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.

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