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Author/illustrator Aaron Becker has the whole audience standing up and singing a variety of refrains. They are NOT from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
, but I AM having an out of body experience. . . .
OOOOOOH HOLY HELL, we all just sang JOURNEY!
Aaron shares this video of the Journey trailer:
As a kid, Aaron was always drawing, he shows us some of his drawings from 1978 of a few X-Wing fighters. AND he was always making books! He made his own Ed Emberley-ish how-to-draw books complete with bio photos and flap copy, but at the time, he thought this was just fun play and when he became an adult he'd have to give it all up, no more making books with pictures.
But in high school, though he never took an art class, he got an internship with a local commercial illustrator and realized you could get paid to make art. In college Aaron finally got into some art classes and Post-College Aaron started working in the fields of graphic design, and though he was getting paid to draw, it wasn't quite what he thought it would be. At an elderly 23, he felt like his days were slipping away, being filled with unfulfilling work and that maybe he did not need the security of his day job if it meant his life wasn't really worth living.
And so he did a web search and found:
Except it wasn't until eight years later, after initial children's book publisher rejections at some SCBWI events, time in art school studying illustration, working for various film and animation companies, and finally being laid off by an animation company, that Aaron found himself at a critical juncture. Now, with a new baby and no job, Aaron turned down a film industry job offer and followed his dream of making books with pictures and this is where Journey
's journey begins:
Blog: Liz's Book Snuggery
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ALSC Award Acceptance Speeches (image courtesy ALSC)
The 2014 ALSC book and media award acceptance speeches evoked plenty of emotion. Some were funny and warm. Some were emotional and informative. You can read them yourself on the ALSC website! Download a copy of the PDF of each of the speeches:
You can also watch reaction videos from the 2014 ALA Youth Media Award winners. Videos of the award speech presentations and inspiration videos that concluded the banquet will be posted soon.
An editor’s dream — smart authors, smart artists. They save so much time. That is, they’re up to speed without undue heaving or the need for sand on the tracks (see Locomotive for more on the subject). My subject in this tribute is someone who is all three: author, artist, smart.
Given a pencil, Brian Floca doodled young and was still happily at it when, in the spring of 1991, we met in Providence, Rhode Island, in (unaccountably) an empty office in the Department of Egyptology at Brown University. Doodles, by then, had become a comic strip in the campus newspaper. As a junior at Brown, Brian was also studying with David Macaulay at nearby Rhode Island School of Design (what a treat, then, to read in The Horn Book’s review of Locomotive that the back endpaper cutaway illustration of Central Pacific engine Jupiter surely “would make David Macaulay proud”).
It was Avi who arranged our meeting. He was seeking an illustrator for a 400-page gleam in his eye that became City of Light, City of Dark (1993), an early entrant in the recent resurgence of graphic novels. Brian had been recommended. He did some sample pen-and-inks: lots of energy; inventive perspectives; a touch of the sinister, which Avi’s tale required.
Before that first project was published, Avi had dreamt up a second — a fantasy called Poppy (winner of a 1996 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award). The three-inch mouse heroine emerged first in what the illustrator describes as “cartoony pen-and-ink” but then matured magically in velvety pencil. From gargantuan cityscape to atmospheric woodland, this young man could draw anything.
I hadn’t yet read any of Brian’s own story ideas. Turned out he was not only a skilled draftsman, but also a witty writer, sometimes wacky, sometimes tender. The first text Brian brought me was a goofball romp about a boy in a natural history museum, The Frightful Story of Harry Walfish (1997), though not till he’d finished, for Orchard, Helen Ketteman’s Luck with Potatoes (1995). Years later, I mean years, he admitted that before Helen’s book he’d never done any watercolor illustrations requiring book-length focus. But focus he did…on a departure, and also in watercolor: Five Trucks (1999), which Booklist starred and which prompted the reviewer to ask: “If picture books about trucks are so easy to do, why do we see so many poor ones and so few as good as this?”
A stylistic throwback followed, Dinosaurs at the Ends of the Earth (2000) about explorer/naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews. Not quite nonfiction (Brian imagines some dialogue), the book spreads as wide as the Gobi Desert; the text, mostly arrayed horizontally, is lengthy and looks it. Great rectangles of words. But the writing is alive, a throwback only in its long-lined form.
As a kid I loved poring over Holling C. Holling (but oh, those long texts) and the informational books by Edwin Tunis (dry as tinder, yet the drawings captivated). Fifty years later, here was Brian Floca of Temple, Texas, an artist who could bring to life gizmos, vehicles, feats, and all manner of things that go and do and make noises. And not go on and on for paragraphs. Here was an artist to channel that one-time kid who liked “process” and long-looking. I hope it’s clear that we’d hit it off as friends from the beginning, but now the making of books about the workings of things had become a connecting passion.
The Racecar Alphabet (2003) was the first brainchild: rambunctious, even raucous, with an alliterative text only 205 words long. One NASCAR driver we heard from via e-mail reads the book to his son regularly and praised Brian for the accuracy of art, car info — and sound effects. For a further example of those, see Lightship (2007).
“A committee member” asked for a lunch-break look at our copy of Lightship in the Atheneum ALA booth.
She’d heard that the text was “strong.” It was Lightship that alerted the world that this young man could not only illustrate and pace a book beautifully, he could also write. Brian’s texts thereafter arrayed themselves vertically; visually spare, like ribbons floating to allow room for art, they often read like poetry (think of the glorious Moonshot in 2009, and now Locomotive). The words brim with emotion even when it is facts he’s presenting.
Since his beginnings, Brian has been a working illustrator. His website makes clear that his range is impressive —
animal, vegetable, mechanical. I have a most personal collection of hand-drawn postcards and notes the Society of Illustrators could make a show of; a recent highlight is a pen-and-ink Jupiter, puffing a great blast of thank-you flowers.
Locomotive began life in 2008 as an homage to a wondrous big chugger such as Jupiter, when Brian’s flight of Apollo 11 was still on the drawing board. It soon became clear that locomotives, especially those engines destined for transcontinental travel, bore on their wheels the great weight of nineteenth-century America. Homage
became paean. Had to. Thirty-two pages became, progressively, 40, 48, 56, 64. Research led him this way and that — into many an account of the heroism, ingenuity, venality, and even crime behind the country’s westward expansion. These elements, outside the immediate focus of Locomotive, make appearances in the narrative in supporting roles, which, it is hoped, will lead readers to other books, other stories. But the stars of Locomotive had to remain the locomotives themselves (several were required to make the Omaha-to-Sacramento trek); sometimes even pieces of their stories fell to the cutting room floor.
Nearly a victim of the streamlining ax was the KA-BOOM! explosion picture. (Brian said: “Boys will like it; I hate to lose it, but…”) Lots of the book hit the floor at one time or another, great puddles of remarkable art, often without room for itself in the narrative, offshoots of story for which there was no space or time. The nights of the journey had to be documented with rhythmically placed dark pages; lighting for existing scenes had to be changed from midnight to sunlight — perspectives had to be juxtaposed. Locomotive was pulled apart and reassembled many a time. Like a machine itself, this book was built.
And as with the pictures, the text too was an assemblage. I must have read it a hundred times and yet I am always impressed with how the skein of language supports the visual story. For by now, after a long, evolutionary, and iterative process, a story had emerged — of one family traveling westward, propelled by a sequence of Union Pacific and Central Pacific locomotives. Listen to the book read aloud. Through its words, it presents the experiences of one boy (a stand-in, surely, for the artist himself) lucky enough to see and see more and hear and hear more — a whole world opening up to him.
At the touching end, the simplicity of the family’s reunion seems to me just right — no bustling background, just feeling. Full but spare, the text here through the arrival in San Francisco was sifted and shifted well into final proofing stage. The book ends with the art/text version of a hug. And extends to the back of the jacket, which shows six grown boys loving a machine — just as three grown boys, Brian principally, but also the designer, Michael McCartney, and I, have loved the tinkering, the polishing, the priming of this book for its journey from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first.
Brian Floca has opened a world to me.
And now, what’s next? Back to the man who put this crew together: Avi and his Old Wolf. Brian has illustrated in rich pencil the fable-like tale of an aged wolf-pack leader determined to feed his hungry pups (does he or doesn’t he have one more kill in him?), a boy with a birthday bow-and-arrows who knows about killing only from video games, and a raven who knows about everything.
After that, there’s a picture book starring a cat behind the wheel—a vehicle-sized cat or a cat-sized vehicle? Only the artist knows for sure…
I am grateful that there’s to be a future for us. Thank you, young sir, for the ride so far. I have learned much.
Your pal, D
Brian Floca is the 2014 Caldecott Medal winner for Locomotive. From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
The post B: A Profile of Brian Floca appeared first on The Horn Book.
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Bambino the Clown
by George Schreiber
There is a very fine dividing line that I have discovered on opinions surrounding the subject of CLOWNS. And the line is crystal clear, as it seems there IS no middle ground. You either love them or fear them. So imagine my surprise when I found a Caldecott Honor book from 1948 that will let YOU make up your mind from a SAFE distance. I must recuse myself from this debate as I fell in love with Bambino! And whether after reading it, you too fall in love, in LIKE or still run screaming into the night, you will have shared with your young reader a beautiful narrative on what it takes to be understood in this world – a listening ear, time and compassion. Bambino has all three virtues in equal amounts. And it does help if you also have as a pet a black Sea Lion called Flapper and a sense of humor!
When I read these wonderful vintage Caldecott classics, I often wonder to myself, “Where are these authors now?” “Are they still living?” Do they realize the effect their picture book are STILL having on readers, as in the case of Bambino, some 66 years after its printing? Sometimes I DO look them up online to see where they are and the specifics of their careers as writers. And in the case of George Schreiber, it started me down an offshoot of my original intent on a review of his book.
What sidetracked me was the discovery of something George Schreiber and many other artists were part of in the years of the Great Depression and even into World War II. Have you ever heard of the Federal Arts Project? Well, neither had I. It was an arm of the WPA or Works Progress Administration, begun by Franklin Roosevelt in his New Deal effort to get the country moving again economically. Started in 1935 and ending in 1943, it gave artists such as Jackson Pollock, Thomas Hart Benton, George Schreiber and hundreds of other artists an opportunity to do posters, murals and paintings that wound up hanging in schools, hospitals and libraries. The Federal Arts Project provided artists with income and an opportunity to display their work. And the public had a chance to see great art at a time when the soul-feeding jolt that the arts provide was sorely needed. George Schreiber enrolled in the WPA Arts Project in 1936 and over the next three years he traveled all 48 states (yes, only 48 at that time!), creating lithographs of American Regionalist imagery. A link to a sample of that imagery is provided below.
Museum collections representing Mr. Schreiber’s work include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of the City of New York. I always am excited to see young picture book readers experience great art ALONG with a great story. It lets them see and remember at a young age what “great” is, as opposed to “mediocre!”
At his death in 1977, George Schreiber who was not ONLY an artist but also a war correspondent in World War II AND poster designer was part of a NYC WPA Artists exhibit at Parsons School of Design. He was also a noted lithographer, teacher and writer. And so, we come full circle back to his book on the little clown, Bambino.
Take a look with your young reader at some great art by George Schreiber and the charming story of his invention, Bambino the Clown, a Caldecott Honor book of 1948. This clown and the art that brings him alive is a story in itself that shows young readers what “good” art really looks like! Thank you Mr. Schreiber!! You made me smile! For as Bambino reminds his young friend, Peter, as he confides to him what it means to be a clown, “Now you know how to be a clown; you must remember it means just one thing: “To laugh and make everybody happy!”
Is Paul Goble's The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
one of your favorite books? It won the Caldecott Medal thirty-five years ago. Let's take a look at it.
Here's the first paragraph in the story:
The people were always moving from place to place following the herds of buffalo. They had many horses to carry the tipis and all their belongings. They trained their fastest horses to hunt the buffalo.
With the word 'tipis' in that paragraph Goble suggests that these are Plains people. The buffalo are another clue that suggests the story is one belonging to the Plains tribes.
As the story begins, we learn of "a girl" (we are never given her name) who loved horses. People in the village see that she has a way with them. One day when she is out with the herd of horses, a huge storm erupts. She leaps onto one as the herd races in fear. When the horses stop that night, the girl looks around and realizes that they are lost. The next morning she wakes to the neighing of a handsome stallion who tells her he is the leader of the wild horses that roam the hills. He welcomes her to live with them. She and her herd are happy.
Meanwhile, her people spend the next year looking for her. One day, two hunters see the stallion and the girl, too. She's on a horse, leading a colt. They call and wave at her. She waved back, but the stallion drove her and the herd away from the hunters. Other men join them in an attempt to reach the girl, but the stallion keeps them away from the girl and the colt. But, the girl's horse stumbles, and she falls. The hunters take her back to the village. She was happy to see her parents but she is sad. She misses the colt and the wild horses. At night, the stallion calls to her. The girl is lonely and gets sick. Doctors ask what would make her happy again, and she says she wants to return to the wild horses.
The stallion and wild horses come to the village. The people give the horses blankets and saddles and they give the girl a beautiful dress and the best horse in the village. The girl gives her parents a colt, and she rides away, beside the stallion, reunited with the herd. Each year, she brings her parents another colt. But one year, she doesn't return at all.
Then, the hunters see the stallion again. Beside him is "a beautiful mare with a mane and tail floating with wispy clouds about her." They believe the girl is that mare, that she has become a wild horse, too. The story ends with:
Today we are still glad to remember that we have relatives among the Horse People. And it gives us joy to see the wild horses running free. Our thoughts fly with them.
Nowhere in The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
do we have any sources for that story. As noted earlier, Goble's use of 'tipis' suggests a Plains tribe. What we know as the Great Plains is a vast area. Here's a map
from the Smithsonian:
See how that area stretches from the north to south, spanning at least 1500 miles? See the 20 or so tribes listed in that area? There's a lot more than just those 20. They don't speak the same language and they don't tell the same stories.
The question is, who does this story about a girl who became a wild horse belong to? It'd be good to know. If it is a story Goble came up with, then it isn't a Native story, is it?
Though it won the Caldecott, and though a lot of people love Goble's art, I think it is (past) time to set aside The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses.
What do you think?
Oh my! What a fun Weekend Links this will be! I don’t know if it’s because Spring is in the air and the flowers are a bloomin’ here in TN, but this week has been chocked full of amazing information concerning summer reading, multicultural books and great reading lists for kids. So exciting!
As always, I’ve combed through the hundreds of amazing articles out there and brought you the best of the best (in my opinion). So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for some great kidlit-inspired reading ideas for kids!
The Multiracial Population Is Growing, But Kid Lit Isn’t Keeping Up: School Library Journal
2014 Books from Caldecott Winners: 100ScopeNotes
Middle Reader Summer Reading List from PrettyOpinionated
22 Awesome Submissions From The #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign
@KCEdventures 15 Amazing Vintage Summer Reads for Kids -Encourage Learning with Kids
From My Backyard Summer Reading List: Reading Rockets
Needs some summer reading ideas? 10 to Note: Summer Preview 2014 from 100 ScopeNotes
What great kid-reading inspired links did YOU find this week?
**Don’t Forget! Children’s Book Week starts May 12th!
The post Weekend Links: Tons of Wonderful Children’s Reading Links! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.
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
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
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?
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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
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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!
This is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen
Reading level: 3 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 9, 2012)
I first encountered this book while doing some browsing at shop at The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum this past fall, and was instantly charmed by the ingenuity of its design and storytelling smartness. Though Jon Klassen's preceding book, I Want My Hat Back, is also funny/smart in a strikingly similar fashion, This is Not My Hat far outshines its predecessor in design, concept, and attitude. It's Jon Klassen 2.0. Here's why:
In I Want My Hat Back, the hat thief is a mystery for most of the story and the hat-hunting Bear the innocent victim. But This is Not My Hat is told from the point of view of the hat thief himself---a little fish with a BIG attitude. Self-assured and cocky, Little Fish justifies his immoral swiping of Big Fish's hat for the logical reason that it's far too small for the big fish anyway. He's certain that he's committed the perfect crime and will never be found out...
Each sentence (few as there are) does exactly what it needs to do in pushing the story along. But where the simplistic and restrained writing truly soars is that he is able to give Little Fish such a snarky voice in so few words. The beauty of the writing is that Klassen says what should be said, and shows what should be shown. It results in one of the best rhythmically syncopated picture books to emerge in recent memory. It's picture book mastery at its best.
Stylistically the images are a bit dark for my personal taste--I'm not a huge fan of the muted color palette or flat back background. The flat black basically says "death" from page one and I just don't know if this was the only solution that could have worked. However I do love the texture and traditional collage-like feel achieved with digital media. Regardless of how I feel about this look, I give Klassen credit for being daring and for appropriately setting the tone of this darkly comic caper. It would not have worked as well if it were set in a typically colored ocean scene. The dark, muted colors definitely enhance the ominous atmosphere.
I love the flat matte paper Candlewick has chosen as well as the long shape of the pages. Klassen uses the page turn like a slow motion flip book where at times nothing differs from one image to the next besides the reactive eye of the big fish and an occasional gesture of secondary character. This makes it feel especially animated and demonstrates an enviable efficiency that many illustrators could learn from. It's super smart.
I reiterate that what Jon Klassen has done with the storytelling here is admirable. He's created the perfect marriage of text and image where both serve the story in the best possible combination.
Winning the Caldecott Medal proves many people acknowledge its merit as a significant contribution to children's literature. But I'm surprised by those who who jump to give it a poor review simply because its main character is an unapologetic criminal. They've missed their chance to read between the lines (kids are often better at that than adults). At its heart, this IS a morality tale. It doesn't encourage stealing, it supports the idea that doing the wrong thing just because you can is still wrong---and there will be inescapable consequences. Little Fish is not a bully, he just takes what he wants because he thinks it won't be missed. To me, it reminds me of the very same little-kid logic I myself once had--even if I ultimately never indulged myself into thieving anything... In a humorous, smart, and engaging way this book speaks to kids because it relates to the way they think. The harsh reminder about consequences of immoral actions is also a good one, for kids and adults alike.
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.
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)
First of all, I'd like to apologize for pushing the "publish" button instead of the "save" button when I was composing this post yesterday. As a result, my weird and clearly unfinished post went out to our subscribers above Carmela's wonderful Wednesday Writing Workout (which I highly recommend reading.) Oy!
Onward...to Poetry Friday!
My poem is below. :-)
the American Library Association
is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Award at its annual conference!
Right now--right this very minute!
Here's one fascinating fact from the ALA's beautifully put together scrapbook
of all things Caldecott:
Until 1958, an artist could not be awarded more
than one Caldecott Medal unless the committee's vote was unanimous. In
his letter responding to the news, Robert McCloskey expresses his
surprise at winning the award a second time.
Except for his first
picture book and his last one, Robert McCloskey won either a Caldecott
Medal or a Caldecott Honor for every picture book he published.
Here's a 1:03 minute video of last year's Caldecott honor winner, John Rocco, talking about The Phone Call...the moment he learned he'd won the Caldecott honor for his book, Blackout:
and here's a funny-weird 1:49 minute video about getting ready for
this year's Newbery/Caldecott banquet...
And, yes, it's Poetry Friday! My poem was inspired by Carmela's Wednesday Writing Workout
, in which author Melanie Crowder
suggests that sounds can spark writing ideas.
But where to start--what sound? How about applause--applause for all Caldecott winners (and those hard-working Caldecott committee members)? There are so many different kinds of applause, including this
--which is the applause before
a concert begins. That's the sound that stuck with me. Here's my rough draft:
INSPIRED BY THE SOUND OF EXPECTANT APPLAUSE
by April Halprin Wayland
star in the wings.
In your seat:
Rise in your seat,
stomp on the floor,
awaken your core!
And even before his wild art starts,
poem © 2013 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
TeachingAuthors will be taking a vacation from July 1-July 12, 2013. Ta-ta! Bye-bye! Take time to write! See you soon, Raccoons!
By April Halprin Wayland, who thanks you from the bottom of her little heart for reading all the way to the end.
This week over on Turbo Monkey Tales I'm talking about my visit to Bologna in March.
Follow this LINK
to read all about it.
Pearl is coming soon! Next time, what I got up to at ALA Chicago, 2013.
In preparation for my year on the Caldecott Committee, I am immersing myself in picture books. One thing I really wanted to do this year was hold a Mock Caldecott with youth. I just needed a willing teacher and a classroom to play with. I happen to know the English teacher at the local high school, and one of the curriculum outcomes is “able to respond with critical awareness to various forms of the arts and be able to express themselves through the arts.” Perfect fit. All grade nines have English with this teacher, back-to-back classes, so I go over for a couple of hours. I’ll be going once a month through January, when we will do our Mock Caldecott before I head off to Philadelphia to see which book this year’s Caldecott Committee chooses.
My first class was an introduction to the award, which some knew about, but most did not. They had heard of Newbery, but not Caldecott. (Remember, I am in Canada. Not every teacher stresses the importance of these books.) So we talked about the award a bit, then I shared some information about style and media from my go-to website, Picturing Books. If you are not familiar with this website, block out some off-desk time and get yourself over there ASAP. After we looked at the slides about media and style, I gave them a homework assignment. I left 33 books in the classroom, Caldecott winners and honors from a wide range of years. I created a chart for them to fill out for at least 5 of the books: Is the medium appropriate? Is the style appropriate? Do the pictures enhance the story? Page turns- what do you notice? Overall design? Line: what do you notice? Since I can’t make it to their class in October, they have over a month to delve into these books, and the teacher is allowing them to read these books during Silent Reading Time in class (that got some whoops from the boys in the class). They will even be graded on their picture book charts.
When I go back in November, I’ll do a Visual Literacy exercise with them—we’ll look closely at a painting or two, and really start discussing art (picked up a few tips in Chicago on how to do this!). I will also take a stack of 2014 Caldecott “possibles” and we will take some time to really look closely at them we will do the same in December, and then in January, we’ll hold a Mock Caldecott.
I’m pretty excited about this little experiment, and I think the class is, too. When I got back to my office, I had an email from the teacher saying they were digging in to the box of books I left there, and that some of them had already started filling in the charts. Most of these students are 13 and 14 years old, so they ARE still officially within the Caldecott age range. How fun that I get to hear what they think about and see in the books!
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.
The Studio of Molly Idle
It's a privilege for me to take you on a tour today of the studio of Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle
. (Yes! I said Caldecott Honor!) Molly has illustrated over 16 picture books, and has created (written and illustrated) two characters destined to become classics - Rex
(from Tea Rex
and Camp Rex
) and Flora
(from Flora and the Flamingo
and the soon to be released Flora and the Penguin
Hot Off the Press
2014 Caldecott Honor Book
I've had the pleasure of knowing Molly for more than eight years. We have a bit in common. We both live in Arizona. We both work in Color Pencil. And her backyard is home to her very own studio too!
Molly is just as fun and down to earth as her books are. Plus, she likes to share! Back in 2007 she offered her studio up for a workshop with art director Tim Gillner and more than a dozen other illustrators. Yes, her studio is big enough to host workshops!
Before heading over to her studio for a close-up tour, how about a few questions for Molly?
My favorite color changes all the time, depending on what I’m working on. Right now I’m deeply enamored of a lovely retro shade of sea-foam green. How many pencils did it take to complete Camp Rex? (It’s okay if you guess!) No comment. (I’ll be hosting a book giveaway soon that will address this very question…)
Whats your favorite color? (It’s okay, if you don't say pink!)
I notice you have quite a collection of picture books!
How many do you own?
(You don't really have to count. An estimate will do.)
Film.What’s the favorite thing about your studio?The people I share it with.
Judging by shelf space: Far too many.
Judging by how many wonderful books there are out in the world: Not nearly enough!
If you had to use something other than color pencil, what medium would you choose?
My whole family utilizes the workshop: My Dad, an inventor, can be found building prototypes here. My Mom, an actress, holds improv workshops here. My husband, Steve, builds ship models here. And our boys come here to do their homework and help me make messes. It’s very much a family affair in the Idle workshop! But for now, I’ll just show you my part…
My prized rubber chicken.
A few books, books, books…
You can see, I like to keep up to date-
using the very latest in technology…
A few things you can never have enough of:
celebratory drinks, printer ink, and storage space.
Can you ever have too many pencils? I submit that you cannot.
Thank you Molly for being so good at sharing!
Want to learn more about Molly?
You'll find some more fun interviews at the following links.Teen PenguinSharpread Nerdy Book Club
You can see a great trailer for Camp Rex at this link.Watch. Connect. Read.
By: Dan Bostrom,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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Many thanks to all of the candidates who ran for division office this year. These folks put their time and talents up for the division and we thank them. Here are the results from the 2014 ALSC Elections:
Board of Director
2016 Caldecott Committee
Sarah Bean Thompson
2016 Newbery Committee
Allie Jane Bruce
2016 Sibert Committee
2017 Wilder Committee
To learn more about ALA’s election results, please visit the ALA Election Information page.
Today's tour will be all about links. So sit back, click, and follow some fun. In honor of the upcoming Caldecott Award announcement on Monday, I'm putting in my vote for favorite picture of 2012. It is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce.
Take a tour studio office space and the creative team Joyce has put together at:Moonbot Studios
You'll find more Morris Lessmore here:morrislessmore.com
Here you'll find an interview
about the app.
You can read about the Academy Award winning short film version, and even watch the film's trailer here
Follow this link
to see a few thumbnails and the creators of this story.
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
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!
View Next 25 Posts
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.