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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Caldecott Award, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 25
1. Way Back Wednesday: The Canon of Picture Books

Walking Down Corridors with the Caldecott


Merriam-Webster defines the word “canon” as “a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related work” as in the canon of great literature.

I recently wrote a blog that intimated that just as most literate adults have read a canon of great literature that reaches a high water mark, so too in picture book literature there is a sort of canon of best books that define what a classic picture book is and should be in content and style and in the ability to move the imagination and heart of our youngest readers. That canon’s foundation, to some, starts with the list of Caldecott award winners and honor books begun in 1938. The Caldecott Medal “shall be awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States the preceding year.” Awarded by the Children’s and School Libraries section of the American Library Association, it’s named in honor of Randolph J. Caldecott, nineteenth-century English illustrator.   

At the Snuggery, in our Way Back Wednesday segments, we’ve tried to shine the spotlight on these gems that might have fallen off young parents’ picture book reading radar or slipped their notice. This year, in fact, marks the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott Medal and I’ve written blogs on many of them this year at the Snuggery. Have you ever had a feeling of perfect synchronicity, where things fall in an almost perfect alignment or “meaningful coincidence”?  I recently had one of those moments when I came face to face with the canon or at least large parts of it. I couldn’t take the smile from my face as if I were recognizing friends; friends that I wanted to introduce around.

I walked the halls of Penguin Young Readers, and there, as I turned corridor after corridor, lining the walls were the covers of the canon – framed. To see classic picture books in a store randomly displayed is one thing. BUT, to see one publishing house and its contributions to the canon was amazing! Many were books I’ve certainly read to children, my own included, and to other young ones in story hours I’ve done. It was a moment I’ll remember.

There was something about seeing row after row of great picture book covers that gave me a renewed hunger to share these books with young readers that haven’t heard the words and seen the pictures that make the stories come to life and to share with children something of the lives of the wonderful authors behind them. I didn’t just see the covers in those corridors. I saw the children for whom they were written who’ve read them and those who are still waiting to read them.

Don’t let your children and grands miss out on the start of the great picture book canon! And while you’re at it, add your own favorite “read it again” to the list! Back to school is the perfect time to “connect with the canon” and jump-start your children’s love of reading. You and your young reader can connect with all that lies beneath the covers of the canon!

Here is a list of just some of the extraordinary book covers I saw on those Caldecott corridors:




They Were Strong and Good – Robert Lawson – 1941                        

Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey – 1942

Madeline’s Rescue – Ludwig Bemelmans – 1954

Time of Wonder – Robert McCloskey – 1958

Nine Days to Christmas – Marie Hall Ets, illus., text: Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida – 1960

The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats – 1960

The Funny Little Woman – Arlene Mosel – 1973

Arrow to the Sun – Gerald McDermott – 1975

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears – Leo and Diane Dillon, illus.; text retold by Verna Ardema – 1976

Ashanti to Zulu – Leo and Diane Dillon, illus., text: Margaret Musgrove – 1977

Ox-Cart Man – Barbara Cooney, illus., text: Donald Hall – 1980

The Glorious Flight Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot – Alice and Martin Provensen – 1984

Owl Moon – John Schoenherr, illus., text: Jane Yolen – 1988

Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China – Ed Young – 1990

Mirette on the High Wire – Emily Arnold McCully – 1993

Officer Buckle and Gloria – Peggy Rathmann – 1996

Rapunzel – Paul O. Zelinsky – 1998

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat – Simms Taback – 2000

So You Want to Be President? – Judith St. George – 2001















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2. Book Awards and BoB

I feel so much better.  Do you know why????

Battle of the Books Brackets have been chosen.  I knew there was a good reason to return to the land of ice and wind and Internet access.  i just knew it.

Here they are:

Once again, I have read some, but not all, of the books.  I have direction!  I have purpose!  I have a goal.  I love Battle of the Books.

Now, the brackets are chosen BEFORE the American Library Association announces their Book Award Choices - which ALA did last Monday right before I re-learned body surfing on a Caribbean beach.

For the complete ALA approved list of Newbery Award winners, here you are.

Caldecott Winners, click here.

To check on all the other awards - for best children's non-fiction, or YA book, or social justice book, concept book, go to the ALA Book Awards page and click on the individual links.  There are just too many great books written for young people.

If you go to BoB's current post, you will see how well the Brackets match the ALA Award winners.  As always, judge's comments and the Peanut Gallery responses will be some of the best blog-reading of the year. 

Oh, I wonder when we get to vote for the Undead.  Or, gasp, has that vote been cast?  And who will be this year's awesome author/judges?  So many questions!  So many books!  So little time!  Excuse me, I have to put books on hold at the various libraries of which I am a member.

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3. Librarians Gone Wild! Celebrating the best books of the year: Newbery, Caldecott and more

Today was a certainly a day for Librarians Gone Wild! Across the nation, librarians gathered to watch the live announcements of the Newbery, Caldecott, Corretta Scott King Awards and more. Their were shouts of joy as favorites were honored, and sighs as others were not selected. But it is a happy day for all, as our profession celebrates the most distinguished and outstanding books for children.

I'll do a quick roundup today, and feature these outstanding books over the next several weeks.

Caldecott Award
As our Emerson 2nd graders know, this award honors the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book. One book receives the gold medal, and today four books also received the silver honor awards.

This Is Not My Hat
illustrated and written by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press, 2012
2013 Caldecott Medal winner
available at your local library and on Amazon
This darkly humorous tale will take kids by surprise as they wonder about the little fish who steals the enormous fish's hat and thinks he can get away with it. I can't wait to have kids act out this book, telling it from different points of view.

Five Caldecott Honor Books also were named. I am so happy that such a wide range of books have been honored. Some, like Creepy Carrots, amp up the fun, while others, like Green, mesmerize you with their beauty.

Creepy Carrots! 
illustrated by Peter Brown
written by Aaron Reynolds
Simon & Schuster, 2012
2013 Caldecott honor award
my review
available at your local library and on Amazon

Extra Yarn
illustrated by Jon Klassen
written by Mac Barnett
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2012
2013 Caldecott honor award
our Mock Caldecott discussion
available at your local library and on Amazon

illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Neal Porter Books / Roaring Brook Press, 2012
2013 Caldecott honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

One Cool Friend
illustrated by David Small
written by Toni Buzzeo
Dial Books / Penguin, 2012
2013 Caldecott honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

Sleep Like a Tiger
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
written by Mary Logue
Houghton Mifflin, 2012
2013 Caldecott honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

This award honors the writer of the most distinguished American book for children. It can be a picture book, but much more often it is a full length book. It can be either fiction or nonfiction, although most commonly it's fiction. One book receives the gold medal, and today three books also received the silver honor awards.

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
HarperCollins, 2012
my review
2013 Newbery Medal winner
available at your local library or on Amazon
I have been giving The One and Only Ivan to kids all summer and fall - as birthday presents, pressing into their hands in the library, carrying it to classrooms as soon as it's returned. This is a book that will touch your heart, make you think deeply about the way we treat animals. Even more than that, it will lead to conversations about friendship, humanity and respect. What a joy that this wonderful book received the Newbery Medal.

Three Newbery Honor Books also were named. They also show us the splendid range of children's books. I adored each and every one, from the enchanting historical fantasy of Spendors and Glooms to the fast-paced nonfiction of Bomb, to the mystery that kept me laughing of Three Times Lucky.

Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press, 2012
2013 Newbery honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
Steve Sheinkin
Flash Point / Roaring Brook Press, 2012
2013 Newbery honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage
Dial Books / Penguin, 2012
2013 Newbery honor award
available at your local library and on Amazon

I know I'm not able to say much about these books right now, but if you're willing to take a gamble, try one of them out. Each one of them is truly outstanding. That doesn't mean it will work for every kid, but rather that for the right audience they are exceptionally compelling, engrossing and memorable.
Well, I'm off to bed to rest after a wonderful weekend full of "Librarians Gone Wild". I feel truly lucky to be able to connect with amazing authors, inspiring professionals and enthusiastic publishers. But most of all, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to share these books with children, thinking of just the right book for each different kid.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

3 Comments on Librarians Gone Wild! Celebrating the best books of the year: Newbery, Caldecott and more, last added: 1/30/2013
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4. Fusenews: Gleep!

Durn.  This is what I get for not doing a Fusenews in a while.  A whole plethora of good stuff!  Let’s see what we can use up in a single day, eh?

For the record, if you haven’t read these Hunger Games comics (in the style of Kate Beaton, no?) then now’s the time.  They’re surprisingly good.

Good old poetry month.  From spine poems to 30 Poets / 30 Days the celebrations are magnificent.  Go ye, seek out and find.

  • I won’t normally link to podcasts but this recent Scriptnotes that covers how a screenwriter options a novel he wants to adapt includes a discussion of older children’s books that were considered for screen adaptation.  FYI!
  • On the one hand they’re 9 Barbies Based on Books.  On the other hand, if that Edward doesn’t sparkle and glow in the dark then I hope the people who purchased him got their money back.  Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.
  • When I worked the reference desk I got a lot of Stumpers.  Folks would ask me to come up with a beloved book from their childhood and I would try to figure it out.  If I couldn’t find it I’d take down all their information and ask PUBYAC on their behalf.  If that didn’t work I’d suggest Loganberry Books, even though they charge money.  Would that I had known about Whatsthatbook.com.  A free site where folks post their stumpers and other folks answer them, it’s pretty cool.  Sometimes I just like hearing the wacky descriptions. Current favorite: “Young girl reading to an older lady, girl almost gets caught in quicksand”.  I hate it when that happens.
  • Hello, under-a-rock denizens.  J.K. Rowling’s newest book is going to be released.  Hope you like community politics!!!
  • Do Childish People Write Better Children’s Books? Dude, if you want to walk up to Maurice Sendak and inform him that he is childish, be my guest.  I’m just gonna go hide behind this sturdy concrete pillar over here until the spatter of your remains stops with the spattering.
  • Stealing books from publishers is nothing new, but there’s something particularly slimy about doing it during the Bologna Book Fair

    6 Comments on Fusenews: Gleep!, last added: 4/19/2012
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5. Fusenews: Answer – The Horse

The laptop of my infinite sadness continues to remain broken which wrecks a certain special kind of havoc with my gray cells.  To distract myself, I plunge headlong into the silliest news of the week.  Let’s see if there’s anything here to console a battered Bird brain (something tells me that didn’t come out sounding quite right…).

  • The best news of the day is that Matthew Kirby was the recent winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery in the juvenile category for his fabuloso book Icefall.  My sole regret is that it did not also win an Agatha Award for “traditional mystery” in the style of Agatha Christie.  Seems to me it was a shoo-in.  I mean, can you think of any other children’s book last year that had such clear elements of And Then There Were None?  Nope.  In any case, Rocco interviews the two winners (the YA category went to Dandi Daley Mackall) here and here.
  • It’s so nice when you find a series on Facebook and then discover it has a website or blog equivalent in the “real world” (howsoever you choose to define that term).  The Underground New York Public Library name may sound like it’s a reference to our one and only underground library (the Andrew Heiskell branch, in case you were curious) but it’s actually a street photography site showing what New Yorkers read on the subways.  Various Hunger Games titles have made appearances as has Black Heart by Holly Black and some other YA/kid titles.  Just a quick word of warning, though.  It’s oddly engaging.  You may find yourself flipping through the pages for hours.
  • A reprint of Roger Sutton’s 2010 Ezra Jack Keats Lecture from April 2011 has made its way online.  What Hath Harry Wrought? puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in perspective now that we’ve some distance.  And though I shudder to think that Love You Forever should get any credit for anything ever (growl grumble snarl raspberry) what Roger has to say here is worthy of discussion.
  • And in my totally-not-surprised-about-this department… From Cynopsis Kids:

“Fox Animation acquires the feature film rights to the kid’s book The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom, per THR. A fairy tale mashup by first-time author by Christopher Healy and featuring illustrations by Todd Harris, revolves around the four princes from Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Chernin Entertainment (Rise of Planet of the Apes) is set to produce the movie. Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children’s Books release The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (432 pages) today.”

If y’all haven’t read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your King

9 Comments on Fusenews: Answer – The Horse, last added: 5/4/2012
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6. Newbery / Caldecott 2013: The Fall Prediction Edition

A little late but still got it out before the end of October and the imminent arrival of Frankenstorm.  I spent a goodly part of yesterday preparing for the hurricane by baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Now you know where my priorities lie.

The year has passed like a blur and there’s an interesting consistency to the books being discussed for Newberys and Caldecotts.  Newberys anyway.  This may be an entirely Wild Card Caldecott year as far as I can tell.  There are no sure fire winners.  Only worthy contestants.  Let’s begin!

Newbery 2013

The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds – I stand by this one.  It was weird when I put it on my last prediction list and weirder still that I’ve not removed it.  But the fact of the matter is that when we think of the word “distinguished” and apply it to writing, Leeds’ book stands up time and time again.  If you haven’t read it yet, I think you’ll have to grab yourself a copy and take a gander.  Shield thine eyes against the brown-ness of the book jacket and enjoy the stellar writing.  Yes, it’s a wild card, but such a lovely fun one.

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin – In spite of having one of the more difficult names to remember, I think this is my current front runner.  Yep.  I think we’ve got a gold medal winner on our hands.  It isn’t just the fact that it’s better than its predecessor (which won an Honor back in the day).  It’s the fact that Lin seamlessly weaves her folktales into the narrative in such a way that you half suspect she made them up (she didn’t).  It’s the fact that the writing is cyclical, referring back to itself and to the characters both telling and listening to the story.  It’s the fact that it’s masterful.  Nuff said.

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Obed – My pet beloved, and STILL it is not out yet.  Is there any way to curse a book more than to release it in November?  Talk is minimal about it, though it has gotten starred reviews already and Travis Jonker gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up over at 100 Scope Notes.  Consider this one the stealth contestant.  Nobody will see it coming . . .

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – Normally when a book breaks as early as this one did in the year it is either forgotten or less discussed by the year’s end.  Not the case with Wonder.  This is a case of a book coming out in the right place at the right time.  It managed to simultaneously touch people on an emotional level, wow them on a literary one, and (most important of all?) it falls under the sway of the current Anti-Bullying craze sweeping the nation.  Whole schools are adopting it as their One Book reads.  I had a discussion with someone the other day about how many award winners win simply because of timing.  Could Smoky Night by David Diaz or The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein (or even Johnny Tremain for that matter) have done so well if they hadn’t be published precisely when they were?  By the same token, Wonder at least has a VERY good chance at a Newbery honor.  Note that it didn’t make it onto the National Book Award finalists, though.  That may be why I’m not so sure of its gold chances.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker – If the book is sunk by anything at this point it may be the ending.  Not the happiness found there, mind.  I was a-okay with all of that.  Rather, the lack of attention the press takes in the story and the mildest of mild slaps on the wrist to the characters.  Still, in terms of character development this is maybe the strongest children’s novel of the year.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz – Shaking off the rather ridiculous notion that the book is boring (how much more blood would it take to be exciting exactly?) what has surprised me time and time again about this book is the reaction from patrons and librarians.  I expected to be the one lonely voice howling in the wind about its loveliness.  Instead I find myself just an average alto in a very large chorus.  Nina at Heavy Medals thinks it’s a love it or hate it title, but I have been surprised at how few folks I’ve run across dislike it or think it’s anything less than fantastic.  I recently did a Wolves of Willoughby Chase event and when asked who is akin to Joan Aiken, Ms. Schlitz’s name popped immediately to mind.  For writing alone, this should win something.

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin – Just as folks like Jonathan Hunt have their own tendencies when they talk about potential winners (he pushes YA, nonfiction, and easy/picture books) my personal bugaboo is the YA novel that wins a Newbery.  The award goes until the age of 14 so, technically, many is the book that could win.  However, I’ve always disliked it when a book meant for an older audience wins the day.  We have the Printz and though it does not receive the same press as the Newbery, I feel it covers the tween crowd quite nicely.  There are always exceptions, which is why I’m not exactly sitting down to rewrite the Newbery criteria.  Case in point, Bomb.  What I love about this is that while it does have an older audience in mind, the content is the kind of thing I’ve had many many 10, 11 and 12-year-olds asking me for over the years.  They want bomb info.  This book delivers and, amazing as it is to say, Jonathan actually agrees with me on this one.  Wowzer!

Crow by Barbara Wright – I have a co-worker with a near supernatural sense of ALA Award winners.  A year ago she kept harkening back to A Ball for Daisy.  Kept saying how worthy it was and how the wordless sequences really put it over the top.  This year she’s been getting the same feeling about Crow.  I will admit to you that it took a long time for me to pick this Reconstruction-era tale up but when I finished I was glad that I did.  It is worthy?  No question.  What may sink it is the question of kid-friendly reading.  Technically this is not a serious consideration on the part of the Newbery committee, but it’s still something they take into account.  Then again, my co-worker is so rarely wrong . . .

Not Mentioned (and why!):

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katharine Applegate – I was very fond of this one but I’m not sure if I’m ready to stick my flag into it and declare it a whole new world. It does some great things and like Wonder is very timely (the real Ivan died this year). Trouble is, it relies on a plot point that I’ve heard contested in more than one circle, so I’m not sure if it will get all that far.
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine – I was actually a big fan of this one. Really well done. Just didn’t quite have that little extra something to make it a Newbery.
  • No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson – Too YA.  Though if we consider the sheer lack of multiculturalism this year I’d be more than happy to have it seriously considered.
  • Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead – Love the book but I’m not sure of its long term staying power. A good one to be aware of in any case.
  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage – I adore it but this has turned out to be a hugely divisive book. Please, oh please, dear sweet committee, prove me wrong!


(this kind of thing is so much easier to do when the New York Times Best Illustrated List has already come out)

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – In a year that could conceivably be considered Stead vs. Stead vs. Stead (this, Phil’s A Home for Bird, and the duo’s Bear Has a Story to Tell) of all the Steadifying of 2012 this book remains my favorite.  It’s not just Fogliano’s delightful but careful and subdued writing.  It’s how Ms. Stead has chosen to portray the sheer swaths of time left waiting for something to grow in the spring.  This is a book about restraint (a notion foreign to most small children).  Let us hope the committee is not the least bit restrained and gives is a glorious little award.

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder – As a woman who spent her young adult life certain that she would become a professional photographer (ah, crazed youth) my heart is still firmly in the court of photography.  There is, naturally, the question of whether or not a book complemented by photographs constitutes “illustration”.  In the fine art world photography has always been pooh-poohed as a lesser art, and some of that prejudice slips down even to the world of children’s literature.  Indeed, no work of pure photography has ever won a Caldecott (the only near exception being Knuffle Bunny’s mix of photos and images).  Certainly I always thought that if any photographer got such an award it would have to be Nic Bishop.  If it happened to go to Rick Lieder instead, however, I would not mind a jot.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen – The last time I mentioned my predictions I failed to include this little gem.  The response from the artists out there was a universal cry of support.  Mr. Klassen is very big amongst his fellows.  That being said, there is some concern that the heroine of this book does not hold her knitting needles correctly. I can’t seem to find my copy but if true then this could potentially disqualify the book.  FYI.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – I refer you now to Lolly Robinson’s discussion at Calling Caldecott where she waxes rhapsodic about the various traits worth celebrating in the title.  To my horror, however, she pointed out a small mistake.  It sounds like a mild design issue and hopefully not a dealbreaker.  Just the same, it could well reduce what I once thought of as the Caldecott frontrunner to an Honor.  Or maybe not!    I’m still counting on getting a green Newbery/Caldecott dress out of this.

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff – A smart mix of tribute and original storytelling/art.  One of the younger Caldecott contenders seen here, and I think that’s important.  It is restrained in its text, but to just the right degree.  Hopefully the committee will see it for the smart little book that it is.

Not Mentioned (and why!):

  • Z is for Moose by Kelly A. Bingham, ill. Paul O. Zelinsky – Hugely popular it is. Lots of fun as well. I’m just not certain it outshines the other potential candidates this year, that’s all. Still a stellar piece of work, no matter how you slice it.
  • This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen – No, I’m afraid his work on Extra Yarn has a better chance. This one is a visual stunner, but not quite there on the writing side.
  • Oh No! by Candace Ransom, ill. Eric Rohmann – Great book but alas someone showed me a perspective problem near the end that may sink it for the committee. Doggone it.

And your thoughts?

10 Comments on Newbery / Caldecott 2013: The Fall Prediction Edition, last added: 10/29/2012
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7. Fusenews: Post-Sandy Edition

As I write this I don’t know what the election results are and I shall refuse to think about them all the livelong day.  Lalalalalala!  No images today, by the way.  I apparently hit my limit and need to beg SLJ for a little more space.  I’m good for it!  Honest!

  • So there’s lots of post-Sandy news and ways that you can help the libraries that got hit hard in the gut this past week.  First let’s start with something (relatively) cheery.  PW did a great series of interviews with folks in the publishing industry hit by Sandy.  There you can read how Lois Lowry and Laura Vaccaro Seeger dodged death (fairly literally) and why folks like Eric Berlin and Rebecca Stead are being namechecked in Hoboken.  They also did a piece on how folks like Kate Messner (with Kid Lit Cares) and Urban Librarians Unite have been coming together to collect books and money for hard hit systems.  Author/illustrator Peter Brown alerted me to this fantastic and continually updated list of what the various shelters and organizations in the community need desperately at this time.  Meanwhile I wanted to help out Hoboken in some way but it’s still too soon to find out how.  In the meantime, there’s a good site dedicated to Rebuilding New Jersey’s Libraries for those of you who want to help.
  • There are some interesting posts ah-brewing over at the Forum of the American Journal of Education.  Steven Herb, a fellow who has served on more than a few committees during his time looks at Caldecott Awards and Honors past and present with some interesting insights. I never knew the beef folks had with Marcia Brown’s Shadow until now, but I definitely get the grumbles.  Then he goes on to answer all your questions about how the darn Caldecotts are given out anyway.  Thanks to Vic Sensenig for the links!
  • One request: When I die, could someone please write a catchy song using my name that sounds as fun as this one made for picture book author/illustrator Bill Peet by the kids at The Calhoun School?  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.  Honest.  Thanks to Karen Walsh for the link.
  • Suppose I should mention some of the serious news out there.  This broke just before the hurricane did but even strong winds couldn’t distract us from the fact that Penguin and Random House are set to become as one.  Naturally the response over the blogosphere is to come up with a name for this new company.  The Random Penguin House is the most repeated, so why don’t we just simplify things and just call it Odd Ice Floe instead?  Has a ring to it, it does.

You may have missed it, and you’d be forgiven if you had, but the New York Times Best Illustrated list of 2012 is out and boy is it a doozy!  The winners include:

  • Bear Despair written and illustrated by Gaëtan Dorémus (Enchanted Lion)
  • The Beetle Book written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Houghton)
  • House Held Up by Trees written by Ted Kooser; illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
  • The Hueys in the New Sweater written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
  • Infinity and Me written by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (Carolrhoda)
  • Little Bird written by Germano Zullo; illustrated by Albertine (Enchanted Lion)
  • One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World written and illustrated by Joe McKendry (Godine)
  • Red Knit Cap Girl written and illustrated by Naoko Stoop (Tingley/Little)
  • Stephen and the Beetle written by Jorge Luján; illustrated by Chiara Carrer (Groundwood)
  • Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad written and illustrated by Henry Cole (Scholastic)

I’ve read each and every last one of these and what strikes me is how international it is this year.  French, Irish, Japanese, Canadian, and more author/illustrators grace the list.  A special shout out to Claudia over at Enchanting Lion Books for getting two titles on there, but it’s just as nice to see little guys like Groundwood and Lerner having their day in the sun.  I haven’t reviewed a single one of these, but now I’m thinking maybe it would be a good idea.  Dunno.  They’re all rather . . . rather tasteful, wouldn’t you say?

  • Hey!  Travis Jonker over at 100 Scope Notes went and had a baby on us!  Well, congrats to you, Travis!  Little bugger is one good looking dude.  Woo-hoo!
  • You know how college kids are always creating elaborate, relatively clever pranks in their Senior years?  Well, when I attended Earlham College back in the day I walked into our cafeteria (called, like every other cafeteria in the nation, Saga) to find that someone had managed to paint a huge image on the ceiling .  We’re talking a good 40 feet off the ground, there were some beloved character’s from the school newspaper, Plato’s Republic, as penned by Alexis Fajardo.  They were reenacting Michelangelo’s God touching Adam’s finger moment.  It was beautiful.  Fast forward some 20 odd years later (doing the math . . . not quite right but close enough) and that same Alexis Fajardo has started a Kickstarter page for his graphic novel series Kid Beowulf.  Seems that his publisher up and died on him as he was producing the third volume, so he needs a bit of a kick.  Check out the site and see what you think.  I guarantee you won’t find another comic starring Beowulf and his twin brother Grendel having adventures.
  • Finally, the following notice was sent by author Kathi Appelt.  I met Laura myself, so I know how important this can be.  In lieu of a Daily Image today, please read the following:

Dear everyone–

I have a favor to ask.  A few years ago I met a remarkable young girl named Laura Rodgers. When she was in the second or third grade she made a decision to read all of the Newbery books, along with honor books.  When she was in the fifth grade, she started her own  mock Newbery blog:  http://lauramitolife.blogspot.com/

Now she’s in the seventh grade and she is really struggling.  Laura was born with mitochondrial disease and it appears to be taking a huge toll on her, effecting primarily her muscular functions.  It seems to be mimicking something like MS, and she is no longer able to walk or to use her hands for small motor things.  I’ve been in touch with her mom, Rylin, and it’s not looking good right now.

Since the one thing that Laura loves above all else is books, I asked her mom if she thought some autographed books would cheer her up, and her answer was unequivocal.  So, here I am, asking you all to consider sending Laura an autographed book or two with your John Henry’s.  I know it would mean the world to Laura.  Over the years, I’ve sent her as many picture books as novels, along with non-fiction and poetry.  She loves all of them.

If you’re like me, I’m always getting asked for free autographed books, and I give an awful lot of them away, mostly for auctions and prizes, and always for good causes.  But in this case, I know exactly who is receiving my books–someone who loves them, and needs them too.

If you have the inclination, please send copies to:

Laura Rodgers
4060 W 400 S
Lebanon IN 46052

And please also, send this message to any other author/illustrator pals you know. As I write this, it’s late and I know I’m missing people.  I think it would be great to bombard our young reader with a whole boatload of autographed books.  I’m not going to post this on facebook just because I don’t want it to get that out of control, but it would be great to send it to anyone you know personally, along with my gratitude.

Thanks so much,
Love, Kathi

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8. Mock Caldecott discussions at Emerson, Part 2

Emerson 2nd graders have **loved** reading and thinking about which picture book they would award with the 2013 Caldecott Medal. This project is really deepening their ability to articulate how pictures contribute to an overall story. In library language, we call this "visual literacy" - the ability to interpret and make meaning from illustrations. Here are four more of our favorite picture books from 2012.

Extra Yarn
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen
Balzar + Bray, 2012
ages 4 - 8
reviewed here
available at your local library and on Amazon
Our students love Extra Yarn more and more with each reading. Even though the artwork is subdued, they respond to Annabelle's creative spirit, to her generosity and to her tenacious refusal to sell her precious box to the archduke. They love the surprising twists of this story, and the way that the illustrations add to the visual surprises. The notice that the illustrations help make the pacing and details are perfect; in particular, the love the wordless pages near the end, as readers need to guess what is happening to the box of yarn.
Little Dog Lost
by Mônica Carnesi
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012
ages 4-8
reviewed at Calling Caldecott
available at your local library or on Amazon
Children have really responded to this true story of a little dog who was stuck on an ice flow in Poland’s Vistula River, and rescued after drifting for two days on the open sea. Was it just because our students adore little dogs, or do the illustrations really add to this? After a hearty debate, our students definitely think Carnesi's illustrations are distinguished, making the story "pop", helping them connect to the dog and understand how he felt. Carnesi creates tension as one thing goes wrong after another. She creates empathy without overdoing the emotions. In fact, today's class voted this as their winner! We'll see if the Caldecott Committee notices this sweet, quiet story - we sure hope so.
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook Press, 2012
ages 3 - 8
reviewed at Fuse #8
available at your local library or on Amazon
On the surface, this is a book about just one color; but as our students quickly realized, Seeger makes readers appreciate just how many variations there are for a single color. Students loved Seeger's inventive descriptions of different shades of green, from forest green to sea-green to khaki green. We talked about the texture of the oil paint and the canvas that shows on each page. And they loved the twist near then end when Seeger adds yet another layer with “all green / never green / no green / forever green.” This is certainly a book where the illustrations extend it far beyond its simple words, making reader think about color in new and different ways.
And Then It's Spring
by Julie Fogliano
illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Roaring Brook Press, 2012
ages 3 - 8
reviewed here
available at your local library or on Amazon
While this book took my breath away, it did not stay with our 2nd grade readers quite the same way when compared to other favorites in our Mock Caldecott discussions. When we read it together, the students responded to the details in each illustration, noticing what different animals were doing on each spread. They liked the muted colors and the building of tension as the little boy waited and waited for spring. But I think this quiet book might be too slow and subdued for their tastes. But I wonder if the Caldecott Committee might appreciate the way Stead's artwork builds the themes and anticipation in this lovely story.

Many thanks to the publishers for supporting our Mock Caldecott unit: Penguin, Harper Collins and Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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9. Mock Caldecott discussions, part 3 - how our students are reacting

Our 2nd graders have loved sharing their thoughts and opinions about what the best picture books have been this year. We've talked lots about how the Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator, and how we need to think about how the pictures add to the story above and beyond the words. We've talked about the color choices illustrators make, the way the convey emotions in characters' expressions, and the perspectives they use and how this brings readers into the picture books.

Above all, they feel part of the process and are excited to find out the winners of the 2013 Caldecott Medal. Are you looking forward to it? Check out this website: ALA Youth Media Awards. You can also check into Facebook for the announcements on Monday morning.

My students passionately discussed three more books today, declaring love and admiration for all three. They're convinced that the Caldecott Committee has a very hard job on their hands, comparing these different illustrations!

Chloe and the Lion
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Adam Rex
Disney / Hyperion, 2012
reviewed here
ages 4-8
available at your local library and on Amazon
Our second graders thought it was hilarious the way that the author and illustrator argued in this story. But more than that, they argued vociferously that the illustrations add to the humor and pizazz of this story. The love the combination of different media - with the puppet figures for Adam and Mac, the cartoon characters for Chloe, and the stage elements that give the story a 3-D feeling. They laughed at the way Adam's dragon is way-cooler than Mac's lion. And they loved the resolution at the end. This is a smart story that completely hooks its audience. In many ways, it reminds me of Interrupting Chicken, a Caldecott honor book in 2011.
by Henry Cole
Scholastic, 2012
reviewed at 100 Scope Notes
ages 7-10
available at your local library and on Amazon
This wordless book took our breath away when we read it. It's truly a book that makes you think at each step of the way, as you unravel and make sense of the story. As the pieces of the puzzle came together for my 2nd graders, they were amazed at the young girl's kindness and courage, and the runaway slave's daunting challenge escaping to freedom. We talk all the time about "reading is thinking" and Henry Cole asks his readers to do just this. On our first read, some of my students were frustrated that we never see the full face of the African American hiding in the corn stalks. But as we talked about it today, those same students talked about how much this story stayed with them. Cole's pencil drawings evoke the girl's emotions and the setting of Civil War Virginia, creating tension and mystery within this quiet book. It's a book that will stay with us for many years.
Z is for Moose
by Kelly Bingham
illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2012
discussed at Calling Caldecott
ages 3-7
available at your local library and on Amazon
With giggles and pointing, our 2nd graders ate up every inch of Bingham and Zelinsky's mad romp in Z is for Moose. They loved the goofiness of the premise, but they also loved the heart of the story - declaring that this is really a friendship story in the end. We talked at length about how the illustrations add to the story. The love the chaos that ensues when Moose disrupts the story, but they also responded to the emotions in Moose's face as he felt left out from all the fun. Just look at Zebra's expression on the cover and you can tell the way Zelinsky adds tension through those angry eyes. Other children noticed the way the color frames contrast with the background and the stage. But mostly, our second graders just loved this silly, funny book and wanted to read it over and over again.

We did not have an official Mock Caldecott vote with our second graders. Over five weeks, I read three classes different sets of books. Maybe next year I'll rotate a set amongst the classes, the way that Travis Jonkers did (see his post here). Whatever the case, the children really developed their ability to talk about picture books they love, support their ideas with clear reasoning, and share their love with other children.

Many thanks to the publishers for supporting our Mock Caldecott unit: Disney / Hyperion, Harper Collins, and Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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10. Adaptive Blue Love

I just emailed Adaptive Blue last week and asked for new widgets for this year's Newbery and Caldecott winners and the obliged so kindly!!! So I put them in my side bar and I'm sharing them with you all!! Thank you Adaptive Blue - you are AMAZING!!!


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11. New ALA Book Awards

The winners have just been announced and they are....TA DA!

2010 Newbery Award--WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead


2010 Caldecott Award--THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney

Honor Books (this one was a favorite of mine)--ALL THE WORLD illustrated by Marla Frazee and written by Liz Garton Scanlon
RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Joyce Sidman.

More award-winning books tomorrow...

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12. Big Day for Awards

It is the BIG day - when SO many great awards are announced:
Newberry Award - pleased to say I've read all but ONE!!!  (That always makes me proud!)  The winner was:  When you Reach Me  by Rebecca Stead - a story I enjoyed - although certainly not one of my all-time favorites for the year - but they do this to me almost every year - I'm not surprised!

Caldecott Award - this one I fell short - but they are now all on order for our library! I had not seen the winner - The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - but it looks fabulous!

So there you go - now you are "in the know" too!!  Enjoy!

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13. Fusenews: As one does

I am writing this post today around 9 p.m. on Sunday.  As such, many of you will read this, knowing full well who the Newbery and Caldecott winners are.  I will be a little behind you in this respect.  Amusingly, I realized too late that I scheduled my latest sonogram for the PRECISE moment the ALA Media Awards will be announced.  I blame time zones.  Or, rather, my apparent lack of understanding about time zones.  So just picture me on the doctor’s table, Android phone in hand, watching the Twitter updates scroll past.  That’s priorities for you, eh?

  • Speaking of Caldecotts and Newberys (I always come this close to writing “Newberies”), Elizabeth Bluemle over at ShelfTalker recently figured out how many men vs. women win those two awards.  In short, boys get lots of Caldecotts, girls get lots of Newberys.  Harold Underdown points out in the comments that when he did similar research ten years ago he pretty much got the same results.  The more things change, the more things stay the same.  For her part, Kyra Hicks at Black Threads in Kid’s Lit calculated similar stats a year ago for male to female winners of the Coretta Scott King Award.  She’ll have to update those stats after today, of course.  Fingers crossed for Rita Williams-Garcia (I want her to win everything).
  • I was talking with an author the other day about the books that I’m working on.  Infinitely lucky, I’m publishing books with two of my favorite companies/imprints: Greenwillow of Harper Collins and Candlewick.  When I mentioned this and that I was trying to get all my favorites under my belt (I’m eyeing you hungrily, Chronicle) they replied, “Ah.  How about Abrams?”  Well, I’ve been very impressed with Abrams over the last two to three years, and not just because they know how to raise a Wimpy Kid.  They just do good work.  So it was with great pleasure that I learned that one of my husband’s fellow screenwriters, Jonathan Auxier, has a book with Abrams due later this year in the fall called Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.  Keep that title in your brain for a while and check out Jonathan’s new blog The Scop if you’ve a chance to do so.
  • Yes my husband Matt is a screenwriter and he sports a jaunty blog of his own called Cockeyed Caravan.  From time to time he’ll allow friends and folks in the field to write posts there with their own cinematic recommendations.  Not too long ago our best buddy Geoff went on with his own, and danged if one of films he came up with wasn’t Sounder, based on the 1970 Newbery Award winning novel by William H. Armstrong.  I swear he didn’t do that film for me, as (I’m ashamed to admit) I’ve never seen it.  I want to now, though.  A nice continuation of our Newbery themed day, eh?
  • Hey, do you remember a couple months ago when I asked you guys to mention any books about Afr

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14. Newbery/Caldecott 2011 or Well, How Awesome Was THAT?

Didn’t I TELL you it was a Wild Card Year?  And the truth?  I adore Wild Card Years.  They’re my favorites, and not just because my Newbery year’s committee picked The Higher Power of Lucky either.  The whole reason I like the ALA Media Awards is because right until the last minute anybody can win and everybody’s fair game (always assuming they meet the right criteria).  So here’s my round-up of the winners!  And for the record, if you want to see the full list of winners (which I will not put here because I am lazy) head on over to Heavy Medal.  That’s where they lay.

We also get to play a little game I like to call How Many of These Did Fuse #8 Actually Read/Review.  I’ve never tallied my previous years before, so let’s start now!  From the top:

Newbery Award Winner:

Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool – I love you, Ms. Vanderpool.  Yes, I had a different winner picked out since (checks date of review) this time last year, but that’s okay.  If it had to go to anyone, I’m glad it went to a book that came so far out of left field that it left all the folks who had made predictions panting in the dust (including myself, of course).  It has three starred reviews to its name, which in some circles is considered the magic number for any Newbery winner.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.  Random House book.  You understand.  And that makes two years in a row for them!

Newbery Honors:

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm – Woo-hoo!  Go, Jenni, go go go!  Loved that book, I did.  I just hope she gets an actually shiny gold award soon.  All these Honors are cool, but I wanna see her make a dive for the medal proper and soon.  Did I Review It: No.  Did  I Even Read It: Yes! 

Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus – Wow!  The book I thought would get a Scott O’Dell Award got a Newbery Honor instead!  Well played, Ms. Preus.  I’m not all that surprised, of course.  It’s a rip-roaring adventure tale with some fabulous writing.  I was a big fan.  Did I Review It: You bet!  I did a podcast review of it over at the Katie Davis site.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen – Silly me.  I read and reviewed the OTHER Joyce Sidman book this year (Ubiquitous) and left this one, the actual award winner, out in the cold.  Honestly, that was because I preferred the art in Ubiquitous to the art in this title.  But since I always assume Newbery committees won’t give props to poetry, I missed this one’s great Honor win.  Did I Review It: Nope.  Did I Even Read It: Nope and nope.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia – Ahhh.  Well at least it has an Honor and enough buzz around it that folks will remember it for years and years.  My initial review of this title came out on February 2, 2010, almost one year ago.  It’s always a kind of relief to know that a book you loved and adored for that long had other fans as well.  That silver sticker will look awful pretty on th

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15. Fusenews: Newbery Fallout

Oh sure, it may seem like everyone’s all smiles and happiness after the recent announcements of the ALA Media awards, but don’t be fooled.  There’s definitely a deep discord of discontent out there.  Funny thing is, it has nothing to do with the books and everything to do with the day after the awards.  For the past eleven years the winners of the Newbery and the Caldecott Awards have gone on The Today Show to speak with the folks there for roughly 15 seconds.  It’s not a big spot, but it’s the only time the nation gets to really hear about these books and it’s important.  This year . . . well, you may have seen the headlines.  Monica Edingers’ Did Snooki Bump Children’s Book Award Winners From the Today Show?
was my personal favorite.  Since that post the details have been released.  According to the SLJ article ‘Today Show’ Snubs 2011 Caldecott, Newbery Winners, The Today Show gave the excuse that they were all booked up for the week thanks to the aforementioned Snooki.  Said their publicist, ” ‘The Internet rumors insinuating that we ‘bumped’ the Newbery and Caldecott winners for a segment with Snooki, that we ‘passed up’ the winners for Snooki, or that there was a ‘lack of interest’ in the winners, are totally false,” says Megan Kopf, publicist for the Today Show, in an email. ‘Snooki was booked on Today before the winners were even pitched to us’.”  If by “pitched” they mean “were told” then that’s really no excuse since for the past eleven years none of this was a surprise to The Today Show.

I’ve seen folks on Twitter questioning why anyone’s upset since it’s not like other TV networks do anything for children’s literature.  All true, but The Today Show really is one of the few networks to give books for kids some cred.  Al’s Book Club for Kids may have its flaws, but Mr. Roker does an awesome job of showing new books and kids reading.  One would think there’d be some spillover into other aspects of the show like, say, a mere 30 seconds dedicated to the most highly regarded award for children’s books and their writing and art.  Instead, bupkiss.

  • SCBWI had an excellent response of its own, printing the letter it sent to NBC as well as various news outlets.  It even mentioned the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, which was good timing.   Seriously though, when all is said and done I think YA author and 90-Second Newbery creator James Kennedy put it best when he commented, “You are all going to be so embarrassed when next year’s Newbery goes to Snooki.”
  • That was gossipy.  Let’s scale it back a notch then.  There were some delightful wrap-ups of the Newbery winners, but to my (perhaps biased but nonetheless accurate) mind none really can compare with those produced by my fellow bloggers/co-writers.  First off, Peter at 12 Comments on Fusenews: Newbery Fallout, last added: 1/14/2011
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16. Try a Little Tenderness

Stead, Philip C. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Illus. by Erin E. Stead.Roaring Brook, 2010. Ages 3-7.

This year’s 2011 Caldecott went to a sweet, whimsical story of kindness. Amos McGee works at the zoo and sets aside time each day for the animals; he would play chess with the elephant, run races with the tortoise, sit with the shy penguin, lend a handkerchief to the rhino, and read to the owl. Then one day Amos gets sick and stays in bed. The lonely animals decide to take action; that afternoon they make their way to Amos’s home. Throughout the book, Erin Stead’s pencil and woodblock illustrations sprinkle humorous details guaranteed to make readers smile. My favorite is the double spread showing the animals riding the bus, while others will be charmed by the last illustration, showing the quiet penguin gazing at the moon while the others snooze away after a busy afternoon taking care of their friend.

Looking for more kindness? For ages 4-7, try last year’s Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and, for Valentine’s Day, reach for Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli. For older children, consider Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson and the Cinderella variations that focus on the protagonist’s kindness:  The Talking Eggs by Robert San Souci, Papa Gatto by Ruth Sanderson, and Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra. Also, see my December 27th post on being kind to animals.

What are your favorite children’s books featuring kindness? Please leave a comment!

Filed under: Caldecott Award, Picture Books Tagged: 2010 Caldecott, 2011 Caldecott, Eileen Spinelli, Jerry Pinkney, Katherine Paterson, Robert D. San Souci, Ruth Sanderson 2 Comments on Try a Little Tenderness, last added: 1/20/2011
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17. NonFiction for Black History Month

Booklist provides information on the TOP 10 BOOKS FOR YOUTH for Black History Month.

Another title to add to this list, especially for younger readers, is this year's Caldecott Honor winner and Coretta Scott King Award: DAVE THE POTTER: Artist, Potter, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill & Bryan Collier. This biography explores the life of a 19th century slave, master potter, and poet.

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18. Architects of Memories

Wells, Rosemary and Secundino Fernandez. My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood. Illus. by Peter Ferguson. Candlewick, 2010. Ages 8-12.

Memories can move us forward or backward, depending on how we use them. My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood evokes the intensity of one child’s connection to his home in 1950s Havana. Prolific children’s book author Rosemary Wells once heard a radio interview with the Cuban-American architect Secundino Fernandez and years later located Fernandez and worked with him to produce this resonant little historical novel burnished with hope and light.

Secundino, or Dino, relishes his city avenues “lined with coral-stone archways, ancient doors, and window frames painted bright as birds-of-paradise.” As twilight arrives, neighbors begin their checker games, and the cafes fill with people. Dino loves to sketch the buildings, with their porticoes and marble columns. The first time Dino leaves the city of his heart, he crosses the Atlantic to spend time with his grandparents in Spain. When he finally returns home, he expects to stay. Dictators — first Batista, then Castro — take over, though, and the family abandons their restaurant to join relatives in New York City.

So homesick in this dark and dreary new environment, Dino relies on his memory to recreate his beloved Havana in the confines of his bedroom. With great care, he cuts out cardboard to represent its archways, balconies and cafes. Aluminum foil glued to plywood and glazed with blue nail varnish becomes a sparkling turquoise harbor. The double-spread illustration depicting the imaginative boy, scissors in hand, beautifully captures his resourceful nature. The novel closes with Dino adapting to his new world: “New York sunlight, shimmering with the promise of summer, settles round my shoulders like the arms of my mother. It is almost like my Havana.” This brief novel would brighten units on immigration, Cuba, or architecture.

Macaulay, David. Built to Last. Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Ages 9 and up.

In my decade as a school librarian, I often watched children poring over Macaulay’s remarkable architecture books. Rather than merely compiling his acclaimed books, Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque, Macaulay has created new colored illustrations, revised the text, and clarified some explanations.

While some might still long for the previously published cross-hatched illustrations, Macaulay’s changes enhance the reader’s experience of the architecture of the past. He ushers us into his Castle, for instance, with a double-spread illustration of a purple-robed king surveying a map, with pawns awaiting strategic placement. The castle Macaulay highlights is imagined but based on castles built for the conquest of Wales between 1277 and 1305, His interesting perspectives of the workers and how they go about building still capture the hearts of readers, young and old. In Cathedral, Macaulay was inspired by the 13th-century Gothic cathedrals of France. It’s hard to resist sharing Macaulay’s passion for the plans, methods and tools used by those builders “whose towering dreams still stand today.” Finally, the least changed a

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19. Love It to Death BUT It’ll Never Win a Caldecott

Okay, here’s a thought for you.  Perhaps this is a conversation better suited to Calling Caldecott but I’ve been thinking about those picture books that folks love in a given year but that they know in their heart of hearts will never win a Caldecott Award.  And not because their illustrators aren’t American residents, but because there’s just something about the books that don’t feel Caldecottish.

Hindsight is 20/20 but looking back at my past Caldecott predictions in previous years I look at the titles I loved that didn’t get any attention and I sigh.  These have included:

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Chicken Little by Rebecca and Ed Emberley

A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Michael Wertz

Dinotrux by Chris Gall

Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young

One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Matthew Trueman

All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure


My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

The Boys by Jeff Newman

Oh No! by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat

At one time or another I thought all of these had a chance, but somehow they didn’t.  Now I look at this year’s crop of books and some that I adore I know for a fact will never get a chance. A person can always be surprised, of course.  Still, is there any picture book you’ve seen this year that is made of awesome but that you’re 99.9% certain won’t win an ALA accredited award?

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20. Newbery / Caldecott / Etc. 2012: Post Awards Edition

Since it’s apparently football season (or at least that’s what the trending topics on Twitter seem to imply) think of this as a kind of post-game recap of what went on yesterday in the land of ALA Media Awards.  Each year I like to look at what I got right, what I got wrong, what I got horrendously wrong, and what I got so wrong that it’s a miracle I’m even allowed to blog anymore.  And because I believe in eating my cake before my dinner, we’ll start at the top and work our way down (metaphorically speaking).

First up:

Newbery Winners: I Got Them Moves Like Gantos

When I posted my review of The Great Cake Mystery yesterday and happened to include at the end an image of Dead End in Norvelt: British Edition (called just plain old Dead End and shown here) I hadn’t even considered the possibility that the darn book was poised to win the greatest honor in the field of children’s literature.  Why had I recovered from my Gantos fever?  Well, I think Jon Scieszka put it best yesterday when he tweeted his congrats to Jack and applied the hashtag #afunnybookfinallywins.  Ye gods.  He’s right.  I ran over to ye olde list of past Award winners and while some contain elements of humor, none of them have been as outright ballsy in their funny writing as Gantos was here.  I mean, you can make a case for Despereaux or Bud Not Buddy if you want, but basically even those books drip of earnestness.  And on some level I must have figured the funny book couldn’t win.  I had forgotten myself the moniker I had applied to this year.  The Year of Breaking Barriers.  Well if giving a big award to a funny title isn’t breaking a barrier here or there, I don’t know what is.

It’s really funny to read my mid-year and fall predictions in regards to the Gantos title.  In the middle of the year I mentioned the book as a possibility but even then I wasn’t putting too much hope there.  I wrote:

This is undoubtedly wishful thinking on my part.  Gantos has never gotten the gold, and he deserves it someday.  This book, of course, has a weird undercurrent to it that may turn off a certain breed of Newbery committee member.  Not everyone is going to find Jack’s constant brushes with death as interesting as I do.  Still, I hold out hope that maybe this’ll be a Gantos-luvin’ committee year.  Stranger things have happened.

Stranger indeed.  By the fall I was mentioning it, but only in passing and with the feeling that it was an unlikely bet so that by my last prediction it had fallen off the radar entirely.

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21. Sydney Taylor Book Award: honoring books that portray Jewish experiences

Every year, I am excited to see the books selected for the Sydney Taylor Book Award by the Association of Jewish Libraries. This award "honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience." This award is in honor of Sydney Taylor, author of The All-of-a-Kind Family, a classic series about an immigrant Jewish family in New York City in the early 1900s.

I'd like to highlight a few books from their list this year that particularly struck me as having wonderful appeal to children and families:

Chanukah Lights
by Michael Rosen and Robert Sabuda
MA: Candlewick, 2011
ages 7 - 10
2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers
available at your local library, favorite bookstore and on Amazon
Michael Rosen and Robert Sabuda are honored with the 2012 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers Category for Chanukah Lights, an intricate cut paper pop-up book that celebrates Jewish history and the Chanukah holiday. Barbara Bietz, Chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, said: “From the shtetl to skyscrapers, the white pop-up scenes against a background of deep rainbow colors illuminate Jewish life for the eight nights of Chanukah. Together, children and adults will marvel at the stunning scenes that magically unfold with each turn of the page.”
Naamah and the Ark at Night
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
illustrations by Holly Meade
MA: Candlewick, 2011
ages 4 - 8
2012 Sydney Taylor honor award
available at your local library, favorite bookstore or on Amazon
As Noah’s wif

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22. It doesn't matter if it rains

I haven't baked much bread recently - it's too much of a battle when the weather is cold. The tiny Hovel kitchen is draughty and the dough sulks. But now the temperatures are picking up I've been getting my kneading hands back in action and it is wonderful to have a decent loaf again. Even the deli bread is not as good as this baby made with flour from Matthews Mill down the road.

before and after

But, with our British climate being a bit unreliable, it's all change again - we are forecast rain.
Lots of it. So like everyone else in the village I was up and down to the little supermarket this morning, to get my 'Times' before the heavens opened. It was a bright but cloudy morning and the shop was bustling. I was at the back of the queue with a couple of ladies I know. 'It's like the Pear Tree roundabout in here' I remarked; they laughed and agreed. (trivia note for Inspector Morse fans - you will hear the PTR mentioned in some episodes, as it is a notorious Oxford traffic jam area, used by locals and Lewis everywhere as a genuine - or not - excuse for being late) Naturally we discussed the weather. I remarked that I was going for a walk that morning so I hoped the rain would hold off. It was generally agreed that rain was a pesky nuisance. Now, one of the ladies has recently suffered the loss of her closest friend. They went everywhere together and even wore outfits which complimented or matched the other's. Let's call this lady Peggy and her friend, Ivy. Peggy leaned over her trolly, her eyes shining with memory. She had a story.
"But walking in the rain is lovely" she said. "Me and Ivy, we were walking in the fields across the way
once, and we were wearing no more then this" - she plucked at her light knitted top, which seems to be de rigeur for elderly women in the country. "And then there was this cloudburst! We was drenched! And Ivy, she didn't care, she just laughed. And we went on with our walk, even though my glasses were running with rain. And do you know - we didn't even catch a cold! "
I smiled at the thought of the two feisty old ladies striding across the wet fields in their summerwear. Laughing. And realised that after all there are worse things than getting wet.

So I hurried home and dragged Hercules off to the woods, parking him under his favourite hawthorn tree.

It being Saturday there was no one around but myself, the birds and a thousand fat squirrels. The birds were having a jamboree and didn't seem to mind me too much. I trod softly and cautiously, delighted when a blackcap warbled its bubbling song from a nearby holly bush. (the link has an audio clip of this modest little creature, singing its heart out). The woodpeckers were still thrumming away and cuckoos were - well, cuckooing. As they do. The elderflower is blossoming now, its wizened grey fingers offering the most delicate of posies. Winding round the slender limbs of the birch trees, the honeysuckle (always a bit of a strumpet I think) is blasting out a sensuous perfume from lascivious horns. It is almost-summer. But not quite. I was so close to some of the birds that I got rather frustrated with my poor old camera. It does its best, but by the time it has cranked itself up and puttered forth its puny zoom, the most I ever catch is a blob.

It's a robin. Really.

Despite expecting a drenching, the sun was now out and dappling the woodlands. Crossing a wooden bridge, I just caught sight of a basking Common Lizard, before it whisked into the grass. These little fellows belie their name. they are not at all common and I have seen very few in my life. Ruminating on this, I almost missed the still but alert form of a roe fawn in a clearing. Past the gangly cute stage, it stood quivering, unsure of what to do. Just a few metres away, I have never been this close to a deer. Such a soft, buff coat and such dark, liquid eyes. We watched each other for a few seconds before instinct took over and it fled through the undergrowth. I was quite overwhelmed with this abundance of wildlife encounters - all it wanted now, I thought greedily, was to see a fox or a badger. And then a lithe form sprang up from the bracken, almost under my feet and charged into the woodlands, leaping into the air like the Babycham character. Yet another fawn. Seconds later, a strange barking noise echoed from beyond and I wondered if it was the mother calling her young, somehow sensing that they were frightened.

I returned to Hercules with a fragment of eggshell and a handful of elderflower blossom. The rain clouds were sliding in like fat slugs, and it was time for home and tea. It hadn't rained on me. But I wouldn't have minded if it had.

While writing this I have been watching live-streaming webcams of birds nests from the BBC nature site - the buzzards are incredible. There are microphones too, so turn your speakers on.

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23. Newbery and Caldecott's Announced!!


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24. And the Award Goes to . . .

Ah, the award season is upon us. And I don't mean the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, or any other silly low profile affairs like those. I am of course referring to the children's book award season that begins with the announcement of the Newbery and Caldecott and other ALA awards and culminates with the prestigious Bluebonnet award presented at the TLA conference in late March. For those of you who have possibly not lived in Texas (or The Center of the World as we think of it here), you may not be familiar with the Bluebonnet Award. You can familiarize yourself here.

This morning the feeding frenzy began when ALA announced the winner of all of their major awards. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, a book I've never heard of, won the Newberry. White Darkness won the Printz, and in what I'm sure will be a controversial move, ALA awarded the Caldecott for "most distinguished American picture book for children" to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a mid-grade novel. Personally, I feel a picture book award should go to a picture book, but no one asked me.

And, that, I have decided, is the problem. Yet again I am unable to participate in all the non-stop discussions on these books because I haven't read a single one of them. I tried to read Hugo Cabret, but didn't make it past the first set of pictures. The other 2 don't really sound all that interesting to me, so I doubt I'll be reading them. I have read some of the Honor books, but that's not as fun as discussing the actual winners. So if one of the books has disturbing imagery, or controversial plots, or even uses taboo words like booby, I know nothing about it. I'm spending another year in the dark concerning the winners.

But, I'm determined not to miss out on award mania entirely. Since I can't join the talks about the "official" award winners, I just decided to present some awards of my own. So, presenting the first 1st annual 2008 Slushie Awards. (Play suitable theme music here.) From now until I lose interest, I will periodically be presenting a Slushie to a book I think worthy of notice and attention. I will be taking nominations for both book and category ideas. And since no award is complete without a seal, I made one of those too:

So as to not take away from the other award winners' special day, I will not announce the first of the Slushies until tomorrow. You'll just have to wait in hair pulling anticipation until then.

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25. Eric Rohmann: Day 5

This post is a day late. I was having difficulty with blogger last night. It wouldn't let me post at all. So today, you get the last two installments of Eric Rohmann.

My Friend Rabbit
Written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press, 2002

This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2003. I remember buying this book and thinking: WOW. The illustrations are so bold and so toddler-minded. The text is simple and has a wonderful cadence to it. Rabbit’s toy airplane is stuck in the tree. He tries to come up with an inventive way to get it out, so he gathers, pushes, and shoves his animal friends on top of one another until they form a tall tower. This of course comes crashing down!

I love his use of perspective in the illustrations. On one spread rabbit is in the far corner of the page pulling on an elephant’s tale. Everything looks so small and the spread is rather bare. Then the next page explodes with a giant elephant taking over the entire spread. When all of the animals are piled on top of one another, you must turn the book vertically to view it correctly. Then they all come crashing down and we see wild animal eyes of every sort as they looked surprised, shocked, and flabbergasted. Then we see those same animal eyes all glaring at rabbit. Every spread is full of surprises and delight. The illustrations are appealing to a very young audience. In fact, a non-reader could figure out what is going on in the story even without the text.

A romping fun read and so well-deserving of the Caldecott Award.

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