Monday, November 19, 2012

A Kiss Means I Love You by Allen

A Kiss Means I Love You 
written by Katheryn Madeline Allen
photographs by Eric Futran

What it's about:
Kids "say" many things without words using facial expressions and gestures.

What I love:
Babies and young ones love pictures of faces, and Eric Futran has illustrated each facial expression and gesture in this book with fabulous photographs of kids. These are pictures that young ones will pour over again and again.
The variety of the kids and parents represented in the photos is wonderful allowing many families to see themselves represented in this book along with providing a window to the rich diversity of our world.

The rhyming text has a lovely rhythm for reading aloud over and over and over again (as tends to happen with books for young ones).

A kiss means I love you,
a wave means hello,
a smile means I’m happy,
a tug means let’s go!

This is a well done concept book that is destined to become a classic baby gift. I wouldn't be surprised to see it in board book format in the future.

More information about A Kiss Means I Love You at

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1963

1963 Medal Winner: 
The Snowy Day 
by Ezra Jack Keats

What it's about:
Young Peter spends the day playing in the snow.

What I like:
What is there to say about The Snowy Day... the committee certainly got it right for 1963.

1963 Honor Books:

Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
illustrated by Maurice Sendak 
written by Charlotte Zolotow

What it's about:
Mr. Rabbit helps a young girl find a present for her mother's birthday.

What I like:
This is a subtle book about colors. The girl is looking for presents that connect to colors her mother likes: red, yellow, green and blue. Mr. Rabbit gives all sorts ideas of gifts that fit with the colors - fire engines, lakes and sapphires. Each time they settle on a fruit that fits that color resulting in a fruit basket for a present. I like that it is not a true "color book" with blocks of obvious color. The story has clever moments with some repeated lines that are nice for reading aloud.

The Sun is a Golden Earring
illustrated by Bernarda Bryson
written byNatalia M. Belting

What it's about:
Throughout history humans from around the world have had poetic explanations for why the sun, moon, stars, lightning, and thunder are the way they are.

What I like:
The page layouts are simple, with only one or two folk sayings for each double page spread.
The pencil sketch style drawings are enhanced by changing background colors for the entire page. This is the first I have seen this technique in a Caldecott book so far.
I also appreciated that Belting differentiated between American Indian tribes (Navajo & Chippewa)

Challenge total: 118

Caldecott Cat from The Sun is a Golden Earring

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1962

1962 Medal Winner: 
Once a Mouse 
retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown

What it's about: A magical hermit saves the life of a mouse, and continues to turn it into a larger and larger animal.

What I like:
I love woodcuts as an art form, and Marcia Brown does an amazing job conveying emotion with the faces and body language of her characters through very chunky style woodcut illustrations.

1962 Honor Books:
Fox Went out on a Chilly Night: An Old Song 
by Peter Spier 

What it's about: Fox indeed goes out on a chilly night, and steals a duck and a goose from a farm to feed his family.

What I like:
This was a title that was not readily available from my library system. I had to make a visit to a special permanent collection. I'm glad I made the trip. Spier's pictures are so detailed. They are like a snapshot in time of life in the late 1800s. I love thinking about the research he must have done to accurately draw all the period farming equipment. And I found myself fascinated by an adjustable candle stand he drew in the farm house.

Little Bear's Visit
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
written by Else H. Minarik

What it's about: Little Bear visits his grandparents house where both his grandmother and grandfather tell him a story.

What I like:
I love this volume of Little Bear! I love the grandparents, and I love the storytelling. There is the sheer wonder of hearing a story about one of your own parents when they were young when Grandmother Bear tells Little Bear the story of his own mother and a robin. Also the illustrations are delightful. Sendak captures postures and facial expressions both human and somehow still a bit bear-like in the characters. I always wonder though why it is that little bear is the only one who doesn't wear any clothing. Hmmm.

The Day We Saw the Sun Come Up
illustrated by Adrienne Adams 
written by Alice E. Goudey

What it's about: A brother and sister wake early to see the sunrise and observe the sun and their shadows all day until sunset.

What I like:
If I were teaching a primary science unit on night and day and the rotation of the earth. I would pull out this book. It reads like a story of kids and their curiosity about the world around them, but it also has a great hands on example in the end easily recreated in the classroom using an apple, stick pins and a flashlight to demonstrate the sun and the earth.

Challenge total: 115
More Caldecott Cats
Top row: Once a Mouse
Middle Row: The Day We Saw the Sun Come Up
Bottom left: Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night
Bottom Right: Once a Mouse

Monday, October 1, 2012

Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale

Big Bad Ironclad!
from Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales
by Nathan Hale

What it's about:
The race between the North and the South during the Civil War to develop an ironclad warship and all the battles along the way.

What I loved:
1. A Lovable cast of narrators (the spy Nathan Hale, the Provost, and the Hangman) who keep popping in to add commentary on the story

2. Clever ways (through both the art and writing) to help the reader keep all the historical characters straight.

3. Action - my young readers will love that Nathan Hale left out all the boring bits!

4. Shout outs to librarians, research and bibliographies

5. Lots of Humor, as well as multiple references to underwater toilets.

This book grabbed me from the first frame with its goofy hangman character who loves Children's Story Hour - all the way to the back matter where author Nathan Hale admits to outsourcing his research for the book to adorable babies.

More information about Big Bad Ironclad!, the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, and the 1828 Election Throwdown Showdown webcomic on Hale's Website:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1961

1961 Medal Winner: 
Baboushka and the Three Kings
illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov
written by Ruth Robbins 

What it's about: 
Baboushka tries to follow three kings who are following a star to the birthplace of the Child.

What I like:
The illustration style is very unique. It is simple and bold with lots of straight lines that create Mondrian like blocks of color on some pages. I also like the treatment of text on the pages. The text is larger, and instead of paragraphs, spaces are filled with a stylized asterisk.

Side note:
Baboushka and the Three Kings is a Christmas story that has many parallels to the Italian story of La Befana. The book says it is based on a Russian folktale, but it seems this tale was the creation of an American author, Edith Thomas, and not from any Russian tradition.

1961 Honor Book:

Inch by Inch 
by Leo Lionni

What it's about: 
To avoid being eaten by birds, a smart little inchworm shares its talent for measuring.

What I like: 
(Excuse me while I gush a bit) The illustrations and stories of Leo Lionni feel classic and modern at the same time. His use of line and white space on the pages is masterful. This simple collage style may not seem innovative today, but in looking at all of the Caldecott medal and honor book from 1938-1961, it is the first of it's kind - truly distinguished. The accompanying story is distilled to a minimal number of perfectly selected words. His bio in the back of the edition I read calls him "the master of the simple fable." Inch by Inch is a prime example why that title is so fitting.
I would have selected Inch by Inch for the medal in 1961 without hesitation.

Challenge total: 111

Another Caldecott Cat:
from Baboushka and the Three Kings 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1960

1960 Medal Winner: 
Nine Days to Christmas
illustrated by Marie Hall Ets
written by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida 

What it's about:
Young Cici is excited to have a special piƱata for her first posada.

What I like:
I really enjoyed Cici's excitement about getting to experience something she has been looking forward to for the first time. I love the pops of bright orange, yellow and pink on the pencil sketch style illustrations. Not only does it draw the eye to certain parts of the illustrations, but those particular colors highlight the traditional fabrics and clothing worn in the story.
I also really liked the magical feeling at the end of the story.

1961 Honor Books:

Houses from the Sea
illustrated by Adrienne Adams
written by Alice E. Goudey

What it's about:
Information about different types of shells is communicated through the story of a shell collecting beach visit.

What I like:
This is an accessible book for young students looking for introductory information about shells. I love the detailed drawings of shells with washed out colors echoing the feeling of being washed up on a beach. The feeling of the story and the illustrations reminded me a lot of the novel Junonia by Kevin Henkes.

The Moon Jumpers 
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
written by Janice May Udry
we're not children, we're the Moon Jumpers!

What it's about:
It's a warm summer night, and four children play outside their house in the moonlight.

What I like:
Pages alternate between lush, color double page spreads and pages with smaller black and white illustrations. Had I been on the committee, this would have been my pick for the winner.
I love the little boy who reminds me of a future Max, and how the children use their imaginations to enjoy the night.
My favorite line: "we climb a tree just to be in a tree at night"

Challenge Total: 109

More Cats of Caldecott:

top left: Nine Days to Christmas,
top right & bottom left:
Moon Jumpers,
bottom right:
Houses from the Sea

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1959

1959 Medal Winner:

Chanticleer and the Fox 
by Barbara Cooney 
text adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

What it's about:
The beautiful and renowned crower, Chanticleer, is tricked by a fox and saves himself from being eaten by tricking Him back

What I like:
If you happen to be teaching about Chaucer to young ones, this book is a must.
Chanticleer is a trickster tale with two clear morals (don't blindly accept flattery, and learn to "hold your tongue").

When I read this aloud to the Bud (my 6 yr old), he loved the fox character and the foreshadowing of the dream, but asked a lot of questions like "what is 'prithee'?"

There are only 6 colors in the illustrations, but they still draw you in. Different visual weights of the same color feel like a larger variety of colors on the page.

1959 Honor Books:

by Taro Yashima

What it's about:
Momo gets rubber boots and an umbrella for her 3rd birthday and can't wait for a rainy day when she will finally be able to use them.

What I like:
This is a very realistic tale about being excited about something and having to wait.
I love the way the illustrations of Momo so clearly capture the body language of a young girl.
The Umbrella is a simple family tale about how people who love you tell you things about your own childhood that you were too young to remember.

What Do You Say, Dear? 
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
written by Sesyle Joslin 

What it's about:
Simple every day manners are appropriate even in outlandish situations.

What I like:
I LOVE when funny books get acknowledged with awards. This is a goofy book. I like to imagine kids around the time of publication totally enjoying the absurd situations and wanting to read it again and again.

The House that Jack Built: La Maison Que Jacques A Batie 
by Antonio Frasconi

What it's about:
This is the classic cumulative tale of the House That Jack Built told in English and French side by side on each page.

What I like:
This is the first bilingual book with two languages appearing side-by-side for the entire story that I have encountered in the Caldecotts (please correct me if I am misremembering).
I'm a sucker for woodcuts, so I love the illustration style.
Psst... another Caldecott Cat!

Challenge total: 106

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm Bored by Black and Ohi

written by Michael Ian Black  
Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

What it's about:
A girl tries to prove to a potato that kids art NOT boring.

What I love:
I absolutely love the illustrations in I'm Bored!

The simple drawings of the girl and potato on a white background convey an awesome variety of facial expressions and emotions.


I also love how artfully the illustrations communicate the girl is using her imagination.

And, it's just plain funny. 
The kind of funny that got as many chuckles from my 1st graders as my 6th graders.

Only problem... the reenacting!
Some teachers are getting confused by the students now walking up to me saying "I'm Bored!"
My response, "Hey, there's a Flamingo!"

Don't miss the adorable I'm Bored Music Video:

I'm Bored Music Video (inspired by the new picture book from Simon & Schuster BFYR) from debsanderrol on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thank you, Metronet!

In June I attended the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.
I was very fortunate to have a scholarship from Metronet to help me attend.

If you are a librarian in Minnesota in the Metro area, chances are your library is a Metronet member, and you too could get a scholarship to participate in something fabulous.

Dearest Metronet,
Three things I loved about attending ALA Annual 2012:

1. Authors and Illustrators
My time at ALA was filled with amazing authors and illustrators.

I met so many wonderful authors and illustrators while exploring the vendor exhibits.

ALA 12 author collage
Jon Scieszka, R.J. Palacio, Katherine Applegate, Dan Santat

There were also many award events celebrating amazing authors and illustrators.

Newbery/Caldecott Banquet:

Newbery / Caldecott Banquet
Arriving at the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet

Newbery Award winner Jack Gantos (photo by Travis Jonker)

Coretta Scott King Award Breakfast:

Shane Evans at the CSK Breakfast
Shane Evans CSK Illustrator Award Winner singing a musical connection to his book Underground

Odyssey Award Presentation (for the best audiobook produced for children or young adults):

Odyssey awards

One of my favorite moments of the conference was when Kirby Heyborne, narrator of the Odyssey Award winning audiobook Rotters, pulled out a guitar and sang to librarians.

2. Inspiration, new ideas & strategies from fabulous sessions

I loved the AASL track of sessions for the conference. It was inspiring to hear my peers from around the country share the amazing things that have done with libraries and kids. I am excited to bring back so many ideas to my own school and community.

Apps session @ ALA
Session: There's an App for That: Using Technology to Enhance Children's Librarianship

3. Networking with my PLN in REAL LIFE!

A PLN is a Professional Learning Network. I have connected with many school librarians and teachers through Twitter and blogs. At ALA I was able to connect with them in person. Meeting face to face strengthened and deepened those relationships that provide me with constant support and inspiration.

#MGmeetup @ ALA
Teachers and Librarians in my PLN with author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier
at the #MGmeetup sponsored by Walden Pond Press
At the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet
with librarians Jennifer Reed & John Schumacher and Author Sharon Creech

Thank you, Metronet, for helping me attend ALA 2012!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Caldecott Challenge 1958

At the Public Library in Cerritos, CA reading the 1958 Caldecott winner Time of Wonder

1958 Medal Winner: 
Time of Wonder 
by Robert McCloskey

1958 Honor Books:

Fly High, Fly Low 
by Don Freeman

Anatole and the Cat 
illustrated by Paul Galdone
written by Eve Titus

Caldecott Challenge Current Total: 102