Stephanie Calmenson was working as a teacher when she saw an artist’s portrait of a monkey in a magazine that cracked her up. She decided to make a counting book, a book that would feature monkeys and would focus on addition and subtraction. One Little Monkey was her first book in the early 1980s and it was published by Parent Magazine Press. Then Stephanie became a children’s book editor and got to see just how books are made. Eventually she became the Director of the Book Club at Parent Magazine and then Stephanie left to become a full-time writer. She has written over 100 books for children, usually using humor to captivate her audience. She loves kids and language, nothing could be better than connecting the two. Stephanie still thinks of herself as a teacher, speaking to children through her books. Before beginning a book, she says she always asks the same questions: What will this book give to a child? Will it be a love of language? A feeling of being valued? A trip to a new place? An introduction to numbers or letters? A belly laugh to ease a difficult growing-up day? When she is satisfied with the answer, then she begins to write.
Kindergarten Kids: Riddles, Rebuses, Wiggles, Giggles, and More!
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Activities and special days are highlighted in the poems and illustrations in this 32-page book. From their arrival (“Good Morning! How are you today?”) to their departure (“See You Later, Alligator!”) these kindergarteners search the classroom for Mr. Wig, the guinea Pig; celebrate a loose tooth; make popcorn; are “puzzled by this puzzle”; understand that everyone makes mistakes; and wiggle, iggle, wiggle. There are also poems for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and One Hundred Days (in which the poem has 100 words). The poem at the end, “Kindergarten Kids,” is ideal for an assembly. Multicultural children populate this classroom and seem to be having a wonderful time. Kindergarten teachers will want this for back-to-school and will reach for it over and over again throughout the school year. 2005, HarperCollins, $15.99 and $16.89. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children’s Literature).
The Frog Principal
Illustrated by Denise Brunkus
A not-too-skilful magician turns Mr. Bundy, “the best principal in town,” into a frog in this fun-filled variation on the tale of the enchanted frog prince. When he rescues their ball from a pond, the students must fulfill their promise to let him be their frog principal. He displays some zany behavior in this role, to the amazement of the kids, until he returns to his normal form, or almost. Lively watercolor and colored pencil illustrations depict a group of kids being their real, in-school selves, while the anthropomorphic frog has a great time. The scene where the kids make their promise while creating negative magic with crossed fingers and sneaky looks is a classic. 2001, Scholastic, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
Illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski
This book is a delightful read for children and the adults who care for them. It illustrates the trials and joys of caring for a pet and the power of unconditional love. When Puppy finds a home with his girl, he vows to behave perfectly so that his girl will love him. He imagines that he will be house broken, learn tricks and even help around the house. In trying to earn his girl’s love, the puppy makes many mistakes. To his dismay, the puppy finds that house training and tricks are not so easy to learn, and when he thinks he is being a helpful “puppy paper shredder,” he is actually destroying his girl’s homework! Feeling dejected and sure that his girl could not possibly love such an imperfect little puppy, he runs away. To his great surprise the girl ventures out into the rain looking for him. She takes him home, gives him a bath and a treat and the two settle in together while she rewrites her homework. She cuddles him and lavishes praise on him and he knows that to his girl, he really is a perfect puppy. The puppy’s first-person narrative makes the story especially endearing, as the puppy often interprets the girl’s actions and words inaccurately. The illustrations are delightfully tender and illustrate that perfection is not a requisite for love. The puppy’s antics will delight younger children while the story’s message will touch adults. 2001, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, $15.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Bethany Miller Cole (Children’s Literature).
“A Day in the Life of a Children’s Book Writer”
In a funny and informative presentation, the author explores the making of a book from idea to publication; talks about working with others — artists, co-authors, editors; shares a visit with an editor at a major New York publishing house; and reads selections from her work and one full picture book. The presentation features the author’s dogs, Rosie, who is the subject of the book Rosie, A Visiting Dog’s Story, which Smithsonian Magazine called “one of the outstanding nonfiction titles of the year” and Harry star of the brand new, May I Pet Your Dog?
Audience: Pre-K through adult. Schools, libraries, conferences.
Fees: Stephanie’s fees are negotiable. Travel and lodging – Travel and lodging costs to be paid by sponsoring organization.
To learn more about Stephanie and her publications please visit www.stephaniecalmenson.com.