— Kristy Dempsey (@kristydempsey) May 21, 2016
These big and little superheroes made my day celebrating the release of Superhero Instruction Manual. We chose our superhero names (favorite color + favorite animal — Mine is “Red Lion”) and decided on our superpowers. (After all, “superheroes don’t just wake up one day with superpowers. You must work hard to discover your inner BAM-BOOM-POW!”)
Here are a few images from this Zoom-Vroom-SUPER day!
Samantha is a teacher at Mitchell Road Elementary School. Congratulations, Samantha! I sent you an email and will be in touch to schedule with your school!
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.
CALLING ALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL EMPLOYEES
OF GREENVILLE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA!!!
Your school could win a free school visit!
Did you hear me?
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.
There are two ways to enter, one of which is preordering Superhero Instruction Manual at this link:
(See contest rules below for specifics.)
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:
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.
It’s always a little bit of a relief when your first review comes out for a forthcoming book and not only is it a good review, but it highlights many of your own favorite aspects of the book.
Kirkus reviews writes, “. . . a ‘complete, unabridged’ instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in ‘seven easy steps.’ In the background, a friendly dog and an intrigued-yet-suspicious sister follow [the young boy] throughout his journey to superherodom in hilarious counterpoint.”
The review finishes off with, “This funny, spirited exploration of superhero culture sans violence and with an added dose of familial love is a powerful addition to any bookshelf.”
One of the dearest aspects of the book to my heart is the relationship between the main character and his sister. There is a definite love/hate relationship that plays out over the course of the story, and yet, in the end, they know they can count on each other. Isn’t that what being a hero is all about?
Read the entire Kirkus review here.
Covers are out for 3 of the 4 books I have publishing in 2016!
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!
Here are some comments from my recent school visits:
(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.)
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:
This is what the room looked like for the luncheon.
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.
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?!
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.
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
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.
I just returned from Rio where I presented for two days at the American School of Rio de Janeiro. It was excellent.
We celebrated both National Poetry Month and International Children’s Book Day with poetry workshops and Writer’s Life presentations. It was a full two days, but full of fun and learning and celebration. Those EARJ students know how to throw a celebration! Also, they figured out how old I am. (I think this was planned because one kid asked me how old I was when I published my first book and another asked me how long it had been since I published my first book. 33 and 12, respectively. 🙂
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved visiting these smart kids and their superstar teachers. Can I go back soon?
And now, I’m a few days late but I’ll kick off National Poetry Month with “Recipe for a Poem” which was originally published in the Poetry Friday Anthology put out by Pomelo Books. Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Pomelo are putting out some of the most fun and exciting poetry anthologies for children of late and are making them very accessible to teachers with activities and hands-on tips. Be sure to check out their site.
Recipe for A Poem
by Kristy Dempsey
Fill a pot
with red-hot thought.
Boil a bit,
Wait . . .
Open a drawer,
pick a spoon,
be of use.
Weigh the contents.
Stir the depths.
Season with truth and
a dash of laughter.
Stretch like taffy,
Slice into bites.
Throw to the wind