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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: newbery, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Forever and always: Newbery and Caldecott confidentiality

Currently, members of the Newbery and Caldecott committees serve with the understanding that they may never tell what happened during the deliberations.

However, there has been a recent conversation about whether there should be a statute of limitations on confidentiality. Should committee members be allowed to tell part or all of what happened in the discussions? Should there be a period of years after which the records can open?  This month’s edition of School Library Journal has three wonderful articles about the issue.

I am fascinated by this conversation. Riveted. And here’s the crazy thing. I agree with all three points of view.

I agree with K.T. Horning that there is an amazing potential for researchers. I don’t want to know who said what, but I would love to know the larger issues. How did those brave committees who bucked trends do it? How did they come to consensus? What was the thought process in the room when The Invention of Hugo Cabret or A Visit to William Blake’s Innwon? And once and for all, wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out why Secret of the Andes beat Charlotte’s Web?

Forever is a long time not to know.

I agree with Ed Spicer that it would be freeing to tell everything. It would be marvelous to tell a creator that just because their book wasn’t honored doesn’t mean it wasn’t under consideration, that no one loved it or fought for it. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work of art.  Former committee members can’t answer questions of why a particular book did or didn’t make the final cut for the rest of their lives.  And when questions arise about unusual choices committees make, it is a long time not to be able to defend yourself.

Forever is a long time to keep a secret.

I agree with Dan Santat that it can be better not to know. The magic is preserved.  Do we really want to know that a classic book barely squeaked by? Do we want to know all the reasons those fifteen people in that room rejected one book and anointed another? Do we want to know which book lost by a small margin? Do we want the creators to be concerned about all their decisions and choices when they create their next book?

Forever is a long time to doubt yourself.

There’s an additional issue for me. If we lifted the veil, what would we reveal, especially for the recent committees? The process is so secret that ballots are destroyed and official notes aren’t kept. If we opened the files for recent pivotal years, would we find the answers we’re looking for?

Ideally, I would love an oral history interview project or written accounts from each of the fifteen people in the room- in case the veil does lift sometime in the future. If there is a commitment to revealing information at some point, the sooner we start recording it, the better, before everyone who was in the room forgets the finer details. 

The year I was on the Caldecott committee, one of our committee members gave us all lovely blue scarves, which we wore during the deliberations and announcement. I felt that every time I saw a blue-scarfed person that weekend, I was seeing a true friend. Each blue scarf represented one of the fourteen other people in the room. They were the fourteen safe places in tag, the fourteen people I could talk to about really happened- not what everyone on the outside thought happened.  They still are- those fourteen special people who are forever keeping the same secrets I am.

I am on another award committee where part of the process shortly before the awards ceremony at the annual conference includes committee members telling why certain books lost. After the secrecy of an ALA committee- this openness feels strange to me. I find it really challenging to tell a room full of people what I think. I always feel paranoid that someone is audio recording the session and I’ll be thrown off the committee for revealing secrets.

Having being on several award committees, I can tell you that after a while what you say in the room, in the e-mail chat or on the conference call stops mattering. The committee voted and the committee as a group made a choice- and it is now your job to promote that book and that award.

I was one of the fifteen people in the room the year The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat won the Caldecott Medal.  It’s my book. It doesn’t matter what was said in the room. It doesn’t matter what the vote tallies were. Seeing the Caldecott Medal on the cover will always make me smile. Reading it to a child who hasn’t heard it yet will always make me choke up. I will always get goose bumps when on the last line. It will always be my book.

Forever.

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What are your thoughts?

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2. Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street. Matt de la Pena. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps. The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ's shirt and dripped down his nose.

Premise: CJ and his Nana enjoy a bus ride after church; readers are led to believe that this is a frequent occurrence for the pair. But what is the last stop on Market Street?! That mystery is not revealed immediately. Readers instead are part of the journey page by page. CJ's conversation with Nana reveals a worldview of sorts that is admirable in every way.

My thoughts: How I wish I'd read this one BEFORE it won the Newbery! It also earned a Caldecott Honor. Both are deserved, in my opinion. But one is more surprising than the other, of course. Not many picture books get the Newbery medal. This isn't the first, and, it probably won't be the last. But still--it's rare.

Why do I wish I'd read it before the big announcement? Well. Once a book wins the Newbery, it seems my expectations go over-the-top. I'm "robbed" of reading the book on its own merits without the burden of comparing and contrasting it with every other Newbery winner I've read. It's not that I intentionally set out to do so. No, it's something I try to refrain from doing when I notice it. But expectations can be sneaky.

So what do I think of this one? Well, at the very, very least I really like it. I can honestly say that I love, love, love the character of Nana! Nana and CJ are a cute pair, and, the dialogue between the two which takes up almost all of the book is well worth reading several times. The first time through you might be caught up in plot to notice the little things, the tiny things, the small elements that when seen as a whole are lovely and delightful. Such as the opening description.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Thoughts on Last Stop on Market Street

In 2008, librarians surprised everyone by choosing the 533-page, The Invention of Hugo Cabret as the winner of the Caldecott Medal honoring the "most distinguished American picture book for children."  This year, the award committees surprised us again with the choice of a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, as the winner of the Newbery Medal, given to "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." 

The short video below featuring author, Matt de la Peña, reading from his book will convince you that this is a wonderful book. 
My concern as a public librarian, however, is how best to share this book with kids.  The book is a little lengthy for my usual storytime crowd, and school-aged kids can seldom be convinced to check out a picture book.  It's in instances like these, that I envy school teachers and media specialists, who have such a wonderful opportunity to share great books with large numbers of kids.  This is perfect book for reading aloud in school.

But, how to share it in a public library setting?

Last week, I had a last-minute inspiration and it was a rewarding experience.  I have a small book club that meets every month. This month, I asked each of the kids to read Last Stop on Market Street - right then. In addition to positive comments about the book, I loved two of the observations that they reported:

  1. I never would have chosen this book if you didn't hand it to me.
  2. The people at the soup kitchen look like regular people.
We then discussed public transportation (none of the kids had ever been on a bus) and soup kitchens (none had ever been to one).  Working in a suburban library with poor public transportation, I can understand this. However, as a suburban parent, I can tell you that I made sure that my own children volunteered at the local food pantry and experienced public transportation (I made all of them ride the public bus with me to the mall even though it was more expensive than driving my minivan and took twice as long).  As a suburban librarian, I can't take kids on the public bus or to the soup kitchen, but at minimum, I've ensured that a few more children are now aware of the lives that others lead.This is one of the many things that makes my job worthwhile.

One of the missions of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks (TM) campaign is to make sure that "all children can see themselves in the pages of a book."  This is important, but also important is recognizing that all people are just "regular people."  We always have more in common than we think.


Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Read it. Share it.

**Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
**A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
**A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller
Four Starred Reviews
Finalist for the 2014 E.B. White Read-aloud Book Award
A Junior Library Guild Selection

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4. Youth Media Awards



The winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced yesterday morning. (Complete list of winners here.)

I'm still scratching my head a bit at the Newbery winner -- the picture book Last Stop On Market Street. I'll withhold judgement until I've had a chance to read it.

But which of the winners DID I read this year?

All three Newbery Honor books -- The War That Saved My Life (my pick for winner), Echo, and Roller Girl

Caldecott Winner -- Finding Winnie

Sibert Honor book -- Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Stonewall winner -- George

Both middle grade Schneider winners -- Fish in a Tree and The War That Saved My Life

I'm currently reading one of the Coretta Scott King Honor books -- All American Boys

Pura Belpré Author Award -- Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

All in all, it was a good reading year for me!


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5. Q & A about the 2016 Newbery and Caldecott Medals

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The 2016 American Library Association Youth Media Awards were very exciting in the world of children’s literature. Boundaries were pushed. Records were set. And you may be left with some questions.

Question: How do you spell the name of that big award that is given every year for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children?

Answer: Newbery. Newbery. Newbery. NOT NewBERRY. It is named for eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery, and he only had one R in his last name. 

Question: What won the 2016 Newbery Medal?

Answer: Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. It is 32 pages and it is a picture book.

Question: Wait; how did a PICTURE BOOK win the Newbery Medal? I thought that award was for novels. Isn’t the Caldecott Medal for picture books?

Answer: Both the Newberyand the Caldecottcriteria define children as “persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.”

Picture books were always eligible for the Newbery. This is just the first picture book to win. This also means that an illustrated book for older kids, up to age 14, is eligible for the Caldecott.

Question: So what won? The words, or the pictures?
For the Newbery Medal- the words won, and the Newbery Medal will be given to Matt de la Peña, the author.

However, the ALA Youth Media Awards were very good to Last Stop on Market Street. It also won a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award. Both of these awards are for the art and will be given to Christian Robinson, the illustrator. The book won three awards in all.

Question: What won the 2016 Caldecott Medal?

Answer: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick.

Question: I thought Sophie Blackall is Australian and Lindsay Mattick is Canadian. Isn’t the Caldecott an American award? Wouldn’t that make Finding Winnie ineligible?

Answer: The Caldecott criteria states "the award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of the United States. "

Since the Caldecott Medal is only given to the artist, not the author- it is only the artist that needs to be eligible. So, it doesn’t matter where Lindsay Mattick lives.

Sophie Blackall is currently a resident of the United States, which makes Finding Winnie eligible.

Question: I’ve got more questions!

Answer: Ask them in the comments. I’ll try to answer them.

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P.S. Newbery. One R. 

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6. ALA Youth Media Awards announced today!

Watch the Golden Globes last night?  Well, it's award season for books, too!

The big news today for librarians, parents, teachers, and fans of #kidlit, is the announcement of the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards. I'll be driving to work as the live webcast begins, but I'll be checking in as soon as I get to work!

Most people know the Newbery and Caldecott Medal awards, but there are many others.  You can check them out the complete press release here: http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/presskits/youthmediaawards/alayouthmediaawards

You can watch a live stream of the event beginning at 8:00AM EST today, January 11, 2016.  Here's the link: http://ala.unikron.com/2016/ .

You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #ALAyma for live updates.

I hope to see a few of my favorites!



Image source: openclipart.org

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7. Youth Media Awards

How exciting to have Last Stop on Market Street  be awarded the Newbery Medal as well as a Caldecott Honor.  I remember this also happened with A Visit to William Blake’s Inn.

 

The post Youth Media Awards appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan -- and Newbery thoughts, anyone?

The Newbery awards (and other ALA Youth Media Awards) will be announced this morning in Boston at 8 am EST. I'm posting this at 7 am, so at this point, all I can do is wish and hope. I've read so many wonderful MG novels this year that it's difficult to pick just one I think should win.

I have so many favorites: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly, Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose, Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, along with others I haven't had a chance to blog about yet. Don't you wish all the books you read and loved this past year could win awards?

One that's certainly deserving of multiple awards is a book published in February 2015, and which I finally read on my recent blogging break in December.



Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (February 24, 2015, Scholastic Press, 592 pages, for ages 10 to 14)

Source: my favorite local indie bookstore, Children's Book World!

Synopsis (from Indiebound):  Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Munoz Ryan. Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Why I recommend it: Echo is 592 pages long, yet it was so fascinating and so beautifully written I read it in one day! I absolutely loved how the three seemingly-disparate storylines all came together at the end. And because the three stories all hinge on a harmonica, and my late father played the harmonica, this novel affected me in a big way. This is the kind of book that sends shivers up your spine. If Echo doesn't win at least a Newbery honor today, I'll be sorely disappointed.

As the awards are announced, what books were you hoping would win Newbery honors or the Newbery medal?


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9. Unpredictable

I used make predications about which books would win the Newbery and Caldecott.
I even got pretty good at it.

But then, a crazy thing happened.

I got on the Caldecott committee.

To quote Into the Woods: “I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn't known before.”

I know now that until….

-your porch has filled with boxes of books that all have to be read and evaluated carefully…

-you’ve spent a year reading during every ounce of time you have, during evenings, weekends, during time you would have spent with your family…

-you’ve read and analyzed every single book eligible for your award to the best of your ability…

-you’ve weighed and debated over and over which books should be nominated…

-you’ve carefully researched and written nominations with all the intensity of a graduate school thesis…

-you’ve sat in a room for hours and hours and hours and discussed books with people who knew them just as well as you did….

-you’ve taken a book off the table that you thought would be the winner…

-you’ve stared at a small piece of paper asking for your choice for the medal- and you knew that choice mattered….

-you’ve pushed aside all the stars, mock results and commentary and voted for the books you truly thought deserved to win…

-your committee has reached a consensus….

-you’ve been on a speakerphone call and heard the exact second when a person’s life changed completely….

-you’ve held the hands of the other committee members as your winners were announced and as the crowd literally gasped at your decisions…

…. there are a lot of things that are hard to know.

Now that I know what these things feel like, I find it hard to second-guess the work and decisions of someone else who knows too.

There are books I like, books I love, books I hope will win… but I haven’t done the work these committees have, and I haven’t read and studied the full field of eligible contenders.

I wish the members of all the America Library Association Youth Media award committees the best of luck as they prepare for their discussions and decisions this weekend. You’ve worked incredibly hard. Enjoy the phone calls and accolades!

And be sure to read this on Sunday. It says everything I want to tell you the night before the announcement.

I look forward to applauding your choices Monday morning. I will try not to gasp.

If you'd like to follow me as I tweet live from the press conference, join me at @susankusel 

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10. The Crossover (2014)

The Crossover. Kwame Alexander. 2014. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First, I owe this book an apology. I've been purposefully avoiding it, despite it winning a Newbery, simply because it was about basketball. You see, I don't necessarily "like" reading sports books. I wasn't trusting enough, perhaps, that a book could be about basketball and so much more than basketball at the same time.

The Crossover is an award-winning verse novel starring Josh Bell (aka, Filthy McNasty) and his family. Josh and his brother Jordan (aka, JB) both play basketball. Their father, at one time, played professional basketball. But an injury ended all that, and now his focus, his full-time focus, is on his boys, his family. Their mother's almost full-time focus is on the health of her husband who absolutely refuses to go to the doctor. Though, of course, she loves watching her sons play basketball too.

The novel has its ups and downs...especially for Josh. Things are changing, always changing, and he doesn't like it. His brother is distancing himself from the family, from him, and even from the game itself at times, because he's head over heels in love with 'the new girl.' The more besotted his brother becomes, the more disgruntled Josh becomes. And Josh's choices, well, they aren't perfectly good and right. (Whose are?) Still, the two brothers will be tested as never before when their mother's fears prove correct...

I wasn't expecting such an emotional journey. But that's exactly what I got. This one has depth and substance to it. The characterization was very well done. And the narrative verse worked really well.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Criss Cross (2005)

Criss Cross. Lynne Rae Perkins. 2005. 337 pages. [Source: Library]

If Criss Cross had not won a Newbery, would I have felt differently about it? I think I definitely would have had lower expectations, and lower expectations or even no expectations often work in a book's favor. High expectations can lead to disappointment and frustration.

Criss Cross didn't "wow" me. I wasn't overly impressed with the writing, the characterization, or the plot. That is I did not find the writing, the characterization, or the plot: amazing, brilliant, wonderful, spectacular, or overly memorable. There was never this WOW, WHAT A BOOK moment.

The writing was okay. It was. The characterization was just fine. The plot, well, not much happens, but not much has to happen if I'm enjoying the writing or the characters. It was an ordinary, just fine, not-extra-memorable read for me. Nothing to complain about certainly, but nothing to gush about.

Criss Cross visits the lives of a handful of teens: some boys, some girls. One of the characters is a girl named Debbie. She almost has a main-character feel to her. But just almost. There were too many character perspectives to really feel properly settled with any one of them as being the main character. There lives sometimes touch each other. (One chapter even has two perspectives side by side.) Criss Cross is definitely made up of many moments--seemingly insignificant moments--that when reflected upon later take on a bit of significance.

For those who love coming-of-age stories, this one could prove satisfying enough.

I will add that this one is historical fiction. Though the historical setting is a bit fuzzy. There are hints throughout the text that this is set in the past, but, it may not prove obvious to every reader, especially in the beginning.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Librarian Interview – Betsy Bird

I suspect that even if you have only been writing for children for a short while, if you live in the US (and maybe elsewhere) you will know the name Betsy Bird, who was the Youth Materials Selections Specialist of New … Continue reading

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13. A View From Saturday

The View From Saturday. E.L. Konigsburg. 1996. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]

I enjoyed rereading E.L. Konigsburg's The View From Saturday. Though I don't usually "enjoy" (seek out) stories with multiple narrators--alternating narrators--in this case it was just right or practically perfect. Readers meet a teacher, Mrs. Olinski, and the four students on the sixth grade competitive team for the Academic Bowl. (They are Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian.) All five narrate The View From Saturday. Mrs. Olinki's chapters are of the BIG competition day, and each chapter generally ends with a question being asked of the competitors. Usually. The chapters narrated by the students cover much more time, generally are full of flashbacks. It is in these narratives that characters are developed and relationships explored. All four students in her class were connected BEFORE they were chosen.

View From Saturday is a great friendship-focused, school-focused coming of age novel. Each narrative is definitely unique. And I like how interconnected the stories really are.

When I think Newbery, this is the kind of book I think of most of the time.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy. Sid Fleischman. Illustrated by Peter Sis. 1986. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The young prince was known here and there (and just about everywhere else) as Prince Brat. Not even black cats would cross his path.

Jemmy is "the whipping boy" of Prince Horace (Prince Brat). Every time Prince Brat misbehaves, it is Jemmy who receives his punishment. And does Prince Brat get in trouble often? That would be an understatement. He is ALWAYS getting in trouble, and Jemmy suffers oh-so-bravely for it. Does he cry out, whimper, shed a tear? No, never. And Prince Brat almost hates him for not putting on a show. Doesn't Jemmy know that it would be so much more entertaining if he just would shout or cry out?

The Whipping Boy is the story of what happens when Jemmy and Prince Brat "run away" from the palace. Jemmy is hoping to make his own escape, to sneak away from Prince Brat, and to end his whipping days for good. But before Jemmy can make his second get away, the two are kidnapped...

Beyond that, I will say NOTHING. Except that this is a surprisingly delightful adventure story....

This may be one of the Newbery winners that has surprised me most. I wasn't expecting to like it, to find it so readable, so enjoyable. But I really found myself swept into the story. I liked this one very much. 

Have you read it? Did you like it? love it? hate it? Did you like Jemmy? Did you eventually come to like Prince Brat a tiny bit at least? Do you have a favorite Newbery winner? Which one has surprised you the most?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons. Sharon Creech. 1994. HarperCollins. 280 pages. [Source: Bought]

Gramps says that I am a country girl at heart, and that is true. I have lived most of my thirteen years in Bybanks, Kentucky, which is not much more than a caboodle of houses roosting in a green spot alongside the Ohio River. 

Did I love Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons? Yes and no. On the one hand, it's a book that I know I would have either--as a kid-- avoided at all costs (if anyone had dropped hints of how sad it was) OR found myself hating, bitterly regretting having picked it up in the first place. There was a time I thought all sad books should be labeled. So at least you were making an informed decision before you got swept up in the story and invested a part of yourself in it. On the other hand--as an adult--I couldn't help finding it a beautiful and compelling story.

Sal--the heroine--is on a road trip with her grandparents (Gram and Gramps). They are on their way to "see" Sal's mother. That's what readers are told, and, as an adult I connected the dots early on. (Sal's world is upset when her Dad moves them to a new town after learning that the mom wouldn't be coming back.) But much is left a mystery for the reader. I can't honestly say how I would have interpreted the text as a kid. It doesn't really matter. The trip is enlivened by Sal's storytelling. She is telling the story of her new friend, her classmate, her almost-neighbor: Phoebe. (Readers also hear of other friends--classmates--including a boy named Ben.) Phoebe's life is also becoming something of a mess. Though Sal is better at spotting the signs than Phoebe herself. The book alternates between focusing on the past--Sal's new life, her friendships, her memories, her emotions--and the present, the road trip. Both stories are compelling. Mainly through dialogue, the grandparents become fully fleshed characters that you can't help loving and admiring. The way they love Sal, and, cherish her. There is just something sweet about this family. And readers do get to know them better than any other adult in the novel. Unfortunately, I think that is why the book leads me angry. Part of me angry anyway. THE ENDING. I did not see it coming. And it was beyond cruel to this reader. Was it realistic? Yes. Looking back were their signs that it was coming? Probably. But though I guessed one reason why the novel was one of those dreaded SAD books. I didn't the second. And the second HURT so much.

Walk Two Moons is the 1995 Newbery winner.

Have you read Walk Two Moons? What did you think? Like it? Love it? Hate it? Do you like sad books? Or do you avoid them when you can?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet Videos

The award acceptance videos from the 2015 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet are now available. These speeches took place at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. Below are the three videos from each of the winners. You can also watch the video of the full banquet (running time 1 hour 45 minutes 54 seconds). Enjoy!

Kwame Alexander – Newbery Speech

Dan Santat – Caldecott Speech

Donald Crews – Wilder Speech

The post Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet Videos appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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17. 2015 ALSC Book & Media Speeches Now Online

2015 Pura Belpre Award Winners

Winners of the 2015 Pura Belpre awards (image courtesy of ALSC)

The ALSC award acceptance speeches from the 2015 ALA Annual Conference are now available from the ALSC website. Speeches includes the winners of these 2015 awards:

Each of these is available as a downloadable PDF. For a full list of 2015 ALSC Book & Media Award winners please see the ALSC website.

The post 2015 ALSC Book & Media Speeches Now Online appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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18. Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall. Patricia MacLachlan. 1985. Houghton Mifflin. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

I've read Sarah, Plain and Tall several times, but, I can't find proof that I've blogged about it. So. Sarah, Plain and Tall won the Newbery in 1986. It is historical fiction for the youngest of readers.

Anna is the heroine of Sarah, Plain and Tall. Through her we meet Caleb, her brother; her father; and Sarah, the woman who may become her step-mother if all goes well. The children want this very much, a new mother.

Sarah comes to visit the family for one month. Will she come to love them? Will they come to love her? Will they belong together? Is this meant to be? Or will Sarah miss her old home and her old life too much to stay?

This is a sweet novel full of innocent longing. I loved all of the characters. There is something so simple and pure about it. Definitely recommended.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Number the Stars (1989)

Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]

Number the Stars was probably one of the first fiction books I read about the Holocaust and World War II. (I know I also read The Hiding Place and The Diary of Anne Frank, but both of those are nonfiction.) What did I remember about Number the Stars after all these years? Well, I remembered that it was about a young girl who had a Jewish best friend. I remembered that the girl's family helped the friend and her family get out of Denmark. I remembered the intense scene where German soldiers come to her house looking for hidden Jews. But most of the details had faded away. So it was definitely time for me to reread.

Annemarie is the heroine of Number the Stars. I loved her. I loved her courage and loyalty. Ellen is Annemarie's best friend. I love that readers get an opportunity to see these two be friends before it gets INTENSE. I also love Annemarie's family. I do. I don't think I properly appreciated them as a child reader. One thing that resonated with me this time around was Annemarie's older sister, her place in the story. The setting. I think the book did a great job at showing what it could have been like to grow up in wartime with enemy soldiers all around. In some ways it was the little things that I loved best. For example, how Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti (Annemarie's little sister) play paper dolls together, how they act out stories, in this case they are acting out scenes from Gone with The Wind. I think all the little things help bring the story to life and make it feel authentic.

For a young audience, Number the Stars has a just-right approach. It is realistic enough to be fair to history. It is certainly sad in places. But it isn't dark and heavy and unbearable. The focus is on hope: there are men and women, boys and girls, who live by their beliefs and will do what is right at great risk even. Yes, there is evil in the world, but, there is also good.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Ginger Pye (1950)

Ginger Pye. Eleanor Estes. 1950. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 306 pages. [Source: library]

Ginger Pye is a book that I never would have read as a child. Why? Well, for the simple reason that there is a dog on the cover. Why risk reading a book if there's a chance that the dog could die? Safer to read other books perhaps. Is it for the better that I didn't read this one until I was an adult? Probably. Though I should add that Ginger Pye, the dog on the cover, does NOT die. The book would have been sad enough for me as a child.

As an adult there were quite a few things about the book that I enjoyed. Not that I loved, loved, loved it. Readers meet Rachel Pye and her brother Jerry. Jerry, we learn, really, really, REALLY wants to buy a puppy. He needs a dollar, and he needs it NOW. There is someone else who wants to buy "his" puppy, and, he'll need to hurry to get his pick. Fortunately, at just the right time, he's offered an opportunity to dust the church. What a relief! Rachel helps him clean, and they get there just in time it seems. They buy the dog, name him Ginger, and all is well...or is it?!

For they are not the only ones who think that Ginger is the best dog ever. Never forget that someone else wanted Ginger. (They do forget.)

The book is a bit of a mystery. They're not very good at detecting, however. Readers may guess a long time before they do. Still, this one has a happy enough ending. I am glad I read it.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. I, Juan de Pareja (1965)

I, Juan de Pareja. Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. 1965/2008. Square Fish. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I, Juan de Pareja, was born into slavery early in the seventeenth century. I am not certain of the year.

I am so glad I read I, Juan de Pareja. The cover may not have said, read me, read me, but I found this historical novel to be quite compelling overall.
 
I, Juan de Paraja is set in Spain (and Italy) in the seventeenth century. Juan's master--for the most part--was Diego Velazquez, an artist. Both were real men. (Juan de Pareja) The first part of the novel introduces readers to Juan, and has him traveling to meet his new master after his former mistress' death. The rest of the novel spans several decades of his life and service. The focus is mainly on art--on painting portraits. Juan becomes quite interested in painting, and longs to be allowed to learn how to paint himself. (He's not allowed because he's a slave.) He observes and absorbs, waiting, perhaps for an opportunity to try for himself. Opportunity comes, and his secret life begins...

I found the book to be a quick read. I found it to be fascinating as well. I liked reading about both men, and I liked how focused it was on art. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Up A Road Slowly (1966)

Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

I loved, loved, loved Irene Hunt's Up A Road Slowly. Is it one of the best coming-of-age stories that I've read? Perhaps. At least one of the best I've read lately. I think out of all the Newbery books I've read this year (newly read as opposed to reread) this one would probably be my favorite and best. It reminded me--in a good way--of Good Morning, Miss Dove and Emily of New Moon.

Julie is the heroine of Up A Road Slowly. When we first meet Julie, she's a child: around seven years old. Her mom has just died, and her father is sending off his two youngest children to Aunt Cordelia. (The oldest, Laura, is in her final year of high school, I believe. Christopher is the brother.) How will Julie adapt to her move to the country? to her new house? to living with her aunt whom she barely knows? It isn't easy certainly. But truth be told, Julie would probably struggle some with her emotions no matter what.

So essentially, readers watch Julie grow from seven to seventeen (or eighteen) throughout the novel. Readers get to know Julie, Aunt Cordelia, and Uncle Haskell very, very well. One of my favorite things about the novel was it's characterization. Hunt did a great job at making her characters achingly human. Readers also get to know her classmates and friends. 

Did I have a favorite character? Of course. I loved Julie, I did. And I am really, really happy with whom she ended up with. It made me giddy in fact. But I think my favorite character may just be Aunt Cordelia herself.

Have you read Up A Road Slowly? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books

2015 ALA Annual Conference

2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco (image courtesy of ALA)

ALSC and the ALSC Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force want to remind Annual attendees that registration slots for the 2015 ALSC preconference program are still avaialable. This program takes place 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The program, entitled Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books, will spotlight 2015 Honor Book recipients for the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Pura Belpré, Sibert and Geisel awards. The keynote speaker for the program is K.T. Horning, and there will be a panel facilitated by Judy Freeman.

The event will feature authors, illustrators and editors such as:

  • Cece Bell
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Lauren Castillo
  • Mary GrandPré
  • Candace Fleming
  • Yuyi Morales
  • Jillian Tamaki
  • Katherine Roy
  • John Parra
  • Patricia Hruby Powell
  • Mark Siegel
  • Christian Robinson,
  • Jon Klassen
  • Melissa Sweet

This is the first year that such a preconference will be held. The charge of the Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force is “to develop content and the program for a half-day preconference that will feature 2015 ALSC-only award honorees.” Based on the success of this year’s preconference, ALSC may or may not choose to hold similar events in connection with upcoming Annual Conferences. ALSC members receive a special discount (use code: ALSC2015) on registration.

The post Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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24. The Summer of the Swan (1970)

The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Sara Godfrey was lying on the bed tying a kerchief on the dog, Boysie.

I'm so glad that Hope is the Word is hosting a Newbery Through the Decades reading challenge. June is the month dedicated to reading winners and honors from the 1970s. I may never have picked up Betsy Byars' The Summer of the Swans without a little extra motivation. And The Summer of the Swans? Well, it's compelling, very compelling.

Sara loves her brother Charlie. She does. But she doesn't always like him, or, like having to take care of him all the time. To be fair, Sara, on the day we meet her, is in a bit of a mood. This is one of those days when it seems almost every person in Sara's life is frustrating or annoying her. Sara's day will get worse before it gets better.

I really liked The Summer of the Swans. I liked the intensity of it. Charlie goes missing in the night, and that changes everything. Primarily we see this through Sara's perspective. Though we know that it is upsetting news to their Aunt Willie as well. Everyone in the neighborhood gets involved including a boy, Joe, that Sara really doesn't like or trust. Will Sara, however, change her mind about Joe after spending the day with him? after seeing the 'real' him? Will Charlie be found? Is he okay?

The Summer of the Swans won a Newbery in 1971.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Mock Newbery Club

We are starting a Mock Newbery Club at our school this year.  We have a meeting coming up to introduce books and think about those we'd like to read. I've been working on a Padlet to collect trailers and blurbs on many of the books on our list.  I am hoping it is a resource that helps members choose great books!  Looking forward to our first meeting later this month!



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