I wanted to share the achievements of this amazing inventor with the world.

Authors get rejected a lot. What do you do when you get rejected?
It’s hard to have your work rejected, but I try to tell myself that a rejection is only one person’s opinion. Somewhere out there is an editor who will love my book as much as I do. She just hasn’t met my book yet.

All of your published books are about women. Do you have more women-centered books yet to be written?
I have two more women in STEM books coming out in the next two years. The first, Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Mathematician, tells about the life and achievements whose work solves problems as different as calculating the path of a planet or a spinning football. The second book hasn’t been announced yet, so all I can say is it’s another unsung woman in STEM.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read. Read. Read.

Describe what it’s like to hear the news that you’ve just gotten a book contract.
It’s incredibly exciting to receive a call that says an editor has fallen in love with your book. (See my previous answer about rejection). Together, you will work to bring out a book that hopefully kids will love, too.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become an author?
A writer writes. You need to work at your craft if you want to become an author. In addition, it helps to develop a thick skin to cope with those inevitable rejections.


Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and many national awards including Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book. Her picture book biography, GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star, is a Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner, and is on several public libraries’ “best of” lists, including New York. Her recently released book is HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2019). Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. You can find Laurie on the Web at and @lauriewallmark.