Photos From the Ozark Literacy Council Fundraiser

Ozark Literacy Council‘s annual fundraiser, “An Open Book Affair,” took place last Thursday (October 20th) at the Pratt Place Barn on Markham Hill in Fayetteville.

TINY SNAIL & "SEA HORSE, RUN!" at the OLC "Open Book Affair" silent auction, Oct 20th.

My books were part of the silent auction.

POLLIWOG & KALEIDONOTES at OLC's silent auction.

OLC raised over $25,000 at the fundraiser. The money will help the Ozark Literacy Council expand and promote literacy throughout our community (Washington County, Arkansas).

Tammy and Daniel Woodrell

The event also honored Daniel Woodrell, the author of Winter’s Bone.

Bill Harrison and his former student, Tammy Bronson.

The highlight of my evening was reconnecting with my University of Arkansas creative writing instructor, William Harrison. My first creative writing course with Mr. Harrison was in spring 1995 just before I graduated, and my husband and I both took his screenwriting course in the 1997 fall semester. His courses taught me to seek constructive criticism of my work by testing my stories on an objective audience as I work through revisions. Without a doubt the extensive testing and revisions of “Sea Horse, run!” helped shape my latest picture book into an award-winning story.

OLC fundraiser inside Pratt Place Barn.

Connect with Ozark Literacy Council on Facebook or visit their main website to learn how you can donate or volunteer.

Advertisements

Charlotte’s Web

Cover of "Charlotte's Web (paper-over-boa...

Cover of Charlotte's Web

“Salutations!”

And so begins the first meeting between two of the most famous characters in 20th century children’s literature, Wilbur and Charlotte.

I am a great admirer of E. B. White’s work, and Charlotte’s Web is one of my favorite children’s books. Today I caught part of a wonderful interview with Michael Sims’ about his new book, The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic. The interview is on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. The book was released June 7, 2011 and is already in its third printing. There are links to more interviews on the author’s website, michaelsimsbooks.com, and I enjoyed reading the insightful article about the book at Smithsonian.com.

I often use Charlotte’s Web in writing workshops with older students (2nd-5th grades) because the plot of the book is a perfect example of a “Hero’s Journey.” I use three questions to begin the discussion. The answers to these questions help define the beginning, middle, and end of the book.

THE BEGINNING

Who is the hero? Wilbur

Many students will name Charlotte as the hero, but she is a supporting character I like to call, “the Teacher Character,” because she helps the hero the most on his journey. Wilbur is the hero because he wants something, but he won’t achieve his goal until the end.

THE END

What does the hero want? Wilbur wants to live.

This is the hero’s goal, and it determines the end of the book. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur wants to live, and several supporting characters help make his dream a reality as the story unfolds.

THE MIDDLE

What is the problem, or why is Wilbur’s life in danger? Fern’s uncle, Mr. Zuckerman, wants to eat him!

Several supporting characters, including Charlotte and Templeton the rat, help Wilbur convince Mr. Zuckerman that he is “SOME PIG” and way too “TERRIFIC” to eat.

Below is an outline I created of the plot in Charlotte’s Web. Teachers, feel free to use this outline in the classroom. It’s a great tool for readers and writers. Seeing how the story unfolds, step-by-step, might help you outline the plot in your own story.

Charlottes Web Plot

Double-click to view and print the full page.

For more information about E. B. White and Charlotte’s Web, try these websites:

E. B. White Official Website

Charlotte’s Web Study Guide

Activities at ABCTeach.com

Charlotte’s Web at Scholastic.com

More Links at eThemes (Missouri.edu)

2011 DallasKidsRead!

Dallas Kids Read Festival Bookmark

DallasKidsRead! Festival Bookmark


I was deeply honored to speak at the DallasKidsRead! children’s book festival at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library (1515 Young Street) in Dallas, Texas on Thursday, July 28th. Big Thought and the Dallas Public Library partnered with the City of Dallas and the Dallas Independent School District to provide an educational enrichment event for all 2nd through 5th grade students as part of the Thriving Minds Summer Camp program. Students from four elementary schools came to the central library to hear nine authors and illustrators discuss their children’s books. In addition to me, the authors and illustrators included:

Crystal Allen Author of How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy.

Joe Cepeda Award-winning illustrator of more than 35 books including What a Cool World and The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (written by my fellow Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison).

Lydia Gil Author of Mimi’s Parranda.

Darlington Johnson Fourteen-year-old author of Layla the Ladybug.

Jennifer Kindert Illustrator of The Christmas Puppy and Llamas in Pajamas.

Toni Simmons Award-winning author of The Cheese Chase: Why Dogs Chase Cats.

Don Tate Award-winning author and illustrator of more than 40 children’s books including Black All Around!

Willy Welch Children’s entertainer, recording artist and author of Playing Right Field.

Multiple workshops took place in the morning and afternoon. During a brief midday break the branch manager, Sharon Martin, gave us a walking tour of the central library. I saw two amazing and unexpected treasures on the 7th floor: the “Lost Copy” of the Declaration of Independence and a Shakespeare First Folio compiled in 1623.

The event was open to the public from 4 to 7 PM. Each author and illustrator shared their books/art with children and their families while Jokae’s African-American Bookstore sold books for the presenters. It was a fabulous opportunity for children and their families to meet several authors and illustrators from across the country. If you live in the Dallas area, plan to attend the 2012 summer event. It will be a rewarding experience!

Dallas Public Library

J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., Dallas, TX.

DallasKidsRead! Authors & Illustrators

Dallas Public Library

Dallas Public Library on Facebook

Jokae’s African-American Bookstore: Follow them on Twitter @Jokaesbooks

Readers Make Books Real

THE TELEGRAPH reported yesterday that Penelope Lively, the Booker Prize-winning author of MOON TIGER, said e-books are for “bloodless nerds” and are no substitute for real books. Responses to Ms. Lively’s statements vary. Sarah Crown, a blogger at the guardian.co.uk, agrees with Ms. Lively (Read Sarah’s Post), but someone needs to speak on behalf of the “bloodless nerds.” I guess that will be me!

I believe Ms. Lively needs to expand her definition of a ‘real book.’ What makes a book ‘REAL?’ My definition of REAL comes from an old picture book entitled, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” 

The Velveteen Rabbit

Image via Wikipedia

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit…

The way a book is made does not determine whether or not the book is REAL. An agent, editor or publishing house does not make a book REAL. Distributors, wholesalers, and bookstores do not make a book REAL. The paper the book is printed on does not make a book REAL. What is a REAL book? A book becomes REAL when it is loved very, very much by a reader. If that is the case, it doesn’t matter how a book comes into the world. If a reader loves it, the book is REAL.

Take care, Ms. Lively. Those “bloodless nerds” will determine the future of your books. If you insult your readers, they might just decide that your books are not REAL after all.

Further Reading:

THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams
(Please note: Both the e-books and print versions are REAL;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margery_Williams

http://www.penelopelively.net/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/ways-with-words/