Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Newbery No-Longer-Preview Time

No doubt you've already learned who the 2009 winners are, but here some of my initial thoughts on this morning's Newbery announcement. And why not throw in some Caldecomments and a bonus thought or three?

Newbery Medal
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Why, why, why did I not read this one? It was eligible. It was ineligible. Eligible. Ineligible. Ugh! I loved Coraline. Perfect amounts of creepiness, mystery, intrigue, and humor. I've got The Graveyard Book on order and requested at the local library. Hopefully I get me a copy soon.

Newbery Honor Books
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt - Was this the closest thing to a sure thing in a long while? Thoughts here.
Savvy by Ingrid Law - I'd have liked it even better if there were more extended family members and their savvies included. The story was good, but man did I like the idea of getting a savvy on your thirteenth birthday. My daughter agrees. So does my class. Thoughts here.
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson - I really liked this book, and I'm glad it was recognized. It's a thought provoker, that's for sure. Thoughts here.
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle - I haven't found much poetry that lights a fire under young readers, unless it involves sisters for sale or the end of a sidewalk, but I'll certainly read this one.

The Caldecott Medal
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson - Before I was even able to look at the copy I snagged at the library, I got two opinions from two kids. The first grader said, "I didn't like it at all," while the fourth grader said, "Well, I liked it. It kind of goes forward, then backward or something. I don't know." Hmmm. More information (from me) soon.

Caldecott Honor Books
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee - An Honor book in our school's student-selected mock Caldecott, so I'm glad the grown-ups agreed with the experts. Fourth graders especially like how the illustrations don't match the text. That, and Grandpa Bill's vocabulary lesson. Thoughts here.
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz - Waiting for a copy. Did I read right, though? A family flees war and finds poverty?
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant - Waiting for a copy. Is it poetry or simply about a poet? Nevertheless, see comments on The Surrender Tree above.

Bonus Thought #1 - Sibert Honor Book
What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! by Barbara Kerley - My wife is thrilled that this one was recognized, and I can't say I disagree.

Bonus Thought #2 - Kadir Nelson Gets Three
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson wins the Sibert Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Corrett Scott King Illustrator Honor - Sheesh, it takes more time to type out all the awards than my comments. But well deserved. His illustrations jump off the page, and I'm glad his writing was recognized in addition to his artistry.

Bonus Thought #3 - Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems - Two words: 1. Woo. 2. Hoo. (And one punctuation mark: ! )

(Is it any wonder kids love these books? Click here for Mo's thoughts.)


  1. Some suggestions for poetry - Sharon Creech's Love that Dog and Hate that Cat.

    I've read Love That Dog to several different classes of 5th graders. Most kids seem to enjoy it. It certainly gets them thinking about poetry in a different way.


  2. I've used Love That Dog with great success in 4th grade too, both as an independent read and as the basis for a class poetry unit. I read Hate That Cat but didn’t like it quite as much. Maybe that’s just because Love That Dog was so unique that it took some of the shine away from its sequel.

    There’s other poetry out there that kids enjoy – Jack Prelutsky and Judith Viorst come to mind, along with the Shel Silverstein works I reference in the original post.

    You’re right about Love That Dog. It does get young readers thinking differently about poetry, especially those boys that agree with Jack right from the start. “I don’t want to because boys don’t write poetry. Girls do.” Or, even better, “I tried. Can’t do it. Brain’s empty.”

  3. I just finished The Graveyard Book. It's definitely creepy, but I couldn't put it down. Today's a holiday for us and I should have been going for a long bike ride or run... but I couldn't put the book down. :-)

    I haven't read Coraline yet, but plan to now. A couple of my girls read it this year and talked about it for days.



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