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Results 26 - 50 of 71,695
26. Writing Mentors

All writers need mentors. Who are yours?

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27. Throwback Week: I Do. We Do. You Do.

This week, we've been re-posting our favorite old posts. I always learn a ton from my friend and co-blogger Stacey Shubitz. This post of hers, from one year ago, is one that I just loved.

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28. Sarah MacLean, Buffy, Assassin Nuns, and more




So I took a bit of a break from Cybils reading this week* because OMG GUESS WHAT WORDS OF LOVE SENT ME?

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean. And oh, it is just as delicious as I hoped. It's probably my favorite of her Rules of Scoundrels series. I love love love love that Chase was Georgiana from Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. I'm also very excited about the glimpse we got of MacLean's new heroine for her new series (the first will release sometimes in 2015)

Some other non-Cybils things I've read this month?

Buffy: Season Ten Volume 1 : New Rules Woo-Hoo! Season 10 has started. Once again, consequences and repercussions are big themes. At the end someone shows up that proves I really should have been reading the Faith and Angel spin-off, because woah, what was that?! BUT! Dracula's around and the Dracula Xander bro-mance is in full swing, which is always fun and awesome. Now, I just need to wait for-EVER for the next one.

My hold on Mortal Heart finally came in, and, oh, another most wonderful end to a favorite series. Ever since I finished it, I've been trying to figure out which one is my favorite in this trilogy, and I just can't decide. They are all so great--there's no weak link or one particular standout, just straight-up excellence across the board. I was reading this one at a training and the person (NOT a librarian) across asked what it was and as soon as I described it as "historical fiction about assassin nuns in 15th century Brittany" she was on her library's website to see if they owned it. Because, I mean, of course she was! It's HISTORICAL FICTION ABOUT ASSASSIN NUNS. Although now I really want to read more about historical Brittany. Why isn't there an awesome YA nonfiction about the the 15th century Brittany? Someone should get on that for me.

I also read Mistletoe and Mr. Right: A Christmas Romance which I reviewed over here. If you don't feel like clicking over, I liked it.

In non-book reading, did you all see Kelly's poignant and powerful post about fatness in YA? Definitely click over to that one.


*Ok, I don't actually have any Cybils reading until January 1st, because I'm a second round judge. BUT, I'm reading my way through the long list anyway, partly for fun, partly for armchair quarterbacking, and partly so that when I do look at the short list, I'm that much more familiar with the titles and can then do deeper rereading instead of reading for the first time.

Book Provided by... my wallet, my local library, my local library, and RT Book Reviews (for review)

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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29. The Antidote to December Stress: Teach Students to Write about Gratitude

This time of year can be overwhelming, for teachers and students alike. Writing about gratitude is one way to stay present and positive.

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30. Brown Girl Dreaming (2014)

Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson. 2014. Nancy Paulsen Books.  336 pages. [Source: Library]

Brown Girl Dreaming is a lovely, often fascinating, memoir written in verse. "Verse novels" can be tricky for me. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I really don't. But in this case, it works well. The writing is just lovely, for the most part. The book is rich in detail capturing what it was like to grow up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York in the 1960s and 1970s. The people. The places. The sights, sounds, and tastes. The feelings. It's a book that feels personal: an intimate look at family and friends. I very much enjoyed reading it.

Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir of an author. So it's no big surprise that the focus of this one is on words and stories and reading and writing, of using words and stories to make sense of the world, or, to make a whole new world. But in addition to being about an author's journey, it is a novel about identity as well: who am I, why am I here, what am I supposed to do, etc.
How can I explain to anyone that stories
are like air to me,
I breathe them in and let them out
over and over again. (247)
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Week in Review: December 7-13

Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. 1862/1887. 1232 pages.
The Plantagenets. Dan Jones. 2013. Viking. 560 pages. [Source: Library]
Palace of Spies. Sarah Zettel. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Jane Austen's First Love. Syrie James. 2014. Berkley Trade. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Where The Heart Is. Billie Letts. 1995. 376 pages. [Source: Bought]
My New Friend Is So Fun! Mo Willems. 2014. Hyperion. 60 pages. [Source: Library]
Waiting is Not Easy. Mo Willems. 2014. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Robert Lewis May. Illustrated by Denver Gillen. 1939/1990. Applewood Books. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
On Christmas Eve. Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrated by Nancy Edwards Calder. 1938/1961/1996. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. 1987. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. 2007. Schwartz & Wade. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The Bells of Christmas. Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. 1989/1997. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
The Gift of the Magi. O. Henry. Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. 1905/2006. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Tailor of Gloucester. Beatrix Potter. 1903. 58 pages. [Source: Library]
Lucy's Christmas. Donald Hall. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Baboushka and the Three Kings. Ruth Robbins. Illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov. 1960/1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Polar Express. Chris Van Allsburg. 1985/2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Most Inconvenient Marriage. Regina Jennings. 2014. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Love Unexpected. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 348 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

I choose Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. I love, love, love this one. There were other books I loved as well, of course. I loved both My New Friend Is So Fun and Waiting is Not Easy!!! I also loved Loved Unexpected. I loved rereading The Polar Express. I loved rereading The 5th Wave. But Les Miserables is so amazing! The choice was an easy one.         

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Instagram of the Week - Dec 15th

Reader's Advisory for the Winter Break.

It's that time of the season, schools are starting to break for the holidays and teens are pouring into the library. Do you have lists of great books ready for teens to read? Are you a huge YA reader and know suggestions off the top of your head? Or, are you completely overwhelmed? As Teen Librarians we know reader's advisory can sometimes be overwhelming. You think you have a great idea of a book for a teen to read and POOF, it's checked out. Comment Below and let us know how you prepare your reader's advisory for increased teen attendance. Do you amp up your display? Make reading lists? Have a great go-to website? And what are your go-tos when the now popular novels (Divergent etc.) are already checked out? To get some ideas, click on the link below to see some very creative, during the Holidays, Instagram posts.

 

https://storify.com/lindslibrarian/instagram-of-the-week-dec-15th

 

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33. Building a Home Library for Friends and Family

Do you often field gift book questions from patrons around the holiday season? I’ve had my share of parents ask me for the best new picture book of the year for their daughter or a grandparent who wants to gift their tween a book but has no clue where to start. If you have also had these experiences, check out ALSC’s updated booklists! These are a great resource to help parents, grandparents and caregivers of all sorts purchase great books for the children in their lives during the winter holiday season- or any time of year.

Image from http://www.ala.org/alsc/building-home-library-2014-update.

Image from http://www.ala.org/alsc/building-home-library-2014-update.

The ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee, with cooperation from ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee, have updated the four Building a Home Library booklists to provide advice to caregivers and others interested in constructing an excellent, star quality library for children at home. The committee looked to include less mainstream gems, wonderful multicultural books, beloved classics and new, notable titles.

The CBC Committee has included two printer-friendly versions of the bibliographies for four specific age groups. You will find suggested titles of exemplary content and quality for children from birth to age 3, children ages 4-7, children ages 8-11 and even for tween-aged children 12-14. The brochures are great for putting out at your desk for interested patrons. Does your library receive donation gifts for area shelters, churches or other organizations? You can place these brochures next to your donation bin for easy suggestions the busy patron can bring to their local bookseller when shopping.

Some of my favorite choices from the lists that would be perfect gifts are:

Carle, Eric. La oruga muy hambrienta/ The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel/ Penguin, 2011.

This classic story from beloved author and illustrator Carle is indeed a great gift for babies birth to age 3.  This publication is particularly great because it will introduce both English and Spanish words to your little one.

Snicket, Lemony. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. The Dark. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Image from www.hachettebookgroup.com.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Image from www.hachettebookgroup.com.

Children ages 4-7 are sure to enjoy this wonderful picture book that gives a voice to the dark. This is an especially fun read-aloud with two readers and a perfect opportunity for caregivers to participate in their preschooler’s reading time!

Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Knopf/ Random House, 2012.

8-11 year olds of all reading levels will appreciate this heart-warming story of a 5th grade boy with facial abnormalities. It’s realistic tone and kind message make it a lovely holiday gift choice.

Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., 2012.

Encourage caregivers to snag this title if they have a reluctant tween reader to please. This graphic novel about middle-school drama club and making new friends will become a well-read book at home.

What books do you love to recommend for holiday gifts? If you have any favorites, please share them with us in the comments!

From everyone on the Public Awareness Committee, happy holidays!

_________________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a  Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at nicolemartin@oplin.org.

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34. Writing Mentors

All writers need mentors. Who are yours?

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35. Throwback Week: I Do. We Do. You Do.

This week, we've been re-posting our favorite old posts. I always learn a ton from my friend and co-blogger Stacey Shubitz. This post of hers, from one year ago, is one that I just loved.

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36. Howdy, Teen Librarian Toolbox Readers!

This past week, I was honored to be included in Teen Librarian Toolbox's 12 Blogs of 2014!

They say some lovely things about me and my blog, starting with "Liz Burns’ blog is one that I can always count on for it’s insight, pointed opinions balanced with diplomacy, and palpable love for her subject matter."

What a lovely holiday present!

So, hello to those readers who found their way from Teen Librarian Toolbox; and Tea Cozy readers, please add Teen Librarian Toolbox to your blog reading!




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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37. New NCTE Poetry Award winner: Marilyn Singer

I posted this information on Twitter the moment it was announced and followed up on Facebook, but forgot that I should also feature the news on my blog—oh the woes of managing multiple social media platforms! So, in case you haven’t heard, it was announced at the recent conference of the National Council of Teachers of English that Marilyn Singer is the next recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. 


The NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children
This award for poetry for children is given by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) every two years to a poet for her or his entire body of work in writing poetry for children. NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her lifetime achievement in works for children aged three to thirteen years. The award was given annually until 1982, at which time it was decided that the award would be given every three years. In 2008 the Poetry Committee updated the criteria and changed the time frame to every other year. The National Council of Teachers of English strives to recognize and foster excellence in children’s poetry by encouraging its publication and by exploring ways to acquaint teachers and children with poetry through such means as publications, programs, and displays. As one means of accomplishing this goal, NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children to honor a poet for his or her aggregate work. Nearly twenty leading poets have since been recognized. Be sure to check out Renee La Tulippe's fantastic "Spotlight on NCTE Poets" series here. Each recipient has met the following criteria:

NCTE Poetry Award Criteria
Literary merit (art and craft of aggregate work)
• Imagination
• Authenticity of voice
• Evidence of a strong persona
• Universality; timelessness
Poet’s contributions
• Aggregate work
• Evident potential for growth and evolution in terms of craft
• Excellence
Evolution of the poet’s work
• Technical and artistic development as evidenced in the poetry
• Evidence of risk, change, and artistic stamina
• Evidence of different styles and modes of expression
Appeal to children
• Evidence of childlike quality; yet poem’s potential for stirring fresh insights and feelings should be apparent. Although the appeal to children of a poet’s work is an important consideration, the art and craft must be the primary criterion for evaluation.

Recipients of the NCTE Poetry Award
Marilyn Singer

2015 Marilyn Singer
2013 Joyce Sidman
2011 J. Patrick Lewis
2009 Lee Bennett Hopkins
2006 Nikki Grimes
2003 Mary Ann Hoberman
2000 X. J. Kennedy
1997 Eloise Greenfield
1994 Barbara Esbensen
1991 Valerie Worth
1988 Arnold Adoff
1985 Lilian Moore
1982 John Ciardi
1981 Eve Merriam
1980 Myra Cohn Livingston
1979 Karla Kuskin
1978 Aileen Fisher
1977 David McCord

About Marilyn Singer and her poetry
In my book, Poetry People: A Practical Guide to Children’s Poets, I featured this info about Marilyn and her work (which I have updated a bit here):
Marilyn Singer was born on October 3, 1948, in New York and grew up and went to college there, too. She started out as a high school English teacher but soon moved to writing full time.  While visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden one day, she began to write about insect characters that she had created when she was eight years old.  With her husband’s encouragement, she joined a writer’s critique group and soon published her first book, The Dog Who Insisted He Wasn’t (Dutton 1976).  Now a prolific author of nearly 100 children’s books, Singer has created poetry, fairly tales, picture books, novels, mysteries and nonfiction on a variety of topics. Her work has been recognized as an IRA Children’s Choice book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, NCTE Notable Trade Book in Language Arts, Reading Rainbow selection, New York Times Best Children's Book, School Library Journal Best Book, etc. 
Singer enjoys animals, nature, hiking, the theater, independent and avant-garde films, tap dancing, singing, Japanese flower arranging, meditation, gardening, and computer adventure games. Her diverse and far-ranging interests are often reflected in the rich variety of her writing. 
From her first book about a beloved subject, dogs, she has created several others children enjoy. Marilyn Singer’s work may be best characterized by its diversity, from the distinctive poetic formats found in the poems for each month in Turtle in July to her creation of the original, ingenious “reverso” poem showcased in Mirror, Mirror as well as Follow, Follow (both available as excellent audiobooks, too!). Her wide-ranging topics include dogs, animals, science, monsters, Presidents, and nonsense. In fact, pairing her poetry with her nonfiction on a similar topic can be an interesting way to show children how one writer can try different writing styles.  Share the poems from It’s Hard To Read A Map With A Beagle On Your Lap (Holt 1993) or Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems (Dial 2012) alongside the informative A Dog's Gotta Do What a Dog's Gotta Do: Dogs at Work (Holt 2000) or How to Talk to Your Dog (HarperTrophy 2003) by Jean Craighead George.
Nature is the dominant theme in her poetry collections, Turtle in July (Macmillan 1989) and Fireflies at Midnight (Atheneum 2003)—which make an excellent “text set” for teaching. In these two parallel works, Singer mimics the rhythms and sounds of the animals she portrays.  Each poem begs to be read aloud, perhaps with simple motions or a costume cap portraying the frog, the robin, the turtle, etc. I would also add more recent works to this category including A Full Moon is Rising (Lee & Low, 2011) and A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals That Call Them Home, among others. 
Marilyn Singer has authored three other poetry collections that make a powerful environmental (text) set. Each is a lovely narrow size (9 X 5) illustrated with elegant minimalist India ink paintings on rice paper by Meilo So. 
*Footprints on the Roof:  Poems About the Earth (Knopf 2002) 
*How to Cross a Pond:  Poems About Water (Knopf 2003) 
*Central Heating:  Poems About Fire and Warmth  (Knopf 2005) 
These free verse poems are gems of description and imagery and may inspire young writers to look for the elements of earth, water, and fire that surround them in their everyday lives. Partner this set with Joan Bransfield Graham’s books of concrete poetry, Splish Splash (Houghton Mifflin 2001) and Flicker Flash (Houghton Mifflin 2003) to inspire children to create their own visual representations of earth, water, or fire. 
For humor and nonsense, seek out Singer’s poetry books, Creature Carnival (Hyperion, 2004) and its companion book, Monster Museum (Hyperion, 2001). Children may be surprised to find that poems can be about Godzilla, vampires, Bigfoot and other creepy characters. Accompanied by gleefully gruesome cartoon illustrations by Gus Grimly, these fun poems are full of wordplay and absurdity. Don’t be surprised if these collections inspire imitations. Have a set of Halloween “monster” masks handy for children to wear during the “creature feature” read aloud. Conclude with poems from Douglas Florian’s Monster Motel (Harcourt 1993) or Bobbi Katz’s Monsterologist (Sterling, 2009).
Family is the focus for two other Marilyn Singer collections, In My Tent (Macmillan, 1992) and Family Reunion (Atheneum 1994). These poems about family campouts and reunions show children that even common everyday life experiences can also be the subject of poetry. They can also be fun for reading aloud during family programs and events. Pair them with Kristine O’Connell George’s collection, Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems (Clarion 2001) or Nikki Grimes’ Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard 1999). Plan a poetry picnic for sharing these and other family poems outside spread out on a tablecloth or under a big tent. 
Because Singer is so prolific, it is possible to pair many of her works (poem book and poem book, poetry with nonfiction, poetry and fiction) for added impact. Children can see how an author’s ideas spill over beyond a single book and in many different directions. Whether reading her “geography” poems in Monday on the Mississippi (Holt 2005) or her poems from the perspectives of two young girls, All We Needed to Say: Poems About School from Tanya and Sophie (Atheneum 1996), an in-depth study of one featured poet can be helpful for aspiring young writers. Simply through examining Marilyn Singer’s body of work, children can begin to see how a poet’s thinking takes shape.

The Poetry of Marilyn Singer
Here’s a nearly complete list of all of Marilyn’s poetry for young people. (Please let me know if I have missed any.)
Singer, Marilyn. 1976. The Dog Who Insisted He Wasn’t. New York: Dutton. 
Singer, Marilyn. 1989. Turtle in July. New York: Macmillan.
Singer, Marilyn. 1992. In My Tent. New York: Macmillan. 
Singer, Marilyn. 1993. It’s Hard to Read a Map with a Beagle on Your Lap. New York: Holt. 
Singer, Marilyn. 1994. Family Reunion. New York: Atheneum. 
Singer, Marilyn. 1996. All We Needed to Say: Poems about School from Tanya and Sophie. New York: Atheneum.
Singer, Marilyn. 2000. A Dog’s Gotta Do What a Dog’s Gotta Do: Dogs at Work. New York: Holt.
Singer, Marilyn. 2001. Monster Museum. New York: Hyperion.
Singer, Marilyn. 2002. Footprints on the Roof: Poems about the Earth. New York: Knopf. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2003. Fireflies at Midnight. New York: Atheneum. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2003. How to Cross a Pond: Poems about Water. New York: Knopf. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2004. Creature Carnival. New York: Hyperion.
Singer, Marilyn. 2005. Central Heating: Poems about Fire and Warmth. New York: Knopf. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2005. Monday on the Mississippi. New York: Henry Holt.
Singer, Marilyn. 2008. First Food Fight This Fall. New York: Sterling.
Singer, Marilyn. 2008. Shoe Bop! New York: Dutton. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2010. Mirror, Mirror. New York: Dutton.
Singer, Marilyn. 2011. A Full Moon is Rising. New York: Lee & Low.
Singer, Marilyn. 2011. A Stick Is an Excellent Thing. New York: Clarion. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2011. Twosomes: Love Poems from the Animal Kingdom. New York: Knopf.
Singer, Marilyn. 2012. A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals That Call Them Home. San Francisco: Chronicle.
Singer, Marilyn. 2012. The Boy Who Cried Alien. New York: Hyperion.
Singer, Marilyn. 2012. The Superheroes Employment Agency. New York: Clarion.
Singer, Marilyn, 2012. Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems. New York: Dial.
Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Follow, Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems. New York: Penguin. 
Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. New York: Disney-Hyperion.

In addition, many of Marilyn’s poems are featured in anthologies of poetry. I’m so proud to say her lovely poems are part of our Poetry Friday Anthology series, too. Plus, if all that weren’t enough, Marilyn is also a tremendous advocate for poetry for young people and initiated the Poetry Blast (along with Barbara Genco) featuring poets reading their works aloud at the annual conference of the American Library Association more than a dozen years ago. It was that event that inspired me to launch a parallel event featuring poets reading their poetry in the Poetry Round Up at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association that has now featured more than 50 poets who write for young people. The ripples of her influence are far and wide and her work continues to touch readers of all ages!

Now head on over to These 4 Corners where Paul is hosting this week's Poetry Friday this week!

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.

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38. 2015 Challenges: Back to Classics Challenge

Host: Books and Chocolate
Name: Back to Classics Challenge (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: minimum six; twelve max.

The twelve categories:
A 19th Century Classic:
A 20th Century Classic:
Classic by a Woman Author:
Classic in Translation:
A Very Long Classic Novel:
A Classic Novella:
A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title:
Humorous or Satirical Classic:
A Forgotten Classic:
Nonfiction Classic:
Classic Children's Book:
Classic Play:

What I'm thinking of...
A 19th Century Classic: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884) OR Hide and Seek by Wilkie Collins (1854; by the way, Hide and Seek would also work for 'forgotten classic)
A 20th Century Classic: Exodus by Leon Uris OR East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Classic by a Woman Author: Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant OR Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell (1863),
Classic in Translation: Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo OR Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky OR Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in one of the new translations I haven't read yet (Julie Rose OR Christine Donougher)
A Very Long Classic Novel: Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope (631 pages, 1881)
A Classic Novella: The Lilies of the Field by William Edmund Barrett (1962)
A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title: Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope.
Humorous or Satirical Classic: Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1934) OR The Code of The Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse (1938)
A Forgotten Classic: Debby by Siddie Joe Johnson (1940) OR Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker OR But He Doesn't Know the Territory by Meredith Wilson (1959)
Nonfiction Classic: Out of Africa/Shadows on the Grass by Isak Dinesen (1937, 1961) OR A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall (1951) OR The New World (History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol. 2) Winston Churchill. (1956) OR The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell (1857)
Classic Children's Book: Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. (1938) OR Winterbound by Margery Williams (1936) OR Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. (1932)
Classic Play:Trifles by Susan Glaspell (1916) OR A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959),


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Stanley the Builder by William Bee

Stanley the BuilderWhen you read Stanley the Builder with its simple story, likeable characters, and bright illustrations, it brings to mind another favorite character named Maisy. And I LOVE Maisy! I think little boys and girls will also love reading Stanley the Builder and the other stories about Stanley as well – Stanley’s Diner, Stanley the Farmer, and Stanley’s Garage. This book is just the right length for those little ones who typically have a very short attention span, but will be able to sit for Stanley. I like the boyish themes in the series; and just as with Maisy, I think boys and girls (and parents) will enjoy reading these very much! Yeah!

Posted by: Mary


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40. Library Loot: Second Trip in December

New Loot:
  • The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden
  • Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  •  Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
  • Hope by LouAnn Gaeddert
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
  • Thidwick and the Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss
  • Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr. Seuss
  • If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
  • Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins
  • The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale
  • Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanion
  • The Book of Secrets by Cynthia Voigt
Leftover Loot:
  • Go To Bed, Monster! Natasha Wing
  • Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler
  • Murder in the Afternoon by Frances Brody 
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g
  • A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
  • Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen
  • Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  •  Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen  
  • What If...? by Anthony Browne  
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
  • Train by Judi Abbot
  •  The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Expand Your Collection with Bookapalooza!

Submit your Bookapalooza application by Feb. 1, 2015

Submit your Bookapalooza application by Feb. 1, 2015 (image courtesy of ALSC)

Dream of expanding your collection with a huge shipment of books, videos, and audio books and recordings? Boy, have we got an offer for you!

ALSC and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2015 Bookapalooza Program. This program offers select libraries a collection of materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families. The materials are primarily for children age birth through 14 and include newly published books, videos, audio books and recordings from children’s trade publishers.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Bookapalooza Web page.

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42. The Best Nonfiction Books of 2014

Dear Readers, It's that time of year when we reflect upon the past twelve months and look for titles that rose to the top. 2014 was an excellent year for nonfiction, so our list of favorite books is lengthy. We have organized our favorite books into categories: history, science, poetry, and biography/memoir. The list is alphabetical by title and includes links to our reviews. We'll continue our

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43. The Antidote to December Stress: Teach Students to Write about Gratitude

This time of year can be overwhelming, for teachers and students alike. Writing about gratitude is one way to stay present and positive.

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44. My Year with Jane: A Darcy Christmas

A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen. By Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and Sharon Lathan. 2010. Sourcebooks. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

I reread two of the three novellas in A Darcy Christmas. I reread Amanda Grange's Christmas Present and Carolyn Eberhart's Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol. I chose not to reread Sharon Lathan's A Darcy Christmas. Each novella was around a hundred pages. A perfect length, in my opinion, for both stories.

Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol is an interesting and often entertaining read starring Austen's characters and borrowing much from Charles Dickens. The premise is simple yet not completely predictable. Mr. Darcy is oh-so-happy that Bingley and Jane have married. But. He's still alone this holiday season. Unlike the original, he did not propose marriage to Elizabeth soon after Bingley and Jane's happy announcement. Georgiana, his sister, wants a new sister, a new particular sister for Christmas. His cousin has made a similar request, a particular new cousin. It isn't that Darcy doesn't still love her, want her, need her. But he's a bit proud and stubborn. So on the Christmas Eve in question, Darcy is visited by the ghost of his father who warns him of his faults and promises the visits of three spirits in the night. He adds that they will come with familiar faces. (Can you guess which "familiar face" is the ghost of Christmas future?)

I have conflicting thoughts on Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol. On the one hand, there would be scenes and passages where I'm: it works, it really works, I can't believe this is working!!! And then perhaps just a page later, I'm: I take it back, this doesn't work at all, how am I suppose to believe this?! So there were plenty of scenes I liked. I liked how she fit it all together and made it work at least some of the time. It would be hard to fit all the great bits of Pride and Prejudice with all the great bits of A Christmas Carol. So I'm surprised it worked as well as it did actually. I like how one of my favorite scenes of A Christmas Carol is reworked from the beginning to the near-ending. That was something! I don't LOVE this one necessarily. As I mentioned, there are places where it is an almost-but-not-quite. It was a fun idea, perhaps, but not absolutely flawless. I alternated between wanting to shout at the book, and cheering. Still, it's worth reading at least once.

What did I think of Amanda Grange's Christmas Present? I liked it very much!!! I tend to like or love Amanda Grange's Austen adaptations. I think she does a great job with keeping Austen's characters as we know them and love them. She is able to capture the essence of each character. In this novella, readers get a glimpse of their second Christmases. (I believe, the two couples married in November or possibly early December?) Bingley and Jane have a baby. Elizabeth and Darcy are oh-so-close to having a baby as well. But have-her-own-way Elizabeth is insistent that even though she is due to have a baby any day, she is perfectly capable of traveling a few hours by carriage so she can spend the holidays with her family. Darcy gives in, of course. So what does a family Christmas look like? Well, this family Christmas borders on insane! Through half-a-dozen coincidences it seems, that most of the family (minus Georgiana) are brought together to share these few days. Including some you might not be expecting to see: Lady Catherine. Mr. Collins. The novella is comical. It's just a satisfying way to spend an afternoon. Sometimes a good, quick read that is light-hearted fun is just what you need.

This is my final post for "My Year With Jane." Here's a look at all the posts about Jane Austen:
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Eight Christmas Books

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Robert E. Barry. 1963. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree came by special delivery. Full and fresh and glistening green--the biggest tree he had ever seen. He dashed downstairs to open the door--This was the moment he'd waited for.

I loved, loved, loved Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. It celebrates giving in a fun and playful way. Mr. Willowby starts off a long chain of giving when he chops off the top of his too-tall Christmas tree. A tree that is splendid in every other way. He gives the tree-top to the upstairs maid. She's delighted. Very delighted. How thoughtful! How cheery! But the tree is too-tall for her small room. The top must go! Chances are you can predict at this point how the story will go. But that doesn't mean it is in any way less delightful. This little tree-top gets passed down and re-trimmed again and again and again and again and again. And it's just WONDERFUL to see how much happiness and cheer it brings to others.

I loved the premise. I loved the writing. The rhyming was delightful. It worked very well for me! I think this one would make a great read-aloud. I also loved how uplifting it is. (After reading Baboushka and the Three Kings, I needed a cheery story!)

Why didn't someone tell me about this wonderful and charming picture book?! Why?! Well, I am glad to have discovered it now!

Which Christmas books would you consider classic? Which would you recommend?

Uncle Vova's Tree. Patricia Polacco. 1989. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Uncle Vova's Tree is rich in detail and tradition. The author, Patricia Polacco, is drawing from her past and recalling some of her childhood Christmases. She writes, "As a child I celebrated Christmas as most American children did, but at Epiphany in January, my brother, my two cousins, my grandparents and I would go to the farm of my Great Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Svetlana to celebrate in the Russian tradition." The book recalls two family gatherings specifically. The first is Uncle Vova's last Christmas. Though of course, most everyone did not *know* it would be his last Christmas. The second is that first Christmas without him. The book definitely has tones of sadness, but, it is ultimately hopeful. Memories, good, strong happy memories, remain.

The book is rich in detail and tradition. It is informative in many ways. Did you know about the tradition of putting hay underneath the tablecloth to remember and honor the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born? But in addition to honoring tradition--in this case, Russian tradition--it also celebrates families. Readers meet a family that is close and loving and supportive. Little details make this one work well.

Too Many Tamales. Gary Soto. Illustrated by Ed Martinez. 1993. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Snow drifted through the streets and now that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in the windows.

Too Many Tamales is a great family-oriented Christmas story. Maria, our heroine, is helping her mom make tamales. She loves helping her mom, loves being grown-up in the kitchen. But things don't go smoothly with this first batch of tamales. And it is her fault. Mostly. Maria really, really, really wanted to try on her mom's ring. Unfortunately, this-too-big ring falls right into the masa mixture. Hours later, she realizes that she never took the ring off. She doesn't know for sure where the ring is. But she has a strong suspicion that it may very well be in one of the twenty-four tamales. With a little help from her cousins, Maria is in a race to find the ring before her mom--and all the other relatives--realize what has happened. Will she find the ring? Will her mom find out? Will her cousins ever want to eat another tamale?!

I liked this one very much.

Angelina's Christmas. Katharine Holabird. Illustrated by Helen Craig. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Christmas was coming, and everyone at Angelina's school was working hard to prepare for the Christmas show.

I enjoyed reading Angelina's Christmas. I enjoyed meeting Angelina and her family. I loved how thoughtful and empathetic Angelina was. She realizes that there is one house in the village that is not decorated. She notices that there is one "old man huddled by a tiny fire." She learns from her parents that this old man is Mr. Bell, a retired postman. She decides that she will do something special for him so he won't be all alone at Christmas time. (And Angelina isn't the only one joining in to help make this Christmas memorable for Mr. Bell.) She makes him cookies, her mom sends along mince pies and fruit, her dad cuts him a Christmas tree. They visit him, Henry, Angelina's brother comes along too. But perhaps even more importantly than showing him kindness through things, they take the time to listen to him, to include him. This one is a lovely book.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats. Patricia Polacco. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

At our farm just outside Union City, Michigan, we didn't celebrate the same holidays as most of our neighbors...but we shared their delight and anticipation of them just the same.

I enjoyed reading The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco. She is sharing yet another holiday memory with young readers in this picture book.

The story focuses on one holiday season when the town is hit by an epidemic, scarlet fever, I believe. The heroine's family is not sick, but, most of their neighbors are. As they are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, they realize that most of their neighbors are too sick to prepare for and celebrate Christmas. They love their neighbors. They want to do something for them. Working together as a family, they decide to bring Christmas to their neighbors: food, a tree, decorations. Since they don't own any Christmas ornaments, they use animals carved out of wood. One of the animals, as you might have guessed, is a goat. When hung on the tree, it appears to be a dancing goat. Can one family bring Christmas cheer to a community?

I liked this one. I liked the family scenes very much. It is a thoughtful book. I'm glad I finally discovered it!

Morris' Disappearing Bag. Rosemary Wells. 1975. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

It was Christmas morning. "Wow!" said Morris.

Morris' Disappearing Bag probably isn't my favorite Rosemary Wells, but, this one is enjoyable enough that it's worth reading at least once or twice. Morris stars in this one. He has three older siblings: one big brother, Victor, and two older sisters, Rose and Betty. It is a Christmas book, of course. After all the presents are opened, the three older siblings play with their presents and play with each others presents. Victor got hockey stuff. Betty got a chemistry set. Rose got a beauty kit. They take turns sharing. Much fun is had. But not by all. For Morris has only his present (a teddy bear) to play with. He doesn't get a turn with his siblings' presents. But that changes when Morris discovers a fantastic present under the tree. A bag. A disappearing bag. Whatever is in the bag disappears. His siblings all want a turn, and, he lets them in the bag. While his siblings have disappeared for the day, Morris plays with their stuff before settling into bed with his bear.

Max's Christmas. Rosemary Wells. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I love watching Max and Ruby. I've seen the adaptation of Max's Christmas plenty of times before I read the book. If you like the show, chances are you'll enjoy reading this book. It is very similar. For those new to these lovable siblings, Ruby is the older sibling. She seems to be raising Max all on her own. (Ruby and Max don't have parents. They have a Grandma, but, she does not live with Max and Ruby.) Max is the younger sibling. He is many things: cute, clever, curious. Yes, he can be mischievous, but, he is also super-observant. I love, love, love them both. I might like Max a tiny bit better than Ruby. But still. I love them both.

In this book, readers join Ruby and Max on Christmas Eve night. Ruby is trying her best to get Max to get ready for bed, to go to sleep. Max is excited, of course. Once he knows that Santa is coming to his house tonight, he wants to see it for himself. So he goes downstairs to wait for Santa....

I liked this one very much.

Wombat Divine. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. 1995/1999. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I found Mem Fox's Wombat Divine to be charming. I loved Wombat. He loves, loves, loves Christmas. More than anything, he wants a part in the nativity play. At the auditions, he tries his best. But there are so many parts that he's just not right for. I love the refrain, "Don't lose heart. Why not try for a different part?" which is used throughout the whole auditioning process. He auditions for Archangel Gabriel, Mary, a wise king, Joseph, an innkeeper, and a shepherd. But there's one role that he'd be just perfect playing. Can you guess it?

I liked this one. I thought it was cute and sweet. I liked the writing. I found it unique and oh-so-right.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

And thus, we end. Though, with such a late ALA Media Awards announcement this year (Monday, February 2nd!) my predictions are coming a bit early in the game.  Still, it’s not as though I’ll be seeing much that’s new between now and 2/2.  I have watched with great interest the discussions on Heavy Medal and Calling Caldecott.  I’ve discussed and debated the contenders with folks of all sorts.  I’m eyeing the Mock Caldecotts and Mock Newberys with great fervor as they post their results (and I’m tallying them for my next Pre-Game / Post-Game Show).  I’ve gauged the wind.  Asked the Magic 8 ball.  Basically I’ve done everything in my power to not be to embarrassed when my predictions turn out to be woefully inaccurate.  And they will be.  Particularly in the Caldecott department.  Still, I press on!

I should mention that that throughout the year I mention the books that I think we should all be discussing.  This post is a little different.  It’s the books I think will actually win. Not the ones I want to win necessarily but the books that I think have the best chance. Here then are my thoughts, and may God have mercy on my soul:

Newbery Award

Winner: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

BrownGirlDreaming Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

What was it I wrote in my Fall Prediction Edition?  Ah yes. “This is Woodson’s year and we’re just living in it.”  Even without the National Book Award brouhaha and the fact that this book is being purchased by everyone from POTUS on down, Jackie would win in this category.  Why the certainty?  Well, I’m a big fan of thematic years.  I like to take the temperature of the times and work from there.  Look back at 2014 and what will we remember?  #WeNeedDiverseBooks for one.  The Newbery committee canNOT take such things into account, but it’s in the air.  They breathe it just like we do and it’s going to affect the decision unconsciously.  It doesn’t hurt matters that this is THE book of the year on top of everything else.  Magnificently written by an author who has deserved the gold for years, I haven’t been this certain of a book’s chances since The Lion and the Mouse (and, before that, When You Reach Me).

Honors: West of the Moon by Margi Preus

WestMoon1 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Not a certainty but what is? It’s just enormously difficult not to appreciate what Preus is doing in this book.  Mind you, my librarians were not entirely taken with it.  Some disliked the heroine too much.  Others found it dense.  And perhaps it is a “librarian book” intended for gatekeepers more than kids, but I cannot look at the title and not see the word “distinguished” floating above it like a Goodyear Blimp.

Honors: Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

BoysBlur Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Also not a sure thing but I think we’d do well to remember it.  Wilson’s one of those guys who drifts just under the radar until BLAMMO!  Amazing book.  Read the first page of this book all by itself.  Right there, he’s got you.  I can’t help but keep thinking about it.  I try to bring up other potential winners, but again and again I turn to this one.  Zombie Beowulf.  It’s about time.

Honors: The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

14thgoldfish Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Hm. Tricksy. Jenni has this magnificent ability to accrue Honor after Honor after Honor.  I’m not seeing gold written all over this book (that’s a lie . . . the gold would complement the blue of the cover so well and fit on the left side of the neck of the beaker, don’t you think?) but it’s a contender.  Committees adore her writing, and why not? She’s one of the best.  Newbery Honor best?  I’m going to say yes.

Wild Card: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

FamilyRomanov Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

YA but not too YA.  Certainly pushes the old 0-14 age range, but still a beaut.  With Brown Girl Dreaming as well, we might end up with a very strong nonfiction Newbery year (and won’t Common Core be pleased with that?).  Mind you, if I hesitate to predict this as an Honor it has more to do with the fact that my heart was broken when Candy didn’t receive any award love for her brilliant Amelia Lost  biography.  Shouldawonshouldawonshouldawonshouldawon . . .

Wild Card: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

NightGardener Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Doll Bones Honored so why not another creepy little middle grade book?  Auxier pulls out all the stops here and is seriously literary in the process.  Is it distinguished?  Yep.  There’s serious heart and guts and other portions of the anatomy at work here.  It’s a smart book but appealing too.  Never downplay child appeal.  It’s worth considering.

Wild Card: The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

riverman Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

It’s probably a good sign when you can’t stop thinking about a book, right?  Again, we’re pushing up against the upper limits of the age restriction on Newbery Award winners here, but the book is worth it.  Objections I’ve heard lobbed against it say that Alexander doesn’t sound like a kid.  Well . . . actually, he’s not supposed to but you don’t really find that out until the second book.  So does that trip up the first one’s chances?  Maybe, but at least it’s consistent.  The objection that Aquavania isn’t realistic enough of a fantasy world would hold more weight if I thought it really WAS a fantasy world, but I don’t.  I think it’s all in the characters’ heads.  So my weird self-justifications seem to keep this one in the mix.  The only questions is, am I the only one?

Wild Card: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Crossover Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t even seriously considered this one until a friend of mine brought it up this weekend.  And OF COURSE it’s a contender!  I mean just look at that language.  It sizzles on the page.  I’m more than a little peeved that he didn’t garner a NAACP Image Award nomination for this title.  If he wins something it’s going to make them look pretty dang silly, that’s for sure.  They nominated Dork Diaries 8 and not THIS?!?  Okay, rant done.  In the end it’s brilliant and, amazingly enough, equally beloved of YA and children’s librarians.  The Crossover is a crossover title.  Who knew?

By the way, am I the only one with a shelf in my home of 2014 books that have Newbery potential and that I don’t want to read but am holding onto just in case I have to read them?  They ain’t gonna Moon Over Manifest me this year, by gum!  I am prepared!

Caldecott Award

Winner: Draw by Raul Colon

Draw Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Betcha you didn’t see that one coming, eh?  But honestly, I think this is where we’re heading.  First off, this isn’t one of my favorites of the year.  I’m just not making the emotional connection with it that I’d like to.  My favorite Colon of 2014?  Abuelo by Arthur Dorros.  But no one’s talking about that one (more fool they).  No, they like this one and as I’ve watched I’ve seen it crop up on more and more Best Of lists.  Then I sat down and thought about it.  Raul Colon.  It’s ridiculous that he doesn’t have a Caldecott Gold to his name.  He’s one of the masters of the field and this could easily be a case of the committee unconsciously thinking, “Thank God! Now we can give the man an award!”  We haven’t had a Latin American gold winner since David Diaz’s Smoky Night (talk about a book tied to its time period).  It just makes perfect sense.  Folks love it, it’s well done, and it could rise to the top.

Honors: The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

FarmerClown 500x406 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Again, not one of my favorites.  I love Marla Frazee and acknowledge freely that though I don’t get this book, I seem to be the only one who doesn’t (my husband berates me repeatedly for my cold cold heart regarding this title).  I mean, I absolutely adore the image of the little clown washing the smile off of his face, revealing his true feelings.  So since I’ve apparently a gear stuck in my left aorta, I’m going to assume that this is a book that everyone else sees clearly except me.  It could go gold, of course.  It seems to have an emotional hold on people and books with emotional holds do very well in the Caldecott race sometimes.  We shall see.

Honors: Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, ill. Jonathan Bean

BadByeGoodBye Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Could be wishful thinking on my part, but look at the book jacket, man.  Look at how it tells the entire story.  Look at his technique.  Isn’t it marvelous?  Look at how it’s not just an emotional journey but a kind of road trip through Americana as well.  Look at how he took this spare sparse text and gave it depth and feeling and meaning.  That is SERIOUSLY hard to do with another author’s work!!  Look at how beautiful it is and the emotionally satisfying (and accurate) beats.  Look upon its works, ye mighty, and despair.  Or give it a Caldecott Honor.  I’m easy.

Honors: Viva, Frida by Yuyi Morales

VivaFrida 500x500 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Admittedly it’s not a shoo-in.  In fact I’m a bit baffled that it didn’t show up on the recent list by Latinas for Latino Lit called Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014.  There are admittedly some folks who want this to be a biography and have a hard time dealing with the fact that that is not its raison d’etre.  Still others aren’t blown away by the text.  That said, we’re not looking at the text.  We’re looking at the imagery and the imagery is STUNNING.  I mean, it could win the gold easily, don’t you think?  Models and photography and two-dimensional art?  Yuyi Morales should have won a Caldecott years ago.  I think it’s finally time to give the woman some love.

Wild Card: Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

ThreeBearsBoat Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

“I still . . . I still, beeelieeeve!!!!”  Okay. So maybe it’s just me.  But when I sit down and I look and look and look at that image of the three little bears sailing into the sun with the light reflected off the water . . . *sigh*  It’s amazing.  I heard a very odd objection from someone saying that the bears don’t always look the same age from spread to spread.  Bull.  Do so.  Therein ends my very coherent defense.  It’s my favorite and maybe (probably) just mine, but I love it so much that I can’t give it up.  I just can’t.

Wild Card: Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy

NeighborhoodSharks Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition

Because how cool would it frickin’ be?  Few have looked at this book and considered it for a Caldecott, but that’s just because they’re not looking at it correctly.  Consider the cinematic imagery.  The downright Hitchcockian view of the seal up above where YOU are the shark below.  The two page attack!  The beauty of blood in the water.  I mean, it’s gorgeous and accurate all at once.  I don’t think anyone’s giving the woman enough credit.  Give it a second glance, won’t you?

And that’s it!  There are loads and loads of titles missing from this list.  The actual winners, perhaps.  But I’m feeling confident that I’ve nailed at least a couple of these.  We shall see how it all falls out soon enough.  See you in February!!

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47. Retro Tech: How “Old” Technology Helped with a “New” Problem

This fall at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central Library in Baltimore, MD, we welcomed a traveling exhibit of Maurice Sendak’s works. Maurice Sendak, The Memorial Exhibition: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons features exactly that, 50 of Sendak’s works spanning his career accompanied by 50 quotes from authors, academics, and celebrities about his art and books.

Our incredible Art Director, Jack Young, immediately got busy finding a way that we could help the exhibit be interactive. While we knew that the artwork was impressive on its own, we wanted to really make Sendak’s seminal book Where the Wild Things Are truly come alive. In Young’s artist’s eye, Max’s bedroom and ship took physical form.

A family explores Max's bedroom come to life. Photo owned by the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

A family explores Max’s bedroom come to life.

The result of all of this is an experience of Sendak’s art: seeing it in person, up close and experiencing it by physically stepping into the art of a beloved children’s book.

And here’s where we ran into what my dear colleague and friend would call a “high class problem”: we started drawing groups of students from schools all around the greater Baltimore area. Lots of them. Sometimes, one hundred kids would descend upon our library unannounced.

That’s when my awesome colleagues (Hi Wesley and Selma!) came up with an idea to do a video introduction to the exhibit. It was something we could show to a large group of students that would frame their visit, but wasn’t dependent on staff. It was more engaging than paper brochures. With the help of our technology guru, Ryan O’Grady, it became a quick reality.

Had we had limitless resources and time, we could have made an app! We could have done a badge-type scavenger hunt that would have connected to other library materials and resources! We could have let kids 3D print their own wild things to take home!

But we didn’t.

Frankly, we couldn’t.

Sometimes, even though we can dream it up, we just can’t do it. Librarians feel a lot of pressure to be sure that we’re keeping up with what’s cutting edge, providing experiences we know we want students to have with technology, and challenging ourselves as professionals to innovate.

And then sometimes, there are one hundred fourth graders staring you in the face and you realize that in this case, really, it’s about the art and bringing books alive for children and families. It’s about sharing an opportunity that might be once in a lifetime.

Opening the door inside of Max's bedroom reveals this fun surprise: Max himself!

Opening the door inside of Max’s bedroom reveals this fun surprise: Max himself!

Here’s my big aha: it’s okay not to make an app. And it’s okay to be okay with it.

So while we didn’t make use of any real 21st century technology, we did make use of what’s becoming a bit “retro” in the land of tech: video. Teachers have been thrilled by this simple introduction to the exhibit, and students sit up and pay attention.

My takeaway from this is to let the content, the intent, the purpose be your guide with technology. Choose what makes sense for your population and your mission. And while you shouldn’t shy away from opportunities to engage with and utilize what is new and cutting edge, don’t forget about those tech resources you have from days past that are still with us, still useful, and might just be the solution to your one hundred student problem.

— Jessica Brown
Children’s Services Coordinator
Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD

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48. The Hula-Hoopin' Queen: terrific picture book + gift idea (ages 5-10)

Each holiday I love pairing books with toys that kids will enjoy. Kids love toys (duh!) and these pairings extend the experience of both book and toy by capturing their imagination. This week, I'll share posts each day with fun ideas.

The Hula-Hoopin' Queen would be a perfect grandma gift for a young reader -- especially from a grandma that's still young at heart. Pair it with a sparkly hula hoop and you're all set!
The Hula-Hoopin' Queen
by Thelma Lynne Godin
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Lee & Low
, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-10
Kameeka loves hula hooping and is sure she can become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street--but Mama reminds her that she has to help get ready for Miz Adeline’s birthday. After all, Miz Adeline took care of Mama and Kameeka when they each were babies. How will Kameeka ever get all these things done and get outside to beat her rival Jamara?
"Girl, don't you even think about it. You know today is Miz Adeline's birthday."
When Kameeka heads out to run an errand, she sees Jamara and just can't avoid stepping up to save her reputation. By the time she gets home, it's too late to make the birthday cake! I especially love the ending, as Miz Adeline lets Kameeka see how much she loved hula hooping when she was a kid.
"Neighborhood kids crowd around as Jamara and I hoop."
Godin's text has snap and is great fun to read aloud. Brantley-Newton's illustrations really appeal to my students, capturing the feel of our multicultural urban community.

Pair this fun book with a hula hoop set and maybe you'll inspire some intergenerational or neighborly contests of your own.

Illustrations copyright ©Vanessa Brantley-Newton, 2014, shared via Lee and Low site and Thelma Lynne Godin's site. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Lee and Low Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on The Hula-Hoopin' Queen: terrific picture book + gift idea (ages 5-10) as of 12/14/2014 11:58:00 PM
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49. Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter

Becoming an elementary school librarian has changed the way that I read and think about children's books. Instead of reading to or imagining my own children reading the books I review, I now also think about my students and how they will receive and understand a book. Also, as a librarian, I can encourage (or insist) students read a book that they probably would never pick up on their own.

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50. 2015 Challenges: British History

Host: Impressions in Ink
Name:  British History Reading Challenge (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of books: 3+ (my goal is 12)

I'm so excited to join this challenge! I love and adore reading British history!!!! I'll be reading a mix of nonfiction and fiction.

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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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