We look forward to this month all year. We discuss the year’s books that we feel are likely to be considered for three ALA/ALSC awards: Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz. We chose four books to read in each category. This year, not all of the books were chosen because they were likely to win, but because they were worthy of discussion. Will Eric Rohmann’s Bone Dog win the Caldecott? He’s won or been honored many times before. As one of our librarians commented, “The committee is only supposed to consider the books in front of them. They are not supposed to think of the books that have won before.” What do you think about that? Will Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick create the same stir that Hugo Cabret did? We’ll let each of the book clubs tell you what transpired at their meeting.
Here are the books on our list:
Caldecott: Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell, I Must Have Bobo by Eileen Rosenthal and Marc Rosenthal, Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann, and Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes
Newbery: The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson, Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Printz: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones, Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgoi
We would have loved to include many more books on the list, but book club members have only two months to read all these titles … we have to be realistic.
We asked our group of ten to bring other books they felt should be considered in each category.
They arrived with arms loaded. Here are the other books they felt should be considered for the Caldecott: Drawing from Memory by Allen Say, The House That Baba Built by Ed Young, Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, Stuck by Oliver Jeffries, Everything I Need to Know Before I’m Five by Valorie Fisher, Perfect Square by Michael Hall, Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson and Pamela Dalton, I Want My Hat Back by J. Klassen, Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman, and Mine by Shutta Crum and Patrice Barton.
A lively, vocal discussion ensued. It was hard to keep it to half-an-hour. We referred to the Caldecott criteria several times, talked about the illustrations versus text-and-illustrations, and had a really good time. One of our school librarians read all of the choices to her kids and they hands-down chose Bone Dog as their favorite. We each voted by assigning points to three picks, then adding up the points.
Our choices? Medal: Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes. Voters feel it’s a masterpiece, an incredible feat of illustration. Honors: Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson and Pamela Dalton. Again, an absolutely amazing job of illustrating a book with cut paper. Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Our voters felt the detailed drawings and the focus on the child were excellent in this picture book biography.
For the Newbery discussion, other books were: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (which we’d read earlier this year), Hound Dog True by Linda Urban, The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer Holm, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (National Book Award winner), The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker, and Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor.
We talked over the merits of each book, everyone weighing in on how much they’d enjoyed the books, found them unusual, valued the characterizations, and primarily whether or not we felt the books should be of interest to kids. Again, we checked the award criteria, which could be interpreted that way, but several of the school librarians in the group weighed in by saying the recent winners didn’t interest kids. Again, we could have talked for much longer than half-an-hour.
Medal: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (comments were that this is even better than Hugo Cabret). Honors: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman.
We added the Printz books this year because we have several high school librarians taking part in our book clubs. We talked about the different criteria established by YALSA, one of them being that the author need not be an American citizen. In addition to our list of books, members asked that we consider Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman and Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. One of our members predicts that A Monster Calls is a shoe-in for the medal.
Medal: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Honors: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones (this already won the Boston Globe Horn Book award for fiction).
Next month we’re discussing The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker and Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo. In February, we’ll talk about who did win the awards.
Report submitted by Vicki Palmquist, facilitator.
We had a group of seven teachers, librarians, and authors.
Of the Caldecott possibles, we all loved Swirl by Swirl. We thought the text and illustrations work magnificently together. We discussed how this could be used with a variety of ages—from young children to teens. An art teacher spoke about exercises she does with her students to find shapes and forms in nature. We agreed that the possibilities for using this book abound.
We also found Me, Jane very appealing. One of our members brought in The Watcher, Jane Goodall’s Life with Chimps which was also published this year. We found both books appealing in different ways. We were all charmed by Me, Jane—both the text and illustrations and thought it would inspire young children to pursue their dreams and enjoy nature. The Watcher has more information about Jane Goodall as an adult which we thought added to that book. Bone Dog we found interesting but questioned if children might find it scary. I Must Have Bobo had some appeal. We agreed that kids would enjoy seeing and knowing what the child doesn’t know. We also observed that the child looks angry throughout.
Since we left the Newbery and Printz books for next month, we read The Luck of Buttons for tonight. We all agreed that is was somewhat reminiscent of Richard Peck books.
We also “read” The Secret Box. Interestingly, people in the group had different interpretations for the story. This lead to a lively discussion about using wordless books with kids.
Along those lines, one of our teachers was very excited to share The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg—a new book that features short stories based on 14 black-and-white illustrations originally published in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The teacher had used the original book with her students years ago to spark original writing. It was very successful and she could hardly wait to read The Chronicles of Harris Burdick with stories contributed by many distinguished authors.
Recap submitted by Linda Glaser, author and facilitator.
Here are our choices.
Caldecott. Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. We felt this demonstrated excellence in execution of the artistic medium: scratchboard. We also felt this was the right medium for this book. It offered texture, like nature, and the colors were brilliantly contrasting. We appreciated that the plants and animals were labeled. Each page causes the reader to want to linger. Great child appeal.
Newbery. We couldn’t come to a consensus.
Breadcrumbs: This coming of age story recognized the need for practical learning and imagination. It was magical realism incorporating several tales well.
Island’s End: This book showed respect and appreciation for traditional ways/culture.
Wonderstruck: Two storylines, one in words and one in pictures, told separately until they intersect near the end was masterful.
Printz. Again, no consensus.
Anya’s Ghost: Loved the plot twist of the ghost, who the reader sympathizes with along with Anya, goes from good to bad. We also liked the clever resolution.
A Monster Calls: Things we liked: interwoven stories, story within a story, suspense, and good character development.
We all liked Sparrow Road.
Report submitted by Heidi Hammond, uber-librarian, St. Catherine’s University instructor, and co-facilitator.