Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.
On my blog:
- A celebration of Mock madness and more in the Sunday round-up of online reading
- A celebration of getting help, Twitter chats, and Virginia Woolf in 5 Things I Loved about Last Week
- Mock Caldecott results from my Children’s Literature class
- ALA Youth Media Awards speculation and predictions
- A Top Ten post of 10 books I’d like to read in a YA Lit Book Club
I’ve spent my morning very happily watching the live webcast of the announcements, following the conversation on Twitter, and feeling overjoyed about the diversity of this year’s choices. Thrilled to see my book of 2014, This One Summer, with a Printz Honor AND a surprise Caldecott Honor. (How did that book even end up under discussion for the Caldecott committee?? Not that I’m complaining–GORGEOUS art.) A little disappointed that there were only two Newbery Honors, but this committee made their choices count. What a strong vision of children’s literature! It was an extra pleasurable bonus to me that right now I happen to be in the middle of reading two of the big prize winners, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.
I was so worried that I was going to oversleep and miss the ALA Youth Media Awards announcement this morning that I had stress dreams about it all night. The part I remember: they announced that there would be six Caldecott Honors, and I was so excited. But then they announced each of the titles, and not only had I never read them, I’D NEVER HEARD OF THEM. Nightmares #nerdybookclub style. Of course, part of my dream was prophetic: there WERE six Caldecott Honor books. But thankfully, I’d read all of them!
Ava and Pip is a sweet middle-grade novel about budding writer Ava and her painfully shy older sister Pip. It’s told in a breezy diary format, and though there are some conflicts–Ava thinks her parents love Pip better; Ava submits a mean short story about a new girl in Pip’s class and has to live with the consequences when her story is selected for a prize and the new girl reads it and recognizes herself–a happy ending is never in any doubt. Ava’s obsession with palindromes is a big part of the story and the writing, and while I enjoy a palindrome as much as the next person, the author’s constant retyping of every palindrome in caps with hyphens separating the letters drove me nuts. Overall, a bit too cutesy for me, but I might read the sequel, Ava and Taco Cat (it’s a palindrome. SIGH.), since there’s a cat.
Still working on my quest to read all of E.B. Lewis’s books. Tololwa Mollel’s Big Boy is a folk tale set in contemporary Tanzania about a little boy who longs to be bigger. He gets his wish, only to find out that being a giant isn’t all he hoped for. In the end, he is happy to return to his normal size and go home with his mother. Not a particularly memorable story, though Lewis’s art is always exquisite.
Sally Walker’s Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown is a lyrically written look at Henry Brown’s successful attempt to free himself from slavery. After his wife and children were sold away from him, Brown decided to free himself and hatched an ingenious and dangerous plan to mail himself north in a box. I had always imagined the box was coffin-sized, but it was only three feet long. Sean Qualls’s illustrations are especially strong here. Even if you’ve read Ellen Levine’s Henry’s Freedom Box, you should pick up this title.
James Rumford’s Rain School, set in Chad, begins with the excitement a young boy feels on his first day of school. The very first lesson? Learning how to build the school house. Each year during the school vacation, torrential rains destroy the school, so the first task for teacher and students is to rebuild. Traditional learning happens as well in this story about the importance of education.
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