Turn Yourself Super!

Just as Superhero Instruction Manual gives you the power to turn yourself super in seven easy steps, these super books give teachers and their students the power to turn the summer (or the whole school year!) super in just a few pages. These are some of my own favorites, both brand-new on the scene and time-honored in the superhero tradition.

Boom . . . Smash . . . Kazam! Get reading, heroes!

 

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Greenville County, SC Elementary School Visit Giveaway!!

CALLING ALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL EMPLOYEES
OF GREENVILLE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA!!!
Your school could win a free school visit!

Did you hear me?

A FREE FULL-DAY SCHOOL VISIT
IN 2016-17!

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Greenville County teachers, principals, assistants, librarians, maintenance workers, lunchroom workers, ANYONE who works for an elementary school (public or private) in Greenville County, South Carolina, you are all eligible to enter!

Sound the word, let the masses know, coordinate a collective effort from your school employees to submit entries. Contest runs through May 17, 2016.

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There are two ways to enter, one of which is preordering Superhero Instruction Manual at this link:

http://www.fiction-addiction.com/si/9780385755344N.html

(See contest rules below for specifics.)

CONTEST RULES:

1)  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

2) This giveaway is for one (1) full-day school visit (up to 6 presentations in the same location on the same date) conducted by Kristy Dempsey at any elementary school (public or private) of the prize winner’s choice in Greenville County, South Carolina.

3) VALUE OF PRIZE: Service is valued at $1000.00; prize may not be exchanged for equivalent monetary value. No cash alternative to prize is offered and no substitutions are allowed.

4) TERM OF CONTEST: Contest runs from April 17, 2016 to May 17, 2016. Drawing will take place on May 18, 2016 and winner will be notified by telephone and/or by email on that same day. School visit must be scheduled and completed by May 17, 2017 on a date mutually agreed upon by Sponsor and prize winner.

5) ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning depend on the number of entries.

6) ELIGIBILITY: Contest is open to any employee of any elementary school (public or private) in Greenville County, South Carolina.

7) FORMS OF ENTRY:

There are two ways to enter:

  • Pre-order SUPERHERO INSTRUCTION MANUAL by 5:30 pm EST on 5/17/2016 from Fiction Addiction Bookstore, 1175 Woods Crossing Rd., St. 5, Greenville, SC, tel.: (864) 675-0540. You can also preorder here: http://www.fiction-addiction.com/si/9780385755344N.html For each book purchased, you will receive one entry in the contest. To complete entry, email copy of receipt to superherobookvisit@gmail.com by 11:59 pm on May 17, 2016, with a subject line of SUPERHERO SCHOOL VISIT, with name, address, and telephone number in the body of the email.

BUT,

  • No purchase is necessary! You may print the entry form below and deliver to Fiction Addiction Bookstore, 1175 Woods Crossing Rd., St. 5, Greenville, SC, 29607. Entries must be received by 5:30 pm EST on 5/17/2016. There is no limit to the number of entry forms you may submit. Each completed entry form will count as one entry into the contest.

8) TAXES: All taxes on prizes (if applicable) are the sole responsibility of the winner. Prizes are not transferable/assignable.

9) SPONSOR: The official sponsor of this contest is author Kristy Dempsey, whose decisions will be considered final and binding on all matters related to this promotion. Fiction Addiction Bookstore shall not be held responsible for matters related to the execution or the final decision of this contest.

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Four Books in 2016 and exciting news

Covers are out for 3 of the 4 books I have publishing in 2016!

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And in super exciting news, I’ll be living in the United States during the 2016-2017 school year, which means I’ll have availability for school visits. If you’re interested in having me visit your school, check out my School Visit page that details some of the information. And feel free to email me if you have any questions or want to brainstorm the possibilities!

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Here are some comments from my recent school visits:

  • “Kristy has the perfect balance between expectation, positive tension, and humor.
  • “Kristy did an excellent job with my sixth grade students. She spoke at their level. She talked with my students about narrative writing that was very relevant to what we were doing at that time. It fit right into what I wanted them to learn. I only wish we could have had her visit for more than one period so she could teach them even more.”
  • “Kristy relates so well to all ages of  students. She adapts the components of her presentations to entertain and teach the age of the students to whom she is presenting. In these days of school budget restraints and cutbacks, it’s even more important that dollars earmarked for providing guest speakers to our students are wisely spent. Having Kristy present to your students is an investment that you and your students will be delighted that you made.”
  • “Several of my students commented that her explanation of setting strengthened their writing!”
  • “Kristy Dempsey’s presentation was engaging and fun. Her emphasis on where stories come from and how books are published was clear and interesting for students. They all really enjoyed it!”
  • “This was a truly outstanding presentation. Ms. Dempsey related well to students and really engaged the entire audience with humor and participation. Content was both practical and inspiring to our young student writers.”

(Just to clarify: We aren’t moving back to America! We will return to Brazil. Demps and I will only be on furlough during which we will meet with the ministry’s supporters, raise future support and have time for some much needed preparation for the next phase of ministry.)

 

Golden Kite Awards in Los Angeles!

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Back in March, I found out that A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT (illustrated by Floyd Cooper) had won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book text from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The ceremony was held August 2, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Century City during the annual conference of the SCBWI. There were several things that combined to make this the most exciting trip ever:

  1. I had never been to California.
  2. I have only been to two writing conferences (and a couple of writing retreats.)
  3. There were over 1200 people in attendance.
  4. I had to give a speech. (Gulp!)

This is what the room looked like for the luncheon.

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The most memorable thing about the luncheon to me is that the writers who were presented awards in other categories are all writers I have admired for so long. I felt gobsmacked to be mentioned in the same ceremony with these children’s book professionals:

Golden Kite for Non-fiction: Candace Fleming for The Family Romanov
Candace joked that she wondered who would be interested in a book about Russian History, but you guys, this book is fascinating, GRIPPING history. Also, Candace writes everything well. She’s the author of some of my favorite picture books!

Golden Kite for Fiction: Deborah Wiles for Revolution
With this National Book Award finalist, Deborah has written another documentary novel that transports and engages. I couldn’t put this one down. Also, Deborah will forever be near and dear to my heart because she came to one of my first book signings for my very first book, even when she had never met me before. It meant — and still means — so much to me.

Golden Kite for Illustration: Melissa Sweet for The Right Word
I have loved every book Melissa has ever illustrated. I often take them off the shelf in my library and stare at the illustrations, trying think about how she made them and wondering if I could paint anything in her style (I can’t. Yet.) But it was Melissa’s illustrations that motivated me to take a drawing class this past year and to work on some hand-lettering. I don’t expect to ever be an illustrator, but Melissa’s illustrations are vast enough to swim in creatively and that’s enough for me!

Sid Fleischman Award for Humor: Michelle Knudsen for Evil Librarian
Michelle is another writing hero of mine who seems to write everything well! She is the author of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Library Lion, and Evil Librarian, a young adult novel, promises to be hilarious. I’m sad to say I haven’t read this one yet, because it’s on my next library order, but I just received an email yesterday that it shipped! So, this one will be in my TBR stack soon!

When it came time for me to give my speech, I was already in tears walking up to the stage. I bit my tongue a bit to try to pull myself together. There have been some quotes from my speech posted on Twitter and Facebook as part of promotion of the conference on social media. I thought I’d share a few bits from my speech here that are important to me as well:

“I am thankful to my children and especially my husband Demps whose very life reminds me that deep joy is only found in fulfilling our purpose. Thank you for recognizing that I feel God’s pleasure when I write. Thank you for understanding me, often even better than I understand myself…”

“…I think I write to discover my own empathy, or more honestly perhaps, to work toward it, and in some ways I have that same hope for my readers. As a librarian it is one of the things I want my students to find in books, be it empathy for their own situations or empathy for and a deeper understanding of others. I want to enter in myself and both bring others with me and take others by the hand once I’m there.”

“As I was flying over LA on Thursday, vast city stretching as far as I could see, I thought about all the hopes and dreams held within just one city block, within each city block of every city, every town, every village of this world. It stops me in my tracks. My heart feels the weight of those hopes and dreams. I thought about how fragile those hopes and dreams are and how even on our very best days we still just need enough joy and hope to believe we can become who we’re meant to become…”

“…Our readers are the ones who take our ideas and run with them, tugging and taking them higher than we could on our own.”

It was a day full of joy and gratitude and tears and I am forever grateful to have shared it.

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The day ended with a book signing and I shared a signing table with rock star illustrator Peter Brown! Whoo-hoo! I didn’t think lightning struck the same person twice in one day?!

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Sketches!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to see sketches and make comments on two of my books that will be out in 2016, SUPERHERO INSTRUCTION MANUAL (Knopf), illustrated by Mark Fearing, and A HOP IS UP (Bloomsbury), illustrated by Lori Richmond.

You guys, I’m pretty sure I’ve won the luck lottery. These illustrators are fantastic. These books are going to be amazing. I am so anxious to share these books with children. I wish 2016 were NOW! And here’s a secret: both books have a dog! And no spoilers or anything, but NEITHER book is the kind of book where the dog dies. Whew!

So since my brain has been so dog-focused lately because of the adorableness (Is that a word? It should be a word.) of the dogs in these two forthcoming picture books, I thought I’d share one of my favorite dog-centric poetry books.

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Once I Ate a Pie
by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest

In this book you will meet 13 dogs with distinct personalities. Puppy is new and worried. Mr. Beefy is always hungry. (Once he even ate a whole pie.) Sugar just loves to sleep. (Unless the cat is around and then she loves to chase.)

These are just some of the sweet faces you’ll meet in ONCE I ATE A PIE. And maybe you’ll be inspired to write some dog poetry of your own. I know I was:

Outside Dog at Suppertime
by Kristy Dempsey

 

Perhaps
if I scrunch my nose
a bit more
against this glass door,

you’ll hear my whimper.

            Must I wail?

Maybe a knock with my tail?

No need for a plate.

I’d settle for scraps.

            Perhaps?

GOOD NEWS!

I’ve been spinning lately with such good news about A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT that I am literally seeing stars! This book has been such a privilege to be part of from the very beginning and the fact that others see value in this book is a great honor indeed.

At the beginning of March, A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT was named the winner of the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text! I will go to California in August to receive the award and to present at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

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There are three other categories for this award, as well:

Golden Kite for Non-Fiction: Candace Fleming for THE FAMILY ROMANOV
Golden Kite for Fiction: Deborah Wiles for REVOLUTION
Golden Kite for Picture Book Illustration: Melissa Sweet for THE RIGHT WORD: ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS

Be sure to check out the honor winners, as well as the winner of the Sid Fleischman award for Humor by clicking here!

Also, A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT has been named to the 2015 CCBC Choices list and to the 2015 Bank Street Best Books of the Year list!

You can check out the rest of the books named to those lists here:

http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/CCBC_Choices_2015_list.pdf

 http://www.bankstreet.edu/center-childrens-literature/childrens-book-committee/best-books-year/2015-edition/

Both lists help me tremendously in planning my library purchases each year.

For my Mama

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Eleven years ago I set out to write A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT that honored one of the African American pioneers in ballet, Janet Collins. But as I wrote this story about a little girl who sees Miss Collins’s performance, and as a result believes her own dreams can come true, I was also drawn to the mother in the background of the story who has not achieved great status, but who has worked hard every day of her life to provide the simple necessities her daughter needs. To me, one of the most important threads in this story is the mother’s sacrifice, because it reflects her love and selflessness in fostering her child’s dreams, allowing her to believe she can achieve something that might seem out of reach. This is one element in the story that, for me, reaches across culture and race and reflects an emotional truth that isn’t limited by the color of our skin. Certainly there are mothers who do not embody this kind of belief in their children, but there are mothers across the world, of every culture, that do and whose children point back to that belief as a guiding force in their lives.

A recent reviewer of A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT pointed out that the book never shows whether the little girl in my story achieves her dreams. (In my heart I responded, “Well, the reader is smart enough to figure out what they think about that themselves!) But for me, leaving the story open-ended provides a poignant sense of possibility. Both Janet Collins and the mother in this story are heroes who accomplish great things for this little girl. We are shaped by what we witness, whether it’s a performance that allows us to believe we can achieve something beyond what society expects of us, or it’s the consistent, quiet, daily example of a mother who is determined to give her child a foundation that will allow her opportunities she might not have dreamed possible. It is not important to know whether the little girl achieves the dream she had in that moment. Her dreams will grow and possibly change. She may actually grow up to dream a different dream. But from her mother she has seen that dreams are valuable and from Janet Collins she has seen that they are possible. Whatever her dream becomes, she can believe it true.

Of course, I ultimately realized that my emotional connection to this little girl’s dreams and the hard work of her mother reflected my own mother and my own dreams, and the way my mother dreamed along with me, even when my aspirations seemed (and proved) impossible. A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT is dedicated to my mother:

To my own mama, who dreamed every dream I ever had right along with me. 

From dreaming to become a Olympian gymnast, to dreaming to be a recording artist, to dreaming to perform on Broadway, to dreaming . . . well, so many different things. All those dreams I dreamed as a child? I never accomplished many of them. I worked hard for many years on some of them. My mother supported and invested and believed. But her involvement in my dreams taught me that it didn’t matter whether I accomplished them or not. What mattered was who I was becoming and that learning to dream beyond myself and what I could accomplish would teach me who I am and who I should be. Learning to dream beyond myself would not only change me, but could change the world around me.

I’m still dreaming. I’m still learning who I should be. That’s the way dreams are. As we grow, they grow. But this dreamer that I continue to be today, I owe to my mother. If my dreams allow me to change the world in any way, it’s my mama’s belief in me and example to me that made it possible.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Thank you for teaching me to dream.