Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


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IMWAYR: Congratulations to the #ALAYMA21 Book Award Winners

I think it’s part luck that I chose Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri to read this week, because today the book won the Michael L. Printz Award! I spent most of the day reviewing the complete list of ALA’s Youth Media Awards and celebrating as each book was named during the live webcast. (For the list of #alayma winners, click here.)

I chose correctly! My top pick for the Caldecott Medal was We Are Water Protectors, and it won! Congratulations to @MichaelaGoade for this well-deserved win! Thank you for writing this important book, @CaroleLindstrom.

I chose incorrectly. Whoa! I wasn’t even close on the Newbery Medal! Congratulations to @taekeller for winning this most distinguished award! I still have When You Trap a Tiger on my TBR list. I guess I’d better pull it out next.

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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My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2021

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.


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Youth Media Awards – I Was WRONG!

Full disclosure: I’m usually wrong about these book awards. I pore over the criteria, talk to students and friends, read all the predictions, and still…I don’t chose the medal winners.

Today, I was WRONG, and that’s fine with me. I am so happy for Jerry Craft, Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson, and all the other winners of medals and honors today during the Youth Media Awards announcements. Congratulations! It was fun to watch and cheer on all our favorite books.

The Newbery Medal for 2020 went to Jerry Craft for NEW KID.

The Caldecott Medal went to Kadir Nelson for THE UNDEFEATED, written by Kwame Alexander.

Congratulations to ALL the winners of book awards this year. We will keep reading and sharing!


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Youth Media Awards Announcements Are TOMORROW!

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.

 

 


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Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner is a teen who does not fit in at school, or really much at home. He describes himself as a Fractional Persian, with Mom born in Iran and Dad in America. Darius and his father share two things in common: a love of Star Trek, and depression. They both take their medicines every day and try to do the best they can, but sometimes life gets in the way.

When Mamou calls and tells Mom that Babou’s brain tumor is making life worse, the Kellner family packs up and travels to Iran to help. What will Darius do now? How will he cope? He’s never really been around his grandparents — only talked to them through the computer monitor. And he doesn’t speak Farsi, although his little sister, Laleh, does. He doesn’t have many friends (just the teasing bullies from school), so leaving isn’t that much of an issue for Darius, but that only makes things more uncomfortable for him. Will there be friends in Iran? Will his family treat him differently once they are in another country?

Darius narrates his own story in this wonderful tale of family and friendships, travel, and learning to appreciate family customs and origins. I loved the voice — the dialogue among characters, and also the way Darius talks directly to the reader along the way.

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a fabulous book you’ll want to think about and savor. You will fall in love with Darius and his entire family, and you’ll find that even with hardships, home is the best place to be.

Note: This title just won the 2019 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (YA category). Darius the Great Is Not Okay, written by Adib Khorram. The book is published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, Random House.


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My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2019 Awards Season

Only a weekend away now — THE book awards season is upon us, and I’m eagerly waiting for the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28th (live from Seattle, 8:00 am PT, during the ALA Midwinter Conference). I’m so sorry I will miss the live event, but I’m so happy that I will get to follow along and watch from my school library.

Here are my predictions for the two most popular awards, Newbery Medal and Honors, and Caldecott Medal and Honors, 2019:

Newbery Medal: The Journey of Little Charlie, by Christopher Paul Curtis 

Newbery Honors:

Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson 

Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo 

The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani 

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier 

 

Caldecott Medal: Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales 

Caldecott Honors:

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat 

Blue, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger 

What If…, by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Mike Curato 

 

If nothing else, I hope I have given you a worthy reading list here. Good luck to all the authors and illustrators — best wishes to all the readers!

 

 

 

 

 


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Book Review: The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon


Caleb Franklin narrates the story of how he and his brother, Bobby Gene, met Styx Malone and got into the “biggest trouble we’ve ever gotten into in our lives.” The first page is one of those excellent leads we talk about in English class. You know when you read the first page, the story isn’t going to let you go until you finish. I love the line, “It all started the moment I broke the cardinal rule of the Franklin household: Leave well enough alone.” (p. 1)

Styx Malone lived in the woods near the Franklin house in Sutton, Indiana. He was a 16, a loner, and quite extraordinary. Caleb was drawn to Styx the moment he laid eyes on him. Caleb didn’t want to be ordinary. He spent his time dreaming of what was out there in the world, while Styx lived it. In the back woods of Indiana, one could get stuck in the ordinary of each day (like Mr. Franklin), but Caleb and Bobby Gene decided that hanging out with Styx Malone could get them places — maybe even Indianapolis, or beyond.

Styx Malone showed the brothers what it was like to live: how to talk so that you get what you want, how to act cool, how to pull off the impossible. The boys spent the summer learning about the Great Escalator Trade — a way to trade small things for bigger ones, all the way up to items that could make dreams come true. Caleb liked the stories Styx told, and being with Styx made him feel extraordinary, but it also got him grounded, and eventually changed his life — and his family’s lives — forever.

Kekla Magoon tells amazing stories, and The Season of Styx Malone is no different. The adventures, the fun, the trouble — many twists and turns in this tale of teen friendships and family issues kept me reading and wondering what would happen next. Since Ms. Magoon grew up in Indiana, I felt a connection to her and the story of small town life vs. big city dreams. I, too, once dreamed of living in a big city like Indianapolis, or Chicago, or New York City. One quote that stuck out for me, especially as a writer, was, “A happy ending depends on where you stop the story.” (p. 117) Kekla Magoon stopped this story at the perfect point — making The Season of Styx Malone an extraordinary must-read.

Published in 2018 by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

 

 


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It’s Monday; What Are You Reading? (IMWAYR) — March: Book One

marchbookonecoverIn elementary school I learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I read about his calm demeanor, listened to his moving speeches, and learned about a dark time in my American history. However, I felt like I was hearing only parts of a bigger story; there was something missing. From the time I was in middle school, I acknowledged that civil rights was (and is) a hard-fought battle of minds and bodies, but it still seemed all too easy. One week there was segregation, and then one week there wasn’t anymore? A little colored girl finally got to go to a white school? A lady refused to move from her seat on a bus? I knew I wasn’t hearing everything. I read newspaper articles and archives, and watched movies about history and they way the world used to be before my time. I’m so happy to have found that our current generation of young readers have more answers than I did when I was their age. I’ve been inspired by the work of John Lewis and many other non-violent leaders of our country’s history. Now I will spread the news to others through Mr. Lewis’ books, the March trilogy. I read March: Book One today for the first time.

Riveting! Please read it. Then pick up the other two books, as well. (If you bought the set, you’re on your way!) John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell tell the gripping true stories of life in America, as they happened.

 

 

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Bonus! March: Book Three won FOUR book awards today. What a fabulous day to be a reader!

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(Photos from my copy of March: Book One include the cover and page 49. Photo of The Horn Book tweet from Jan. 23, 2017 on Twitter.)


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Book Review: The Storyteller

Have you ever skipped a meal so you can read a book? I have, but if you haven’t yet, you might find yourself immersed in THE STORYTELLER — and you’d be okay with whatever else you missed. The Storyteller, by Evan Turk, is many tales weaved into one great story.

While I was reviewing book lists online to prepare myself for the upcoming Caldecott Medal awards on January 23, I came across a picture of The Storyteller. When I researched further, I found this Goodreads description of the book, and I had to read it: “Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together.”

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I always loved the art of storytelling: live performances in the city, reading of tales, such as The Arabian Nights, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, Readers’ Theater in school, all gave me the storytelling “bug.” I enjoyed a different kind of art — a dying art, it seems. I believe that The Storyteller will bring a renewed fascination to the art here in 2017. I certainly hope so!

Spreading culture through storytelling is a lost art, and this book brings hope that will overfill your cups and your soul.