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Word by Word

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Several of my books are used in school anti-bullying programs as discussion starters. At the heart of my chapter books, I write about relationships--how to get along with others,treat one another equitably, make friends, deal with conflicts. Fiction is a great way for children to experience another child's reality and learn empathy. There's an old saying, "You don't really know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes". Stories take you on that walk.

Here are some of my books that are used in anti-bullying programs: (Note--some of them are no longer in print, but available at libraries)

Mean, Mean Maureen Green
Puppy Power
Nora and the Texas Terror
That Crazy Eddie and the Science Project of Doom
Third Grade Pet
Butterfly Buddies
Carmen Learns English

How can you help? Sign the anti-bullying pledge on NEA's website, pledging to be a caring adult. Be a role model for treating people with kindness and compassion. Share books with your children that open discussions on how to treat others. If we all work together, we can stop bullying.  Read More 
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Word by Word and Keynote Butterflies

I had a great time at the SCBWI-Utah/Southern Idaho Regional Conference last week. Not only did we rock, we rocked out! Move over Rock Bottom Remainders--here comes "Banned"! But before I got to pick up my bass and play, first I had to give the opening keynote speech.

This was a new experience. I've taught workshops all over the place, and done zillions of critiques, even spoken to a crowd of over 200 teachers, but a Keynote--the very word had me shaking in my boots. I thought I'd signed on for a two hour craft lecture on "Voice", and I was fine with that. But change "lecture" to "keynote" and somehow it upped the ante. I was breaking out in cold sweats just thinking about it. That's the power of words for you.

In the end, that's what I spoke about--The Power of Words. My talk was well received, to judge by the comments. At least and the audience laughed in all the right places. So I want to thank the organizers for inviting me--and making me step out of my comfort zone.

Authors included Sydney Salter (My Big Nose) and Carol Lynch Williams (The Chosen One). Lori Benton from Scholastic and Jennifer Rofe from Andrea Brown Agency also spoke.  Read More 
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Best Books of 2011

Happy News!

Two of my books, CINCO DE MOUSE-O! (Holiday House; illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler)and CARMEN LEARNS ENGLISH (Holiday House; illustrated by Angela Dominguez) have been chosen as Best Children's Books of 2011 by the Bank Street College of Education.

The Children's Book Committee reviews over 6000 books each year and selects 600 books to include in their annotated bibliography. From their website:

"The Children's Book Committee was founded almost 100 years ago to help parents, teachers, and librarians choose the books that children will find captivating and transforming."

I'm proud to be among the books selected. Read More 
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And the Winners Are....

Judy Cox
Monday was a big day in the world of kidlit. The ALA Youth Media Awards were announced. The awards are the equivalent of the Oscars for children's book authors, illustrators, and publishers.

The awards, given by the American Library Association, are announced during the ALA January conference. In 2005, Elbrite Brown won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for his gorgeous cut paper illustrations for my book "My Family Plays Music". Amazingly, I didn't find out for two weeks!

This year's Newbery Award went to "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool.

The Caldecott (for picture book illustration) went to "A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead.

I'm looking forward to reading these books, along with the other award winners and honor books. I don't always agree with the committee's selections--my most frequent complaint is some of the books seem to have less kid appeal than adult appeal--but I know that a Newbery or Caldecott winner will always be beautifully crafted, adding breadth and depth to the world of children's literature.

What were some of your favorite books this year?  Read More 
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My Favorite Christmas Books

Every year on December 1st, we haul out two boxes of Christmas books. It became a tradition, mostly started as a way to help temper my son's excitement and let it build more slowly. I still get the books out on Dec. 1st, even though my son is now in college.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite Christmas books. Most of them are for children, but not all:

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
A Christmas classic picture book. So much better than the movie. I hang silver jingle bells on the tree every year.

On Christmas Eve by Margaret Wise Brown
I am so glad this was reprinted with new illustrations. The text captures both the shivers of excitement and the peacefulness of Christmas Eve.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
A classic on the true meaning of Christmas. Read the book, then watch the cartoon narrated by Boris Karloff. Don't bother with the movie.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
This gentle wordless picture book was made into an animated short movie some time ago. The movie is worth seeing and has an exceptionally beautiful score.

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
The best movie version is the 1940's black and white movie with Maureen O'Hara. This book came after the movie, in an unusual switch. I have the version illustrated by Tomie dePaola.

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A seasonal sequel to The Jolly Postman, with letters and games that actually pull out of the book.

The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda
My favorite of the pop-up book artist's Christmas titles. All the pop-ups are in white, on colored background.

Peter Spier's Christmas by Peter Spier
If I could choose only one Christmas book to read every year, this would be it. It's a wordless book, a simple story of a family getting ready for Christmas. For me, the magic is in the fact that the book ends--not on Christmas day, with gift giving--but in undecorating, taking out the trash and the tree, returning items, and the sense that Christmas will come again next year. There's something incredibly reassuring about that--things don't have to be perfect! I get another shot at it next year!

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban
This is a wonderful book to read aloud. Jim Henson made a muppet-style movie of the book, which I enjoy. But the book is better. Maybe because I'm a musician, I really appreciate the musical context.

Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge
This is a book for adults, set in England following World War II. It's not primarily a Christmas book, but the end scenes take place in an old inn, at Christmas. The author's descriptions are incredibly visual.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Another book that is not primarily a Christmas book, but has a wonderfully Christmasy scene in it. And who doesn't love Mole, Rat, and Toad?

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Always winter, and NEVER Christmas? The spell is broken when Father Christmas arrives.

Santa Calls by William Joyce
The pictures of the North Pole are outstanding in this humorous adventure book set in a fictional 1908 time period. Think of old adventure movie sequels.

It's a Wonderful Christmas by Susan Waggoner
A non-fiction book for Baby Boomers. The subtitle is "The Best of the Holidays 1940--1965. Tons of photos and old ads.

That's my list. Have a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year! Read More 
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That Toddlin' Town

Judy reflects.
I'm just home from my whirlwind adventure in Chicago! What a quick trip. I flew in on Sunday and back home on Tuesday. The weather smiled upon me and I had a brisk, blue, spring day in which to swoop about town. I made the most of it, rising early to walk through Grant Park to the shore of Lake Michigan, passing beds of yellow and red tulips nodding in the breeze. They don't call it the Windy City for nothing! My presentation at the International Reading Association National conference, with professor Deborah Wooten (author of "Children's Literature in the Reading Program: An Invitation to Read") went very well. I'd purchased a netbook computer to run my Powerpoint slide show, but didn't need it after all. Jeff Ebbeler, the illustrator of Cinco de Mouse-O! and One is a Feast for Mouse was there, so we invited him onstage to answer questions.

Jeff and I had two hours between the presentation and our book-signing at the Holiday House booth, so we caught a cab and dashed over to the Chicago Art Institute where I steeped myself in the vivid colors of the Impressionists. What a superb collection of art. One of my favorite exhibits was the Joseph Cornell boxes, but everywhere I turned I saw a painting, sculpture, print, or photo of something I recognized. The whole thing gave me goose bumps.

That night I joined Eric Kimmel, David Adler, Laurie Lawlor, Hilary Wagner, notable educators, and the folks from Holiday House at a dinner at the Chicago Firehouse restaurant.

The next morning, on Jeff's advice, I headed to Millennium Park where I had the Cloud Gate (known to Chicagoans as "the bean") all to myself. Photo op!

Many thanks to the fine folks at Holiday House for inviting me. I had a wonderful time and hope to go back again someday!  Read More 
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Countdown to Chicago!

Judy and illustrator Jeffrey Ebbeler in Chicago
It's only four days away and Wow!--am I excited.

I'll be speaking at the International Reading Association National Conference in Chicago at 11am on Monday, April 26. My presentation--with Deborah Wooten, education professor and author of "Children's Literature in the Reading Program"--is entitled "Celebrate Reading!" I'll be giving a slide show and talking about the stories behind my books.

Come join me at 2:30 that afternoon at the Holiday House booth, #1910. Jeff Ebbeler and I will be signing our newest book, Cinco de Mouse-O!

If you're in the Windy City, stop by and say "Hello!" Read More 
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Win a copy of Cinco de Mouse-O!

Enter to win an autographed copy of Cinco de Mouse-O! and read an interview with me at Linda Benson's website: http://www.lindabenson.blogspot.com/

I met Linda when we were both living in the same small Oregon town. I taught a class on writing for children at the local community college and she signed up. We hit it off right away and became good friends. Not long after that, however, we each moved away. A year or so later, she wrote with the good news that she had sold her first mid-grade novel, The Horse Jar.

Now we live hundreds of miles from each other,in different states, but keep in touch through Facebook and email. Thank goodness for the internet!

Linda has been kind enough to host an interview with me on her blog page, and include a drawing for a signed copy of my new picture book, Cinco de Mouse-O!.See her webpage for details.

I hope to return the favor and post an interview with her soon (as soon as I figure out how to do it. Stay tuned! Read More 
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NEW CURRICULUM GUIDE

Download the curriculum guide on the parents and teachers page.
I've just added a free downloadable curriculum guide to my website.

You can find the guide by clicking the FOR TEACHERS tab, but it's not just for teachers. I hope everyone will check it out. I loved coming up with the activities in the guide--that's the teacher in me. In fact, I had to work hard just to limit it to nine pages. Maybe I'll have to do a Volume Two!

Some of the activities you'll find are:

How to make a Marshmallow Catapult
A Paper Airplane Contest
Postcards from Frederick and Ishbu
Mapping the Journey
A Recipe for Ishbu's Favorite Treat

In addition, I'd like to invite teachers to enter a drawing for free books. Details are available on the For Teachers tab under the link to the curriculum guide.

Find all this and more at www.judycox.net  Read More 
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Fleased as Punch!

I'm thrilled to announce that TIME Magazine listed PICK A PUMPKIN, MRS. MILLIE! as one of the top ten children's books for 2009!

The first Mrs. Millie book, DON'T BE SILLY, MRS. MILLIE! was named to the list in 2005.
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