Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lucky Number Seven. A Book Trailer. Ilsa Bick, A.S. King, Allen Zadoff, T. Michael Martin, Jessica Brody, and LOSING IT.

Here is a list of seven books that I thought of today and talked about today with the Angel Potatoes. Seven is a lucky number.

1. Ilsa Bick's MONSTERS, the final book in the ASHES trilogy, is out now. This is excellent. AND Blood Rose Books' is celebrating its blogoversary, and is giving away lots of books. A copy of MONSTERS is on offer here, people.

2. REALITY BOY by A.S. King. October 22. Junior Library Guild Selection. A.S. KING. Beloved by Angel Potatoes everywhere.

3. ASK THE PASSENGERS, also by A.S. King, came out in paperback today. Here is a book trailer made by Angel Potato Fidelity.
4.  BOY NOBODY by Allen Zadoff is available at bookstores everywhere. My copy in the Underground Library is still being processed for checkout, but I know that it will fly right out. I have more copies on order. I believe in Allen Zadoff like I believe in the power of dark chocolate and single malt scotch.

5. THE END GAMES by T. Michael Martin came out last spring. It was nominated as a Best Fiction for Young Adult book last week. Way to go, Mike. Debut novel. It's awesome.

6. I met Jessica Brody and some other amazing writers at the Summer of YA event at Barnes and Noble in Glendale. I will be writing more about this event and these writers soon. Do yourself a favor and read Jessica's book UNREMEMBERED because the sequel, UNFORGOTTEN, is coming out February 25, 2014.

7. LOSING IT is coming out October 1. It's an anthology. Read about it here. Compelling subject tackled by some of the best writers out there.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Revolution Year Three.

It's been awhile.
That's okay.
I'm back now.
Running a Revolution is serious business.

The Best Fiction (about) Young Adults Revolution won YALSA's Margaret Anne Edwards Award for Best Teen Literature Program in 2013.
You can read about it here.
I feel like a won an Academy Award, but I didn't need to dress up or make a speech.
This is way better than winning an Academy Award.
And without the books written by people who truly are the best writers out there--and the best examples of human-beingness--we wouldn't even have a Revolution.
Many authors wrote back to Angel Potatoes who wrote to them.
Authors spoke at our Revolution Launch Day.
Authors (and some publishers) sent books to the Underground Library, and I just cried in a happy way every time I opened a box.
And the Angel Potatoes.
You know, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the world is going to be in excellent hands, because my students, the Angel Potatoes of Joy and Glory, are kind and creative and earnest and they know how to laugh.
So it wouldn't be much of a Revolution without them.
And I have this community of teachers and administrators and parents who support the Revolution. My co-teacher, Conni Carr, is a miracle of organizational skills and the Launch Day was awesome because she has Serious Infrastructure Insights. Plus she is herself an amazing human being and teacher. Plus she makes the best cupcakes. The kids are still talking about Mrs. Carr's cupcakes, which were given as prizes during the Angel Potato Carnival section of the day.
She is going to make cupcakes again.
This is exciting.
I need to thank:
Andrew Smith
A.S. King
S.A. Bodeen
Allen Zadoff
Daniel Kraus
Ellen Hopkins
Sara Zarr
Joe Lunievicz
Greg Neri
Amy Del Rosso
Matthew MacNish
Michael Grant
Katherine Applegate
Ilsa Bick
Matt de la Pena
David Levithan
John Green
Jay Asher
Laurie Halse Anderson
Ally Condie
Marie Lu
Veronica Roth
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Walter Dean Myers
Heather Brewer
Tara Kelly
Denise Jaden
T. Michael Martin
Daniel Handler
Nova Ren Suma
Generous and Brilliant Editor Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
Generous and Brilliant Copy Editor Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

And, well, about a thousand more people.
I guess this is kind of an Academy Award speech.
Here are some random pictures.

The Angel Potato Revolution stamp in Heather Brewer's SOULBOUND.

I attended this event and got to spend time with some amazing authors.

Conni and I selecting readings that support good human-beingness

First day of school--Underground Library not even set up, and Angel Potatoes are checking out books.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest. And Revolution.

So every day that Matthew Macnish posts in The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiement, I get an email.
I am so grateful for this email.
It is a reminder that, although I have been dormant and attending to the Revolution I am still in the circle of a writing community that I value and love.
Matt, I would really, really miss your blog if you ever stopped it. You advise, you support, you are funny. You are a dear and valued friend.
Another human whose blog has added to my life is Amy del Rosso of Lady Reader's Bookstuff.  Amy reads, reviews, hosts giveaways. She cares passionately about books and literacy. She recently hosted an ENTIRE MONTH of posts dedicated to anti-bullying. She has sent books for the Angel Potatoes and the Revolution, and has given me solace and encouragement. Amy makes the world a better place. Please keep doing what you are doing for as long as you can.
I hope someday that I get to meet and frolic with Matthew and Amy.
A blog I miss is Hyperbole and a Half. I would read these posts and see the illustrations and just laugh and laugh. I re-read them and laugh. The combo of truth and humor and randomness tickles me endlessly. Allie, I hope that you come back to us when you are ready. You are awesome.

Now, how 'bout that Revolution?
You guys, seriously, the Revolution is taking on a life of its own. I was able to order some more books in spite of California's budget woes and because of the support of my principal. Students are now getting to the point where they have finished a book (or three, or twelve) and are ready to email the authors. This email is meant to be a "thank you" for writing the book in the first place. I ask the kids to be specific about what they liked about the book, what they will remember about the book, but that's about it. I want the authors to hear the voices of the kids, and if there are some grammar errors or awkward phrases it doesn't make any difference. I just want them to be real.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Revolution Launched.

October 8, 2012, is a day I will remember forever.
But let me back up a little bit.
So I started the Underground Library  as part of the Revolution last year. I wrote grants for books and did cool stuff with books and technology with my students,like book posters and book trailers. I wrote a grant so that I could attend the American Library Association conference and get books for the Underground Library signed by authors.
Several students from last year became Generals in the Revolution this year.
When I last posted, I was working on the Underground Library and the AP Generals and I were discussing launch day. I knew several things were going to happen with our entire Freshman class.
1.  A Pep Rally for books
2. A read-around
3. Book trailer watching
4. Author visit with Andrew Smith and A.S. King.
5. Kids would check out books from the Underground Library
Yes, I know. #4 is so far beyond awesome that it is hard to wrap your head around it. I don't have enough words to thank them properly, but I think of them each day and my heart smiles and is glad.
My fellow Education in the Digital Age teacher, Conni Carr,
whose abilities to organize and plan are formidable, jumped in this year to help plan the launch day and add her voice to the Revolution.
We planned.
The Generals came up with the idea for a carnival, with all the games being Angel Potato-themed. Conni organized this with the kids and parent volunteers and made the best cupcakes ever. She made schedules so that the kids knew exactly where they were supposed to be at all times. She recruited her mother to help run the carnival.
And she had a kid make a stencil out of one of our Revolution logos so that we could make t-shirts. She is really good with craft-y stuff.
I will write more about the day later. Andrew Smith and A.S.King both blogged about it here and here.
Our local paper, The Ventura County Star, did an article.
You are going to want to know what my kids did at the Pep Rally, and how the Underground Library was pillaged, and how the kids reacted to the whole thing.

But for now let me just say that this Revolution is such a dream come true for me, that it is here, and happening, and we are growing it, and that it could not have happened or be happening without the energy and efforts of so many amazing people.

We all know that Angel Potatoes deserve it. Best of the heavens and the earth, their mission is to save the world(no pressure).
Better humans, a better world, one book at a time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Crop of Angel Potatoes.

Well, school is back in session and so am I.
Let me just say that working with the Angel Potatoes is one of the purest joys I have in my life.
Twice this summer my Angel Potatoes came to school and helped me catalogue the haul from the American Library Association Convention. I am still recovering from this event, which happened in June. Want to know something? Librarians are Chaos Muppets. So are writers and agents and editors.
It's a beautiful thing.
Anyway, so the kids came and unloaded books from my car and they checked out books and negotiated who got which ARCs first. They ate cookies from Trader Joe's and read and hung out.
It was awesome.
Tomorrow I have a meeting at lunch with the Angel Potatoes of last year, who are now Generals in the Revolution. Archangel Potatoes? And we are discussing our Revolution Launch Day (October 8) and what they are going to do with the Tater Tots, our middle school kids.
You need a shot of hope, you need to see these kids in action.
I will post pictures tomorrow.
Revolution. Creating better human beings one book at a time.
Want to be a better human as an adult?
Watch what these kids do.
They fly.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Men: An Appreciation Revisited

It is not news that guys write and guys read. Except that it is. I write about this a lot. Posts include Men: An AppreciationMen: An Appreciation Part 2 Making Boys Visible. Revolution, and The Boys Got Left Behind.
At the American Library Association Convention on Friday, I attended a panel comprised of some very  fine men.
The panel was called "Guy Writers Talk Guy Readers."
I talked a little bit about this event last weekend. I want to talk about it a lot today.
See, you don't see a bunch of guys often enough at book events. I don't have any statistics about the ALA Convention, except that the ALA website says about 14,000 people attended and I'm pretty sure that there were a lot more women than men.At The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conferences women are exceptionally well-represented, which is cool.
There aren't as many guys. This is not cool, because guys do write and guys do read.
So here who was on this panel:
Michael Grant
Daniel Handler
Moderator: Daniel Kraus
Jon Scieszka
Andrew Smith
All these Guy Writers in one place: Daniel Handler, Andrew Smith, Daniel Kraus, Jon Scieszka,  Michael Grant

Each one of these men spoke and the coolness factor was so high that I can't even assign numbers to it. I'm not big on assigning numbers to stuff anyway.
Jon Scieszka spoke about growing up as one of six brothers. Six. And he knows that guys read and he's doing something about it. He has a Guys Read  series of books and a whole website on the subject. I love hearing this man speak because he gets kids, especially guys, and he makes me laugh really hard. I like laughing really hard.
Here is a picture of me with Jon Scieszka. I have decided that whenever I get my picture taken with Jon Scieszka I will make a face because something about Jon brings out my inner third grader. I think this is a good thing.
Jon says that he does not assign blame for the fact that guys tend to taper off their reading habits once they hit adolescence. I am not as kind. I do assign blame. More on this later.
Michael Grant spoke about how books were "home" for him. I completely  relate to this statement, and I know it is true for many of my students. Here I am with Michael Grant.

Here is Andrew Smith's post about his "Guy Writers Talk Guy Readers" presentation.
Andrew also talked about how amazing the Angel Potatoes are. This is always a happiness to me.
Daniel Handler began his presentation by reading something that guys would like to read. I can say with complete honesty that it was a really beautiful selection and that many people needed to fan themselves during and after he read what he did. It was so completely wonderful to hear truth all that night, topped off with a pedal-to-the-metal reading like that.
Here is a series of pictures of me with Daniel Handler.

I am not being specific with details because writers and other people who present work really hard on their presentations and these presentations are their intellectual property.
Suffice to say that every one of these guys is amazing and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this event. And you can check them out and read their books, because then you can see for yourself that these are some of the finest human beings a person can hope to meet in this dimension.
So, guys, I know that you will keep writing. And please believe me when I say that I will do everything in my power to make sure that all human beings in my care, male and female, will have access to your stories.
And, guys?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Revolution: Book Signings and Why They Matter

Here is my schedule for today:

I get to meet cool people at this Coffee Klatsch. Andrew Smith said I needed to be there so be there I shall.
It's in the Royal Ballroom at the Hyatt or something.
I fear I may be woefully underdressed.
That, however, is not the point.
I am meeting people whose books or other work make or will make a difference to the lives of the Angel Potatoes and the Tater Tots(my middle school kids). This is a happiness.
And then I need to get books signed.
No one carries piles of books INTO the convention center, because you can buy them or get ARCs IN the convention center.
But I got grant money so I could buy books in advance so I could get them signed by the authors.
So I have piles that look like this everywhere:
And my mission is to get them ALL signed.
Thing is, the kids see autographed books--G.Neri's Yummy comes to mind--and they say stuff like, "Hey, this is autographed. Isn't this valuable?"
And other kids gather around and look.
And I tell them to take the books, and they do, and they may carry the book a little more carefully or not and that is okay.
Thing is, I think to myself, this writer took the time to sign it to you and you are valuable and priceless and books are to be read. So take the book, dear one. And know that you are seen and loved and celebrated.
I promised I would get all the books signed.
It matters.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ALA Convention. Guys at Work. Paying it Forward.

So far the American Library Association Convention in Anaheim has been illuminating. I am amazed at just how much information about the digital world and books I have taken in. I need a zip file for my brain.
And I tweeted this earlier, but I think it bears repeating.
Librarians are total models of the Chaos Muppet theory in action.
None of them has a cool wolf hat though, but many have commented on mine.
The highlight of the day was  the "Men at Work: Guy Writers Talk About Guy Readers."
Daniel Kraus was the panel facilitator. He facilitated Jon Scieszka, Michael Grant, Andrew Smith, and Daniel Handler's comments/presentations.
Everyone, go out RIGHT NOW and buy all of the books these men have ever written.
Trust me.
Andrew Smith, again, spoke so beautifully about the Angel Potatoes, and I am so  touched and grateful.
More on this tomorrow.
On another note, I am participating in the Pay it Forward Blog Giveaway.
I bought a Catherine Ryan Hyde book called Jumpstart the World. Catherine Ryan Hyde is awesome. You should buy all of her books, too. She wrote Pay It Forward.
So in the spirit of paying it forward, I am giving away a copy of Denise Jaden's newly released Never Enough. Denise is really supportive of the Angel Potatoes, and she sent me autographed bookmarks, very cool, and the winner will, of course, receive one of these as well.
I think Denise's work is worth reading because she has good stories that are well-written and my students like them. This is why she is part of the Revolution.
Plus, she's really cool.
So all you need to do to enter is:
1. Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect
2. Leave a comment. You could suggest a writer we all should be reading, or you could just make suggestions for the music for my next interpretive dance, or you could just say "Hi. I like you wolf hat."
That's it.
Entries will be open until midnight on June 30th. Winner will be randomly picked by Randomizer.

So right now I am grateful for just about everything going on in my life right now, and I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this and support the Revolution.

It's about two hours past my bedtime.
Good night, awesomsauce peeps.
You are all a Great Happiness to me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


This year I had a truly amazing crop of Angel Potatoes.
On the first day of school, I had all of my classes create posters.
I asked them to answer two questions for me.
The first question was: What makes a person an Awesome Human Being?
The second question was: In a really crowded computer lab, what are some good ideas for working and playing well with others and the equipment?

As soon as I saw their work I knew I had me something special.

I showed them a picture of a Grumble Bunny before we did this activity. Here it is, the first day of school, and these kids were actually listening.

Leadership, Not Judgmental, Responsibility, Loyal, Smart, Funny, Common Sense, Patient, Initiative, Observant, Boldness, Kindness Courageous

Wouldn't it be something if all the adults in the world understood what these kids understand.

I took these pictures on the last day of school, because the posters were up around my room all year. 
I couldn't bear to take them down. I'm leaving them up for the summer.

A student gave me a shirt. She is an artist. Here is a detail of the front corner:
Add caption

I talk to and about the Mothership a lot.

This is me. She said she put a purple shirt on because she knows its my favorite color, and that she will always think of me laughing. This made me cry.

One of my girls grew this potato and decorated it.
Cards and pictures
Two of my boys helped me pack the books that I am bringing to the American Library Association Shindig this week. I want to get them autographed for the Angel Potatoes.

In so many ways this year was difficult.
But never, ever were days better or brighter than the days I spent in my classroom with these amazing human beings, who each day gave me hope, made me laugh, and taught me something.
One hundred and eighty-seven Angel Potatoes for one hundred and seventy-six days.
That's what I call gifted.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gifts. Andrew Smith. The Angel Potatoes. Granted.

I have been quiet for awhile.
Not because it's been quiet, but because of an embarrassment of riches that I have been glad to cherish, light upon light upon light.
I've told you I have the best job in the world, right?
This is true.
Andrew Smith came to visit the Angel Potatoes last week.
He talks about it here and here.
This was absolutely one of the best days of my life.
I smiled almost all day.
I realized this because my face hurt when I got home.
Here's how it is.
If you get a chance to see Andrew interact with kids, take it.
Andrew gets them.
I loved listening to Andrew talk, and read from his books, and most of all I loved watching my kids watching and listening to Andrew.
It is a Forever Happiness, this memory.
You can't have too many Forever Happinesses.
One of my boys listened to Andrew and then asked Andrew to sign his yearbook.
This is a kid who trusts exactly one adult.
I know because he told me.
So for him to ask Andrew to sign his yearbook?
I saw my boy read what Andrew wrote. He nodded to himself and left the room quiet and coyote-like, because that is how he has learned to be.
Later, he came back and asked me to sign it, too, right next to what Andrew wrote.
This made me cry a little, in a good way.
You know what? Today this young man graduated and I cried again, partly because of relief(he has a gift for pissing off people in Authority and was this close to having his grad participation pulled) and partly because I am going to miss him, and so many others, so very much. Even as it is a gladsome thing to see them fly.
And I realized that the reason Andrew's visit was such a shine and glory was exactly this:
He told the truth. He made them laugh. He gave hope.
That's a trifecta you sure don't experience often enough.
Thanks, Andrew.
And, in news of the Revolution, I found out that another grant came through and I have another one thousand dollars to buy Good Books for the Underground Library.
Did I mention that I have an embarrassment of riches?