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By: Becky Laney
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews
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A Year Down Yonder. Richard Peck. 2000. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Library] I loved A Year Down Yonder so much more than Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago. And I definitely enjoyed A Long Way From Chicago! While A Long Way From Chicago was told from Joey's point of view, A Year Down Yonder is told from Mary Alice's point of view. Because of the Depression, Mary Alice has been sent by her parents to live with Grandma Dowdel. Mary Alice has spent more than a few summers with her Grandma, alongside her brother, but this time she'll be there all year long, and without her brother.
While A Long Way From Chicago is fun, in many ways, it is a bit disjointed as well. Each chapter tells the story of a summer vacation. In A Year Down Yonder, the plot is more traditional. The book follows the course of an entire year. Readers get a better chance to KNOW the characters, to appreciate the characters and the small town setting. And Mary Alice is a great narrator!!! I loved her story. My favorite chapters were "Rich Chicago Girl," "Vittles and Vengeance," "Heart and Flour," and "A Dangerous Man." I loved the slight traces of romance.
I would definitely recommend both A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. Both books do stand alone, but, they do go together well.
I first reviewed A Year Down Yonder in May 2008.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Some of you may bristle (or already have) about this topic, but I think it is one to take very, very seriously. It is Patrick Ness‘s provocative point in his SLJ Battle of the Kids’ Book decision this week about what he has termed CBAITs:
Crappy Books About Important Things; you know exactly what I’m talking about: books with either important subject matter or important formats that are so terrible-but-worthy they turn reading into medicine for young people. People tend to be far too afraid to give these books bad reviews and they often go on to win prizes.
I think Patrick has a point, an important and enormously complicated one. First of all, what Patrick may consider a CBAIT may not be what someone else does. That is, our criteria may be different, our idea of what is good, our taste, and so forth. Which is why, presumably, some end up winning prizes. That is, enough people on a particular award jury may have the same sense of what is good even if it isn’t what others think. And so they are going to give an award to a book they sincerely think is good not crappy.
And that gets to the heart of Patrick’s issue: what do people consider to be a good book? Many indeed think a book is good if it takes on an Important Thing and will dismiss questions about the quality of sentence level writing that would be something I’d be paying attention to . While Patrick and I probably would agree that something with painfully poor sentence level writing is crappy there are some who might feel differently. Not to mention what I might consider overwrought writing might be something someone else would think is wonderful, and vice versa.
That said, I do think there is a tendency for those of us who review and/or participate in selecting best books, award books, and such to pay a lot of attention to books that deal with topics that we feel need to be more known. And sometimes we excuse weaknesses in such books because we think they are so important. Because they are so few and because we so badly want young people to take in the topics, to know about these Important Things.
I think this has special resonance when considering the Newbery award. While the criteria are clear that it is for literary merit not popularity or didactic intent, I suspect most of us can look back at the books that have received the medal and find one we’d call a CBAIT.
Thank you, Patrick, for pointing out that metaphorically children’s book award emperors sometimes have no clothes.
By: Darcy Pattison
Blog: Darcy Pattison's Revision Notes
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QUIZ: ARE YOU READY TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK?
- How many pages are in a typical children’s picture book?
- Who is the audience of a children’s picture book? Hint: It's not just kids.
- Are there restrictions on the vocabulary you use in a picture book?
- Do I have to write in rhyme? Do manuscripts written in rhyme sell better?
- Do EPUB books have to the same length as printed books?
Don't start writing that picture book until you know these crucial concepts. GET THE ANSWERS HERE
The Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Siebert and other awards for the best books of children’s/teen literature were announced recently. And every year the question of gender bias is raised. Overwhelmingly, the industry is dominated by female authors/illustrators, yet the awards go to male authors/illustrators.
This year the Caldecott went to 75% male illustrators, with the winner a male.
The Siebert is 20% male, with the winner a female.
The Newbery is 40% male, with the winner a female.
The Siebert is 20% male, with the winner a male.
Except for the Caldecott, it seems the awards are spread out.
Considering the possibility of gender bias–which is generally skewed toward male authors/illustrators, it’s interesting to read this article by Lilit Marcus, who spent 2013 only reading female authors. She was accused of being sexist, reverse sexist, and misandrist. “One Flavorwire commenter dismissed the significance of focusing on female authors and announced that he would only be reading books by authors who were tall.”
And yet, many readers are now contacting Lilit and asking for recommendations for women authors.
I wonder what it would look like to only read women’s fiction and nonfiction for a year. What picture books would emerge as winners? What middle grade novels would you champion? What YA novels would rise to the top? What if you spent the next year only reading men’s fiction and nonfiction? What would you learn from each year’s experiences?
Do you feel that the world of children and teen publishing carries gender biases? Where do you see it most?
Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal for Distinguished Contribution to Children’s Literature.
Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.
That is directly from the Newbery criteria and can be one of the hardest to sort out. At least it has been for me. I teach 4th grade in a 4th-8th grade middle school and since my students come back to me as they get older for book suggestions as well as for an after-school book club, I have some sense of how kids at the upper end of that age range respond to eligible books. Our middle school librarian, Roxanne Feldman, who was on last year’s Newbery Committee, has an even closer ear to the ground for this. We both see many incredibly sophisticated readers who totally appreciate and get books that are for adults and/or are clearly YA. And they certainly get those books on the cusp, the ones we struggle with when trying to figure out if they fit within the Newbery level or are beyond. The question though is just because these sophisticated young readers get such books, are they within the broader cohort of their age group? That is, are these books that they are getting, but others their age are not especially –within the age range of the award?
Even harder for me as a 4th grade teacher is fighting against my personal desire to see the award go to a book for the age group I teach — 9 and 10 year olds. I really, really, really want that, but I also want the best book to win. And sometimes that book may be too old for 9 and 10 year olds, but just right for 13-14 year olds.
Nina Lindsay over at Heavy Medal has just posed this perennial question with her post, “The Age Question*” and I’ve already written the following comment. I look forward to others weighing in and helping us all with this complicated issue.
When I was on the Committee I consulted with our school psychologist (I’m in a 4-8 grade middle school) about development when dealing with cusp books. He was incredibly helpful at helping parse things out with such titles.
My feeling is that there are always going to be kids who can read completely anything. Kids who are sophisticated, who have a personal depth that results in their “getting” what they read in a remarkably adult-like way. I come across kids like that now and then at my school. I think of one of our students who at age 13 adored Mal Peet’s LIFE: AN EXPLODED DIAGRAM which many saw as a book mostly adults would appreciate. (He has been one of our two Kid Commentators on BOB — RG—and you can read his enthusiastic pick for LIFE to win it here:http://battleofthebooks.slj.com/2012/03/31/winner-of-the-2012-undead-poll-and-kid-picks/) But that doesn’t convince me that the book is for his age group. He and his cohort read more as adults do, they have developed quicker than their peers. That they love and appreciate these books does not convince me that they are for their chronological age group.
This year I’d put Tom McNeal’s FAR FAR AWAY in this category. I don’t know what you and Jonathan think about it and whether it will be on your discussion list, but it is getting Newbery buzz and I’m trying to work out if it is within or above the age range. The reason I lean toward above is that while there are certainly kids 14 and younger who will read and enjoy the book (always are, after all) it seems to me that the darker elements in the latter part of it will be better understood by those older with slightly different orientations on life, more experience so to speak. That is, I think that you can truly get the whole gestalt of this book if you are beyond 14 by and large.
Nina, I actually think you are on to something similar with HOKEY POKEY — in my experience, those who enjoy it and seem to get it are out of childhood, be they 50 or an 8th grader. So it may be out of Newbery age range. (That said, someone here — can’t remember who, sorry — wrote that it is being very much enjoyed by younger kids around her. That hasn’t been my experience, sadly.)
* Nina sees this as a “question,” but it has been definitely been a knotty “problem” for me.
With ALA slamming up at breakneck speed, I feel the need to make sure I connect to each and every one of you who come to Chicago. Logistics tell me I'm nuts. But then again, it's worth the try.
Although there are some great social events in the offing, I think another youth services blogger and readers of blogs and twitter -peeps gathering would be fun to do especially if you're thinking of being at the Newbery/Caldecott awards banquet
on Sunday June 30 at the Sheraton or the speeches after! It struck me that lots of us would be hanging around this premier youth services celebration, so...
....if you plan attend the banquet or just drop by the speeches after the dinner (there are chairs set up and you can listen to the speeches free and gaze upon the glitterati in the audience!), we can do a meet-up!
Traditionally, at the conclusion of the banquet, a receiving line with the honorees takes place right after the speeches outside the hall. There is always a cash bar. It's a great spot to gather and chat late night (caffeinate early to be up late!).
So consider this for your schedule and say hi!
Post N/C Youth Blogger/Blog Reader/Tweep Meet-up Sunday June 30Sheraton Chicago
banquet area10:30-11pm-ish start
(or whenever N/C speeches end)
2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists
Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg.
See the Summer Lists Now!
What are kids–your audience–reading today?
“The Accelerated Reader Real Time database includes book-reading records for more than 8.6 million students from 27,240 schools nationwide who read more than 283 million books during the 2011-2012 school year.”
Renaissance Learning, the folks who do the Accelerated Reader program and testing, has just issued the 2013 report, “What Kids are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools.” It uses the data collected from millions of AR-reading tests to report on what kids have actually read this past year. Of course, the caveat is that these are also books they tested on, and therefore may not give the clearest picture of leisure reading. An AR-test must exist and a school must have it available for a student to test on the book; students often read books that they don’t test on.
Classics. Overwhelmingly, classics rule (think Dr. Seuss), followed by high-profile books, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. One interesting dataset lists the Caldecott and Newberry winners and shows their ranking among 1-5 graders. The Caldecott winners languish, with only three titles breaking into the top 100: Officer Buckle and Gloria at #17; Where the Wild Things Are at #20; The Polar Express at #50; and, The Snowy Day at #62.
For the Newbery Award winners, nothing before 1960 made it into the top 100 list for 6th-8th graders. However, they fared better, with twelve Newbery titles on the list: The Giver at #11; Number the Stars at #14; Holes at #17; Maniac Magee at #41; Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry at #40; Bud, Not Buddy at #43; Bridge to Terabithia at #47; Island of Blue Dolphins at #63; The Westing Game at #65; Walk Two Moons at #72; Out of the Dust at #95; and, A Wrinkle in Time at #96.
Overall, books that receive national exposure by being made into a movie were hits: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, rising from #210th most popular to #28 this year for third graders; The Help by Kathryn Stockett, from #1273 last year to #24 among high schoolers; and, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which had done well in high school and middle school in previous years, but this year jumped from #1478 to #24 in fourth grade and from #92 to #4 in fifth grade.
Text complexity in early 20th century for required reading in high school was about 9.0 ATOS, but has dropped to about 6.0 ATOS.
CCSS Exemplar texts were popular. The report states “. . .examining the popularity of the CCSS exemplars revealed that, although not intended to be used as a curriculum, almost all of the Informational Texts and Stories Exemplars were read by a slightly greater proportion of students in 2011-12 than the prior school year, suggesting the new standards may be influencing both curricular choices and less formal recommendations.”
These are fascinating pieces of data. The information is broken into favorites by grade and gender. You can also download these reports:
Here’s an infographic from RenLearing.
Click to see full size. R-Click to save.
It would also be an interesting project to cross-reference this material with Scholastic’s 2013 Kids and Family Reading Report, which analyzes data from a survey of families about what kids are reading.
How Does the Top 100 List Affect Your Writing?
Backlist is your real competition. First, realize that your real competition for kids’ attention isn’t today’s books, but the backlist. In schools, it takes time for teachers to fall in love with your book, develop lesson plans and incorporate it into the culture. If you can write a book that passes that gauntlet, you’re likely to have real staying power. Winning a major award might help, but the majority of award winners, have fallen off the charts.
Humor rules. Really. If you read over the list of top 100 books for the younger grades, it’s humor all the way. From Dr. Seuss to Laura Numeroff, kids like funny books. Jeff Kinney and Dav Pilkey combined capture ten of the top 20 for fourth grade. You may not win the Newbery for a funny book, but you might find your place in the classroom.
Trade Books rule. And lest you think that means you should look to educational publishers, look again. Most of these titles are from trade publishers.
Teen Books. Write on a teen level. In 8th grade, The Outsiders still ranks #3. Maybe that’s because it gets assigned by teachers, but it’s still popular with kids.
Nonfiction Popular Books
Also available is the Top 100 list of nonfiction titles. Accelerated Reader’s strength isn’t nonfiction, but it’s still interesting to see what titles turned up.
Grades 1-3. Nature/animal books, biographies and titles related to English Language Arts (such as #12, Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective? by Brian P. Cleary) were most popular. For example, Penguin Chick was #1, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle was #2, How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz was #3, and Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by Doreen Rappaport was #4.
Grades 4-5. Biography and history edges out nature/animal books. For example, Finding the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard is #4, and Nights of the Pufflingsby Bruce McMillan is #9.
Grades 6-9. Biographies (including tales of faith)and history compete well at this level. Nature/animals lose traction, except for a few true tales or a few books on predators. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo is at #2 and Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton is #3. Seymour Simon’s book, Sharks is #18.
Grades 9-12. History dominates the top 100 list here. It’s true that Snakes by Kelly L. Barth is #2, but it’s the only nature/animal book listed until Snake by Chris Mattison at #86. At #3 is An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy, followed by the #4 title, 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War, by Phillip Caputo.
Why did you decide to write the story in a sort of prose poetry form? Was it just to give Ivan a believable voice, or was there another reason?
I am not entirely sure. I tend to look at structure before I look even at plot,* which is probably why plot is a struggle for me.** I think about what the book looks like and how it feels.*** Maybe that discipline is helpful for me in terms of finding the right words.
But when I look at big sprawly novels, sometimes… my husband just finished [writing] 500 pages. I marvel at it, because it’s so symphony and I’m so chamber music.**** I just don’t think that way, and it seemed really appropriate that since I was working with an animal voice that it would be small and poetic.
Read the rest of the interview at School Library Journal's Meet the Latest Newbery Winner: How Katherine Applegate Created a Modern-Day Classic
** oh, yes
*** yes siree
“I got my name in a crossword puzzle.”
That’s Betsy Byars on winning the Newbery. More in this lovely video from Open Road Media on some of their award winning authors, among them Virginia Hamilton, Jean Craighead George, and Chris Raschka.
Thanks to Travis who drew my attention to the post “The Biebs and Ivan Connection” in which the author points out the new role social media is playing in our book world, noting the way John Schumacher and Colby Sharp fell in love with The One and Only Ivan and enthusiastically got the word out in truly awesome ways. As a result the book was well-known and there was a lot of hope that it would win the Newbery. That it did is indeed wonderful, but I feel strongly that it is important to recognize that it did for reasons other than social media.
It won the award because the Committee took a very hard look at it alongside many other books and decided it was the best this year. That there was a huge social media fandom behind it had nothing to do with it. Keep in mind that Wonder which had a similar social media fandom behind it was not recognized nor was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars recognized by the Printz Committee even though it had at least as larger if not larger fan base than either Ivan or Wonder. (John Green’s fans, known as Nerdfighters, are a social media force to be reckoned with.)
One of the points I made in my Nerdy Book Club post, written before this year’s announcements, about the Newbery award was that:
10. Popular! Not.
Often through word-of-mouth and, these days, through social media, certain beloved titles are passionately admired and advocated as Newbery front-runners. The dismay when they are not recognized can be great. I’ve been there — standing open-mouthed when a well-known book I loved, one that I thought surely would be honored, was not. But it is important to know that the rules the members of the committee are required to follow clearly state that the award is “…not for didactic content or popularity.” That is, the committee cannot take into consideration a book’s crowd-pleasing aspects. And so if tomorrow one or more of this year’s especially well-loved books (you know which they are!) are honored, their popularity will not have been one of the reasons. And if they are not, don’t feel sad — these books will unquestionably continue to be honored by all of those who love and admire them.
What social media IS doing in a wonderful way is getting the word out about books like never before and that is absolutely fantastic! As the result of John, Colby, and so many others this year’s Newbery winner is far more widely known than winners in previous years and I love that. Forget about old media like the Today Show which decided to drop their interviews with the Newbery and Caldecott winners a few years ago — new media is where it’s at!
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The news is now far and wide, but we want to officially say– yahoo! This past weekend in Seattle at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, six of our titles were honored by awards committees and we are beyond bowled over with excitement and pride. Congratulations to all– to the authors, editors, fans, and champions of these books. Every Midwinter we are so grateful to be reminded that the community we book-people live and work within is vibrant, supportive, and very, very much alive and kicking. We are all in it together.
All of our award-winning books living together in harmony.
Newbery Committee member Susannah Richards placing IVAN’s shiny sticker!
EXTRA YARN co-editor (VP and co-publisher of Balzer + Bray) Alessandra Balzer doing the honors!
Printz Committee friends giving DODGER their love.
Schneider committee and A DOG CALLED HOMELESS editor Sarah Shumway celebrating.
And Amelia Bedeila (did you celebrate AMELIA BEDELIA DAY?) wanted in on the fun, too!
Congratulations to all authors and illustrators honored with 2013 awards, and the biggest and humblest of thank you’s to the awards committees for their hard work, dedication, and the countless hours they spent this past year reading and discussing books. Now we wish we could fast-forward to June and our official ALA celebrations!
In case you missed them, the 2013 ALA Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.) have been announced!
Celebrate great children’s book writing and illustration by checking out this year’s winners and honor books here: 2013 ALA Award Winners
Yesterday morning the American Library Association announced the Youth Media Awards for 2013.
I posted on Facebook that the Youth Media Awards equals Christmas for librarians. At least, it is like Christmas for this librarian.
This year, I was excited to introduce Juniper to the special event.
She was pretty riveted.
The Newbery committee chose three Honor books, which are as follows:
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Splendors and Glooms
I actually thought this one was going to take the gold, but I am extremely happy it received an honor. This book is creepy and original with vivid characters, setting, and drama. It is rather long but so worth the time. As you can see from the cover, Ms. Schlitz is already a Newbery winner. She wrote, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, which won the 2008 medal.
Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinken
I am not the greatest at finishing non fiction. I try, I do, but I do not always succeed. I started this one, and really, really enjoyed it, but did not finish it. I think I am going to have to give it a second go. Can you guess what bomb it is about? Really fascinating stuff.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Three Times Lucky
I really enjoyed this book. It is a quirky mystery, which, in my opinion, there is not enough of in the world…at least for a middle grade audience. I am glad this one made the honor list because it is fun, light-hearted and definitely a book I think kids will pick up and read.
And the gold goes to….
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The One and Only Ivan
Okay, so I am REALLY embarrassed by what I am about to admit to you…
I did not read this one.
My book club did, but when I saw it on the list for discussion and then saw the cover… I decided not to read it.
Oh, judgmental soul!
I am sufficiently chagrined by my book cover snobbery, and I am currently number 8 of 50 holds at the library.
I’ll let you know what I think once I have read it.
In the meantime, what are you reading these days? What do you think of the Newbery choices this year? Was your favorite chosen?
Coming up: Bran muffin recipe of amazingness!
I know that no one is breathlessly awaiting my post on the winners when the news is all over the Kidlitosphere, but for my own sake of fulfillment I'll cover the Newbery and Caldecott Awards - the "biggies" of the ALA Youth Media Awards.
The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature went to The One and Only Ivan, written by Katherine Applegate. I loved the book and thought it had a good chance at a medal. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the three honor books Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, or Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Of them, the last is first on my list to read as it was also named in other nonfiction awards. I was surprised that Wonder was not on the list, but am thinking that it may have peaked too early in the Newbery season.
The winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book was This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. I thought it was too similar to the first book to win, but what do I know. Two of the Caldecott Honor books were also Cybils finalists, Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds and Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett. Among my personal favorites of last year was One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small and written by Toni Buzzeo. I have never understood the buzz about Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, but figured it would be honored. I actually don't know Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, but since I love the illustrator Pamela Zagarenski, I'm looking forward to the book. I was disappointed that Chloe and the Lion didn't appear on the list, especially with so many selections named this year. When it was announced that there would be five honor books, there was an obvious murmur from the ALA audience, and I'm glad to see a bigger list than last year.
What are your thoughts on the Newbery and Caldecott awards this year? Did they get it right?
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
Franki and I had a little email conversation late last week. It went something like this:
She: "Are we ignoring the Newbery this year?"
Me: "Kinda. I'll do a 'Newbery Surprises' post on Tuesday because all the winners will be new to me.
And then the biggest surprise of all:
I've read it three times (self, aloud to fourth graders, aloud to fifth graders).
And right there on my picture book shelf were the Caldecott and several honor books!
There's a Coretta Scott King Author Honor book on my chalktray...
...and we just confirmed the Coretta Scott King Illustrator, Bryan Collier for the 2014 Dublin Literacy Conference.
I listened to the Odyssey Award winning audio book.
This Stonewall honor book is being passed through my two fifth grade classes like wildfire...
...and this one needs to be read by every high school and college student.
Pete the Cat, with his attitude ("Did he cry? Goodness NO!") and his Zen-like reminder that "Buttons come and buttons go," made the Geisel Honor list.
So the biggest surprise that came with this year's ALA Youth Media Awards? How many I know, and own, and love!
For all the winners, check out ALA's Official Press Release
Post ALA youth media awards scuttlebutt is ever and always the same - as are my reactions.
People swoon. People go nuclear. People swear and threaten (they clearly have had bad days for other reasons). People cheer. People go bat-shit crazy ("I knew it all along and finally everyone agrees with my superior book sense". Yeah, right...let me run and get you that mirror, oh self-regarding one). People sincerely thank the committee members. People bemoan a favorite frozen out. People question books they haven't heard of or haven't purchased. People dance. People have 20-20 hindsight or claim prescience. People insist the committee members are uncaring; nuts or craven. People sigh over how unpopular the winners or honorees will be with kids. People glow in agreement.
I'm going to tell you all what I think and know and how I react...my ten truths as it were.
1. The committee people work carefully, hard, diligently and conscienctiously.
2. There is never a moment during the year they serve that they don't take their charge extremely seriously.
3. No matter how widely and much you've read, you have NOT- and I repeat - NOT read the books like committee members have.
4. No matter how much you've discussed, tweeted or blogged about these books, you have NOT - and I repeat - NOT discussed them in the depth and defended and advocated them at the level the award committees have.
4.5 (Ok, Ok I was so hot on this topic I lost count. Dyslexia strikes again)
These awards are not for mad or even mild popularity - they are for quality literature for youth. Believe me, without awards like these we'd mostly have Barbie, fart and Star Wars books. Period.
5. Book creators truly care about being recognized for quality work. Here is Tammy Pierce's reaction
. Here is Peter Brown's
. I still keep in touch with a couple of book creators from my award committee years and each has said how much the honor or award changed their life and career. These.awards.matter.
6. If a book is honored that comes out of left field, by the goddesses, I am happy to find it, buy it for the public, read it and promote it. What is better than discovering something new and amazing?
7. I am proud of ALA and all the youth divisions for celebrating quality literature for youth. It makes my job easier and opens up the possibilities for kids and teens of having an amazing read.
8. I want everyone to have an award committee experience. It is amazing. But you must join ALA and one of the youth divisions - plus it would be great if you served on many committees and not just award committees. Share your talents.
9. I am inordinately proud of every award committee member and thankful to their families and libraries for supporting them during a very busy, very tough year.
10. They done good.
I seldom refer so quickly again to a post but I will re-point you again to Monica Edinger's post
in the Nerdy Book Club in which she helps readers understand the enormity of what committee members do. Read it again and some of these Marge-truths will make sense.
Image: 'Sad' http://www.flickr.com/photos/8830697@N08/5601369995 Found on flickrcc.net
The Oscars of the KidLit world, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced today in Seattle. Here in snowy PA, I had to be content with watching them on webcast. Like all fancy award shows, the big ticket items were saved for the end.
The Caldecott went to This Is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen.
I was surprised, since I hadn't realized it was in the running and the reviews I'd read didn't rate it as highly as his previous book, I Want My Hat Back
(which I loved).
For lovers of picture books, there were five, count 'em five, honor books: Extra Yarn
(written by Mac Barnett and again illustrated by Klassen), Creepy Carrots
(Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown), Green
(Laura Vaccaro Seeger), One Cool Friend
(Toni Buzzeo and David Small), and Sleep Like a Tiger
(Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski).
Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan
snagged the Newbery. I haven't read it yet (I have a hold on it), but I love the backstory. The novel is based on a silverback gorilla who spent 27 long years along in a cage, an attraction in a mall, before finally being moved to a zoo. The real Ivan died last year at the ripe old age (for a gorilla) of 50.
The honor books are Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
(Steve Sheinkin), Splendors and Gloom
(Laura Amy Schlitz) and Three Times Lucky
The Theodore Seuss Geisel Award is given to the most distinguished beginning reader, so naturally I gripped the edge of my seat when it was announced. The winner is Up, Tall, and High
, a picture book by Ethan Long. Another title that slipped through my radar, I will read it pronto and report back. The honor books are: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
(Eric Litwin), Let's Go for a Drive
(Mo Willems), and Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover
(Cece Bell). You can read my reviews for Let's Go for a Drive here
and for Rabbit & Robot here
Congrats to all the winners! Click here to see a full list.
My good friend fairosa was on this year’s Newbery Committee so I think what was most important for me this morning as I headed into the Seattle Convention Center for the award announcements was that I could feel sincerely happy for this committee’s decisions. That said, I admit I was nervous. We were roommates, but she was absolutely mum, mum, mum as she had to be (and as I was when she was my roommate my Newbery year). But oh my goodness am I happy with their choices. I’m not generally a crier, but I keep getting tearful thinking of these.
First of all, congratulations to Katherine Applegate for receiving the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. I was waiting to see if this year’s winner would be one I hadn’t yet shared with my 4th graders and would be good for them and this is it. So I look forward to using it in literature circles later this year.
Personally, the Newbery Honor for Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms is the most significant to me. I was on the 2008 Committee that gave Laura her first Newbery medal for Good Masters! Sweet Masters! so it is wonderful to see her get this so well-deserved second honor, especially for this book of which I wrote in my New York Times review, “Filled with heart-pounding and heart-rending moments, this delicious, glorious novel is the work of a master of children’s literature.” YESSSS!
And then there are the multiple honors (Sibert Medal, YALSA Nonfiction winner, and Newbery Honor) for Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. I can only add: woo-hoo! What an affirmation for this author’s style and this book. (My blog review here.)
Finally, I am absolutely thrilled about the Newbery Honor for Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky. While I never dedicated a blog post to this book I liked it tremendously as did my 4th graders (and we listened to the excellent audio version), had it on my Newbery list, and am just so tickled that it was recognized.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Caldecott Medal Winner
Published by Candlewick Press
Caldecott Honor Books
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Published by by Roaring Brook Press
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Newbery Medal Winner
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Newbery Honor Books
Published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin
Special thanks to the American Library Association (ALA
) for the live webcast
. What a fun way to hear the results over my morning cup of coffee! Be sure to follow this link
to see the complete list of all the winners in all of the categories. Congratulations again to everyone!
This was a rather longer-than-planned-when-I-started-writing-it comment on Nina Lindsay’s Heavy Medal post on Karen Cushman’s WILL SPARROW’S ROAD and Grace Lin’s STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY. Figured that it might be of interest for those who read this blog, but not theirs, so here it is. That said, I serve notice that the following aren’t reviews as much as some scattered thoughts about the two books (hence the title of this post).
I was glad to see these two books thrown into the mix, especially WILL SPARROW’S ROAD which I reviewed for the forthcoming issue of Horn Book. I thought Cushman did a terrific job with her first male protagonist, delighted in her deft and rich rendering of Elizabethan England, and admired the skill with which she had Will deal with his own ignorance about those different from himself in a way that felt both accessible to 2012 young readers and sufficiently of his time as well. I could imagine some finding the plot a bit spare, but to my mind it was a case of enjoying the journey. A most delightful read.
And I also took a great deal of pleasure in STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY. For whatever reason, perhaps the fact as Nina suggests that Lin is becoming more skilled and confident in her particular form, but I enjoyed this book more than the previous one. I was engaged immediately, curious about this boy called Rendi and his refusal to let us in on his back story. In fact, while he isn’t exactly an unreliable narrator, he exhibits some of those characteristics that make you the reader wonder if you can trust him. The ending worked for me — somehow by then I had completely bought in to all aspects of the book and so just went with the final bits.
And though it doesn’t “count” for Newbery, the design and art for the Lin book is extraordinary. And more and more this inability for the Committee to recognize this is frustrating me. (They are only allowed to consider illustration and design when it hinders appreciation of a book, not when it is an asset*.) The book is not eligible for the Caldecott as it is not a picture book, nor something in the vein of HUGO CABRET and that is too bad. I have railed many times about the “design thorn” which keeps Newbery Committee members from being able to bring to the table this aspect of the books they are considering when these have so much to do with advancing the story. Growl.
* From the criteria: “The committee is to make its decision primarily on the text. Other components of a book, such as illustrations, overall design of the book, etc., may be considered when they make the book less effective.”
So I've stayed away from School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog
all of a couple days. Not so hot on discipline, am I?
This quote is from a post there called The Art of Writing
. It really struck me in its loveliness.
We have to muddle our way through a lot of really good work, hold each up against the other, try calling it distinguished, disagree, find something better…in order to identify the best out there. I always hope, in the end, that the medals go to works that truly achieve “liftoff.” Our job (most of us) is one of connecting readers with great books, medal or not. Though the Newbery award is certainly for those readers, in my mind, it’s more important that it’s for the writers/creators: awarding them for the struggle, so that they’ll continue, and so that others have a standard to shoot for.
Let's celebrate Newbery winners today, those whose struggles have set the bar high and have given us books we love. Who's on your list?
1. Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Back in September I wrote in my review that
I was blown away by it. This is nonfiction thriller writing of the very, very best. Sheinkin weaves together the stories of the race to build the atom bomb, the developments in the war that made things more and more urgent, the efforts to steal it, and the efforts to stop others from creating their own.
Every kid I know who reads it adores it. Sheinkin is doing something new and different and very exciting in nonfiction for children.
2. Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy. I concluded in my starred Horn Book review that:
Stead’s spare and elegant prose, compassionate insight into the lives of young people, wry sense of humor, deft plotting, and ability to present complex ideas in an accessible and intriguing way make this much more than a mystery with a twist.
3. Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms. I finished my New York Times review with:
Schlitz skillfully manages multiple narratives as the story makes its complex way forward, creating scenes of warmth and humor along with those of drama and horror. Filled with lush language and delightful sensory details like the savored warmth of a velvet cloak, this marvelous story will keep readers absorbed throughout. While the intricate storytelling, captivating characters and evocative setting owe a great deal to Dickens, the book also feels very much in the tradition of such grand 20th-century writers as Joan Aiken and Elizabeth Goudge. Filled with heart-pounding and heart-rending moments, this delicious, glorious novel is the work of a master of children’s literature.
4. Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness. In my review here I wrote:
Among the many well-intentioned books featuring issues of exclusion among children of different ages, Each Kindness is for me the most transcendent with Woodson and Lewis taking this far-from simple issue to a profound place of emotional depth and truth.
5. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s No Crystal Stair. In my blog review I noted that the book “… is a community itself” filled as it is with a vibrant collection of voices coming together to tell the story of a remarkable Harlem bookseller and concluded that it “…is an elegant and riveting look at an extraordinary man who was part of a remarkable historical time.” A groundbreaking book that definitely does extraordinary things within a hybrid genre Nelson calls a “documentary novel.”
6. Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky. I enjoyed my first read of this, writing on goodreads that it was “completely and utterly charming!” I then listened to the audio book with my 4th graders and that experience along with their responses only raised it in my estimation.
7. Cynthia Levinson’s We’ve Got a Job. I reviewed this last April, but it has stayed with me. Back then I wrote:
This is a real life story that takes place over a brief period of time and Levinson does a superb job bringing out the suspense, drama, harshness, and celebration of all. I especially appreciated the elegant way she brought in the complications — what was working and what wasn’t, the different behaviors and personalities of the leaders, and most of all the varied voices of her young people.
8. Grace Lin’s Starry River of the Sky. I like this one very much indeed. Well-done character development, plot (especially the structure), and setting. And while it won’t factor into the Newbery Committee’s deliberations, the art and design is spectacular.
9. Louise Erdrich’s Chickadee. I was a very big fan of Erdrich’s previous books in this series, especially The Game of Silence. Took me a bit to engage with this one as I was a bit miffed that she just jumped into a new generation, but once I did I enjoyed it. There are some wonderful characters and scenes.
10. Adam Gidwitz’s In a Glass Grimmly. A long shot, no doubt. After reading this aloud to my students, I can say that that this guy nails it, balancing out the emotional stuff along with silliness (my students and I adore the frog and various sized salamanders), some major gross stuff, and the occasional lyrical moment (say with the mermaid). I love the way he merges traditional tales with literary ones and then his own.
And while not in my top ten, here are my thoughts about two very popular titles.
R. J. Palacio’s Wonder. I enjoyed and admired this very much when I read it (my review is here) and continue to think it a strong work, one that speaks to children and adults in a sincere and powerful way.
Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. What has stayed with me is the lovely relationships between the animals, the complexness of Mack, and the melancholy tone that permeates the book. I struggled initially with Ivan’s voice, finding him a bit too wise and using an awful lot of figurative language for a self-described spare speaker, but the folks commenting on this Heavy Medal post helped me enormously with this.
By: Gail Maki Wilson
Blog: Through the Studio Door
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
100 Scope Notes
, John Rocco
, Horn Book
, Publishers Weekly
, Fuse #8
, Brian Selznick
, Add a tag
With all the Newbery and Caldecott
talk and predictions out there I thought it would be nice to take a look at not only what may be the next winner, but what has won in the past. If you have a favorite title you are rooting for post it in a comment. I would love to hear about it! Next week I will post my favorite book of the year that I think is Caldecott deserving in every facet of picture book brilliance.
From Publishers Weekly, with great interviews of winners from the past 5 years.The Call That Changes Everything- or Not.
From The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
) a look at the past.Newbery Honor and Medal Books, 1922- PresentCaldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present2012 Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet
From Through the Studio door, an interesting look at what PW dubbed in 1963 "...a pointless and confusing story." Before They Were Classics
For predictions for this years award winners check out:ShelfTalkerA Fuse #8 Production100 Scope NotesThe Horn Book- Calling Caldecott Country Bookshelf Random Acts of Reading
|75th Anniversary Logo by Brian Selznick|
Mark your calendar for the Caldecott Medal 75th Anniversary!
all the awards at 8 a.m. PT
on Jan. 28 from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The awards include the esteemed John Newbery Medal, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Michael L. Printz Award.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
that John Rocco
will participate in a Caldecott 75th Anniversary Facebook Forum at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Rocco won a Caldecott Honor in 2012 for his picture book Blackout
Want to learn more about the logo 2008 Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick
created especially for the 75th Anniversary celebration and the characters in it? Just click here
And for a little more fun, read Brian's acceptance speech for The Invention of Hugo Cabret here
and watch the illustrated sequence that played on huge video screens during the speech here
Every winter I eagerly await the ALA Youth Media Awards. Recently it occurred to me that I'd never read Dead End in Norvelt, last year's Newbery winner. So I set aside a few days for that -- and then read it in one day.Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2011)Source
: advance reading copy from publisher (yes, I still have old arcs!)Synopsis
(from Indiebound): Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt
is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews blood at every little shock he gets.
But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.Why I like it:
This is hilarious, weird, and wise. It's historical fiction, but also a fast-paced murder mystery. And since it takes place in 1962, when I was a child, I got a kick out of reading about bomb shelters, drive-in movies, and typewriters (anyone remember typewriters?). But it's the characters who draw you in and offer immense entertainment here, especially old Miss Volker, with her obituaries, and old Mr. Spizz with his tricycle. The most fun, of course, is watching Jack get into predicaments and wondering how he'll get out of them. Even reluctant readers would enjoy this.
MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. See her blog for the links,
or check out my sidebar.
Have you read Dead End in Norvelt
? And what do you hope wins this
year's Newbery award?
I served on the 1995 Newbery and 2002 Caldecott committees. These remain two special moments in my career. Like dessert, it was sweet. But I can't have that diet all the time - that's why I love the meat and potatoes of the many "process" committees I serve on. I wish the experience of being on an award committee to each and every ALSC and YALSA member at least once in their careers and I hope that each member, having served once or twice on a prestigious award committee, makes room for others who wish to have the experience.
It's the night before the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards announcements. By now the discussion, the deliberation, the voting and the annotations are done. The frisson of excitement within each committee as the top honored book, recording or film has been determined is palpable. The committee members are as proud as new parents at their award titles and honorees. But it's still secret.
Roommates teasingly pry; spouses look for hints; colleagues wonder and give an extra squeeze to hands and shoulders of committee members, knowing the intense work of the past year. The committee members, though excited, appear serene. The decision that will echo through youth literature down through the ensuing years is done. It's finished. Often committee members spend some time together after the final meeting just to have people to talk with. Hearts are very full.
The ALA Public Information Office has kicked into high gear. They are reaching out to obtain phone numbers; writing press releases and press conference scripts; determining if there are immediate media opportunities for winners; scheduling committees for their Monday morning phone calls - yes, the honorees are called by the committee chairs backed by their committees prior to the press conference. In Seattle, it will be at a blessedly decent time - when at an east coast ALA midwinter, west coasters often get the call pre-dawn.
There is a little note of trepidation in many a committee person's heart on this night. How will the crowd of 500 librarians, publishers and booksellers present at the press conference and the audience of teachers, librarians, book creators, and makers and sellers around the world react to their committee's choice - with screams of approbation or the gasp of in-taken breath? I have heard both. That moment when the committee stands to face the dais, back to the audience, and have their choices announced is nerve-wracking.
But that's tomorrow. Tonight, there is the sweet feeling of a job well done; a challenge met and and the camaraderie of a group of people who have read, pored over, reflected and discussed books together in a rarefied atmosphere to winnow and seek that golden best. And that is enough.
For more insights on the award process, stop at this Nerdy Book Club post
and read Monica Edinger's outstanding post myth-busting the Newbery Committee process Image: 'Poesia' http://www.flickr.com/photos/58929717@N00/93235624 Found on flickrcc.net
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and all through Seattle, not a creature is stirring especially not the tired members of the 2013 Newbery Committee.
To help prepare those not as familiar as others about what to expect tomorrow I’ve written a “Top Ten Things You May Not Know About the Newbery Award” for the Nerdy Book Club.
Don’t know about you but I am very excited for tomorrow morning!