Youth Media Awards Announcements Are TOMORROW!

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I am excited to see what the committees chose for the Youth Media Awards medals this year. From the http://www.ala.org website:

The 2020 Youth Media Award announcements will take place on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at 8 a.m. ET from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia. Fans can follow the action live at http://ala.unikron.com , @AmericanLibraryAssociation or by following #ALAyma20 .

As I read others’ picks, I think this is the first year I’ve seen so many different titles crop up as front-runners in the conversation. Who will win? We will find out…tomorrow!

I reviewed the criteria for Newbery and Caldecott awards (the two “big ones” followed by school librarians), and I have chosen my favorites:

For the Newbery Medal (tough call), I chose…

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. I loved this story of the kids who live on the bridge (and their dog, of course), their entrepreneurial spirit, their problem-solving skills, and their love for each other.

For the Caldecott Medal (really tough call), I chose…

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illustrated by Zeke Peña.

I think the artist’s perspective of the city’s changes over time reflect the Caldecott criteria perfectly.

These statements reflect my opinions. You may or may not agree, but please join me in watching the awards announcements tomorrow. Best wishes to all the authors and illustrators who worked so hard to publish the best books for children.

 

 

Book PREview: Seven Clues to Home by Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin

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Joy and Lukas had been friends ever since second grade, when Mr. Carter told each student with a summer birthday to stand up and be recognized before the end of the school year. “August…How weird is that? What are the chances?” (p.15) Lukas loved math, so he tried to figure out the chances. Joy played along. As time moved along, the two became closer, literally living in next-door apartment buildings. They studied math together, solved puzzles and riddles, and Lukas set up an elaborate scavenger hunt for Joy to figure out each year on her birthday. Even though Lukas had a troubled older brother, Joy hung out with him while her parents cautiously watched. Her own family was a little difficult, with a sort-of-snobby-but-caring older sister and two younger siblings who needed lots of attention. So Joy and Lukas were the perfect pair — together for all time. Until Lukas died on Joy’s twelfth birthday.

A year later, Joy strums her beautiful red birthday guitar and thinks about Lukas. She thinks about his troubled older brother – how people warned her about “that family.” She knew none of it was true. As she celebrates her birthday, she thinks about her friend who will not celebrate this year. She thinks, “If I don’t tell the stories – of cupcakes and scavenger hunts and holes in the sand – they will be lost forever.” (p.11) She must tell the story of her friend, Lukas, the story that’s true. She decides to open the envelope that held the first clue to the scavenger hunt Lukas set up for her a year earlier. Before his death. Before he could reveal the one thing that he never could during his lifetime. Now, Joy has to keep the birthday tradition alive. She has to find the next clue.

Seven Clues to Home is the story of Joy and Lukas: their friendship, their families, and their last scavenger hunt. Told in alternating chapters, Joy tells the story of the hunt in present time while Lukas tells his story of setting up the hunt the year before, and how the clues would lead to his biggest secret, finally revealed. Although it’s a story about grief and loss, it’s also a friendship story, a family story, and a town’s story of sticking together in the best and worst of times.

I love Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin. Separately, their writing is intriguing, interesting, inspiring. When they collaborate…wow! Make sure you don’t miss Seven Clues to Home, coming June 9, 2020 from Alfred A Knopf Books. Start your summer with this 5-Star book.

 

IMWAYR: Last Week’s Lines and a New ARC

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Reading just gets better and better! This year I’m working on staying on pace, and I’m failing miserably already. Through this first part of January, I’m learning that it’s not too bad — I’m savoring some great titles a little longer.

This week, I’ll finish The Fountains of Silence (audiobook by Ruta Sepetys), The First Conspiracy (by Meltzer/Mensch), and Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Jennifer De Leon). I received Seven Clues to Home by my friends, Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin (Thank you, ladies, and Knopf/Random House), which is just beautiful so far. The main character, Joy, turned 12 and lost her best friend the same day; that was a year ago. Now, she’s trying to pull together the clues that Lukas left her and pull herself together in the process, maybe finding a way to really live again. Oh, my heart! (due June 9, 2020)

It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Kathryn decided to give “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

 

 

#SOL20: Need Positive Mindset Today

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Trying hard to be

Positive.

Not really working.

IMWAYR: New Books for a New Year — ARCs

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Advanced Reader Copies received! More reading fun to start the new year!

Roaring Brook Press sent The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington via #booksojourn, and will be on sale tomorrow. I’m looking forward to this young reader’s edition, and I’m sure many of my students will want to get their hands on this one, by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, who collaborate to tell the story of the “tumultuous days leading up to July 4, 1776.”

In May, 2020, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers will publish Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, by Jennifer De Leon. I love how this cover looks like a painting on a brick wall while the description on the back of the book reads, “Liliana Cruz is hitting a wall — or rather, walls.” This “We Need Diverse Books” grant winner and debut author is sure to turn heads this year.

 

I started listening to audiobooks last fall as I was driving to the Plum Creek Literacy Festival. I’m not a big audio person, but I discovered some good titles, so I’m going to keep it up this year. I pushed “play” for The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys on the way home today and turned up the volume. I’m already hooked.

 

 

It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Kathryn decided to give “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Book Review: The Wonder of Wildflowers by Anna Staniszewski

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The Wonder of Wildflowers is a MUST read, but also MUST discuss title. This book covers lots of topics in a kid-friendly way — and encourages empathy while also staying true to yourself. 

Amber is a liquid magic — when you drink the recommended amount each day, you are stronger, healthier, and smarter. Amberland is the place to be to experience the benefits of Amber. Mira’s family moves to Amberland by invitation — her mom is a scientist working with Amber. But as an immigrant, Mira is not allowed to have Amber like her friends, Krysta (the mayor’s daughter) and the others, at least not until the citizenship papers come in, which will be any day now. 

Mira is excited to see what Amber can do for her, but her new science partner for the wildflower project, Daniel (the weird classmate who doesn’t seem to benefit from the magic), is a constant reminder that Amber may not work the way it’s intended. But, why? Tata (Mira’s father) refuses to use Amber, saying he is enough without it, and Mira’s current talents (like writing) are enough, too.

Will Mira and her family be able to reap the benefits of magical Amber? Or will Mira discover something else instead? As the story unfolds, so does the mystery.

I am moved by how many social issues are presented through the pages of this book, recommended for ages 8 and up. I would posit that middle school and high school students could benefit from deep discussions surrounding immigration, government funding and regulation of foods and drugs, corruption, as well as peer pressure and school-based issues. I love how the story is perfect for the elementary age range, but the handling of these deeper topics is also compelling for the older group.

The Wonder of Wildflowers by Anna Staniszewski is timely and important, and Tata (MC Mira’s father) is my favorite parent of #kidlit so far this year. 

Thank you, Simon & Schuster and Ms. Staniszewski, for allowing me an Advance Reader Copy of The Wonder of Wildflowers. I enjoyed it, and I know fellow readers will, as well.

 

One Little Word 2020: PURPOSE

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PURPOSE: What is my purpose?

As a teacher-librarian, as I continue to grow (my OLW for 2019) and learn more, I find myself wondering why I do what I do. Back in 2009, we studied the “5 Lenses of Powerful Instruction” and the one lens that impacted me most was “Purpose.” We must know why we teach what we do, and pay attention to how that impacts student achievement. Over the years, several mandated activities in schools (my district and others I had read about) really got my blood boiling (as they say) as I saw the purpose of (literacy) instruction — while driving towards student achievement — as skill/drill, mindless keyboard-clicking towards “success.” “Success” meant “students passing the test,” and more specifically, “the state standardized test.” Now of course, I want my students to pass this test. It is of the utmost importance in school. Passing the test means opportunities flow: more recognition, more choices in classes, less nagging by teachers to “read at your level” or “study more,” etc. Failing the test means consequences await: no recognition (or negative attention), assigned remedial classes (where reading levels are strictly monitored), less choice…

I saw creative, happy students turn apathetic towards their learning, their education (at least, their literacy education). If I mentioned that education is a gift, I saw students saying, out loud, “I don’t care.” I witnessed students giving up, because “it doesn’t matter” if they tried; even if they made an effort, they were not test-takers and they were not going to pass the test (at least not the standardized test that mattered).

My purpose is not to watch students fail. I know that, for sure. So I ask again: “what IS my purpose?”

JOYFUL LEARNING. Yep, that’s it. For me and for all people I encounter every day.

This fall I saw students (and teachers!) cheering during an author visit to our city, asking questions, jumping out of their seats to see better, being invited to take the stage, and telling their friends about the experience. I watched those friends ask for his book in the library after the visit, and even spoke to a student who had lost his personal copy of the book and wanted another one. Also recently, I had a conversation with our ELL coordinator who thanked me for giving a young lady Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish, so she could read it with her family. The student was so happy that our library had books she could read; she continues to check out other Spanish titles and practices her reading (in Spanish and English) daily. Right before winter break, I watched students in an art class create — taking care do make their creation the best it could be — and compliment each other on their end products. Many students told the teacher “thank you” for allowing them this time to engage in a meaningful activity. THAT kind of learning is not measured on a standardized test, but THAT kind of learning DOES raise student achievement. “Studies show…” (This is not a research post, so I won’t go into detail here.)

My purpose (as a teacher-librarian) is to light the way for students to read more, to read better, to enjoy reading…and to be successful and happy citizens of our school and community. My purpose is to facilitate joyful learning for students and fellow teachers. My purpose is set.

 

 

 

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