Monthly Archives: December 2011

Just Being Audrey

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill

Title: Just Being Audrey

Written by Margaret Cardillo and illustrated by Julia Denos

HarperCollins 2011

Suitable for: grades 3-5

Themes:  acting, dance, war, philanthropy

Opening and Brief Synopsis: “More than anything, Audrey wanted to be a ballerina. She was too tall, her feet were too big, and her neck was too long.  Still, Audrey danced on.  She held fairy-tale ballets in her yard, the trees and squirrels her audience.”  This is the life story of Audrey Hepburn.


*This book is a new release and a 2012-2013 nominee for the Texas Bluebonnet Award. I will add activity links to this post as soon as they are created. I have no doubt that the Texas Library Association is working on several as I type!

Why I like this book: This book is technically a biography, but it reads like a picture book. The simple watercolor and ink illustrations complement the story perfectly. I learned many interesting facts about Audrey Hepburn’s personal and professional life in this book.  I didn’t know, for example, that she, her family and forty other people hid from the Nazis in a small house in the Dutch countryside during World War II.  Just Being Audrey is a beautiful story about an individual who, above all, remained true to herself throughout her life. I simply adore Just Being Audrey!

Watch the book trailer:

A secret writing retreat…

What is Mrs. K. reading today?

I’m reading a YA novel called Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor. Twelve year old Raine must spend an entire summer at Sparrow Road, a remote and scenic getaway for artists. Raine’s mother accepted a job as a maid and cook in the main house for the summer so Raine has no choice but to follow. Mysteries abound at Sparrow Road as Raine meets the artists in residence and learns that the old mansion they live in was once an orphanage. No one may talk during the day at Sparrow Road. In the beginning Raine resents this rule.  When she begins to write in a journal, however,  she discovers that her creative mind thrives in this foreign environment where there are no televisions, telephones, or radios of any kind. A former orphan resident mysteriously replies to the questions Raine asks about the orphanage in her journal. Is he a ghost?

These and other questions  have yet to be answered as I have only read a third of the book.  Sparrow Road sounds like a marvelous retreat for writing. I think I could handle the no talking during the day rule, but no phones at all?… This book is full of secrets, and I love a good mystery.  The possibility of ghosts is an added bonus!

Writing Update:

I am currently entertaining a new story character.  She is slowly evolving, and I know she will soon reveal her story to me.  She is strong and resilient, this much I know. She also has a name, but I’m not telling!


This afternoon I took the plunge and  joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 challenge.   Thank you, Julie for hosting this amazing contest!   Support from my writing peers throughout my PiBoIdMo experience kept me on track and writing every day. I look forward to participating in this new challenge with all of you throughout the year!

This evening I finally read my PiBoIdMo journal from cover to cover. I must admit, I was a little hesitant at first, afraid of what I might or might not find. When I began to read, I realized why writers must write every single day. I had already forgotten some of my most intriguing and unusual picture book ideas!  I enjoyed rediscovering these little gems, and I narrowed down my ideas to a top twenty list. Out of those twenty there are five that really peak my interest.  They are, not surprisingly, related to events from my childhood and my adventures in teaching. My best writing is usually inspired by my life experiences.  I have found that a good deal of time must pass between these life experiences and my writing before something worthy materializes. With age and wisdom comes understanding, and with understanding comes the real story.

I discovered several picture book writing tools and templates on a website I use frequently for lesson planning called  sponsored by the International Reading Association. I am using the plot pitch template to flesh out my “little gems.”

The Children’s Picture Book Project

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.  -Benjamin Franklin

Do you like a good mystery?

Mysteries in the Library…

It’s official! My Spring 2012 literacy event is  Mystery Night at the Library!    I have already chosen several mystery themed books and series for the literacy stations including The Cam Jansen mystery series, Judy Moody Girl DetectiveThe Box Car ChildrenAce Lacewing Bug Detective, and many more! Students will rotate through stations in the library where they will solve all kinds of mysteries related to the book titles.  I’m already in search of disappearing ink and other decoding devices to make this year’s event one to remember!  I’m trying to design five stations for students in grades K-2 and five stations for students in grades 3-5. For example, at the Olivia and the Missing Toy station students reach into a mystery box and guess by feel what toy is inside the box. There will be a picture of the actual toy on the bottom of the box so students can check to see if they guessed correctly. I am also going to write mystery stories with my fourth grade students prior to Mystery Night at the Library. I’ll  set up an open microphone  and students who choose to participate may read their stories to a live audience.  What fun!

Planning literacy events for students is so much fun, and watching the children and their parents enjoy the events is extremely rewarding. My mission this year is to plan an exciting literacy night that will encourage students to read mystery books. This genre has  recently been overshadowed by other popular genres (at least in my library) and I would like the children to discover how much fun it is to read a good mystery!

If you have ideas for mystery books or mystery stations, please let me know!


It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill

Title: Goal!

Written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by A.G. Ford

Candlewick Press, 2010

Suitable for:  grades 3-5

Themes: soccer, bullying, friendship, teamwork

Opening and Brief Synopsis: “I have to get water from the well before dark.  But I finished my homework, and right now it’s soccer time.”  Six boys living in South Africa are enjoying a game of soccer in the dusty street. One must stand guard on the roof, because the streets are not safe. Then the bullies come. The boys are afraid they might lose their new federation-size soccer ball.

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: Goal! is one of this year’s twenty nominees for the Texas Bluebonnet Book Award. It is my personal favorite.  The book gives readers a small taste of what it is like to live in South Africa.  It also highlights the game of soccer, or football, as it is known everywhere in the world except in the United States. Although conditions are difficult for these boys, they are still children, and they love to play soccer. When they play, they forget their worries.  I never tire of reading this book aloud, and my third, fourth, and fifth grade students love it. I see the anticipation in their faces when the bullies come and the boys hide their new ball under the water bucket.  Will the bullies find it? You’ll have to read Goal! to find out!

Watch the book trailer!