Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another Snow Day Picture

I posted a picture earlier today from my front yard to show the phenomenal amount of snow we received today in VA (yes, it's STILL snowing!).

This picture is from the son and our puppy (a Yorkie). How cute are they??!!!!

So this is what a snow day looks like!

This is the view from my front door! I've lived in Virginia for 10 years and this is the first time it's snowed like this. Sure, there's been a few inches in the past and times when it's iced over, but nothing like this! AND, it's still snowing.

It's so beautiful...the perfect day for a hot cup of coffee and a good book. I'm finishing The Ask and the Answer (2nd book in the Chaos Walking trilogy) and starting Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.

I hope you are enjoying your day wherever you are in the world.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger, Author of 'The Catcher in the Rye,' Is Dead at 91

J.D. Salinger, Author of 'The Catcher in the Rye,' Is Dead at 91

J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, has died in Cornish, N.H., where he lived in seclusion for more than 50 years, his son told The Associated Press. He was 91.

Mr. Salinger's literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel "The Catcher in the Rye," the collection "Nine Stories" and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: "Franny and Zooey" and "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction."

Read More:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Innovations in Reading Prize, 2010

For the second consecutive year, the National Book Foundation will award prizes of up to $2,500 each to individuals and institutions—or partnerships between the two—that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading.

The most important criteria for selecting winners are creativity, risk-taking, and a visionary quality, as well as a novel way of presenting books and literature. The Prize is less focused on the promotion of basic literacy and the pedagogy of reading than on the promotion of literary reading.

To apply, visit All applications must be postmarked by February 17, 2010

PW's Starred Reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 1/25/2010

Picture Books

My Garden by Kevin Henkes Greenwillow, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-171517-4

Spring colors of lilac, daffodil yellow, pale blue, and leafy green bloom in Caldecott Medalist Henkes’s fanciful account of the great outdoors. “My mother has a garden. I’m her helper,” explains a girl, who wears a petunia-pink dress and a golden straw hat. She dutifully waters and weeds, “but if I had a garden,” she says, things would be less predictable. Gazing up at sunflowers, she giggles to imagine them colored in dots and plaids. She picks a flower and, in her perfect garden, another pops right up. Seashells and jelly beans sprout, disliked vegetables are invisible, and pests are not a problem: “the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them.” At this, the girl nibbles a bunny, surrounded by cocoa rabbits wearing telltale ribbons. Henkes gives the young storyteller a matter-of-fact voice and a sly sense of humor, while dewy watercolors and ink picture her reveling in a magical world of plants, birds, and butterflies. Even as the story elevates the wonders of nature into the realm of the fanciful, it reminds readers to appreciate everyday flowers and soil. Ages 2–7. (Feb.)


The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells by Debbie Levy Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2901-1

Artfully weaving together her mother’s poesiealbum (autograph/poetry album), diary, and her own verse, Levy crafts a poignant portrait of her Jewish mother’s life in 1938 Nazi Germany that crackles with adolescent vitality. Chapters open with photo reproductions and translations of friends’ comments from 12-year-old Jutta Salzburg’s album. Mostly platitudes, they sharply contrast with Jutta’s frank view of increasing anti-Semitism. “Always honor your elders,” writes one friend, to which Levy (in Jutta’s voice) writes, “Always, Cilly? Always?/ I should honor the Wahls,/ my parents’ friends,/ even after Herr Wahl/ stopped playing cards with Father?/ .... Hitler is my elder.” Levy creates a three-dimensional snapshot of this year of upheaval, from sweet family life to the sorrow of losing friends and the terror of seeing her father threaten to jump out of an official’s window if his family doesn’t obtain visas. They do and immigrate to the U.S., but many of Jutta’s friends and family do not survive, as Levy’s sober afterword relates. While abstaining from horrific details, this book clearly presents key historical events, and more importantly, their direct impact on a perceptive girl. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)

Happyface by Stephen Emond Little, Brown, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-04100-3

Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary that manifests the insecurities, longings, and trials of a recognizable brand of teenage male. The narrator—an introverted, artistically talented sophomore—is trying an “everything goes” personality at his new school (he gets the nickname Happyface). The facade works. He makes a group of eclectic friends, including a possible love interest, but Happyface has skeletons in his closet: his parents’ collapsed relationship, how his former crush broke his heart, and the reason he switched schools—a gruesome secret readers don’t learn about until Happyface is emotionally able to write about it. Throughout, Happyface shares his grievances and hopes, but also feelings too scary to write about (illustrations come easier). By the time his sketchbook’s full, readers will have a palpable sense of how much he’s grown and how painful—but worthwhile—the process was. The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface’s writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful. The best exhibit hints of all of the above. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver HarperTeen, $17.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-172680-4

Beautiful, popular Samantha and her three best friends are the ruthless queen bees of their high school. But Samantha is living a nightmare: throughout the book, she relives the day of her death seven times, with some dramatic alterations and revelations depending on her choices—ditching school to spend time with her younger sister or, on a day when life’s rules have all but lost their meaning, seducing a teacher. She faces the often tragic consequences of even the smallest acts, awakens to the casual cruelties all around her, and tries to get things right and maybe even redeem herself. If this sounds too much like a Groundhog Day–style plot, make no mistake: evocative of Jenny Downham’s Before I Die, Oliver’s debut novel is raw, emotional, and, at times, beautiful (“It amazes me how easy it is for things to change,” Samantha thinks. “how easy it is to start off down the same road you always take and wind up somewhere new”). Samantha’s best friends are funny, likable, and maddening, but readers will love Samantha best as she hurtles toward an end as brave as it is heartbreaking. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)

Congratulations to these authors!

Interview with Peter Lerangis, 39 Clues Author

If you are a fan of the 39 Clues series, you will enjoy this interview with Peter Lerangis, author of The 39 Clues book 3 The Sword Thief and book 7 The Viper's Nest from onourmindsatscholastic.

In the interview, he answers the following 5 questons:

1. What happens in The 39 Clues book 7?
2. What's your favorite part about writing for The 39 Clues series?
3. After writing book 3, what's it like to start up again at book 7?
4. Have there been any particular fan comments that really stood out to you?
5. What's on your mind?

Brown Bear Debacle

From Inside Higer Ed (1/25/10)

The Texas Board of Education, worried that a scholar's book about Marxism might infiltrate a portion of the state's third grade curriculum, accidentally has removed from an approved list work by the author of the popular children's book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Dallas Morning News reported. The intended target was Bill Martin, a professor of philosophy at DePaul University, who offended some Texas board members with his book Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. But the board accidentally removed work by Bill Martin Jr., author of Brown Bear.

When things like this happen, doesn't it make you wonder....???

Monday, January 18, 2010

And the Awards Just Keep Coming...

What an exciting day! This morning I posted the winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards and now two more awards have been announded.

First though, Read Roger posted links two interviews from Notes From the Horn Book for Newbery Winner Rebecca Stead and Caldecott Winner Jerry Pinkney.

Now, on to more awards!

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children


by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
(Candlewick Press)

Honor Books

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
(Candlewick Press)

Darwin: With Glimpses into His Private Journal and Letters by Alice B. McGinty (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

How Many Baby Pandas? by Sandra Markle (Walker Books for Young Readers)

Noah Webster: Weaver of Words by Pegi Deitz Shea (Calkins Creek Books)

Recommended Books

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose (Farrar Straus and Giroux)

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport (Hyperion Books for Children)

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews during the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle (Holiday House)

Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson (Henry Holt and Company)

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh (Philomel Books)

Truce by Jim Murphy (Scholastic)

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda Books)

Native American Youth Literature Awards (thank you Debbie Reese)

Best Picture Book

A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King;  illustrated by Gary Clement (Groundwood Books, 2009)

Best Middle School Book

Meet Christopher: An Osage Indian Boy from Oklahoma by Genevieve Simermeyer, with photographs by Katherine Fogden (National Museum of the American Indian, in association with Council Oak Books, 2008).

Best Young Adult Book

Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me: A Novel by Lurline Wailana McGregor's (Kamehameha Publishing, 2008)

Congratulations to these authors!

Looking to Newbery 2011 or PW's starred reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 1/18/2010 7:00:00 AM

Picture Books

Cat the Cat, Who Is That? by Mo Willems. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-172840-2
In Cat the Cat's friendly world, names are an uncomplicated affair, most of the time. This early reader pictures Cat, an irrepressible kitty in a purple dress, skipping and cartwheeling to greet pals like Mouse the Mouse and Fish the Fish. All is well until Cat meets a chartreuse creature with eyestalks, a blue tongue, four arms, and three legs. She skids to a halt and her tail electrifies. The individual, unrecognizable but clearly amiable, stops stacking blocks to say, “Blarggie! Blarggie!” This time Cat's initial response to the repeated question, “Cat the Cat, who is that?” is “I have no idea,” but Cat finally decides this might be “a new friend!” and responds with a bouncy “Blarggie!” of her own. Willems provides just enough humor and surprise to entertain youngest audiences and subtly suggests some future reading: Duck the Duck cradles a Pigeon doll, and in a second book being released simultaneously—Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly!—another character rides a Pigeon playground toy. Cat could become another favorite; her personality sparkles in expansive gestures and gleeful interactions. Up to age 5. (Feb.)

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman, illus. by Paul Meisel. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1952-4

Such a clever idea! Make the Little Red Hen into a balabusta (that's Yiddish for a singularly sensational homemaker/matriarch/keeper of the spiritual flame), set the story during the Jewish holiday that turns every home into a sacred space, and watch a familiar tale become exponentially funnier and, yes, more meaningful. By the time Kimmelman (Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!), a terrifically conversational storyteller, and Meisel (Barnyard Slam), a slyly astute cartoonist (Sheep looks truly sheepish), are done, readers of all faiths will know a lot more than some emotionally evocative Yiddish words. They'll also understand why Passover whips Jewish mothers into a frenzy (“The Little Red Hen had cleaned her house, top to bottom. There wasn't a crumb of bread to be found anywhere”), and why, even after all her schlepping and kvetching and unassisted matzo making, LRH still cannot turn away her “no-goodnik” friends when they have the chutzpah to show up at her seder. Oh, and one more thing: those who clean up after the seder while their hostess puts her feet up can find redemption for even the most egregious shortcomings. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, illus. by Jon Klassen. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-179105-5

In this humorous kickoff to the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, Wood (My Life: The Musical) injects new life into the governess theme by charging genteel 15-year-old Penelope Lumley (educated at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females) with three wild children—Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia—who were raised in the woods and taken into the “care” of Lord Frederic Ashton and his selfish, superficial bride (the children are living in a barn when Penelope arrives). With a Snicketesque affect, Wood's narrative propels the drama; Penelope is a standout, often invoking the truisms of her school's founder (“The best way to find out how fast a horse can run is to smack it on the rump”) while caring for the Incorrigibles—named such so they won't be presumed Ashton's heirs. Despite the slapstick situations involving the children's disheveled appearance, pack behavior, and lack of language, the real barbarism comes from the Ashtons and a society that eagerly anticipates their failure. Though the novel ends a bit abruptly, the pervasive humor and unanswered questions should have readers begging for more. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)

Congratulations to these authors!

And the Winners Are...

Drum roll please...

Newbery Medal

"When You Reach Me," written by Rebecca Stead, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books

Newbery Honor Books

"Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" written by Phillip Hoose, published by Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

"The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" written by Jacqueline Kelly, published by Henry Holt and Company

"Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" written by Grace Lin, published by Little Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

"The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg" written by Rodman Philbrick, published by The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Caldecott Medal

"The Lion and the Mouse" illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney, published by Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

Caldecott Honor Books

"All the World" illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, published by Beach Lane Books

"Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors" illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman, puslished by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

2011 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture

Lois Lowry

Batchelder Award

"A Faraway Island" written by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books

Batchelder Honor Books

"Big Wolf and Little Wolf" written by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Olivier Tallee, translated by Claudia Bedrick, published by Enchanted Lion Books

"Eidi" written by Bodil Bredsdorff, translated by Kathryn Mahaffy, published by Farrar Straus Giroux

"Moritito II: Guardian of the Darkness" Written by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Belpre (Illustrator) Award

"Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros" illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora, published by Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Belpre (Illustrator) Honor Books

"Diego: Bigger Than Life" illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, published by Marshall Cavendish Children

"My Abuelita" illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston, published by Harcourt Children's Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"Gracia Thanks" illustrated by John Parra, written Pat Mora, published by Lee and Low Books Inc.

Belpre (Author) Award

"Return to Sender" written by Julie Alvarez, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Belpre (Author) Honor Books

"Diego: Bigger Than Life" written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz, published by Marshall Cavendish Children

"Federico García Lorca" written by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro, published by Lectorum Publications Inc.

Carnegie Award

"Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" produced by Paul R. Gagne, Weston Woods Studios, and Mo Willems

Geisel Award

"Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!" written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes, published by ToON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC

Geisel Honor Books

"I Spy Fly Guy!" written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, published by Scholastic Inc.

"Little Mouse Gets Ready" written and illustrated by Jeff Smith, published by published by ToON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC

"Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends" written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee, published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day" written by Kate McMullan, illustrated by R.W. Alley, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Odyssey Award

"Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken" produced by Live Oak Media

Odyssey Honor Audio Books

"In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber" produced by Listen & Live Audio, Inc.

"Peace, Locomotion" produced by Brilliance Audio

"We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball" produced by Brilliance Audio

Sibert Medal

"Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" written by Tanya Lee Stone, published by Candlewick Press

Sibert Honor Books

"The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors" written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani, published by Charlesbridge

"Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11" written and illustrated by Brian Floca, published by Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers

"Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" written by Phillip Hoose, published by Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Calm before the Storm or 88 Years Ago

On this very quiet day before the announcement of the ALA awards (if you, like me, are not lucky enough to be at ALA Midwinter, you can watch the announcement live here), it seems appropriate to share a little tidbit of historical information that shines a light on just how momentous this occasion is for children's literature.

Last night I was flipping through books and resources I plan to use in my children's literature course that starts in a few weeks when I came across Leonard Marcus' Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).  I immediately remembered staying up until 3:00 a.m. reading right after I got it!

The first two chapters in the book discuss children's literature in colonial America  through the beginning of the nineteenth century. The remaining chapters are divided into decades starting with chapter three on the 1920s. By this time, public libraries had long been established across the country along with service to children.

Attending his first ALA conference in 1921 in Swampscott, MA, Frederic G. Melcher, then of the National Asssociaton of Book Publishers (but soon to become the editor of Publishers' Weekly) addressed the children's librarians to present an idea that had occurred to him overnight.

Melcher told a rapt crowd that the time had come for children's literature to have its own Pulitzer Prize as a vehicle for encouraging--and publicizing--high achievement in writing for the young, and that librarians, having no commercial stake in the fate of any particular book, constituted "the jury which could give value" to it. "Now," he said with a flourish, was "the time to inaugurate it." With his previous nights reading, Charles Knight's Shadows of Old Booksellers, fresh in mind, Melcher proposed a name for the new award: the John Newbery Medal, in commemoration of the eighteenth-century English bookseller-printer-publisher who had popularized the notion that children's books should offer their readers delight and instruction in equal measure.  The response to his call to action was wildly enthusiastic. The America Library Association's Executive Committee would have the final say in the matter, but the feeling in the room was that history had just been made--that this was the genesis of the world's first literary prize for a children's book. When the Executive Committee met later that same day, they voted to authorize the awarding of the first Newbery Medal at the next year's conference in Detroit. (p. 86)

That same afternoon, the librarians wondered which children's book would have won the Newbery Medal had there been one awarded that year. Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Dolittle "swept the field." Isn't that such an interesting fact? The first Newbery Medal could have gone to Dr. Dolittle!

It would be another year (and six months after the awarding of the first medal) before the terms of the prize were formally set, limiting consideration to books written by citizens or residents of the United States. "Defining the award in this way amounted to an idealistic gamble, as it was not at all clear just then that America had, or might soon have, enough children's authors of merit to conjure with the likes of Kenneth Grahame, E. Nesbit, and Walter de las Mare" (p. 87). How forward thinking was that?!

Melcher paid for the design and striking of the Newbery medal, but he was adamant that the librarians work out the procedure for selecting the recipient of the new award themselves, so a committee was selected to write guidelines for the new award.

They decided that any full or part-time children's librarian (472 in 1921) would be eligible to nominate a book. However, the final decision would not be left to majority rule. "It is most important that the final judges of the award be a few of the people of recognized high standards and experience. If a majority vote of all so-called children's librarians determined the award it is entirely possible for a mediocre book to get the medal" (p. 87).

On March 8, 1922, the first round of 212 nominating votes were tallied. 163 votes went to The Story of Mankind by Dr. Hendrik Willem van Loon. The first runner-up with 22 votes went to The Great Quest by Charles Boardman Hawes.

At the ALA annual meeting in Detroit that June, Frederic Melcher took to the  podium to introduce Clara Whitehill Hunt at a festive afternoon ceremony attended by an overflow crowd of hundreds of librarians. First Hunt formally accepted the gift of the Newbery Medal from Melcher. Then the librarian from Brooklyn presented the first medal to van Loon. Finally, the author make a "very appreciative speech" before being whisked away for a round of press photographs and a newsreel recording. (p. 89)

And the rest is history...

Nina Lindsay at Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog reminds us that the committee has already decided on the next Newbery winner and the press release has already been delivered to the press office. Now is the calm before the storm as they say, and I think, an apropos time to reflect on how it all began 88 years ago.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Five Great Resources

1. On January 5 when Katherine Paterson was announced by the Library of Congress as the the National Ambassador for Young People, I was thrilled! So naturally I was excited to see that the January issue of Notes from the Horn Book has an interview: 5 Questions for Katherine Paterson and 5 Great Books by Katherine Paterson. Additionally, the issue has three themed, annotated book lists on: 

Stormy weather
Picture book biographies
Animal tales

2. Coretta Scott King Book Award Online Curriculum Resource Center—a free, multimedia, online database for educators and families featuring more than 250 original recordings with award-winning authors and illustrators and hundreds of lesson plans. It is a great reading resource as teachers, librarians, and families plan for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month.

In addition to free, online primary source materials (audio recordings and book readings), the collection features hundreds of lesson plans and original movies filmed in the studios of some of the award-winning authors and illustrators.

Select "All" and then scroll through the cover images of all 231 different books that have received this great honor.

3. This month's Booklink's Quick Tips Newsletter features this year’s “Lasting Connections” list of the 30 picture books, novels, and nonfiction books that most effectively connect to the K–8 curriculum. Also included is 10 Multicultural Books for Young Readers.
4. NoveList School Newsletter features International books this month. The editor writes:
As the new decade dawns, we turn our attention to international children’s books as a way to learn about the world and its peoples. For our purposes in this newsletter, international children's literature is defined as books that originate in countries other than the United States, either in English or another language.

 This issue of NoveList has great resources for finding and using International books in the classroom.
5. Booklist Online's READ Alert features the 2009 Booklist Editors' Choice selections for Adult Books, Adult Books for Young Adults, Books for Youth, Media, and Reference Sources that have been published on Booklist Online. The fully annotated lists are free to all, and Booklist Online subscribers can both click on titles to read the original reviews and limit advanced searches to Editors' Choice.

All of these online resources are free--all you need to do is subscribe and each month they will drop these little jewels in your inbox for you to peruse at your leisure...Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Predictions/PW's starred reviews

A few groups/individuals have posted their predictions for the ALA awards:

Fuse #8' Newbery & Caldecott 2010: Predict-o-rama: Newbery prediction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Caldecott prediction: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library: Newbery prediction: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Allen County Public Library: Newbery prediction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Have you made your predictions yet? I'm still reading...

On to the new year...PW's starred reviews for 1/11/2010

Picture Books

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8939-4
Five-time Coretta Scott King Award–winner Bryan (Let It Shine) interprets Cecil F. Alexander’s 19th-century hymn with cut-paper art defined by swirling geometrical shapes in neon hues, contributing to a pervasively jubilant atmosphere. Every spread is a riot of colors, movement, and natural splendors: a gray whale that recalls Haida artwork is the centerpiece of one of the “All creatures great and small,” scenes. In another, a rainbow presides over rushing waterfalls and rivers that flow from “purple-headed” mountains amid small villages. Bryan notes that he created the artwork using his late mother’s embroidery scissors, which are pictured on the endpapers, lending a personal dimension; a biographical sketch of Alexander and musical notation are also included. The hymn’s traditional roots are exquisitely juxtaposed against Bryan’s global and contemporary scope (skin tones that range from deep brown to taupe are all seen in the hands of a creator, which reach down from the heavens beneath the line, “All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all”). Bryan taps into the hymn’s celebratory nature to produce a triumphal vision of creation. Ages 2–5. (Jan.)

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter, illus. by Red Nose Studio. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85218-3

The message is the medium in this zany fictionalized version of the 1987 story of a garbage-laden barge that left Long Island for North Carolina after local landfills closed. To create the book’s innovative artwork, Red Nose Studio, aka artist Chris Sickels, photographed sets he fashioned from recycled materials, found objects, and garbage (the characters are made from acrylic clay). He chronicles this process on the inside of the jacket—a crafty double use of paper in keeping with the theme. Winter’s (Barack) bombastic narrative exposes the folly of the six-month journey, as the “Cap’m” of the tug pulling the stinky barge is turned away from port after port. Winter revels in dialogue throughout (“Dere’s dis guy down in Mexico—he owes me a favor,” the captain’s boss tells him), and the artwork is equally gleeful (in Florida, elderly residents floating in inner tubes angrily shake their fists, refusing to let the barge dock). Though kids aren’t likely to miss the message, a sign on a buoy shouts it out: “Moral: Don’t make so much garbage!!!” Funky in every sense of the word. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-545-15133-7

Characters that are just as fully formed and memorable as in Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World embody this openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love. Seventeen-year-old Pancho Sanchez is sent to a Catholic orphanage after his father and sister die in the span of a few months. Though the cause of his sister’s death is technically “undetermined,” Pancho plans to kill the man he believes responsible (“How strange that a feeling once so foreign to him now gripped him with such persistence. He could not imagine living without avenging his sister’s death”). When D.Q., a fellow resident dying from brain cancer, asks Pancho to accompany him to Albuquerque for experimental treatments, Pancho agrees—he’ll get paid and it’s where his sister’s killer lives. D.Q. is deeply philosophical, composing a “Death Warrior” manifesto about living purposefully; through him, Pancho gradually opens to a world that he previously approached like a punching bag. Stork weaves racial and familial tension, tentative romances, and themes of responsibility and belief through the story, as the boys unite over the need to determine the course of their lives. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Candlewick, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4361-4

In her first fantasy work, Printz Award–winner Marchetta (Jellicoe Road) spins a sprawling yet intimate tale about a doomed kingdom and its struggle for reclamation. Years ago, Lumatere’s royal family was brutally murdered, an imposter king placed on the throne, and a curse levied on the land, forever locking it away from the rest of the land of Skuldenore, with many of its inhabitants cast out to the winds. Finnikin has spent the decade after Lumatere’s fall traveling, collecting stories of his scattered people and trying to ease their plight. Then he and his mentor are called to safeguard Evanjalin, an enigmatic young woman who claims to know the location of Lumatere’s long-missing heir, who can break the curse and bring the exiles home. As Finnikin and Evanjalin seek to reunite Lumatere’s far-flung people and restore their land, they face betrayals, horrors, and ethical crises. Magic, romance, intrigue, and adventure all play their parts as this dense, intricate epic unfolds, and flawed, memorable heroes fight for their kingdom’s redemption. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)

Congratulations to these authors!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Awards and More Awards

Several awards for children's/YA literature have been announced recently...

2009 Costa Children's Book Award Winner (which is basically the equivalent to the Newbery in the UK)

Patrick Ness: The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, Book Two)

Judges: "From the first word, we were gripped by this dazzlingly-imagined, morally complex, compulsively-plotted tale. We are convinced that this is a major achievement in the making."

Alternate chapters follow teenagers Todd and Viola, who become separated as the Mayor's oppressive new regime takes power in New Prentisstown, a space colony where residents can hear each other's thoughts.

2010 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction: The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press, 2009).

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father's failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot's abandoned barn - a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it's hard to trust what you see with your own eyes, and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes.

SB&F Awards (Science Books & Films Online, a critical review journal for all sciences and all ages)

SB&F Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Jean Craighead George

Children's Science Picture Book: Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World. Steven Jenkins & Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Middle Grades Science Book: How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate: Scientists & Kids Explore Global Warming. Lynne Cherry & Gary Braasch. Dawn, 2008.

Young Adult Science Book: Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. Sandra Aamodt & Sam Wang. Bloomsbury, 2008.

Hands-on Science Book: True Green Kids: 100 Things You Can Do To Save the Planet. Kim McKay & Jenny Bonnin. National Geographic, 2008.

Free Webinar on Reading Comprehension

On Thursday, January 28, at 7:00 p.m., Weekly Reader will offer a free webinar, the second in its Teaching Reading to Today's Wired Kids series. Titled "A Fresh Look at Reading Comprehension Instruction," the 40-minute live webinar will be led by Rachel Etienne, director of teacher training and curriculum at the Urban Education Exchange. The webinar continues Weekly Reader's ongoing series featuring experts presenting explicit strategies that help teach reading comprehension and improve literacy.

To sign up, interested participants can visit the webpage. The webinars will be archived as an ongoing resource for educators. The first webinar in the series took place in November and was titled "Using Tech Tools to Improve Literacy Instruction: K-6."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Drum Roll Please.....

Katherine Paterson, a two-time Newbery medalist and two-time National Book Award-winner, replaces Jon Scieszka as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a two-year position created to raise national awareness of the importance of lifelong literacy and education.

From the SLJ article,
Paterson, who has chosen “Read for Your Life” as the theme for her platform, was selected by a committee that represents many segments of the book community based on her contributions to young people’s literature and her ability to relate to children.

“Katherine Paterson represents the finest in literature for young people,” says Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who will announce her appointment in Washington, DC tomorrow morning. “Her renown is national as well as international, and she will most ably fulfill the role of a national ambassador who speaks to the importance of reading and literacy in the lives of America’s youth.”

Paterson’s fame around the globe comes from her hugely popular novels and her efforts to promote literacy in the United States and abroad. She won the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia (1977)--which was made into a feature film--and Jacob Have I Loved (1981, both Crowell). She also won the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979) and The Master Puppeteer (1977).

Other awards include the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, given by her home state of Vermont. Paterson was also named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.

Her most recent book, The Day of the Pelican (Clarion, 2009), tells the story of a refugee family’s flight from war-torn Kosovo to America. She and her husband, John, live in Barre, VT, and they have four children and seven grandchildren.

The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and the Children’s Book Council are the sponsors of the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Scieszka, who was appointed in 2008, was the first person to hold the title.

“This selection exemplifies the spectacular and diverse pool of talented authors who are writing for children in this country and denotes the breadth and strength of this program,” says Robin Adelson, executive director of the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader. “Jon and Katherine have exceedingly different writing styles, yet they are able to captivate and connect with their respective readers in an equally magical way.”

Drive and Jon Scieszka?

How Drive and Jon Scieszka go together (or, how my mind works)...

I'm a big fan of Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, so when his new book on motivation, Drive, came out on December 29, I download a copy to my Kindle (read an excerpt here). Shortly afterward, a story on NPR titled, How E-Books Will Change Reading And Writing by Lynn Neary was posted. The reporter interviewed several writers who think,

...traditional books will still be around for a long time, and that some of the changes that may occur in writing will be more evolutionary than revolutionary. But it's hard to know whether traditional books — and the people who read and write them — will have much influence on the culture in the future.

However, in an article for SLJ, YA author John Green states that he thinks readers, especially librarians, will have a huge impact on the future of book publishing..

Now take this flat, open marketplace and add cheap, effective e-readers as ubiquitous as iPods. There is no longer such a thing as “collection development,” because even the tiniest library’s collection includes every book ever written so long as it pays a fee for database access. Any patron can walk in and download a book in 30 seconds...How, in this unmoderated sea of crap, would anyone ever find anything worth reading? Through friends and family and advertisements, of course. But also through authorities. When overwhelmed by choice, people turn to gatekeepers, begging them to find the good stuff. And in the world of children’s and young adult literature—particularly in a world where publishers and bookstores don’t define the marketplace—you [librarians] are the authorities. And if we find ourselves in an unregulated YouTube of a book market, good stories will need you even more than they do now.

John Green is SO right! Our school and public librarians are our unofficial ambassadors of good literature for children and young adults. And of course, this (finally!) brings me to Jon Scieszka, our official National Ambassador of Young People's Literature, bestowed by the Library of Congress. I remember when the creation of the position was announced. I wondered who, out of all the fabulous children's/YA authors we are so lucky to have, would the Library of Congress choose to be the first ambassador. When Jon Scieszka was announced, I was elated! He was the perfect choice!

In an interview with SLJ, Jon was asked, "As our kids’ book ambassador, what will you do?" He responded,

A big part of my platform will be to reach reluctant readers and to put their parents at ease, especially those parents who are worried about testing or their kids not reading. I can be the official guy who says, “Take a deep breath; relax. Let’s not freak out about these tests. We know kids are having trouble reading. But we’ve got the answer for you. Let’s stop testing kids and beating them with a stick. Let’s try the carrot. Let’s let them read good books, because we’ve got a lot of them. Let’s let kids enjoy reading.”

How well did he do? Just read a few of the many blogger posts found around the kidlitosphere collected by A Year of Reading and you will get a sense of the impact he has had.

In a vlog post promoting Drive, Daniel Pink asks two simple questions that will change your life. The first is based on a statement made by Clare Boothe Luce (one of the first congresswomen) to President Kennedy: "A great man is a sentence."  An example given in the video is that Abraham Lincoln's sentence would be, "He preserved the union and freed the slaves." According to the video, "If you want to find your true motivation, ask yourself, 'What's your sentence?'"
What's Jon Scieszka's sentence? "He was [and still is] a tireless advocate for young people and reading, expanding adults' understanding of the need for choice and variety in reading material, and doing it all with grace, style and humor."

We love you, Jon!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year/New Decade!

I spent New Year's Eve with my son sitting in front of the TV watching the ball drop in NYC. For some, that might not be very exciting, but it was just perfect for me!

With the new year comes two big events in the world of children's and young adult literature. The first is the announcement of the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature on January 5th by the Library of Congress. A great big huge round of applause goes to the first ambassador, Jon Scieszka--he was fabulous!

The second is the announcement of the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 18th. You can watch the announcement via a live webcast starting at 7:45 AM EST.

If you're like me, it's hard to chose just ONE book for each category since there were so many excellent books published in 2009. But, there are a few groups and individuals up to the task:

The Allen County Library has their mock Newbery list up on the library's website. In addition, they have started a blog for several of the awards: Newbery, Caldecott, Geisel, Sibert, Coretta Scott King, and Printz.

Other "mock" groups include: The Eva Perry Mock Newbery Club, a group of a group of about 25 6th-9th-graders in the Wake County Public Library system in NC; the Bayside Mock Newbery Book Club, the Bergen County Cooperative Library System; and the St. Joseph's County Public Library's Mock Newbery Club.

The School Library Journal's blog, Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery blog has had a series of wonderful posts on potential Newbery winners between former Newbery committee members Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt.

 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards just posted their short list for all categories today. The CYBILS award won't be announced until Valentine's Day, but the lists include books that will certainly be considered for the ALA awards.

With all of these great resources, I'm sure I'll be able to narrow my choices...but, it's still never easy and I'm usually wrong:-) Happy reading in 2010!