Teacher Appreciation Week Memory

I’ve had this bookmark for many years.

If you’ve never taught a child to read, or watched the magic of their realization that the symbols (letters) combine to make sounds to form words, you may not understand. This is where it begins.

But my goal was never to ‘just teach reading.’ I wanted to teach a LOVE of reading.

As a reading specialist, working with children who were struggling and below grade level, I often had parents who thought their child might never read. I assured the mom who gave me this bookmark that her son would learn to read. She cried. I told her my goal for him was bigger and I wanted her to share that goal. He already knew because my students knew my goal for them: learn to love to reading. She hugged me and cried some more.

We worked together and like so many children, he needed more time, more practice, and he did learn to read and more importantly, he learned to love reading. ❤️

Winner Announcement 5/4/23

Congratulations to Heather Bell, winner of SOMETHING WILD and some amazing swag from author-illustrator Molly Ruttan! Thank you Molly for being on the blog! Heather, please email me so that I can connect you with your prizes!

I’m so excited to have two more author-illustrator interviews and giveaways still available including: Marie Boyd who was here on Tuesday, 5/2 celebrating her beautiful book, JUST A WORM, and is offering a giveaway of a 20 minute zoom for teachers. Coming next, you’ll meet Bonnie Kelso and be dazzled by her book, NUDI GILL POISON POWERHOUSE OF THE SEA. My teacher brain made lots of connections to this book while I was recently visiting Maui, so you’ll be seeing some more photos from that vacation on the blog as well. Thank you for reading.

Welcome Author-Illustrator Marie Boyd

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to debut author-illustrator Marie Boyd, who has so many talents and I’m truly in awe of her art. Wait until you see the illustrations in her book, JUST A WORM which was released March 14, by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. Marie created them through a new-to-me art form called quilling which I have now seen in other places and have been learning about. I love the detail in everything from the leaves to the swirls in the children’s shoes that Marie created using this technique. The colors are vibrant and the story reminds me of so many walks I took with my own children. There’s also the journey of the main character, but I’ll let you read more about that in the interview.

Marie is offering one lucky winner a 20 minute zoom classroom visit, so please share this with your teacher and librarian friends!

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

Laura, Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I wrote JUST A WORM for my kids who are four and eight and four to eight is the age range of my target audience. I think I’m pretty much the same person I was when I was eight. I loved reading, doing crafts with my family, and flipping through plant catalogs and dreaming about the garden I wanted to plant.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by nature and enjoy spending time outside. When my son was younger and we went on walks, I often told him “It’s just a worm” when he saw worms on the sidewalk. I imagined how a worm might respond if it could understand my words. That question led to JUST A WORM

The plants in JUST A WORM are inspired by plants in my and my parents’ yards. I love visiting gardens and arboretums and always leave feeling inspired to create. 

I love collecting pretty paper and illustrated JUST A WORM with quilled paper. 

What’s one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?

In JUST A WORM, after being called “just a worm” by two children, Worm embarks on a journey through the garden to prove them wrong. Along the way, Worm encounters several insects and other creatures, each of which has important qualities. But what can Worm do? I wrote JUST A WORM for everyone who has ever compared themselves to others and felt that they have fallen short. I hope that JUST A WORM will encourage readers to consider the special ways that they contribute to their families and communities.

What’s next for you?

I’m so excited that I get to work on a second picture book with Greenwillow. I’m also working on several dummies so stay tuned for more. I’m also looking forward to exhibiting some of my quilling at my local library—Richland Library Main in Columbia, South Carolina—which opens later this week.  

Thank you for interviewing me Laura! 

To learn more about Marie’s art and books:


Instagram: @artistscholar

Twitter: @MarieBoydAuthor

FB: fb.me/MarieBoydAuthor 

Welcome Author-Illustrator Molly Ruttan – Giveaway Alert

I’m excited to share my interview with Molly Ruttan who is an author – illustrator and part of my promotion group Picture Book Gold . Her latest book, SOMETHING WILD, is an exquisite picture book about Hannah, a little girl who loves playing the violin but stage fright strikes before her recital. Hannah’s imagination runs wild and the reader is lucky enough to go along for the ride as Molly’s illustrations provide us with the lovely details. Even if you have never felt stage fright in your life, you’re going to want to read this book again and again!

Molly is generously offering one lucky winner a copy of SOMETHING WILD plus some wonderful swag including stickers and a bookmark! Comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway!

Molly came to Denver and I I enjoyed hearing SOMETHING WILD story time!

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

Hi Laura! First, I want to thank you so much for having me on your blog! It’s such a pleasure to be here. So, to get started— I was gifted from an early age with art and music. My identical twin sister and I loved to sing and to draw, and we did both all the time. We created our own world, and our childhood was full of wonder and laughter! But I was extremely shy out in the world. Everywhere we went people stared, and it really bothered me—I hated the attention! At school I kept quiet, and my favorite recess games involved play-acting. I remember being a hawk on the playground and flying all around, or being a lion and running away from hunters.

Molly, (right) her twin sister Linda, and her brother Bill

What inspires you?

People inspire me. When I hear about or see something someone has achieved, or experience someone’s talent, or see someone who has grown old and is still doing active things—all of this inspires me to embrace life and create. Being in nature and watching animals, trees, water, clouds and the night sky also inspires me. A meaningful conversation with a friend never fails to be a great inspiration, as well.

What’s something you hope readers take away from this book?

I created SOMETHING WILD to show how a deep love and passion for what we do can help us overcome the fear of being in the spotlight. Many people have stage fright, and there are many tips and tricks out there that are supposed to help. What finally helped me manage my own stage fright was when I realized that I could rely on my muscle memory and my discipline to pull me through, in spite of my mind, which was busy panicking. This awareness has given me a great sense of comfort. I hope that Hannah’s story will provide a reassuring and entertaining journey for other anxious kids (and adults) to embrace.

SOMETHING WILD (and swag) published by Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin RandomHouse 2023

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m finishing the final art for my next book, THE YOWLERS, written by Stacy Lynn Carroll. It’s an amusing book about a grumpy family who slowly find themselves transformed into a happier state of being by the influence of their considerate neighbors. It’s slated for release in Spring 2024. I also have another book that I’m just starting, but I’m not at liberty to say anything about that one yet!

To learn more about Molly’s books and see her book trailer:


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