Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Newbery Medal and Honors

A book that I loved but didn’t think it had a chance, Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo was awarded the Newbery Medal. I couldn’t resist a superhero squirrel who writes poetry and I guess, neither could the committee.


The Honors went to Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

The Year of Billy Miller 

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

One Came Home

and Paperboy by Vince Vawter


Congratulations! I have some reading to do! The Year of Billy Miller is terrific.

2014 Caldecott Medal and Honors

Hooray! Hooray!  Locomotive by Brian Floca took the Caldecott Medal for 2014. It just happens to be my favorite picture book of 2013.


Honors were awarded to Journey by Aaron Becker


Flora and the Flamingo  by Molly Idle

Flora and the Flamingo

and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner.

Mr Wuffles

One thing that is interesting to me is that all of the illustrators are also the authors of the stories. In Brian Floca’s case, that includes a written story but just because the other three books are wordless, it doesn’t mean that they don’t tell a story. Aaron Becker has a video on his website about the creation of his book Journey. Congratulations to all!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More Caldecott Contenders

No one really know what books the Caldecott committee is considering. It is all speculation. Some of the books we have looked at this year keep popping up on mock Caldecott lists. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is one of my favorites. I’ve used it often with the students I tutor and they like it too (especially the questions and exclamations). Another one frequently on the lists is On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers has gotten a fair share of attention. As I have mentioned before, Locomotive by Brian Floca is my favorite. Again, we’ll see what the committee picks on Monday morning.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Matchbox Diary

My grandmother had a china cabinet and buffet filled with, what to my young eyes, were treasures. Each of those treasures had a story, I made her tell me those stories over and over. I learned a lot about my grandparents, but also about my mother’s huge extended family. So I was primed from an early age to love The Matchbox Diary by Peter Fleischman and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

A young girl is visiting her great-grandfather. Like my grandmother, the great-grandfather has a room filled with treasures, his favorite is a cigar box containing with little matchboxes or as he explains it to his great-granddaughter, his diary. Each box contains an item which brings back a memory and a story about his life. On one side of the page we see the matchbox and its contents and the facing page is a scene from the great-grandfather’s life. Born in Italy, where sometimes there was not enough to eat is represented by an olive pit. Something his mother gave him to suck on when he was hungry and there was not enough to eat. In another box was a picture of his father who had gone to America in search of a better life. Other boxes contain items like a bottle cap that detail his voyage with his mother and sister to America to join his father. The story goes continues with datelines from newspapers from all over the country as the family traveled to find work. After a time, the family settles down and the boy can go to school and trains to be a printer and to eventually own a bookshop. Perhaps this book will inspire a reader to ask questions about an older relative’s life.

The Matchbox Diary

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies of The Matchbox Diary. The AR level is 2.8.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Journey is Aaron Becker’s first book. A former concept designer for movie studios,  Aaron Becker decided to do what he had been thinking about for a very long time: create a children’s book. There are no words in Journey but the story is rich and detailed. Our protagonist has no name. Everyone in her house is busy (in ways, that I fear, are all to common in 21st century households). She is bored. Looking around her room, she spies a red marker, picks it up and draws a red door on her bedroom wall. Marker in hand, she opens the door and enters a fantasy world. She comes to a stream and uses her red marker to draw herself a boat. It carries her into a medieval city with elevated waterways. To save herself from going over a waterfall, she draws herself a hot air balloon. Her flight takes her to a flying ship and danger. Will she be able to find her way home and perhaps find a friend at the end of her journey?

The detailed artwork is done in pen and ink and watercolor. My best guess is that this book has the best chance to be the Caldecott medal winner. We’ll see on January 27th.


The Sonoma County Library has several copies of Journey

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Dark

Last year, the Caldecott committee bestowed lots of love on Jon Klassen. He won the medal for This Is Not My Hat and an honor for Extra Yarn. Will the committee love him that much this year? The pairing of Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) and Jon Klassen seems to be a match made in heaven. The story, written by Lemony Snicket is about Laszlo, a boy who is afraid of the dark. Klassen is known for his use of light and shadow and a limited color pallet that fits a story about learning not to fear the dark.

Even though Laszlo is afraid of the dark, the dark is not afraid of Laszlo. When the dark comes to Laszlo’s bedroom, he helps the boy find a source of light and learn not to be afraid. The author takes a moment out from the story to explain the usefulness of the dark. The story has helped one of my grandchildren to ease her fears about being in the dark. Others may enjoy the suspense of the story, the ending will be a surprise to some kids.The Dark

The Sonoma County Library has many copies of The Dark. The AR level is 3.1.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

This morning, I voted in Horn Book’s mock Caldecott. The American Library Association will be announcing the Caldecott, Newbery and Giesel Awards on January 27th. It is fun to anticipate what books are up for consideration and which ones may win an award or honor. I don’t mind telling you that my first place vote went to Brian Floca’s Locomotive. Another big contender is Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Peter Brown is the illustrator of one of my favorite picture books of 2012, Creepy Carrots. It  won a 2013 Caldecott Honor.

Mr. Tiger is bored with his proper Edwardian life. He wants to loosen up, have fun and dare I say it…be wild. He starts walking on all fours, that feels good. Every day he becomes a little wilder until one he sheds his proper Edwardian garb. His friends suggests that if he wants to act wild he should go  live in the wilderness and so he does. He becomes completely wild. But soon, Mr. Tiger is lonely. He misses his friends and his home, so he returns to find that things are beginning to change. Mr. Tiger is free to be himself and so is everyone else.

Mr Tiger Goes Wild

Under the paper cover is a beautiful textured Tiger skin cover. Since the Caldecott is really all about the artwork, that alone should catch the attention of the committee.

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies of Mr Tiger Goes Wild.