Tag Archives: Audrey Vernick

Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-up Story of True Friendship by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Henry Cole

Did you know that in 2011, the United Nations designated July 30 as International Friendship Day?  If not, no worries–you can celebrate friendship any day of the year with Audrey Vernick’s newly-released picture book Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship.

9780802728227Publisher’s Description:    When Vinnie, a crazy-happy dog, gets lost while visiting a nature preserve with his family, he finds comfort in the company of Bogart, a big, lazy rhinoceros. Vinnie loves his new friend, but Bogart would rather just take a nap. A friendship soon blossoms–even if Vinnie’s definition of “friendship” is very different from Bogart’s–and when word of their unique situation spreads, Bogart and Vinnie are a worldwide sensation! But as soon as their fifteen seconds of fame ends, what’s left is a bond even Bogart can’t ignore.

Pairing picture-book veteran, Henry Cole, with up-and-coming author, Audrey Vernick, this clever spoof of the unendingly popular interspecies animal-friendship story is full of heart and humor.

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As an elementary school librarian, books on friendship are in high demand, not only from kids, but from teachers and guidance counselors, as well. Far from being didactic, Bogart and Vinnie is funny and poignant and entertaining–exactly what we’ve come to expect from Audrey Vernick. Illustrator Henry Cole has also done an amazing job. His work is so diverse, from the serious…

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to the silly:

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Take a look at the expressions of the faces of Bogart and Vinnie on the book’s cover, and you’ll have a good idea of how both Cole’s art and Vernick’s words make a pitch-perfect match.

obj469geo247pg8p25I asked Audrey how readers  connect with Bogart and Vinnie.

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of  Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship. Who is this kid?

Audrey Vernick: It’s actually a few different kids.

First, it’s a kid who likes to laugh. I recently read it with a child entering second grade and we both had so much fun. While she needed help with some words, her delight in discovering the humor herself was infectious. I think she was accustomed to being read to, especially her first time through a book. But the way she both decoded text and then understood, about a second later, that what she was reading was funny was absolutely delicious to watch. In terms of humor, I think a child who pays special attention to illustrations will have a lot of fun with this book–Henry Cole brought a tractorload of hilarious details.

I also think Bogart himself will be appreciated by the kind of reader I was–one who, even at a young age, had a respect and need for solitude. I still remember sitting with a book in the rocking chair in my bedroom, by myself, by choice, at a very young age. Though Bogart the rhinoceros would not fit in a rocking chair, the idea of time to himself is as appealing as it is impossible, once Vinnie enters his life.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Audrey Vernick: I think the teacher might have recently read Owen and Mzee, FC9780439829731or one of the many, many, many interspecies friendship picture books. And the teacher might be asking about the difference between those nonfiction tales and this completely made-up story of true friendship. He or she might also wonder, as I did, how the authors of those books defined friendship–does interaction always imply friendship? Does being photographed next to each other mean animals are best friends? The teacher might also ask the students in that small group to focus on the illustrations to see if sometimes what’s being shown in the pictures doesn’t exactly line up with what the text says–for example, are the animals really playing follow the leader, or is Bogart trying to lose Vinnie?

 Biblio LinksWhere can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Audrey Vernick: My websitewww.audreyvernick.com,
bloghttps://literaryfriendships.wordpress.com,
facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/AudreyVernick (as well as pages for my books), and
twitter: @yourbuffalo

Biblio Links: Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

Check out Audrey’s middle grade novel, Water Balloon (Biblio Links interview hereand picture books, Bark and Tim,  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? (Biblio Links interview here) and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, So You Want to Be a Rock Star? (Biblio Links interview here) and picture book biographies She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and Brothers At Bat Biblio Links interview here).

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Walker Children’s

Publication Date: June 2013

ISBN-10: 0802728227

ISBN-13: 978-0802728227

Interest Level: Ages 4 and up

Number of Pages: 40

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Back to School with Audrey Vernick’s Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten

Today Biblio Links welcomes back one of my favorite authors, Audrey Vernick!

As kids head back to school, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce (or reintroduce) readers to the charming picture book Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

In tongue-in-cheek style, Vernick advises buffalo owners everywhere  how to prepare their buffalos for that all-important first day of Kindergarten. My own kids and students laugh out loud at the buffalo’s antics, but the true message  of acceptance shines through. Although diversity is never mentioned in the text, Daniel Jennewein’s illustrations of the students in the buffalo’s classroom reflects a variety of ethic backgrounds.

My son gave this book to his Kindergarten teacher last year when we met her for the first time at Open House in August, and I think it would make the perfect gift for the newly-minted Kindergartener in your family or neighborhood.

I asked Audrey about ways in which readers connect with Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? Who is this kid?Audrey Vernick: The  year this book was published, I heard from a kindergarten teacher who had a student who was having a very hard time at the start of the year. Inexplicably, the only way he could get through those first few days was if the teacher let him hold my book. That touched my heart–the kind of response you can’t even conceive of when writing a book. So I guess you could say the child who needs a copy of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? might be one who, at the start of the year, has not yet found her way. Of course, it might also be a child who likes a silly book. Or one who wonders, as I did, what chewing cud really means.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Audrey Vernick: This is another one of those things that I never came close to envisioning during the writing/editing process–but this book really lends itself to classroom use. You might see anything from hoof painting to hula hoop Venn diagrams to cave drawings to the creation of a class guide just in case a buffalo happens to show up one day. Or, you might hear a whole classroom, as one, moaning “Eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” when you reach the page that describes what cud chewing is.

 Biblio LinksWhere can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Audrey Vernick: Cover your ears, Natalie. There’s an incredible, brilliant, superfun discussion and activity guide for using IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? on my website created by the divine Natalie Lorenzi. (http://audreyvernick.com/BUFFALO_KINDERGARTEN_curriculum_guide.pdf).
And this page has a bio and a link to recent interviews: http://audreyvernick.com/Bio.html.
My website also has information about my school visits, other books, reviews, and there’s a page (with link to a free downloadable buffalo door hanger coloring sheet) for this book’s sequel, TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS.

Biblio Links: I’ll also add the Buffalo’s Facebook page here. Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

Check out Audrey’s middle grade novel, Water Balloon, and her other picture books, Bark and Tim,  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, and picture book biographies She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and Brothers At Bat.

Click here for some buffalo love, including a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

I’d love to hear from other teachers and librarians, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles…what book(s) do you recommend to ease first day of school jitters?

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: July 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0061762758

Interest Level: Ages 4 and up

Number of Pages: 32

Thanks to the fabulous bloggers at Teach Mentor Texts for today’s meme!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick

Today Biblio Links welcomes back prolific author Audrey Vernick

Although Audrey’s middle grade novel, Water Balloon, is the perfect summer-time read, it’s the kind of book kids will want to dive into at any time of the year. As a school librarian at a K-5 elementary school, I always have a faction of 10-year-old girls who sidle up to me and whisper, “Do you have any, you know, romance books?” Water Balloon is the book I recommend because Marley, the main character, has an innocent, wholesome crush on the boy next door . But it’s not just the middle grade romance that makes readers want to take this book home; Water Ballon is a lovely, coming-of-age story about a girl dealing with the separation of her parents (both nice people, by the way) and the loss of her best friends as they all grow their separate ways.

Here’s the jacket flap summary:

Marley is stretched as tightly as an overfull water balloon. Her parents have separated and her relationship with her forever best friends is disintegrating. To top it all off, she is forced into what must be the worst summer job in history. She is trying hard to hold onto everything she loves, but if she squeezes any tighter, something’s going to burst. Luckily, there’s also a boy in the picture with amazing light blue eyes and the ability to make baseball actually seem interesting…but young romance, too, has lots of opportunity for humiliation and misinterpreted signals. As everything changes around her, can Marley loosen her drop on the past long enough to embrace the present, and maybe even the future?

I asked Audrey about ways in which readers connect with Water Balloon.

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think, That kid needs a copy of Water Ballon. Who is this child?

Audrey: That child is probably someone whose parents recently separated or divorced–a situation new to Marley, Water Balloon’s narrator. She may also be someone facing a difficult time with her friends. When I hear from readers, they are often ones perplexed by the end of what they expected to be a lifelong friendship–a situation so common in that transitional middle-school age, and so deeply painful and hard to accept. They often ask about a sequel–they seem to feel a need to know if Marley’s fractured friendships ever heal. 

Biblio Links: I can see why readers want to be reassured that Marley will be okay! I was 100% invested in this character, and she felt as real to me as one of my students.

If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Audrey: If the classroom were of the outdoor kind, and the teacher was a gamer, you might encounter a brilliantly-conceived water balloon fight, but that’s not altogether likely. If you were to peek at just the right time, you might find yourself privy to a very frank discussion about adjusting to newly separated and/or divorced parents. Or perhaps a thoughtful, delicate conversation about being aware of the way friendships evolve and change over time, and what to do when a friendship goes bad.

Students might also discuss the joys and horrors of baby-sitting, as Marley spends her summer caring for a pair of slightly crazed five-year-old twins, who provide a bit more horror than joy.

Biblio Links: Another place where I can see Water Balloon being used is in a book club or friendship group that guidance counselors often run.

Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Audrey: My website contains information about my books and school visits and provides discussion guides for a number of my titles:www.audreyvernick.com.
On my (occasional) blog, I interview authors and illustrators: http://whmp.com/pages/8875192.php
The teaching books website offers links to many interviews I’ve done: http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?aid=14457

Biblio Links Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

Audrey: Thanks so much, Natalie!!

 Check out Audrey’s picture books, Bark and Tim,  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, and picture book biographies She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and Brothers At Bat.

Click here for smashing  reviews (including two starred reviews!) of Water Balloon.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Clarion Book (Houghton Mifflin)

Publication Date: September 6, 2011

ISBN-10: 0547595549

ISBN-13: 978-0547595542

Interest Level: Ages 9 and up

Number of Pages: 310

Thanks to Shannon Messenger for hosting another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Brothers At Bat by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Today Biblio Links welcomes back author Audrey Vernick!

Her latest picture book, Brothers At Bat, releases into the world today. Here’s the blurb from Houghton Mifflin:

The Acerra family had sixteen children, including twelve ball-playing boys. It was the 1930s, and many families had lots of kids. But only one had enough to field a baseball team . . . with three on the bench! The Acerras were the longest-playing all-brother team in baseball history. They loved the game, but more important, they cared for
and supported each other and stayed together as a team. Nothing life threw their way could stop them. Full of action, drama, and excitement, this never-before-told true story is vividly brought to life by Audrey Vernick’s expert storytelling and Steven Salerno’s stunning vintage-style art.

I can’t help opening my review of Brothers At Bat with these words from Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.:

“I was lucky to play in the big leagues with my brother as a teammate and my dad as our manager. It was a very special time. The story of the Acerra brothers brought those memories back. It is a wonderful illustration of what a great game baseball is and how it brings families together on many different levels. BROTHERS AT BAT is a story any baseball fan will enjoy and one that we all should know.”

I love, love, love picture books that have layers that allow me to differentiate for kids of different ages. On the surface, this is a baseball book, a book about teamwork and family and making it through tough times with the support of people who love you–which would be more than enough for one lesson plan. But I can also branch off and discuss some of the deeper issues with older kids, like World War II (six Acerra brothers went off to fight and all came home), roles of women (the four Acerra sisters didn’t play baseball) and the age of modern technology (When the family is honored at the 1939 World Fair for being the largest family in New Jersey, they flew on an airplane for the very first time).

Like any picture book worth its salt, the illustrations add another layer to the story, and Steven Salerno’s art does this spectacularly. The retro-style art gives readers a feel for the setting–both time and place. Primary students everywhere learn about “Then and Now” in Social Studies, and this book is stuffed full of things that kids could reference when comparing the first half of the 20th century with how we live now–including cars, clothing, and, yes, even  outhouses.

I asked Audrey about how kids might connect with Brothers At Bat.

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think, That kid needs a copy of Brothers At Bat. Who is this kid?

Audrey Vernick: This kid might think he doesn’t like to read, because he’s really into sports. Or maybe it’s a kid who thinks history is boring. It might also be a child from a big family or an only child who wonders what it would be like to have more than a dozen siblings.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Audrey Vernick: If you happened to walk in at the time all the characters are introduced, you might see some chins on the ground from the jaw-dropping fact that this family had sixteen children.

Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Audrey Vernick: There’s more information on my website,

www.audreyvernick.com and blog
http://literaryfriendships.wordpress.com/

Coming soon to the website: Discussion guide AND video clip of the Acerra brothers playing baseball!!

My BROTHERS AT BAT appearances include these big-ticket stops:

3/31 Books of Wonder, NYC,  with illustrator Steven Salerno (part of panel discussion on baseball books)
4/12 Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY, 1 PM talk followed by book-signing
6/9 Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, MA, Children’s Book Festival: Baseball Bonanza

Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

Thanks so much, Natalie!!

 Check out Audrey’s other picture books, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, picture book biography She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and middle grade novel Water Balloon.

Click here for home run  reviews (including THREE starred reviews!) of Brothers At Bat.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Clarion Book (Houghton Mifflin)

Publication Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN-10: 0547385579

ISBN-13: 978-0547385579

Interest Level: Ages 4 and up

Number of Pages: 40

My Very (Un) Fairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski

Today Biblio Links welcomes author Anna Staniszewski!

Jacket Summary: Is your magical kingdom falling apart? Twelve-year-old Jenny is on the case, whether she likes it or not. Saving the world might sound exciting, but for Jenny it’s starting to get old — even staying in the real world long enough to take a math test would be a dream come true! And when you throw in bloodthirsty unicorns, psychotic clowns, and the most useless gnome sidekick ever, Jenny decides that enough is enough. She’s leaving the adventuring business and not looking back. Or…is she?

As I read this book, I immediately thought of a dozen kids I wanted to hand it to. The Upper Elementary/Middle School years are rife with friendship drama, and Jenny, the book’s main character, handles her BFF mass exodus in a way that made me both want to hug and cheer for her. Missing her parents, Jenny has to figure out how to get along with her kooky but lovable Aunt Evie, which will resonate with many of my students who live with extended family members. And last but not least, I have a group of 5th grade girls who come into my library asking (in a whisper, of course) for books with some romance. Jenny is the daring damsel and Prince Lamb is the monarch-in-distress, and there are moments when a few cupid-shaped sparks fly–not enough to scare away boy readers, mind you, but just enough to put stars in the eyes of the girl readers who whisper their way into my library. A delightful read!

I asked Anna how her book fits into the classroom.

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think, “That kid needs a copy of MY VERY (UN)FAIRY TALE LIFE.” Who is this kid?
Anna Staniszewski: This student is a girl (or a boy–yes, my book is also okay for boys!) who loves to laugh, enjoys magical adventures, has an interest in fairy tales, and is an avid mini-golf player.
Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Anna Staniszewski: I imagine a lesson on how fairy tales keep changing and evolving. A tale that inspired me as I was writing MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE was “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” which is one of the very few traditional tales that features a heroine who must rescue her prince. I used that idea and ran with it in my story. It would be interesting to have students think about the trends we see in traditional fairy tales and how those trends have changed (or not changed) as writers continue to re-imagine familiar tales.

Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Anna Staniszewski: Swing by my website! (www.annastan.com) You can read the first chapter of my book, watch the book trailer, and download a free teacher’s guide (created by the fabulous Natalie Lorenzi herself). You’ll also get info on the UNFAIRY TALE sequels!

Thanks for stopping by, Anna!

Click Anna’s link above to read the magical reviews of My Very (Un) Fairy Tale Life.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Publication Date: November 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 9781402259463 (paperback)

Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Reading Level: 4.5

Number of Pages: 198

So You Want To Be A Rock Star? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Kirstie Edmunds

Today Biblio Links welcomes prolific author Audrey Vernick!

Audrey’s picture book  So You Want to Be A Rock Star, illustrated by  Kirstie Edmunds, is tons of fun. If you want to be a rock star, you don’t need fancy guitars or equipment–all you need is some imagination and the urge to get up and move. Get ready to rev up your library or classroom, because this book will have kids (and adults!) jamming and moving from the first page to the last.

I asked Audrey Vernick, rocker extraordinaire, how her book fits into the classroom.

 Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson, what might we see?

Audrey Vernick: You might see a whole room full of kids who seem on the very verge of vomiting. The interactive text instructs, “While you’re strumming your stomach, can you also close your eyes and make the kind of faces you make when your stomach really hurts? And move your head slowly from side to side? Try it now. Check you out! You’re so good at this!”

Biblio Links: Glad we won’t have to call in the custodians for clean-up! Okay, onto the next question: A student walks into my library and I think, That kid needs a copy of SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR. Who is this kid?

Audrey Vernick: A student with a sense of humor, perhaps one with a desire–realized or not–to have the spotlight shine brightly on her or him.

Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Audrey Vernick:There’s more information on my website, www.audreyvernick.com, and my blog, http://literaryfriendships.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much, Natalie!!

Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

 Check out Audrey’s other picture books, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, picture book biography She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and middle grade novel Water Balloon. Coming soon: Brothers At Bat

Click here for glowing reviews of So You Want To Be A Rock Star.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Walker Childrens

Publication Date: February 28, 2012

ISBN-10: 0802720927

ISBN-13: 978-08027209274

Interest Level: Ages 4 and up

Number of Pages: 40