Shutta Crum was born in Kentucky and raised in Michigan, where she went to school, learned to read, played “school” and “library” and then grew up to become a teacher and then a librarian. Shutta taught high school English in Michigan and creative writing at the community college level. While at the community college, she was also an assistant editor for a nationally distributed literary arts journal. She spent her first two years as a librarian being a library director in a small town in Michigan. Then she moved to a much larger library and spent almost twenty-four years as a youth librarian and a storyteller. Just before retirement, she was the sole children’s book selector for a large and very busy library system in a cosmopolitan and diverse community. In 2002 she was awarded the Michigan Library Association’s Award of Merit as Youth Librarian of the Year. Now Shutta writes at several levels for children; picture books, chapter books and teen novels. A number of her books have won awards, been nominated for state awards or lists, or have appeared on other prestigious lists. She also write articles about writing and teaching for professional journals. And her poems for adults appear in various print and online journals.
Illustrated by Patrice Barton
Sharing toys is not as easy as it seems. The gentle lines of the illustrations in this book work with the simple text to tell the story about a play date between two young children. The front endpapers set up the scene at the floor level where there are lots of colorful toys and two toddlers. A dog is in the background watching them. The tension mounts as the older child claims all the toys one by one and declares them “mine” while the young toddler observes. The tension rises to a climax for the older child when the younger one picks up a stuffed animal at the same time the dog picks up a ball. Suddenly, the younger child tosses the stuffed animal into the air and it lands in the dog’s water bowl. Thus, the tension is broken and the frolic begins with the trio as they joyfully play with all the toys. The back endpaper brings the story full circle with an aftermath scene when the play date comes to a close. Children may enjoy relating to the young characters in the story. The original picture book, which was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, has made a successful transition to board book format. 2012 (orig. 2011), Alfred A Knopf/Random House Children’s Books, Ages 3 to 6, $6.99. Reviewers: Carrie Hane Hung and Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
A Family for Old Mill Farm
A human family is looking for a new home during the same time that some animal families are also searching for a home. An as enthusiastic realtor takes the husband, pregnant wife, and child from house to house, a raccoon agent is guiding finch, duck, fox, and deer families to an old farmhouse in a meadow, persuading them that it is the perfect place to raise their babies. At each house, the human realtor poetically extols the virtues on one side of the double page, while the human family declines, asking for “another house please.” From Breezy Lake Lodge, to Dry River Farm, to Rocky Point Lighthouse and on and on they go, but nothing seems right. Meanwhile, on alternating double pages, each animal family has found Old Mill Farm just right for them, and finally, so has our human family as well as they proclaim it “Perfect!” Daly provides visual magic summed up in the jacket scene of animal and human contentment. The charming anthropomorphic raccoon helps produce the enchantment for the regular animals around him. Watercolors and digital media create double pages filled with details of the families and the other unsuitable houses, with the active, eccentric, older agent adding extra fun. 2007, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, $16.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
My Mountain Song
Brenda Gail learns about the mountain songs that everybody born in the mountains has inside when she spends her first summer all by herself on her great-grandparents’ farm. Gran Pop says she will find her own song thinking about her good memories. But as she is collecting them, she is annoyed by her pesky cousin Melvin. He makes her so angry that she throws dirt and stones at him, accidentally hitting Big Ma’s favorite hen. She feels terrible, but fortunately the hen recovers and she even gets an apology from Melvin. As evening falls, Brenda Gail adds other good memories to her song. The sense of life on the farm portrayed by the text is greatly enriched by Rand’s deftly painted double-page watercolors, which evoke a sentiment we can only hope still exists in this time of globalized technology. The actors on this appealing stage are genuine people whose actions display real emotions. The naturalistic settings and details contribute significantly to the flow of the narrative. Morning Glory, the hen, is a glamorous character whose presence adds dramatic color. 2004, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
Making Stories, Making Books (K-1st Grade, 30-60 minutes). The author will do some traditional storytelling as well as share her own books. She will also discuss the making of her books, including where she gets her ideas and working with an illustrator. Includes a question and answer session and hand-outs for teachers. A book signing may also be arranged.
Meet the Author (2nd-8th Grades, 45-90 minutes depending upon the age group). The author will discuss writing, revising, submitting, working with an editor and illustrator, where she gets her ideas and what makes a successful story, which may include elements of plot structure and literary technique. Includes a question and answer session and hand-outs for teachers. A book signing may also be arranged.
Libraries and Bookstores:
Storytimes may include the author’s books as well as the sharing of illustrations and materials of forthcoming titles.
- Preschool and families (25-30 minutes)
- 5 year-olds and older, and families (25-30 minutes)
- Families, older children, young adults, and adults (45-90 minutes)
Out of Slushville and On Your Way! For young adults and adults (45 minutes to 2 hours.) The author will discuss the “slush pile”; genres; submitting; rejection; working with editors and illustrators; maintaining business relationships; networking; and helpful references and resources. Bibliography and handouts included.
Shutta is available as a speaker to participate in a panel on any of the above topics as well as many others related to children’s literature, writing, poetry, teaching writing, and library services for children.
For Teachers, Writers, Library Science and Education Students:
- Meet the Author (45-90 minutes) See description above.
- Out of Slushville and On Your Way! (45 minutes to 2 hours) See description above.
- Making Make-believe Believable: The Glitter and Glue of Plot. (60-90 minutes) The author will discuss creating plot for writers of both the novel and the picture book.
- Poetry 101: A Refresher Course (90 minutes to 2 hours) The author will discuss commonly used poetry writing techniques using examples from adult and children’s literature.
- Them Bones: Holding a Story Together (60-90 minutes) The author will discuss how to teach plot structure to elementary age students. Bibliography and handouts are included.
- Picture Books: The Ginsu Teaching Tool (90 minutes to 2 hours) The author will discuss using picture books to teach writing techniques for students of all ages, kindergarteners to senior citizens.
Fees: Schools – $850 (3-4 sessions), $500 (2 sessions); libraries and conferences – $850 full day, $500 half day, $200 for one session with book sale and signing, $250 for one session with no book sale or signing; plus travel expenses if 35 miles outside Ann Arbor MI.
To learn more about Shutta Crum and her publications please visit www.shutta.com.