Archives for July 2016

Happy 150th Birthday Beatrix Potter!

The beloved British children’s book author, Beatrix Potter, was born 150 years ago on July 28th.

The hidden adult themes in Beatrix Potter –  BBC Culture – an interesting read.


Peter Rabbit site
with lots of games and goodies.


While in London recently, we enjoyed beautiful window displays full of the delight of Beatrix Potter.   Unfortunately we missed out on the “Afternoon Tea with Peter Rabbit”.


If I had know that they had issued these commemorative stamps, I would have made a trip to the local post office for sure!

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter & thank you for the gift of your stories.

Which of her characters is your favorite?


writing fiction


We invite you to join us as we focus on providing children with opportunities to grow personal communication skills .    We believe that children must be able to communicate comfortably and confidently in order to be all they were created to be.

Just think of all the areas in our adult lives that would benefit from effective communication skills:

  • personal relationships
  • parenting
  • sharing beliefs
  • interviewing for a job
  • inspiring others
  • leading a family, an organization, a team

We believe it is critically important that children master communication skills.

Story, Wooden peg and colorful words series on rope

Beginning in August, our team of educators will create unique learning experiences to share with your children in three key communication areas: print, verbal, and visual.   These experiences will all flow from the best in children’s literature.  Along with having the opportunity to join other classrooms in cooperative learning experiences, subscribers will have access to monthly free downloads.

We are excited!  Join us on this Speak…Publish…Create…adventure.

Check us out (and follow us) – now on Instagram.


The Kissing Hand


This is a traditional read for the first day of school in the early grades, PreK – 1st grade.  Chester, a raccoon, is ready for his first day of school, but he is afraid.  Children will be able to relate to this little raccoon’s fears which is why parents and teachers are able to use The Kissing Hand to initiate sweet discussions about what makes us afraid.  Chester’s Mom helps him feel loved and secure by kissing the center of his hand. She reminds Chester that her love is always right there and if he should feel frightened, scared, or lonely he should simply hold the hand to his face and he will feel her love. 

I hope you enjoy this reading of The Kissing Hand by Barbara Bain (grandparents may remember her from Mission Impossible days…), and if you are a parent getting reading to send a little one to school for the first time, you might want to have a Kleenex nearby…

The Kissing Hand resources are listed below.

Deni Corbett


The Kissing Hand_Activity Guide

Jerry Pinkney, My Friend


If you don’t know this author/illustrator, then I would love to introduce you to my friend, Jerry Pinkney.   HERE is a list of his awards.    The list is impressive, including 4 or 5 Caldecott awards – just take a look.

Mr Jerry Pinkney

I consider this man my friend.  I really do.

Have I met him?  You bet – several times.

Have I had private conversations with him?  Indeed – at least 3.

I also have spent time with his wife, Gloria.  She’s a friend too.

I hold all these moments; these memories, close to my heart.

(OK – so he wouldn’t have a clue who I am…  Do both “friends” really need to know each other?)

It was almost 30 years ago when we first met.   I had discovered a charming 3-day event in Bath, Maine that was being hosted by an equally charming independent bookstore.   It was to be held at the Chocolate Church.


There were only 75 – 100 of us attending, so every moment with the authors felt up-close and personal.  Such a special experience.


Side view of Chocolate Church – our shrimp boil picnic was on the other side…

I presented this opportunity to our principal, she said YES and even booked a delightful B&B for us in Bath, Maine.  Four teachers (and one principal) were off on an adventure of a lifetime.   I remember being so excited about the potential of hearing the only author I really knew, Patricia MacLachlan.   Julie Hagan, our 2nd grade teacher, had fallen in love with her Newberry award-winning book, Sarah, Plain and Tall and Julie’s love of this book was infectious.  We could not wait to hear from the creator of this book that had already become a part of us, thanks to Julie.   Little did we know, several days later,  that the woman sitting beside Julie in the bookstore, cooling herself off with a fan and making small talk was… Patricia MacLachlan.    Julie recovered nicely and had the opportunity to engage in the dearest of conversations with this woman – they became “friends”.

We sat next to Barbara Clooney, author of Miss Rumphius, at the shrimp boil dinner…and she became another friend.   After hearing her present her 1985 book, Miss Rumphius, we all committed to somehow purchase lupine seeds – the same  “that bloom along the coast of Maine” and create lupine gardens anywhere – everywhere.   Miss Cooney honored the admonition she ascribed to her best-loved character, Miss Rumphius, who said, ”You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”   We were fully committed to do the same!  Little did we know then that her book, Ox-Cart Man was coming soon and we would fall in love yet again… I don’t remember any of us building an ox-cart, but Julie would be voted most likely to try….

I remember as if it was yesterday – an author I had never heard of, Jerry Pinkney was on the stage introducing us to a book he had been asked to illustrate, A Patchwork Quilt  

Tanya loves listening to her grandmother talk about the quilt she is making from pieces of colorful fabric from the family clothes: an eventual heirloom to represent each person and the important events of their lives together. When Grandma becomes ill, Tanya decides to finish the masterpiece herself, and soon the rest of the family pitches in to help, finding comfort and connection by completing the squares and stitches.

After he finished speaking, we all just sat around and visited with him.  Little did we know the award-winning author/illustrator Jerry Pinkney would become.  He shared with us that one way he held his family close was to paint Gloria and other family members into his illustrations.  We all asked his wife, Gloria to sign beside her image in the book and every time I see that page in Patchwork Quilt, I smile remembering our time at the Chocolate Church.  It happened before all the awards – the many, many awards.  We were just friends meeting for the first time.

And if you are wondering if we went back to school with visions of quilting squares dancing in our heads….you guessed correctly.   I probably need to stop here and apologize to all my students who I overwhelmed with my enthusiasm for my beloved books.   Not sure how many quilt squares I made you create – sorry?!  

The books, The Sunday Outing and Back Home were written by Gloria Jean Pinkney and illustrated by her husband.   When you read these books, you feel like you have taken a peek behind the curtains of the author’s childhood, because the words flow from her memories.

Ever since that first meeting so long ago, I keep looking for my friend at conventions and sometimes I find him!   I last had a chance to speak with Mr. Pinkney at the International Reading Convention in Orlando.   We had a moment to talk about the Chocolate Church and both agree that it was a magical weekend – never to be repeated.    He told me that the reason he, Cooney, and  MacLachlan were there was because they all lived in the area.   Their success was just beginning, so there was still time for talking and making friends.

That day in Orlando, there was a long line behind me waiting for a chance to meet the artist/illustrator, Jerry Pinkney.   So to keep the line moving as we were talking, he was signing yet another of his books for me, but the names were different.   He was dedicating his new book to my grandchild, not my own children.   As I watched him write Davis’ name into yet another glorious book, I realized that we had indeed been “friends” for a very long time.   Good friends.   I’m so excited to have the chance to introduce his books to the next generation in my family

I really want you to get to know this fine man.  Please take a minute to read the acceptance speech he gave as he received his latest award:

Drawing My Dream: 2016 Wilder Medal Acceptance by Jerry Pinkney

If you have a little more time, here’s a chance to hear him speak about his work and specifically his exhibition.  Listen to how he talks about “reading the images”.   There is such power in allowing children to experience the power of the visual message without the spoken words written directing the experience.

One final thought:  Load your home library shelves with Jerry Pinkney books.   They will be legacy books for your children and your grandchildren.    Have a look at all of them on the Jerry Pinkney website along with many beautiful videos not to be missed.  Tell him that his friend Deni sent you;)

PS – I love sharing this memory with you all: Barb (who made it happen), Mary, Julie, and Mary Agnes…  it was magical!