Fairy Tale Comics

Chris Duffy, editor
As my exposure increases, I am becoming a big fan of comic anthologies. Fairy Tale Comics  appealing and diverse line up of authors & illustrators can almost guarantee engagement from a diverse scope of readers. I appreciated how there was a fairy tale origin reference written outside the panel, and the unique scope of the illustrations, that capture the voice of the tale and the characters in it. These graphic anthologies have high interest and although the stories work alone, reading them all is irresistible, leaving the reader with much to synthesize and think critically about. These Fairy Tales are not just for little kids...where they ever?
Pre-order on Amazon

Seven stories try to answer the same question, "What's in the box?". This graphic anthology is edited by Amulet series author, Kazu Kibuishi (2012). It is exciting to be able to recognize different illustrators outside the pages of their own books, while reading an anthology. Explorer has a wide range of appeal.

Vincent A. Mastro

The time feels right for a fable come back. Perhaps Vincent Mastro’s Aesop’s 1st Book of Childhood Adventures is that twist needed to bring it to the limelight again. The use of a young raccoon’s inquiry and predictable text structure, seamlessly pull the 3 fables together. In a time of rapid movement and demands on young readers, this book could offer a reflective and critical response, reminding readers of those human foundations. As this theme of perseverance threads through the text, it reminds us that through challenges and tangles come great accomplishment and growth. I’ve always loved The Crow and the Pitcher, so it’s inclusion helped persuade my interest in this book too.

Available on Amazon now

Ideas Bulletin Board

IDEAS, the heart of the message.

An IDEAS writing trait bulletin board in a kindergarten classroom. The "IDEAS, the heart of the message" chant in the middle and the mentor writing models transforms this bulletin board into a classroom resource. Friends, Places, Food, and Nature were topics generated from this community of writers.

Web Sites for Kids

I have a few favorite web sites for kids (and adults too) that I wanted to share with you...

Dance Steps Directions
Arcademic Skill Builders : Free Educational Games; Math, Literacy, etc.

Poptropica : Explore, Collect, Compete. An awesome adventure through a variety of themed rooms.

Edheads: Activate your mind; Science, Math, and Critical Thinking!

Storyline Online:  Celebrities read aloud quality picture books on line.

Starfall: Where kids have fun learning how to read.

Funbrain: Math, Reading, Fun & Games.      

Stephen King

As a writer I am not only seeking inspiration, I am attempting to capture the essence of what it means to be inspired. I recently had the exciting opportunity to visit The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado. This hotel inspired Stephen King to write his terrifying movie; The Shining (1977). The Shining was my first horror movie I ever remember watching, and I have never forgotten how impressed I was with the setting, plot, and characters (even though at least one of my eyes was covered). I wanted to know more about Stephen King- the brain and maniac behind such intense visions and ideas. I had discovered inspiration through that movie and Stephen King. As I walked around the lobby and released the spirits of this hotel through the creeks in the old wooden floors, I had now, with the help of all my senses, caught up to the essence of inspiration.

World on a String

World on a String (2012) by Larry Phifer and illustrations by Danny Popovici

Loving and losing a balloon, is something many of us can relate to as easily as the childhood memory of having our scoop of ice cream collapse off its cone. As trivial as it might sound, it is a level of loss that at the time of our childhood, evokes sadness in relation to experience. The text in World on a String floats like a pulse and the dreamy reflective illustrations ooze emotion. By the end of the story, a sense of healing and acceptance arrive for the character and the reader. The memories and spirit of the balloon fill the world with happiness, without the presence of any physical object. This book would also be perfect for school guidance counselors, who seem to be approaching conversations around death and loss more often.

Literacy Backpacks

The Service Learning Project my 5th grade students developed was shared at the 24th National Service Learning Conference in Denver, Colorado. My students created a Literacy Backpack Lending Library to address the needs of their local preschool (enhancing family literacy and providing children with nonfiction experiences, while connecting them to their community and its vast offerings).

  • A local preschool needs a lending library and more informational text
  • 5th grade students develop an idea for Literacy Backpacks (lending backpacks include an informational text(s) and supplemental activities
  • Students establish community partners who are invested in enhancing the literacy experiences for preschool aged children by sponsoring a backpack
  • The sponsor choose the theme and a backpack is created. The themes represent the sponsor's business, museum, or personal topic of interest (Native American Studies, Cooking, Boats)
  • Building Club students offer to build bookshelf to house the backpacks at the preschool
  • A Literacy Backpack Lending Library with 11 backpacks is established and are available for preschool students and their families to enjoy together


 I am so proud of my student's meaningful application of their skills, talents, and citizenship with addressing a community need, acting on a solution, and improving the world. If you are interested in Service Learning (all teachers are right?), you might want to check out KIDS Consortium, who provided a framework model for me to become a teacher who applies service learning to their pedagogy.

The Picnic Basket

The Picnic Basket

Read books, write reviews. This is a web site you will want to bookmark as titles are offered first come first serve basis, with limited numbers of preview copies available. This site has really helped give me an edge in knowing what books to get into my classroom and keep reading engagement up high. Even if you don't get to preview the book yourself, reading the feedback from other readers is helpful in making decisions also.

Another site you might want to try is NetGalley. Discover new and pre released reading from all genres. Download to your computer or Kindle and give feedback to the publishers.

Spike the Mixed-up Monster

Spike the Mixed-up Monster (2013) Susan Hood & Melissa Sweet

When Spike (a character inspired by the critically endangered axolotl) is struggling to validate his monster appeal, he learns that friendships have more value (especially when they start with a nice smile). The integration of other creatures from Mexico and the inclusion of Spanish words (and glossary), give the characters and setting authenticity and gives the reader more meaning to construct schema from. I love Melissa Sweet's art style, and she continues to find just the right elements to make each picture feel like a stand alone piece of art in Spike. After reading the story I read the informative text in the More About Spike and His Amigos section and was completely empathetic for each of the "characters' and who they represent in nature. Save the axolotl!

photo from http://www.thepicnicbasketblog.com/
2009 Caldecott Honor Award Winner & 2013 International Latino Book Award

Found this axolotl cake and had to share...so cool...lots of photos on blog (like photo shown)!