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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Jacqueline Woodson, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Lecture

Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacqueline Woodson

Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacqueline Woodson (image courtesy of Jacqueline Woodson)

Your library could host the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacquline Woodson!

The 2017 Arbuthnot Committee is looking for a host site for next year’s annual lecture. The site would host roughly 250-700 attendees, depending on the selected venue. Audiences typically include: librarians, publishers, literary critics, intrigued local patrons, and others interested in children’s literature.

The selected site will host Jacqueline Woodson, who is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, the 2014 National Book Award winner for young people’s literature, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Applications are due Friday, June 10, 2016. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials.

Access the 2017 Arbuthnot Host Application!

The post Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Lecture appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Surprising Jolts of Children’s Literature in Unexpected Places

It’s back!  I’ve been doing my thing, buying lovely adult titles for my library system, and time and again I’ve run across ideas or names that fall squarely in the children’s book realm.  Here then are some real beauties. Things you just might not know about otherwise.

Falling

I know and like Elisha Cooper but I’m ashamed to say that before this book was announced I was unaware of his previous memoir A Father’s First Year which was released in 2006.  Since that time, Cooper’s daughter was diagnosed at the age of four with pediatric kidney cancer.  This book examines her treatment, recovery, and what this all did to Elisha himself.  On my To Be Read Shelf.

SupposedProtect

Thus continuing my series of books about people I know or have met, and yet never had any idea about when it comes to their personal lives.  In this upcoming August memoir, Nadja (who penned Lost in NYC amongst other things) opens up about herself, her mother, and even her grandmother.  It’s a deeply personal work about someone I’m desperately fond of (Francoise Mouly, Nadja’s mother, is the founder of TOON Books, as well as serving as the Art Director of The New Yorker, and she is delight incarnate).  Also on the To Be Read Shelf.

InvisibleLife

This inclusion is a bit of a stretch.  I really only put it here because in the Library Journal review of the book it said, “Soviet-style medical ethics or lack thereof frame an intimate story that the publicist calls One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest crossed with The Fault Is in Our Stars.”  So there’s that.

Another Brooklyn

Jackie writes something for adults and people get very excited.  Book Expo America hasn’t even happened yet, but I’ve already been seeing this title showing up on lists of Best Books of the Summer and what have you.  I foresee some libraries have problems cataloging this title (the cover looks awfully similar to her YA novels and will be easily confused) but for all that, I suspect it’s going to be a book club hit and a New York Times bestseller.  Just you wait, just you wait . . .

Warlock Holmes

No further comments, your honor.

Noise of Time

For those of us floored by M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead last year, here is a new biography of its star, Dmitri Shostakovich.  And it’s a novel.  It’s out May 10th.  Look for it.

Garth Williams

A Garth Williams biography!  Whodathunkit? Seems pretty specialized and for a veeeery small market, but there you are.  I know the estate of Williams doesn’t exactly bend over backwards to allow folks to use his art (even his obscure art) in any context. They must have approved of this book from the start.  Heck, I’ll read it.

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3. 5 Middle Grade Books to Love | Selected by Sarah Dooley, Author of Free Verse

It’s always difficult to narrow down the teetering pile of “Books I Loved” and the tottering pile of “Books to be Read” to a manageable number. Here are just a few middle grade novels author Sarah Dooley loved, and a few more she's looking forward to reading.

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4. Jacqueline Woodson to Present Closing Session at #alsc16

Jacqueline Woodson will present the Closing General Session at the Institute

Jacqueline Woodson will present the Closing General Session at the National Institute (Image courtesy of Jacqueline Woodson)

ALSC announced that award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson will present the Closing General Session at the ALSC National Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina. This event will take place at the Charlotte Marriott City Center on Saturday, September 17, 2016 and is sponsored by Penguin Young Readers Group.

Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner.

Other confirmed special events include a Breakfast for Bill program with Phil and Erin Stead, Laura Dronzek and Kevin Henkes. On Thursday, September 15, David Shannon will present the Opening General Session. Attendees will benefit from an on-site bookstore where they can buy books to have signed by their favorite speakers.

The Closing General Session is free for all individuals registered for the 2016 ALSC National Institute. All special events are included in the cost of registration. Registration fees include Thursday dinner, Friday breakfast, and Saturday breakfast. For more information and registration details please the visit the 2016 ALSC National Institute website.

The post Jacqueline Woodson to Present Closing Session at #alsc16 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | September 2015

This month, Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body (Chronicle Books), a must-have for every girl navigating her way through the preteen years, is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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6. taking HANDLING (and memoirs I've loved) to Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, PA

In an hour I'll set out for Bethlehem, PA, where I'll spend the day at Moravian Academy, a high school that has dedicated much of this year to stories of self and memory and that selected Handling the Truth as its all-school read as part of the process.

Moravian also invited students and faculty to read three memoirs I recommended—The Answer to The Riddle is Me (David Stuart MacLean), Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson), and Gabriel (Edward Hirsch).

We'll begin with an all-school assembly and a conversation about non-traditional forms. I'll then travel to two sophomore-level classrooms to workshop emerging student ideas and to talk more deeply about the making of truth.

A day I have anticipated happily for several months now is about to begin.

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7. Jacqueline Woodson to Host NBA’s Teen Press Conference

Jacqueline Woodson, Winner of the 2014 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, will host the National Book Awards Teen Press Conference this year. She will be the first National Book Award Winner ever to emcee the event.

At the event, 600 middle- and high-school students from New York City will turn into reporters, lobbing questions at the five finalists for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. The nominees for the award include: Ali BenjaminLaura RubySteve SheinkinNeal Shusterman and Noelle Stevenson. The event will be streamed live online, so that students across the nation can watch.

“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was seven, but I didn’t grow up in family where people aspired to live as writers,” said Woodson in a statement. “I wrote all the time and I had teachers who encouraged it. If someone has something they’re really passionate about, that’s their brilliance, and my big question is how do we grow that passion/brilliance and/or help them grow.”

The press conference will take place at the 92nd Street Y on November 17th at 10am.

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8. bulletproof windows, shaped like hearts, in last night's workshop with West Philly kids

She had been driven, with the other fourth and fifth graders, through rain and across the slick of leaves from West Philadelphia toward an old stone building in Bryn Mawr. She sat on the floor with a wide gold band on her head and a pencil in her hand. I was asking her (the others, too) to think about home—what it is. I was asking for specifics—the sounds in the streets, the light in the house, the color of the flowers in the pot. I was reading a little Julia Alvarez, a little Sandra Cisneros, a little Jacqueline Woodson, a little Charles Blow. Tell me what you are hearing, I said. Tell me which details make these memories of homes and houses particular for you.

Many hands up. Many questions. Many details.

Then, toward the end, I asked the children to imagine their someday house—where will you live when you are ten or fifteen years older than you are today? Some wrote a sentence. Some worked with their tutors to write more. This little girl with the golden hairband wrote, on her own, an entire page and a half.

She wanted to read it aloud.

I said yes. Quieted the room.

Her home of the future would have candy walls. It would have yellow, purple, orange, red, TVs, a place for everyone she loves. It would have (this was a final detail) bulletproof windows that were shaped like hearts.

Are you going to be a writer? I asked her. Oh, yes. She said. What do you read? I asked her. Junie B., she said, and (her favorite book of all) the dictionary.

Next week maybe I'll tell her that when I was her age I dreamed of being a writer, too. That being a writer is possible. That anyone who conjures candy walls and heart-shaped bulletproof windows is a heroine of mine. Next week, when she returns, with another story.

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9. Jacqueline Woodson, why are you so poet?

woodsonWhen the Cambridge Public Library announced that Brown Girl Dreaming would be this year’s Cambridge Reads book I was beyond thrilled. Now Jacqueline Woodson and I would be best friends! I’d say, Jacqueline, you are my hero, thank you for your perspective, your advocacy and for creating windows and mirrors for my students! Then she would say, Liz, I love your outfit and I would be like, I love your shoes! And together we would join forces to bring children representative literature and diversity to publishing practices and live happily ever after librarian and author best friends. The end.

While this particular fantasy did not come to fruition, she did in other ways fulfill my dreams for myself and my students who I brought with me. I don’t know if you have seen Jacqueline Woodson in person or heard her speak, but do yourself a favor and try to do just that. She is not only a dynamic author and speaker but also quite relatable, adding another layer to her already great capacity as a social commentator and leader in the field.

woodson_brown girl dreaming_170x258The audience was immediately endeared by her “Just Like Us” struggle to find the right outfit for that night (OMG you guys — I never know what to wear!). And just as you might think, she brought a deeper meaning to that seeming mundanity — recounting to the audience the advice passed down through the women in her family, now including Jacqueline’s thirteen-year-old daughter, about always looking smart. It’s a reminder that when you enter a room, your arms enter, your legs, your butt, your body…so wrap them up presentably. Jacqueline told us that’s why she usually wraps herself up in black.

The evening continued like this, bringing meaning and enlightenment to the audience. Adults were clearly moved. But it was the children in the audience — they added the poignancy and importance to the night. I felt immense pride as I looked over to see my students leaning forward not to miss a word, how they dutifully looked through the copies of their books to find the passages she was reading from, how when they asked questions, there were forethought, curiosity, and eagerness in their words.

The question-and-answer line went on for miles — all children! and all great questions (people were really interested in Jacqueline’s little brother, Roman). Close to the end, one girl in the audience asked  earnestly, “Why are you so poet?”I am not sure, little girl, but thank god she is.

The post Jacqueline Woodson, why are you so poet? appeared first on The Horn Book.

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10. the power of thank you

It has been a fall of vast proportions and very little sleep and soon, soon, I will sit very quietly in a still and silent spot and reflect upon it all. What have I learned? What lessons carry forward?

But there is no need to find a quiet space to reflect upon this: the power of thank you. That simple truth—so well known, so often disregarded—was reinvented for me yesterday by the arrival of a yellow-brown envelope from the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church Tutoring Center, which I had visited two consecutive Tuesday evenings not long ago. I had met with the children of West Philadelphia and their tutors. I had to read to them from books by Jacqueline Woodson, Sandra Cisneros, and others. I had talked to them about language, and what it can do, and then the children had written stories for me. Stood up before their friends and let their dreams ring out.

The joy during those two evenings was palpable. I wrote of one young writer on my blog. I left, and I left them to their stories, but I did not forget their hearts, their faces.

Yesterday, in that envelope, I received their notes, their kindness, their sprawling enthusiasm, their books of dreams, and one fine Thanksgiving turkey. I received the autographs of aspiring writers and inspired readers and home builders. I received these words: "I am really excited that you put me on your blog. That was the best that ever happened to me in my life."

The keepsake of this whirring fall. The authenticity that lives in children.

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11. Brown Girl Dreaming: Author Jacqueline Woodson’s 2015 BGHB NF Honor Speech

woodson_brown girl dreamingHey Everybody. I want to thank the committee for choosing Brown Girl Dreaming as a Boston Globe–Horn Book honor book. It wasn’t an easy book to write — I know no book is easy — but Brown Girl Dreaming took me on a writing journey like no other. And while I’m grateful for that journey, I am glad to have that book in print — and out of me.

Imagine a very long labor without any drugs. Then imagine the euphoria that follows. The book in the world and having its life is that euphoria — and winning this award is a part of that.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB15.

The post Brown Girl Dreaming: Author Jacqueline Woodson’s 2015 BGHB NF Honor Speech appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. Penguin Young Readers and We Need Diverse Books to Host a Writing Contest

Roll of Thunder New Cover (GalleyCat)Penguin Young Readers and We Need Diverse Books has established a partnership. The two organizations will host a writing contest to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Ethnically diverse writers can submit in their middle grade stories (for readers ages 8 to 14) beginning in April 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “In 1974, the Council on Interracial Books sponsored a writing contest seeking out diverse voices. Mildred D. Taylor was the winner of the African-American segment for the manuscript that became Song of the Trees (Dial, 1975), her first book. It introduced the Logan family and was followed by Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), which won the Newbery Medal.”

Earlier this week, the publisher released a 40th anniversary edition of Taylor’s book earlier this week. It features new content from Taylor, a foreword written by Jacqueline Woodson, and illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Click on this link to learn more information and read all the rules about the contest.

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13. Free Samples of the 2015 Newbery Medal & Newbery Honor Winners

The CrossoverThe American Library Association has announced that The Crossover author Kwame Alexander is the winner of the prestigious John Newbery Medal.

This young adult novel features a story written in verse. Throughout his career, Alexander has written 18 books that range from a variety of genres including poetry, picture books, and nonfiction.

We’ve linked to free samples of the Newbery Medal-winning title and the Newbery Honor books below. Follow this link to access free samples from last year’s pool of Youth Media Award winners.

Free Samples of the ALA Youth Media Award Recognized Books

Newbery Medal Winner

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Newbery Honor Winners

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

El Deafo by Cece Bell

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14. Reviews of the 2015 CSK Author Award winners

Winner:

woodson_brown girl dreamingstar2 Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Intermediate, Middle School Paulsen/Penguin
328 pp. 8/14 978-0-399-25251-8 $16.99 g

Here is a memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. It starts out somewhat slowly, with Woodson relying on others’ memories to relate her (1963) birth and infancy in Ohio, but that just serves to underscore the vividness of the material once she begins to share her own memories; once her family arrives in Greenville, South Carolina, where they live with her maternal grandparents. Woodson describes a South where the whites-only signs may have been removed but where her grandmother still can’t get waited on in Woolworth’s, where young people are sitting at lunch counters and standing up for civil rights; and Woodson expertly weaves that history into her own. However, we see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also—and equally—in the context of extended family, community (Greenville and, later, Brooklyn), and religion (she was raised Jehovah’s Witness). Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that “words are [her] brilliance.” The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery: “So the first time my mother goes to New York City / we don’t know to be sad, the weight / of our grandparents’ love like a blanket / with us beneath it, / safe and warm.” An extraordinary — indeed brilliant — portrait of a writer as a young girl. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

Honor Books:

magoon_how it went downHow It Went Down
by Kekla Magoon
Middle School, High School   Holt   324 pp.
10/14   978-0-8050-9869-3   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-6277-9159-5   $9.99

“Two guys with guns, one dies — it’s an everyday story.” But when sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot and killed on the street, the event affects the whole community. Tariq was black, his assailant white, and Magoon tells the story through the many voices of those directly and peripherally involved. Their simple words yield a complicated story. Which characters are reliable? Which look to benefit from the situation? Which learn from it and seek a better life? One witness saw “two guys with guns,” but even that point is questionable. The “gun” may have just been a Snickers bar. Did the storeowner yell “Stop, thief” or “Stop, T”? Was T hassled by “a white guy” or a “light dude”? The local gang enjoys the notoriety of being in the news. A civil rights activist is seen to be “poaching some limelight off a poor dead black boy” to boost his senatorial campaign; the storeowner sees increased sales when thousands of people turn out to march for Tariq; and the media get a great story of a “gang-related” incident. Magoon expertly differentiates the characters by delineating their thoughts, feelings, and motivations; and the accumulation of voices weaving through the narrative effectively makes this “everyday story” believably complex, going behind newspaper headlines and campaign speeches to portray real people caught up in something bigger than themselves. A powerful novel that will resonate with fans of Myers’s Monster (rev. 5/99) and Woodson’s Miracle’s Boys (rev. 3/00). DEAN SCHNEIDER

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

alexander_crossoverThe Crossover
by Kwame Alexander
Intermediate, Middle School   Houghton   235 pp.
3/14   978-0-544-10771-7   $16.99   g

Josh and Jordan (JB), identical twin sons of former basketball phenom Chuck “Da Man” Bell, are ball legends themselves, and they aren’t yet thirteen; Josh is the only middle schooler around who can dunk, JB has a mean three-point shot, and together they’re a well-oiled machine on the court. But then things start to change, as they tend to do at their age: JB gets a girlfriend, and before Josh knows it, their relationship is strained to the point of a mid-game altercation that lands him benched for weeks. On top of that, their mother frets constantly over Dad’s poor health, and the boys begin to worry, too. Josh’s first-person verse narration is a combination of exciting play-by-play game details, insightful middle-school observations, and poignant meditations on sibling dynamics and familial love. Since poet Alexander has the swagger and cool confidence of a star player and the finesse of a perfectly in-control ball-handler, wordplay and alliteration roll out like hip-hop lyrics, and the use of concrete forms and playful font changes keep things dynamic: “SWOOP in / to the finish with a fierce finger roll… / Straight in the hole: / Swoooooooooooosh.” Alexander brings the novel-in-verse format to a fresh audience with this massively appealing package for reluctant readers, athletes especially. KATRINA HEDEEN

From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 
nelson_how i discovered poetrystar2How I Discovered Poetry
by Marilyn Nelson; 
illus. by Hadley Hooper
Middle School Dial 103 pp.
1/14 978-0-8037-3304-6 $16.99 g

In fifty poems (some previously published) Nelson chronicles her formative years during the 1950s, from age four to thirteen, against the backdrop of the cold war and stirrings of the civil rights movement and women’s lib. Each piece includes a title (“Blue Footsies” begins the book), a date, and a place name. Nelson’s father was a military officer — “one of the first African American career officers in the Air Force” — and the family crisscrossed the country. Nelson’s mother was a teacher who instilled in her children the importance of breaking ground: “Mama says First Negroes are History: / First Negro Telephone Operator, / First Negro Opera Singer at the Met, / First Negro Pilots, First Supreme Court Judge.” Throughout their travels the family encountered racism (both the subtle and not-so-subtle types) but also loving kindness from friends and neighbors. The book ends with “Thirteen-Year-Old American Negro Girl,” in which Nelson realizes that poetry is her métier and that it will be her contribution to the world. Her author’s note calls this volume a “late-career retrospective…a ‘portrait of the artist as a young American Negro Girl,’” and readers will be gratified to follow the progression of “the Speaker” (as Nelson refers to the main character, “whose life is very much like mine”) from tentative child to self-possessed young woman on the cusp of a creative awakening. A few family photos are included, rounded out by spare 1950s–ish spot art that underscores the time period and accentuates the deeply personal nature of the remembrances. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

From the January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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15. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | February 2015

This month, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, by Dave Shelton, is still The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book. And we're very happy to add Brown Girl Dreaming to our selection from the nationwide best selling middle grade books.

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16. Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month

February is African American History Month. Sharing these books with young readers comes with the responsibility to discuss ... progress towards equality.

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17. Jacqueline Woodson ~ Author of Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline_Woodson_by_David_ShankboneJacqueline Woodson (born February 12, 1963) is an American writer of books for children and adolescents. She is best known for Miracle’s Boys, which won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001 and her Newbery Honor-winning titles Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac & D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. Her work is filled with strong African-American themes, generally aimed at a young adult audience.

For her lifetime contribution as a children’s writer, Woodson won the Margaret Edwards Award in 2005[1] and she was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014. IBBY named her one of six Andersen Award finalists on March 17, 2014. She won the National Book Award in 2014 in the category of “Young People’s Literature” for her work Brown Girl Dreaming.

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18. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | March 2015

This month, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, by Dave Shelton, is still The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book. And we're very happy to add the very popular Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome and The Terrible Two to our selection from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as they appear on The New York Times.

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19. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | April 2015

This month, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book 1, by Jeff Kinney, is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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20. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | May 2015

It's true TCBR readers are fans of Greek myths! That's why, this month, the National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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21. Jacqueline Woodson Named Young People’s Poet Laureate

jacquelinewoodsonNational Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson has been named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

The award is given every two years to a poet who is recognized for writing “exceptional poetry for young readers.” The honor includes a $25,000 prize. The laureate’s role is to advise the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people’s literature. In addition, Woodson is responsible for promoting poetry to children, families, teachers, and librarians.

“Jacqueline Woodson is an elegant, daring, and restlessly innovative writer,” explained Robert Polito, president of the Poetry Foundation in a statement.”So many writers settle on a style and a repertoire of gestures and subjects, but Woodson, like her characters, is always in motion and always discovering something fresh. As she once told an interviewer, ‘If you have no road map, you have to create your own.’ Her gifts, adventurousness and generosity, suggest she will be a terrific young people’s poet laureate.”

Woodson shared writing tips with GalleyCat the 2014 National Book Awards. Follow this link to check out her advice on writing.

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22. Each Kindness

Each KindnessDarn you, Charlotte Zolotow committee! You beat me to the punch, awarding this fine book your award last week! The CCBC website explains, “The Charlotte Zolotow Award is given annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the United States in the preceding year….The award is administered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a children’s literature library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each year a committee of children’s literature experts selects the winner from the books published in the preceding year. The winner is announced in January each year. A bronze medallion is formally presented to the winning author in the spring during an annual public event that honors the career of Charlotte Zolotow.”  If you have never attended the Zolotow celebration, you are really missing out. First, you get to go to Madison, Wisconsin, and second, you get to be with people who love children’s books, and third, the lectures are always terrific. 

So, this lovely book won an award for the text. Do the illustrations hold up as well as the words?

If you have not read Each Kindness, please do. I just gave a talk to 80 or so second graders at a local school and this (along with Island) was the book they appreciated the most. This school does a fantastic Caldecott exploration each year, and by the time I drag in with my little dog-and-pony show, they have some strong opinions about current picture books. I get to tell the story of how I got to be on the committee…blah blah…but then I get to sneak in a few questions about what they are liking and not liking. When I held up Woodson’s book, there was a collective intake of breath and a murmur of oohs and ahhs.

Second/third  grade might be the perfect age for this one. Somewhere around this time, kids start to notice things like clothing and wealth and what makes kids fit in or not. These are the same grades where teachers find themselves reaching for The One Hundred Dresses, a book which deals with a similar theme.

Let’s look at the art, shall we? Lewis’s watercolors never disappoint, do they? The first spread is a lovely school shot– rural school,  snow-covered. A lone child walks up the front steps. Turn the page and Lewis captures the perfect feel of a New Kid. Maya’s eyes are cast down, the teacher is holding her hand, and the perspective lets us know that she is not comfortable. Her clothes reflect the text–her clothes look a tad ragged, especially for the first day. Turn the page and we see the other main character, the narrator Chloe, looking out the window at the reader, a sour look on her face. Maya is faded in the background, but she has a little smile, a little hope on her face. The playground page is almost too painful to look at–three little girls, holding hands, while Maya walks with her hands behind her back. Lewis puts a bit of sunlight around the girls and has the rest of the group looking at Maya. No one is including her.

The art goes on, gently documenting the social strata of this classroom. Chloe rejects Maya and sets the tone for the rest of the class. The seasons change, Maya keeps trying to fit in, but Chloe and her friends do not allow it. We see her in her fancy (but used) dress and shoes or holding the wrong doll and her eyes always remind us of her pain. Even while she skips rope, she skips alone.

The story and illustrations change once the teacher (finally, I say) gets involved. Maya is absent when the teacher presents a lesson on kindness that finally gets through to Chloe.  We see the faces reflected in the ripples of the bowl of water–a nice change of perspective. The art now highlights Chloe. First, her somber face stares at that stone that stands in for the idea of kindness. Then, her eyes are cast down (like Maya’s) on her way home, slowly walking how from the school with the backpack seeming to drag her down. The next page is the only dark page in the book–Maya’s empty desk which will stay empty. The last two pages let us know the truth–that Chloe will never get a chance to make it better. Chloe looks sad and sorry, her body slightly slumped as she contemplates what has happened. She becomes smaller on that final page turn, less powerful, but with a hopeful shaft of light pointing to the future. 

This is a true teacher’s book–with plenty to talk about in a classroom. Will the committee find it too teacher-y or a new classic in the literature of bullying and kindness?

What say you?

 

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23. Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari, Author of Penny & Jelly The School Show

To follow on from my review of Penny & Jelly: The School Show last Friday, I am very happy to have the author, Maria Gianferrari on the blog today to share about the inspiration for her debut picture book and offer … Continue reading

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24. Profile of 2015 CSK Author winner Jacqueline Woodson

Photo: Marty Umans

Photo: Marty Umans

One of the greatest joys of my career has been seeing Brown Girl Dreaming come to life and reverberate as it has been handed from reader to reader.

I have been lucky enough to work with Jacqueline Woodson for almost twenty years. She was the very first author I signed up when I became the publisher of G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Her lyrical writing sang to me. Her voice was so strong and clear and evocative. I also loved her spare style, how she could make magic happen with an economy of words. Since then I’ve edited six of her amazing picture books; Brown Girl Dreaming is the tenth novel we’ve worked on together.

I never know what I am going to get next from Jacqueline, and I am always happily surprised. The muse strikes her, and then she sends her stories to me at various stages in the creative process. Some of the picture books, such as Show Way and Each Kindness, were practically perfect and complete when I received them. The main challenge for those titles was finding the right illustrator. The early drafts of the novels usually come in with much of the story in place, but lots of holes to fill in. So I start by asking questions. I love every character and always want to know more. With Brown Girl Dreaming — a memoir in verse — boy, did I want to know more about a character I loved!

When I received the first draft of Brown Girl Dreaming in 2012, I knew I was holding something special in my hands. Many of the poems from the first section were already there, including the opening one, which begins:

I am born on a Tuesday at University
Hospital
Columbus, Ohio,
USA—
a country caught

between Black and White.

Right from the beginning, we know we are going to get a story that is deeply personal but also one that tells of a shared history—the racial divide that is part of America—and readers will experience it from the eyes of a child who has lived in the North and the South. And because of the book’s title, we know we are in the hands of a dreamer, a young girl who has hope and aspirations. She is an observant student of the world around her. I love how she contemplates who she might become in the future by her admiration of those who have come before her:

I do not know if these hands will become
Malcolm’s—raised and fisted
or Martin’s—open and asking
or James’s—curled around a pen.

Through Jacqueline’s eyes we see, and then feel, the terrible injustice that a dignified black woman, her beloved grandmother, had to live through on a daily basis:

We walk straight past Woolworth’s
without even looking in the windows
because the one time my grandmother
went inside
they made her wait and wait. Acted like
I wasn’t even there. It’s hard not to see the
moment—
my grandmother in her Sunday clothes,
a hat
with a flower pinned to it
neatly on her head, her patent-leather
purse,
perfectly clasped
between her gloved hands—waiting
quietly
long past her turn.

As we witness her grandmother’s ordeal, our hearts are broken by something we cannot fix. But we gain such insight into how families like Jacqueline’s figured out ways to fight back, ways to bring about the change the world so desperately needed:

This is the way brown people have to fight,
my grandfather says.
You can’t just put your fist up. You have to
     insist
on something
gently. Walk toward a thing
slowly.

But be ready to die,
my grandfather says,
for what is right.

woodson_brown girl dreaming_170x258As I read each draft of Brown Girl Dreaming — and, as Jacqueline says, there were so dang many of them! — I wanted more and more answers. I wanted to know about the love she felt for both her Southern and Northern roots and what it felt like to have a special place in her heart for each of them. I wanted to know what it was like when her mother bravely went off alone to search for a place to bring up her four children, a place that would offer them the most freedom and opportunity.

Looking for her next place.
Our next place.
Right now, our mother says,
we’re only halfway home.

And I imagine her standing
in the middle of a road, her arms out
fingers pointing North and South.

I want to ask:
Will there always be a road?
Will there always be a bus?
Will we always have to choose
between home

and home?

The book grew from three parts to five, as it became clear that more ground needed to be covered for the many facets of Jacqueline’s life. Please tell me more about your religion, I asked. What was it like to go door-to-door as a Jehovah’s Witness and have to introduce yourself to strangers? And in the telling, more stories emerged. Jacqueline’s grandfather (called “Daddy”), as it turned out, did not embrace organized religion. Her uncle, while in jail, converted to Islam. And in living through all this, Jacqueline
grew more open and empathetic to other people’s beliefs:

But I want the world where my daddy is
and don’t know why
anybody’s God would make me
have to choose.

One of the best parts of editing this memoir was learning about how storytelling was a part of young Jacqueline’s life. How she could hold her classmates rapt by repeating stories even before she learned to read. How she knew, early on, that there was enormous power in words:

I want to catch words one day. I want to
hold them
then blow gently,
watch them float
right out of my hands.

And so she has. Jacqueline’s words in Brown Girl Dreaming float off the page; they first linger and then stay even longer with the reader. When the thirty drafts were done, and Jacqueline and I both agreed at the same time that the story was complete, we had advance reading copies made. I gave out the first ones to librarians and educators at the Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio in early 2014. John Schumacher and Colby Sharp shared their copies with Paul Hankins and with Donalyn Miller, who wrote in a Nerdy Book Club blog post about reading the galley on her way home from the convention:

As I read, a silver thread flowed out of Brown Girl Dreaming, and twined up my wrist to my chest — connecting Jackie’s family to me and making them part of me. Following Colby’s scribbled brackets around lines and folded page corners like messages for me to find, he was with me in the book, too. That thread connects me to Jackie now, but it also connects me to Colby, Jillian [Heise], and everyone who will ever read Brown Girl Dreaming.

I love that Jacqueline’s writing has the power to connect us. It reminds us of so many universal parts of growing up: competing with siblings, feeling content in the heart of your family, being confused by a million messages coming at you, struggling to make sense of the senseless, and ultimately finding the power of your own voice. Reading a memoir like Brown Girl Dreaming reminds us that each of us has a voice and needs to find it in our own time; that everyone’s story is important; that we become stronger by dreaming our dreams and sharing our stories; and that books have the power to make the world a better place.

And so I thank Jacqueline Woodson, as well as all the librarians and teachers and booksellers who have worked to get this book into the hands of so many readers. You are all changing the world.

Profile of 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Jacqueline Woodson. From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read Jacqueline Woodson’s Coretta Scott King Author Award acceptance speech for Brown Girl Dreaming. For more speeches, profiles, and articles click the tag ala 2015.

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25. Each Kindness

Each KindnessDarn you, Charlotte Zolotow committee! You beat me to the punch, awarding this fine book your award last week! The CCBC website explains, “The Charlotte Zolotow Award is given annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the United States in the preceding year….The award is administered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a children’s literature library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each year a committee of children’s literature experts selects the winner from the books published in the preceding year. The winner is announced in January each year. A bronze medallion is formally presented to the winning author in the spring during an annual public event that honors the career of Charlotte Zolotow.”  If you have never attended the Zolotow celebration, you are really missing out. First, you get to go to Madison, Wisconsin, and second, you get to be with people who love children’s books, and third, the lectures are always terrific. 

So, this lovely book won an award for the text. Do the illustrations hold up as well as the words?

If you have not read Each Kindness, please do. I just gave a talk to 80 or so second graders at a local school and this (along with Island) was the book they appreciated the most. This school does a fantastic Caldecott exploration each year, and by the time I drag in with my little dog-and-pony show, they have some strong opinions about current picture books. I get to tell the story of how I got to be on the committee…blah blah…but then I get to sneak in a few questions about what they are liking and not liking. When I held up Woodson’s book, there was a collective intake of breath and a murmur of oohs and ahhs.

Second/third  grade might be the perfect age for this one. Somewhere around this time, kids start to notice things like clothing and wealth and what makes kids fit in or not. These are the same grades where teachers find themselves reaching for The One Hundred Dresses, a book which deals with a similar theme.

Let’s look at the art, shall we? Lewis’s watercolors never disappoint, do they? The first spread is a lovely school shot– rural school,  snow-covered. A lone child walks up the front steps. Turn the page and Lewis captures the perfect feel of a New Kid. Maya’s eyes are cast down, the teacher is holding her hand, and the perspective lets us know that she is not comfortable. Her clothes reflect the text–her clothes look a tad ragged, especially for the first day. Turn the page and we see the other main character, the narrator Chloe, looking out the window at the reader, a sour look on her face. Maya is faded in the background, but she has a little smile, a little hope on her face. The playground page is almost too painful to look at–three little girls, holding hands, while Maya walks with her hands behind her back. Lewis puts a bit of sunlight around the girls and has the rest of the group looking at Maya. No one is including her.

The art goes on, gently documenting the social strata of this classroom. Chloe rejects Maya and sets the tone for the rest of the class. The seasons change, Maya keeps trying to fit in, but Chloe and her friends do not allow it. We see her in her fancy (but used) dress and shoes or holding the wrong doll and her eyes always remind us of her pain. Even while she skips rope, she skips alone.

The story and illustrations change once the teacher (finally, I say) gets involved. Maya is absent when the teacher presents a lesson on kindness that finally gets through to Chloe.  We see the faces reflected in the ripples of the bowl of water–a nice change of perspective. The art now highlights Chloe. First, her somber face stares at that stone that stands in for the idea of kindness. Then, her eyes are cast down (like Maya’s) on her way home, slowly walking how from the school with the backpack seeming to drag her down. The next page is the only dark page in the book–Maya’s empty desk which will stay empty. The last two pages let us know the truth–that Chloe will never get a chance to make it better. Chloe looks sad and sorry, her body slightly slumped as she contemplates what has happened. She becomes smaller on that final page turn, less powerful, but with a hopeful shaft of light pointing to the future. 

This is a true teacher’s book–with plenty to talk about in a classroom. Will the committee find it too teacher-y or a new classic in the literature of bullying and kindness?

What say you?

 

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