Patriotic book signing

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio last month during the patriotic book signing on July 3. And thank you to all those young people who colored the activity sheet and shared their ideas of what they would do if they were President!

Gone to Washington!

Last month I made my very first trip to Washington D.C. for the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference. Not only did this visit offer up-close views of many of our nation’s most impressive landmarks, but it also afforded opportunities to attend some exciting children’s lit events.

First, just for fun — who could resist this photo op? One Washington D.C. gift shop has a mock-up of the Oval Office where visitors can pose, appearing very presidential. I felt as if I’d just stepped into the cover of my book, If I Were President.

On Friday, June 25, the wonderful people of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Mid-Atlantic chapter hosted a fun ALA Kid Lit Drink Night at a local meeting place, the R.F.D. Washington. SCBWI members, editors, writers, illustrators, librarians — in fact, anyone interested in children’s literature — had the chance to mingle at this evening event. Such a great idea!
Publishers Albert Whitman and Company invited their authors to join staff members for a get-together on Saturday, June 26. We took a brisk walk to the White House for this memorable picture (Alison Formento, Josalyn Moran, Margaret Read McDonald, Dori Butler, Margaret Coffee and me). Publishers Weekly even featured a photo just like it on their website’s slideshow of ALA. For a peek, visit http://tiny.cc/amkna

On Sunday, June 27, I had the honor of conducting a book signing at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History for my two presidential themed picture books, If I Were President and If I Ran for President. What a treat to meet people from all over the country! The museum’s impressive collection includes the Inaugural Ball Gowns of our First Ladies, Lincoln’s top hat and the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the poem that became our National Anthem.

An author I truly admire, Kay Winters, had a book signing at the museum that day, too, for her books, Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books and Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak. I first met Kay at a Highlights Workshop in Honesdale, Pennsylvania awhile back and it was so nice to be reacquainted with this lovely lady.
Finally, on Monday, June 28, I made my way to ALA, a huge, inspiring, book-filled event! Albert Whitman and Company made me feel most welcome at a book signing at their booth.
During this quick trip, we also fit in some family sight-seeing and lunch with an awesome librarian friend I don’t get to see nearly often enough.
While it was ALA that led us to head to Washington D.C. this summer, the time spent with family and friends, the wealth of history, the abundance of literary events — and the World Cup playing on big screens in establishments throughout the district — all contributed to a most unforgettable visit to our nation’s capital. So glad I headed to D.C.!

Book signing at San Antonio’s Twig Book Shop

The Twig Book Shop, located at 200 E. Grayson St., Suite 124, San Antonio, Texas, will host an upcoming book signing event with local children’s author Catherine Stier.

On Saturday, July 3, 2010 from 10 a.m. – noon, to commemorate the Independence Day holiday, Catherine Stier will sign her two patriotic and presidential themed books, If I Were President and If I Ran for President, as well as her new ‘tween novel, The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club.

The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club was named a “Teacher’s Picks” by Scholastic INSTRUCTOR Magazine. Kirkus Reviews stated that the book “…deftly addresses the high interest topics for fledgling teens…such as peer pressure, handling bullies and the true nature of friendship.”

The event takes place near the lively outdoor Farmer’s Market at the Pearl Brewery.

For more information, visit the The Twig Book Shop at thetwig.indiebound.com or phone (210) 826-6411.

Long-distance visit brings author up close with hometown students

For an author, a first ever Skype-type visit with a classroom is sure to be an unforgettable experience. But my May 10th over-the-computer exchange with the wonderful students of Mrs. Suida’s fourth grade class at Peck Elementary School of Warren, Michigan was an extra, extra special event for so many reasons.
First, it was the warmth and welcome of their principal, tech director, teacher and the students themselves that made this visit so memorable. Mrs. Suida had read my novel The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club to the class. During our visit, each student approached the camera and microphone and asked an insightful question about the book or about being an author: “How long does it take to write a book?” “What inspired you to write the novel?” “Which character did you identify with the most?” (That one really made me think!)
The students had also started their own club, one that offered the classmates a chance to share their stories and opinions while emphasizing important values of friendship and respect. I was so touched to learn about this wonderful idea and their excitement in creating the club.
What else made this visit out of the ordinary? The school is located in the city of Warren, Michigan, where I grew up and went to school, had my first job, attended junior college and first contributed articles to a community newspaper. In fact, Peck Elementary is just one mile from the house I lived in as an elementary student myself. I shared memories of my childhood in Warren, including the stores, restaurants and movie theater I’d walk to with my friends, and the McDonalds where I worked to help pay for college.
And Mrs. Suida said she remembered some of these places, too!
Following our visit, I emailed the class a photo of myself when I was about their age, and the age of the characters in the book. (That’s me!)
Finally, there was one more special surprise that made this visit so remarkable — my Aunt Pat (she’s also my Godmother), came to the class to be part of the fun. Because we live so far away, my aunt and I haven’t seen each other for quite awhile, and it was great to have her support and the chance to re-connect. My aunt works at the school, and she introduced Mrs. Suida to my book.
A big thank you Mrs. Suida’s Class for a fun, inspiring time, one I won’t ever forget!

New novel named to school reading list!

The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club was named to the required reading list of St. Gregory the Great Catholic School, San Antonio, for fourth graders going into fifth grade.

Great Fun at St. Gregory the Great School

Thank you to the students and staff at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas! I was welcomed as a Guest Author not once but twice — for an April 27th school visit and again at their amazing May 5th Family Literacy Night.

During April’s morning school visit, the students showed such enthusiasm and warmth! Two students at each presentation played the role of presidential candidates and offered their ideas about the issues they would address to the American people. And two more students presented amazing performances as the President of the United States. I wonder if there was a future mayor, senator, governor or even president in the audience that day…

And what a treat to be invited to a Family Literacy Night on May 5th, along with two notable and accomplished San Antonio authors, Diane Gonzales Bertrand and Lupe Ruiz-Flores. I also met San Antonio’s own Book Fairy, who enchanted the crowd and encouraged an appreciation of stories and books. Two book store staff members and a San Antonio librarian shared information on their summer reading programs, too.

Finally, some students drew pictures on activity sheets, illustrating their imaginative ideas of what they would do if they were president.

It was truly an honor to be invited to such fun and inspiring events!

2010 TLA in San Antonio!

What an amazing experience! The 2010 Texas Library Association Conference held in San Antonio April 14 – 17 brought publishers, authors, illustrators and Texas librarians together at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center — and afforded me two very exciting opportunities.

First, I was honored to conduct a book signing at the Albert Whitman & Company booth.

Librarians and parents graciously shared with me the ways they made use of my books in their classrooms and with their own families. It’s so gratifying to learn that my book Bugs in My Hair?! had helped some children feel better while dealing with a case of lice, or that The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club was read aloud to an attentive and enthusiastic classroom.

I also had the chance to meet other Albert Whitman & Company authors, including Dori Hillestad Butler. In the photo above, we each hold up one our latest titles at the Albert Whitman & Company booth (that’s Dori on the left).

And how wonderful to visit at TLA with my gracious editor, Abby Levine, and to meet for the first time in person our dedicated promotions coordinator, Michelle Bayuk.As special events co-coordinator of the San Antonio chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), I also had the chance to be part of the team that organized this year’s SCBWI Texas Chapters booth at TLA.

During the compilation of our new “Book an Author! Book an Illustrator!” SCBWI speakers sourcebook of Texas and regional members who conduct school visits, I corresponded with many esteemed and award-winning SCBWI authors and illustrators. I learned much about their books and their background.The “Book an Author! Book an Illustrator!” booklet, designed by our chapter’s talented Jennifer Zinsmeyer Murillo, featured elements many of us remember from the libraries of our childhood: Each author’s and illustrator’s bio appeared on a card catalog-type card, and the cover sported a stamped, check-out card. Many librarians brought home a copy, enthusiastic to learn about the exciting programs of our local members.

Our chapter’s creative Regional Advisor Heather Powers carried on the elegant library theme, adorning this year’s SCBWI booth with richly textured and colored fabrics draped on tables displaying our members’ published titles.

And a highlight of our booth — our raffle bestowed a collection of ribbon-wrapped books signed by Texas authors and illustrators to many lucky winners!

Throughout our days, we met librarians from all over the state and enjoyed visits from SCBWI members from across Texas and across the country. We were also assisted by SCBWI members from not only our own San Antonio based chapter, but from the Austin, Brazos Valley and Houston chapters as well.

A big thank you to all who volunteered or visited our booth and made the event a success!
(SCBWI booth photo credit Heather Powers)

Bugs in My Hair?! Now Available in Paperback

 

Catherine Stier announces the March 2010 paperback release of her book, Bugs In My Hair?! illustrated by Tammie Lyon and published by Albert Whitman & Company.

 

Originally released in hardcover in 2008, the book was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year. School Library Journal called the title “a charming story that demystifies the fears and false information surrounding lice infestation.”

Storytelling festival offers teachable moments for children’s authors

I can offer one BIG reason why children’s authors should consider attending a storytelling festival, such as the one held this month on March 6 at the University of Texas at San Antonio: Much in the art of storytelling can be applied to creating an engaging author school visit.

But that’s not the only reason to attend. More on that later.

Sponsored by the University’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, the Sixth Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival was both free and open to the public — and offered invaluable insights to those who wish to share stories with children.

A dynamic keynote speaker, teacher and storyteller Mary Ann Blue, spoke on connecting cultures through storytelling. Through a lively tale told in both English and Spanish, she showed just how that was done.

The festival also offered attendees a choice of exciting break out sessions that explored subjects such as “Storytelling Basics: A Brief How-To,” “Unique Ways to Get the Kids Storytelling” and “Bringing History Alive Through Storytelling: Connecting Through Emotions” to name a few.
During the half day program, I watched carefully how each speaker engaged the audience, and how the facial movements, gestures and the variances in vocals kept us all attentive and entertained.

Props, rhythmic instruments, pictures and puppets also enhanced some of the tales the storytellers weaved for us. Again, from my seat in the audience, I considered carefully how these elements might add some spunkiness and sparkle to my own author presentations.

Further, I learned about fables, folk stories, fairy tales and myths and how each offered something vital to a particular age group. I will keep these important insights in mind as I craft my own stories for varying audiences.

But finally, it was fun — fun to hear several good, poignant or rib tickling stories, and fun to be drawn by a skilled presenter into another time, another place, another adventure.

Authors, educators share insights on school visits

Thank you to all who attended the “Successful School Visits with Author Catherine Stier” presentation and book signing October 17, 2009 at the Barnes & Noble, 321 Northwest Loop 410, San Antonio, Texas. Following the program, authors, librarians and educators shared their questions, insights and experiences during a lively and informative discussion.

During the book signing, I had the opportunity to meet with educators from all over San Antonio to discuss author school visits and my newly released novel, The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club. One teacher told me she was looking forward to introducing her real live fifth-graders to the fifth-grade characters in the book.

A special thank you to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Southwest Texas (SCBWI-Southwest Texas) and Barnes & Noble for arranging and hosting the event.

For more information on upcoming SCBWI-Southwest Texas events, visit their website at http://www.scbwi-swtx.org/