Monday, September 22, 2014

Letters from Second Graders - Thank Yous and Baby Beards! Reviews


A few weeks ago I enjoyed a morning with all the second grade classes at Craddock Elementary School in Aurora, Ohio. I was asked by the teachers to speak to their students about how a "small moment" in their life can become a story or a book. I explained to the students that I had a "small moment" happen during Taco Night at our dinner table. My daughter smeared black beans all over her face which looked like a beard. This wasn't the first time I saw a black bean beard. It happened to my son about two years earlier, but I didn't recognize it as a "small moment." I was lucky to have this  experience again. I wrote about it in my journal so I wouldn't forget.

For many months, I wrote numerous drafts in my head and on paper trying to turn the "small moment" into a story. Eventually I got the words right. Then, I added a bunch of imagination to bring the story to life in pictures.

Now, my "small moment" is a book called Baby Beards!.  I loved reading it for the first time to a group of students.

At the end my presentation the second grade students understood that:

Small Moments + writing + imagination = a book or a story or a poem or comic book, etc.

Writing and creating is an amazing experience! (and it is extremely fun sharing the creative journey with others!)

All the students in second grade at Craddock Elementary have small journals to write down the "small moments" in their life. The students will use these journals, just like authors do, for their own writing throughout the school year. I am so excited for these students! They will spend their school year writing about topics that have personal meaning. They are going to have so much fun writing this year!  I hope I get to visit again sometime this school year to hear their stories.


This week, I was received a stack of letters from one of the second grade classes. I loved the colorful paper that each letter was written on. The letters were well-written, neat, and thoughtful. I smiled the biggest smile when I finished the stack. The words from all the students really made my day.

I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite letters:

Dear Mr. V,

Thank you for coming to read. I enjoyed it. I like your great pictures. I like the one with the black berry beard with corn. I like your imagination-thinking because it is so juicy with your pictures and your sentences. I love your practice ideas. They were incredibly incredible because they so had much color with the background. 


Sincerely, A.W.


Wow! She said my work was "incredibly incredible"! That is like the most awesomely awesome compliment I have ever received about my books.

Dear Mr. V, 

Thank you for coming in. Your new book is super cool. I could buy it if I had a toddler. It's really cool how you scan pictures. I like how you put pictures on pictures. I like how you show pictures of your sons for inspiration. It's funny when you say Captain Black Bean when your sons smear black beans on their faces. I like your books.

from, G.W.


Wow! Wow! He said my new book is "Super cool!" And maybe 25 years from now he will buy my book!

Dear Mr. V, 

Thank you coming in to speak. I loved how you switched the dark dog to light dog it was cool! You had really great pictures. My favorite was the Captain Black Bean. Ha ha ha. I really like how you put in so much imagination and thinking in your books.


Your friend, C


I am glad I switched the dark brown dog to light brown dog too. I didn't like the dark brown dog and neither did my wife. I show her all my work and she gives me very honest and sometimes brutal feedback.

Dear Mr. V

Thank you for coming. I like the book because it was funny. The pictures were great. It looked like your baby. I like the dog. I like the dog. I like the light dog. I like your book.

from M.

I was glad I came too! She said Baby Beards! was funny! Whew! I thought I was going to be the only one that thought it was funny! I like the dog too! I really like it!




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

National Book Festival

Our family traveled to Washington D.C. for the National Book Festival over Labor Day weekend. This was our third year in a row we have visited our nation's capital for this event. Here are some of our favorite photos from the special day.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center was this year's venue. Bob Staake's awesome poster greeted us on our approach.
Our day started around 10am with Kate DiCamillo, the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
My daughter got her copies of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Because of Winn Dixie signed!
My youngest daughter was looking good while waiting in the autograph lines. 
Molly Idle signed 3 books for us; Flora and the Flamingo, Zombelina, and Circus Fantastico.
My wife got to meet Captain Underpants.
My boys chose to meet Dav Pilkey instead! 
Goofing around sometimes doesn't sit well with a 9-year-old. 
We heard Theodore Taylor III talk about his book When the Beat Was Born. He was awarded the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent because of this book.
Now my nine-year-old is smiling! 
We met Brian Lies! He shared his birthday for our Happy Birthday Author blog!
Theodore Taylor III signed our book, too!!
The highlight of the day for my daughter came around 6:30pm when she got to hear Raina Telgemeier speak.  Can you see the excitement in her posture?
Raina kicked off the Graphic Novel Super Session. It was insane! I have never seen so many kids excited about books in one room!
A dream come true!
Happiness! (Look at the line of people waiting to get books signed!!)
We finished up the day by riding all the escalators at the Convention Center. It was a reward for my youngest daughter. She was so good all day!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mark Your Calendars -- Fall Festival at Monroe's Orchard • Hiram, Ohio

One of our family's favorite times of the year is right around the corner -- Fall Festivals! 

There are so many great farms to visit in Northeast Ohio, but one of our favorite festivals is the Apple Harvest Festival at Monroe's Orchard in Hiram, Ohio. I am so happy to announce that I was invited to participate at this year's festival at Monroe's on the following dates!

Saturday, September 27th • 1pm-5pm
Saturday, October 4th • 1pm-5pm
Saturday, October 11th • 1pm-5pm

I will have a canopy tent set up for story time! I will be reading Three Ghost Friends, Baby Beards!, and some of my other favorite fall books! I hope you can stop by with your family! Books will be available for purchasing and autographing!

Monroe's Orchard and Farm Market
6313 Pioneer Trail, Hiram, Ohio 44234
330-569-7464
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My youngest two children and I visited Monroe's Orchard twice this week to pick red raspberries.  It is our favorite fruit!
We picked 6 containers each day! We will eat many of them fresh this week, but most of the berries will be frozen to enjoy in our fruit smoothies we make for our lunches!
Monroe's was hit hard by a rough winter and lost their peach crop. But, they have peaches available in the market from Pennsylvania!
We really enjoyed eating the peaches for dinner!
Monroe's market is full of healthy food. We picked up some delicious sweet corn too!
We love Ohio maple syrup!
Apples are now available too!
My son was so excited to see that the pumpkins are already orange. He said, "When can we pick them? When will it be Halloween?"
Almost ready to pick! 
Apples are lookin' good too!
So? Will I see you at Monroe's Orchard for their Apple Fall Festival?
I would love to see you!
Baby Beards! features all these healthy foods in the book - whole kernel sweet corn, locally grown peaches, and farm-fresh red raspberries! Pick up a copy of Baby Beards! today on Amazon or visit me at Monroe's!

Don't Miss! Monroe's Orchard's Apple Harvest Festival!


Saturday, September 27th • 1pm-5pm
Saturday, October 4th • 1pm-5pm
Saturday, October 11th • 1pm-5pm