Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Newbery Contender Book Trailers

Grab your popcorn and a comfy spot. Maybe a pencil and paper, too. It's time to watch a bunch of book trailers of 2019 Newbery contenders created by my fifth graders.  I have even more--these are some of the best and I really didn't want to overload you too much! BUT if you want to see more, just send me a message!

One week (!) from today we will know the winners! In this year of really awesome, incredible children's literature, I have NO IDEA what books are going to rise to the top in those closed door meetings next weekend.  NO. IDEA. 

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
by Leslie Connor

Louisiana's Way Home
By Kate DiCamillo

By Kwame Alexander

The Faithful Spy
By John Hendrix

Front Desk
By Kelly Yang

By Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead


Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish
By Pablo Cartaya


The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle
By Christina Uss

And one that could really win Caldecott and/or Sibert:

Otis and Will Discover the Deep
By Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Katherine Roy

More books that we loved that just didn't make the video cuts:

The Night Diary
Amal Unbound
The Season of Styx Malone
Lions and Liars
Out of Left Field 
Betty Before X 
The Day You Begin
Small Spaces 

SO? What books do you think will win GOLD next Monday???

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Some Middle Grade Reviews by Middle Grade Readers

Sixth grade Reading Ambassadors are hungry for brand new books and I love that I can feed that desire.  Here are some reviews of books that came out last year or about to come out.  All positive stars!

Coming in February to a library (bookstore, Overdrive account) near you...


By Corey Ann Haydu
(Katherine Tegen Books)

Elodee has to move to a new town called Eventown.  She loves it, but there is something odd.  Everything is perfect.  Her twin sister starts to drift away. Elodee asks about the town.  No one can give a good answer.  

I think that this book deserves five stars.  It is fun to read and I could not put it down. It is a combination of sad and fun.

And a couple overdue reviews on books that came out last year that we missed...

Frederick Sandwich and the Earthquake that Couldn't Possibly Be 

By Kevin John Scott

Frederick Sandwich gets teased by other kids all the time.  One night the town shakes.  It is an earthquake but they are not in a place where the earthquakes happen. The mayor forces the town to believe there was no earthquake.  Frederick and a girl, Pernille, try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I really like this book because it is fun to read.  I could not put it down.  Anybody who likes mysteries should read this book.

My Year in the Middle

By Lila Quintero Weaver

By Ailie.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pastries and Prose #1

I am not a morning person.
But I can name at least 15 4th graders who are.

Yesterday was the kick off of my "Pastries and Prose" book club, a half hour before school started.  It was pitch black when I pulled into the parking lot and the only other car there belonged to Miss Sherrie in the cafeteria.

I signed up to lead an extra curricular  book club but with a late bus only three days a week and art club, KKids, intramurals, student council and students just needing to stay after school for extra help, I thought I would try offering a before-school club.  And I love doughnuts so this would be the perfect opportunity to indulge.

Having never run a club like this before I didn't know what we would do (and honestly I still don't) but at least we have a focus.  I pulled all my "treat" related books and put them out.  The kids enjoyed juice and pastries and then all gathered to listen to The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch.  These 4th graders have Sibert on their mind so they really wanted to read one of the nonfiction titles.  We already know that next week's book will be How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and not so true) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie by Gilbert Ford. Not really a pastry, but close enough.

We also talked about getting into groups and reading graphic novels like Bake Sale by Sara Varon and Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett Krosoczka (perhaps our own early riser lunch lady will join in for that one).  I invited my 6th grade Reading Ambassadors to come as mentors and they really want to read different books and hold debates. I'll need some extra coffee for that.

I think they enjoyed it.  The true testament will be if they return before sunrise next Thursday.  In the meantime, can you please pass the chocolate frosted with sprinkles.

Chase BEFORE his tooth fell out.
PS-That's a reusable cup filled with OJ!

PS-Shout out to Laurie Keller for the idea to call my club "Pastries and Prose."  It stuck and I love it! Of course, don't look for her books in the picture--they are all checked out!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What If It's US #love

Raise your glass for this one:


Topped with a Levain cookie
a cup of Dream and Bean coffee
to a tune sung by Ben and Lin
(and my own Evan, Noah)

I can't help it.  The universe did it to me.

I could almost admit that if this was the last book I ever read, I'd be happy.
I could even accept if this was the last book ever read to me.

Should I hit the rewind button? Can I get a do-over?

I am a hapless, hopeless romantic who lives for stories like this.
Ones that take place in my beloved home of New York City
Where I have eaten the cookies mentioned
Seen the shows and know the tunes
And my daughter already has one of the colleges on her short list
(It's not Yale)

I just want to ship Arthur and Ben and be done with it.
Barthur? Arthurn?
I. am. in. love.

I really want to know how Becky and Adam (Badam? Adamb?) could write so seamlessly together states apart?  Such an incredible skill and I am longing for more.  Please sir, can I have some more? MORE? You're not going to throw away our shot for more wonderfulness, are you?

Cute Arthur with or without his glasses is in New York for the summer from Georgia.  Ben is in the post office about to mail a breakup package to his ex-boyfriend when Arthur sees him and they strike up a conversation.  Thank you, hot dog tie. No numbers are exchanged before the universe separates them.  But, the universe does get them together and it's unputdownable from there. From there? Really?  From paragraph 1 on page 1, really.

This may be a spoiler but I just have to say it.
The epilogue?  I wish it were more Harry Potter ish.

My friend, Alicia, offered me the arc in the summer.  I declined.  The universe wanted me to wait for the audio.  I'm glad I listened. So worth the wait.

I have been in the same room as Becky, Adam and Noah.  They just didn't know I was a fan.  I didn't even know I was a fan. Now I am and I want to have coffee with all of them.  Together. Oh and bring Froy Gutierrez, too. Just check the missed connections for the date and time.

At TLA in April 2017--What a STAR studded panel! 

💕💕💕 Becky

We saw Dear Evan Hansen in January 2018 with Noah Galvin as our Evan

I have spent a lot of time searching for a picture I know is out there of me with Adam Silvera at our NYS School Librarian conference in May 2015.  He was on a panel with Jason Reynolds and others and Randy Enos, the chair of the 2015 Newbery Committee was the facilitator.  It seems those photos have disappeared but believe me they are with me in my heart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Extraordinary Birds

I was thrilled to be asked to an early reader, among many other amazing folks, of Extraordinary Birds by debut author, Sandy Stark-McGinnis.  Once you get your hands on it, you are in for a treat. Now that the arcs are out, I can finally share my thoughts with you:

If you know anything about Extraordinary Birds you would agree that Eleanor Rigby should be playing in my head 24/7.  Instead it’s that Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. Go figure.

11 year old December has a scar on the back of her neck. She believes that, one day, wings will pop out from that scar and feathers from each goosebump, making her a “freebird” (my words, not hers). That said, her diet is bird like, made mostly of sunflower seeds. She also sneaks out nearly every night to climb a tree to practice flying.  Unsuccessful up to this point, December claims its only because her wings have not fully developed yet.

In and out of foster care since she was eight, December’s most recent placement is with “bird whisperer” and taxidermist hobbyist, Eleanor.  Birds make their way to her when they are hurt and December is no exception. This book is one third Ada and Susan from Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War that Saved My Life (hesitant to trust the one person who really loves you), one third magical realism, but not, Nikki Loftin’s Nightingale’s Nest (is December really a bird?) and one third a mashup of Wavie from Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre and the feel-goods of all works by Barbara O’ConnorAll those parts make for one slurpie sweet treat.

“Every living thing should have the freedom to be who and what they are.” Amen.  This not only goes for December, who is lucky to have Eleanor care for her and nurse her back to reality, but for December’s new friend, Cheryllynn. Cheryllynn, whose given name is Charlie, loves all pink and wearing dresses. Cheryllynn’s struggles with who she is addressed so appropriately for our younger middle grade readers in this novel and will open doors for further discussions. Even though the word “transgender” is never used, it is implied and understood.  My only wish was that Charlie’s name was something more “masculine” to make her transition clearer for our younger readers. Several hints throughout the book strengthen the this theme of who we are is not necessarily a matter of choice. When Eleanor tries to climb the tree to be with December, she stops midway.  “Just like it’s not a matter of choice whether the kiwi flies, it’s not my choice to be afraid of heights.” We do have a choice in what books to read. Next Spring, choose Extraordinary Birds.

As a reader of Extraordinary Birds, be prepared to hold your breath. Don’t get frustrated. Will December see Eleanor as someone to trust, love and be the keeper of her forever home? Please trust me and don’t give up. I promise you, there is hope for the freebird.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Newbery 19 is ON!

A snow day on November 16?  Yep.  That's what we've got.  How great is it that we kicked off our 2019 Newbery project yesterday?! Fifth graders went home with two Newbery contenders; one they could begin today under their cozy covers while the world is blanketed in white. ( that's what I call heaven. ) The other, you ask?  Save that for Monday when book groups begin. Of course, I can't guarantee that a student who left with Bob or Harbor Me or The Night Diary or ____ will be able to let it be for three days but only time will tell.

The class began with screams and applause.  It ended with popcorn and cookies. Don't let anyone tell you that my library is quiet or clean.  This is just how we roll with celebrations.

It's our SEVENTH year of Newbery.  These fifth graders weren't even in kindergarten when we started. And the tradition lives on.

What is the Newbery? Where and when is it announced?  What do we have to do? How much do we have to read? How do you pronounce An-i-mo-to? And what is that? How do I get on the Consensus Club? All these questions filled the excited room.

And I must have said it a dozen times, but start your prayers now that January 28 will NOT be a snow day (as opposed to February 2, 2015).

We talked Kwame.  Squirrels and gorillas and witches. Adam Gidwitz and Matt de la Pena.  That was then.  This is now.  On to make our own 2019 history. Stay tuned.  It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Want to join us in our Newbery 2019 journey?  Here's our list.  What do you think is a winner?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Dear Neighbor Please Vote

It's Election Day eve.

Former Mayor Keegan
For over a month, I have been collaborating with the 4th grade Social Studies teacher on a voting project.  Through project based learning, we had a goal to increase the percentage of people from our town who vote in the midterm elections. We learned about the amendments, the history of voting and even why the first Tuesday in November. Guest speakers shared their experiences as elected officials with us and we got inspired.  Former Mayor Joe Keegan of Castleton really drove the message home. "First I was down by three votes, then two, then one...I see people on the street and they say, 'Sorry Joe I forgot to vote.'"  If only they had voted...The only woman on the Schodack Town Board, Tracey Rex, spoke to us about women in politics. Assemblyman Jake Ashby and School Board member Mike Tuttle also spoke to our students.

Schodack Town Board Member Tracey Rex

Our ultimate goal is to increase the number of people who vote in tomorrow's election from the last midterm election. Given that people are supposed to go out in record numbers tomorrow to vote, we may or may not have an impact.  But we'd like to think we did.

4th graders designed postcards to be distributed to every student at CES and a few made a video. Feel free to share the video.  Listen to the kids. Exercise your right to vote.  Don't count on your neighbors to make decisions for you.

Finally, dear Neighbor. Watch and be inspired by these young people. Then set your alarm as a reminder. See you at the polls.
We thank you.