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Around the Web with OAV Authors: November 2017

This month, our Online Author Visits crew is reflecting on the books we’ve launched this year and feeling thankful for our young readers, our blog followers, and the gracious hosts who invite us to visit their classrooms, libraries, and other venues.

Thank you all for your support!

November 2017 Around the Web
A sampling of our 2017 books and speaking engagements.
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Erik Brooks, Author of the Month: Visual Literacy Visits

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Visual Literacy: The ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, extending the meaning of literacy, which commonly signifies interpretation of a written or printed text.

Once upon a time, as a newly certified K–12 art teacher (c. 1995) who in three years of job searching and subbing only ever found a single full-time art teaching application opportunity, I ultimately turned my artistic interests to picture books. I haven’t really looked back, except to say that I always look forward to my teaching opportunities.

I get invited to literacy nights (and days) at schools, and as a picture book writer, I really do relish the opportunity to explore reading and writing with kids in the classroom. As an illustrator and wannabe art teacher however, I’m always even more excited to draw! And to me, visual literacy goes hand in hand with a more traditional idea of reading/writing literacy — and perhaps it sometimes even leads the way.

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Kids “read” pictures, and words emerge to match.

Beyond books even, we are surrounded by visual media — and this media generally doesn’t ask you to do a lot of work. It’s passive consumption. Becoming visually literate demands that you analyze these images and try to figure out what you are being asked to learn or read in the process.  And kids should know that they can be active participants — both as consumers and creators. It’s powerful stuff disguised as drawing 🙂

Kids post, they text, they create video etc. And the tools of visual literacy — the choices that one makes about even the simplest things like line or color or composition — all work in tandem to inform the viewer/reader of what you are asking them to see — or what words you want them to conjure to accompany the pictures. And even these most basic tenants of image making help you tell a story. And they also help you read it. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s not, but visual literacy is integral to better communication, and making a picture or a picture book is such a great place to introduce this topic to a student audience.

Character, setting, plot, emotion, cliffhangers, hooks, foreshadowing … ALL of these things can be visual or given emphasis by visual cues. Literate art makes for literate readers.

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Just a few of the ideas that I’ll demonstrate as tools for visual literacy. So kids are watching this happen while I talk them through it, and then they get to try in on their own.

And so, all of that being said, for the last few years I’ve been doing a LOT of drawing workshops where kids create characters and scenes with an intentional visual impact. Using lines and details to draw attention to certain things in their artwork; using angles or compositions to help a reader follow their picture in a certain logical order; deciding on just the right expression or gesture to represent an emotion; these are fundamental things to communicating an idea or telling a story — and it’s also drawing, and it’s work — but it’s so much fun!

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Everyone starts with some guided drawing for a foundation…
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…and it’s incredible how many different things will happen when the kids take over and start to add lines, details, emotions, expressions, and setting of their own!
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Are we having fun yet? Do expressions help to tell a story?

And of course it’s always incredible when you hear from a school about visual projects  inspired by your books – even when you haven’t had a chance to visit! Great teaching starts with digging just beneath the surface and giving kids an idea of the process that they can put to work in their own fantastic artwork and storytelling 🙂

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AMAZING expressions and gestures add to the humor and energy in these speedy tortillas inspired by Eric Kimmel’s THE RUNAWAY TORTILLA.
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Inspired by the watercolors in POLAR OPPOSITES, students also emphasized the differences between two main characters using different colored backgrounds.

And finally, for an appropriately visual teaser to keep you on your toes for my next book, here is a sketch from Shelley Gil’s IF I WERE A BEAR (Sasquatch, Little Bigfoot, Spring 2018) to be released simultaneously with IF I WERE A BIRD.

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Cover sketches for the next book. LOTS of little thumbnails like this and sometimes I get even a little more detailed then I should for such a small space!

These are both board books in the wake of our February 2017 collaboration on IF I WERE A WHALE.

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A favorite spread from IF I WERE A WHALE.

And it’s one day too late for this, but “HAPPY HALLOWEEN!”

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Erik Brooks is the author/illustrator of 24+ books for children and their most excellent parents and teachers. Look for his newest picture book, IF I WERE A BEAR!, in Spring 2018.

Erik writes, draws, coaches, and visits schools and libraries from his home in Winthrop, WA. It’s a little off the beaten path, so online visits are the perfect thing — and screen sharing means drawing lesson work as well! To learn more about booking visits with Erik, head to the school visits page of his website at www.erikbrooks.com.

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Patrick Jennings‘s new book, Naughty Claudine’s Christmas, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, will be published by Random House on October 24. Claudine doesn’t approve of Santa’s methods — surveillance, judgment, breaking and entering — so she decides to ward him off with naughtiness.

Naughty Claudine Cover

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Martha Brockenbrough will be speaking at NCTE in November with Laurie Halse Anderson. Please say hello if you’re there!

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Dana Sullivan  is happy to report that he completed and sent ALL of his final art for My Red Velvet Cape to Sleeping Bear Press. He’s also ecstatic that MRVC will launch on HIS BIRTHDAY, February 11, 2018!!!

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Dori Hillestad Butler reports that her middle grade novels Do You Know the Monkey Man and Yes, I Know the Monkey Man are getting new covers!

Do You Know the Monkey Man was originally published in 2003, so Dori also revised and updated the text to go with the new cover. She intends to revise and update Yes, I Know the Monkey Man as well. Both will publish in 2018.

Dori is also publishing a 7th book in her popular Buddy Files series. The multi-talented Dana Sullivan provided art.

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In other news, Dori was thrilled to learn that her King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats and King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code both appear on the 2017 Cybils award nominations list in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. And her Haunted Library appears on the 3rd-grade Source Books list for the Scripps Spelling Bee.

Finally, if you happen to be at AASL in Phoenix this year, Dori is on the Reading on My Own! Beginning Reader Series panel Saturday, November 11, at 10:40 am. Look for her there or visit the Publisher Spotlight (Booth 101) Friday, November 10, from 2:30 until 3:30.

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Laurie Ann Thompson was honored to learn that both Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream have been chosen as Community Book Reads by Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus, IN! To celebrate, she’ll be doing a Skype visit with them about both books at the end of this month.

Laurie was also thrilled to see that Two Truths And a Lie: It’s Alive! is nominated for a Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category! Laurie has been a Cybils judge several times in the past, so this is a very special treat.

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And, in the “How cool is that?” department, Laurie learned that Emmanuel’s Dream is on the list of sources of words for the 2nd-grade level of the Scripps Spelling Bee!

Janet Lee Carey, Author of the Month: Creative Camaraderie

The myth goes something like this. Writers work alone. They are solitary beings who eschew human company to toil day after day on their craft. Invite them out to lunch, and they decline. Disturb them at their work, and they are fierce!

Admittedly, I Do have this sign on my study door:Dragon at Work sign
I love spending hour upon hour blissfully alone working on my novels. And while my husband says, “My wife sits at home all day plotting and scheming.” The truth is, I do leave my work cave occasionally. You may be shocked to learn many authors and illustrators can be social creatures. You just have to know what (aside from chocolate) lures us away from our desks.

Critique Groups

Peggy's two moon journey party 1 Most of us meet weekly or monthly to share our work, give and receive critique, and help each other reach our writing dreams. We work hard in these groups, reading and marking up our manuscripts. But we go wild when one of us sells to a publisher. Recently, my critique group, the Diviners, celebrated Peggy King Anderson’s sale of her middle-grade novel Two Moon Journey with cheers and pom-poms.

And here’s the coveted Diviner Award we’ve been passing around for years — the Nancy Pearl shushing librarian action figure.

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Writer Organizations
We join important organizations like PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). This means we attend monthly meetings, crowd to conferences and meet up at retreats.

Book Parties
We go wild for book launch parties.

Janet in polka-dot boots for Kevan Atteberry’s PUDDLES!
The Diviners in costume at Janet’s book party for IN THE TIME OF DRAGON MOON.
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Celebrating at Martha Brockenbrough’s latest launch.

 

Office to Office
Sometimes we stop our work to contact each other and talk about . . . well . . . our work. Here’s my recent Creative Conversation with Wendy Wahman.

Creative Groups
We gather together to talk shop, celebrate our successes, ponder our failures, and tinker with the mystery of creativity. (Tinker we must, but it will remain a mystery.)

Sometimes we work in large groups at all-day writing retreats.

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Some Mouse House members. How many OAVers can you see in this photo? (I count 4.)

Many mice were present at our recent Mouse House retreat at Dia Calhoun’s house by the river. OAVers Laurie Ann Thompson, Dori Jones Yang, Dana Sullivan, Suzanne Williams, Moi, and more worked silently in the house and outside, breaking for lunch, and later for Happy Hour.

OAV post cc Kit, Laurie and Dori at workOAV cc dana working at desk

OAV post CC Suzanne workingOAV post CC Janet writing


Meeting Readers
Hands down, we all love meeting readers — at book signings, and at schools, libraries, and bookstores here in the US and abroad.

Janet and OAVer Trudi Trueit sign books at Borders.

 

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OAV’s Dave Patneaude talks with students during a school visit.

 

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Author Lois Brandt visits a classroom.

 

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OAVer Dori Jones Yang gives a book talk in Beijing.

 

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Janet visits a school in Japan.

 

Online Author Visits
And if you contact us here at Online Author Visits, I pinkie swear we will answer your call. The best part is, we don’t have to leave the office. You can get past that sign on my door and see where I work. More dragons await within the inner sanctum, but they gobble stories, not readers.

All of us here at OAV would love to meet you in your book group, library, or class. We might even say yes to lunch!

Around the Web with OAV Authors: September 2017

Note: Please enjoy this rerun of last year’s Back to School post.

You already know that you can find our team’s individual profiles right here on the OAV site. You can also find links to their websites in the right-hand sidebar of every OnlineAuthorVisits.com page. We try to make it easy for schools, libraries, and other groups to get to know us so you can select the right publishing pro(s) for your important virtual events.

So, for this Back to School edition of “Around the Web,” we thought we’d make it even easier to connect with our authors and author-illustrators by rounding up direct links to each OAVer’s primary public social media pages. Think: Facebook author pages, Twitter profiles, and writing blogs. You’re on your own for Instagram, Google+ Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, YouTube, and others — but do let your fingers do the typing in those platforms’ search fields. You will get OAV-member results!

Ready? Let’s go!

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Row 1, L to R: Patrick Jennings, Janet Lee Carey, Joan Holub, Dia Calhoun. Row 2: Dori Hillestad Butler, Lisa L. Owens, Trudi Trueit, Suzanne Williams, Deb Lund. Row 3: Erik Brooks, Clare Hodgson Meeker, Laurie Ann Thompson, Dana Sullivan, David Patneaude. (Missing: Dori Jones Yang.)

 

Dori Jones Yang (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Dori Jones Yang

Suzanne Williams (author): Goddess Girls series Facebook page

Trudi Trueit (author): Facebook page, Twitter

Laurie Ann Thompson (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Dana Sullivan (author-illustrator): Twitter, blog

David Patneaude (author): Twitter, blog

Lisa L. Owens (author): Twitter, blog

Clare Hodgson Meeker (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Deb Lund (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blogs

Patrick Jennings (author): Twitter, blog

Joan Holub (author-illustrator): Facebook page, Goddess Girls series Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Janet Lee Carey (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog 1, blog 2

Dia Calhoun (author): Twitter, blog

Dori Hillestad Butler (author): Twitter, blog

Erik Brooks (author-illustrator): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Martha Brockenbrough (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

That covers the whole crew!

And, while you’re out and about taking a peek at our wonderful team’s various profiles, don’t forget to connect with OAV’s official Facebook page. We’d love to see — and hear from you — there!

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Dori Jones Yang, Author of the Month: The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball

September is a great time for me to be “Author of the Month” because I have a new book out and I’m planning lots of classroom visits – both in-person and online via skype. I love talking to kids about my books.

My new book, The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball, is about a boy who arrives in the United States and has to learn to speak English and make friends with American kids. At first he doesn’t understand very much and everything feels strange to him. Most immigrant kids can relate to that! Many American-born kids have at least one classmate who was born in another country and struggles to learn English. A book like this can help them to empathize with what these classmates might be going through.

The boy in this book is Woo Ka-Leong. He didn’t pick an English name, but people started calling him Leon, and that was okay with him.

Leon keeps getting into trouble. When he is told to stay put, he runs off because he is curious to see a train engine. When a kid teases him, he swings his fists. Once he gets mad and pushes a boy so he falls through the ice. How is Leon supposed to know about ice? Where he grew up, in southern China, it never snows.

Baseball saves him. He never played it before, but once he starts fooling around with a baseball and bat, he really likes the game. Some boys in town practice in a field, and one invites him to join in. At first, baseball is really hard, too, but Leon learns quickly. He wishes he could play it all the time, but he has to study for hours every day.

Maybe you guessed from the pictures, but Leon lived a long time ago—in the 1870s. In those days, all Chinese boys and men had to wear their hair in one long braid. Some Americans teased him about that and pulled his braid. But he didn’t have a choice. If he cut it off, he would be considered a traitor to China and would be sent home in shame. Not a good option.

Maybe you noticed from my author picture, but I am not a Chinese boy. I’m not even Chinese! And I wasn’t even alive in the 1870s. So why did I decide to write about a Chinese boy in the 1870s?

Actually, I’ve written a lot of books about people from China. My husband was born there, and our daughter grew up Chinese-American in Washington State. I spend many years learning to speak Mandarin and speak it with friends and relatives. But I also spent many years living abroad—two years in Singapore and eight years in Hong Kong.

Above is a picture of me with my daughter when she was little. Below is one of me in my twenties, speaking Mandarin at a contest shortly after I started studying it in Singapore.

I know what it feels like to struggle to express myself in a foreign language. When I first studied Chinese, in my early twenties, I often had a complicated thought in my head, but the only sentences that came out of my mouth were simple. One day it hit me: back home in America, I used to think that if people spoke poor English, they weren’t smart. Now I knew better. They were just as smart as I was, but it was hard for them to find the right English words to express the complicated thoughts in their heads.

At that moment, I made a decision. Once I returned home to the United States, I would do everything I could to help people who were trying to adapt to my country and language. Now, years later, I do that a lot. Recently, I helped an 11-year-old boy and his mom sign up for sixth grade at an American middle school, a month after they arrived from China.

But more important, I write books about kids trying to adapt to America. My first children’s book, The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang, tells of a girl from China who starts fifth grade in Seattle and discovers she can’t speak in class. The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball tells of Leon, the boy who arrives in the U.S. in 1875 and makes friends playing baseball. Both are middle grade novels for readers age ten and up.

I’m planning a book tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York October 14-31 and am arranging many school visits there. I’m also scheduling school visits in the Seattle area before and afterwards. I welcome teachers and librarians to contact me about skype visits.

If you live in the Seattle area, please come to my book launch at Island Books in Mercer Island on Sunday, September 10th, at 4 p.m. I plan to show some pictures of the real Chinese boy scholars who came in the 1870s.

In the meantime, enjoy this one-minute book trailer video. It was created and produced by a talented college student I know, David Graham. To see the video, click on this link.

Happy viewing – and happy reading!

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Martha Brockenbrough has two new books coming out in September: ALEXANDER HAMILTON: REVOLUTIONARY, which School Library Journal gave a starred review, and LOVE, SANTA, a picture book about the deeper magic of the holiday.

 

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Need a new back-to-school picture book for 2017? TOOL SCHOOL sends Hammer, Screwdriver, Pliers, Saw and Tape Measure on the tool bus to Ms. Drill’s class, where cooperation is the key to building friendships and a surprise project! New from Joan Holub, James Dean and Scholastic, creators of the New York Times bestseller, MIGHY DADS!

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fairy_tale_largeSuzanne Williams’s chapter book, A FAIRY TALE GONE WRONG, a personalized book that accompanies the fabulous American Girl-like dolls at Starpath Dolls, has just been published.

Story summary: After making the exact same birthday wish, you and your best friend accidentally find yourselves inside the Cinderella fairy tale! Now it is your job to keep the story on track so Cinderella will wind up with her prince and you can return home safely to your family. A visit by the Fairy Godmother, a trip to the Royal Ball, and a ride on a magic swan await you on your adventure.

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Dori Hillestad Butler‘s  THE UNDERGROUND GHOSTS just launched on August 15. She wrote about the significance of that here. This book, set in Seattle, completes her Haunted Library series. If you’re in the Seattle area, come to her book launch party at Secret Garden Bookshop (2214 NW Market St. in Ballard) at 2:00pm Sunday, August 20. Everyone is invited!

KING & KAYLA AND THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS MOUSE, book 3 in her King & Kayla mystery series for beginning chapter book readers, launches on September 1.

 

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Dana Sullivan has gotten approval on all sketches for his book, MY RED VELVET CAPE, which means he now has to create FINAL ART! Dana reports that this always freaks him out, so he’s doing a lot of deep breathing. His media is Sharpie Ultra Fine Point and watercolor and his plan is to ink a bunch of illustrations and then color them in batches. We’ll check in with him later to see how he’s doing. Publication is scheduled for spring of 2018, so he’d better start painting faster than a speeding bullet!

 

 

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Forbidden Temptation coverDori Jones Yang is delighted to announce the publication of her new middle grade novel, The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball, on August 15th. A novel for readers aged 10 to 14, it tells the story of two fictional Chinese boys who were sent to the United States by their government in 1875. It is based on a real historical event and deals with cross-cultural adaptation and how Americans respond to foreigners in our midst. Dori is currently planning school events in the Seattle area for the fall and a book tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York Oct. 14 – 31.

 

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Lisa L. Owens wrote two biographies in Lerner’s brand-new-for-fall Primary Source Explorers series: A Journey with Hernán Cortés and A Journey with Sieur de La Salle. The hardcover and publisher e-book editions launched August 1, and special Kindle versions of each title will become available August 22 through Amazon.com. Written for ages 8–11, these books encourage young readers to consider point of view and context while learning about each explorer’s life (and life’s work) through the lens of primary source materials such as letters, journals, maps, and other period-specific artifacts. To learn more and read a recent Q&A with Lisa, visit her author page at the Lerner site.

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twotruthsandalie-hc-convertedLaurie Ann Thompson is thrilled to announce the release of Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! (co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette). It’s a Junior Library Guild selection and received a starred review from Booklist.

Laurie has also been doing a lot of speaking lately. She appeared in person as a member of the faculty of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, at the Seattle Central Library to present a Seattle Writes workshop, to a class of students visiting from Japan, and to a summer class of young reluctant readers in Everett, as well as via Google Hangouts to a group of teachers in WI!