Monday, March 31, 2014

Gordon vs. the Writing Assignment

As part of his Grand Prize, Gordon's story is being published today on the blog! We're all quite impressed with his imagination and how much fun he had with his story; we think you will be too :) Enjoy!

Gordon vs. the Writing Assignment

     Gordon was just sitting down at his desk at school when his teacher asked him to write a story for her. He said, “Oh, I don’t have anything to write.  This is going to be so hard.  I’ll just sit here and try to think of something.”  He puts his head on his desk.  All of a sudden the bell rings.  He jumps on his bike and rides it toward home and then things start to get weird.  Rocks start shooting out of trees.  He sees fireworks blasting (p.s. it is not the Fourth of July).  He goes straight home.

     Weird things are happening there too!  His Mom has elephants on her head.  His Dad is throwing the chair, his sister is throwing sandwiches at him, and a giant chicken is attacking him.  They finally let him sit down and read a book.  Then things start getting weird again.  The characters from Gordon’s books start to jump out at him.   Some of his books have dragons in them and instead of shooting fire they shoot spikes.  He runs for his life.  He gets on his bike and drives off but as he drives away the bike changes into a rocket ship and by the time he stops it he is at Mars.

      An Alien starts to chase him.  He gets into a space suit he found on a hook next to the door and goes out the back door.  The Alien starts chasing him again.  The Alien chases him for an hour and then the Alien is out of breath.  It walks to its home and Gordon walks back to the rocket ship and flies home.  When he lands he sees there is a tiny bomb in this rocket ship.  He has one second and then he suddenly wakes up.

He is at school where he can write his story very quickly.

He has a story to write!  Hurray!

The End

Gordon, the winner of Mrs. Burke's You vs. Who? contest, is in second grade.

Blog Tour for The Grudge Keeper

No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge. No one, that is, except old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.
The townspeople of Bonnyripple count on Cornelius to file away their tiffs and huffs, squabbles and snits. But when a storm flings the people together and their grudges to the wind, will the Grudge Keeper be out of a job?
This timely and entertaining story is beautifully conveyed through Rockliff's witty wordplay and Wheeler's elegant illustrations.

Follow more reviews on our blog tour:

Tuesday: Reading to Know
Wednesday: Chat with Vera
Friday: Geo Librarian

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bill Harley vs. the Peachtree Blog Interview

For the last month, we've been running Mrs. Burke's YOU vs. WHO? contest in anticipation of the release of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome, the second installment in Bill Harley's middle grade series about a fourth grade boy who--despite his best intentions--just can't seem to get it right.

The time has come to announce the winner...(drum roll please!)...and...the winner...of the Grand Prize pack of Charlie Bumpers merchandise...iiiis...Gordon vs. the Writing Assignment!

Whoooo! Cue the streamers! Cue the balloons! Congratulations, Gordon! Your books and audio CDs are on their way!

In other news, The Really Nice Gnome will be on shelves April 1st.

What's that you say? You can't stand waiting one more minute?

We thought that might be the case. So,  we have a few things to tide you over until the pub date:
  1. The first chapter of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome
  2. The official book trailer
  3. Bill Harley is here!
  4. A sneak peak of book 3's cover!

Only three days until The Really Nice Gnome is unleashed on the world! What can Charlie’s fans look forward to in his second adventure?

B.H.    Charlie seems to find himself in situations he doesn't want to be in, and spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get out of them. The Nice Gnome is the same in that way.

Can you tell us a little about who Charlie is up against this time?

B.H.    Mrs. Burke puts on a play with her class every year, and this year it's "The Sorcerer's Castle." Charlie doesn't get the part he's hoping for--the Evil Sorcerer. Instead he gets the part of...well, just look at the title of the book. He definitely doesn't want to be one of those.

Will we be meeting any new characters in this book?

          B.H.  Mostly we get to know everyone we've already met a little bit better. A couple of kids in the class get more attention. Like Dashawn, who plays the Prince in the play and has a seriously upset stomach, and Sam Marchand who does get to be the Sorcerer. 

Who is your favorite Charlie Bumpers character?

B.H.    Well, I have to like Charlie. He's my hero. But writing for his brother and sister is a lot of fun since they're so predictable, but hopefully in a surprising way. I especially like seeing Charlie's friendship with Tommy and the one developing with Hector.

We hear you’ve been compared to Charlie a few times. Care to comment?
B.H.  Um, let's just say a good writer often draws from his own experience.

(Coincidence? I'll have to ask Adam.)

We’ve asked kids to write in and tell us about their own obstacles. They might like to hear about yours. When you were around Charlie’s age, what’s something that you had to "battle" against?

B.H.    Okay--truth is, like Charlie, I was never very organized and that often caused problems. 

I was also pretty small for my age, and there were always a couple of kids who would take advantage of that.

And then, sometimes school just seemed to be in the way of learning about the world.

And how about now?

B.H.    Most of those things are still true--especially about being 

Bullies generally don't bother me anymore. 

And I try not to have too many things I'm obligated to do, since it can get in the way of just living life. But with that said, I usually still take on more than I can handle.

How would you like to see this book used?

B.H.    First, I just hope it finds an audience with a bunch of kids. Especially reluctant readers. While I like to think the story and issues are quite developed, I've tried to keep the language simple, straightforward, and fun to read. I hope people laugh and recognize themselves.

I also hope that it can provide some discussion with teachers and students. The book has a lot in it about the culture of schools and classrooms, so if it helps people (adults included) reflect about their experiences, that's good. 

Charlie lives in a very functional family. While there is squabbling, I hope I'm giving a model of how families can work together and helping to affirm for parents how important their job is. 

Hmmm. That's a lot for a small book to accomplish. 

Okay, I just hope it’s a fun read.

What would you like your readers to get out of Charlie’s second story?

B.H.    The underlying theme in The Really Nice Gnome is that you're part of something bigger and you have to contribute, even if it's not exactly in the way you want.

Will there be more Charlie Bumpers to come?

B.H.  Yep. Charlie has more to say.

Anything you can tell us about book number three?

B.H.    The Squeaking Skull (September 2014!) is about fear. And Halloween. And costume contests. And horror movies. And if you read it closely, you'll find some hints on how to tell a good ghost story.

Thanks so much to Bill for dropping by!

Be sure to pick up your copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome at your local book store!

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blog Tour for Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

Charlie is ready to play the bad guy in the class play, but Mrs. Burke has other ideas!
Charlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He's even got the laugh down pat: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as the Nice Gnome! Determined to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.

To make matters worse, his dad has assigned chores to all the kids in the family and Charlie's job is walking Ginger - the diggiest, sniffiest, and poopiest dog in the universe. Can Charlie deal with these challenges without causing havoc all around him?

Follow along our Blog Tour: 

Monday, 3/24 Sally’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, 3/25 The World of Peachtree Publishers
Wednesday, 3/26 Laurisa White Reyes
Thursday, 3/27 Kid Lit Reviews
Friday, 3/28 Geo Librarian

Monday, March 17, 2014

Blog Tour for About Habitats: Forests

Cathryn and John Sill of the acclaimed About  Habitats series showcase the striking beauty and remarkable diversity of the forest biome.  About Habitats: Forests is the sixth title of the series, and describes the characteristics of different types of forests- from the cold boreal forests of the northern hemisphere to the warm tropical forests near the equator- and shows how various species of animals and plants have adapted to life in these habitats.  

Booklist calls this informational picture book for beginning readers an "effective, gentle, and realistic introduction."  Its double-page format features a single sentence in large text describing the importance of forests, while the corresponding full-page watercolor illustrates the information presented. 

Follow along our Blog Tour!
Monday, 3/17/14
Jean Little Library

Tuesday, 3/18/14
Tolivers to Texas

Wednesday, 3/19/14
Chat with Vera

Thursday, 3/20/14

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Tour for Lost for Words

Natalie Russell of Brown Rabbit in the City and Moon Rabbit wrote and illustrated this second book of our March Blog Tour; Lost for Words

This picture book is a gentle story about finding your creative spark.

Tapir wants to express himself, but he can't find the words! He and his friends all have nice new notebooks, just waiting to be filled. Giraffe decides to write a poem, Hippo writes a story, and Flamingo composes a beautiful song. But poor Tapir can't think of anything to write - and the harder he tries the more upset he becomes! But everything starts to change when Tapir stops trying to write and begins to draw...

Marge Loch-Wouters of School Library Journal nicely summarizes "The seemingly simple, rhythmic text blossoms into a tender story of longing and accomplishment. The universal theme of discovering one's special talent is explored in this tale of friendship and the power of creativity."  

To check out other reviews, follow along the participating blogs of this tour.  They are: 

Monday, 3/10/14
Sally's Bookshelf

Tuesday, 3/11/14
It's About Time Mamaw

Wednesday, 3/12/14
Chat with Vera

Friday, March 7, 2014

You vs. Who? Contest & Giveaway

Greetings, denizens of the blogiverse!

Since the title of Teacher of the Year was bestowed upon me, I’ve received a number of inquiries on an array of subjects.

What is my first name? What activities are best for fourth graders? Did I suffer any lasting effects from the flying sneaker incident? How is my snap so impressively loud?

I’ve been asked to answer a few of those questions here today.

The snap, I’m afraid, is one of the most fiercely guarded secrets of the Empire—Mrs. Burke’s Empire, that is. The technique was passed down in a sacred trust from my mother, and I couldn’t possibly divulge it here.

Actually, I suppose I could, but my hood of ninjas would instantaneously escort every person reading this post to a remote island surrounded by man-eating octopi. I doubt the secret of the snap would do you much good in such an exile. 

Activities, however, I am happy to share!

1. Plays:

Each year, the citizens of Mrs. Burke’s Empire perform a play. I’m not given to bragging, but this year’s—The Sorcerer’s Castle—might be this director's masterpiece. I’ve found that my students learn quite a bit about themselves when they’re forced to play someone else.

2. Writing:

I suggest having your students write about their own experiences. 

Here’s a prompt that works well with my own students: You vs. Who?

Students must write a story about a time they faced some sort of obstacle. Stories can be silly or serious; true or fictional; about school, home, or extra-curriculars! Give it a title like Suzie Rice vs. The Vacuum of Suction Destruction or Mrs. Burke vs. The Slippery Ramen Noodle.

3. Contests:

When all other hope is lost and mutiny seems inescapable, make it a contest. In fact, let’s do just that!

Have your child, student, or library patrons answer the You vs. Who? prompt.

You (the teacher, librarian, parent, etc.) must send the stories to the folks at Peachtree Publishers via e-mail or snail mail before the deadline. (See details below.)

Win a glorious prize and bring honor to your own empire!


PRIZE:        Peachtree Publishers is giving away ten (10) Charlie Bumpers prize packs!
Nine winners will receive one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, and one (1) galley of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome (April 2014!).
One Grand Prize winner will receive one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome, and one (1) Audio Book CD of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year (performed by author and Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Bill Harley!).

To enter:                 Students must write a story about a time they faced some sort of obstacle like Charlie does. Adult must send the stories in to Peachtree Publishers via e-mail or snail mail. Stories can be silly or serious; true or fictional; about school, home, or extra-curriculars!

E-mail Address:

Snail Mail Address:
Peachtree Publishers
Publicity Dept.
1700 Chattahoochee Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30318

DEADLINE:              Contest ends March 26, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST

OPEN TO:                 US Addresses Only

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mrs. Burke is Coming...

You lucky, lucky ducks. Do we have a treat for you!

Word on the Peachtree street (Ha. If you've ever been to Atlanta, you know that there are approximately 52,648 variations of "Peachtree Street" here. Seriously. Google it.) is that Mrs. Burkeyes the Mrs. Burke of Charlie Bumpers famewill be stopping by the blog this Friday!

You never know what the Teacher of the Year might say or do, but I hear she might have a giveaway up her sleeve...

See you Friday!

Blog Tour for Churchill's Tale of Tails

Blog Tour for

Churchill couldn't be prouder of his perfect tail. And then one day it goes missing...
When Churchill the pig loses his precious tail, his friends help him hunt for a new one. But trying new tails is so much fun that soon Churchill has forgotten his friends completely. Can Churchill learn to put friendship first and solve the mystery of his missing tail?
This book was well received by Kirkus Reviews, stating "Debut author- illustrator Sandu has crafted a fine addition to the  piggy  picture-book canon.  The silly cartoon illustrations of Churchill with his various tails are sure to make toddlers giggle. And the tale's theme of individuality, identity and forgiveness are nicely presented."  
To check out other reviews, follow along in our Blog Tour!  Here's our weekly schedule: 
Monday, 3/3/14
Sally's Bookshelf
It's About Time Mamaw

Tuesday, 3/4/14
Reading to Know

Wednesday, 3/5/14
A Word's Worth

Thursday, 3/6/14
Tolivers to Texas

Kid Lit Reviews

Friday, 3/7/14
Geo Librarian