Category Archives: NCTE


I had a terrific time at NCTE. It was the third of four trips for me this November. First was DC for the Children’s Africana Book Awards followed by FILIJ in Mexico. The final one starts tonight when I head to Rome, Italy for Thanksgiving. (Unlike the others, this is for pure personal pleasure.) But back to NCTE. I arrived Friday evening in time to take a quick jaunt around the exhibits before heading off to a dinner. The National Harbor Gaylord Resort had the requisite light show, but it didn’t seem quite as over-the-top as those at the Opryland Hotel where I spent several unforgettable NCTEs (unforgettable not in a good way, mind you). Well..except for its nightclub, the Pose Ultra Lounge and Nightclub where I felt I’d wandered into something from the 60s, maybe a James Bond movie? There were a few people at the glittery bar, a few more moving about singularly alone on the dance floor, and some absolutely blasting music. I’m afraid I didn’t last long.

I was up bright on Saturday starting for the ALAN breakfast where I was thrilled with Andrew Smith‘s speech. This was followed by a signing of Africa is My Home at the Candlewick booth. I always assume no one will come so it was wonderful when quite a few did show up. I then wandered the exhibits some more meeting many friends as I did so. Lunch was with a Dalton colleague and then the afternoon involved more networking until my session with Susannah Richards and Peter Sis. A small, but enthusiastic audience made it a very agreeable experience. After another lovely dinner with various publisher and book creator friends, I was abed at a reasonable hour and home by midday Sunday. A pleasant, if brief NCTE for me this time around.


Signing my book for last year’s Caldecott winner, Brian Floca.


With my fellow presenters Peter Sis and Susannah Richards.


Looking at art for Laurel Snyder’s forthcoming book with John Schumacher.


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I’m off to NCTE later today and will be presenting tomorrow with Peter Sis and Susannah Richards on “CROSSING THE LINE: STORYTELLING THAT INTEGRATES FACTS AND ARTIFACTS”  at 4:15 at the Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor 13.  There will be pictures, information, chatter, and fun — I’m sure. Still not so sure? Here’s the official annotation:

Grappling with texts is a healthy and productive way to satisfy many of the Common Core standards for reading and writing. Authors find stories in history and use their storytelling to develop context for history. In this engaging and conversational session, Peter Sis, Susannah Richards, and Monica Edinger will share different approaches to telling historical stories visually and textually.

Even if you don’t make the session (and, don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to), I hope to run into many of you over the next couple of days.

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My NCTE 2013

Wow.  It was amazing to be at NCTE as a children’s book author.  As I wrote in my previous post I’ve been a member of the organization and attending conventions (at one time there was a second spring conference as well) for many years, but always as an educator.  So this was a very special NCTE for me.

First of all, on Thursday, I visited my publisher, Candlewick Press. They are housed in a beautiful building and it was so kind for the executive director of school and library marketing, Sharon Hancock, to take the time to show me around.  It was wonderful to finally meet my book’s fantastic designer, Heather McGee, and terrific copyeditor, Hannah Mahoney.  A special thrill was reading to Candlewick staff in the kitchen, a tradition for authors who visit.  All in all, a wonderful experience.

The historical fiction session with M. T. Anderson, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Gene Yang chaired by Teri Lesesne was great and I hope that  there are opportunities for further explorations about the nuances of writing about the past for young people. In a future post, I plan to go into more detail about the session and what we discussed.


I did a book signing and Candlewick had my book on display with one of those cool star bookmarks (for the one it got from SLJ)!


After a family dinner with just Candlewick folk, including Gareth Hinds and Burleigh Muten I stayed up way past my bedtime at the Nerdy Book Club gathering. As my friends know I’m very much an early-to-bed-early-to-rise sort of gal and not much for crowds, but I ended up having a fantastic time at this event.  I mainly went to celebrate my book’s publication with Jenni Holm who had been there way back when I was just beginning to work on it and who was very supportive as I tried to figure out just how to tell the story.  So, thanks for that, Jenni, and the champagne! (And, thanks also to Louise Borden who took this photo.) But I also met many other friends and made new ones too. It was a great event so thanks, Nerdy Book Club for setting it up.


Saturday morning I switched hats to my critic/educator one and attended the ALAN Breakfast as a guest of Random House. Jennifer Burhle’s tribute to Judy Blume was so moving as was Judy Blume’s acceptance of her award.  And then there was the one and only Walter Dean Myers who spoke passionately about economic diversity.

Arguably the best speaker I heard at the convention was Temple Grandin. Certainly she was the most unique, funny, blunt, and practical.  A few of my tweets:

  • “Too much emphasis on deficit, not enough on creativity.” Temple Grandin #NCTE13
  • “Need different kinds of minds.” Temple Grandin #ncte13
  • “Need to touch in order to learn.” Temple Grandin #ncte2013
  • Keeps saying they’ve got to put hands-on stuff back. Temple is awesome.#ncte13
  • She wants to do a show called “Undercover Legislature.” Fox, you listening? Temple Grandin #ncte13

Then I attended the Books for Children luncheon as an author. Among other things, that meant sitting at a table with my books and attendees and talking to them about my book. I also was thrilled to see my old friend Leda Shubert receive the Orbis Pictus Award for her book Monsieur Marceau.  Here’s her editor (another old friend of mine) Neal Porter with a book that is not hers.


The keynote speaker was Steve Jenkins who was outstanding. I’ve always admired his books, but he is a terrific speaker too. I especially enjoyed his dry deadpan wit.  One example: “I must say I find the creatures much easier to work with when they are stuffed.”

That evening I met Jen and Lisa of the excellent blog, Reads for Keeps, for drinks and we stopped by the Stenhouse party so I could see the wonderful editors of my two books on teaching history,  Philippa Stanton and Bill Varner. It was a special treat to then run into some several other old friends as well. I then went off to a dinner as a Candlewick author which was very, very cool indeed. It was at the Forum restaurant which had been the site of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and that was moving too. My table mates and I had a splendid time talking books — pretty much exclusively adult ones for a change.  

All in all it was a glorious few days! Thank you, Candlewick for my beautiful book and for a wonderful conference.

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More on the 2012 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

School librarian Jonathan Schumacher has put together a fantastic collection of resources for this year’s Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts. For each title on the list he is providing book trailers, teaching guides, and other materials all nicely organized. You can find them here: Part I, Part II, Part III. Thank you, Mr. Schu!


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2012 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

NCTE’s Children’s Literature Assembly‘s Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Committee works with great focus all year (I should know having served on it as a member and chair) to read widely and then ends up with a list of children’s books for grades K-8 that focus on language (e.g. word play and origins), uniqueness in language and style, and invite child response and participation.   This year’s list can be viewed here and I hope you agree with me that it is a very fine list indeed. My congratulations to all the creators on the list and the 2012 committee:

April Bedford—Chair
Donalyn Miller, Nancy Roser, Tracy Smiles, Yoo Kyung Sung, Barbara Ward, Trish Bandre
Mary Lee Hahn—Past Chair



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NCTE Notable Children’s Books 2011

Having been a past chair, chair, and member of this fantastic committee I’m always on pins and needles waiting to see the latest list of the best books of the previous year for use by language arts teachers.  And so I’m tremendously excited to see that this year’s list is now announced and viewable here; it is fantastic as always.  My congratulations to all the book creators honored this time round and most of all to the committee:

Mary Lee Hahn—Chair
April Bedford, Mary Napoli, Donalyn Miller, Nancy Roser, Yoo Kyung Sung
Janelle Mathis—Past Chair


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NCTE and Wizarding World — Here I Come!

This is the first year for a long time that I have no official responsibilities at the annual NCTE convention.  Since it is pricey, involves missing a day of school, and comes right before Thanksgiving I considered not going. But then I always have a great time learning and networking, figure I can do some Huffington Post blogging about it, and most of all — I simply cannot pass up a chance to go to Hogwarths, I mean Wizarding World.  So I’ll be there and hope to see some of you there too.


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Orlando has just soared in my estimation

NCTE disappointed me recently by turning down a convention session proposal of mine that included the participation of this year’s Newbery winner and I briefly contemplated not attending. However, now that Orlando has the WWHP my whole view of the place has been transformed and I’m so there come November.  Anyone want to join me for a butter beer the weekend before Thanksgiving?


Filed under Harry Potter, NCTE

A Bit o’ NCTE

This was the first convention that I’ve been to since I got my Iphone and I went a little wild using the camera for tweeting purposes.  For those not following me on twitter— what is wrong with you?  (just kidding) —- here are those photos.  By no means a good overview of what I did, but a few things nonetheless.

So on Friday after the general session with Julie Andrews and her daughter, I stopped in to the celebration for Lee Bennett Hopkins — lots of fun to hear such distinguished poets as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, and Walter Dean Myers roast Lee.  Sadly, I couldn’t stay for more of them as I wanted to catch a graphic novel session taking place across the hall.  I came in in time to be part of a draw-off between Matt Holm and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The idea was for Matt to draw Lunch Lady and  Jarrett to do Babymouse, each with an audience member coaching them.  Well, I sure ran right up to coach Matt so he did Lunch Lady serving in my NYC classroom.

Here’s me coaching Matt (with chair Joan Kindig in the background)

Here’s Jarrett with his which had something to do with Babymouse in Canada.

Afterwards  a bunch of us went for coffee. That’s Shana Corey, Jenni (in pink, natch), Matt (in his Babymouse tee-shirt-thingie), and Joan Kindig.

Jan Greenberg (my lunch partner and who then did our Notables session)

Friday afternoon was our Notables session. The room was too small and hot, someone in the back of the room stepped on a cord shutting down the projector and the mikes causing a slightly nervous moment, but otherwise all went well.  It was my third and final time doing this so I’m glad it was successful and hope it happens again next year.   In addition to Jan, we had Barry Denenberg, Philip Dray, Scott Reynolds Nelson, Marc Aronson, and the following whose pictures I managed to snap while also timing and overseeing the rotations.

Here’s Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

Jen Bryant

Stephen T. Johnson

While strolling through the exhibits  I ran into G. Neri, Lisa Yee, and Peepy

And at the Scholastic Brunch on Sunday was the very tall Patrick Carman (doing something to make himself shorter here).

And last, but not least, here is Sarah of thereadingzone!


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NCTE: Old Books — New Journeys

The theme of the conference, “Once and Future Classics: Reading Between the Lines,” is designed to inspire courageous conversations about traditional and contemporary literature and foster lively discussions of how we teach as well as what we teach.

from Program Chair Carol Jago’s NCTE Convention Welcome

A big fan of classical literature in the classroom (I’ve even written a book about it), I was delighted when this was announced as the convention theme and can’t wait to see what will be said on this topic.  And if you are interested in what I have to say, come by next Saturday (2:45 -4:00 Marriott/Franklin 12 4th floor) as I’ll be presenting along with one of my terrific 4th grade colleagues Lesley Younge and Waller Hastings of Rutgers University about some old books.  Here’s a preview to whet your appetites.

  • I will be focusing on my favorites: Charlotte’s Web, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. Among other things I’ll talk about close reading with kids, Charlotte’s Wikipedia, Alice in Comic Land, and debating Oz.
  • Lesley will focus on how she connects old stories with our grade-wide study of immigration.  In particular she will talk about some fabulous work she is doing with Brer Rabbit and journeys her students take into Narnia, Wonderland, and Oz.
  • Waller will wrap things up with a look at the historical context of these books.

We are planning on a good time and hope some of you join us.


Filed under Classic, In the Classroom, NCTE