Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

The “after” of our Mock Caldecott has been just as rich as the reading, voting and analysis process. It is with much joy that I continue to celebrate here.

This will be a celebration mostly revealed through tweets and images.

After our voting, of course we had to share.

And sharing led to an amazing experience – an opportunity to Skype with Aaron Becker!

Students were beyond excited as we were serious, serious fans.

We visited Aaron’s website and watched videos and book trailers about his books. Students prepared questions and began art projects. I shared them all with Aaron!

The morning of our Skype call began like this:

Many students arrived very early (“So we won’t even be a little bit late!”) They invited others (siblings, students from other classes) into our room to explore Aaron’s books. One determined boy in Grade 6 showed up at ten after 9 announcing that he would be spending the morning with us to meet Aaron Becker. “I am going to be a librarian, I can’t miss this opportunity,” he explained. How can you say no to that? 🙂

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

These girls came in an hour early and got started on Aaron Becker art.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

We pulled our room apart to set up chairs for the Skype.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Trying out various seats.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

I don’t think I can possibly capture how incredible the Skype experience was for my students. We had various questions prepared but we didn’t need them – Aaron somehow managed to just have a conversation with us. He was curious about where the students and their families were from and we shared that many of us (or our parents) are from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Korea. Aaron wanted to know about the languages students spoke. He shared stories of his art, his travels and his process. He told us about what he is currently working on and shared more stories from the trilogy. He held a room full of children (and adults) absolutely spellbound.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Maybe this exchange will sum it all up:

A few hours after the Skype this happened-

J: “Ms. Gelson, thank you.”

Me: “For what?”

J: “For reading us Journey and Quest and Return. If you didn’t read them to us, then we wouldn’t have loved them and then you wouldn’t have told Aaron Becker that we loved them. So he wouldn’t have wanted to Skype with us. And . . . well that was one of the best things of my life.”

Me: speechless, mushy mess

After the Skype, we took all of that excitement and pulled out our books and found a place to read.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

But the buzz of all things Aaron Becker continued throughout the day.

Aaron Becker’s response was very special. He wrote: “Imagination is strong” in Tagalog. My students from the Philippines were so touched!

In the afternoon, students reflected on the Skype experience. Here are some highlights:

  • I was surprised to see Aaron Becker’s room and how big his printer is! I wish that I could be an author and have a room like that!
  • I can’t believe he told us the back story of the King. Wow, we are so lucky.
  • I like when he told us secrets from the books and showed us cool maps.
  • I love how his books make us think so much. I learned about the girl’s feelings and how Aaron Becker showed her loneliness. He told us that it’s our time to use our imagination because we are special at our age.
  • There are surprises in all of the books. Now I want to study them more. I love his stories that he told us.
  • He was pretty smart to make a model of the book Journey so the publishers would know how great that book is!
  • Aaron Becker told us that we have a lot of imagination at this age because we are not at the age for all of the boring responsibilities. This made us feel really special.
  • Seeing Aaron Becker was very amazing. It’s not everyday that you get to Skype with an author or illustrator like him. I will never forget it!

We then decided that we should continue to celebrate all of these books we love so much. We got to work on persuasive letters to the Caldecott Committee either congratulating them for their choices or suggesting that maybe they missed a special book.

The fan art was pretty stupendous!

Return art has been everywhere!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And then there are the persuasive letters!

Advocating for A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Return championing:

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Have our books got a rest on the shelves now that all of the hoopla is over?

Hardly!

These students have reread Giant Squid countless times!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Before school this little K insists his older brother bring him into our classroom so he can look at his favourite books (Journey, Quest and Return) again. “I love these books forever,” he told me yesterday.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And Aaron Becker – as promised we have some baby name suggestions from a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds in Vancouver, Canada who wish you and your family the very, very best: Violet, Paige, Sky, Florence, Grace, Ida, Cleo, Blossom, Ira, Odessa, Penelope, Alexa, Jacklyn, Jade, Lilly, Gigi and (no surprise) this came up a lot: “Could they name her Journey?”

Next week we have student led conferences and our Mock Caldecott experience will feature big. I can’t wait to watch students share their learning and experiences with their families.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Mock Caldecott 2017

This year is Year 3 for me of doing a Mock Caldecott unit with my class. Every year I have worked with a different grade. I taught a Grade 3 & 4 class in 2014/2015, a Grade 2 & 3 class in 2015/2016 and this year I have a Grade 4 & 5 class. So each year I have had to switch things up a little bit. Tomorrow we begin our unit and will be deep in reading and discussion for the next 2 weeks. On January 23rd, the actual Caldecott awards (honor and medal) will be announced!

mock-caldecott-2017

I read a LOT of picture books each year and start selecting Mock Caldecott possibilities early on. In making this list, I do pay attention to Caldecott buzz but I also think about a few other things in compiling the ideal list for my students. I try to choose a collection of titles where there will be some nonfiction as well as fiction. I want the stories we share to be entertaining and inspiring. I want students to encounter illustration styles they might not have seen before. I hope that we will continue to be able to talk about genre – so this list contains a fantasy story, a biography, narrative nonfiction, poetry and a wordless book. First, yes, I have to have been impressed by the illustrations but I usually narrow a list of 20  plus titles down to 10 to 12 so I can also think of these other things in making my choices.

I am very excited about this list of twelve titles on our Mock Caldecott 2017 list.

Listed alphabetically by illustrator.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem

Return by Aaron Becker

Return

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

adas-violin

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

The Night Gardener

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

the-sound-of-silence

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

Maybe Something Beautiful

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

giant-squid

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

the-princess-and-the-warrior-a-tale-of-two-volcanoes

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

the-storyteller-by-evan-turk

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

they-all-saw-a-cat

In thinking about how I would do this unit with an older class, I was thrilled to come across Jess Lif‘s blog post about her Mock Caldecott unit. Jess is one of the most inspirational, insightful and generous educators I know. The work Jess did with her students is helping me think about how I am going to work with my students this year in terms of discussion, analysis and the voting aspects of the unit.

For the first few days we will be talking all things Caldecott and exploring some of the previous winners. Within a few days, we will be diving headfirst into all of these books! Can’t wait! Stay tuned!

 

 

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season

I love to book shop all year round. In the winter holiday season, I love to insist everyone else should partake. Making a picture book list to give is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014.  Last year I bumped the list to 25 (2015). And this number seems to be the sweet spot. There are lots of books to love! It is a joy to recommend many of my favourites of the year!

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Which books make the list? There are some things I think about. Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh?

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said. Well, except to point out that the illustrations are especially swoon worthy.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

I think this picture book has shades of pure perfection within it. A spotlight on the ridiculous “must be” wedding planning that occurs when love should just prevail. And please note, this is love for love’s sake. Not love that fits in any cookie cutter mold. How I adore this book.

WormLoves Worm

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Return by Aaron Becker

The third book in a trilogy (give the entire collection!). I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in Journey and Quest. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.

Return

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

I echo what so many others say – oh, if this book had only existed when my children were small. It has so much going on! Each page is full of details and yet a very lovely story of one family unfolds throughout. Spend ages on each page.

the-airport-book

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

This is such an inspiring book based on actual events in San Diego – how a neighborhood can be changed and strengthened by art. Illustrator Rafael López is more than the illustrator here – he is the inspiration for the character of the muralist.

Maybe Something Beautiful

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This book is very funny. Very, very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

When this book was first published, someone said it was my kind of book. It is most definitely my kind of book. I think it might also be your kind of book. Gently perfect.

The Knowing Book

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

This is just a wow title. It has so much of what I love in a picture book – some surprises, a intergenerational connection, a sense of wonder, lots of creativity . . . Divine.

The Night Gardener Monday April 11th, 2016

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

This book is so well done. Talking about the story is giving away the story. So I’ll just say this: clever, really funny, perfect read aloud to inspire much conversation about how to look at life.

Barnacle is Bored Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

This book is just incredibly beautiful in its simplicity – the search for silence. One to share and share again. The illustrations are captivating.

the-sound-of-silence

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved.

nobody-likes-a-goblin

Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce just might be my favourite grump. Lots of giggles here.

hotel-bruce2

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Oh Flora, you sure can move. And this time with not one, but two, dancing partners. Stunning all around!

Flora and the Peacocks Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Like many, I eagerly anticipated this title. Klassen is so unique. I love the subtle things here. The hints. The suggestions. The not neatly wrapped up ending. The room for readers to do some work.

We Found a Hat

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

This is a tender book about friendship and loss. Allows for conversations about preparing for a death and carrying on. A very special (fictional) story based on a real connection between two bears in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Ida, Always Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Finding Wild written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Where can you find wild? What is wild to you? Why do we need wild? How is wild beautiful and dangerous all at the same time. Just so full of wow.

Finding Wild Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Listzs by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (coming in October)

Quirky with gorgeous illustrations and prompts wonderful list making. A great book to share with children who appreciate all the lovely language in the lists. Highly recommended.

the-liszts

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

So very clever. Literal twists and turns! Quite the reading experience exploring the feeling of time’s passage on a road trip.

Are we there Yet?

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Because picture books are especially treasured as they lull us to sleep.

twenty-yawns

 

The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. The illustrations here are incredible.

the-water-princess

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant. So rich with possibilities to share and talk about perspective, self and the world.

they-all-saw-a-cat

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Well, I am absolutely smitten. This book speaks of friendship and individuality and acceptance and patience. I am kind of in love.

Be a Friend

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

Monday April 4th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week This is taken during Reading Workshop. It kind of speaks for itself don’t you think? These two on the bench organized themselves into a little reading partnership, “Let’s each read a page.” I also love the message on the board that a child wrote. It captured the feel in the room – happy readers everywhere.

Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Our #classroombookaday titles this week were especially lovely.

Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

I finished up my Slice of Writing challenge for the month of March. 31 days of published writing on the blog! Phew.

Night Before Thinking Musing about back to work after a break

Inspired by student poetry writing and When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons (listed below) I wrote my own poem about writing spring poems  today we picked spring

Words A Slice of Life post about being grateful that words find me

My first post with the meme Diverse Children’s Books featuring the book: My Two Blankets (pictured below)

Books I enjoyed:

This week it was alll about the picture books!

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Sometimes on this blog I insist that a book must be purchased so it can be shared again and again. Well, okay, sometimes seems like a rare occurrence. I just might do it often. But, take my word for it, I won’t steer you wrong! This book is one of those books. It is beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This book is very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

Such a sweet (but not at all over the top) story of what it is to move away and leave a friend. Bagley tackles emotions so beautifully.

Before I Leave Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

My Two Blankets written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

I wrote about this book in this post. Themes of immigration, new friendships, learning a language, adjusting to a new culture and new place.

My Two Blankets Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Always Remember by Cece Meng and illustrated by Jago

This is a story of loss, of what it is to lose a loved one and remember. Full of hope and emotion and the illustrations are STUNNING.

Always Remember Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

My Heart Fills with Happiness written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett

I bought this for our board book collection.  A book about finding joy! Illustrations by Flett are beautiful. I love that this title features Indigenous children and families. This book is perfect for my classroom.

My Heart fills with happiness Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! written by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller

Oh so very clever! The under-enthused and annoyed main character, the irritating narrator, the dynamic between the two of them. What an amusing little book!

Snappsy the Alligator Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Hyewon Yum

This book! A little guy talks about his fears with a dog and the conversations are SO hilarious. I couldn’t leave the book store without this one.

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Thelma is a pony with unicorn aspirations. When a unicorn transformation happens to her (this is a great scene) life seems grand. But is fame and attention really a wonderful thing?

Thelma the Unicorn Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 97/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 15/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 12/50 books read

Up next? I continue with Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Our family read aloud is Pax by Sara Pennypacker