Celebration: Nerding out

Oh there has been a whole lot of amazing bookish things in this week. If there is a land of Nerdy-book-club-ish-ness, well, I have been wandering about within it. Quite happily. Actually wandering is not the word. Leaping. Whirling. Rejoicing. These words better capture it.

It began a week ago with the amazing Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference and it kept going until today at the eerie and exceptional Serendipity conference here in Vancouver.

I have been so blessed to hear brilliant and passionate words (and have many books signed by . . .  ) from Kate DiCamillo, Yuyi Morales, Joyce Sidman and Matt de la Peña (all in Bellingham) and Molly Idle, Holly Black, Andrew Smith and Mariko Tamaki (here in Vancouver).

I also got to attend the first EVER nErDCamp Bellingham last Sunday!

And then of course, all kinds of #booklove happened in my classroom all week.

I have too many words but can’t seem to settle them. So much of this will be in pictures.

The Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference was so amazing!

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I learned a lot from each presenter. One (or two) line take aways

Matt de la Peña: “You can’t be a great writer until first you are a great reader.”

Yuyi Morales: “At the library, there are books with art in them like in an art gallery. Some of them were made for people like me and my story.”

Kate DiCamillo: “It is a privilege to have anything at all to do with books. Words matter. Words don’t fail.”

Joyce Sidman: “Why share poetry with children? Poems can never be wrong. Some might be more powerful. They can express our “souls””

And Sunday was all about nErDcamp in the gorgeous Whatcom Middle School Library:

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I spent some time twisting and turning trying to see this gorgeous space from every angle

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Loved meeting with friends old and new and learning together 🙂

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Thank you to the awesome Adam Shaffer for his Nerdy vision!

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I loved bringing Viva Frida back for Miriam and watching her share it with little listeners

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Today at the Vancouver Children’s Literacy Roundtable’s Serendipity, more wonderful words and many laughs. Many of the gems are too – let’s call them – “too YA” to share.

From Andrew Smith: “My code is the English language. Like a wizard I can put words together and make poetry. It is powerful.”

From Mariko Tamaki: “There is a third writer in a comic book – the author, the illustrator and the person who puts it all together. The collaboration is important.”

From Molly Idle and Kelly Chipponeri (Editorial Director, Children’s Books at Chronicle Books in San Fransisco): “The process of putting together a book and doing what is best for the book is about kind, creative and supportive communication.”

From Holly Black: “It is intensely personal and strange to write a book. Writing is often answering the questions that we come across.”

I loved the chance to talk education with Andrew Smith and to share the sunshine with Molly and Kelly and hear more about their collaboration.

A gorgeous day all around.

My students adore Molly Idle‘s Flora so they will be thrilled that I got our classroom copies signed!

IMG_2144 And yes, I love all of this – the authors, the illustrators and the literacy love. But why do I love it so much? Because I can share it with my students.

Their book love is my book love.

Our passion for literacy is always, I hope, transformative.


Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.


Monday March 3rd, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?



Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

This week my reading was somewhat interrupted for a wonderful reason (#wwuclc) and a not so exciting one (report card writing jail) So I didn’t finish as many books as usual but I was transported to the reading/writing/thinking worlds of these amazing authors/illustrators/photographers at Western Washington University’s Children’s Literature Conference: Jennifer Holm. Steve Sheinkin. Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Nic Bishop. Wow! 

 #wwuclc #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I had the huge honour of getting to introduce Nic Bishop and showed a slideshow of my students’ questions and comments about his photographic work. Here’s a little peek at some of the thoughts shared:

#wwuclc Nic Bishop #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I plan to share more about this day in my #celebratelu post on Saturday (including how exciting it was to meet these fellow #NerdybookClub members: L to R Lorna Wheaton, Adam Shaffer, me, and Shannon Houghton).

 Pacific Northwest #nerdybookclub #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

On to the books I read this week:

Please, Louise written by Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison and illustrated by Shadra Strickland 

Full of poetic language this book delivers the message: books can be the answer to our fears. The message that reading makes a difference is a strong one. It does seem a little strange that the little girl is out wandering all alone in her neighbourhood. I can see children wondering this. Love the art.

Read here to see more of the art in this book (and some that didn’t make the final copy) featured on the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Please, Louise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale

I requested this from the library after seeing it on a #nf10for10 list. Such creative brilliance! This title highlights possible kid version structures of actual buildings. for example Habitat 67 in Montreal could be “recreated” using lego bricks.

One by one, block by block, plastic shapes interlock.

Dreaming Up #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Paul meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

Still not sure how I feel about this book. What a cover and the art continues to be gorgeous throughout. I love what I took to be the message: The world might be small but with love/companionship it feels large. New perspective changes everything. Just not sure if this book completely pulls it off. I like it, I think. Love it? Not totally.

 Paul meets Bernadette #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dragon Quest written by Allan Baillie and illustrated by Wayne Harris 

This was our BLG book this week and I haven’t had time to share student reviews. The illustrations are particularly powerful. If you read the book you will discover why. I also liked this book because it brought up some dragon nostalgia for me – when my children were probably 4-7 years old, they were obsessed with dragons and we read all kinds of dragon stories. Their obsession is probably what launched me into being a fantasy reader. One of my particularly amusing and clever children summarized why I liked this story after we discussed it. His words here:

Ms. Gelson likes this book because 1. It’s a book 2. No dragon was harmed 3. There were monsters but it tells how to outsmart them.

Dragon Quest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier 

What a story about an artist (and slave) who carved short poems into the pots he crafted. The power in just two lines is amazing. His story and his history were literally carved into the sides of these pots and jugs.

Dave belongs to Mr. Miles/

wher the oven bakes & the pot biles ///

July 31, 1840

 Dave the Potter #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

I read this book after reading this wonderful review by Travis Jonker. I can’t add much to his brilliant review – what I was intrigued by – the gentle themes of friendship, loneliness, simplicity and creativity. Worth finding.

 Brimsby's Hats

Next up? First of all I plan to read a LOT to make up for all the time I have missed this week. I am having page withdrawal or some other kind of bookish ailment . . .

Still reading (because report cards take hours and hours and hours) Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy and read alouds with my children: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen and Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (I now have my own copy signed to my children from Nic Bishop :-))

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 12/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 114/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 7/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 38/65 complete