Sunday, October 19, 2014

Using "Picture Day Perfection" in the classroom!

My and Dan Santat's book Picture Day Perfection is not just for Picture Day!

Picture Day Perfection is a fun story with an unexpected ending, and it's appropriate for all elementary school ages, including upper elementary.  (In fact, due to its subtle humor, it's particularly appealing to students in the 3rd through 5th grade range.)

Use of the story can be a launching point for a teaching lesson or other classroom activity, at any time during the year.  Possible classroom connections include reading, writing, technology, art, and more.

Resources for classroom use of the story include:

And some examples of real life classroom use of Picture Day Perfection include:
If you use Picture Day Perfection in your classroom, I'd love to hear about it!  Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.  And if you blog or post to your web site about your classroom use, let me know so I can add your post to the list above.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Poetry Friday

I've heard zenos are all the rage right now, so I thought I'd try one.

October Celebration

Dropping down to dance on the lawn.
Bustling party,
room for
Sunny descent;
Each of the leaves
knows the

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pout-Pout Fish Costume Character visit this Monday 10/13! Tour wrap-up photos. Web site news. All in one overdue blog post.

Several bits of news to share:

First, for those of you in the Lansing area:  The costume character of The Pout-Pout Fish will be visiting the Okemos/Meridian Mall location of Schuler Books at 7 PM on Monday, October 13.  I'll be there as well to read The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School.  Bring your kids, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and come get your photo taken with The Pout-Pout Fish!

Second, I'm pleased to let you know that my web site has recently had an overhaul.  If you want to take a look, it's at

Finally, I thought I'd share some of the photos that I took during the second half of my and Dan Hanna's recent book tour.  The second week of our travels took us to PS 31 in Brooklyn; the Flatiron Building in NYC (home of our publisher); Maderia Elementary in Cincinnati, OH; Elm Primary School in Wyoming, OH; Blue Manatee Books in Cincinnati; College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur; the WXIA TV studio in Atlanta; Glennwood Elementary in Decatur; Little Shop of Stories in Decatur; Discovery Place Kids in Rockingham, NC; Sandhills Classical Christian School in Southern Pines, NC; Country Bookshop in Southern Pines; Montessori School of Raleigh, NC; Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh; and Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.  A wonderful trip!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Michigander Monday: Saara Myrene Raappana

I'm pleased to welcome Saara Myrene Raappana to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Saara, please tell us a little about yourself.

Saara:  I’m from Michigan, but I currently live in southwest Minnesota with my husband, our cat, and our coffee pot. I was born and raised in the U.P. (Palmer, Sault Ste. Marie, Suomi Location, Rudyard, etc.), and while I’ve lived and travelled all over since going to college (Wisconsin, Florida, China, Minnesota, etc.), I still think of the U.P. as home. When my husband and I were living in southwest China, I carried everything in a Michigan-map tote bag that I’d bought in the Detroit airport. It was great because whenever someone asked me where I was from, I could point to the right place on the bag, and most people in China know about the Great Lakes, so it was a wonderful conversation-starter. I used it so much that it started to fall apart, so I paid a street vendor with a cart that had a key-duplicating machine and a sewing machine on it to fix the straps.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your writing and about the forthcoming anthology, Here.

Saara:  I’m really excited to get my hands on Here. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Ron Riekki, the editor, in the past on his last U.P. anthology The Way North, and the man knows how to put together a great book. My included poem, “All I know of white,” is set in Suomi Location (near Negaunee, in Richmond Township). It was originally supposed to be a sonnet, but it didn’t cooperate.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Saara:  I’m working on putting together a manuscript now. I think I’m nearing completion, which means I’ll realize very soon that I need to start all over again. Shechem Press also featured one of my poems in their recent Artist Broadside Series, along with poems by Stephen C. Behrendt and Robert Wrigley [].

Cellpoems [], a poetry journal that I edit, is about to hit its fifth anniversary, so we’re pretty excited to celebrate that. We distribute poems via text message (and then, later, we also publish them on our website), so all the poems are short-short-short—140 characters or fewer, including title and the poet’s name (most poets opt to shorten their names to free up some characters for the poem).
Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Saara:  I just received a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council to finish my manuscript and embark on The Great Southwest Minnesota Poetry Book Tour, so in the next several months, I’ll be hitting places throughout the 18-county Southwest Minnesota area. The first will be The Attack of the Space Zombies Halloween Party on October 25 in Currie, Minn.—a Halloween-themed, family-friendly art opening featuring work by Minnesota artists David KelseyBassett [] and Jessie White []. I think I’ll do it in costume. I’ll have tour dates on my website [] as they’re confirmed.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Saara:  Oh, so many. I’ve always loved Snowbound Books in Marquette. When I was a kid, we’d drive to Marquette to go shopping, and I was always most excited about the comic book store and Snowbound Books. I still get a thrill whenever I get to go.

I also love Aurora Books in Menominee. They’ve got a great poetry selection, and it’s got a beautiful view of the lake.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Saara:  Um. All of them? But specifically: Suomi Location. The Goose Lake overlook on M-35 just outside of Palmer, especially in fall. The Calumet Theater in Calumet. Every ounce of Lake Superior.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Saara:  I love going ice fishing with my Uncle George and his dog Nakoot. I love going sauna in the winter. I love watching boats go through the Locks in the Soo. The Soo Film Festival every late summer/early fall in Sault Ste. Marie.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Saara:  Wow, there are so many; here’s an incomplete list: I love Catie Rosemurgy’s poetry; TheStranger Manual is haunting and hilarious and resonant, as is the recurring character Miss Peach. And Janeen Rastall’s poetry, her new chapbook, The Yellowed House—her gorgeous “When Asked About My Inner Goddess” was recently made into a film []. Mary McMyne’s Wolf Skin is hypnotic and lush and delightful. Julie Brooks Barbour came out with Small Chimes this year; her poems balance delicacy and robustness perfectly. I’m also happily anticipating Lisa Fay Coutley’s first full-length collection, ERRATA, coming out next year. And you can’t go wrong with any of Jamaal May’s poetry; Hum won a mess of awards because it’s beautiful, important poetry about people and machines and the spaces between them. I also do work for Motionpoems, a poetry-film production company, so I had the pleasure of reading and watching the film adaptation of [] Laura Kasischke’s haunting “This Is Not a Fairytale,” and now I can’t get it out of my head. Fiction too! I just got Joseph Daniel Haske’s North Dixie Highway: literary and gritty and engaging. Oh, and everyone should check out Ron Riekki’s U.P. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking, which are my two favorite things for a book to be.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Saara:  Don’t forget about the Upper Peninsula! We’re up there too!

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Saara:  Yooper! And Michigander. I’m in favor of any moniker that allows me to pretend I’m a migrating bird. Just curious: Which is winning?

Debbie:  Saara, Michigander is in the lead, but I'll have to run the numbers to see which is second -- Michiganian or Yooper!  Thank you so very much for joining us today for Michigander/Yooper Monday!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Halfway point of The Pout-Pout Fish tour!

Dan Hanna and I have been having a wonderful time on our tour!  We still have a week left -- be sure to check out the listing of our upcoming stops.  Hope to see you at one of them!  In the meantime, here are some highlights of Mr. Fish's adventures this past week.

Big, big thanks to Bach Elementary (Ann Arbor, MI), St. Francis Catholic School (Ann Arbor), Nicola's Books (Ann Arbor), Bellerive Elementary (Creve Couer, MO), Henry Elementary (Ballwin, MO), Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO), White Eagle Elementary (Naperville, IL), Hermes Elementary (Aurora, IL), Anderson's Books (Naperville), The Morning Blend TMJ4 (Milwaukee, WI), Oriole Lane Elementary (Mequon, WI), Kluge Elementary (Milwaukee), Oak Creek Library (Oak Creek, WI), and Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee) for a marvelous week!