Reading, Writing, Arithmetic—and Ramps

The Kids That Rip! Skateboarding School in Mesa, Ariz., is using Suzanne Selfors’s novel Smells Like Dog (Little, Brown, May) as the basis for its curriculum throughout the 2010-2011 school year. In addition to camps and skateboarding classes, the school is the first in the U.S. to offer a full-time academic and skateboard training program for a handful of students. The students’ lessons will tie in to chapters in the book (they have made their own compasses, studied Homer’s Odyssey, and visited a goat farm), and Selfors plans to visit the school at the end of the academic year. Here, a group of third-grade students visit with a basset hound from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue.

Texas Book Club Grabs ‘Bull Rider’ by the Horns

Students at Kelly Lane Elementary School in Pflugerville, Tex., read Suzanne Morgan Williams’s first novel, Bull Rider (S&S/McElderry, 2009) for summer reading, and Val Escobar, the grandmother of one of the students, organized a summer book club so that students could discuss the book. The novel, which made the Lone Star State reading list, tells the story of Ben, a skateboarder who has no interest in the family sport of bull-riding until his brother comes home paralyzed from Iraq, and Ben has a chance to win needed award money by riding. Students, seen here, also viewed a documentary on injured Iraq veterans as part of the book club.

Celebrating a Steampunk Series

Hillsborough, N.C., was the site of the launch party for The Wolf Tree (Random, Aug.), the second book in John Claude Bemis’s Clockwork Dark trilogy. The series, which began with The Nine Pound Hammer, is set in a mythical 19th-century America and draws on classic lore and legends. Bemis (at left) put on a medicine show for hundreds of attendees, with the help of local students, who performed scenes from the first book. Bemis is embarking on a book tour for The Wolf Tree that will follow the route taken by characters in The Nine Pound Hammer.

Pulley Launches ‘Lulu McDunn’

Illustrator Kelly Pulley is making his authorial debut with the picture book Ten Unusual Features of Lulu McDunn (Frog Legs Ink, Aug.). Pulley embarked on a book tour last week, which kicked off at the Fannie Battle Day Home for Children in Nashville. Pulley read from the book to children participating in the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Read to Succeed program; each child received a signed copy of the book. He will visit with additional Read to Succeed participants at later tour events, and Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville is donating proceeds from the sale of the book through September 12 to Read to Succeed. Here, Pulley reads from Lulu McDunn at Fannie Battle, along with a Lulu puppet that was created for the occasion.