Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Love My Job

I get a lot of letters from readers.

I read and love each and every one of them.

And every once in a while, I get a special letter....

...one that reminds me that what I do is important and appreciated and might make a difference to someone.

Recently, I received one of those letters.

With the permission of the sender, I'm printing it here in its entirety.

I love my job.

 
Dear Barbara O’Connor,
  
Growing up I noticed that I had trouble reading. I was born dyslexic and so I had trouble understanding how to comprehend the words that I was reading, so not long after the second grade I decided I was not going to read unless I really needed to.

It didn’t take long after I made the decision to not read unless I found a good enough reason that of course I found one. My older brother had a dog named Roscoe. He was my brother’s best friend they did everything together, but one night Roscoe went outside without my brother and he got hit by a car passing down our street very fast. My brother stayed up for days so sad and he refused to go to school. Soon after, my mother asked me if I knew anything that could help him cheer up, and after thinking about it for a while I couldn’t really think of anything until I went on a class trip to the library and my librarian asked me what kind of books I was interested in and I immediately thought of my brother and I told my librarian that I wanted to LOOK at books about dogs so maybe I could show him cool pictures of dogs that looked like Roscoe to cheer him up. 

My librarian looked up the key word Dog and the only book that she found in what was supposed to be my reading level was your book How to steal a dog. Without even opening it I came up with the perfect idea to cheer up my brother.

I figured that your book would teach me how to get or steal a dog for my brother so he would not be sad anymore (I want to remind you that I was only nine years old and didn’t fully think through what I was planning on doing.) So I found the perfect reason to read my very first big girl book as I called them (with chapters). I figured that if I skimmed through it I could figure out fairly quickly what I wanted to know. 

So I started flipping through the pages and I couldn’t find a list of ways to get a dog, so I figured I would sort of start reading the book to find out where in the book it gave me the steps that I was looking for. Of course I could not find them so then I thought I should just try to actually read it and maybe I could figure out what I wanted to know.

After I started reading the book I became fascinated with Georgina and her family. I guess I could say that I sort of felt connected to Georgina and I became interested in her and her family. So I started reading the book because I was interested in it instead of my original meaning.

After I finished the book I was so proud of myself for actually reading a book that didn’t have just pictures in it. I bragged to my family and friends and even teachers. I was so interested in your book that I wanted to read more of it, I was sad that the book was over and that I would never get to know what had happened to Georgina and her family after the book ended. I tried to Google books that had similarities with your book and I couldn’t find anything that seemed fascinating to me. So I never really read another chapter book again after your book.

I enjoyed your book very much. When I was in my English class at school I was telling a story to my friend about how I would like to become an author when I got older but I thought that I would be a hypocrite if I wrote books but did not read them because of my difficulties with words. 

While I was telling my story my instructor, Ms. White overheard me and asked what I was talking about. After I explained everything that I was saying before, I told her that I have only read one real book my whole life and that I loved it. When I told her that the book was How to steal a dog she immediately knew what book I was talking about and remembered that her mentor was your best friend and told me she was going to try to get a hold of her mentor through Facebook and tell her about my story and she was hoping to get in contact with you.
  
Despite my challenges with reading I am actually very good with writing and grammar. I just have trouble while reading words because the letters mix match and change up and the words seem to look different. 

I’m not really sure why I let it defy me so much. I guess it could be because it seems like a good excuse to not try hard enough or to be lazy. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that since I thought of those assumptions that maybe they could be true, maybe.

I am so enthusiastic about writing you this letter. I really hope you find my liking of your book interesting. I hope you can find time to write me back with everything you have going on.
Thank you for your time,

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Honest Truth


Here's my two-word review of Dan Gemeinhart's 

THE HONEST TRUTH:


UM....WOW!!!!!!


What a story!

It's an adventure story..
a survivial story..
a cancer story..
a dog story..
a friend story..
a dang good story.

Read it.

(Ages 8 - 12)

Coming in January from Scholastic 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Books for Teachers - Winners


I had such a great response to the drawing for books for teachers and school librarians, that I decided to draw TWO names.


(I don't know how to center this dang video....)





Winner #1: Janet Cimmino (I don't have your email address but will mail the books)

Winner #2: Betsy Murphy

I'll email y'all.

AND, I'm saving the other entries for a future drawing.

Thanks to everyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Steal a Dog Movie Pics


The movie of How to Steal a Dog premieres in South Korea on December 18. 



Here are some photos from the movie:












Monday, November 17, 2014

Saying Goodbye



As part of Operation Purge (i.e., getting rid of stuff), I'm sending all of my old drafts and manuscripts off to the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota.


LOTS of stuff in my closet





Sorting, sorting, sorting


Organizing



Packed and ready to go
 

I confess to feeling a wee bit sad because most of those manuscripts have Frances Foster's handwriting on them.

But now, hopefully, others can read and enjoy her amazing wit and wisdom.

And that's a good thing.

And now I have much more room in my closets, so maybe I should go shopping!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Things I Love Thursday


I love kids who say things like this [true story]:

I  like writers who know what I like... and make their writing seem like it's written for me.  How do they know?  I mean, aren't most writers really old?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Gift to Teachers


I've been on a purge-bender recently, getting rid of STUFF in my office.

Now I've decided to downsize my stash of my books.

What better way to do it than give some to a teacher or school librarian?

So.....


Are you a teacher or school librarian?

Want some of my books?

Thirteen books: 11 of them hardcover; 4 of them biographies; most appropriate for grades 3-6
 Here's how:

Just post your name, email address, and the name of your school in the comments section of this blog post (or email them to me at barbaraoconnor at mac dot com).

I'll draw a winner on Friday, November 21. 

And if you don't win, don't worry. I plan to have more drawings in the near future.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Way to Stay in Destiny






I've been dying to get my mitts on an ARC of Augusta Scattergood's latest middle grade novel: The Way to Stay in Destiny.

Well, I finally did....and boy, oh, boy.....what a colorful cast of characters pulled me into this one!

**A piano-playing, baseball loving boy

**A tap-dance hating, baseball loving girl

**A good-hearted former Rockette, now running the Rest Easy Rooming House and Dance Academy

**An angry Vietnam War veteran fighting a whole heap of demons


Set in the steamy heat of tiny Destiny, Florida ("The Town that Time Forgot"), Scattergood's latest is packed with heart, humor and Hank Aaron.

What's not to love? 

Ages 8 to 12


Coming from Scholastic January 2015

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Things I Love Thursday


I love teachers who do things like this:

Fourth grade teacher, Saul Ruiz, at Carver Academy Elementary in
Amarillo, Texas, organized a wonderful project with his students after reading How to Steal a Dog.

"You have inspired us to take our eyes off ourselves and realize that someone else always has it worse than we do," Mr. Ruiz told me. 
 
"We are teaming up with a local homeless shelter for mothers and their children.  We are making 'After Dinner Bags' for the kids who show up to these shelters.  Just like Georgina, they sometimes just arrive with a plastic bag full of only a few of their belongings.  We are making bags full of snacks and activities for children to do after dinner…the most boring part of the night for kids at the shelter." 

How great is that?!

And I love that they are calling this wonderful activity Project Georgina in honor of the main character.

High five to Mr. Ruiz and his students!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I love cool stuff for book nerds!

(The holidays will be here before you know it. Just sayin')

Like a library card phone cover:


And banned books socks:


And a Goodnight Moon onesie:

 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Days of Children's Literature


Just got back from three days being immersed in my favorite thing: children's literature.

After speaking to education students at the University of Richmond, I headed to St. Christopher's School to speak to the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.





(l to r) Librarian Lucinda Whitehurst, me, Librarian Laura Sabo

(l to r) 5th grade student (and reader/writer extraodinaire) Lois Sabo, me, Librarian Laura Sabo

In the library was a terrific display of some projects the students had done for The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. They were required to use specific materials to create a free-standing figure to represent a character. There had to be on moveable part that helped show the character traits or interests. Here are a few of them:





The next day I headed to The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg to speak at an amazing conference for teachers and reading specialists: The Joy of Children's Literature.

It was organized by the amazing Dr. Denise Johnson, Professor and Director of the Literacy Leadership Program. Denise and I met at a conference a number of years ago and quickly became friends who share the same passion for children's literature.

Denise Johnson (left) and me