Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Caldecott Medal 2013

The 2013 Caldecott Medal winner is This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press.  In this darkly humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat. It fits him just right. But the big fish wants his hat back. Klassen’s controlled palette, opposing narratives and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and imagine the consequence.
“With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know,” Caldecott Chair Sandra Imdieke said.

The Caldecott Medal is 75 years old this year and librarians are celebrating the rich history of these award-winning books and the honor books chosen each year.  Styles, publishing, how color is reproduced now versus 75 years ago, and digital files have all brought changes to the art.  Yet, the medal means more than all of that to me.  It means incorporating storytelling with art.  It means delight upon opening the pages, sharing a book, and wide readership because of a medal.  Even my young grandson knows that having a medal on a book lends importance to it.

Looking at this year's winner, I am struck by the page turn.  A child wants and needs to turn the page to continue the story.  That makes the book a part of the story, and in this case, part of the joke.


Monday, February 04, 2013

2013 Newbery Honor Books

There are three books on the honor list.  In the buzz leading up to the announcement of the awards, only one of the three books generated online conversation, as well as "mock" awards from libraries across the country.

Laura Amy Schlitz, a former Newbery Award winner for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village in 2008, came up with an Honor Award for her Splendors and Glooms.  Here is a very short synopsis: Lizzie Rose, Parsefall and Clara are caught in the clutches of a wicked puppeteer and a powerful witch in this deliciously dark and complex tale set in Dickensian England, where adventure and suspense are interwoven into nuanced explorations of good versus evil.  I have not read this myself, so I must wait until the library copy is sitting on the shelf again.  In the meantime, I'll be checking out...

Steve Sheinkin's Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.  I am a HUGE fan of Steve Sheinkin's writing.  He is the author of The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery, last year's winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.  (Actually Bomb won this year's YALSA Award for Nonfiction, too!)

Bomb is a suspenseful combination of science and history, where Sheinkin masterfully exposes the international race to develop an atomic weapon and bring an end to World War II.  This true-life spy thriller features an international cast of characters and will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  Period photographs of key players and an abundance of primary sources bring this well-researched story to life.  Sheinkin gives readers insight into what happened with all of the major players after the end of the war.  A thought-provoking epilogue on the long term implications of atomic weaponry reminds readers that the results of scientific inquiry have long term implications for everyone.  “In readability, documentation and presentation, Bomb exemplifies the highest quality in nonfiction for young adults, and it as suspenseful as an international spy thriller,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Angela Frederick.  This is sitting on my nightstand waiting (begging) to be read next.

Lastly, in the Newbery Honor category we have Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  In the rich tradition of Southern storytelling, rising sixth-grader Mo LoBeau leads the eccentric residents of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, on a rollicking journey of mystery, adventure and small-town intrigue as she investigates a murder and searches for her long-lost mother.  This didn't seem to be on anyone's radar, and I look forward to reading it, too.

Never underestimate the power of great reads.  And where will you find those great reads?  From award-winning titles, awards that are chosen by librarians.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Awards Make Memorable Reading

The American Library Association (ALA) announces awards for the best children's and young adult books and media (films and audio books) at this time of year with great fanfare. At least to librarians it feels like great fanfare! Anyone can watch a live broadcast of the announcement and listen to gasps, applause, laughter, and shouts of excitement from the crowd at the presentation. I've been lucky to have been present at a few of these announcements and it truly is a memorable experience.

Let's start with the top prize of the oldest award, the Newbery Award.  This year the gold seal has been placed on The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.   Ivan’s transformative emergence from the “Ape at Exit 8” to “The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback,” comes to life through the gorilla’s own distinct narrative voice, which is filled with wry humor, deep emotion and thought-provoking insights into the nature of friendship, hope and humanity.  This book is about compassion and empathy for all.  I hope everyone has a chance to read this beautiful book, and the Newbery Award may help make it a classic.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Picture Books

The new fall crop of picture books are coming in and I can't even keep up with them all! I must say there are some spectacular new books from great writing to beautiful art.

First I want to mention two new books from a favorite author and a beloved character: Ian Falconer's Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, and a new book from Mo Willems (always a delight) - Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Olivia brings on the PINK! She is not one to wear pink, or even like it. How will she handle that? And Mo Willems turns the story of the three bears on it's ear with the substitution of dinosaurs. Be prepared to look at every detail on every page. (Don't forget to look for pigeon, either!)

I've got some other great finds on the new cart with Bea at the Ballet by Rachel Isadora. This is perfect for the youngest dancers to learn the vocabulary of dancing and to see themselves in a class. It is perfect for little children, both boys and girls. Candice Fleming and Eric Rohman have pooled their talents on Oh, No! It is set in the jungle. As little animals fall into a deep hole, they are all aware that they will be eaten by a great big tiger. However, a giant elephant is there to rescue them all. This is a perfect book for early literacy skills. A child will enjoy the phonological sounds of the animals, and will also want to retell the story because the narrative structure is easy to follow. Looking at the animals and their dilemma is such fun with wonderful illustrations.

The last book I want to mention is one that I'm afraid most people won't take out. Please give it a second look. It is Jimmy the Greatest! by an author and illustrator from Colombia, South America. The book has been translated. It is about a young man who wants to box. He doesn't know much about it, but his little town has a little gym, with a punching bag and a ring. Jimmy starts training and loves it. Then he is given a box with clippings and books about Muhammad Ali. Now Jimmy wants to read and even wear the glasses he never wore before. His reading gets better, as does his boxing. Pretty soon he is making improvements in his little town and happy to be where he is. This book is not filled with a lot of text. It is just right. The pictures mostly tell the story of Jimmy's confidence growing and his community understanding what Jimmy brings to them all.

Picture books are a time for parents to sit with their children, even through all of elementary school. Kids are never too old to be read to, especially if you phrase it as "Oh, I just saw this book at the library and I couldn't resist bringing it home to read with you." Your kids will secretly thank you for it!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Popular Titles

It isn't easy to know in advance what will be popular or what will sit on the bookshelf. My friends at the Voorheesville Middle School have certainly fooled me with their thoughts on the books they chose to read with a coming-of-age theme. I would never have thought that The Outsiders would still be so popular, and enjoyed by so many! Here are more reviews of books that surprised me:

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Print.
Ponyboy just witnessed the murder of a man and he doesn’t think he’ll ever forget it. And, you’ll never forget this memorable book by S.E Hinton. Action-packed, yet so believable, The Outsiders will continue to amaze you over and over again. Ponyboy is a Greaser and he lives on the rough side of a 60s city. (Even though this story takes place “back then”, this is the kind of story that won’t ever age.) Besides Ponyboy, the other Greasers are: Twobit, Steve, Darry, Johnny, Sodapop, and Dallas. Ponyboy is faced with trying to escape trouble and cope with death, all while trying to accept what is happening around him.
After a great night at the movies (and a not-so-great fight with his brother) to top it all off, the rival gang, the Socs, show up. Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are frightened. When a Soc begins to drown Ponyboy in the park fountain, Johnny, who is desperate to help, does the only thing he can: stab the Soc next to him. Ponyboy is happy to be alive…but police sirens are wailing already. Johnny saved his life and took another. But what does this mean Ponyboy needs to sacrifice in return? Do you think that you’re ready to join the Greaser gang? If you’re age 12 or older (adults, you too) will enjoy this book. I did not dislike anything about this phenomenal book and strongly suggest you read it. So head on over to the wrong side of the tracks, bring some cokes and your leather jacket and join Ponyboy and the gang. You’ll rumble with the Socs and learn the story of The Outsiders for yourself. ~Madison

Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. New York: Clarion Books, 2007. Print.
The Wednesday Wars by Newbery award winning author, Gary D. Schmidt is an interesting coming of age story about a normal Presbyterian boy, named Holling Hoodhood in the 60’s. It is a tale that will tickle your funny bone and capture your heart. As the Vietnam War rages on, Holling and his classmates are living peacefully in Farmingdale, NY, a small town on Long Island. In this book, some of the smaller characters have important roles, like Holling’s sister, Heather or Doug Swieteck’s brother. The main characters such as Holling or Mrs. Baker have very interesting characteristics and personalities.
Holling comes of age towards the end of the book when he realizes that Mrs. Baker does not “hate his guts”. He goes through experiences that make him mature and grow up. I think this book could appeal to anyone above age 11. The characters are easy to relate to and readers will see themselves in the characters. Overall, I would give this book four out of five stars. It got a little slow in the middle but redeemed itself with a great ending. ~Carl

Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. New York: Harper Collins, 2008 Print.
Leslie Connor writes another inspiring novel about a 12-year-old girl named Addie. Addie and her mom live in a trailer house in Schenectady NY. Addie ends up staying home alone for many nights in a row. She is not telling her stepfather this because she is afraid of losing something important to her. Her mother has a tough time taking care of Addie. Despite her young age, she is able to take care of herself. Throughout the book she becomes a woman.
Addie solves spending time with her sisters and her stepfather who live in a separate house. One day she makes a terrible mistake while her mother isn’t home. Social services get involved and her life takes an interesting turn. Finally her stepfather adopts her. I think that middle school kids will love this book because it shares an inspiring story of how a young girl faces some big life changes. ~Veda

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. Print.
So B. It, written by Sarah Weeks is about thirteen-year-old Heidi taking an adventure to uncover her mother’s true identity. Heidi, her mother, and Bernadette, her loving neighbor, all live in Reno, Nevada. Heidi’s mentally disabled mother can only speak a few words including, “soof” which neither Bernadette nor Heidi can understand the meaning of.
Brave and lucky Heidi goes on a quest to find out more about her mother and the mysterious word “soof”. Heidi travels alone to the Hilltop Home where supposedly her mother lived and was pregnant with Heidi. Here she finds the meaning of “soof” and finally comes of age and realizes that you can’t know everything in life. If you are a young reader and like short books you may be interested in reading this intense, inspiring, and adventurous book. ~Robin

Friday, March 02, 2012

March into Great Reads

I'm still sorting through my friends reviews and have more for you today.

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Print.
What is the word “soof?” It’s a word that Heidi It’s mentally ill mother always says, but what could it mean? Find out in the spectacular novel, So B. It, by Sarah Weeks. Join protagonist, twelve-year-old Heidi, as she travels alone on an exciting adventure from Reno, Nevada to Liberty, New York on a search to learn about her past. Her challenges include a mentally ill mother and an agoraphobic neighbor who hold her back. Another challenge is her naïveté combined with her overactive curiosity.
There are two events that occur in this book that cause Heidi to “come of age.” First is her cross-country trip to Liberty, New York where she meets new people, experiences new things, makes decisions, and learns a lot. Secondly, when a tragic event occurs, Heidi learns about the meaning of life. She learns how to deal with her problems, and, by the end of the journey, is much more mature and experienced.
Any young person who likes a touching, exciting well-written novel will enjoy So B. It. This book has just the right amount of everything: suspense, mystery, happiness, love, and more! ~Abby

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Print.
In The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, the characters are a group of boys who are like family. Even though the book was written 40 years ago, you can still relate to the characters. The Outsiders has a universal setting. There is no specific time or place. Ponyboy, Two-bit, Dally, Darry and Sodapop are all great friends. None of the boys ever think anything serious will happen, especially not murder.
The coming of age moment is when Ponyboy and Johnny save little kids from the church that was burning to the ground. Pony and Johnny sacrificed themselves for those little kids. This is important because they realize it is not about escaping, but helping others and not being selfish. People who would like this book would be kids from seventh to twelfth grade. S.E. Hinton writes a great novel about the life of kids who are unfortunate and the tests of friendship. This book is possibly the best book I have ever read. ~Braden

Bauer, Joan. Stand Tall. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002. Print.
In Stand Tall by Joan Bauer, Tree is inspired by his grandfather Leo as his grandfather struggles to walk again and as he shows his perspective of life. It’s winter time where Tree lives and he walks back and forth through snowy, rainy weather from his dad and grandfather’s home to his mother’s. The two most important characters in Stand Tall are Tree and Tree’s grandfather Leo. Tree learns how to accept being tall and not be so insecure about his height. He also learns how to deal with the simple things in life like divorce and health. Leo learns how to do things that he knew how to do when he was a baby, walk!
The “coming of age” moment for Tree is acc. epting his height and himself and accepting the divorce of his parents. Another “coming of age” moment for Tree is going through the pain of his grandfather while helping Leo get back on his feet. A mix of people would enjoy reading this book, like teens who like reading books about people their age. People who simply like reading books about the stories and trouble everyday life would like this book too. ~Amanda

Preller, James. Six Inninngs. New York: Macmillan, 2008. Print.
How would you feel watching the six innings of a baseball game that you can’t play in? In the book, Six Innings by James Preller, that’s how Sam felt during the championship game between Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies and Northeast Gas & Electric. Sam is jealous of his friend Mike because Mike is playing and Sam is announcing. Also, Sam has cancer and Mike thinks that Sam needs him because he is sick. But Mike really needs Sam as well because he is going through his friend being sick and they are best friends.
If you are the type of person that likes baseball you will like this book. Sam is growing up not thinking about himself all the time and now is thinking about his friend Mike. ~Ryan

Holt, Kimberly Willis. My Louisiana Sky. New York; Dell Yearling, 1998. Print.
In the book, My Louisiana Sky, by Kimberly Willis Holt, Tiger has to face problems that will change her life. Her parents are mentally slow, and she doesn’t fit in with the popular girls. Imagine having a life like that. Living in a small town in Louisiana she isn’t that popular and she likes baseball, and the other girls don’t. She also gets teased a lot. Tiger is the main character in the book. The important characters are, Granny, Tiger, her mom and dad, Aunt Dorie Kay, her aunt’s maid, Jesse Wade, and Abby Lynn. When her Granny died, her Aunt Dorie Kay asked Tiger if she would like to move with her to Baton Rouge. At first, Tiger agrees, but she realizes she needs to care for her family, and that they need each other. I think peoples ages 12-13 will like this book, because the girl in the book is around that age. I liked the book more towards the ending because it gave more action, and things you didn’t expect to happen, happened. I didn’t really like the book that much in the beginning because I didn’t get the point of it, but it became clearer towards that end. ~Caitlin

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ethical and Moral Dilemmas

Yesterday was Abraham Lincoln's birthday. We celebrated at the library with a cake, punch and some crafts for those in the mood. Our library has been busy for months with many programs that deal with the Civil War. The Head of Adult Services, Suzanne Fisher, has come up with a unique method in which to view and study the Civil War. She has arranged a tour of Albany Rural Cemetary to view all the Civil War soldiers and other people buried there with Civil War connections. She is hosting book discussions, a film series, textile lectures and workshops, and musical programs. What does this have to do with children's books? Well, when I think of the Civil War, I think about Lincoln and I always have that tall, almost sad, but steady gaze on me. What a remarkable man, an ethical man, with a moral compass that was able to write important words for a grieving nation. Those giant dilemmas are not ones any person should have to face, but sometimes the small stories of ethical dilemmas can point the way to a moral compass later in life.

My 7th grade friends have been reading books with moral dilemmas, although we call these stories coming-of-age. Enjoy their reviews!

Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. New York: G.P. Putnam’s sons, 2003 Print.
Imagine you lost your parents in a fire. It’s just you and your little sister. You’ve been split up with different foster parents. Find out what happens in the exciting novel Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. The story takes place in Lonnie’s neighborhood in present day. Lonnie uses poetry to deal with his feelings.
Lonnie comes of age when he and his sister get split up and have different foster parents. When his parents passed away he became more mature and moved on with his life. This book would appeal to ages 10-13 years old. I loved this book and I encourage you to read it. If you like poetry then you will love this book too!~Summer

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2005. Print.
Have you always wondered what your past is like, but you just can’t figure it out? This is how, Heidi It feels. Read about her life in Sarah Weeks wonderful book So B. It. This action-packed and drama-filled book takes place in Reno, Nevada where mysteries are everywhere, in Heidi’s mind. Heidi is one of the funny, crazy and weird characters. All the characters in this book have their own problems: Heidi who knows nothing about the past, So B. It who is mentally challenged, Ruby who is filled with sorrow, Bernie who has AP and Thurman Hill who is scared and worried about the past.
Throughout this book Heidi begins to grow up. But, when she has a talk with Thurman Hill her life changes forever. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes drama, action, adventure and funny people. I think those people would like this book because it’s all that and more. I personally think that this was a great book, but the choice is yours. ~Patrick

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell Publisher, 1995. Print.
Have you ever thought what it would be like as an outcast? Now meet Ponyboy in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Ponyboy is on the wrong side of the tracks and just witnessed a murder. Ponyboy must either face the consequences with the gang and police or runaway. In this book there are socs and greasers. Ponyboy is a greaser along with his two brothers and gang. Greasers stick together like family and don’t get much while socs get the “cool” stuff. Socs and greasers don’t like each other and have fights.
Since he witnessed a murder he has to make a choice to stay or runaway but his choice may have consequences. Ponyboy grows up by facing reality and to stick together with his brothers and his gang. If you like a simple read, but a realistic story, true friendships, and some action, then you should read this book. It is also a book that loops around so that you could read it over and over again. ~Kailee

Preller, James. Bystander. Harrisburg: RR. Donnelley & Sons, 2009. Print.
What would you do if you were the new kid in town and you were surrounded by kids who were bigger than you? I don’t know what you would do, but Eric Hayes handles this situation on his own in the book Bystander by James Preller. This book takes place in a modern day school in Long Island, NY. Here Eric Hayes starts his journey to adulthood. Eric is a middle school student who runs into another kid named Griffen. Griffen and Eric have a very interesting and conflicting relationship. Throughout this book Eric becomes more aware of his surroundings and he gains a lot if self-confidence throughout the process. Personally, I didn’t like this book. I don’t think the author did a good job explaining what he wrote; for example he will give an idea and then not support it with any details. I think this book may be appealing to a school councilor, a teacher, or someone who has a problem with a bully. ~Miles