Monday, February 19, 2018
So I've already written a post about all of the YMA's in general and the Newbery specifically, and over the next couple of months or so I'll be posting about each individual award as I finish reading all the winners and honorees.
So next up are the Coretta Scott King and CSK-Steptoe Awards. This was an easy category to finish since three of them were also Newberys and one I had already read!
Though I wasn't as happy with Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds for the Newbery because they are definitely teen books (I know the Newbery is up to age 14, but I think these were pushing it), I thought both of them, along with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, were excellent books with good writing, well-developed characters, and intriguing plots, and would have been happy with any of the three as the CSK Author medalist and was not suprised at all that two of them were Printz honorees as well. I might have picked Long Way Down over Piecing Me Together, but it's a very close call!
I must admit, I was surprised that neither THUG nor Dear Martin were named Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award winners, since that award is to recognize new authors (and illustrators) and both were Morris new author finalists. I have not read Dear Martin yet, but have heard a lot of praise for it. While the CSK-Steptoe award isn't limited to YA like the Morris, I feel that THUG was better than David Barclay Moore's The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Stars was okay, and had some good points, but I felt it was a little slow at the beginning, needed better editing, and had some questionable LGTBQ representations.
I'm not a poetry person at all, but I was impressed with Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderly, and Marjory Wentworth. While it won for Ekua Holmes' beautiful illustrations, I really like the idea of paying tribute to a multitude of poets by writing poems imitating their style. I also liked that poets of all time periods, genders, and ethnicities were represented, and listed in the back organized by time and genre. I could see the rare kid who likes and appreciates poetry loving this book, and it could be useful to expose children to different kinds of poetry. While Before She Was Harriet by James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome was also honored for illustration, once again, I really liked the text as well.
Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Son illustrated by Charly Palmer and written by Kathryn Erskine, the SCK-Steptoe new illustrator winner, is the only book I was not able to get my hands on as neither my local library nor the system where I work has it, and don't appear to be planning on ordering it. I did look at the few pictures I could see on the Amazon preview and read the summary. From what I could see, the artwork is vibrant and reminds me of a couple of previous CSK and Caldecott winners/honorees.
And that brings us to Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, which was honored both for text and illustrations. I really liked this book, and was immediately attracted to the cover before it ever won an award. However, I find myself questioning how this book would be used? Who is its reader? It's a picture book, but too much text for preschoolers and many kindergartners, and seems like the theme would be better appreciated by older elementary aged kids. But would they think the picture book format was too babyish? I'd love to hear some comments on this! I like it, but I'm not sure who to recommend it to.
I'm slightly surprised Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia was not an honor book, but the field was extremely competitive this year, and it seems like this was a year for YA books overall.
Having not been in this field very long, and lacking any historical literary perspective, I really have no comment about the SCK-Virginia Hamilton Award, though I imagine it was deserved. A quick search reveals Eloise Greenfield has a large body of work over a number of years, but I must admit I'm not familiar with any of them.
Well, there's my thoughts. I'd love to hear yours! As I go back and write full reviews, I'll come back and add link to them.
Next up.....the Printz award winner and honorees. Once again, alot of overlap...
Friday, February 16, 2018
Now that the big announcements have come and gone and we've all had several days to mull it over, what did you think?
Did any of the ones you expected win? How many caught you completely off-guard? I have to say, I was left feeling extremely frustrated!
I've only worked in library world for 5 years, and the year before last was the first time I really paid that much attention to the awards, though after the fact. I had actually already read one of the Newbery honors, and made a point to read the winner and rest of the honors, as well as the Caldecott winner and honor, Coretta Scott King winners, and at least summaries of all the other YMA winners and honors. Last year I found I had already read the Stonewall middle-grade winner, one of the Printz honors, and one of the Morris honors. But no Newberys or Caldecotts.
Whereas in the past, I just grabbed whatever caught my eye off the shelf to read, this year I actually made a real effort to read mostly new books and to pay attention to what books people were talking about. I thought for sure I would end up having read more of the books that would get honors, and have less catching up to do. I was so confident in my reading this year, I even dared to make a few predictions!
And believe it or not, I ended up doing worse this year 😞 ! How did that even happen? Out of all the books that won medals or honors at the YMA's, I had only read ONE of them! And that one was a YA book, not even an area in which I claim expertise. At least that one, The Hate You Give, did win the Morris award, Printz honor, and CSK honor as I predicted. There were a couple of other books on my radar that I just had not had a chance to read yet, like Long Way Down, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and Crown, as well. I had tried to read Vincent and Theo, but just couldn't get into it because it seemed so dull and choppy to me.
But I could not believe that not one of the half-dozen books I had in mind for the Newbery got so much as an honor, and I had not read any that did. Worse, I had not even heard of the two actual middle-grade books that did. So once, again, I will be playing catch-up for quite a while, or until I give up due to lack of time. I now have quite a stack of books in my "to read" pile since I was on the computer placing holds as fast as they announced winners! But I still have about this many more left to come in or request once I make a dent in these.
So far, I have read Crown, Out of Wonder, La Princesa and the Pea, Grand Canyon, Long Way Down, Hello, Universe, and Piecing Me Together. Some I can see why they won, but I'm not sure how many kids will actually read them, but I can certainly see why Long Way Down was chosen for multiple honors. It is an amazing book, and I'm certain will appeal to it's intended audience. But, I have to say Hello, Universe really left me wondering. I found it to be very average, very slow at the beginning, and very predictable. It did score points for diversity, but I don't see how it was considered to be the single "most distinguished" book in children's literature from that year. In my opinion, two of the honor books, Piecing Me Together and Long Way Down were far more "distinguished".
What's more, I was not the only one who did not see that coming. I looked at predictions made by those with far more experience than me and the results of several "mock Newberys", including the one by Library School Journal which I followed closely, and found that hardly anybody had the actual winner on their radar, often not even on the long lists. I did feel a bit vindicated to see some of the titles I had predicted showed up in others' predictions fairly frequently. By looking at all of these, The War I Finally Won should have been at least an honor book, but no. I think the fact it was a sequel killed it's chances. I was glad to see that The Librarian of Auschwitz and Refugee did pick up Sydney Taylor Awards later this week, and Refugee also won a Cybil.
So what does all of this mean, besides that I suck at making predictions? Personally, I think it demonstrates just how HIGHLY subjective these awards are. If you put several different panels together, you would end up with several very different results. It is just too subjective and can be swayed by the opinions of a few dominant personalities, politics, social trends, etc. Really, with the tremendous body of work published each year, the idea that one committee with just a few somewhat subjective criteria to follow can winnow out THE ONE absolute best book of that year is a little ridiculous. A lot of it is getting noticed by the right people, and there are a lot of good books out there that just don't get noticed. Frankly, I don't believe there even is one single book that is above all others.
So what do these awards mean? Well, they mean a lot of recognition and sales for the authors & publishers. But in all honesty, they don't mean a whole lot to me. When a book wins multiple honors in several categories (or from multiple entities) like Long Way Down or Crown, that tends to get my attention and seems a better indication that it is a good and significant book. I also pay attention to the Morris and CSK-Steptoe awards for new authors to watch for. It is significant that for the first time in history, the Newbery winner and honors were all written by authors of color.
One last topic for discussion, what do you think about picture books and YA books being included in the Newbery? Yes, I know that *technically* they fit the criteria, and picture books have no other ALA-sanctioned award that recognizes the text, but I feel between the Printz and Morris awards, YA lit gets plenty of recognition, while middle-grade lit has no award of it's own, if it has to share the Newbery with picture books and teen books.
So, any thoughts or opinions on this years winners, or the whole process in general? Were you as caught by surprise by some of them as I was? Please tell me it's not just me!
Here are some links to various award lists (please add any others in the comments):
- ALA Youth Media Awards
- School Library Journal Reviews of YMA Winners
- Other Notable Awards & Lists
- Ezra Keats Foundation Book Awards
- National Book Awards
- Cybils (Children's & Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) Finalists
- Cybils Award Winners
Friday, February 9, 2018
Just in time for spring, I put together a flannel set to go with one of the rhymes we have on file with our "Bird"-themed storytime kit (unfortunately, I have no information on the original source to attribute it to).
I was in a bit of rush to get this done in time to post on this week's "Flannel Friday", and it shows a little, so please overlook the imperfections. I had to finish it at home and did not have any Sharpies and used washable markers instead, which bled into the felt a lot more (lesson learned!). Also, I experimented with a couple of different ways of making them, and didn't have quite enough time to remake the one that I decided I didn't like as much, so that's why one is different.
I just printed out some photos of baby and adult robins and cut them out to use as patterns, but the wings & bodies are basically teardrop-ish shapes, with a round-ish head. I apologize for the picture quality; on my phone and computer they look fine, but when I upload them to my blog they lose resolution. If anyone knows how to fix these, please leave a comment!
"Five Little Robins"
Start with the 5 little robins in the nest, have the audience first exercise their counting fingers by wiggling them and bending them up and down, then count the baby robins together using their counting fingers, then keep up 5 fingers.
Five little robins watch Daddy (Mommy) Robin soar,
(put adult robin on board, hold up 5 fingers)
One leaves the nest, and now there are (four) .
One leaves the nest, and now there are (four) .
(hold up 4 fingers)
One flies to catch a worm, and now there are (three) .
(hold up fingers, shake head)
One tried out his wings, and then there were (two) .
(hold up 2 fingers, put sun on board)
One chased after a bug, and then there was (one) .
(hold up one finger)
Cried and cried until Daddy (Mama) came home!
Anytime I do these "five little somethings" rhymes, I do them twice. After the first time, I tell them to put the hand they just used behind their back and use the other hand the second time. This gives the neglected non-dominant hand some much-needed fine-motor exercise! Also, I will switch up genders if applicable, so for this if I said "Daddy" the first time, I'd say "Mommy" the second time.
Of course you could make this whatever bird you felt like and just change the wording, and this set could be used with any "Five Little Bird" rhymes or songs, like this one I found on KidSparkz and (modified slightly):
Five Little Birds In The Nest
Five little birds in a nest in a tree,
are just as hungry, as hungry can be.
"Peep!" said baby bird number one,
"Mother Bird promised she would come."
"Peep! Peep!" said baby bird number two,
"If she doesn't come, what will we do?"
"Peep! Peep! Peep!" said baby bird number three,
"I sure hope she can find our tree."
"Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep!" said baby bird number four,
"She has never been this late before."
"Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep!" said baby bird number five,
"When will our Mother Bird finally arrive?"
Well, here comes Mother Bird to feed her family;
now they are all as happy as can be!
[This makes me think of Owl Babies, one of my favorites. You could easily make flannel owls and a hollow tree nest, and say "hoot" instead of "peep".]
To see more Flannel Friday posts from other bloggers, go to this week's Flannel Friday Round-Up hosted by Lindsey at Jbrary. Visit the Flannel Friday Pinterest Board for past Round-Up's and tons of inspiration. For more information about Flannel Friday and how to participate, visit the Flannel Friday site.
Yesterday I had the best storytime! You know the kind where the kids are just so into it, engaged, and enthusiastic that you leave with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart and feeling guilty for getting paid to do this (well, almost 😉).
So I get there and introduce the topic, and one of the kids asks me if I have a "Froooogggggyyy!" book, which made my day because I love reading Froggy's First Kiss. I said I just might, but he'd have to wait and see. So we continued talking about how we loved different people and things in different ways, did our letter-of-the-day (Ll), and sang our story song.
They were still asking for a Froggy book, and were thrilled when I pulled out Froggy's First Kiss, of course immediately going "Ewwwww" at the mention of a kiss. They helped say "Froooggggyyyy!" each time, laughed at Froggy staring at Frogilina and bumping his head, identified the treats, were appropriately grossed out by Frogilina's unexpected kiss, and empathetic when Froggy's friends teased him about having a girlfriend. One little boy was very puzzled as to why Frogilina kept giving Froggy food, saying "He has his own food at home."
Once again, as soon as I finished that book, a chorus of "Let's read another one!" rang out, so I pulled out another book I knew they would love, and that I really enjoy, Who Wants A Hug? by Jeff Mack. In this story, Bear loves to give out hugs, and everyone likes him, but Skunk, who is secretly jealous of Bear's popularity, does not like hugs, is grumpy, and no one likes him. Skunk decides to play a series of stinky tricks on Bear, trying to make him so stinky that no one will want to be around him anymore, but every trick backfires and Skunk ends up even more stinky that before! In the end, he gives in and accepts a hug from Bear and discovers that Bear was right, hugs are great! The kids all love the humor in this book as trick after trick backfires and gets Skunk instead.
"Let's read another one!" Normally I do work in some extension activities, but when the kids are so engaged and beg for more books, I can't say no! And really, my main goal is to first and foremost try to establish a love of reading. While our time was up, since it was my last session of the day I could spare the time to indulge them with one more story. I decided it was time for a story that was more sweet & sincere than funny, so I pulled out The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond. I love this cute little story, but I HATE that they printed it soo tiny, and didn't even use the full page at that. So I made props to go with it, and someday I'll remember to copy & enlarge it.
One of the kids did correctly guess the necklace of hearts was for a dog (another said her mom), but they thought it was very strange when she glued the cottonball to another valentine, and cut holes in still another. They loved it when we saw at the end that there was a very logical reason for gluing a cottonball in the middle of a valentine, after all. One little boy was so cute, at first he was a bit zoned out, but for some reason this story and the idea of it raining hearts really got his attention! Afterward, he told me all about how if it ever rains hearts here, he was going to catch them and make valentines for his friends and for me.
And guess what I heard after that? Yep....."Let's read another one!".... I hated saying no, but by that point we had gone past our usual 30 minutes and I didn't want to disrupt their schedule, but I could've kept sharing stories with them until my voice gave out, as long as they were that enthusiastic and engaged. I just love seeing kids excited about stories, reading, and learning, and I sincerely hope it carries on beyond storytime!
I just love seeing the kids really connect with the books, and the more engaged they are, the more I get into it. While I'd like to think it was because I'm such a spectacular storytime planner and presenter, I think it was just one of those times that the kids were in just the right mood and everything just came together perfectly. I'd done 4 other storytimes on the same theme of Love/Valentine's Day at another daycare that morning that were fine, but there was something magical about this last one.
There is a world of difference between the two daycares to start with; the first was a large, church sponsored daycare/preschool with mostly comfortably middle-class, educated families. The latter is a very small daycare with mostly the kids from lower income, working class families. These kids tend to be much more appreciative of books and storytime, while the others enjoy them, they also take it for granted because they have many other opportunities so it isn't as special for them. I'm so glad we are able to bring this experience to those kids who might otherwise miss out, and it's so rewarding to see them enjoy it so much.
I hope everyone has an awesome Valentine's Day! Or just a Wednesday full of love and happiness, for those who don't celebrate it.
Friday, February 2, 2018
Unfortunately, I have no storytime post for today as I've had to cancel for the second time this month due to illness, this time for the flu, despite having had the vaccine 😩. But I thought this would be a perfect time to share this flannel with Flannel Friday instead.
All The Little Germs
I was inspired to make this by seeing Library Quine's version, but wanted to take it a step further. First of all, I wanted to use two hands to show both front and back surfaces, and to be able to show more than one skin tone (when we get more flannel I plan to make several hands in multiple tones to mix it up). I used some free clip-art for the hand pattern, scaling it up or down as desired.
Then, being a former microbiologist, I wanted the germs to be loosely representational of actual germs, rather than identical amorphous blobs. I would like to say that I chose to do so for more variety and visual interest, and that is part of it, but mostly because I'm a science nerd. But I did relent on my usual insistence of scientific accuracy by giving them googly eyes, because googly eyes just make everything more fun, right?
[In case you are wondering, the germs I made (starting at the top and going down the left column, then down the right) are supposed to represent: Streptococcus (strep throat, pneumonia, scarlet fever), Staphylococcus (skin and wound infections), Rhinovirus (common cold), Vibrio (cholera, foodborne illnesses), E. coli (diarrhea), Neisseria (meningitis), Enterovirus (polio; hand, foot & mouth disease), Salmonella (gastroenteritis), Enterococcus (UTI, meningitis), and Influenza virus (flu).]
So, first start with all the germs on the hands, making sure there is at least one to go with each verse of the rhyme (also from Library Quine, with slight adaptation), then remove the appropriate one(s) after each verse:
All The Little Germs
All the little germs, dirty and mean, (make disgusted face)
Hiding on your palms, (point)
Where they cannot be seen. (shake head)
Wash them, scrub them, (pretend to wash hands)
Rinse them away! (wipe hands, remove germ(s) from board)
Then we'll have clean hands, (hold hands up)
Hip, hip, hooray! (jazz hands)
In the subsequent verses, remove the germs that are hiding between your fingers, on the backs of your hands, on your thumbs, under your nails, and on your wrists.
|(Click to view larger)|
After each verse, ask the audience if our hands are clean yet, though they will probably love telling you that they are not as long as any germs are left, without any prompting! Finally, all the germs are washed away and our hands are clean!
I do mention in very general terms what some of the germs cause, like cold, flu, rash, stomachache, fever, etc., but nothing too graphic or specific at this age.
I also found some other songs and rhymes related to handwashing and germs that could possibly go along with this, perhaps with some slight modification or additional flannel pieces, at the links below:
- Five Handwashing Songs from Halsey Schools
- Handwashing Song and Germs Rhyme from Perpetual Preschool
- Handwashing Song from the Centers for Disease Control
You can also visit the write-up of my "Don't Share Your Germs!" storytime to see some good books to pair with the flannel, as well as a simple activity to demonstrate how easily germs are spread.
To see more Flannel Friday posts from other bloggers, go to this week's Flannel Friday Round-Up hosted by Lisa at Libraryland. Visit the Flannel Friday Pinterest Board for past Round-Up's and tons of inspiration. For more information about Flannel Friday and how to participate, visit the Flannel Friday site.