Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Geisel Committee Finale

We had a wonderful finale to our Geisel Committee project on Friday--A Skype with the 2016 ALA Geisel Committee chair, Amanda Foulk.  It lasted almost a half hour and was great!  We chatted about the Geisel process, and had quite an informative conversation back and forth about the books we loved and why we loved them.  It's always so great to talk about books with people who know them as well as you do!  And we learned that Amanda actually knows those books even slightly better than we do.  As the adult, I listened to what she said and nodded my head, turned to look at Mrs. Pryde and said, "Hmmmm....we never thought of that" or "Wow.  I didn't catch that."  I am sure we will do Geisel again and this time we will be even more tuned in to all these details.  I still can't believe that I had 3 out of 4 of the winning books on my list!  Thank you, Amanda, for taking the time out of your day to meet with us!

Our kids were so excited to hold the Geisel winning books up for Amanda and loved seeing her show us books we favored during the process as she did here with "I Yam a Donkey" by Cece Bell

Yes! The obligatory jump. Notice that I leapt all the way out of the picture?! Ha!

Orbiting Jupiter

I read Newbery Honor winning author, Gary Schmidt's book, "Orbiting Jupiter" yesterday. It is actually not like me to read a book the year after it is published. I know--weird quirk of mine. I am glad I broke my own rule. I can't let go of the book yet. It is heart warming and painful. My stomach sank, felt better, sank again and then found hope. What a whirlwind of emotions for one book in one day. And while the rest of the east coast was snowed in with Jonas, I was lucky enough not to have to be out shoveling but instead I had the rare opportunity and gift to sit down with a YA book whose setting was surrounded by snow and ice. I will be thinking about Jack, Joseph, Jupiter and Maddie for a long time. Five stars with a box of tissues close by.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!

Sometime ago I applied to be a faculty review advisor with Little Brown.  I forgot about it until I received the contract.  Then I got a box of ARCs!  So exciting!  Soon I will get another box!  Now, I feel like I've arrived as a librarian!

Like Newbery, we're going to have the fifth graders read the books in book groups and then review them using the Little Brown review sheet.  This is real stuff!  And if that isn't cool enough for them, they got totally excited when we told them that they would have input on next year's Newbery list!  YES!  So cool! Maybe one of these new books from Little Brown will be our Newbery winner in 2017.  You never know!

But wait.  I don't have enough ARCs to go around the whole fifth grade. What to do?  We split those guys up into two book groups:  Esperanza Rising by our favorite, Pam Munoz Ryan, and So B. It by our other favorite, Sarah Weeks. The coolest thing about this class was the excitement over Pam!  Everyone who was in the Echo book group, chose to be in this book group and more!  Pam, if you are reading this, I want you to know that you have a HUGE fan base in Castleton, New York!  Kids really couldn't decide which group to join.  "I want to do both!" they cried.  Fortunately, we have enough time that they actually can.  I don't even know which group I'd prefer to lead.  They are both great!

So, we're excited to say the least.  And to top it all off, tomorrow Mrs. Pryde's first graders will be Skyping with the chair of the 2016 Geisel Committee to share thoughts and insights on how they chose their books  and how we selected our favorites.  Mrs. Pryde and I met Amanda today and had a great conversation.  Thanks for your time, Amanda!

So...what does this have to do with Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!  by Bob Shea?  Well, we had some love for Ballet Cat already in our Geisel Committee and because I had ARCs on my mind, I went to NetGalley the other day.  One thing lead to another and I got approved for the newest Ballet Cat book, due out next month.

Guess what Ballet Cat is trying to get her friend, Bear, to do?! LEAP! No kidding!!!! And not just a little jump, but a "super-high leap"!  How fun is that!  Well, not too much fun for Bear because she doesn't want to do it.  Bear procrastinates putting off the leaps as long as possible and not telling Cat the real truth as to why she doesn't want to leap.  Will Bear end up leaping super high?  Will a bowl of cereal and a trip to the bathroom keep her from leaping? It's never kept me off the ground, but you'll have to wait just a few more weeks (February 2, to be exact) to find out!  Even without the illustrations in this galley copy, I still laughed and smiled and rooted for Cat to get her friend, Butter Bear, to leap into the sky! Thank you NetGalley and Disney/Hyperion for the sneak peak!

From NetGalley

Monday, January 11, 2016


The alarm went off at 5:30.  The day I've been waiting for for months, a whole year, actually, finally arrived.

I picked up the cake at 7 am and it had a spelling error!  Anyone who was at ALA in San Francisco will chuckle since it's the same error that was on our direction signs to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet.

Can you spy the typo???

Then it was time to get the live stream on and going!  It went without a hitch.  I was excited for the Coretta Scott King awards! Our friend Bryan Collier won the Illustrator award for Trombone Shorty!
Jason Reynolds also racked up a couple of Coretta Scott King awards.  I need to get past my "fifth grade reading level" and read his books.

You need to hear this guy speak! He is SO inspiring!

I was leaping then because I loved Trombone Shorty so much and Bryan is such a great guy!

We were so happy to hear (all puns intended! ha!) that the Odyssey honor went to Echo and the award went to The War that Saved My Life.  I listened to Echo and could not press pause for anything.

My Geisel Committee was a tad disappointed.  They were dressed up like pigs.  They honed in their grammar skills because they loved Cece Bell's I Yam a Donkey so much and yet it was still exciting for me.  Never having done a Geisel project before, I was happy that the books they chose were ones that were on my list and that we had even read aloud.  I enjoyed Jonathan Fenske's book.  I distinctly remember laughing out loud when reading about that tricky fox.  I can also see how Don't Throw it to Mo could win especially since it has a clear beginning, middle and end. Many of our kids really did like it.  

Here's the Geisel Committee holding the winning books.

I love that Sophie Blackall won the Caldecott medal.  She was super cool when I met her back in November at the AASL conference.  Of course, we all wanted Float to get a sticker. It can still be distinguished in our minds, especially since Daniel Miyares has a new book coming out with Kwame next month!

Needless to say, we were all surprised with the Newbery outcome.  I'm really going to have to look at things differently next year when I devise my list.  Mrs. Yager's third graders focused their Olympic project on Last Stop on Market Street (yay for Christian Robinson, too!) so we have all these pictures from Thursday and today.  Congratulations, Matt de la Pena!  We should all try and take a bus to Orlando to celebrate you in June!
How cool is this that we already have a SIGNED copy of the Newbery winning book in our library

Here's the class today after Mrs. Yager put the Newbery gold on their flag.
The inside of their book, Last Stop at CES!
Mrs. Yager explaining to Chris about their project based on Last Stop on Market Street.
It was cool when Chris told the class that Matt de la Pena was "his friend."

Our principal in front of Mrs. Yager's class flag and our copies of the Newbery winning book.  I love how they wrote all the many themes of the book on the side of the flag.

We were VERY happy that The War that Saved My Life, Echo and Roller Girl all won honors!  Hooray!  All three of those books were book groups, too!

I'm so happy for Kimberly Brubaker Bradley! We all loved this book so much!
Hooray for Roller Girl!
And of course, Echo!

Yes! It was an exciting day!  I was so glad to watch the awards with my students.  The 4th graders who did the Sibert Smackdown were a little disappointed that none of their books won.  But they learned a lot and that's the important thing! There are a lot of good books out there!

A glimpse of all of us watching the awards.

What a great day! See you in Orlando!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Newbery Flags!

It is the eve of the 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards!  I can't believe a whole year has passed since students read, shared, debated, Skyped, made book trailers and just plain got  SO excited about  The Crossover that they missed football parties just to read or make a poster promoting the book. Incredible.  What an amazing year it was for Kwame, but definitely for all of us in Castleton, too.

Hard to believe that tomorrow we will have another Newbery winner.  How exciting!

On this eve of the ALAYMA, I wanted to share the Newbery flags that the fifth graders created.  They are pretty remarkable and are now hanging all over the library.  Is the winning book in there?  In 12 hours we should know!

I love the broken heart between Trent and Fallon.

I am thinking this book will win an honor!  And Cassie promises she will Skype with us to let us know the answer to the question, "What will you do if you win the Newbery?"
The kids in this book group LOVED LOVED LOVED Echo!  I love how they connected the stories in this flag with the harmonica.

It's clever how they made the three books here.
The winner of our Newbery consensus.  This is an amazing depiction of the book.
I love how they put the nicknames first.

The kids LOVED this book!  It got far (championship round) in our debates because they were so passionate about it.
This is a powerful flag.
I love the rainbow socks.  And did you know, today is Victoria Jamieson's birthday?  If she wins tomorrow that would be a pretty sweet birthday present!
I love this book for Newbery or Caldecott or both!  
We love Nikki Loftin and the kids LOVED Wish Girl! What a simple, but great way to depict the valley.
The kids also loved Fuzzy Mud.  Check out the rash going through the flag. Ewww...

So as you can see, the kids worked really hard on these and it paid off.  I love how they are flying throughout my library.  If one or more of these win, I will just have to put a gold or silver sticker right on the flag.

And if this whole 10+ week project (we've been doing it since October!) which has gotten 61 kids totally excited about reading and tomorrow's announcement doesn't show that author's need to go on the Ellen Show, I don't know what does!  #KidLitOnEllen  Pass it on!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics comes to Castleton!

The Olympics came to Castleton on Thursday and it was SPLENDIFEROUS!

Chris Grabenstein, author of the 2013 book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and now the sequel (which just came out on Tuesday), Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics came to my school and was a rockstar.  One student even told a teacher that he was "Katy Perry of books" or something to that effect. I'll take that as a compliment.

Chris actually arrived on Wednesday night and signed 400 books!  We were able to raise enough money so that EVERY student was going to be surprised at the end of the day with a signed copy of the new book! Here's a fun time lapse video of Chris signing the books:

For months we had no idea what our Library Olympics was going to be or look like.  When we finally decided on having every grade focus on an ALA Youth Media Award, it started to come together.  I cannot thank my classroom teachers enough for all that they did to prepare.  Here is a small snapshot of our day:

Chris announced that the Olympics were beginning over our PA system.  He told them to watch the opening video.

Everyone watched the video at the same time.

First stop: First Grade Geisel.  

They shared a song, read and acted out What this Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma Virjan and educated Chris all about the Geisel Award. They even tried to convince him to write a Geisel level book.  

Chris with all the first graders.

 NEXT UP: Second Grade Caldecott.  

All of second grade focused on Float by Daniel Miyares. We really hope Float gets a sticker on Monday.
Mrs. Donato's class was working on adding text to the Daniel's illustrations.

Chris with Mrs. Roe and Mrs. Segarra's class.

Mrs. Puccio and Mrs. Seres's class tested our knowledge on whether objects would sink or float.  Mrs. Puccio tricked us when she showed us a rock that was really pumice!

 KINDERGARTEN: The Carnegie Award for best video made from a children's book.  

The kindergarteners shared graphs on which videos they liked best and then Chris read Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, not the most favorite video, but certainly one they liked very much. The video that they liked the best and what they hope will win the Carnegie Award is I'm Brave! Here's the trailer for it:

Chris with Mr. Horan, our superintendent.
 NEXT UP: Third Grade-Coretta Scott King award for illustrations.  

Mrs. Yager's class focused on Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

They wrote a book called, Last Stop at CES.

Mr. Morse and Mrs. Hanna's class shared Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews's book illustrated by Bryan Collier with Chris.

Mrs. Charsky's class with Ms. Atkins shared where they would go with their pens based on My Pen by Christopher Myers.

 NEXT UP: Fourth Grade--Sibert Smackdown (Best Nonfiction for Children)

4th graders shared their best Sibert Smackdown projects with Chris.  He learned a lot about flies!

 LAST STOP: Fifth Graders NEWBERY!

Fifth graders shared animotos, a Reader's Theatre and a debate. It was intense!
With cake, of course!

After lunch we had our Olympic Closing ceremonies beginning with a parade, a Reader's Theatre of Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics, a presentation of awards from the day and then our big surprise!

Second graders marching in with their Float inspired hats.

The incredibly generous donors (Kasia Mello and Morgan Stanley, Audiologic Solutions, Nassau American Legion, Castleton Kiwanis, Brad Rose Leonard Landscaping, Inc, Schodack PBA, Friends of the Library and Bud's Florist) gave us the opportunity to do THIS:

 Give EVERY student a SIGNED copy of the book!
Woo-Hoo! Thank you donors!
What a day! All day the talk on Friday was "What chapter are you on?"  "I'm on chapter ___!"  "I finished the book!"

Thank you, Chris and EVERYONE, for a great Olympic day!  Now we are just waiting for Monday and the big ALA announcement to see if our favorites match those of the Committees in Boston.