Saturday, March 3, 2012

Aren't you hosting a Caldecott Challenge?

Yes, I am co-hosting a Caldecott Challenge to read all the Caldecott medal and honor books.
So far I have read all the titles from 1938-1949.

After that (around the beginning of February) I had some sort of reading challenge breakdown, and I fell into a challenge reading rut.
I couldn't bring myself to open the next title on my challenge list.

Part of what happened reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit from 1990 called "The Gross Out Family".

In the skit, a family is sitting down to dinner and the dad (Tom Hanks) tries some milk, realizes it is spoiled and then the rest of the family proceeds to say things like "Oh, let me try... belch, you are right that IS rancid!"

"How old is that milk, it is really bad!"

"You aren't kidding!"

"Let me try.... Whoa, baby!"

"Here let me try...Whoa that's bad!"

It goes on with smelling bad fish, feeling Chris Farley's sweaty stomach, sitting on a nail and finally ends with the family members each throwing themselves down the stairs.
(If you have Hulu plus, you can watch the whole SNL episode here.)

There have been a few #nerdcott conversation threads on twitter that have felt like we've been "passing the milk".
"This was meant for kids?"
"These books really make me appreciate today's picture books so much more!"
"They're just soooo wordy!"

Ok... I'm not really trying to say that the 1940s Caldecott medal and honor books are like drinking rancid milk - there have been some gems in the mix that have truly stood out, but for the most part they did require a different kind of reading energy than the titles I have been reading during my recent "challenge break down" phase.

These recent reads have been helping me to build up my reading mojo again.
I needed them.

I needed to read and get lost in a story.
I needed to fall in love with characters.
I needed to feel that crazy excitement at having just read my "new favorite book."
I needed to remember why I love reading.

So I had a Challenge break down and read...

The Mighty Miss Malone

The One and Only Ivan


Anna Hibiscus and No. 1 Car Spotter

A Long Walk to Water

The Fault in Our Stars


If there is an opposite of rancid milk, these books are it!
With these awesome reads that fed my soul I think I have almost built up my Challenge stamina again and should be ready with a Caldecott book stack for the 1950s very soon.

Thank you for hanging with me through this challenge breakdown, and thanks to the challenge participants who have been blogging and tweeting through my rut. Your posts have been boosting my strength and luring me back.

Click on the links below to see fabulous Caldecott Challenge posts from...

A to Z Library (my wonderful co-host)

Story Time Secrets

Not For Lunch

Picture Book A Day

Gathering Books


  1. I hear you on the rut! And those are some great rut busting books! I still have to check out some of those. Mine in the last week has been The Lions of Little Rock; it meets all that criteria (which I was craving, too!) you were looking for. Now I'm reading Ivan with my oldest daughter. Having those "this is why I read" books will be a great way to balance out the tough challenge books. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I have been hearing great things about The Lions of Little Rock - I will need to get my hands on a copy.

  2. It is difficult reading in those early decades of the award winners (shudder). There were so few books published in those years; it was a very much more innocent time and what went for amazing illustration is, well, to our eyes and sensibilities, a little puke-lacious. If it's any consolation I feel your pain. As much as I loved my time on Newbery committee many years ago, I could not pick up a teen or chapter book for a solid year because I had been so overwhelmed! I feel your pain and think taking time to enjoy some truly awesome stuff will definitely revive your drive for the challenge!

    1. I found it funny that I didn't turn to current picture books, but chapter books. It makes sense in a way. What year were you on the Newbery committee?

  3. I have been in a rut too with my Caldecott Challenge. Thanks for posting. I read many of these books on your list the past few weeks as well, just taking a break from the picture books. But it is nice to know I'm not the only one a bit overwhelmed with the Caldecott Challenge. And I don't have a reason being that I'm doing them backwards. I promise to get back on track this weekend.

  4. Thanks for the shout-out! Truly appreciate it. I just discovered this now. I have posted another review for the Caldecott Challenge. Will tweet. :)