A Visit with the Amazing Henry Cole

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When I saw that Henry Cole was coming to Avid Bookshop for a special storytime, I knew that we just had to get him to our school. I started chatting with the Avid and Peachtree Publishers teams to see how we could make it happen.

Henry Cole (2)Henry Cole is the author and illustrator of more books than I can list here. A few of the books he illustrated include:

  • Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • I Know a Wee Piggy by Kimberly Norman

Books he has written and illustrated include:

  • A Nest for Celeste
  • Unspoken
  • Big Bug
  • On a Meadowview Street

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Henry Cole’s newest book comes out in April. The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine is a tale of a mouse who is sent into the air in a remote control airplane that crashes into the woods. There his adventure begins as he goes on a quest to find his way home and meets many helpful friends along the way. As a part of his special visit, the publisher allowed our students to purchase the book before it comes out in April. Our fabulous PTA purchased 3 copies of the book for each classroom n grades 2-4.

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During Henry’s visit, he told stories from his childhood, which revealed to us the many places that where he gets his ideas. Rather than taking questions from the audience, he anticipated the typical questions that authors and illustrators often get and wove those into his presentation through storytelling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a speaker quite as animated as Henry Cole. He yelled, whispered, shrieked, danced, and leaped across the front of the library as he told stories of being pushed off the roof in a makeshift airplane and getting giddy with excitement at art assignments in school. Across the course of his presentation, we knew where Sammy Shine came from, where the inspiration for A Nest for Celeste originated, and how grueling it is to get boxes upon boxes of questions from editors to improve writing. He connected this to the same process that students go through when they get feedback from their teachers. We heard how many revisions a single illustration in a book can go through and that when something isn’t quite right, you just do it again.

For a solid hour, our students rolled in floor from laughing but then hooked right back in to Henry’s presentation. It was magical. He closed his time by illustrating two pieces of art choreographed to a soundtrack.

We are so excited to have these two pieces on display in our library now.

We want to thank Peachtree Publishers and Avid Bookshop for making this happen. Please take a moment to check out Henry Cole’s website. His new book can be purchased at Avid Bookshop. If you don’t get it now, then look for it in April and purchase it from your local bookstore.

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Tweeting with 1st Graders

IMG_0047Can 1st graders tweet?  Sure they can.  Since our district opened up Twitter for teachers to use, I’ve been incorporating it into lessons.  It allows kids to put their thoughts into a succinct statement, and it also connects kids with the world.  We can send tweets out to Web 2.0 tools, organizations, or just a general tweet to get some help with a project.

Today, 1st grade came to the library to work on the conventions of writing and opinion/persuasive writing.  I thought Twitter would be great for this because it would require the students to write 1 short sentence that used capital letters, punctuation, and persuasion.  To start, we looked at my Twitter page to see what a tweet looked like and how tweets create conversations with people around the world.  We talked about the 140 character limit, too.

Next, we read the books hello! hello! by Matthew Cordell and On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole.  I chose these books because both have a hint of persuasion in them.  The teacher and I had a conversation about how we wanted students to think beyond just “what can I get people to give me?”.  We wanted their persuasive writing to be more about taking action or creating change.  In hello! hello! , there is a theme of connecting with nature, spending quality time with family, and disconnecting from technology.  In On Meadowview Street, there is a theme of caring for nature rather than destroying it and how small steps can inspire a community.  As we read these stories, we talked about those themes to spark ideas for tweets.

IMG_0046Students then talked with a partner to put their idea for a tweet together.  The tweet needed to be an opinion or persuasive thought connected to or inspired by the books.  It needed to have capital letters and correct punctuation.  Once they had their ideas, they moved to tables and wrote their tweet on a small sheet.  The substitute teacher and two student teachers conferenced with students and then sent them to me when their tweet was ready.  I gave it a final read, and if it needed some addition I sent them back to the tables.  If it was ready, I tweeted it from my account @plemmonsa and tagged the library @barrowmc.  I also added the hashtag #comments4kids so that the kids would hopefully get some feedback or responses on their tweets.

Within just a few minutes, we started getting some responses some fantastic friends around the country.  Kim Keith @capecodlibrary and Sue Kowalski @spkowalski were the first to respond with some comments, questions, and even pictures to respond to the students’ tweets.  They were so excited to see that their thoughts were being read by people around the world.twitter convo 1

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I plan to do this with the other three 1st grade classes soon.