PA Young Reader’s Choice Award by Nadine Poper

Please welcome picture book author and elementary school librarian Nadine Poper to Frog on a Blog!

Nadine serves on the committee for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award. She’s stopped by today to share a bit about this special award, sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, that allows the students to vote for their favorite books.

PA Young Reader’s Choice Award (sponsored by PSLA)

By Nadine Poper-committee member

The students of Pennsylvania are gearing up to vote in their very own book award, the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award (PYRCA). There are 4 lists created each year by 24 PA school librarians, grades K-3, 3-6, 6-8, and YA. Each list has 15 books on which students can vote for their favorite, one per list. The book with the most votes from each list is the winner. The votes are cast by the students of Pennsylvania. 

The lists are carefully balanced to include all genres: picture books, poetry, chapter books, middle grade, biographies, and nonfiction, as well as a variety of topics and characters that will appeal to both boys and girls and that celebrate various cultures. 

Students will place their votes by March 15, and the winning books are revealed at the annual Pennsylvania School Librarians (PSLA) Conference. Winning authors from the previous year often attend the awards breakfast at the conference to receive their recognition. 

School libraries across the Commonwealth participate by purchasing the books for their collections, sharing the book talks, book trailers, and lesson ideas with their students.  The book talks and lesson ideas are created by the committee members so that teachers and librarians have resources at their fingertips. 

One lesson idea, for example, that I incorporate with my elementary students involves students taking on the roles of animals in the ocean and demonstrating the break down in the food chain as discussed in If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams. 

My students enjoy participating each year because it is a book award where their voice matters. I do a big Caldecott and Newbery award unit also, which we have so much fun with as well. However, the kids know that those awards are chosen by adults, where as the PA Young Reader’s Choice Award is all about what they like the most. 

Here’s a small sampling of titles to be voted on this year:

For more information and to see a complete list of all 2018-2019 books, visit the PYRCA website here.

Most states have their own children’s book awards. Click here for the current list in your state. 

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Nadine Poper is an elementary school librarian for an urban PA school district, a mom to 3 amazing young men, a wiener dog owner, and foster mom for homeless dachshunds. 

She uses the proceeds from her dachshund picture books to help support dachshund rescue. As a school librarian, Nadine serves on the committee for the PA Young Reader’s Choice Award. Nadine’s traditionally published debut picture book PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET will be released June 2019 by Blue Whale Press.

Her second picture book, RANDALL AND RANDALL, will be released Fall 2019.  Visit her at www.nadinepoper.weebly.com.

Calling All SCBWI Members

Are you a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)? If so, have you voted yet for your favorite children’s book? Round One voting ends tomorrow for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards, so if you haven’t voted yet, now’s the time. It’s easy!

Head on over to www.scbwi.org, log in to your account, scroll down to the bottom of the left-hand sidebar, and click on “Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards”. All the fabulous books from your SCBWI regional division will display, and then you can vote for your favorite.

The Crystal Kite Award is an annual peer-given award that recognizes children’s books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world:

US Divisions
· California, Hawaii
· West (Washington, Northern Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)
· Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico)
· Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio)
· New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)
· New York
· Texas, Oklahoma
· Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)
· Mid-South (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)
· Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)
 
International Divisions
· UK, Ireland
· Middle East, India, Asia
· Canada
· Australia, New Zealand
· Other International

Want more information before you vote? Click Here!

Caldecott Quick Thoughts 2016

In this annual post, I share my thoughts on the Caldecott medal winner and honor books.

If you are as intrigued by the selection process as I am, you may be interested in the following link that I originally posted back in 2011:

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottcomm/caldecottcommittee.cfm.

Everything you ever wanted to know and more about the Caldecott medal and the awards process can be found there at the American Library Association’s extremely comprehensive site.

Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

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  • Opening line: “Could you tell me a story?” asked Cole.
  • This story within a story tells the true tale of the real bear who inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Period photographs are waiting to be discovered in an “album” at the back of the book. Especially interesting is a diary entry that states: “Bought bear $20.”, recorded on August 24, 1914.
  • The book is a combination of three different times in history: The start of WWI in 1914, Christopher Robin’s friendship with Winnie at the London Zoo in 1925, and present day. I like how the story comes full circle in two ways. At the beginning, we have Cole asking his mother to tell him a story about a bear. And the book ends with Cole and his mother. Also, we discover that Cole was named for his great-great grandfather Captain Harry Colebourn, the young soldier who rescued Winnie from a trapper on a train platform so many years before.
  • The Chinese ink and watercolor illustrations, a mix of vivid and muted tones, bring the story to life, especially the early 1900’s. 
  • Final word: Fascinating.

Four Caldecott Honor Books were also chosen:

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  • Opening lines: Where y’at? Where y’at? We have our own way of living down here in New Orleans, and our own way of talking, too. And that’s what we like to say when we want to tell a friend hello.
  • This autobiographical picture book is overflowing with charisma. It’s written by Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Troy Andrews, Trombone Shorty himself. It’s all about his life as a young boy, growing up surrounded by music in New Orleans, and it’s about how music permeated deep into his soul.
  • I adore the photographs in the back of the book of Troy as a little boy playing the trombone, which was bigger than he was.
  • The pen and ink, watercolor, and collage illustrations are extraordinary–full of vibrancy and life. It’s easy to see why this book was chosen for a Caldecott honor.
  • Final word: Uplifting.

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  • Opening lines: CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps. The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt and dripped down his nose.
  • This is a beautiful story about a boy and his grandmother. The boy is full of questions and his grandmother always has the right answers. She helps him to see the beauty in what surrounds him and appreciate all that he has. There’s a lesson for children here, but it’s so very subtle.
  • The illustrations, done in acrylic and collage, are bright and dynamic.
  • Final word: Lovely.

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  • Opening line: (Sunflower County, Mississippi) Minister Malcolm X once called me the country’s number one freedom-fighting woman.
  • This emotional biography is all about the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, the youngest of twenty children born to sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta in 1917. She would grow up to be a hero of the civil rights movement. 
  • The story is told in first person, which allows the reader to be carried along with Fannie and experience her joys and hardships. The subject matter is serious and doesn’t leave out the harsh realities of life for African American citizens from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. Fannie’s story is in many ways heartbreaking, but it’s also inspiring because we see Fannie pick herself up time and again and continue to fight for what she believes in. 
  • The collage illustrations are powerful–stirring up the emotions invoked by the text. They’re the perfect complement.
  • Final word: Inspiring.

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  • Opening lines: There were five of them. And they were waiting…
  • Children will love the concept here: Five figurines standing on a window sill, waiting patiently for something special. Most people have a few figurines in their homes. Children often collect them, and play with them. When I was a kid, I collected owls and deer. What child wouldn’t love it if their miniature figures came to life?
  • Kevin Henkes use of the window as a frame for many of the scenes is ingenious. He has created an ever-changing backdrop for the little characters.
  • The book is colorful, yet soft. The illustrations were rendered in brown ink, watercolor, and colored pencil, and are lively, fun, and sweet.
  • Final word: Whimsical.

 

Caldecott Quick Thoughts 2015

In this annual post, I share my thoughts on the Caldecott medal winner and honor books.

If you are as intrigued by the selection process as I am, you may be interested in the following link that I originally posted back in 2011:

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottcomm/caldecottcommittee.cfm. Everything you ever wanted to know and more about the Caldecott medal and the awards process can be found there at the American Library Association’s extremely comprehensive site.

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Congratulations to Dan Santat! His book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Little, Brown and Company) is the recipient of this year’s Caldecott medal. This book proves the power of the imagination, not just because author/illustrator Dan Santat used his awesome imagination to write and illustrate it, but also because main character Beekle is imagination. He’s an imaginary friend who does extraordinary things. Instead of waiting to be imagined by a real child who will be his friend, he embarks upon a quest to find a child. And even though his travels take him far away from the island of imaginary friends, and he must face a scary, new world, he succeeds in the end. Good job Beekle!

Six, that’s right, six honor books were chosen! Looks like the Caldecott committee had an extra difficult time choosing this year.

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Nana In The City (Clarion Books) by author/illustrator Lauren Castillo has a beautiful, quiet strength, both in story and illustration. The mix of vibrant and muted watercolors perfectly depict life in a bustling city, as well as a special relationship between a boy and his grandmother. I like how Nana helps her young grandson to feel brave by fashioning him a super hero cape, and how she helps him to appreciate the sights and sounds of the city.

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One of three honor books this year that feature famous people, The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art (Alfred A. Knopf) is an interesting look at the life of abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky. Through Barb Rosenstock’s descriptive text and Mary Grandpre’s dazzling, full-page illustrations, we get a window view into what it was like to be a boy growing up with a condition called synesthesia. According to the author’s note, “In people with synesthesia, one sense triggers a different sense, allowing them, for example, to hear colors, see music, taste words, or smell numbers.” Fascinating!

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Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s book Sam & Dave Dig A Hole (Candlewick Press) is just so much fun! Designed primarily with deceptively simple text on one side and “earthy” illustrations on the other, this book stars two young boys, friends or perhaps brothers, who decide to dig a hole, and they won’t stop digging until they find something “spectacular”. But every time they get close, they decide to change directions, completely missing each successively larger gem. I totally understand why kids love this book. They are in on a secret. They know the gems are there even though our main characters do not. I can picture a classroom of children during story time pointing, yelling, and laughing, and having a great time listening to this story.

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Viva Frida (Roaring Brook Press) by Yuyi Morales is lovely. I feel as if Beekle must have edged Frida out by the narrowest of margins for the medal. This book is about well-known Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The super-colorful mixed media illustrations are gorgeous. I especially like the spread that shows a closeup of Frida’s face, along with her monkey and dog friends, peering into a chest. What wonders will she find in there? The text is quite sparse, yet surprisingly, by the end of the book, I felt like I learned a lot about this creative spirit, Frida (in less than 35 words!). But for those who want to learn more, there’s an author’s note in the back.

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I don’t talk a lot about nonfiction picture books on my blog, but that may change in the near future thanks to books like The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Eerdmans Books) by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. Jen and Melissa have presented a book about the life of Peter Roget, and they did so in a manner that feels very story-like and engaging, both in interesting text and eye-catching illustration. This is the kind of book that children will learn from without even realizing they are learning, because it will capture their attention from beginning to end.

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This One Summer (First Second) by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki caught me off guard. It’s not a picture book in the traditional sense, that’s because it’s a graphic novel. Although I do occasionally read manga, I’m truly not up on what constitutes a good graphic novel. Based on the art alone, I can see that it’s nicely rendered in black ink with great details and shading. But as I read through the story, though well-written, it struck me as being for an older audience than the other books on the Caldecott list. Despite my vague thoughts on this one, I’m glad that graphic novels are being considered for prestigious awards such as the Caldecott and that they are getting the recognition they deserve. Any and all books that get kids to read are winners!