Saturday, July 22, 2017

ESL Institute An Honor

(Ha!  Me sitting down on the job.)

It was an honor to present to educators at the ESL Institute at Millersville University in Lancaster, PA. this July.  Hard working, engaged, thoughtful and creative, enthusiastic about what they do. These teachers are using their summer to learn more so that they can better help their students succeed.

They deserve our respect and support.

(No I am not reading texts.  I am checking time on my phone.   This was a timed writing exercise.)  ;-)

Here is a shout out to Lancaster, PA, Millersville University and teachers everywhere.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Even if You Can't Get To the Beach

When I first began writing I just wanted to finish the book, a final draft, then I wanted to get it published.  Then I thought about seeing it a bookstore and in the LIBRARY!  Dare I hope to get fan mail?  Reviews?

One thing I never even imagined was the gratification that comes with seeing my own grandchildren read my books.   Here is two and a half year old Everett "reading"  A Beach Tail.  I am told he woke of from his nap and quietly picked the book out by himself.  He is having a summer beach adventure right in his own bedroom.  And I am shamelessly using him to promote this beach read for you this summer.

But if you cannot get to the beach, no worries.  Take your children or grandchildren on a journey to the park or back yard.  Draw your own lion or other creature in the dirt.  Give him a long tail and go on your own adventure around a tree, an ant hill, up the jungle gym, around the pond, up the hill.  Come back and tell the tale (or tail) of your own adventure. Make a sand drawing.  Look at what  the the students at Severn School did when I visited their school and they read A Beach Tail.

Beach or no beach,  enjoy the summer with a book!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reading List For Participatory Citizenship: Four Feet Two Sandals

Literacy and NCTE

See What the NCTE (National Council of Teacher of English) Official Blog has to say about Four Feet Two Sandals:

Four Feet, Two Sandals
by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed 1-5

This book is a great way to introduce children to the realities of living in a refugee camp, why people are refugees, and then relate it to their own lives. A ten year old girl named Lina ends up sharing a pair of sandals with a girl named Feroza, since there are not enough sandals for everyone. These two characters experience the hardships of life in a refugee camp: waiting on long lines for water, the hard journey that brought them there, the fear for their futures, no access to education, among other obstacles. This is a book that will get children thinking about the hardships faced by people in other parts of the world.

See what other great books are on the list and start reading!

BTW I will be at the NCTE 2017 National Convention in St. Louis in November!  Hope to see you there. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Because You Asked: Update on Beatrice and Her Dreams

Many people have contacted me to ask about Beatrice now.   Here are some photos of Beatrice with her husband and daughter Ariel. 

Wendy Stone is the photographer who took the photos for the illustrations for the book.  You can see her work and learn more about Wendy at

Thanks for your interest and keep dreaming!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Circles of Hope Now a Scholastic Bookclub Selection!

 So this is the writing Life.   You write and rewrite and rewrite and submit and write and wait and wait and wait to hear from an agent or publisher.  Sometimes you get fan mail.   That keeps you writing.   Sometimes you get rejections.   You keep writing and submitting.  (OK you might cry or scream or rant or threaten to quit).  A royalties check arrives!  You may have forgotten about those because really?  You are deep into the next project(hopefully). 

You write some more and wait some more.  Sometimes you sell a book and sign a contract and wait.  Wait for the edits, the check, wait for an illustrator.  Keep writing and wait.

I am currently waiting for the art for two new picture books to be complete.   One forth coming from Lee and Low and another from Eerdmans Publishing.

And then this little piece of news shows up in the mail.  Circles of Hope has been around for a while
a solid little book has been picked up by Scholastic Bookclub.

I do a little mental dance and continue to write.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

School visit makes the news!

What a great day at Severn School in Arnold Maryland, outside of Baltimore!  Treated like a celeb by the news media.  A full day left me feeling appreciated.

Check it out here in the Capital Gazette.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A new Spin on Galimotos: It's all about problem solving.

I wrote the book Galimoto nearly thirty years ago and kids at schools where I travel to as  a visiting author are still making galimotos.   In the book, Kondi searches his village in Malawi, Africa to find enough wire to make a toy car that has moving parts; axle, wheels, and a steering wheel that all work.

The children I saw in Malawi used whatever they could find to make these parts for their toys, which for me, are like works of art.  The wheels might be made out of wire pounded with a rock around a pipe to make them perfectly round.  Or maybe the children used discarded bottle caps found in the market area, saved up until there were enough for 4 wheels.  I have seen the wheels of galimotos made out of thin vines woven around and around and twisted together to make wheels.  Slices of yams made wobbly wheels and sometimes the styrofoam-like material under the skin of cornstalks worked too.

But when I visited Severn school last week, I saw a new spin on wheels for galimotos.   The children had plenty of pipe cleaners used to fashion their toy vehicles but when it came to wheels they could not find anything in the classroom that might work.

No problem! With a three-D printer they were able to turn out enough round plastic discs to make wheels for everyone in the class.

It took me a while to digest this solution and the connection between play in an African village and this high tech world of a classroom in the US.    Galimoto is, after all on one level, a story about a boy whose uses recyclables to make a toy.  In a place where toys are not available.  There are no building materials to buy and no money to buy them with.   Kondi is resilient, creative, independent, persistent and determined.  Just like the children I met in Malawi.

But then this hit me, it's all about problem solving.  Kondi is a problem solver and so are the kids in the school I visited.  They, like Kondi were using whatever was available to them to do what they had set out to do.  Create a galimoto.

We need problem solving abilities  more than ever.  Everywhere in the world today.