Picture Books In The Classroom

Get ready.  This is going to blow your whiskers back!

APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS! IS HERE!!!  Woo-hoo!  *Cheers and throws confetti with reckless abandon!*

(Although, I don’t actually have a copy yet… :))

AND, it gets even better!  The exceptionally knowledgeable and qualified Shannon Morgan has just completed Classroom Guides for April Fool, Phyllis! and they will be up on my website (for anyone who would like to download) hopefully by the end of today.  The timing couldn’t be better because, as of this weekend, the book is available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble and it should reach Indie bookstores of discerning taste this week 🙂 (Holiday House, publisher of April Fool, Phyllis!, markets primarily to schools and libraries, so not all bookstores will carry it… unless you ask :))

What need have I of a classroom guide? you may ask.  Well, if you’re not a teacher, a homeschooler, or possibly a daycare provider, you probably won’t have much use for it – unless you have a hamster who likes educational bedding.

But if you ARE a teacher, a homeschooler, or a day care provider, what could be more fun than using picture books as a source of learning in your classroom?  And how better to do that than with a handy dandy guide that gives you a whole slew of ideas and resources on how you can incorporate the story into language arts, social studies, science, math, art etc. for your specific grade level?  Including content standards!

Some books lend themselves to curricula more readily than others.  April Fool, Phyllis! should be one of them.  There aren’t that many picture books about April Fools’ Day, and it’s a fun holiday to explore with young readers.  In addition, it opens the gateway for discussions of weather, maps, and making maple syrup 🙂 among other things.

Not to toot the horn of my own book (er, or something along those lines) but the classroom guides are really awesome.  (I’m allowed to say that because I didn’t write them :))  I hope you’ll all check them out and pass the word along to any teachers you may know.  It’s like a gift – whole lessons already planned! – they may shower you with gratitude and offers to take you to dinner 🙂

For any of you who might be interested in creating classroom guides for your own picture (or other) books, I highly recommend Shannon!  She is a woman of many interests, so if you click on her link and see pictures of cute cats in cups, or recipes for amazing homemade bread, be assured you have not gone to the wrong place 🙂  Once the guides for April Fool, Phyllis! are up on my website, you’ll be able to see examples of her fine work.

And now, as if all this wasn’t exciting enough, Phyllis and I are off to the Big Apple – right this second! – to visit my niece’s school and perform the debut reading of April Fool, Phyllis! (from the F&G because, like I said, I don’t have an actual copy yet!)  There is a special surprise for my niece – the book is dedicated in part to her, because April First is her birthday 🙂

If we remember to take any pictures, I’ll share them tomorrow 🙂  Wish us luck!

A School Visit With Chocolate And A Tiara On Top!

First things first:  yesterday’s contest for a free, personalized signed copy of Karen Orloff’s new picture book, I WANNA NEW ROOM, is still open.  Check yesterday’s post.  Meet Karen.  Enter to win 🙂


One of the things I love about writing for children is getting the chance to visit local schools and share my stories with the people I wrote them for.

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a local pre-school.  I was supposed to go last week on Groundhog Day but we got snowed out and had to reschedule.  That’s been happening a lot lately… I think I’d best send Phyllis to have a word with the Weather Man!

Luckily, the sun was shining yesterday (even though it was zero!) so Phyllis and I were able to make our way to Millbrook Community Preschool.

Imagine Phyllis’s surprise and delight when she discovered that the children had presents for her!

They made her a tiara which says “Phyllis” on one side and “Queen Groundhog” on the other!

Here.  She will model it for you…

I hope you can see how sparkly it is, and how exceptionally beautiful she looks even though I know the print is too small to read.

Wait.  Maybe we can get closer up…

That’s better!  Is that gorgeous or what?!  Phyllis refused to take it off (which is why she was wearing it with her scarf as we were leaving.)  She asked me specially to tell all the kids at MCP that she slept in it last night and she is quite certain that it was responsible for her wonderful dreams in which it was already spring 🙂  She is also fairly certain that when she sings with it on, her voice is even more beautiful… if that’s possible!

As if a sparkly tiara weren’t enough, the children also presented her with a bar of dark chocolate, which was their best guess as to what her favorite food would be.  She wishes them to know it was simply scrumptious… and yes, she brushed her teeth after… all 30 of them 🙂

Here she is with her chocolate (it’s pretty hard to see because it’s wrapped in purple, but she’s holding it on her paws)

Good thing we took the picture when we did… that chocolate is nothing but a happy memory now 🙂

We had a wonderful time as we always do at MCP.  In case any of you happen to be in the market for a local preschool, I highly recommend it.  It is run by Diane Schnoor (who also happens to look simply smashing in a tiara.  She and Phyllis may be twins separated at birth… who can tell?)

And now, Phyllis and I are off to Sophie Finn Elementary School where, even though there will be lots more kids, they’re going to have to work pretty hard to come up with anything as wonderful as a sparkly tiara and a bar of dark chocolate 🙂

Don’t forget – entries are still open in yesterday’s contest!  Scroll down and read about Karen Orloff and enter to win a copy of her new picture book!