Unabridged: a Charlesbridge Children's Book Blog


ALA Midwinter Meeting Author Events * Booth 1921 0

Saturday, January 9

10:00 AM  Kristen Remenar and Matt Faulkner sign Groundhog's Dilemma

10:30 - 11:15 at the Book Buzz Stage    Illustrators Tell Their Side of the Story

                      Including: Gareth Hinds, David Hyde Costello, Jef Czekaj, and Nicole Wong

11:30 AM  Jef Czekaj signs A Call For a New Alphabet 

1:00 PM  Gareth Hinds signs Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

2:00 PM  David Hyde Costello and Megan Dowd Lambert sign A Crow of His Own

3:00 PM Nicole Wong signs To the Stars!

4:00 PM Nancy Bo Flood signs ARCs of Soldier Sister, Fly Home

Sunday, January 10

10:00 AM  Megan Dowd Lambert signs Reading Picture Books with Children

11:00 AM  Nancy Bo Flood signs ARCs of Soldier Sister, Fly Home

1:00 PM  Peter & Paul Reynolds sign Sydney & Simon GO GREEN!

2:00 PM Jane Sutcliffe signs Will's Words: How Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk

3:00 PM  Hazel Mitchell signs Kenya's Art

4:00 PM Jeannie Brett signs Wild About Bears

Monday, January 11

10:00 AM  Anne Sibley O'Brien signs I'm New Here

11:00 AM David Biedrzycki signs Breaking News: Bear Alert

See you in Boston in January!

  • Donna Spurlock

I’M NEW HERE Takes Off with Great Gusto!<br /><font size=3>by Julie Bliven, Associate Editor</font> 0

When a picture book is published and finally makes its way into the hands of readers, this marks the end of a long journey of editing, rewrites, illustrating, designing, and discussion. It’s also the beginning of sales, publicity, promotions, and CELEBRATION.

Author/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien’s latest picture book I’m New Here (ages 5–8) officially pubbed on August 4, 2015, and was celebrated last week at the Portland Public Library. The event included a reading from the author, the premiere of a student-driven video, an interactive photo stand, and so much more.

That same day launched National Welcoming Week across the United States, with an event at the White House that prompted national discussion about welcoming immigrants as well as refugees fleeing violence. How fitting for I'm New Here, as Annie’s picture book is about three immigrant students struggling to speak, write, and share ideas in America. These characters experience language barriers and difficulty understanding new traditions and culture. But with a little support—and a lot of courage—Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatima from Somalia, begin to participate and feel at home.

Annie partnered with Kirsten Cappy of Curious City (an organization that builds creative outreach projects for authors, illustrators, and publishers) to hire a local videographer to film public elementary school kids discussing I’m New Here. When the film played at the book launch, students in the audience giggled and cheered at seeing themselves and their peers on screen. The students had drawn pictures and explained what it feels like to be new (answers ranged from sad to stressed to excited). Many expressed the desire to befriend anyone who might be new.

Student artwork was also on display, and photos were taken of all attendees holding giant paper speech bubbles that said “welcome” in various languages. Annie went on to sign books as many mingled and tasted treats from around the globe. Even Portland’s mayor showed up, demonstrating how the day was a community triumph on many levels.




Perhaps the most poignant moment came when watching Annie’s interview during the film. The author/illustrator explained how the book began with her hope to show that immigrant students bring full, rich lives with them when they move to new countries. They’re not blank slates.

While Annie spent much of her childhood in Korea, learning to assimilate in a new country as the daughter of medical missionaries, she sees that children new to America today face far greater challenges than she did. As one of the founders of I'm Your Neighbor, an organization that promotes children's literature featuring "new arrival" cultures, she is creating books, discussions, and community projects that demonstrate how our global community—at home and in the classroom—can work together and build a home for all. The launch of I’m New Here was certainly a memorable celebration with this sentiment at the very forefront.

(l to r: Author Anne Sibley O'Brien, Charlesbridge Associate Editor Julie Bliven, Kirsten Cappy of Curious City)


Learn More!


I'm New Here
978-1-58089-612-2 HC $16.95

School Visits (and the Genius Ideas I Learn from Them!)<br /><font size=3>by Suzanne Slade</font> 0

Every school visit I always learn something interesting from teachers and students. My last author visit was no exception because I discovered a genius idea called Genius Hour. During my presentation I’d shared the proof pages of my upcoming picture book, The Inventor’s Secret. Later, one teacher came up and said The Inventor’s Secret would be perfect to kick off her Genius Hour program.

I was excited to see her so enthused about a book I’d worked on for four years, yet I was a bit embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Genius Hour. So she kindly explained—Genius Hour is a program where students work on a project of their choosing for one hour each week. The great part about this student-driven program is that children are highly motivated to learn about their topics.

Genius Hour lends to a wide variety of projects in one classroom, as each student selects the subject he or she wants to research. For example, at the school I was visiting—Meadowview School in Woodridge, IL—fifth graders in Ms. Wright’s Genius Hour program baked up cotton candy cookies, built battery-powered cars out of spare parts, and much more!

Meadowview students building a battery-powered car from leftover parts from science kits and spare toy parts.


Fifth grade Meadowview student decorating cotton candy sugar cookies with blueberry drizzle.


During my school visit this teacher also explained the message of persistence in The Inventor’s Secret would help inspire young inventors working on their own contraptions in school “makerspaces.”

Okay, full disclosure, I didn’t know what a makerspace was either! So I did a bit of research and found out makerspaces (aka fab labs or hackerspaces) are workspaces in schools and libraries where students can brainstorm, experiment, and create their own projects. Makerspaces are filled with various kinds of equipment, such as 3D printers, electronics, tools, computers, hardware, craft supplies, and more.

Now my son had tinkered on gadgets for years in our basement, which slowly aquired an assortment of tools, wires, and electronics equipment (including a 3D printer that he used to make his own inline skates), so I understood the enormous potential of a school makerspace.



Since learning of makerspaces, I’ve enjoyed reading about school labs around the country and the incredible projects children are creating in them. Would you believe students at Fox Meadow Elementary in New York made models of Lincoln’s face in their makerspace using a 3D printer and files of Lincoln’s actual life mask from the Smithsonian 3D image library? How awesome is that? (FYI - A technology teacher at Fox Meadow, Peter McKenna, started a School Makerspace forum where teachers can exchange ideas and projects.)

Fox Meadow school makerspace


3D printed model of Lincoln life mask

Actual Lincoln life mask


So as another new school year begins, I can’t wait to learn more fascinating things from students and teachers during my author visits. I’d also be thrilled to receive pictures of your school’s creative projects, including the sling shot cars, electric circuits, or flip books your students make using The Inventor’s Secret free Teacher’s Guide.


Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books (and former engineer who working on car brakes and Delta IV rockets.) Her latest picture book, The Inventor’s Secret, shares the fascinating, true story of persistence (and friendship) of two of the world’s most famous inventors—Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Use it to kick off your Genius Hour, inspire young inventors, or celebrate National Inventor’s Day (February 11.) Also, check out the book’s trailer and look for more teacher resources on Suzanne's website.


The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford
ISBN: 978-1-58089-667-2 HC $16.95
Available September 8, 2015

Find Out More
Genius Hour Livebinder 
Suzanne’s List of Genius Hour Resources 
Designing a School Makerspace 
Manufacturing Makerspaces 
Instructables - website with great DIY projects 
Make: - website with more great DIY projects

Remember ALA Annual in San Francisco? 0

Those were the days. Join us on a trip down memory lane. Ah, good ol' Charlesbridge booth 3116. The authors! The illustrators! The librarians! The books!! Good times.