Hello Fall, and Granbery Elementary!

September is here!  All has been quiet on the Otis blog for a while, but not behind the scenes.  We’ve been busy working on the sequel to Otis Goes to School, as well as several other new and exciting writing projects… some involving some pretty special canine characters!  We will reveal details as we receive permission to do so, but for now, stay tuned and enjoy this adventure that all started with one dog who needed a home.  We are still visiting schools and reading with students, and our favorite moments are with our young fans. Stay in touch and let us know what you like about #OtisGoestoSchool!

Fall is knocking on the door, and school is back in session! Backpacks and lunchboxes for all the students means daytime naps and eyeballing the clock for the most fabulous hour of the day for Otis.  What is that hour?  3pm, of course. The time his three favorite whippersnappers arrive back home from all that book-learning, ready for snuggles and catch-up hugs from the long school day apart.

But tomorrow won’t allow for a nap for Otis!  On Friday, September 11, we are off to visit Granbery Elementary School in Brentwood, TN.  We will visit with 732 (wowee!!) K-4 graders and gladly spread the notion:

reading is a beautiful way to grow your budding imaginations.

Otis is the special guest for this school’s “Wild About Reading” week, and we couldn’t be more excited.  We are looking forward to our largest crowd yet, and Otis is particularly excited about all the petting and loving.  Thank you for inviting us, Granbery.  We are honored to be WILD with you about #READING!

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Otis the Mustang — Part ONE

*Please click here for Otis the Mustang — Part TWO, the second and first grades.*

Lipscomb Academy–to which my family still fondly refers as David Lipscomb, to pay homage to the school’s history as well as my sweet husband’s “Lifer” status (K-College)–has all but made a Mustang out of the certain canine for which this site is particularly designed to promote.

This spring found Otis at many an elementary school, even more than once at a couple of them… and Lipscomb invited Otis to visit almost every grade!  He made appearances for the pre-K and Kindergartners, and the 1st – 3rd grades.  The only students we missed were the pre-1st students (most of whom met Otis last year when he visited the Kindergarten), and the 4th graders (who all met Otis at last year’s Book Day).  Needless to say, though say it we must… Otis feels right at home in the classrooms of the Brewer Campus of Lipscomb Academy (David Lipscomb Campus School, for the Mustangs who go back that far.).

All dressed... white fur tie in place under the Lipscomb jersey, of course.

All dressed… white fur tie in place under the Lipscomb jersey, of course.

Of course, Lipscomb is quite special to our family, and to the book, Otis Goes to School.  After all, the chapters describe the very walls and halls of the building, the trees of the playgrounds, and even the goldfish pond behind the second grade classrooms.

When Otis goes for a ride to gather the two oldest of his three favorite children, it’s the Lipscomb pick-up line he knows best.  It’s the scents of lunch from waving hands and post-P.E. students that he recognizes.  He knows the security guards and teachers, and when to brace for the sharp turn to enter/exit the parking lot.  Lipscomb is another home for this dog, and because we live so close, he can probably smell it with his expert olfactory tracker from his very own backyard.

So we thoroughly enjoyed all the familiar faces (and new ones as well) that we saw at our first spring visit to Lipscomb: pre-K and Kindergarten Chapel!  Because this set was much younger, and because this was time set aside for a message sharing God’s love and creation, we read from the Ella and the Little Red Wagon series.  It being spring, we of course chose the Spring volume.

Ella and the Little Red Wagon - SPRING COVER

Ella and the Little Red WagonSpring (Not yet in stores, but coming soon!)

Lucky for me, my Ella’s first grade teacher let her tag along and introduce the book (and Otis) to the nearly 80 students present that day.  The little ones loved making the connection between a character in a book, and their real-life versions right in front of them.

The Ella series is all about discovering God’s world around us. With Otis as her faithful sidekick, Ella finds outdoor treasures of all sizes and shapes, and gathers them in her wagon.  She finds that these gems are sent to us as little reminders of the current season, and how much care God puts into each detail.

Ahhh… if He puts such focus into the tiniest of dappled freckles in the center of the tulip, or the dash of red on the robin’s breast, or the perfect pop of yellow on the bumblebee’s stripes, then how much–oh, how very much–love and attention and care He must put into each one of us.

No doubt, Ella’s favorite treasure in the book is Otis, so she gives him a ride in the wagon, too… a point certainly not lost on our very sharp and attentive pre-K/K audience.

We also read from Hello World, and remembered the importance of noticing everything around us.  It is most refreshing to see through the eyes of the youngest readers… these wide-eyed, clean-canvassed little thinkers.  Our youngest son, now age 3, says “Hello,” to everything… “Hello airplane, hello school bus, hello cloud… hello, Otis!”  Therein lies the inspiration for this picture book.

Hello World Book Cover

Hello World (Not yet in stores, but also coming soon.)

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Oh, these pre-k/K-ers had such wonderful questions!  We chatted about how to make a book, how to put all the pieces together, how to know what to write about, and when the story is finished.  We talked about Otis, and his history before joining our family.  And we talked, of course, about writing our own stories.

Who has a story?  Who has an imagination?  That’s right, littlest Lipscomb darlings… just like Haywood and St. Paul and Judson realized… we ALL do.  And I thank you so much for being a part of mine!

We made it into the grades' newsletter for May, put together by the teacher who so graciously invited us to speak in Chapel, Mrs. Austin!

We made it into the grades’ newsletter for May, put together by the teacher who so graciously invited us to speak in Chapel, Mrs. Austin!

 

The children were so patient and tender with Otis, and he loved every moment of lovin' these students could share!

The children were so patient and tender with Otis, and he loved every moment of lovin’ these students could share!

THANK YOU to the Mustang pre-K and Kindergarten classes!!  We had a wonderful morning with you, and we hope you’ll have us back next year!

***

THIRD GRADE BOOK DAY

Numerically speaking, 1st grade would come next… but Otis made the leap to third grade for the calendar’s sake.  For the second year in a row, we were invited to speak and read for Lipscomb Academy’s Third Grade Book Day!  This year was extra special, because our oldest son, Paul Kent, was an official third grader.  Students and teachers celebrate the day by dressing as their favorite storybook character, and my boy went as “himself.”  He is, after all, the “oldest boy” in Otis Goes to School.

Another reason for the extra special-ness of the day is that last year, when I read this book to the then-third graders, it was in the form of a 3-ring binder.  I had written the full manuscript in ink/pencil/crayon/marker–whatever I could grab that would write at the time–and I typed it into my computer, printed it out, punched holes with my lawyer-husband’s three-hole punch, clicked the rings closed, slapped a title page on the front and made my way as a fledgling author with tummy butterflies and a here-goes-everything approach, to my first appearance at Book Day.

Last year's Third Grade Book Day (2013)... a helpful parent keeps Otis in check while he gets his first dose of lovin' as a real life storybook character.

Last year’s Third Grade Book Day (2013)… a helpful parent keeps Otis in check while he gets his first dose of lovin’ as a real life storybook character.

This year, I was able to show the students a real book.  I held in my hands many months of work, of late hours, of doing and redoing and scrapping and re-redoing until the cover was just right.  I held in my hands the finished product of last year’s infant of a book, in its cradle of a binder closed with crossed fingers, hopes and prayers.  Last year’s third graders are this year’s seniors of the elementary school, and I remember them listening intently, responding to the character of Otis, and high-fiving me in the halls for the remainder of last spring, saying, “Hey, you read about Otis to us!  Is it in the library yet?”

Those comments encouraged me forth, and made me unable to hide a smile that foretells what I do hope for: that this book, all my books-in-the-works and books-to-be-thought-of, might be in that library, in libraries everywhere, in bookstores everywhere, in homes around the world, and most importantly for my children’s books, at home in the hands of a little one learning to follow the call of his or her imagination.

I brought the 3-ring binder and the finished, bookstore-ready copy to share with this year’s third grade… my oldest sitting close beside, my supportive husband keeping Otis calm, and my sweet girl beaming at being included in big brother’s class event (Preston was having a big time on a playdate with a pal, having had plenty of personal Otis-time before breakfast). Joy, it was, to hold proof in hand (there’s the lawyer in me) that hard work really does what the old saying indicates… it pays off.  It makes a difference.  It means everything.

Thank you, Mrs. Sanders and all the third grade teachers and students, for inviting us to return to Third Grade Book Day!  I’m hoping to share something brand new next year, if you’ll have us back!

This year's Third Grade Book Day (2014).  Now this is a bunch of characters!

This year’s Third Grade Book Day (2014). Now this is a bunch of characters!

Pre-K/K and Third Grade Book Day… Otis was just getting started!  There’s more?  Why of course, there’s always more in the experience of the long-winded writer.  Second and first grade stories are coming up… in that very order.

Please click here for PART TWO of Otis the Mustang, the second and first grades.

 

All Hands on Otis

In addition to enjoying a glorious day yesterday, Otis had the pleasure of visiting the pre-K classes at St. Paul Christian School in Nashville.  What love welcomed us there!  Otis was immediately engulfed in a sea of lunch-scented hands and no-holds-barred hugs.

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We talked about our imaginations, and how God’s springtime decorations are all around us, just waiting to inspire creative stories of all sorts.  Wheels of young minds began turning about tulips and daffodils, a rescued kitten (Otis approved), school buses and sunshine, and it was promised to me by several budding authors that Otis and I might get an early read of the yarns they would be weaving in their daydreams to come.

I’m looking ever so forward to your tales, little friends! Email me your writings, photographs and drawings, and I’d love to display them here! (ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com)

As an extra special blessing of the day, our Ella came along with us!  She showed the students just the right way to scratch Otis behind the ears, helped introduce the Spring volume of Ella and the Little Red Wagon to everyone, and best of all, got the chance to hug and hug and hug again her precious pre-K teacher from two years ago. Love!

Ella and Mrs. Amy CookeTHANK YOU, St. Paul, for your unforgettable kindness, the remarkable politeness displayed by all of your students, of all ages, and for having us in your amazing school.  While it was truly inspiring and welcoming in all its bright colors, sunlight-filled classrooms and refreshing breezeways, it was all that and far more in every person, every student, every teacher, every member of your staff whom we had the pleasure of meeting.  We hope to return to share the chapters of Otis Goes to School with your older grades sometime soon.  You are raising and instructing a fine flock of young folks, and it was our honor to be a small part of your day!

St. Paul class.3

St. Paul class.2

St. Paul class.1

Send us those stories and drawings, little ones.  You have faithful fans here at the Otis camp!

-FOLLOW OTIS on the BOOK BLOG and FACEBOOK-

Thank you for being a part of our journey.  We invite you to follow us here on our book blog, and if you like, please click here to follow Otis and his adventures on Facebook.

-ORDER A BOOK FOR YOUR COLLECTION-

Ready to order your own copy of Otis and find out what his investigations are all about?  Click here!

-READ THE COVER STORY-

For the story-behind-the-story, click here to read the April issue of the Berry Hill Life Magazine cover story of how this adventure began.

-PUT THIS BOOK ON THE SHELVES OF STORES/LIBRARIES, REQUEST AN EVENT-

If you are a publisher, bookstore, library or teacher wanting to add Otis to your inventory or schedule an author-and-dog visit/event, we truly look forward to talking with you, and we thank you for your interest! Please email ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com.

Wishing everyone lots of love and dog bones.  Stay tuned next week as we head to Alabama to present Otis Goes to School at the Alabama Book Festival!

OGTS for AL Book Festival

 

“I’m Going to Write My Own Story!”

Otis recently had the opportunity to visit with over 150 children over a two-day visit to Judson Baptist Weekday Ministries in Nashville, and he loved every ear-scratching he received.  These whippersnappers were ages 4 and 5, so we read from the younger line of Otis books: Hello World and the Spring volume of Ella and the Little Red Wagon.

Turns out, everybody there had a story to tell!  That’s the beauty of Otis and his books… he brings out the creativity in everyone.

At the end of the visit on the second day, a darling little girl with curly blond hair and flickers of starlight in her eyes whispered to me, “I’m going to write my own story when I get home!”

Ah how my heart smiled.  Yes you do, sweet child.  Write your story, and make it amazing.  Otis is cheering you on.

Judson

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THANK YOU FOR A GREAT COUPLE OF DAYS, Judson Baptist Weekday Ministries!  Otis felt right at home in the midst of your loving program, and we would love to return… perhaps in the “dog days” of summer.  Bless you all!