Kate Cosgrove rocks

Hi everyone,

Kudos to KATE COSGROVE, the artist for two of my books with Holiday House, and working on a third as we speak.

Both books have done well. And the Bullfrogs Sing, A Life Cycle was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and a Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award Honors book.  The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet, was juried into The Original Art 41st Annual Exhibition in NYC by the Society of Illustrators. It was also a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year. It has been named to two state reading lists for this fall, Texas Blue Bonnet and Bill Martin Jr. list in Kansas.

Kate’s most recent triumph is A Day with No Words, by TIFFANY HAMMOND. The subject is autism and it has gone straight to the top of the charts, reaching #1 on the New York Times picture book best seller list and #1 on Amazon for Children’s Books on Disabilities. Here’s what one critic has to say. The American Library Association Booklist starred review boasts, “The story is written from the boy’s first-person perspective, however—a clever choice in that it gives readers a direct look into his mind and reinforces the book’s crucial statement that nonverbal people have as many words and as much intelligence as anyone else. Cosgrove’s art, throughout, does an amazing job of transporting readers into his perspective, employing various color tones, metaphoric imagery, and ‘camera’ angles to reflect the deep expressiveness contained in every page.

Way to go, Kate! I’m so happy for you and glad that we are working on our third book together!

The price of procrastination

Hi everyone,

I’ve mentioned before that THE DIRT BOOK is on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master Reading List for 2023-24. As part of the preparation for that year, KATE COSGRAVE and I were asked to make individual videos to explain how we made the book and to add answers to a list of questions. The deadline was way off in the future.

The smart thing would have been to make my video and check it off my worry list. I didn’t, of course, and in time I forgot about the obligation entirely. Yesterday evening Kate got around to making her video, and it’s just really excellent. She looks good, sounds good, and shows both of our books that she has illustrated, including AND THE BULLFROGS SING.

Today is the deadline that once seemed so far in the future. I’m at the Wilderness Club near Branson, an hour’s drive from Springfield. I didn’t bring “video clothes” with me, nor do I have a copy of THE DIRT BOOK with me. Sometime today I’ll check to see if there’s a library nearby that has a copy of my book that I can borrow. If I can’t cobble together some decent clothes, I’ll have to drive back to Springfield anyway.

My deadline to review my editor’s comments for the upcoming book of poems is tomorrow. I hadn’t intended to work much while we were here relaxing, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Working on a new program

Hi everyone,

I’m working with STEPHANIE SMALLWOOD at The Library Center in Springfield on a new program for April. I’m developing a manuscript about the sounds we hear at night, which made me think that kids (and adults) might enjoy an evening learning more about the creatures that make them. This picture is from a program I gave about The Dirt Book when it came out last year. We had a lot of fun that evening!

Popular musician JUDY DOMENY and our friends from the Springfield Conservation Nature Center will join us for the evening to help us identify some of the sounds. Kids will learn facts about local nocturnal animals, enjoy stories and poems and even get to make some night sounds themselves!

Can you think of any songs I can pass along to Judy for the program? Any other ideas on how I can make the program more interesting for the kids that night? Maybe contests to see who can make the best imitations of a cricket? A tree frog? A katydid? Thanks for any ideas you might suggest. April will be before you know it

A poetry kind of post

Hi everyone,

I have known for some time about the good news regarding The Dirt Book, and have told you about it here, but the conference made it official. The book has won recognition for KATE COSGROVE’S outstanding art and was recently named to the Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List for 2023-34. Our astute editor was GRACE MACCARONE at Holiday House. I’m proud to see the title listed as one of the 2022 Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels Selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry Committee.

I’m in the company of many wonderful, gifted friends. In poetry books, JOYCE SIDMAN won for Dear Treefrog, JANET WONG won for Good Luck Gold & More, NIKKI GRIMES won for Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, GEORGIA HEARD won for My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness, KALLI DAKOS won for They Only See the Outside, and in verse novels CLAUDIA MILLS won for The Lost Language. And there are more. Copy the list and you have a handy reference list of “must read” books when you’re in the mood for poetry.

The selection committee for 2022 needs to be recognized for the hard work they put into the process. I’d hate to guess how many books they each had to read! Thank you, committee!

2022 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children Committee Members:
Ted Kesler, Chair, Queens College, CUNY, Flushing, NY
Ryan Colwell, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT
Deanna Day, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, author, New York, NY
Gabrielle Atwood Halko, West Chester University, West Chester, PA
Heidi Mordhorst, Rockview Elementary School, North Kensington, MD
Mary-Kate Sableski, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

The big news is that Georgia Heard was named recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Hooray for Georgia! She is a worthy recipient and will represent children’s poets and their poetry during the coming year. Thanks to Janet Wong, the past years recipient for all the great work she has done. It’ a great tradition.

About the Texas Bluebonnet

Hi everyone,

After I’d already announced that THE DIRT BOOK is one of 20 titles selected for the 2023-2024 Bluebonnet Master List, I found this picture posted on the Texas site, plus some factoids. The list was chosen from 1018 books that were submitted. The books are for grades 3-6. Each year, more than 75,000 third-through-sixth graders from across Texas vote for their favorite title from the master list. “Read 5, then decide” is a slogan known by school librarians, public librarians and homeschooling parents across the state.