Friday, January 08, 2010

Predicting the Caldecott and Newbery Winners 2010

Well, it is that time of year again--the whole reason we started this blog in the first place! "The 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards will be held during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston on Monday, January 18, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center! The announcements will begin at 7:45 a.m. and will be once again covered on Twitter

(" And, as always, I can hardly wait!

This week, our wonderful Dublin Branch librarian, Loren Scully came to work with our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. She shared criteria for the Caldecott medal and showed some past winners-things she has noticed about them since they've won. She also shared several new books that are getting a "buzz" and shared some different techniques that illustrators use. It was a great few days of learning and every class was glued to all that Loren had to say. Next week, the kids will have a chance to take a look at 70 of the best picture books from 2009 trying to predict the one that they think will win. Loren's prediction for the Caldecott Medal? The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. After she shared this one with kids, many kids agreed that it was truly amazing.

My very favorite picture book of the year, as you all know is OTIS by Loren Long and it is my hope and prediction for the Caldecott. Really, if you take a close look, it is clear that Loren Long is quite brilliant. (Adrienne Furness fell hard for this one too:-) I love The Lion and the Mouse (who doesn't?) too so I will be thrilled with either one. The other book that I think would be a great winner is CHICKEN LITTLE--it might make my "Books I Can Read a Million Times" but I haven't tried it out yet. I love it more every time I read it.

And what about the Newbery? I am so not sure this year--well, honestly, I am never right so this is nothing new. But, I just don't know. I LOVED UMBRELLA SUMMER by Lisa Graff. I LOVED WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead and I LOVED ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER by Ann Haywood Leal. I LOVED 11 BIRTHDAYS. It is very fun and smart--I am a huge Wendy Mass fan. I know that these predictions aren't really supposed to be about the books I love, but this year, I decided to go that way.

The problem is, I still have so many great books on my next-read pile. Books I have heard such great things about. There are also lots of great YA books that could win but I am thinking those will win the Printz.

BIll and Karen over at Literate Lives are doing their "Looking for Newbery" series again--reviewing one book a day that they believe is a contender. So many great books! And don't miss the ongoing conversation at Heavy Medal. And lots of the Mock Award committees will be meeting this week to do their final voting.

So, my predictions could definitely change by the 18th. I just love the anticipation of it all and the talk about the books afterward. The Columbus bloggers will be celebrating the awards together that morning--no matter what they may be-so it should be a fun day for sure:-)

Poetry Friday -- The Tree That Time Built

The Tree That Time Built: a celebration of nature, science, and imagination
selected by Mary Ann Hoberman (U.S. Children's Poet Laureate) and Linda Winston
illustrated by Barbara Fortin
audio CD included with "39 minutes of poetry on 55 tracks"
Sourcebooks, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher

This is probably my favorite poetry book of 2009.

In ways that are elegantly woven, Hoberman and Winston have given us a poetry book that is a science book, a science book written in poetry, and a collection of poems that can serve to teach us the arts of reading and writing poetry. All this in one volume.

As anthologists, they are collectors of poetry about the living world in the same way that naturalists are collectors of facts and artifacts about and from the living world.

This is a poetry book with a glossary in which scientific terms stand next to poetic terms: Adaptation, Alliteration, Altruism, Assonance, Cell...

Every section of the book has an introductory essay (a kind of Literary Essay for those of us who need mentor texts for students who are expected to tackle this genre of writing).
Oh, Fields of Wonder: "Both poets and scientists wonder at and about the world. Out of that wonder, scientists devise experiments to see whether they can verify what they think may be true, while poets craft language to examine and communicate their insights."
The Sea is Our Mother: "The poems in this section recall life's watery origins as well as the Earth's own geological beginnings. They speak about the planet's ongoing transformations, the diverse creatures engendered in the sea, and about our own human connection to them both."
Prehistoric Praise: poems about fossils
Think Like a Tree: "We wouldn't be here without plants."
Meditations of a Tortoise: "In both Iroquois and Hindu legends, the earth is supported on the back of a giant turtle."
Some Primal Termite: "Naturalists define fitness as the ability of a species to reproduce itself in the greatest numbers and to adapt to the widest range of environments. According to this definition, insects are the fittest of all living creatures."
Everything That Lives Wants to Fly: "Along with Archaeopteryx (the earliest known bird), Darwin's finches play a key role in evolutionary theory."
I Am the Family Face: poems that explore all the meanings of family
Hurt No Living Thing: "It is natural for species to go extinct, but the rate at which this is happening today is unprecedented."
And every poem in this book is accessible to and readable by children. They never preach. They show, rather than tell. They introduce children to poems by children's poets as well as some of my favorite adult poets: Wendell Berry, Maxine Kumin, Ogden Nash, Mary Oliver, Theodore Roethke, Rumi, and May Swenson. The scientific and/or poetic notes at the bottom of some of the pages are unobtrusive but informative.

The book comes with a cd that has 44 of the poems read by 20 artists. Alan Cheuse, a voice familiar to NPR listeners, reads from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

•Extensive review with lots of links at Wild Rose Reader
•Mary Ann Hoberman's guest blogger post about memorizing poetry at the blog
•Also a "Best Poetry of the Year" pick on Harriet the Blog: The Poetry Foundation

Tricia has the Poetry Friday round up today at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Importance of Names

My Name is Sangoel
by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher

This is the story of a Sudanese boy who is leaving the refugee camp for America. When he leaves, the Wise One says, "Don't worry. You carry a Dinka name. It is the name of your father and of your ancestors before him....You will always be a Dinka. You will be Sangoel. Even in America."

Everyone Sangoel meets in America mispronounces his name -- the lady who meets them at the airport and takes them to their new apartment, the doctor who checks him, his teacher, the soccer coach. Sangoel corrects them too quietly to be heard and winds up feeling like he has lost his name. Then he has the idea of making a shirt that shows his name in pictures. He draws a sun and a soccer goal, and when he gets to school, he gets his name back: it is pronounced Sun-goal, not San-go-el as an English speaker might parse it.

Names are intensely important. They are the core of our identity. In the real world, I hope every teacher and coach ASKS a child to pronounce an unusual name so that they get it right from the beginning and the child does not have to fight for his or her identity. I'm a little extra sensitive to this issue since I teach in a school where just this year I have learned names from Africa, China, Japan, Korea, India, Iran, Iraq, and Russia.

Related books: Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is a novel in verse about a refugee from Africa.
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits is about a Korean girl who struggles to accept her given name.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

21st Dublin Literacy Conference--February 2010

If you've been reading our blog over the years, then you know we are both involved in the planning of the Dublin Literacy Conference. This is a one-day (Saturday) conference run by teachers in our district. Each year, we invite 4 professional authors and 4 children's authors to speak at the conference. Along with the featured authors, there are 40 concurrent sessions that participants can attend. We get between 400-800 teachers from Ohio and beyond each year.

The conference will be celebrating its 21st year in February and we have a great line-up of speakers and sessions planned. Since it is the 21st year of the conference, we thought it would be appropriate to go with a 21st Century theme. This year, our featured professional speakers are Dr. Tim Tyson, Kevin Hodgson, Katie Van Sluys and Ann Marie Corgill. Our featured children's authors are Melissa Sweet, Patrick Carman, David J. Smith and Denise Fleming.

Visit the Dublin Literacy Conference Page of the district website if you'd like to learn more. We hope you can join us this year. It is always a great day!!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

And the New National Ambassador for Young People's Literature is...

Yesterday, here at A Year of Reading, we celebrated the amazing work of Jon Scieszka as our very first National Ambassador of Children's Lit. If you haven't had time, take the time to read each and every one of the great posts that were part of our virtual party for Jon. A true reminder of his great work. Everyone was saying such amazing things about Jon Scieszka and his work that we were glad he got word about it and stopped by. We didn't want him to miss his own party. And if you missed Jon Scieszka's comment about the party and his thanks to the Kidlitosphere, here it is:

Jon Scieszka said...
Are you kidding me?
I'm laughing. I'm crying. I'm crossing swords.

I'm in my hotel room in DC, getting ready to hand over the Ambassador Orb to the ever-amazing Katherine Paterson tomorrow morning . . . when a friend clues me in to this Scieszka-Palooza going on at A Year of Reading.

I am stunned with gratitude. This is exactly why I love our world of kids' books – the amazing bunch of people in it.

You all made my job easy. Thanks for your support, your thanks, and your craziness.

We are pretty sure that Jon Scieszka's work has changed the world of children's books forever.

And not only that but we just found out that, once again, we luck out in the world of children's books because today, at 10 am, another of our VERY FAVORITE PEOPLE, Katherine Paterson, will be named as the 2nd Ambassador of Young People's Literature. We couldn't be happier.

2 New Picture Books About Making a Difference in the World

I never pass up a book that is about ways people can make a difference in the world. I am building up quite a collection. I picked up two new ones this week at Cover to Cover.

WEEZER CHANGES THE WORLD by David McPhail is one that I fell in love with right away. The story is simple--Weezer is a regular dog and does all of the things that regular dogs do. Then one day something changes and Weezer changes. He starts helping out around the house, helping kids with their homework and more. As the days go on, his helping gets bigger and bigger. He helps the world avoid natural disasters and discovers ways to keep the air clean. But just as quickly as Weezer changed early in the book, he changes again and goes back to being a regular dog. The ending of the book is my favorite (I am going to give it away right here...) "Weezer had become a plain old dog again--an ordinary, fun loving, much-loved dog. But the people of the world? Because of Weezer, they were changed forever."

The other book is PAULIE PASTRAMI ACHIEVES WORLD PEACE by James Proimos. First of all, how could I not buy a book about a boy named Paulie Pastrami? What a great name! Paulie was a regular eight year old. Regular except that he achieved world peace. The book tells the story of how Paulie, a regular eight year old boy, did this. He did this by being kind and by doing things for others. This is a fun book--the illustrations make it a fun read and the message is a great one.

Monday, January 04, 2010


On January 3, 2008, the Library of Congress named Jon Scieszka "Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People's Literature". The world of children's literature could not have been happier! Jon Scieszka took his role seriously from the first minute and made a huge impact on children's reading. Jon Scieszka (See here for the official pronunciation of his name) had already been an unofficial ambassador. His work has been influential and important for as long as I can remember. (If you have not had a chance to read his latest article reflecting on his term, it sums up so much of what he believes and so much of why he was the perfect inaugural Ambassador!) As the Library of Congress gets ready to announce the next Ambassador, The Kidlitosphere wants to take this opportunity to thank Jon Scieszka for all that he has done over the last two years.
We have always been fans of Jon Scieszka and his work. We met Jon Scieszka years and years ago when he spoke at one of our first Dublin Literacy Conferences. You can see in the photo that I am much younger. This was probably 18 years ago as that is my 19 year old daughter that I am holding. Jon Scieszka was a featured author after the publication of his great book, The True Story of the Three Pigs. We have been huge fans every since. From GuysRead to Knucklehead to Trucktown, Jon Scieszka continues to make an impact on children and reading in all that he does. Join us in celebrating Jon Scieszka's work! Thank you Jon Scieszka!
** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** **
Sara at Read Write Believe says There Should Be Laughter.
Mary at Writing a Book takes time out from all things Maasai to say Thank You!
Wendie at Wendie's Wanderings appreciates Scieszka's representation of all children's book writers.
Corinne at Paper Tigers shares Scieszka's reflections on his term along with her words of appreciation.
Kristine at bestbookihavenotread declares Scieszka to be Ambassador Extraordinaire!
Mary Ann at Great Kid Books proposes a toast to Jon Scieszka...with Fresca, of course!
Monica at educating alice thanks Scieszka with a whole LIST of great qualities.
Candace at BookBookerBookest teaches us (with lessons and a poem) to spell Scieszka.
Stacy at Welcome to My Tweendom thanks Scieszka for writing for ALL ages.
Kevin at Kevin's Meandering Mind thanks Scieszka for making reading and writing FUN!
Stella at My World-Mi Mundo says GRACIAS to Scieszka and takes us down the "path" of his life as a teacher and writer.
Travis at 100 Scope Notes shares his Scieszka tribute, not surprisingly, as a comic.
Greg at GottaBook cheers for the first ambassador with a reissue of Scieszka's poem for GottaBook's 30 Poets/30 Days project last April.
Laura at laurasalas: Writing the World for Kids has a surprising (but appropriate) thank you for Scieszka!
Tanya at shares a round of applause for Scieszka from the parent perspective.
Reading Tub at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub is one of Scieszka's most recent and enthusiastic fans.
Jeanne at Teaching Authors offers Scieszka multiple blessings.
Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production celebrates Scieszka, not surprisingly, with videos!
At Booklights, Jen Robinson reminds us of so many of Jon Scieszka's great books and accomplishments!
Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect highlights two key Scieszka books in her tribute.
Boni at Life On the Bookshelf attributes her desire to write children's books to one of Jon Scieszka's books!
Abby at Abby (the) Librarian can't imagine a better choice for First Ambassador than Jon Scieszka.
Jules at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast has a fabulous caricature of Sciezka and great memories from his 2007 interview at 7-Imp.
Tasha at Kids Lit keeps Scieszka books in her "never fail" pile.
Jarrett at the JJK Blog has a fabulous story about how Jon Scieszka came to be on his Book by Book video.
Patrick at All-en-A-Day's Work elaborates on the word AMBASSADOR and finds that Scieszka is "all that" and more.
MotherReader feels like she KNOWS Jon Scieszka.
Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun sends her PROPSZ to Jon Scieszka.
Brimful Curiosities shares family stories of love for Scieszka's books.
Kathy at forwordsbooks finds Jewish values in Scieszka's very secular books. There is even a fabulous connection to the Torah today!
Elizabeth at Elizabeth O. Dulemba shares her favorite Scieszka book.
Teaching Heart Mom puts The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at the top of her list of 10 Favorite Children's Books.
Madigan at Madigan Reads remembers hearing Scieszka speak at the 2009 L.A. Festival of Books.
a. fortis at Finding Wonderland speculates about Jon Scieszka's shoe size...since they'll be big ones to fill!
Carl at Boys Rule! Boys Read! chooses Knucklehead as his favorite JS book.
Karen at Literate Lives thanks Jon Scieszka for writing stories that boys can SO relate to (I agree with her about the "sword fight" chapter in Knucklehead!)
Kelly at Writing and Ruminating has a great thank you to the" all-around good guy" that he is. Liz at Liz in Ink thanks Jon for bringing both humor and seriousness to the role of National Ambassador.
Sarah at The Reading Zone can relate to Scieszka's experiences growing up since she was the oldest of 6!
4IQRead adds her thanks to the list.
GreenBeanTeenQueen remembers meeting Scieszka at ALA last June.
kristydempsey once shared the stage with Jon Scieszka.
Matthew Holm says Thanks!
Shelly at Two Learning Journeys is thankful for the Guys Read website.
Brianna at The Paper Wait is inspired by Scieszka's writing.
Carol at Carol's Corner has an AMAZING poetic tribute to Ambassador Scieszka.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

December Mosaic

Well, I made it! 365 pictures for the year! (here are all the mosaics and here is my Flickr photostream)

December was probably the hardest month to stay with this. I know, I know. So close and I couldn't hold it together at the end? There were a couple of factors: it is a WAY busy month and it is the beginning of The Darkness. I remember now how hard it was to get photos back in January and February when I drove to school in the dark and drove home from school in the dark.

Will I do this again in 2010? Absolutely.

Will I do anything differently? Yes. Rather than numbering the photos in the comment area of Flickr, I am going to write about the photo or the day I took it or whatever else occurs to me -- I want to use my photos as prompts in a sort of visual or digital writer's notebook.

We'll see how that goes. I always feel like I have too much that MUST be done and here I've gone and added something to the pile. But taking photos all year helped me to see and interact with the world in new ways, and that made my life richer. It seems fair to add things to the to-do list that make me a better person, doesn't it?

It's that urge to improve myself that started me reading 52+ children's novels a year starting back in 1987, kept me going to tai chi this year, and got my swim back up to a mile this month. It's why I'm going to try to bake bread once a month and send more postal mail this year.

Happy 2010. Let's work to make that less of a wish and more of a promise to ourselves and those around us.

The Best Book About a Girl Who Wants a Dog!

I love the new book A SMALL BROWN DOG WITH A WET PINK NOSE by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and illustrated by Linzie Hunter. Kids love dog books so I am always happy when I find another great one. You can tell this one will be fun and unique from the front cover. At first, I thought it was going to be just another girl-wants-a-dog book but this one is much more fun than many I've read before.

"Amelia wanted a dog. But not just any dog. Every day she asked her parents, 'May I have a small brown dog with a wet pink nose?"

And every day her parents said no. They just weren't ready for a dog.
But, Amelia kept asking and asking and asking.

Amelia changes her tactics early in the book and it is fun to see the clever ways Amelia continues the conversation about getting that dog she's always wanted.

And I can't give away the ending--you'll have to read it to find out.

I think this one will definitely be a read aloud in the library. I think kids will love it!

Saturday, January 02, 2010


Four years ago today we started this blog! Hard to believe we've been at it that long, but we are still having LOADS of fun!
Here are some of our blog features that have been going strong all four years:
Newbery Predictions (Clearly, a goal for the next 4 years could be More Consistent Tagging. Here are some posts tagged "Potential Newbery" and here are a few more tagged "Newbery," but I know there are more hiding in the archives...)
New features this year:
Our most commented on (non-Poetry Friday) posts this year:
Our most commented on Poetry Friday posts this year: