30 Oct

Some things I learned from writing Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!

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Attack Boss Cheat Code - May 2014

SharkVTrain_FINAL

I’ve got a new guest-post at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog on the roles my kids played (and they roles they didn’t) in the creation of my picture books Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet.

Here’s a smidge of what I say:

Every book is an opportunity to navigate that territory in the middle, between what we adults want and love and think we know and what those kids want and love and think they know.

Through my experiences with Shark Vs. Train and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!, I’ve come to appreciate just how much room there is to maneuver through that middle ground.


To read the rest, please visit Cynsations

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29 Oct

Mr. Schu reveals the cover of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

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John Roy Lynch cover tease

Over at his blog Watch. Connect. Read., librarian John Schumacher has unveiled the cover of my spring 2015 picture book biography, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).

So please go, feast your eyes on Don Tate’s artwork, and enjoy a few words from me about the unusual journeys of our subject and our book alike.

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28 Oct

Writing advice? Don’t take it just from me — take it from…

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…all of these folks, too!

Tom Angleberger
Artie Bennett
Judy Blundell
Nick Bruel
Michael Buckley
Bryan Collier
Barbara Dee
Bruce Degan
Ame Dyckman
Marla Frazee
Robin Preiss Glasser
Deborah Heiligman
Victoria Kann
Alan Katz
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Peter Lerangis
Gail Carson Levine
Brian Lies
CJ Lyons
Florence Minor
Wendell Minor
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Matt Phelan
Peter Reynolds
Judy Schachner
Eric Velasquez
Jane Yolen

We each helped author Katie Davis celebrate the 200th episode of her Brain Burps About Books podcast by chipping in some writing advice. I especially enjoyed Brian Lies’ tip for writing in rhyme, but who knows whose advice will be most helpful for you?

Check us all out and let Katie know what you think!

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27 Oct

A new title for my next* next book

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For a decade now, I’ve had a book in the works about Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, the Utah-born brothers who had a huge influence in the development of ballet in the United States. Among their many contributions are the first full-length production of The Nutcracker in the US, in 1944.

And for pretty much all that time, this project — which will be published by Millbrook in fall 2015, with illustrations by Cathy Gendron — has gone by the name Pioneers & Pirouettes.

But no more.

As of this week, my Christensen brothers book is called…

The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition

You would think that, after knowing the book by one title for so long, it would be hard to switch to a new moniker. But in this case, nope.

I love this new title — the book itself has changed over the years, the story it tells has shifted, and this new title fits perfectly what this book has become.

RIP, Pioneers & Pirouettes. And long live The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition!

*As opposed to my next book, which is still called The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, the picture book biography of a young man who in ten years transformed from teenage field slave to US congressman. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch will be published this coming April by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, with illustrations by Don Tate.

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26 Oct

Scenes from the public debut of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!

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Thanks for capturing these moments, @msphillipsclass!

The Q&A after my debut reading of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet at the Texas Book Festival today included the following questions/exchanges/assertions:

***

First Girl: Why do boys go crazy for video games?

Me: Same reasons boys do, I guess.

First Girl: I go crazy for TV.

Second Girl: I go crazy for video games and TV.

***

Boy: Why did you write a book about video games? They turn your brain to mush.

***

Third Girl: Even if you don’t like video games, you can still read the book.

***

I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy the heck out of school visits for this one.

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22 Oct

Bartography Express for October 2014, featuring Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet

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How many copies of my new book, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, am I giving away this month to subscribers of my monthly newsletter?

Three.

How many opportunities do readers have between now and November 1 to help me celebrate my new book?

Two.

And how many illustrators of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! participate in this issue’s Q&A?

One.

(OK, so, that one was easy, since there’s only one Joey Spiotto.)

That’s an extremely high-level summary of what you’ll find in this month’s Bartography Express. If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for this month’s giveaway.

20141020 Bartography Express

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16 Oct

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! review in Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

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GHF resource-review-11-240x300

I’m so delighted this morning to see Pamela Price’s review of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet added to the list of resources offered by the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF).

Here’s GHF’s description of what they have to offer:

With all the resources available to homeschool families, finding the ones that best fit our gifted and 2e kids can be daunting. Who better to help than families who have tried, tested, and reviewed the actual resources with their own kids? GHF has put together a list of reviews from real gifted and 2e families, so that you can find the resources that work for you.

And here’s a bit of what Pamela (author of How to Work and Homeschool) had to say about the book:

Living on the fringe of the gaming world until I became a parent of a very sandbox game-oriented kid, I knew just enough game lingo to pass as “not totally clueless.” Thanks to Chris, I feel more versed on the basic terms, and I really wish that we’d have had a book like this when our kiddo was younger as he was just starting out with the vocabulary. The vibrant illustrations reflect a few decades of games so there are visuals evoking everything from Mario Brothers to Minecraft–making it a charming gift for game fans of all ages.

Thanks, Pamela!

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15 Oct

Make art, celebrate video games, win a book!

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Joey Spiotto contest

Joey Spiotto, the illustrator of Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet, has got a kid-friendly, art-loving, videogame-celebrating book giveaway going on.

He’s taking contest entries via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I understand that I’m disqualified, but you may know someone eligible — maybe even a classroom or library full of eligible someones…

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14 Oct

Why, yes — it has been a while…

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CISYID to ABC

It’s been three and a half years to the day since the publication of my previous book, Can I See Your I.D.?, and today also brings the release of my new book, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet.

It was not my intention to go so long between books, and according to my publishing schedule I’ll be making up for lost time in the next year and a half. That said, you probably didn’t even notice the gap — heaven knows there’s lots else in the world more worthy of your attention.

But I noticed, and I appreciate the patience of my wife and family, my agent and editors and friends.

And I especially appreciate all you readers out there who let me know in the meantime how much joy you were getting out of Shark Vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers. I’m so glad to finally offer proof that there’s more where that came from.

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14 Oct

And in between our sets, we can swap hair-care tips

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2014 TBF schedule

After the Texas Book Festival in Austin on October 25-26, I’ll be able to add “Opened for Ziggy Marley” to my resume.

Remember, parents: You’ll want to arrive early at the Children’s Tent to see Ziggy. Probably, like, 30 minutes early…

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