Posts Tagged ‘Caldecott’

As any good reader of fairy tales knows, it’s all about the number three. So in honor of my three month* blogiversary here’s a list of my top three bookish moments from the last three months:

#3: The Green Valley Book Fair

I really, really love the book fair. Giant warehouse in the middle of a field filled with tables and shelves and shelves and tables of books . . . ahhh, bliss. While I know that the book fair didn’t open March 13th in honor of my birthday, I’m allowing myself to pretend that it did. Two hours perusing books really is the best way to spend a birthday weekend. And to top it off I got to stop at Sheetz on the drive home! (Am I nuts for loving a gas station? Probably. But then so are thousands of other people.)

#2: 2010 Caldecott Award

I already went on and on about The Lion and the Mouse back in January, but I just have to say it again: I’m really glad it won the Caldecott this year. Way to go, Jerry Pinkney. You deserve it.

#1: The Crocodile Blues

Every month a librarian from our local library comes by our center for storytime. After her visit last month my students and I had some time to kill before lunch so we went through the box of books she had checked out for us. I had figured that by the time we finished going through the books lunch would arrive and we would go about our normal routine from there. Silly me. Once I finished showing them the books they looked at me expectantly and said, “Can you read one to us?”

“Um, well . . .”

“We have time before lunch comes.”

“Yeah, we have time, Ms. Emily. Read the crocodile one!”

(I want to point out that at this moment not only had our librarian just finished reading three books to them, that day our Spanish teacher had read them La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), plus I had read them a book at circle time, plus I had read a book first thing that morning to the early bird kids. So in the last four hours they had heard either five or six books already. And here every single one of them was looking at me like of course they would want to listen to their seventh book of the day. I was simultaneously flabbergasted and elated.)

So we read The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus. Normally I read our storytime books to myself ahead of time so I know what I’m getting into, but I didn’t exactly get an opportunity to do that. Oddly enough, my ignorance actually added to the experience. Turns out that The Crocodile Blues is a nearly wordless book. Since I didn’t know what was going on or what was going to happen next – and there weren’t any words there to help me out – my students and I had to puzzle through it together. It was one of those fantastic bonding moments that reminded me (as if I could forget) how much I love reading with kids.

We totally fell in love with this book. We loved the illustrations, the characters, the odd story line. (Yet another egg unexpectedly hatching into a crocodile! Where did this come from? First Guji Guji, then The Odd Egg, now this. We read – and loved – all these books this year, too. And I didn’t do it on purpose, really.) For four weeks they read it constantly – to themselves, to each other – repeatedly requested it for storytime, discussed it with each other, re-enacted scenes as they played. When our librarian came this month she hadn’t even left with the book yet before my students were asking me if I could check it out from the library again, adding to my ever-growing list of why I totally adore them.

I don’t know what it’s like reading The Crocodile Blues without ten wonderful preschoolers, but I’m sure it’s still a delight. Check it out! We highly recommend it.

Here’s hoping for another three fantastic months . . .

*Yes, I am aware that three months is not a very long time. But I’m still a newbie so I’m allowed to get excited about little things like this.

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All the World
by Liz Garton Scanlon; illus. by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books, 2009
Source: public library

I put All the World to the test earlier this week. After explaining that it just received a Caldecott Honor (or, as my students call it, “the silver medal”) I read it aloud to my Pre-K class. They spent a few minutes thinking about the story and illustrations, and then all agreed that it did deserve an award. A few even felt that it should have received the Caldecott Medal (“the gold award”) instead of The Lion and the Mouse. (I disagree, but I kept that to myself!)

All the World is definitely Caldecott Honor-worthy. Marla Frazee’s illustrations flow with Liz Garton Scanlon’s text, moving back and forth between snapshots focusing on individual people, events and/or objects to larger, full-page illustrations, placing these bits within the context of “all the world.” The text is rhythmic, (making it a perfect read-aloud), and packs a great deal of detail into very few words. My favorite phrase by far is “noon-blue” (from the line, “Morning sun becomes noon-blue”). “Noon-blue” encapsulates that time of day so perfectly.

While I do love the illustrations and the poetic nature of the story, what keeps me from leaping up and down with excitement is the ending. Scanlon kinda blows it here. Up until this point she had assumed some intelligence on the part of the reader, never over-explaining or beating the reader over the head with her message. She inexplicably switches tactics, however, after the line, “All the world is you and me.” In spelling out, “Everything you hear, smell, see/All the world is everything/Everything is you and me,” Scanlon dumbs down her text, simplifiying an otherwise intricate story. A common mistake in children’s literature, unfortunately.

Overall, a beautiful book, and with illustrations that nearly make up for the flawed ending. Worth reading.

Other reviews:

100 Scope Notes

Did I miss your review?  Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

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The Lion & the Mouse won! My students were so excited they actually started cheering when I told them! I’m completely thrilled, too. I cannot think of a single book more deserving of this award. Congratulations, Jerry Pinkney.

The ALSC selected two Honor books this year: All the World (illustrated by Marla Frazee) and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski). I haven’t read either one of them, but I’ve already requested them from the library so my students and I can discuss them!

Check out the ALA’s website for reviews of these books, as well as links to the other awards announced today (like the Newbery). I haven’t read any of this year’s Newbery winners, but they’re going on the to-read list, of course!

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