News from Here and There

A few links from around the blogosphere that you might be interested in:

  • Betsy Bird was awesome enough to film the ALA Awards live.  Want to see what it’s like to be in the room when the awards are announced? Check out Part One of her videos.  I know I plan to show the Newbery and Sibert portions to my students later this week.
  • If you are anything like me then you are trying to find a way to teach your students how to do research without copying sentences word-for-word from any old website. I.N.K. has a great idea for teaching students how to research and I can’t wait to tweak it for use in my own classroom.
  • The Reading Countess asks, “What would our classrooms be like if we didn’t have standardized testing mandated by NCLB?”
  • Donalyn Miller, aka The Book Whisperer, shares an email she recently sent to her student’s parents about the importance of completing at-home independent reading.  She says so eloquently what I always want to say.  Just because there is not written work with independent reading each night does not mean it’s optional or less important than any other homework!
  • Be sure to check out the latest edition of the Children’s Literacy Round-up at The Reading Tub!

2010 Newbery Award Winners


2010 Newbery Honors:

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

And the 2010 Newbery Medal goes to………… Rebecca Stead for When You Reach Me!!!!!!!!!

This year I read 3 of the 5 award winners, including the medal winner.  My kids chose When You Reach Me as their mock Newbery winner.  I am so excited for Rebecca Stead, who is such a sweetheart.

The awards were interesting this year, because @randomhousekids tweeted a congratulations to to When You Reach Me before the award was announced, breaking the embargo.  Imagine if a dark horse won and the book was exposed early?!  I have a feeling this won’t bode well for Random House at next year’s awards….

Some other winners that I read this year…..

A complete list of the winners can be found at the ALA website.

My ALA Awards Hopes and Dreams!

Right now, there are authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and other book people getting ready to go to bed (or already sleeping) and completely unaware that they will receive a life-changing phone call in just a few hours.  The Newbery Committee has made its selections, the press release has been drafted, and at 7:45am the awards will be announced.

Yesterday I posted the books that my four Language Arts classes chose as their Newbery Medal and Honor books.  Tonight I am posting my own hopes for the 2010 Newbery Medal and Honor books.  I’m not going specify which books should win which awards….I am just hoping that many of these books garner a shiny medal tomorrow morning!



When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Love, Aubrey Suzanne LaFleur

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton



I’ve never made a guess about the Printz Award before, but I read a lot of YA this year, so I figured I’d take a stab.  I would love to hear one of these announced as a winner tomorrow:

Fire (Graceling) by Kristin Cashore

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor




And I read so few picture books, but why not make some wild guesses for the Caldecott?  Once, I was able to say I read both the Newbery and Caldecott before they were chosen.  That was only because The Invention of Hugo Cabret won and it was not a traditional picture book! But here are some of my absolute favorites from this year:

Bella & Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Love Story (Amiri And Odette) by Walter Dean Myers

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy



And here is one of my favorites for the Sibert Award:

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann



Don’t forget to watch the live webcast from ALA at 7:45am tomorrow morning! I won’t be with my students, as we are off for MLK, Jr. Day so I will be tweeting with other kidlit bloggers, bright and early!

Our Mock Newbery Results!

On Friday my four Language Arts classes voted for their mock Newbery awards.  Each class voted for the book (chosen from our 4 read alouds this year) that they think most deserves the Newbery Medal.  I added up each classes votes and determined the Medal winner and one Honor book for each class (the top two vote-getters).  Then, I added up each book’s total votes from the day and determined a team winner and honor book (from my four classes).  Without further ado……

Mock Newbery Results


Overall Newbery Medal- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 1:

Newbery Medal–  All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Honor- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Period 3:

Newbery Medal–  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 7:

Newbery Medal–  Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 8:

Newbery Medal- Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

HonorWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Some comments from my students as they cast their vote….

“I think When You Reach Me should win because it was a great book….it shows what it feels like to have a best friend and have them leave you.  This book is showing that you might feel bad about someone and in the end you might not know exactly what they put on you and how you changed.”

“I think When You Reach Me should win because it’s an amazing, mind-boggling book that you need to listen carefully to and it’s just an enjoyable book.  I could even see what was going on in my head as it was being read to me.”

Anything But Typical– I think this should win because it gives life lessons and explains what kids with autism are going though.”

All The Broken Pieces should win the Newbery Medal because it was very descriptive and it made me want to keep reading.”

All The Broken Pieces should win because I felt like I was there with the characters and experiencing the events with them.”

There were also write-in votes for Being Nikki (Airhead, Book 2) by Meg Cabot, Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino, Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins, Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal.

Teachable Moments Mean Dropping Plans

This morning I decided to toss my plans for the day to the side and completely revamp our day.  Instead of spending the day working on persuasive entries in our writer’s notebooks and how to take notes from nonfiction, I printed out two news articles about the earthquake in Haiti, pulled up this slideshow from the NY Times on the smartBoard, and printed out the one-pager from the NY Times.

As a class, we located Haiti on Google maps, read the article together, and discussed what the students had been hearing/seeing on the news and in the papers.  The whole lesson was eye-opening for them, and they were stunned by the photos of the devastation.  They asked what we could do to help and are spending the weekend brainstorming ideas as part of their Article of the Week activities.  Next Friday we will come together again and settle on a way for our team and school to hopefully make a difference.

Were my lesson plans important?  Of course.  Was it more important to seize upon the devastation happening and Haiti and open my students’s eyes to the tragedy?  Absolutely,  As teachers, we need to be ready to change our plans at the lsat minute.  We need to grab teachable moments and broaden our students’s world views.  We need to teach them to be global citizens.

Lauren Kate Guest Blog and Blog Tour

Two authors, two days!  Today we welcome Lauren Kate, the author of Fallen. I’m about halfway through reading the book right now and I can’t put it down. I have all of these pesky essays to grade and I find myself wishing I could just sit back and finish Fallen! Not to mention, I have a pack of girls haunting me to finish the book and pass it on to them. A few girls picked it up from my desk, read the flap copy, and demanded I finish it immediately so they could read it.  You can look forward to a review in the near future.

But for today, please welcome Lauren Kate!

****The Unroyal We****

I was in the midst of some long overdue holiday shopping when I got one of the most exciting text messages of my life: Fallen was debuting at number five on the New York Times Bestseller List. I dropped the overpriced tin of mint chocolate-covered marshmallows I was considering buying for my brother and bolted out of Williams Sonoma. I had to tell everyone I knew. Immediately!

I called my husband, my parents, my mother-in-law, my best friend—and every time I relayed the good news, I found myself saying the same thing. We made the list. We’re number five. Not “I,” not even “Fallen,” always “we.” I didn’t feel right saying anything else.

It has always baffled and half-charmed me the way Queen Victoria referred to herself as a plural entity: “We are not amused.” “We thought it best to arrest him.” Mark Twain once said “only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we.'”

I’m no king and I don’t have a tapeworm, but I feel the need to add myself—or at least my writer self—to this list. Because the day I got that message from my agent, it became clear to me that any celebratory feelings related to the book must include every single person who had a hand in getting Fallen onto the shelves.

People have asked me recently how it feels to publish a book, and what the most surprising thing about the experience has been. And I can navigate away from saying how humbling the experience has been. I never imagined that half the things that have happened surrounding Fallen would have happened—and sometimes I feel like I had very little to do with it. I mean that in the best sense possible. I mean, all I did was write the thing.

But I have a brilliant editor-agent team who helps me rein some things in and tease other things out. And a design department at Random House and the artist who created the breathtakingly gorgeous jacket—which made all the difference in the world. I have a family that supports me, a husband who eggs me on and makes me laugh. I have endlessly resourceful publicists who put me places where I get to interact with readers. That’s the best part. Real-live readers at the end of the tunnel. Every one of these people make up my Unroyal We.

Writing is such a solitary act—and to me that’s the hardest part about it. Working steadily for months and months on a draft of a book leaves me brain-numb and socially inept. I have a hard time forming sentences with my mouth after a day of writing them with my computer. My favorite, favorite part of writing is finishing a manuscript, coming out of the cocoon, and re-entering the world.

There are three more books in the Fallen series left to write (and hopefully many more books after that), and before “we” go back into the tunnel to write the next book, Torment, it’s great to have glimpsed what’s waiting—for us all—on the other side.

Be sure to follow Lauren Kate on the rest of her blog tour.  Tomorrow she will be making a stop at The Children’s Book Review.

Blog Tour for Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Please welcome Alexandra Bullen, author of Wish, to the blog!  Alexandra is in the midst of a blog tour to promote her debut novel, which I loved.  (Check out my review).  Alexandra has held a lot of jobs and I immediately noticed the list in her author bio on the back flap.  I asked her to share with us how those many (and varied!) jobs have influenced her writing.  I know that my students tend to think that authors sit down, write a book, get it published, become famous, and never work a regular job.  They think you have to “do something big” to get inspiration for writing.  Bullen proves that wrong in today’s post!

(Be sure to stay tuned at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed copy of Wish, courtesy of Scholastic!)

**********Alexandra Bullen, author of Wish**********

Part time jobs are a writer’s best friend. At least, this writer thinks so. Over the years I’ve done all kinds of different things, none more or less exciting than the jobs that everybody works in college, or over the summer, or when they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives. I’ve worked in restaurants and bakeries, I’ve sold furniture,clothes and antiques, I’ve taught yoga, I’ve reviewed film scripts and answered phones.

Some days, I was good at it. Most days, I was a nightmare. But every day, I was a writer.  Even during the months when I was working two or three jobs at a time—gardening during the day, waitressing at night, teaching yoga on the weekends—and not ever writing a word. I was learning things that I could never learn in front of my computer, or in a writing workshop.

Some of the things I’ve learned have helped me to be a better writer. Now, when I’m writing a story that takes place in the spring and I’m trying to set the scene, I know which flowers are blooming, which plants are seasonal and how they smell. I know what the earth feels like in April, how the leaves are buried under layers of frozen dirt and sometimes pieces of recycled trash, hidden in the compost.

Some of the things I’ve learned have helped me to be a better and more functional human being. As a waitress, I learned math. I’m not kidding. It was the first time in my life that I ever really needed it. I learned to multi-task, and prioritize—things that come in handy now when I’m trying to do things like pay my bills or organize my day. I also learned how not to be a jerk to your waitress; probably the most important life lesson of them all.

But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned working countless part-time jobs is the fact that not once did I ever wish any of them turned into something more. I never wanted to “move up.” I was always perfectly content knowing that even if I was burning my hand on the espresso machine six hours every day, I was a writer, too.  And as long as I had something to go home to, some project to work on, some imagined deadline to meet, it didn’t matter how anybody else defined me.

Writer, human, mediocre waitress.

(I guess something’s always gotta give…)

Interested in reading Wish?  Scholastic has generously donated a SIGNED copy of the book for one lucky winner!  Leave a comment by Friday at midnight to be entered in the giveaway.  The winner will be chosen at random and you will need to submit your address to me, to pass on to Scholastic.  (All entrants must be older than 13!)

Check out Alex’s next stop on her blog tour  at Luxury Reading on January 14, where she’ll be doing a guest post about San Francisco (where Wish takes place).