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Author Showcase

Winter 2005 Featured Author, Toni Buzzeo

RT: On your Web site, http://www.tonibuzzeo.com, visitors will find Curriculum Connections for each of your books. For example, with The Sea Chest, you identify the connections in the broader areas of social studies and language arts, as well as for lighthouses in particular. Why is it important to include this information?

Toni: Books are such a gift in a child’s life. We should never think of children’s books without FIRST thinking of the sheer pleasure of a child who is diving into the world of a wonderful story. Curriculum connections come second. BUT, we must acknowledge that we live in a new world, educationally speaking, a world in which the things we want our children to KNOW and be able to DO have been clearly set out in local, state, and national standards of learning. When a book has specific curriculum connections—as all of my books do—I feel, both as an author and as a career educator, that it is wise for me to alert teachers, librarians, and parents to the extended uses of my books.

RT: How can parents—who may not know what the Content Standards are—use the material that you offer? Is there a place you would recommend they go to learn more about them?

Toni: It is essential for parents to know about Content Standards. Ask at your child’s school to borrow a copy of the Frameworks or Learning Standards guiding your child’s education. Ask the principal whether a parents’ night might be held to help you to understand and appreciate this specific new way of defining what children will learn. Meanwhile, I invite you to share my books with your children and then to extend your enjoyment—and their learning—by trying some of the activities I suggest. You’ll all have fun with these activities in Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts and you, as parents, will have a greater appreciation for the meaningful ways that your children meet the standards, no matter how young they are!

RT: You’ve had two picture books receive recognition with awards and nominations. Dawdle Duckling is a Dolly Parton 2004 Imagination Library Selection and The Sea Chest, which already has a collection of awards, has been nominated for the 2005-2006 Young Hoosier Book Award, Picture Book Category. What do you think has made these particular books so special to young readers?

Toni: I never write a book without first digging deeply into memories of my own childhood feelings. Secondly, as a parent and an elementary school library media specialist, I know the emotions of childhood so very well. When I write, I allow the emotions of the child within me to take hold and express themselves on the page. For instance, when I wrote Little Loon and Papa, I relied heavily on memories of my own childhood fear of the water and also on the sheer terror of my son Topher when he was faced with the challenge of diving, swimming, or even getting his face wet in the tub. The genuine fear is what makes kids cheer when Little Loon finally finds the courage to dive!

RT: You advocate the importance of author/illustrator visits with kids as a means to get them excited about reading. Is there a particular author/illustrator event that sticks out for you as particularly memorable or inspirational?

Toni: One of the most amazing school visits I’ve had recently was at Liberty Corner School in Liberty Corner, NJ. Library Media Specialist Lisa Mullarkey, who annually hosts a week of author and illustrator visits called “Wizards of Words,” did a wonderful job in preparing the kids for my visit. It was truly delightful to hear a rousing rendition of “Little Ducky Duddle” the song the first graders had prepared for me, to honor my Dawdle Duckling books. Little did they know that it was my very favorite song as a child!

RT: The sequel to Dawdle Duckling arrived this month. The original book was inspired by a story that a friend relayed to you after a walk on the seashore one morning. Were there any new, real-life duck adventures that contributed to Ready or Not, Dawdle Duckling? What’s next for our young friend?

Toni: While there were no new real life adventures for the dawdling duck that my friend and brother-in-law Mike told me about, I did have a challenge in creating the sequel! After all, Dawdle couldn’t change character in the new story, but had to remain a dreamer, an imaginer, a duckling driven by the urge to play and explore. Then, I thought, how would he manage to succeed at Hide and Seek? Now that Ready or Not, Dawdle Duckling is published, Dawdle has again been swimming around in my mind. I’m wondering what would happen if it were playtime again, only this time, a goose showed up!

RT: Thank you Toni for your time. I'd like to add that as a parent, I truly appreciate your advice on Curriculum Connections.

Website: http://www.tonibuzzeo.com




                 

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