Pat McKissack’s award-winning book, The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural is a great read for this time of year. Stories within the book include The Legend of Pin Oak; The Woman in the Snow; Boo Mama; and The Chicken Coop Monster. Want to curl up Halloween night with a good book? Check this one out!


New Book out Next Week!

October 22, 2008

Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt will be released next week.  Patricia McKissack authored the book; Cozbi A. Cabrera illustrated the book. Here is some information from McKissack’s publisher, Random House, on the book. You will be able to purchase the book at Random House by clicking here.

Pat McKissack's newest book

Mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, aunt and niece, friend and friend. For a hundred years, generations of women from Gee’s Bend have quilted together, sharing stories, trading recipes, singing hymns—all the while stitchin’ and pullin’ thread through cloth. Every day Baby Girl listens, watches, and waits, until she’s called to sit at the quilting frame. Piece by piece, she puzzles her quilt together—telling not just her story, but the story of her family, the story of Gee’s Bend, and the story of her ancestors’ struggle for freedom.

  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Pub. Date: October 28, 2008
  • ISBN-13: 9780375831638
  • Age Range: 6 to 10

To learn more about the quilters of Gee’s Bend, visit: There, you’ll meet the women who create these fantastic quilts and learn the history of the community.

Winter Holidays Around the World dates have  been set:
Teacher Session: November  4, 2008 @  4 pm CT
Student Session I:  November  25, 2008 @  9:30  or 11 am CT
Student Session II:  December  16, 2008 @  9:30  or 11 am CT

Students in past videoconference connections have written about several winter holidays, including (but not limited to) Chinese New  Year, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa.

Award winning author Patricia McKissack shares with students her expertise when in comes to writing, and tells participants about her holiday book, Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters. This illustrated book, for children ages nine and up, compares the preparations between the plantation mansion and the slave quarters leading up to Christmas celebrations.

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by John Thompson
Details of holiday observances practiced by the wealthy residents as well as the slaves who lived on a large Virginia plantation in 1859 are shared through narrative, songs, recipes and glorious illustrations. The love of family and the bonds of traditions are made bittersweet by the tumultuous changes wrought by the upheavals inherent in the lives of the slaves and the impending wrenching changes wrought by war. The book is meticulously attendant to historical accuracy and never descends into an overly sentimental view. Detailed notes follow the text, with further interesting tidbits (for example, the phrase “sleep tight” refers to the rope slats supporting a mattress which must be tight to avoid uncomfortable sagging). Winner of the 1995 Coretta Scott King Award.

During the first videoconference, Pat will talk with the participating teachers about what they are doing in class and how this videoconference relates to their curriculum. In the second and third videoconferences, Pat interacts directly with the students. In the final connection, students will have an opportunity to share their work with their peers and Pat. Pat offers her praise and critique of the work, though often encouraging students to revise and rewrite!

To have your class sign up for this interactive videoconference series, contact Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts to learn about costs and expectations. Each videoconference should have no more than 30 students per class, and we never connect more than three schools at one time. Pat works with students of all ages, but we work to schedule to make sure the right groups are working together (a second grade class would never work with a seventh grade class, for instance). We hope to see you this holiday session!

Remember that Pat McKissack will be offering Creative Writing twice during the 2008-09 school year! She videoconferences live from St. Louis, Missouri, so all times listed are central- standard or daylight, depending on the time of year. Please register no later than 1 week before first session. For New Links to New Learning members, the fee is $650, for nonmembers, $750. To read more about this interactive videoconference series, visit: [Fall and Spring photos found at Flickr Creative Commons, by skyseeker and Stewart, respectively.]


Flickr: skyseeker

Fall dates/times:

November 11, 4 pm
November 25, 1 or 2 pm
December 16, 1 or 2 pm

Flickr: Stewart

Spring dates/times:
February 24, 4 pm
March 3, 9:30 or 11 am
March 17, 9:30 or 11 am