Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Newbery Consensus Club

Check it out.  Fourteen kids read at least 10 books in 10 weeks so they could get an invite to this closed door meeting.  One went running around to local libraries last night so he could squeeze in the final book. Another one spent over three hours after school reading a whole book from start to finish. Someone else had five chapters left and was going home to read them with his Mom.  Another one had her Mom bake special "book related" cookies from her favorite book just for our meeting. This is what you call passion about reading and boy is it contagious.

There was buzzing about books for weeks and this was the place you wanted to be at 2:30 if you were in fifth grade at Castleton Elementary School.

Consensus Club Committee Members with their Top Choices

The HOUR OF THE BEES cookies!

We definitely had lots of nourishment!  Notice the Starbucks hot cocoa?  That's my little homage to the real Newbery Committee.  What's a Newbery Committee without Starbucks?  So I go out and get a box that I fill with hot water, add Trader Joe's hot cocoa and presto--"Starbucks!"

First Step

We looked at all of our books and started eliminating ones that just may not be the most distinguished.  Even this first step was tough. We also went around and talked about our favorite books, why we loved them so much and why it deserves a Newbery medal.

There's Mr. Reischer, our fearless leader!

Discussing the Books

The passion. The energy. The enthusiasm.  I wish you could have been in the room where it happened.  We had a deep discussion about Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Afterwards, the three kids who were totally into it, got up and just high fived each other.  Kids debated whether Sharon Creech's Moo had a slow start or not. The many themes in The Wild Robot by Peter Brown and how they were addressed made for another meaningful discussion. We could have talked books for hours.

And the winners are...

After serious debating and voting, fingers crossing and screaming, we came to a decision.  Drum roll please:

Gold Medal

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog 
by Adam Gidwitz


by Jason Reynolds


Hour of the Bees 
by Lindsay Eager

Kids were happy that their book won something.  Others were disappointed that their book didn't win the gold. All of the books are winners in my mind.  In the words of The Inquisitor's Tale "each book is a lot of lives. Dozens and dozens of them....And each life a whole world." All of these books, works of art with their many lives, touch the lives of the dozens and dozens of our students, get them excited about reading and for that I am grateful.

Now the waiting begins...

Three more days!  If you haven't bookmarked the live webcast yet, here it is:

ps-Lucky us! We Skyped with two of the three of our winners.  Exciting!

Our gold medal winner, Adam Gidwitz

Lindsay Eager with her biggest fans!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Steve Sheinkin Long Weekend

I am taking the liberty to declare this past Friday - this Tuesday the "Steve Sheinkin Long Weekend." There.  I've done it.  And here's why:

On Friday, Steve graciously took the 40 mile trip south to Maple Hill Middle School to meet with some very eager and enthusiastic readers.  The Steve Sheinkin planning team, which included the librarian. some teachers and even the principal, did an amazing job making the whole day great!  I was lucky enough to have some time to visit with both my former students and Steve.  It's always wonderful to see kids excited about reading and meeting an author.  It's easy for me to get kids excited about primary and early middle grade book creators but middle schoolers are different and the team managed to do it! There was no denying that these kids were excited to be in Steve's presence.

The Entrance

Steve was welcomed on Maple Hill's "Steve Sheinkin" version of a "red carpet", the grid iron (Of course, my camera batteries died right at the moment but here are a few anticipatory photos):


If you read at least two of Steve's books in the past few months, you were invited to a special pizza lunch with him.  I envy the lucky kids who got to sit on either side and across from him.

The Presentation

Granted I was only able to catch a little bit of it, but I can tell you that the audience in the library was filled with attentive and interested listeners.  You received a ticket into the program if you read at least one Steve book in the past few months.  

Librarian, Mrs. Squier, introducing the special guest

Happy Book Birthday!

You can't have a birthday party without cake and Friday was no exception.  Happy Book Birthday to UNDEFEATED! So glad you could celebrate it a few days early at Maple Hill Middle School, Steve!

You now I had to ask these kids to leap for me! Not too bad for being out of practice!
Even Mrs. Squier got into it!

2:30 PM

Hands down Mrs. Karen Harris, retired fifth grade teacher, is Steve Sheinkin's biggest fan.  Look! Even he knows it!

Sunday's New York Times

I loved opening up my Sunday NYT Book Review to find this great review of UNDEFEATED:

I was so happy that I leapt!

Tuesday Pub Date

What is your plan for tomorrow?  I know!  Go out to your nearby Indie bookstore, pick up your own copy of UNDEFEATED and try not to tackle anyone in the process of buying the book and getting comfortable on your couch.