My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2021

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It’s the most exciting time of the year for #kidlit readers — the ALA Youth Media Awards, including Newbery and Caldecott, will be announced on Monday, January 25th, and I AM READY! Honestly, with the 2020 pandemic and virtual school, I wasn’t able to share books with students like I had in previous years, and I don’t have students’ insights into the picks this year. I have been thinking about which books I want to win medals and honors, though. Best wishes to ALL the creators who gave us books in 2020 — I’m sorry it was such a weird year in publishing, but you all deserve to be recognized anyway. Here are my final picks, just 2 days before the big day:

My choice for the Newbery Medal: King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic Press, 2020).

Talk about “distinguished!” I read this book back in February 2020 when it was published, and then listened to the audio version on Libro.fm. It won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and I’m sure it will come away with at least one more award by Monday. Hopefully it’s the Newbery Medal.

My choices for Newbery Honors: Show Me a Sign, by Ann Clare LeZotte (Scholastic Press, 2020) and When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial Books for Young Readers).

 

Both of these titles scored at the top of my “distinguished” list, as well. Either one could grab a medal, but I think they will come away with honors. I can’t wait to hear the announcements!

 

 

 

My choice for Caldecott Medal: We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook Press, 2020).

In my opinion, this gorgeous picture book is special in many ways, and I hope that Michaela Goade wins the medal. The illustrations add to the text in such a way that children understand the significance of the message AND enjoy the book AND appreciate the art — this title has “Caldecott Award” written all over it.

My choice for Caldecott Honors: I have a whole list here. I cannot decide! I’m glad I don’t have to — the Caldecott committee had their hands full of excellent choices this year. I’ll just wait to see the outcome…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and Bryan Collier (Orchard Books, 2020), Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann (Neal Porter Books, 2020), and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020).

Now we wait. What are YOUR choices for book awards this year? Tune into the Youth Media Awards (ALA Youth Media Awards) live webcast on Monday morning (8 am CT). Visit ALA’s streaming platform at http://ala.unikron.com or follow on social media.

IMWAYR: Not Much This Week – MLK Jr. Day

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I probably won’t read much this week, honestly, due to students coming back to the school buildings and the Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday. I wish you all a thoughtful and reflective Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and hope for peace and love to continue into the future. 

NetGalley Reading: I started Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca, but the weekend got away from me. A young Indian American girl shifts between worrying about school and taking care of her mother, who has leukemia. The book publishes in February, so I still have some time before the pub date to finish.

Physical Books: I will finish Fault Lines in the Constitution by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson before Wednesday’s inauguration. It’s an interesting and informative look at our laws and how they work.

Libro.fm Audiobooks: I’m listening to The Sea in Winter by Christine Day. With 1/3 of the book done, I can say that I really like Maisie and her family and I know my students will, too. (Heartdrum, 2021) 

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

IMWAYR: Trying to Keep the Pace

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This week I’m trying to keep the pace by reading instead of watching the news. The USA is in turmoil. I’ve decided that if I keep reading, I can be more intelligent and then I’ll know how to respond more appropriately to the news. I’m hoping to improve my attitude. NetGalley Reading: I will start Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca tonight. A young Indian American girl shifts between worrying about school and taking care of her mother, who has leukemia. The book publishes in February, and I’m lucky to be approved to read this already-popular title. Physical Books: I read This is Your Brain on Stereotypes by Tanya Lloyd Kyi. It’s an upper elementary/middle school-appropriate nonfiction look at the science of your brain and how it makes you to think the way you do. It’s interesting and easy enough to read and understand for my students. I liked it! I also pulled Fault Lines in the Constitution by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson to read during this crazy real-life week. I received my copy of My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell, who gives children and adults a reason to smile about reading books. I saw the author speak at a virtual event with Brain Lair Books (My very favorite bookstore) and he was wonderful! I can’t wait to share this with my elementary students. Libro.fm Audiobooks: I’m still listening to the last 20% of Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao. My priority is to get this one finished by tomorrow night.

 

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

IMWAYR: Happy New Year! Let’s Read!

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Happy New Year, fellow readers! In an attempt to be more organized about my reading this year, I’m trying something new (we’ll see how long this lasts). Each week I’ll read physical books, listen to an audiobook, and read a NetGalley book, and then share my thoughts. This week I’m still working on 2020 titles while diving into my already-growing 2021 TBR list. NetGalley Reading: I finished Booked: The Graphic Novel by Kwame Alexander, with art by Dawud Anyabwile. This dynamic duo already wowed me with The Crossover: Graphic Novel Adaptation in 2019 and now they are back to retell the story of soccer player, Nick Hall. I LOVED the story all over again and I can’t wait for students to see this one on January 4, 2022 (yes, we have to wait another year). Physical Book of the Week: Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson Libro.fm Audiobook: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading? IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

One Little Word 2021 – PEACE

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What word will drive your year? I am most in need of PEACE: mentally, physically, spiritually…I’ve been so uptight for so long, and this year I will remember to seek peace in my life.

#OLW21 #OneLittleWord21

IMWAYR: PREview – The Shape of Thunder

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I don’t read many books in one day, but The Shape of Thunder was such a gripping story, I had to finish before bedtime. Cora and Quinn used to be best friends, before Quinn’s brother did the most awful thing one can imagine to Cora’s sister, Mabel and others at the local high school. The girls cannot be friends now. It’s impossible.

It’s been almost a year since that terrible day. Can the two girls ever come to terms with what happened and be friends again? Maybe not. Maybe. Only time will tell.

Jasmine Warga weaves such intricate stories — readers are lost in the woods with Cora and Quinn, looking for answers that may save their friendship once and for all. Can Cora and Quinn turn back the clock? Using the scientific method, is it possible to travel back in time and change the story of that fateful day?

Family dynamics are at the heart of this novel. There is trauma and grief, but also love, wrapped with feelings that no one can share. Parents are imperfect and siblings prove that difficult relationships can tear a family apart, and the consequences are far-reaching.

Thank you, @NetGalley and @BalzerandBray for the early read. Thank you @JasmineWarga for another wonderful title, which I’ve added to my list of 2021 books to purchase. (May 2021)

Recommended for upper middle and high school. Trigger warning: death/school shootings

My rating: ****

IMWAYR: In the Wild Light PREview

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Cash Pruitt is a hard-working 17-year-old from Sawyer, Tennessee, who has a hard past. Now living with his grandparents, Cash mows lawns, attends Sawyer High School, and hangs out with his best friend, Delaney Doyle. The two share heartbreaks (Cash’s mom died of an opioid addiction and Delaney’s mom is headed down the same path) and adventures (traveling on the river and digging in caves). Delaney’s adventures include discovering a new medicine in those caves, a medical science breakthrough that leads to an invitation. Middleford Academy in Connecticut offers Delaney a scholarship to the prestigious private high school, but she says she won’t go unless Cash joins her.


How does a teenager just pick up and leave the only home he’s ever known? What will happen to Papaw if he isn’t home to take care of him? Papaw will surely die from emphysema if Cash leaves. Mamaw cannot handle working night shifts and taking care of her husband all by herself. Cash’s decision to stay might just mean he’s stuck in the little Appalachian town forever, with little hope of a better future. Delaney’s decision to leave might just mean Cash loses his best friend…forever. 


Packed with references to commonly recognized settings (Dairy Queen, Little Ceasar’s Pizza, the Greyhound Bus Station, New York City…), readers will relate to Cash and Delaney and their story, eagerly following the two friends to their new home at Middleford Academy. The gorgeous language of Zentner’s storytelling, especially the details of scenes and scents, make the reader stop and appreciate nature, especially the river and how it nourishes the soul. Readers will also cheer for minor characters, other students who ascend on the school from everywhere in the world, who connect with Cash and Delaney and provide a family away from home.


In a welcome surprise, references to another Zentner title will help readers reminisce — a throwback that brings one forward to hope and renewed love of story.  Follow Cash Pruitt’s path from small town boy to boarding school  poet, living his dreams with him. Appreciate the intelligence of a strong female character with attitude, who can kick your butt, then give you a hug in the same scene, while all along working in the science lab to save the future. Grieve your losses alongside each of the characters, and lift your head back up to see the “wild light” that is waiting for you at the end.

Thank you to Net Galley for providing this digital ARC, and to Jeff Zentner for writing yet another wonderful book that celebrates nature, family, and friendships. In the Wild Light has an expected publishing date of August 10, 2021.

My 2020 “Best Books” List

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It’s December of the worst year ever, but there WERE a LOT of excellent books to read this year, so that’s the positive spin I will hold on to. Happy Holidays to all of you, and best wishes for the new year!

(My list of “best books” includes the books I read in 2020, published in 2020, and that I rated 5-Stars on Goodreads.)

IMWAYR: Picture Books and PD

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Another busy week is behind me; I’m ready for the week to come, thanks to good books.

I finished the graphic novels and picture books from last week, and added another picture book. I won Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell in the Perma-Bound webinar drawing! Thank you, Julie, Perma-Bound, and Matthew, for the signed book. It’s beautiful!

As I prepare for next quarter’s professional development, I will turn (again) to my reading mentors, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst and their new title, Forged By Reading: The Power of a Literate Life.

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

IMWAYR: Distracted

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I know I said I was going to start A Promised Land, but I got distracted by book mail at school. Our students are doing virtual learning this week, but teachers are still working in the buildings. Opening book boxes made me feel like Christmas came early. Look at what I pulled out to read before students return…

Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant and Frank Morrison (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020). I’ve heard about this one, and now I have it, too. So exciting!

Look at this magnificent cover! Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by Sarah Prager and Sarah Papworth (Harper, 2020) has encyclopedia-like entries about people I’ve heard of, but my students may not recognize. This will be perfect for our research studies over the winter. I have to say, I stopped typing this post to read a little first…intriguing!

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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