Jean Marzollo

Children's Author and Illustrator
Author of I SPY

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National Library Week - Fabulous Photos

In honor of National Library Week, please check out this fabulous gallery of photographs from a new book by Robert Dawson of quintessential American public libraries, and an essay by former Poet Laureate Charles Simic:
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http://www.themorningnews.org/gallery/american-library (be sure to hunt for the I SPY book in one of the photos!)
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Libraries have always been special to me.   I was born in and grew up in Manchester, Connecticut, just east of Hartford. People in Manchester struggled to pay their bills. We didn’t have a bookstore, but we had a nice town library with a large children’s room. If I went there now, I could show you exactly where the Betty Cavana romances were that I read as a teenager. Going to the library was routine. At my mother’s funeral a woman came up to me and said, “You don’t remember me,” and I replied, “Yes, I do. You’re the librarian.” In my family we read because we liked to read. My Irish mother loved poetry and her favorite book to read to us was A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Sometimes we had a fire in the fireplace and read poetry aloud as a family. My sister’s poem was “Little Orphan Annie”; mine was “My Shadow.” Clearly, these magical, intimate moments appealed to me, and public libraries have always been a large party of the magic.
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"First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate." - ALA
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I SPY LITTLE BUNNIES

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The 6”x5” board book edition of this book (called I SPY LITTLE BUNNIES) is a beautiful book to read aloud to babies and toddlers. The 8”x8” paperback version (also called I SPY LITTLE BUNNIES) is great for helping pre-K, kindergarten and first grade children read. In May 2013 these kindergartners read I SPY LITTLE BUNNIES for the first time in their kindergarten class. I was quietly observing and taking pictures. I was also listening carefully. I have to say that I was amazed to hear them read the word “toothbrush.”

"Toothbrush" is a very big word. I heard the girl say, "Too." She saw that piece of the big word and knew it because it’s a kindergarten sight word. Then I heard her sound out the "th" sound. "The" is also a kindergarten sight word. Her partner pointed to the bunny. "Toothbrush!" they said. They had just finished successfully reading by themselves I SPY LITTLE BUNNIES, and they were very proud.

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Interview (Topic: Books about the Earth)

WWWWWH: My name is Who What Where When Why How. Welcome, Jean Marzollo!

Jean Marzollo: Thank you, Who What Where When Why How.

WWWWWH: The topic is EARTH. Have you written books about the Earth?

Jean Marzollo: Yes, I Am Planet Earth. It’s part of a beginning reader science series I wrote for Scholastic. Other titles are: I Am Water, I’m a Seed, I’m a Caterpillar, I’m A Rock, I Am Fire, I Am Snow, I Am an Apple, and I Am a Star.

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WWWWWH: All of those books are about Earth - except for I Am A Star!

Jean Marzollo: Well, our sun is a star, and the sun is very important to Earth. Without the sun, we’d always be in the dark.

WWWWWH: Good point, Jean Marzollo. Tell us about Earth Day Rap.

Jean Marzollo: It’s a call and response song. The leader sings a line and other singers repeat it back to her.

WWWWWH: I have a personal question. Why did you write “hungry hare” and then paint a rabbit?

Jean Marzollo: “Hare” spelled h-a-r-e is another word for rabbit. Do you know the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare?”

WWWWWH: Hmmm. Yes, I do, but if you don’t mind, I’d rather not discuss it. (Ahem) I have another question about Earth Day Rap. What’s the red dot for?

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Jean Marzollo: It’s a clue for singers to pause before singing the last “Bless you” on the page.

WWWWWH: Good job, Jean Marzollo, and thank you for the interview.

Jean Marzollo: You’re welcome, Who What Where When Why How.

WWWWWH: Do you have a question for Jean Marzollo? If you do, send it to: info@jeanmarzollo.com.

You can also listen to this April 2009 interview at http://jeanmarzollo.com/BRI/BRInterview_0409.html if you are using a device with Flash enabled.

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I SPY Rap!

About ten years ago, 5th graders in Miami, FL told me that they like to rap I SPY. I was amazed and said, “Let’s hear it!” They rapped one I SPY page after another. The rhyme scheme of I SPY has four main beats to a line, and so does rap. Now I tell kids, “If you have the rhythm of rap in your head, you’ll be able to write great I SPY rhymes for your own I SPY pictures. I found Ms. K on YouTube; she’s terrific!  Click below to watch her rap I SPY!
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Interview with Jean (Topic “Spring”)

Read this interview and you’ll know why I nicknamed this interviewer “Who What Where When Why How.”

WWWWWH: My name is Who What Where When Why How. Welcome, Jean Marzollo!

Jean Marzollo: Thank you, Who What Where When Why How.

WWWWWH: Did you ever write a poem about spring?

Jean Marzollo: Yes! It’s called HAPPY SPRING and goes like this:

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WWWWWH: Oh-h. Pretty nice, I’d say. Where did you get the idea for that poem?

Jean Marzollo: From seeing daffodil stems poke through leaves in spring.

WWWWWH: Your Happy Spring poem is in rhythm and rhyme.

Jean Marzollo: Yes, it is, and that reminds me. Do you know what happens on March 17th?

WWWWWH: St. Patrick’s Day! What will you be doing to celebrate?

Jean Marzollo: I’ll wear green and give thanks to my Irish ancestors for giving me a love of poetry.

WWWWWH: Wait, is Marzollo an Irish name?

Jean Marzollo: No, it’s an Italian name. My husband Claudio Marzollo is Italian.

WWWWWH: Thank you, Jean Marzollo, for the interview.

Jean Marzollo: You’re welcome, Who What Where When Why How.

WWWWWH: Oh, and by the way, if you have any questions you want me to ask Jean Marzollo, just send them to info@jeanmarzollo.com.

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A NOTE FROM ELWOOD SMITH

March 2, 2011

"Jean Marzollo: I’ll wear green and give thanks to my Irish ancestors for giving me a love of poety.

WWWWWW: Wait, is Marzollo an Irish name?
Jean Marzollo: No, it’s an Italian name. My husband Claudio Marzollo is Italian.”

Two fine names for two fine people! I love hearing your voice against that kid’s voice. Lovely.

I also love this simple, effective brown watercolor splash with the fresh, green bud peeking out.

I wonder why.

Elwood Smith

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The wonderful artwork above is from Elwood H. Smith’s website http://www.elwoodsworld.com

If you using a device enabled with Flash, you can listen to this 2009 interview at www.jeanmarzollo.com/BRI/BRInterview_0309.html

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I SPY NUMBERS

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The 6”x5” board book edition of this book (called I SPY LITTLE NUMBERS) is a beautiful book to read aloud to babies and toddlers. The 8”x8” paperback version (called I SPY NUMBERS) is great for helping pre-K, kindergarten and first grade children read. In May 2013 I took pictures of this kindergarten girl reading I SPY NUMBERS to her classmates on the rug before her. Holding the book up like a teacher, she enjoyed the word “piggy-wiggies,” not that she had ever seen it before. She read the difficult word “bright.” Readers like her can help other kids in the class practice reading skills.

It’s interesting to study all the other things in the “3” box. Making a “3” box is a great math activity. Kids can bring in “3” things to put in the box. As “3” things are placed in the box, the teacher can print their names on cards. You can make two sets of cards: one that has pictures and says “3 cars” and one that says just “3 cars.” Later, kids can match the objects to the words. Some day it might be fun to spread the “3” objects out on a big piece of construction paper and write an I SPY riddle to go with them. For help in learning how to write an I SPY riddle, please go to: http://www.jeanmarzollo.com/ISPY/riddle_writing.html

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Interview with Jean Marzollo: I SPY

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I love this interview; it is one of the best interviews I’ve ever had.  Kids ask great questions!  Read this interview and you’ll know why I nicknamed this interviewer “Who What Where When Why How.”

WWWWWH: My name is Who What Where When Why How. Welcome, Jean Marzollo!

Jean Marzollo:  Thank you, Who What Where When Why How.

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WWWWWH: The topic is: I SPY. Jean Marzollo, do you make the I SPY pictures?

Jean Marzollo: No, no. The wonderful photographs are created by Walter Wick. I write the riddles.

WWWWWH: Which comes first: the riddles or the pictures?

Jean Marzollo: I can’t write the riddles first because then I would be telling Walter what to put in the pictures, and he wouldn’t like that. He can’t make the picture first because then he’d be telling me what to write about.

WWWWWH: And you wouldn’t like that.

Jean Marzollo: Right! So we work on the books together. We share the process, and that’s what I suggest that you do if you make I SPY pictures and riddles. Work on both at the same time.

WWWWWH: How do you write the riddles?

Jean Marzollo: Well, for example, when we worked on I SPY FUN HOUSE, I suggested a musical picture. Walter got the great idea to borrow musical instruments from a school. He set them up with a backdrop of notes. I suggested that Walter put the words DO RE MI in the picture, which he did. MI is a fine rhyming word. Rhyming is fun. I use the Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary to help me find cool rhymes. 

WWWWWH: What about rhythm?

Jean Marzollo: Good question! The I SPY rhythm has a 4 beat pattern. Kids in Miami taught me that you can rap I SPY because rap has a 4 beat rhythm, too.

If your computer or handheld device has Flash, you can listen to the entire 2009 interview at http://jeanmarzollo.com/BRI/BRInterview_0109.html

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Teaching Guide: “Investigating Water”

I was happy that my book, I Am Water is listed as a recommended book in the Investigating Water Teaching Guide published by the Center for Informal Science Education at the Florida Museum of Natural History/University of Florida.

Teachers, click here for the Teaching Guide:


I loved writing I Am Water because I liked pretending I was water. “Watch me. I am water. I am home for the fish. I am rain for the earth. I am drink for the people.” I liked pretending I was snow, ice, puddles, rivers, and waves. And I liked writing this ending: “I am all that, and I am more. Watch me. Watch over me. I am water.” 

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I Am Water is wonderfully illustrated by paper artist Judith Moffatt. Look how she makes water with paper!
 
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