Sunday, January 29, 2017

My fan post to Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill probably doesn't remember meeting me at the Princeton Book Festival this past September.  She was sitting behind a table among the swarms of authors, illustrators and other swooning book fans like myself. I went up to her nervously and told her that she was going to win the Newbery award.  She smiled nicely, disagreed kindly and proceeded to sign my book and take a picture with me.  I was so confident she was going to win that when my son asked for a copy of the book, I gave in and bought two.  I wanted my own copy signed to me by the future Newbery winner. (Sounds like I should go to Vegas, huh?!)

We spent a lot of time with this book from late Fall-early Winter.  It's all here.  The lucky book group members to book trailers with moon drinks to letters that lead to a Skype and more.  It's so exciting to love a book so much and then watch it win the Newbery Award.  CES loves Kelly and looks forward to one day breaking out our red carpet for another award winning author!

In Which the CES Newbery Project began

It's November 1, 2016 and we kicked off Newbery.  Every fifth grader received a pamphlet with "buzzing" books listed.  What book did I put in my column with the most "buzz"?  Check it out:

In Which we had a Book Group

Mr. Reischer loves fantasy so even though I really wanted to lead The Girl Who Drank the Moon book group, I gave it to him.  I know he was excited to read fantasy with kids.  I love seeing the kids thrilled to read no matter what book it is.  The kids in this book group got lucky--each one of them went home with a poster thanks to Kelly's publicist at Algonquin.  Thank you, Trevor!

Here's the poster in the top left hanging in our "Newbery Nook"

The lucky "Girl Who Drank the Moon" book group with their posters!

In Which we created Animotos

Ashlyn (the girl in the striped shirt above and the one I couldn't stop hugging at the YMA announcements) and her partner, Liam, chose to do this book for their Animoto book trailer project. Even though they left out some parts and my favorite characters, Glerk and Fyrian, I hope it will still get you interested in reading the book, if you haven't already!

At the Animoto party, Ashlyn brought in "moon drinks" and "moons" as book related refreshments.

Two other students also did an Animoto which touched on a few other aspects of the book.

In Which we wrote letters Lead to the Author

Here are some excerpts from the letters students wrote to Kelly (I couldn't include the whole letters because they had spoilers in them):

In Which we Skyped with Kelly

In Which we took a leap with Kelly

In Which we performed a Reader's Theatre

If you'd like to see the video of their Reader's Theatre, let me know.  It's was too big to upload. Here's a picture of the group:


Except for Kelly and the folks at Algonquin, I can't imagine if anyone else was as excited as we were when we watched the Newbery Award announced.  For over two months, these kids spent so much time with Luna, Xan, Glerk, Fyrian, the madwoman, Antain, the Sorrow Eater and all the other characters, how could we not leap and scream and scream and hug and leap when the book we championed from Day One received its well deserved gold sticker.

I know I posted this video already but I just love it so much. OMG! A book we loved won!

"Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it isn't there.  Some of the most wonderful things in the world are invisible.  Trusting in invisible things makes them more powerful and wondrous.  You'll see."
-Kelly Barnhill from The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The American Library Association's Youth Media Award selection process is invisible to us. We trusted in the invisible process and now so many more young people will have the opportunity to meet the characters we laughed and cried with, supported and cheered for, but most importantly just plain loved.

"Sometimes people are more than one thing.  I am Glerk.  I am your friend.  I am Luna's family.  I am a Poet.  I am a maker.  And I am the Bog. But to you, I am simply Glerk.  Your Glerk.  And I do love you very much."
-Glerk to Fyrain in The Girl Who Drank the Moon

And Kelly we love you for writing such a beautiful and magical story that we couldn't put down from Day 1. Congratulations!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Owl Sees Owl

Our John with Rob.  We wouldn't have met Rob if it weren't for John!

You've heard me say this about a lot of books--when we fall for a book at Castleton Elementary School, we fall hard.  We hug the book.  We squeeze it.  We can't let go of it. We can't stop expressing our love that our fingers just automatically run over to a pencil and paper to send the author or illustrator a note.  One of our latest cases is Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey.  In this case, I found Rob's email and told him how much we gushed over his artwork and how we thought it was a strong contender for the Geisel and Caldecott awards.

John was a driving force in loving this book before the rest of us.  Of course, it was on my Geisel list but he read it with Mom one night after checking it out on Overdrive back in November and it has been "his" book ever since.

The text in this book is simple and poetic which is why we thought it was a perfect Geisel contender. Little Owl takes a leap out of the nest and explores the world and his surroundings until he comes to his reflection. "Owl sees owl."  The text is then reversed until he reaches his home and family once again.  Then there is Rob's artwork.  Gorgeous and breathtaking.  We're not the only ones who think so--a page from the book was on display in the Original Art exhibit I went to last month at the Society of Illustrators.

Chatting with Rob was fun.  The kids asked when he became an artist.  He's always thought of himself as an artist but it wasn't until he was in college that he realized "no one else in the whole world was going to make the pictures I wanted to see so that's when I decided to be an artist."

Rob encouraged the students to doodle.  Mrs. Pryde reminded them "just not on your math work." He shared that when he was teaching a class one of the things he told his students was "if you are not doodling, then you probably shouldn't be in my class."  I want to take that class!

If you have not already picked up a copy of Owl Sees Owl, do it soon.  Every time you read it, you will notice something different on the pages and see a beautiful, wonderful world.

Asking a question on "Crazy Hair Day"!

Kathi Appelt was one of our Newbery authors.  It's cool when everyone is interconnected!

Everyday Rob goes out and doodles.  This is a doodle!

We begin and end with John, our star of the day!

"Pictures can help tell people how wonderful life is."
-Rob Dunlavey

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We are over THE MOON with the #ALAyma selections!

I can't remember being this excited and screaming this much in school, ever.  Watching the Youth Media Awards with about 175 students (4th grade, 5th grade and one first grade class) is an experience that will stick with me for a very long.  Maybe one day I will give it up to watch it live at ALA Midwinter, but right now being in school with my students where you can go from hearing a pin drop, to pounding feet drum rolls to ecstatic screams and leaps is not something I can give up just yet.

Early Morning Wake Up

Beep beep beep.  Well, really the background noise of NPR is my old school clock radio going off.  I had to get up extra early to pick up our #ALAyma cake.
Yes, for the second year in a row Newbery is spelled incorrectly

So I'm downstairs making coffee when my husband leaps out of bed and calls down to me groggily, "Put on NPR! There's a story on Caldecott and Newbery!"  Thank you, husband, Kevin and NPR's Lynn Neary!

8:10 AM

After working through a bit of a glitch in our network, we are finally live into the room where it happens. By 8:30 Mrs. Pryde's class showed up in their Dr. Seuss hats.  They all grabbed a Geisel contender to read through while waiting for their award announcement.  

A couple of huge "Pig in a Wig" fans

This is PRE-Announcement!  Little did he know he was holding an honor book!

Fifth grade came in and then fourth. By 8:45, the old gym/auditorium was filled with excited children, biting fingernails. crossing all limbs for good luck, and just plain nervous for "their book to be announced."


Congratulations to Giant Squid!  We had a couple of groups choose that book for their Sibert Smackdown project and they were thrilled when it was announced for the Sibert Honor! Honestly, because the illustrations in this book are phenomenal, we wouldn't have been surprised if it was also been recognized for Caldecott.  Which brings us to...


THE Caldecott winning book was on our Sibert list so we had another pair of girls thrilled when they heard the announcement!  As adults we get attached to these books and think of them as "ours" so imagine what it is like when you are 9 or 10 years old and a national organization agrees with you! One of the reasons why these girls said this book should win Sibert was because of the artwork. They were onto something.  I explained to them what the original art looks like when I saw it at the Society of Illustrators in NYC.  It is mind blowing!


Sadly, none of our favorite-favorite Geisel books won, although Go, Otto, Go was liked by many. After everyone left, Mrs. Pryde read the winning book, We Are Growing, aloud to her class. 


THIS is what we've all been waiting for.  What I have lost sleep over for the past week.  What I work so hard on for 12 months of the year.  It's my summer reading (and spring, winter and fall) all colliding in one day, one hour, one five minute presentation.

Will the books that I have put in the hands of my students win an award?  Will the books that they have fallen for get honored?  Will the "adult committee's" choices meet "the real committee's" (ours) choices?  Did we Skype with any winners? Did any of our book group books win?  

The answer to all of these questions is YES!

Honor Books

Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan

Look at Sean when he heard the announcement!  You don't realize how attached a student is to a book until it wins a prize!

Inquistor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

OMG!  OMG! This was a book group book! The boys blew us away with their Reader's Theatre! They won every debate they were in ("4-0" as one boy put it) and we had the privilege of Skyping with Adam and being mesmerized by his storytelling less than a week ago!

Mr. Chevrier, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, with his book group

Back in November they were leaping! Mr. Chevrier told me that he has read some great books in book groups with kids but he thinks this might have been his favorite.

Skyping with Adam last Wednesday, January 18

The big question now is "Where do you put the sticker?"

Can you tell that Adam was attempting a leap with us, too?!

When we "met" Adam he told us that he "likes scaring children."  That's true! I gave A Tale Dark and Grim to a student a few years ago and she returned it to me saying, "I can't read this. It's keeping me up at night."  We loved hearing how Adam got into writing and how he came up with the ideas for The Inquisitor's Tale.  He and his wife were in France and while his wife was doing her research on the middle ages he was "learning stories."  We learned that writing in slippers is essential (he even showed us the ones he had on then) and that the book took him six years to write.  Well, we are all glad he persevered.  Mazel Tov, Adam!

Winners all around!

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
I knew this book was a winner the moment I read it.
This is what I wrote in a copy of "Wolf Hollow" that I gave to Mrs. Warland as a thank you gift

Our new principal, Mr. Derby, read it with his book group.  This was an email I got from him one morning before the sun went up:

He fell asleep reading it on the couch and woke up at 3 am to finish.

 I had to find Lauren so we could Skype and lucky us, I did!  The kids wanted to know why she named Betty "Betty." "Betty" is an ordinary name so Lauren thought it was a bit ironic to name the not-so-sweet girl, "Betty."  Mr. Derby's favorite character is Aunt Lil so he was determined to talk to Lauren about her.  "I have to have someone in there who is a sour note."  The last thing I wrote down in my notes from her Skype is this:

You have no idea what's waiting for you.
-Lauren Wolk, January 11, 2017
That couldn't be truer for Lauren right now.

Mr. Derby with his book group after the YMA announcements

And the winner of the 2017 John Newbery Award is...


Yes, I am crazy.  Yes, I am loud.  Yes, I am insane.  But how could you not be when everyone else is screaming and jumping because their book won!  Look at Mr. Reischer!  Look at Ashlyn (the one I am hugging).  Look at all of them!  I love this video so much.  It just sums up how excited we are about books and reading!

Back in October when I was soliciting swag for our Newbery Nook, Trevor from Algonquin Young Readers, sent me a whole bunch of "The Girl Who Drank the Moon" posters. Everyone from the book group got one. I hear many of them hung them up in their bedrooms. Cool.

During our Animoto party in December, Ashlyn and Liam brought in book related treats:

We were thrilled to Skype with Kelly on January 6.  We loved her so much.  I tried to take a few notes but everything she said was quotable so it was hard to keep up:

When the kids asked her why a certain character dies, she said, 

"Life is like a story.  It has a beginning, middle and end."

All kids want to know if there is going to be a sequel.  Kelly prefers stand alone novels because then

"...the rest of the story is written in the heart of the reader."

What is your writing process like?

"When I get stuck, I do a lot of pushups so I get a lot of arm muscles."

And finally she told us...

"The writer doesn't make the story, the reader does."

Well, Kelly, we are glad you made something so we could make the story!  Congratulations!  We are beyond the moon happy for you!


And although none of our kids read Representative John Lewis's March: Book Three and may not know who he is, we can't speak about the day without acknowledging, congratulating and thanking him for all he has contributed to our country, the civil rights movement and now children's and young adult literature.