NEW RELEASE: NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID

I am a lifelong music nut. SERIOUS nut. Most of the time, I think I’d rather have music than food.

tesla

In fact, this picture offers a bit of proof—that’s me, in about 1992, with a member of Tesla (who’s in the midst of signing his autograph). Because in addition to seeing as many concerts as I possibly could, I also used to do my fair share of autograph hunting—anything to get just a little bit closer to my favorite musicians. As many of you already know, I even taught piano and guitar lessons as I was drafting my earliest manuscripts—and my students actually inspired me to write for younger readers.

As an old literature major, I’m also a poetry nut. I’ve hung out at as many poetry readings as I have concert doors—but for some reason, it never crossed my mind to get a shot taken with, say, Miller Williams (Clinton’s second inaugural poet) when I heard him read his work.

My latest release, a picture book for more advanced readers entitled NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID, combines my lifelong loves of music and poetry:

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ROCK STARS ARE COOL. SO IS POETRY.

Saturday night just isn’t Saturday night without Katy Did and The Antennas. At least, until a rotten review leaves Katy’s bandmates thinking maybe they could do better with another singer.

What’s a Katy Did to do when she’s been dumped for a Songbird?
~
Featuring a main character who is both literally a katydid insect and the singer in her own band, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID offers a story of perseverance and finding beauty in unexpected places as well as a fun, attention-grabbing way to introduce young readers to formal poetry. The book itself is a villanelle, a type of poetry that features refrains that repeat throughout—much like the chorus in a rock song. Great for classroom use and for readers in the fourth to sixth grade. Sheets in the back of the book walk budding poets through writing their own first villanelle.

Why a villanelle?

It’s not as frequently studied as some other poetic forms, especially in the elementary levels. I find it’s a form not usually discussed much until high school, actually, when students read Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night,” arguably the most famous or most recognizable villanelle ever written.

Don’t worry—it’s not too sophisticated.

Kids in this age group (about 9-12) are straddling the line between childhood and slightly more grown-up interests. That’s why this book (which is, from front to back, a single villanelle) is also a picture book, featuring both photographic and illustrative elements—and a katydid lead singer with bright red hair, no less!

The Importance of Poetry

I was so delighted to see Tracy K. Smith (our current poet laureate) on CBS This Morning, discussing the accessibility of poetry. I also believe that poetry is what our youngest readers naturally gravitate toward. And yet, somewhere along the way, readers become intimidated by it. It’s my hope that NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID helps to continue to make formal poetry both accessible and fun for your young readers.

Snag a Copy

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback. For those who incorporate the book into their own classroom or library activities, I can always be reached at hollyschindlerbooks@gmail.com for Skype visits.

Sneak Peek:

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FORTHCOMING: NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID

katycover4As a lifelong music nut, this forthcoming book has truly been a passion project. NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is actually a “rock poem.” Not unlike the verse novels that have swelled in popularity over the past few years, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID employs poetry rather than prose, telling a story of preservation and recognizing beauty in somewhat unexpected places using the form of the villanelle—a type of formal poetry.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is perfect for classroom use. The message is uplifting, the music theme attention-grabbing. (The book is also populated by an anthropomorphic rock band. At the 4th-6th grade level, I find kids are really straddling the line between not quite wanting to let go of their youthful interests—cartoons, comics, etc.—even as they’re adding a few older interests, like music, into the mix.) NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID also introduces young readers to a type of formal poetry not frequently addressed in elementary classrooms. The end of the book provides example worksheets for students to craft their own villanelle.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID will be releasing soon—be sure to sign up for my picture book and / or MG newsletters to get the official date. (I’ll be making the announcement through both, as this book is both short and illustrated.)

Picture Book Newsletter

MG Newsletter

WHEN YOU SEE YOUR BOOK ON TV

Or, at least, Youtube…

I think all writers have been there: you’ve got this fantastic idea for a novel, when suddenly, you glance up from your laptop in time to watch a trailer from a movie that’s describing your current WIP to a T. Or, you take a break from your project to hit the library, only to pull an already-published work from the shelf that tackles the same subject you were hoping to explore (proving, perhaps, there are no original ideas).

I recently saw one of my own ideas on TV…only this time, it was a little different…

My MG ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE features, in part, a made-up sport: Sockball. It’s a bit of a twist on dodgeball, and the most important rule indicates that no one’s allowed to wear shoes of any kind. Alexander, the MC, is in charge of getting his school’s team together. Prevent them from falling, as they always seem to, into an unorganized heap on the gym floor. (Try as they might, they just can’t seem to figure out how to stay upright in their socks!)

Enter Lexie Vaught, a local basketball player who lost her shoe during a game last month. The clip of what happened post-shoe went viral, as even the clip below says, for it’s “bloopery” qualities, but I could hardly believe it…What I’d envisioned when my fictional team played a fictional sport was actually happening in real-life!

Maybe that’s stranger than fiction…

New Release: ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE

wide-awakecover3I’m delighted to announce the release of my latest MG, a lightly illustrated new book that stars Alexander (one of the secondary characters in WORDQUAKE).

As some of you may know, I was once a music teacher, offering piano and guitar lessons from my home. ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE was inspired by some interactions I once had with my students. Specifically, I had many students who came to lessons believing that whether or not they became musicians was entirely dependent on talent–not hard work. Their theory seemed to be that if playing music didn’t come naturally from the start, they would never learn to play well enough to join a garage band–or even enjoy the simple pleasure of playing for themselves.

We all know that while talent helps, it’s not everything. Students who show initial talent but no willingness to really work will soon be outpaced by those who are willing to put in extra effort.

With that in mind, I wrote ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE. In this tale, Alexander has a magic hat–the greatest thinking cap of all time. With the hat on his head, everything is easy…until that awful day when–out of nowhere–the wide-awake breaks. Here, Alexander’s hat is a metaphor for talent. The point at which the hat breaks is the point at which mere talent stops being enough and Alexander has to dig deep and put his nose to the grindstone.

I hope this book (written with plenty of humor and featuring a fun “sockball” tournament) will help those of you who have students or children who are themselves faced with the monumental tasks of learning to study, learning an instrument, learning a sport. I hope this will help inspire them to discover the joys that accompany mastering a task that seems at first to be incredibly challenging or just plain scary.

ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE can be purchased in paperback or read as an e-book exclusively on Amazon:

Paperback
E-book

Also, I want to remind you all that I’m looking to make my newsletters more interactive this year. I want to know what’s going on with your own classrooms and libraries–what issues your kids are facing, what they’re interested in. As a hybrid author, I can release books quickly and help fill any holes you see on your shelves. Sign up to get in on the conversation. You can contact me at any point at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks as always–and happy reading!

COVER REVEAL: ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE

I was hard at work over the holidays polishing my latest illustrated MG read. This one stars Alexander Gum, a character many of you met previously in my short illustrated MG WORDQUAKE. This new book was actually inspired by an issue I saw cropping up time and again while teaching music lessons (more on that a bit later). For now, a peek at the jacket and jacket copy:

wide-awakecover3Alexander Gum, the best inventor in all of Eastwood Elementary, is naturally good at everything. He never misses a word on any of his spelling tests, his shoelaces are always neatly tied, and he never colors outside the lines.

Actually, truth be told, Alexander is not naturally clever or talented—at least, no more so than any of his classmates. Alexander’s hiding a secret. He’s getting help from the most unexpected place…

Have you ever wished for a magical wand that could make everything in your life—homework and tests and pre-algebra and jumping rope in p.e. and drawing tigers for art class—as easy as flicking your wrist?

And what would you do if your magic wand broke?

 

I’m currently uploading the files; subscribe to my new MG-specific mailing list to be notified of the official release.

Also, I’m looking forward to making my newsletters more interactive. While I’ll of course be making announcements of releases via my newsletters, I also want to know more about my subscribers. At the MG list, many are teachers or librarians. I want to know about your students. What are they interested in? What issues are they facing? As a hybrid author, I can fill any holes on your classroom bookshelves quickly, getting new thought-provoking work into the hands of your young readers in a timely fashion.