Stories and Standards: Pairing Fiction & Nonfiction (from NCTE)

On Friday afternoon, I was part of an author panel at NCTE on the topic "Stories and Standards: Pairing Fiction & Nonfiction" along with Loree Griffin Burns, Jenny Moss, and Tanya Lee Stone. We spoke about curriculum connections for our books and suggested other titles that would pair well with them in the classroom. Here’s the presentation, via SlideShare.

Our facilitator for this session was the Goddess of YA Literature herself, Teri Lesesne, (she’s here on LJ) who generously posted all of her NCTE presentations to slideshare as well. Check out her SlideShare site for a ton of great book suggestions!

A Post-NCTE Photo Wrap-Up

Saturday was my busy day at NCTE, starting with a morning book signing, then an interview about THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. for the ReadWriteThink podcast, lunch, and the Middle Level Mosaic, a highlight of the trip for me because I got to hear presentations from English teacher rock stars like Jeff Wilhelm, Nancie Atwell, & Teri Lesesne. I’m back to school this morning to finish our unit on dystopian literature and let my students fight over the ARCs I brought home. Since they’re publisher review copies, I’ve decided I’ll be loaning them out with strings attached…so in the next few weeks, you’ll get to read some 7th grade guest reviewers’ thoughts on new titles coming out in 2010.

I’ll post more about NCTE — all the workshops and speeches — when I’ve had a little more time to process everything in my notes. In a word, it was overwhelming. But in the very best way possible. For now, here’s a Monday morning photo wrap-up.

Here I am with Emily Manning from the International Reading Association. Emily hosts a children’s book podcast on the IRA’s ReadWriteThink website (thus all the fancy recording equipment). We talked about THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. for an upcoming episode.

From left to right, that’s me, G. Neri, Jo Knowles (at her book signing!) and Lisa Yee.

Maggie Stiefvater signs copies of SHIVER and its sequel, LINGER, at Scholastic.

Maureen Johnson was signing her Scarlett books right next to Maggie. Over her shoulder, that’s author David Levithan, wearing his Scholastic editor hat and supervising the event. He’d been signing copies of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, his new book with John Green earlier in the day.

Here’s Rebecca Stead, signing FIRST LIGHT and WHEN YOU REACH ME at Random House.

It’s always fun spotting friends’ books at these events. Kay Cassidy’s THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY was on display at the Egmont Booth, along with Lindsay Eland’s SCONES AND SENSIBILITY (below).

Scott Westerfeld signs copies of LEVIATHAN and shows off the art from that book.

The funny & charming Kevin O’Malley signed a copy of his new Miss Malarkey book for my daughter.

On my way to grab a quick lunch Saturday, I spotted Jeff Kinney signing DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books.

Here’s a photo of one of my tables at the Middle Level Mosaic, which was sort of like an author speed-dating event. There were at least a couple dozen tables like this in the Marriott ballroom, each one with a teacher facilitator and an author. Each author spent 8-9 minutes at a table, talking about his or her book, writing, and teacher resources, and then at the end of that time, we got up and moved to the next table. Each author visited three tables, and there were great speeches interspersed during this event, too. (More on those later in the week when I’ve had time to go through my notes.)

Meanwhile, the fun continues in Philadelphia today and tomorrow with the ALAN workshop. Here’s hoping that some of the authors & teachers still in Philly will keep blogging and tweeting all the great things going on. Have a great Thanksgiving week, everyone!

Blogging from NCTE: Day One 1/2

Our NCTE publisher dinner at Philadelphia’s Le Castagne was one of those nights a starry-eyed author never forgets. Friendly, book-loving people from NCTE, the International Reading Association, and Anderson’s Bookshop joined us at a big table behind a curtain, so we had our own little dining room. Since Jenny Moss and I were the guest authors, our school & library publicists broughts copies of our books for everyone that we signed after dinner.

Meet the fabulous Katie Fee (left) and Beth Eller (right), who work tirelessly at events like NCTE to get books into teachers’ hands. They are amazing.

When Beth were telling me about this dinner, she said, "I think we have you sitting next to Linda Rief. She’s an English teacher who –"

"I’m having dinner with Linda Rief?!"

I knew who she was. Linda is a rock star, as far as I am concerned. She writes teacher resource books that have helped to shape my teaching, and she co-founded NCTE’s journal for middle school teachers. She’s been one of my role models since I started teaching 14 years ago. She is also kind and smart and funny, and I loved visiting with her about our teaching/writing experiences.

I also got to sit by Bridget Hilferty from the International Reading Association, who told me about all the work being done on the IRA’s ReadWriteThink website, an amazing teacher resource. Watch for the newly redesigned website in December!

And I sat across from Becky Anderson Wilkins of Anderson’s Bookstore, who is being honored with an Intellectual Freedom award at NCTE this morning for her work promoting First Amendment Rights. She helped defend Sherman Alexie in the midst of a challenge to THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN and is one of my new heroes.

It was an amazing evening, talking books with people who love them so much. And the food was beautiful and delicious (I wanted to take pictures but restrained myself because it was a really nice restaurant, and snapping photos of the gnocci and Dover sole probably would have been a no-no.) But trust me, it was lovely.

Today, I’m off to breakfast and then a signing at Bloomsbury/Walker from 9:30-10:30, followed by a full day of author activities before my flight home late tonight. I may have to leave some of my clothes behind to fit all the ARCs I picked up yesterday. A girl has to have priorities, right?

Blogging from NCTE: Day One

This morning started with a walk to the Philadelphia Convention Center under sunny blue skies (Finally – yay!) to see the panel discussion called "Fractured Classics" about using well-known archetypes to create stories for middle grade and young adult readers. It included fellow Bloomsbury/Walker authors Shannon Hale and Suzanne Selfors as well as Malinda Lo and Diane Zahler, all of whom were funny and brilliant. Here are some of my favorite moments:

Diane Zahler, author of THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS (Harper Collins):

"Fairy tale retellings allow heroines to take charge of their lives and break out of the passive princess role."

Suzanne Selfors, author of SAVING JULIET (Walker) about a girl who goes into the story of ROMEO & JULIET to try and save Juliet’s life. (She’s also the new YA COFFEEHOUSE ANGEL, which I got a signed copy of today!):

"Before Edward and Bella…Romeo and Juliet were the world’s most famous teenagers."

Malinda Lo, author of ASH (Little Brown), a retelling of Cinderella in which the main character is gay:

"It’s really a story about grief and love, things we’ve all experienced."

She also reminded us that LBGT stories can be a great comfort to teens.

"When I was a teen, if I’d read ASH, I might have figured things out a little sooner, and it wouldn’t have been so scary."

Shannon Hale, author of GOOSE GIRL, RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, and more (Bloomsbury) talked about how the fairy tales that infuriate her are the ones that inspire her to write. She ranted a bit about the prince who visits Rapunzel repeatedly in her tower in the traditional fairy tale.

"Does he EVER think to bring a ladder?? There’s no excuse for this prince!"

After the panel, I met up with Loree Griffin Burns to talk about our afternoon panel and explore the exhibit hall a bit. My editor Mary Kate took the train in from New York so she could be there for our panel, which made me so, so happy!

The brilliant MK also shared some cover sketches for SUGAR ON SNOW. They are gorgeous, and thinking about a cover makes the book seem that much closer. It’s scheduled for December 2010. We had lunch across the street from the convention center, here…

This is Reading Terminal Market, an enormous indoor market with every kind of food and treat you could imagine. I had a chicken burrito plate that was so big it seemed like the plate was still full no matter how much I ate.

Then it was time for some book-stalking (and author spotting!) in the exhibit hall. How many faces & covers do you recognize?

Mallinda Lo, signing copies of ASH.

Jenny Moss, signing ARCs of SHADOW (Scholastic, 2010). Jenny and I will both be signing at the Bloomsbury/Walker booth from 9:30-10:10 tomorrow morning.

Gene Luen Yang, whose books I love…but I didn’t have a chance to get one signed because it was time for our panel, "Stories & Standards: Pairing Fiction & Nonfiction." Here we are:

From left to right, Jenny Moss, Loree Griffin Burns, Teri Lesesne, Tanya Lee Stone, & me.

If you weren’t there, don’t feel left out… You can click here to see our presentation and download our handouts on the Teachers page of my website. And our facilitator, the wise and bookish Teri Lesesne, aka , also tweeted our workshop while it was happening, so you can click here and scroll down to read her posts.

Here’s my schedule for tomorrow:

9:30-10:30 Signing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. in the Walker/Bloomsbury booth. (and they’re offering books at a 50% discount, too!)

11:45-12:15 Being interviewed for the ReadWriteThink podcast for IRA

2:30-3:40 Middle Level Mosaic – which I understand to be sort of an author speed-dating event. It sound like fun!

I have more to blog, but right now it’s time for tonight’s publisher dinner with a bunch of bookstore people and NCTE folks. I actually made a joke about not being able to attend because I needed to stay back in my room to read all my ARCs. No one was particularly amused, so off I go. More tomorrow….

Thursday at NCTE

Somehow, I managed to avoid all of today’s flight delay issues and arrive in Philadelphia safe, sound, and on time for NCTE. I spent the afternoon holed up in a coffee shop finishing up some last-minute revisions for SUGAR ON SNOW, which has officially gone to copy editing now. Woo-hoo!

Just got back from a publisher dinner, where I finally got to meet my online author friend Jenny Moss! We’ve known each other here on LJ for a while and have been collaborating with the other two authors on our panel using Google Docs but hadn’t met in person until a few hours ago.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the convention center all day, doing English teachery things until about three, when it’ll be time to get ready for my presentation, a panel discussion on Stories & Standards: Pairing Fiction and Nonfiction for Interdisciplinary Connections. That’s Session E – at 4pm. Afterwards, I’ll be signing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. at the Bloomsbury/Walker booth from 5:30-6 tomorrow and then 9:30-10:30 on Saturday. If you’re at NCTE, please stop by and say hello!

Packing for Philadelphia: My Schedule for NCTE

On Thursday, I’m flying to Philadelphia for NCTE. For my mom and other people who won’t immediately recognize the acronym, that’s the annual conference for the National Council of Teachers of English. It’s hard for me to even type this without bouncing just a little, because even though I’m an English teacher, I’ve never been to this conference before. There will be lots of people there whose work I’ve admired and used in my classroom for a long, long time.

I’m also speaking and signing copies of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. and if you’re in Philadelphia, too, I’d love to see you. Here’s where I’ll be:


Stories and Standards
I’m presenting as part of a panel discussion on pairing historical and scientific fiction with nonfiction, along with Loree Griffin Burns, Jenny Moss, and Tanya Lee Stone. The fabulous Teri Lesesne, aka , is facilitating our panel.
Room 107B, Street Level

Friday: 5:30-6:00
Signing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. at the Walker/Bloomsbury booth. Jenny will be signing WINNIE’S WAR then, too!

Saturday: 9:30-10:30
Signing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. at the Walker/Bloomsbury booth with Jenny and Winnie again!

Saturday: 11:45-12:15
I’m being interviewed for the IRA ReadWriteThink podcast. After that, I will likely be enjoying a convention center sort of salad or wrap if anyone wants to join me.

Saturday: 2:30-3:40
Grand Ballroom Salon E, 5th Floor
Marriott Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown
21 N. Juniper St.
Middle Level Mosaic Workshop: BE the book!
I’ll be one of a whole bunch of authors at this event. Click here for an overview of the Middle Level Mosaic, with a full list of authors.

Celebrating the National Day on Writing: A Revision Gallery

A couple weeks ago, a school principal & teacher in California asked me where she could find pictures of real manuscripts from real authors going through the revision process to share with her students so they’d be more excited about revising. I didn’t know of such a resource, but as a teacher, I absolutely loved the idea.  As an author, I knew I probably had some writer friends who would be more than willing to help teachers by sharing a photo or two. 

The result is here… a Revision Gallery with a collection of authors’ notes and photos of their marked-up manuscripts.  I thought today, NCTE’s National Day on Writing would be the perfect day to share our stories.

The PowerPoint slides are below (as jpegs) for teachers who would like to save them & use them in the classroom, and the full presentation is also on SlideShare (though the conversion process distorted a couple of the images).