Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cross Selling in the Library

A couple of years ago in our family we instituted a rule where we were not allowed to see a movie based on a book unless we had read the book. The idea was spawned several years ago when I first started doing a presentation on author craft and style and how to elaborate. In the show I use a lot of award winning books as examples of great writing and I noticed something interesting.

Virtually all the children were familiar with both the movie and the book version of Chris VanAllsburg's "The Polar Express," as well as both the book and movie versions of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. But almost no one knew that Shreck is a book by Caldecott winning author William Steig. Similarly not many children were familiar with the fact that Jumanji, Zathura, Bridge to Terabithia, and a host of other very popular movie titles began as great books.

So in my show "Set Sail" I talk about how to become a great writer by reading the works of other great writers. We discuss using interesting words, dialog, implying so that readers can make inferences, the use of similes and metaphors, and the use of adjectives and adverbs to bring writing to life.

But, by design, all the books I chose are award winning books and many (but not all) of them have been made into movies. My goal was not only to improve the writing of children, but also to inspire them to find out about the books that gave rise to some of their favorite movies.

The books always reveal a bit more of the story than a movie ever can. My hope is that I can turn on a few borderline readers and inspire them to grab a book in which they already know how the story ends and read it from cover to cover anyway.

So the next time someone checks out the video of "Bridge to Terabithia," be sure to mention that it is also available as a Newbery winning chapter book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wearing Pajamas to Work

Performer wearing pajamas
One of the best things about doing my Chris VanAllsburg tribute show is that I get to wear pajamas to work.

This picture shows how comfortable I get to dress, how much fun I have doing my version of "work," and it might hint at how much fun the students are having while we learn about author craft and style through the works of a great American artist.

Unfortunately, it also captures how much I enjoyed eating over the holidays and has inspired me to double down on my upcoming New Year's Resolutions.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Kids are Funny

A book titled "Cat Speak"
Saw this book in another school and had to add it to this post!
A boy and a girl were in the library while I was setting up this AM.

Me: Do you speak any languages other than English?

Girl: English, Japanese, and a little bit of Spanish.

Boy: English...and I make cat noises.

Me: 'Cat Language'?

Boy (with total sincerity): Yes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Can I Borrow a Pencil?

Okay, this is not my joke, but it's so funny I had to share it. It starts with a funny meme that was circulating and then someone added a few extra bits.

Student: Can I borrow a pencil?

Teacher: I don't know. Can you?

Student: Yes. I might add that colloquial irregularities occur frequently in any language. Since you and the rest of our present company understood perfectly my intended meaning, being particular about the distinctions between “can” and “may” is purely pedantic and arguably pretenttious.

Teacher: True, colloquialism and the judicious interpretation of context help us communicate with nuance, range, and efficiency. And yet, as your teacher, my job is to teach you to think about language with care and rigor. Understanding the shades of difference between one word and another, and to think carefully about what you want to say will give you greater power and versatility in your speech and writing.

Student: Point taken. May I have a pencil?

Teacher: No, you may not. We do not have pencils since the state cut funding for education again this year.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Marketing with Posters

I love when libraries use the FREE promotional materials we provide!
We always send out several full-sized posters to every school and library that books one of our assemblies. Not everyone uses them, but the ones that do seem to have great attendance.

Sometimes selling "free" services can be harder than selling things for a fee. Non-profits can learn from the private sector how to let your patrons know what's happening in your LMC.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ride Your Bike to Work Week

Load in for "The Know Show" game show assembly
Next week is national Ride Your Bike To Work Week. I love cycling but today I traveled 112.8 miles round trip and THIS was my load in for my shows. I'm not sure I could handle this on my mountain bike.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Half-Day School Assemblies near S. Padre Island

I only had two shows today so I was done in time for lunch on South Padre Island. Now for a little swim...or do I have to wait 20 minutes?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Happy Birthday to Jan Brett

Happy Birthday, Jan Brett. Thanks for bringing so much fun to story time for my daughter when she was younger.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Prophet in Your Hometown

For the past several years I've been booked WAY far out of town on the Friday before our week long Thanksgiving break AND the Friday before our week long Spring break. Today I got to perform at the elementary school where my daughter attended. We walked to school every day she went here. Round trip was less than one mile! I thought about just rolling my props down the street.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Excitement in the Library

Every now and then a photographer is able to really capture me in all my beautiful glory. This picture, taken at Lumberton Public Library is one of those times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kids are Funny

Today a kid looked admiringly at my bald head and asked me "What color is your hair?"

"Not sure. Based on my beard, I'd say grayish-brown"
"I want a grayish-brown hair cut!"

Friday, March 06, 2015

Book Face Friday

I saw on Instagram this idea about "Book Face Friday." I had never heard of it before, but I thought I'd try it out today with one of my own books.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X

Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X
The Crown Jewel of vacuums!
"It's a Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X...It's the crown jewel of vacuums." From "Flora & Ulysses", 2014 Newbery-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo. In the story a squirrel gets sucked up into the vacuum and when he finally gets spit out he has superpowers. Something similar happens to my puppet rat, Roosevelt in my new show "Heroes Without Capes."

The show is about what it means to be a real hero. All heroes have three things in common and in this show we talk about what those are. It's a hilariously entertaining way to learn about important aspects of character ed.

Coming this summer to a library new  you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Speaking in New Jersey

Most of what I do is presenting for children. But from time to time I'm hired to present to adults. Sometimes this is a teacher in-service, and sometimes (like this week), I speak to other presenters about how to develop more powerful programs.

This week I'm in New Jersey getting to hang out with some incredibly talented magicians, ventriloquists, and variety artists.

I LOVE my job!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parents are Funny

Parent volunteer at the school where I worked today: "You're like Mr. Rogers trapped in the body of Stone Cold Steve Austin!"

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11

On September 11, 2001 I was a high school teacher in a self-contained special ed. classroom. It would be another year before I began this business as a professional school show presenter and library services advocate.
Several students were already in the room that morning when an aide came in and said a plane hit one of the twin towers. I immediately turned on a television set that we had in our room and we saw it live when the second tower was hit.
"Your children will study this day in their History classes." I told my students in a state of awe.
"Yeah, right. That's what you said about Monica Lewinsky."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kids are Funny

Overheard at an elementary school today:

"Why is the Statue of Liberty holding an iPad?"