Review: THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert

THE SCRAPS BOOK cover
THE SCRAPS BOOK: NOTES FROM A COLORFUL LIFE
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, March 2014
72 pages

There have been several picture-book autobiographies of children’s book authors and illustrators over the past few years. Sadly, most have left me feeling just a little underwhelmed. While I personally enjoyed them, I felt like they were aimed more at their long-time adult fans than at contemporary child readers. While I, as an adult, was able to appreciate the rich context and interesting personal histories, I wondered if children would be able to relate to the stories and find directly relevant meaning within the pages. So, although I myself am a fan of Lois Ehlert, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I picked up THE SCRAPS BOOK. Boy was I in for a delightful surprise!

Despite the high page count, there is nothing in this book that feels the least bit self-indulgent. Every page seems lovingly designed to encourage and instruct young artists. (And aren’t we all artists when we’re young? Perhaps with this book, more of us will remain so.) Throughout, Ehlert generously shares her inspirations, her processes, her notes and journals, even her messes and mistakes, giving readers insights into her books as well as her life as an artist.THE SCRAPS BOOK excerpt

I think this is truly a book people of all ages can enjoy, and the world is definitely a better place for having THE SCRAPS BOOK in it.

Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

(Disclaimer: Review copy was checked out from my local library.)

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2014 Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) Conference

I had a wonderful time presenting with Mary Cronk Farrell at the 2014 WLMA Conference last Saturday! The title of our talk was “Fostering 21st Century Learning with Today’s Nonfiction,” and we delivered it to a room overflowing with teacher/librarians (aren’t t/l’s the best!?) who were looking for new ideas and book recommendations.

Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL
Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL

Our presentation discussed how much of the nonfiction being published now is so much more than “just” its subject. There are innovative formats, emotionally-charged stories, cross-discipline explorations, etc. A just-the-facts approach simply won’t be published these days, as kids have easy access to information in a variety of formats AND are faced with so many options competing for their attention. This makes nonfiction a particularly compelling choice for students in and out of the classroom or library setting.

Mary presentingMary and I took turns sharing some of our favorite recent nonfiction titles–including Mary’s PURE GRIT and my BE A CHANGEMAKER and EMMANUEL’S DREAM– and how we felt they could be used in the library or classroom to achieve multiple learning goals simultaneously, including covering core curriculum subjects, social-emotional learning, problem solving and critical thinking, creativity and innovation, information and media literacy, and technology skills. We got the librarians talking to us and to each other, and we even had them try out some exercises they might use with their students. (Let me tell you, those librarians can write, too!)

Since several attendees asked for our slides, here is the deck we used in our talk, and, since we ran out of handouts due to the overwhelming attendance, here is the handout that we passed out with the list of books referenced.

Speaker goodie cup
Speaker goodie cup!
Thanks so much for having us, WLMA! Thanks so much for the book love and dedication you put into your work each and every day, teacher/librarians! And, thanks, Mary, for being such a great co-presenter and making everything easy!

My dog, Prim
My dog, Prim, catching up on some lap time
Of course, no matter how much fun I have speaking at conferences like this, it’s always good to be home again.
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Tales from my first book launch party

Two of the worst possible things that could happen to a book event in Seattle happened on the day of the Be a Changemaker launch party: one of our major bridges was closed for construction, and the sun was shining! Still, an amazing number of ultra-dedicated friends and intrepid fans braved the traffic nightmare and willingly (or perhaps begrudgingly) sacrificed one of the last sunny Sundays we are likely to have for months. And I am oh-so-grateful to each and every one of them for it!

decorations
Look at the pretty decorations!
I started with a brief thank you. I could have gone on for hours thanking everyone who played a part in this book, but I decided to spare those in attendance and kept the list as short as possible.

presentation
Here I am giving my presentation.
Then I gave a short reading from one of the In My Experience sidebars in the book. I started getting choked up and didn’t want to break down into ugly cry in front of all those people, so I cut it shorter than I had intended. Run away!

Josie Gillett for YUP
One of the inspiring teens presenting her organization.
My favorite part was when four local teens, whose organizations are among those featured in the book, presented a bit about what they do and where their groups are headed. They were all great speakers and held the audience in rapt attention.

signing closeup
I signed some books.
Then, it was time to sign books! I was so afraid I would spell someone’s name wrong, I even asked on the easy ones that I knew for sure I knew how to spell.

signing line zoomed out
I signed a lot of books!
By the end, though, my eyes were starting to cross. I hadn’t made any mistakes, so I let my guard down. One of the very last people in line is one of my dearest friends, whose name happens to be EXACTLY THE SAME AS MINE. Yes, you guessed it: I spelled it wrong. Fortunately, she has a good sense of humor, so we’ll probably be laughing about it for years to come.

Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who came and to Secret Garden Book Shop for hosting. I’m generally not much of a party person, and I really dislike being the center of attention. (Those giant posters of my face were a surprise from my hubby… eek!) But every moment of that launch event was a treat, and the experience is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

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The BE A CHANGEMAKER Blog Tour

Be a Changemaker coverI’ve been surprised and honored to be included on a plethora of fantastic blogs as part of a blog tour to help launch Be a Changemaker into the world. There are guest posts written by me on a variety of topics related to the book, as well as interviews, reviews, quotes, and, yes–book giveaways! Be sure to check out all of the tour stops, and please give these lovely bloggers some love, won’t you?

Here’s what has already been posted:

9/8/2014
Review, author interview, giveaway
9/9/2014
Review, guest post, giveaway
9/10/2014
Reviews, teaching tools, guest post, giveaway
9/11/2014
Review, resources lists
9/12/2014
Review
9/12/2014
Guest post
9/13/2014
Review, giveaway

 

And here’s what is still to come:

9/15/2014
Review, giveaway
9/16/2014
Review, giveaway
9/17/2014
Author interview, giveaway
9/18/2014
Guest post, giveaway
9/19/2014
Author interview, giveaway
9/20/2014
Guest post, giveaway

Blue Slip Media logo

 

This incredible lineup has been assembled and managed by the lovely ladies at Blue Slip Media. Thank you, Sarah and Barbara!

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The Emu’s Debuts launch party for Be a Changemaker

Emu's Debuts bannerOne of the most rewarding experiences of being a debut author has been participating on the Emu’s Debuts group blog (for clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency who are in between deal and publication). Last week, my fabulous friends and fellow Emus threw me THE BEST LAUNCH PARTY EVER to celebrate the upcoming release of BE A CHANGEMAKER! (They went a week early, since Lindsey Lane’s EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN is releasing at the same time. I’ll be helping them celebrate that launch next week!)

They were all so generous, authentic, and hard-working in bringing the daily posts to life (as they are with everything they do!), and I was thrilled anew every morning to see what they had put together. In case you missed them, please go check out their posts. They’re fun, informative, and inspiring!

Here’s the roundup:

On Monday, Lindsey Lane (with some backup support from Tara Dairman), posted Welcome to the World: BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!, which included stories of and interviews with five other Erin Murphy Literary Agency authors who are changing the world in their own meaningful ways:

Tuesday featured several videos compiled by Megan MorrisonBE A CHANGEMAKER: Words of Wisdom. The clips contain contributions from fellow Emu Debuts bloggers offering their own words of wisdom, sharing quotes that motivate and inspire them, and giving advice they wish they’d gotten at the beginning of their journey. Great stuff, and so personal! It’s a great way to get to know these wonderful people a little better.

For the Wednesday post, BE A CHANGEMAKER: Celebrating with Quotes!Jennifer Chambliss Bertman compiled and created a collection of gorgeous images featuring quotes that inspire and motivate the members of the Emu’s Debuts blog team. If you want to spice up your Facebook or Pinterest feeds (or your office walls!), there are some fantastic finds here. Plus, they included the explanations behind why the quotes are so meaningful for them, making them even more special.

For Thursday‘s post, Penny Parker Klostermann, gave readers a sneak preview of Be a Changemaker with excerpts of the first 25 pages as well as the event planning chapter. Her post, BE A CHANGEMAKER: A Tool for Change, gives a sense of how the book can be used as a tool by individuals, teams, and classrooms.

On FridayTamara Ellis Smith closed out the party with Music to Be A Changemaker By, an inspirational and motivating Spotify playlist of songs recommended by the Emu’s Debuts bloggers, along with the explanations of why they included them. Spanning genres and emotions, you’re sure to find something of interest here–I know I did!

I’m so grateful to the awesome authors at Emu’s Debuts! Thanks to them, the Be a Changemaker pre-launch week was better than I ever could have imagined. I’m looking forward to each and of every one of their debuts–coming soon!

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Why write Be a Changemaker for teens?

To celebrate the United Nations’ International Youth Day, I wrote a guest blog for the Beyond Words blog explaining why I wrote Be a Changemaker specifically for young readers. Here’s an excerpt:

We know that young people have always been at the forefront of societal change. Adolescence is a time when people begin to question and critique the morals and standards of the society in which they are living. Teens and young adults start to appreciate the complexities of social problems and the tradeoffs that come with various solutions to those problems. In addition, young people are known for creating, adopting, and circulating the culture of their times, be it the peaceniks of the 60s or the hip-hop movement of today.

Modern youth, however, are more empowered than ever to shape the world as they see fit…

To read the whole thing, click here.

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Emmanuel on US National Amputee Soccer Team

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, the subject of my upcoming picture-book biography, EMMANUEL’S DREAM, is an athlete who was born in Ghana, West Africa, with a deformed leg. As a young man, he wanted to change the way disabled people were treated in Ghana, so he rode a bicycle nearly 400 miles all around his country to prove that being disabled doesn’t mean being unable. Since then, he has continued to be an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and has launched his own foundation, with plans to build a school in Ghana for abled and disabled children alike. He now spends most of his time based in San Diego, CA, traveling the United States as a motivational speaker and raising funds for his charity.

This spring, the United States National Amputee Soccer Team invited Emmanuel to play for them. He just returned to San Diego from a training session in Maryland, and he’ll join the team when they compete in the 10th Amputee World Cup in Mexico in late November.

Good luck, Emmanuel, and to the rest of the players on the US National Amputee Soccer Team!

Read more about Emmanuel and his World Cup Soccer experience here, including some great photos.

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Goodreads giveaway for Be a Changemaker ARCs

Goodreads buttonGood news: There’s a giveaway going on right now on Goodreads for two ARCs (advance reader copies) of Be a Changemaker! This is a pleasant surprise, because a) I didn’t know there were any ARCs left, and b) the publisher set this up without me having to do anything (thank you, Simon & Schuster)!

If you’d like to try to win a copy for yourself, just click here. Hurry, though… the giveaway will close to entries on August 19th. Good luck!

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