May 23, 2013


As summer approaches, I want to say a big THANK YOU for . . .

1.  Many memorable school visits . . .

2.  Fun Skype visits/Google Hangout, World Read Aloud Day . . .

Some of you have hosted me at conferences and festivals.  Some have made very generous donations to children's literacy organizations.  And one of you sent me an umbrella that came in very handy.  (You know who you are!)

Each of you has dedicated your time and energy to enriching the lives of children.  

What you do matters in ways you can't imagine.  You change lives.  You make this world a better place by being an advocate for the children you interact with every day.

You deserve a lovely, restorative summer!

If you've always wanted to write, check out Kate Messner's FREE summer on-line writing workshops for teachers.  Authors provide guest posts all summer and answer questions.  The writing workshop will be hosted on Kate's blog.  You can join the FB group here.

Or maybe you're looking for great summer reads.  Sign up for Jen Robinson's Book Page newletter, crammed with inspiring book recommendations, news and interesting links.

Or travel to exotic locations (or at least dream about them) by signing up for Travel Zoo's Weekly Top 20 Travel Deals.

Whatever you do this summer, have a wonderful time filled with the things you love best.  You deserve it!


May 21, 2013

Celebrating Young Authors!

This is the third year in a row I've had the GREAT pleasure of keynoting at the YOUNG AUTHOR CELEBRATION for students in 1st through 8th grades from St. Lucie County.

Here are some of the families streaming into the event as the doors open . . .

I love this event because the parents and grandparents are so proud of their children.  And they should be.  These students created beautiful, heartfelt/funny/scary books that were deemed tops at their schools.  It's an honor to be invited to this event.

Thanks to co-chairs, Erin Coppoletta and Lori Foley, for the hard work that goes into putting on such a terrific event for hundreds of attendees. 

Erin, me and Lori, before the event begins

And thanks to Debbie Remington for inviting me.

Debbie Remington and me, Young Author Celebration 2012

My favorite part, of course, was having a few moments with each of the students as they came up to have books signed, chat and have photos taken.  Some students asked me to sign THEIR winning books, which felt like such an honor. 

I was delighted to see Crystal and her parents at the event.  This is Crystal's third year in a row winning the honor of attending the Young Author's Celebration!

Here she is a few years ago, when she was my escort during a school visit . . .

Crystal, at Manatee Academy

She's grown much taller since then!

And a huge shout of THANKS to our youngest son, who helped me during the entire event.  He and I loved spending time with these sweet kids.  We celebrated when we were done by going out to lunch and this fancypants restaurant.

If there are any YOUNG AUTHORS reading this, please stop by this blog post to get resources for young writers, including places to send your work, excellent guidebooks, contests and more.

May 17, 2013

I'll Take Fun Skype Visits for $400 . . .

Lots of FUNtastic Skype visits this week.

Yesterday, a school book club from New York created a Jeopardy! board, which they used to ask me questions.  (Olivia Bean would have been proud!)

Aren't these kids precious?  (Half a dozen book club members forgot to show up.  But they're all getting signed bookmarks!)

And this sweet crew from Massachusetts, who had excellent questions for me . . .

My first Google Hangout was with 50 middle schoolers at a public library in Indiana.  What fun!

A student sits in front of the camera to ask a question.

And finally . . . the biggest, zaniest Skype visit I ever did was with Deb Tyo's amazing students from Ohio.

Here's a small portion of the students.

Some of the students created a video invitation for me to Skype with their class during World Read Aloud Day.

But nature had other ideas.  School was cancelled that day because of snow.  I suggested everyone fly down to Florida, but some people were too busy playing in the snow . . .

Photo courtesy of Deb Tyo

We made up for the missed Skype visit today.  These kids were so enthusiastic and well-prepared!  When they asked about my new book and I held up my finished manuscript for DEATH BY TOILET PAPER, the toilet paper went flying . . .

It was so much fun visiting teachers, librarians and superstar students in four states this week without ever changing out of my slippers. 

May 2, 2013


My last school visit of the year became more special because of a very generous donation from KIDS IN NEED -- BOOKS IN DEED, co-founded by Julianna Baggott and David Scott.

Media Specialist, Ms. Ivery-Lester and a "Thank You" sign for KIDS IN NEED-BOOKS IN DEED.

Before my visit, every student in 3rd - 5th grade received a copy of one of my books.  Every student.

That meant the students had time to read the books and create projects, like these . . .

That meant when my presentations were over, I didn't have students eagerly asking where they could get copies of my books, only to be told there were no copies available in the school library, which happens sometimes. 

Thanks to KIDS IN NEED -- BOOKS IN DEED, after my presentations, this is what happened . . .

The dynamic principal, Dr. McKeever, interacted with students while they waited in line to have their own books signed.

I loved interacting with each student who came up for a signature.  Some shared favorite parts from the books, others asked questions they'd prepared ahead of time and some handed me books from friends who couldn't be there.  

It was delightful to see these boys and girls so excited about books!

How could I not LOVE my job?

I promised something special to the last student at the end of the last line.  He'd waited so patiently to meet me.

While in Texas, a student handed me a bracelet she'd made with the word "BOOKS" on it.  I wore that bracelet to every school visit.  It seemed all the kids -- boys and girls -- were wearing cool, funky hand-made bracelets.

S. left with that bracelet on his wrist, because I knew it would matter to him.

Donna and S.

Thank you, KIDS IN NEED -- BOOKS IN DEED!  You've made the kind of difference that can't be measured -- the kind that matters most.  Thank you wonderful young readers and dedicated staff that made this very memorable school visit possible.

Mostly, thank you for reminding me why I do what I do.  And that it matters.