Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Happy 80th to Ms. Vera B. Williams! (A Few Days Late)

I just discovered today that my husband and Vera Williams share a birthday, January 28th. Vera Williams is an author I share with my students because of the way her works share the plight of everyday working people. We are saddened when Rosa's house burns in A Chair for My Mother, but rejoice with the family when the tip money her mother saves is enough to buy a chair that everyone will enjoy. Rosa returns in Something Special for Me, when she is allowed to use the earnings in the money jar to buy anything she wants for her birthday. However, instead of a gift only she can enjoy, Rosa selects something that everyone can share in. In the final book featuring Rosa, Music, Music for Everyone, Rosa and her friends play in a band to raise money for her grandmother's medical care.

Ms. Williams has won numerous awards for her work, including:
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for A Chair for My Mother (1983 - picture book)
  • Caldecott honor for A Chair for My Mother (1983)
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award honor for Music, Music for Everyone (1985)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book honor for Cherries and Cherry Pits (1987 - picture book)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book honor for Stringbean's Trip to the Shining Sea (1988 - picture book)
  • Caldecott honor for "More More More," Said the Baby (1991)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Scooter (1994 - fiction)
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award honor for Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart (2002)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book honor for Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart (2002 - fiction and poetry)
In addition to her wonderful works, I simply love this quote from an interview she gave in CBC magazine:
"But a book is not only words and pictures. It's a whole little world. The chosen proportions—covers, endpapers, decorations, pacing, and font (perhaps hand lettering as in More More Said the Baby), even spine and flaps—are all expressive of the particular story and its creator, who is in turn costume designer, psychologist, mayor, city planner, garden and house designer, sociologist, world changer. . . ."
You can learn more about Vera Williams at these sites:
Happy birthday, Ms. Williams!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Books to Count On

We have just begun to talk about number sense and counting in my Foundations of Math Instruction class. While children first learn to count by manipulating real objects such as blocks, cars, buttons, marbles, etc., the move to counting pictures in books allows students to make the transition from the concrete to a visual representation.

There are many terrific books out there for developing counting skills. Be sure to look for books that not only count up, but count down, skip count, and develop general number sense by looking at different representations for any particular number. This is also a great place to include literature that represents diverse perspectives. Here are a few of my favorites.

1 Hunter by Pat Hutchins - Children will enjoy following the unobservant hunter and predicting what animals will appear next. A good book for counting up and back.

Anno's Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno - This wordless picture book counts to 12, with each picture spread representing a month of the year. Also included is the written numeral and representation of each number with counting blocks.

Can You Count Ten Toes? Count to 10 in 10 Different Languages by Lezlie Evans - Though not a counting book in the traditional sense (children aren't counting individual objects), children who have mastered the counting sequence in English will enjoy learning to count to 10 in other languages.

Emeka's Gift by Ifeoma Onyefulu - On the way to visit his grandmother, Emeka sees people and objects from 2 to 10. This book features photographs taken in a Nigerian village, and includes with each spread, a description of the importance of objects and/or scene.

Feast For Ten by Cathryn Falwell - The numbers one through ten are used to show an African-American family shopping for food and later preparing the meal.

Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh - Illustrated in cut-paper collage, this book counts up to 10 and down again as a hungry snake tries to eat a group of sleepy mice.

One is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers by Roseanne Thong - This counting book introduces aspects of traditional Chinese culture in bouncy verse.

Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale retold by Ruby Dee - When leopard decides the way to determine his replacement is with a contest to see who can count to 10 before a thrown spear hits the ground, it is the smartest, not the strongest animal that wins, by finding a different way to count to 10.

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss - This is a Caldecott honor book with beautiful illustrations and graceful language. Not only does the book count from one to ten, but presents names for groups, such as duo, trio, quartet, quintet, etc.

And finally, here are two books that must be read together! A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson and My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman. Here are excerpts from each:
"ONE tick, TWO fleas, THREE flies (Oh my!),/ FOUR slugs (Ew, ugh!) in the belly of the frog/ on a half-sunk log/ in the middle of the bog."

"My little sister ate 3 ants./ She even ate their underpants./ She ate 2 snakes. She ate 1 hare./ We thought she'd throw up then and there./ But she didn't."
Get the connection?! There is great fun for all in these two delightfully gross counting books.

There are many great resources for finding additional books. Don't miss the article from Book Links entitled Picture Books + Math = Fun. Also check out this list of books for counting to ten.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Poetry Friday - First Time

Okay, I'm finally getting into the Friday poetry swing of things. Here are three offerings.

#1 - Did you know that my life began with poetry? I was adopted and it happened that, although my parents had been waiting a long time for a baby, the call came unexpectedly and afforded them almost no time to prepare. Since my brother and sister were nearly 9 and 10, baby things were long gone. Here is the poem lovely Marion (my surrogate grandmother) inscribed in each and every shower invitation.
We're gonna' have a shower
(No don't go gettin' mad)
'Cause when you find out who it's for
It's sure to make you glad

We've got a brand new baby
At least they have next door
A tiny little sister
For Sue and Jimmy Stohr

Of course this child is chosen
How lucky can she be
To be so loved and wanted
As little Patricia Marie
#2 - I was a published poet at the ripe old age of 7. Here is my contribution to the Times-Union's version of the Mini-Page, called Young World.
Clouds turn black
weather turns cool
Clouds start to cry
in the big swimming pool
#3 - Because I LOVE both science and the work of Jon Scieszka, here's an excerpt from Science Verse and the page entitled "Why Scientists Don't Write Nursery Rhymes."
Mary Had a . . .
Mary had a little worm
She thought it was a chigger.
But everything that Mary ate,
Only made it bigger.

It came with her to school one day,
And gave the kids a fright,
Especially when the teacher said,
"Now that's a parasite."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thank You, Grace Lin (or Why Multicultural Books Matter)

I taught a class last summer called Choosing and Using Children’s Literature Across the Curriculum. While we focused most of our efforts on choosing books to augment the teaching of math, science and social studies, we spent a fair amount of time discussing and reflecting on the need to include books in the curriculum that help students develop understanding of other cultures. I know, this is where I lose people. In fact, there are those who have argued vehemently that this should absolutely not be a criterion by which we select and evaluate books. But alas, for me, this is so important. Classrooms today just don't look the way they did 30 years ago (or 10 years ago), so the books we select shouldn't look the same either.

Let's look at some figures from Virginia. The most recent LEP (Limited English Proficient) data includes this information:
  • Since 1996, the number of LEP students in Fairfax County alone (outside D.C.) has TRIPLED from 10,000 to 30,000 students.
  • In the 05-06 academic year, the number of LEP students enrolled in Virginia public schools was 78,216. This year (06-07), the number of enrolled LEP students is 86,392.
Our schools are changing, and to meet the needs of all students, shouldn't we use materials that reflect the experiences of ALL students? Imagine what school would be like if you never found yourself reflected in the curriculum in any way? What must that be like?

When I graduated from high school there were fewer than 10 African-American students in my class of 375, and probably fewer Asian-American. Were it not for my 9th grade social studies instructor, I never would have studied the countries of Asia and Africa. I exchanged letters with a Japanese penpal (the old fashioned kind you know, on very thin paper with cool air-mail stamps and envelopes), learned about making and flying kites, counted in Swahili, and did so many other cool things that I can attribute my love of learning about other countries, cultures and people to Mr. Lind and this class. All positive notes aside, I had to wait until high school to learn these things, and if I were from another race or culture, I would have spent my entire school career until this point reading and learning only about white Americans. How do we ever teach children to develop cross-cultural understanding if we don't start when they are very young? As I said, I grew up in different times, and boy, have times changed.

One of my favorite books to use for studying topics in science and social studies related to the world population is If the World Were a Village by David Smith. Since 6.3 billion is a difficult number to understand, the author scales important world statistics down to a village of 100. Using this smaller number allows us to see how the world's peoples, religions, and resources are then distributed. Here are some things students learn:
  • If the whole world were a village of 100 people, 61 would come from Asia, 13 from Africa, 12 from Europe, 8 from South America, Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean, 5 from Canada and the United States, and 1 from Oceania (an area that includes Australia, New Zealand and the islands in the south, west, and central Pacific.
  • In the global village there are almost 6000 languages, but more than half of the people speak these 8 languages - 22 speak a Chinese dialect (of these people, 18 speak the Mandarin dialect), 9 speak English, 8 speak Hindi, 7 speak Spanish, 4 speak Arabic, 4 speak Bengali, 3 speak Portuguese, and 3 speak Russian.
  • In the village of 100 people, 32 are Christians, 19 are Muslims, 13 are Hindus, 12 practice shamanism, animism and other folk religions, 6 are Buddhists, 2 belong to other global religions (such as Baha’i faith, Confucianism, Shintoism, Sikhism or Jainism, 1 is Jewish, and 15 are non-religious.
I could go on here, but these figures stand for themselves. Do we really need any other reasons to think about our teaching in a more global context? This is why multicultural children's books matter.

I am inarticulate when it comes to discussing these matters, so I'll let someone far more talented explain why this is so important. Thank you, Grace Lin, for saying this so eloquently. Please read Why Couldn't Snow White Be Chinese? for a strong argument for helping children from all walks of life find themselves in books.

Monday, January 22, 2007

ALA Announces Winners

The winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards were announced this morning.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year's winner is Flotsam by David Weisner.
This book was one of William's Christmas gifts and we love it. Each time we read it, we find something new and exciting in the illustrations. I'm a huge fan of wordless picture books, largely for the opportunities they present children to be storytellers.

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year's winner is The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.

Honor books in each category include:
  • Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans
  • Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Carole Boston Weatherford

  • Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Dreaming of China

    I recently submitted my application to participate in the 2007 Faculty Seminar to China, Tibet and Taiwan. The Faculty Seminar Abroad has been in existence since 1989 and has taken place 13 times. Seminar groups have gone to the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Peoples’ Republic of China, Ghana, Senegal, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Ecuador, India, Vietnam and Thailand, Turkey and Cyprus. In these countries, the groups met with academic counterparts, political and business figures, journalists and people ‘on the street’. They visited universities and important cultural sites.

    I have been dreaming of China ever since the announcement. In fact, during a fall semester road trip, I told a colleague I would give my two front teeth to travel to China and India in the next few years. I am so excited about this opportunity that I could bust! My interest at this point is largely related to the following second grade Standards of Learning in history and social science:
    • The student will explain how the contributions of ancient China and Egypt have influenced the present world in terms of architecture, inventions, the calendar, and written language.

    • The student will develop map skills by
      • locating China and Egypt on world maps;
      • comparing the climate, land, and plant life of these regions;
      • describing how people in these regions adapt to their environment.
    I address the study of China and Egypt as well as ancient Greece, Rome and Mali in my Integrated Curriculum Methods course, though it really is just a cursory glance. I am hoping to develop a more thorough approach for the study of China if my application for the trip is accepted.

    To this end, I have been thinking about ways to engage young children in the study of China, and think that folk tales are a good place to start. I read Tikki Tikki Tembo many times as a child, and read it often now with my son. We even listen to it on my iPod some evenings before bed! I have also been reading the stories in The Rainbow People by Lawrence Yep.

    My own fascination with China was kindled when I began teaching and read Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz to my students. I found it fairly romantic that she spent her childhood in China, even if you knew otherwise from the very first page of the book. Here is an excerpt:
    In my father's study there was a large globe with all the countries of the world running around it. I could put my finger on the exact spot where I was and had been ever since I was born. And I was on the wrong side of the globe. I was in China in a city named Hankow, a dot on a crooked line that seemd to break the country right in two. The line was really the Yangtse River, but who would know by looking at a map what the Yangtse River really was?
    While the SOLs limit study to written language, inventions and architecture in China, I think that the economics standards on barter and trade would lend themselves to an integrated study of the Silk Road. I am quite taken with the newest Russell Freedman book, The Adventures of Marco Polo. I also love the travel books written by Laurie Krebs and think We're Riding on a Caravan: An Adventure on the Silk Road is a wonderful choice.

    Finally, I have found and become enamored of the books written and/or illustrated by Grace Lin. I love using the book Kite Flying to introduce kites, and absolutely adore her illustrations in One Year in Beijing, and use it to look at daily life in China while examining its rich cultural history.

    I'm sure there are many more good books about China. I have several nonfiction pieces in my teaching library, but would like to find more stories for kids, folktales and perhaps some young adult works. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way!

    Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    As my mother would say, I'm a day late and a dollar short. Yesterday was the first day of classes and one in which the University community engaged in a fitting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some things are simply worth truncating the class schedule for, and this was one of them. That said, this should have been posted yesterday, so forgive my delinquency. Even though the day of tribute has passed, February is Black History Month, so this book list won't go unused. Here are some of my favorites.

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Sunday In NYC

    I have just returned from a fabulous visit with my sister in NJ. On Sunday we took the Park-N-Ride into the Port Authority and spent a glorious day walking through midtown. Here are some of the sites we took in.
  • Grand Central Terminal and the fantastic market inside.
  • Skaters on The Pond in Bryant Park
  • Just around the corner, Patience and Fortitude
  • The tree at Rockefeller Center (though it was looking like it was very much ready to come down!)
  • Many wonderful shops like The Met Store, Kate's Paperie, and the granddaddy of them all, Tiffany and Co..
  • Time Warner Center where we ventured into a few Shops at Columbus Circle and ate at the Whole Foods Market.

    We walked everywhere, enjoyed the sunshine and each other's company, and had an altogether fantastic day.

    Did I mention I bought a book while on this little trek? Surprised, aren't you?! Of course, it was for William. (He DOES have a birthday coming up, you know!) I am a big fan of Barefoot Books, so I purchased The Barefoot Book of Pirates, a compilation of pirate stories from around the world with an accompanying CD. I could have done so much more, but no one wants to carry THAT many shopping bags on the streets of NYC.

    It's been so long since I went into the city, I was surprised how much has changed, particularly Times Square. I am just busting to get to Darwin at the American Museum of Natural History before it leaves in August. Perhaps I'll get back sooner than I think!
  • Celebrating Lynne Cherry and Betsy Maestro

    I took a break before the start of the spring semester and headed north on the 5th. I returned to Richmond late last night (much later than expected thanks to airplane woes) and am now just catching up. Here are two important birthdays I missed while away.

    January 5
    Both Lynne Cherry and Betsy Maestro were born on this day. Betsy Maestro has written many nonfiction books that are illustrated by her husband. I find her works to be ones I constantly refer my students to, particularly Why Do Leaves Change Color?, The Story of the Statue of Liberty and A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution.

    Lynne Cherry is also an author I use in my classes and environmental education workshops. I highly recommend the Meyer (2002) article Accuracy and Bias in Children’s Environmental Literature: A Look at Lynne Cherry’s Books, found in the The Social Studies, 93(6), 277-281 as a place to begin conversation about the value of these books. Books I use include:
    Hats off and happy birthday to both of these fine authors.

    Bodacious Book Title Contest

    Run on over to Lisa Yee's blog and check out her Bodacious Book Title Contest. Here are the rules:
    1. Think of a title from a children's/middle grade/young adult book.
    2. Change the FIRST LETTER of ONE of the words to make it into a whole new title.
    3. Then add a sentence describing the new book.

    Here are my entries:
    Original Title: Duck for President
    New Title: Puck for President
    Summary: Upon escaping from the pages of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck finds himself in a land ruled by a ridiculous republican leader and, convinced he can do better, decides to run for President.

    Original Title: Curious George
    New Title: Furious George
    Summary: Captured by a man in a yellow hat and spirited away to New York, the monkey escapes, climbs tall buildings, and swats at flying machines.

    Original Title: Heat
    New Title: Seat
    Summary: A little league all star pitcher "loses the strike zone" and finds the only position left for him to play is bench-warmer.

    If my particularly uncreative brain can do it, you can too, so click on over!

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    Celebrating Carl Sandburg

    Carl Sandburg was born on this day in 1878. In honor of his birthday, here is one poem of his that I simply adore. I find myself reciting it when I cannot sleep.
    Thousands of sheep, soft-footed, black-nosed sheep--
    one by one going up the hill and over the fence--one by
    one four-footed pattering up and over--one by one wiggling
    their stub tails as they take the short jump and go
    over--one by one silently unless for the multitudinous
    drumming of their hoofs as they move on and go over--
    thousands and thousands of them in the grey haze of
    evening just after sundown--one by one slanting in a
    long line to pass over the hill--

    I am the slow, long-legged Sleepyman and I love you
    sheep in Persia, California, Argentine, Australia, or
    Spain--you are the thoughts that help me when I, the
    Sleepyman, lay my hands on the eyelids of the children
    of the world at eight o'clock every night--you thousands
    and thousands of sheep in a procession of dusk making
    an endless multitudinous drumming on the hills with
    your hoofs.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Happy Birthday to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor!

    The author of the 1992 Newbery winner Shiloh is celebrating a birthday today. I found these incredible stats about her work on the Simon & Schuster web site!
    • Books written: over 125
    • Stories & articles written: about 2,000
    • Number of rejection slips from publishers: 10,443
      Wow! Now let that be a lesson to all you aspiring writers out there. Even outstanding writers get rejected. Take heart and keep on writing.
    To learn more about this terrific author, visit the sites below.
    Finally, if you will be teaching Shiloh this year, here are some resources that may help.
    Thank you Ms. Naylor for Shiloh and all your other wonderful creations. Happy Birthday!

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    J.R.R. Tolkien Born on This Day

    Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on this day in 1892. I read The Hobbit for the first time in middle school (late 70s) and followed with the three books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion. I re-read the books in the trilogy when the movies came out, but it's The Hobbit that I still revisit nearly every year and love so much.

    On Book Awards and Wading Through the Mire

    I was purchasing a few books for William at amazon.com this morning when I noticed that one of the books I selected, I Dream of Trains was listed as a Golden Kite Award Winner. HUH? After a bit of quick searching, I learned that the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. Books written by members of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators are eligible, with more than 1,000 books entered each year. You can view past winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and picture book illustration.

    I am not trained in library science, nor am I an expert in reading. My PhD and MEd are both in science education. But from my first years in the classroom, particularly middle school, I found that keeping adolescents interested in science was easiest to do when they were engaged in activities AND reading interesting stuff. We subscribed to the Tuesday NY Times so they could read the science section. I had a huge classroom library of science and math books for them to read. They were actually interested in a wide range of topics when they had material beyond the textbook to inspire them. The March issue of Science and Children was always my favorite because of its review of outstanding books for science. You can check out this product of the collaboration between the NSTA and CBC at Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. Each year I purchase print copies of this publication for the students in my Integrated Curriculum Methods class. They also get copies of Notable Trade Books for Young People, a collaboration between the NCSS and CBC. These are both terrific sources for new books.

    I am overwhelmed by the number of "lists" out there relating to good books. They're almost impossible to keep up with. I have subscriptions to Booklinks and The Horn Book Magazine, two publications I use in my search for good books for the classroom. The Horn Book web site has a series of annotated reading lists of recommended books for children and young adults. The National Education Association has a list of Teachers' Top 100 Books, but is came out in 1999, is missing many great new books, and has some questionable inclusions (at least from my point of view). Random House has published a list of the 100 best novels, while Time Magazine lists the All-Time 100 Novels. Phew! See what I mean? Just too many lists to keep up with and this small collection doesn't even scratch the surface.

    I once thought it was easier to build my collection by looking to award winners, but there are so many darned awards it's hard to know which ones to select. Here is a list of awards that I currently use in my book selection process:
  • ALA Newbery Medal
  • ALA Caldecott Medal
  • The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
  • NCTE Orbus Pictus Nonfiction Award
  • Coretta Scott King Award
  • Pura Belpré Award
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award
  • Carter G. Woodson Award
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
  • New York Times Best Illustrated Books
  • The Green Earth Book Award
  • Eva L. Gordon Award

    I suppose now I'll need to add the Golden Kite Award to the list. For those of you more knowledgeable in these matters, please let me know if I have missed something.
  • Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    On Cover Art, Book Jackets and The Flappies

    I've thought a lot recently about why I buy and read the books I do. I hate to say that I judge a book by it's cover, but alas, I do. It's what attracts me to a book once I am intrigued by a title. Check out this very interesting array of responses at The Longstockings to the question: What makes a good book jacket?

    Here is a case in point. One of the Cybils finalists for middle grades fiction is Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce. I must admit that I was not particularly excited about the cover at Amazon.com, but was thrilled by the UK version and find it much more intriguing.

    In her post-Xmas entry (December 29) entitled A Spring 2007 Round-Up, Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production reviews a stack of spring 2007 publishers titles and adds her own thoughts about cover art. Check out the links to some of the new books with great cover art. And while your at it, be sure to read the Golden Fuse Awards, with such treats as best and worst covers of the year, most misleading covers, best villain of the year, etc.

    Finally, let me mention the Flappies. The Longstockings have an open call for nominations for the best flap copy of 2006. (In case you're wondering, The Longstockings are a group of New York City writers (8 of them) dedicated to writing and reading great books for children and teens.) You have until January 15th, so get nominating!

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    One More List

    Since my reading tends to favor fantasy these days, check out this terrific list of Cybils nominations for the fantasy and science fiction category.

    Happy reading!

    Dreaming of Harry

    Okay, I'll admit to being in Harry Potter withdrawl since finishing book 6. (Keep in mind that it was released in July, 2005!) I did go to a midnight extravaganza (and dragged a friend with me) to get my book "early." We received our books at 1:15 am and once I arrived home, I promptly began to read. I'll admit to never getting out of my pajamas that Saturday, and since I'm not a particularly fast reader, did not finish that day due to the need to do laundry, cook meals and attend to the needs of a then four year old. I came home from 8:30 mass on Sunday, made breakfast, and then curled up in the chair with admonitions of "Don't bother me until I finish!" to husband and son. My husband came in to find my crying through the end of the book and simply shook his head at me. Yes, I cried when Dumbledore died.

    As every good Potter fan does these days, I ruminate on this event and discuss book 7 with anyone who will listen. I have just found a treasure that will allow me to continue to think more on these issues. It is the book, Who Killed Albus Dumbledore?: What Really Happened in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? Ah, the joys of one-click!

    The Cybils Shortlist

    A group of dedicated bloggers have been hard at work on The Cybils, a loose acronym for Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards. Since the close of nominations on November 20 they have winnowed down a very large list of books in eight categories to a series of top fives. To learn how the Cybils started, read the press release. Then check out the annotated list of finalists. Here is the list of finalists in each of the eight categories, with the items I have read in bold.

    Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Ptolemy’s Gate written by Jonathan Stroud
    Okay, I LOVE the books in the Bartimaeus triology. This is a terrific end to the series.
  • Silver City by Cliff McNish
  • Beka Cooper: Terrier written by Tamora Pierce
    Beka Cooper is a terrific heroine.
  • The Last Dragon written by Silvana de Mari
  • Pucker written by Melanie Gideon

    Graphic Novels
    Ages 12 and under

  • Amelia Rules, vol. 3: Superheroes by Jimmy Gownley
  • Babymouse: Beach Babe by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm
  • The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann Martin, Rina Telgemeier
  • Kat and Mouse by Alex De Campi; pictures by Federica Manfredi
  • To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Siegel and Mark Siegl

    Ages 13 and up
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
  • Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
  • Dramacon Vol. 2 by Svetlana Chmakova
  • Flight Vol. 3 by Kazu Kibuishi & others
  • La Perdida by Jessica Abel

    Okay, so even though I talk with my students at length about the benefits of graphic novels as a part of the curriculum, particularly for reluctant readers, these just aren't books I pick up to read. Note to self - investigate graphic novels this year.

    Middle Grade Fiction
  • A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Heat by Mike Lupica
  • Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller
  • Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

    Non-fiction (Middle Grade and YA)
  • Escape! by Sid Fleischman
  • Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman
    You can hand me a book by Russell Freedman any day!
  • Immersed in Verse by Alan Wolf
  • Isaac Newton written by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Boris Kulikov
  • Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

    Young Adult Fiction
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    I just finished this and found it hard to put down.
  • A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

    Fiction Picture Books
  • Emily’s Balloon - Written and illustrated by Komako Sakai
  • Learning to Fly - Written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
  • Scaredy Squirrel - Melanie Watt
  • Waiting for Gregory - Written by Kimberly Willis Holt; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
  • Wolves - Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett

    Non-fiction Picture Book
  • 3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet - written and illustrated by Bob Raczka
  • Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account Of The 1938 War Of The Worlds Radio Broadcast - written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
    Fabulous illustrations and a great retelling of this event.
  • An Egg Is Quiet - written by Dianna Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long
  • An Island Grows - written by Lola M. Schaefer; illustrated by Cathie Felstead
    A terrific book for earth science!
  • Little Lost Bat - written by Sandra Markle; illustrated by Alan Marks

  • Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow - written by Joyce Sidman; illustrated by Beth Krommes
  • Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich - written and illustrated by Adam Rex
  • Handsprings - written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
    I haven't read this, but as somone who's read Zoo's Who and Insectlopedia, I'll be sure to check this one out.
  • Jazz written by Walter Dean Myers; illustrated by Christopher Myers
    A wonderful piece by father and son that celebrates this American artform.
  • Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art
    written by Diane Siebert; illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson

    Overall, 484 books were nominated to produce this list of 45 finalists. I have only begun to skim the surface of this shortlist, so I'd better get cracking. I will be guiding an independent study this semester with a student who wants to become a school librarian. Any guesses as to what she'll be reading?!

    Thanks to all the Cybils panelists for this fab selection of books.