2012 "Growing Good Kids" Book Awards

GGK-seal-for-web

The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society announced the winners of the "Growing Good Kids" Book Awards on July 20th. This year's blue-ribbon crop is as follows:

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families, by Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore (Lee & Low)

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story, by Thomas F. Yerzerski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Planting the Wild Garden, written by Kathryn O. Galbraith and illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin (Peachtree)

For more information about the prizes, which honor "engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden, and ecology-themed children's literature," go to the Junior Master Gardener website. Don't miss the list of classics, which includes Miss Rumphius, The Lorax, Too Many Pumpkins, among many others.


Recent Additions to the Best Book List

I've been catching up with the last few months' announcements of awards for children's books, and added some to the page "2011 Best Children's Books: A List of Lists and Awards." (The honored books were first published in 2011.)

Carnegie Medal: Shortlist and winner (UK). Similar to our Newbery award.

Children's Book Council of Australia: Short Lists and Notables.

E.B. White Read-Aloud Award

Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards for Children's Books

Greenaway Medal: Shortlist and winner (UK). Similar to our Caldecott award.

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

Minnesota Book Awards. These honor mostly titles for adults, but do feature one category for kids' books.

Scottish Children's Book Trust Awards: Shortlist

Storytelling World Resource Awards

Updated to add: Posted today, the Horn Book's "Mind the Gap Awards," for books that should have gotten more honors. Plus, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists were announced by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). 

Lots of good reading ahead!


Shakespeare Season

Some years back I spent a grand Fourth of July sitting  in a long line for free Shakespeare in the Park in NYC. To get into the play, you had to line up early and wait until 6 or so when the Delacorte Theater handed out evening's allotment of tickets. I forgot what we saw, though I remember loving the play; maybe it was "Much Ado About Nothing" or "Twelfth Night." Several people in our group had brought along bags of fresh cherries, which arrive in plenitude in the city's Korean delis around the first of July. We snacked, shot the breeze, and let time drift by until the ticket guy appeared. I'll always associate the happy feeling of friends, Shakespeare, and cherries with the Fourth. 

On the Fourth this year I finished reading the history play "Henry IV, Part 1," and also stumbled across Oxford's Emma Smith's free online lecture about Falstaff, the play's most interesting character. Smith even compares the "fat-kidneyed rascal" to Homer Simpson! Both are funny because they're countercultural, she says. The talk is part of the "Approaching Shakespeare" series of podcasts, which can be found here

Emma Smith figures in Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard, by Herman Gollob, a Texas-born book editor (Doubleday, 2002). Seeing Ralph Fiennes in a Broadway production of "Hamlet" changed Gollob's life, and he began to study Shakepeare on his own. Part memoir and part guide, Gollob's book is full of good recommendations (particularly for books and films) for people who want to deepen their appreciation of the Bard. Gollob's adventures include a three-week summer course at Oxford taught by...Emma Smith.

A local company is performing an outdoor "Romeo and Juliet" soon, and that will probably be my next brush with Shakespeare. The Washington State cherries have hit the stores, too.

Links:

Shakespeare in the Park (now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary)

"Shakespeare After All: The Later Plays," with Marjorie Garber. A free video series from the Harvard Extension School. I haven't seen this yet, but it sounds great.

Shakepeare on the Sound. The Bard in the 'burbs.


Second-Grade Read-Aloud Resource: 50 Multicultural Books...

This summer I'm spending some time thinking about the picture books I will read to next year's second-grade class. My volunteer gig at an ethnically and economically diverse city public school is an all-time favorite activity of mine, but I'm always looking for ways to improve the experience for the children. When fall rolls around, I'd like to be better prepared with a strong list of books and additional background reading of my own.

Keeping in mind prior classes will help, too. For example, when we talk about "fiction" and "nonfiction," I'm going to put the words out on index cards so the children can see them written out. In lovely and heartfelt thank-you notes from the last group, a couple of the spellers-by-ear thought I was saying "fishin" and "nonfishin," which is adorable, but note cards will go a ways to clearing that up.

In terms of selecting books, this terrific list, among others, will come in handy: "50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know,"  from the Cooperative Children's Book Center, at the University of Wisconsin. It offers a good selection of titles, broken down into age groups ( "Preschool," "Ages 5-7," etc.). I wish I'd remembered to read Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding to the 2011-2012 students. Reading through these books this summer should be fun!


Monday To-Do List

I'm borrowing this format from the What Do We Do All Day? blog, who employs it on Fridays.

Listen: Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Cool book, set in Revolutionary War-era New York and told by an enslaved girl. I am loving the history. 12-year-old Jr. and I listen to this one in the car.

Read: Henry IV, Part 1, by William Shakespeare. I am actually listening to this on audiobook, too, as I read the text. My first time with Prince Hal, Falstaff, and Hotspur. I am using a BBC Radio recording (rawther expensive at $14.95 on iTunes), and right like it.

Puzzle Over: A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster. Brits in India. Forster's syntax confuses me more often than I'd like to admit, but I think I'm going to stick with it. Something terrible is going to happen, yes?

Think About: Books for second graders. (I'm a volunteer classroom reader.) This year's Top Three were Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer; Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems; and SpongeBob and the Princess, by David Lewman (Clint Bond, illustrator). Several children knew the first two from kindergarten, and everyone knew SpongeBob. I'd like to find slightly longer books that the group will like as much as these for next year. Also popular was playing Mad Libs with the students.

Add: To the library list: Quinn Cummings' The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling. Due in August. Quinn Cummings! If you were a kid in the seventies, you remember this very funny writer as a child actor ("Family," "The Goodbye Girl"). She blogs at The QC Report. Hat tip: Melissa Wiley.

Recommend: 1. Pulphead, by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Essays, profiles from magazines like GQ and the Paris Review. The collection includes a somewhat disrespectful but fascinating piece on the Southern Agrarian Andrew Lytle. Dwight Garner wrote in the New York Times, "Most of the essays in 'Pulphead' are haunted, in a far more persuasive way, by what Mr. Sullivan refers to with only slight self-mockery as 'the tragic spell of the South.'" 2. " 'Not Everyone Can Read Proof': The Legacy of Lu Burke," by Mary Norris, at The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog. A copy editor leaves a million dollars to a library. A town vs. library dispute ensues. Mary Norris is a friend of mine, and I am a huge fan of her always excellent writing and storytelling.


Eudora Welty Considers "Charlotte's Web"

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White, was published nearly sixty years ago, on October 15, 1952. Eudora Welty reviewed the now-classic children's novel shortly thereafter, in the New York Times Book Review. She wrote, 

"What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done."

From Eudora Welty: A Writer's Eye: Collected Book Reviews, edited by Pearl Amelia McHaney, University of Mississippi Press, 1994.

I highly recommend the audiobook, read by White himself. The kiddo and I listened to it with pleasure this spring. Some pig!


Saturday Morning Reading, 05.19.12

A few highlights from this week's reading:

Tanita S. Davis, author of the newly released YA novel Happy Families, pens a wonderful tribute to the late Jean Craighead George's novel My Side of the Mountain. I loved that book when I was a kid. Loved it. Jean Craighead George died recently at the age of  92.

In tomorrow's New York Times Book Review (available online now), Judith Shulevitz writes about listening to audiobooks with her children. I smiled at her choices, "...or they’re books we’ve always meant to read but needed children as an excuse to do so" because I've felt the same way. See "Let's Go Reading in the Car."

The Nonfiction Detectives review Kelly Milner Hall's Alien Investigations: Searching for the Truth About UFOs and Aliens. I added the title to our library list immediately; my 12 year old can't get enough of this subject. Don't miss the other articles on the Detectives' blog; you'll find all kinds of good recommendations for young nonfiction fans.

After following a link from Page-Turner, the New Yorker's revitalized book blog, I was happy to add Rohan Maitzen's Novel Readings: Notes on Literature and Criticism to Google Reader. In a recent post, she makes the case for Middlemarch and book clubs, providing a number of helpful tips to taking on George Eliot's 1,000+-page classic. Maitzen is an English professor at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University.

I'm bookmarking this post from Misadventures of the Monster Librarian because of the folktale recommendations for second graders. "My" second graders (the class I read to once a week) like folktales a lot.

Speaking of second graders, I read Lita Judge's excellent nonfiction picture book Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why to them a few weeks ago. My crew was particularly delighted by the scat-bombing Scandinavian Fieldfare, mentioned by NC Teacher Stuff in his review. In our conversation after the read-aloud, I found out that several of the kids own parrots. Parrot stories abounded.


Audiobooking May 2012

This week J. (my 12-year-old son) and I finished the audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in J.K. Rowling's epic series. We started listening to the first one in September 2010. J. was just starting sixth grade at a new school, and, until then, J. would have nothing to do with the series whatsoever. (Occasionally, and unfortunately, people become competitive about who has read what, and the same holds true even in elementary school.) I had read only the first book, and was neither here nor there about it. But the audiobooks! We became complete converts to the series and to Jim Dale's fabulous narration. Some evenings we sat in the car in the driveway, just to hear what would happen next, and I almost cried exiting I-95 as the last book came to an end. J. has read the books many times over, while I read ahead only once, preferring to be surprised. 

As the HPs got longer and longer, I did need a break between 5 and 6. We listened to and enjoyed When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead's Newbery-winning novel, although I have to admit that I am thick-headed when it comes to understanding time travel. I loved the New York setting and could completely picture those kids working in the sandwich shop. 

Now we're onto a classic, Charlotte's Web, read by its author, E.B. White. Isn't that so cool that you can still hear E.B. White's voice? Out of nowhere J. remarked, "This is a good book." High praise!

My friend Mary Parmelee at the Westport Library says Eva Ibbotson's One Dog and His Boy, read by Steve West, is one of the best audiobooks she's ever heard. Now that we're dog owners, this novel sounds perfect. The online card catalogue summarizes the story this way, "When lonely, ten-year-old Hal learns that his wealthy but neglectful parents only rented Fleck, the dog he always wanted, he and new friend Pippa take Fleck and four other dogs from the rental agency on a trek from London to Scotland, where Hal's grandparents live." I'm putting it on the list now.

Correction: An earlier version of this post had the wrong last name for Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me. My apologies.


Farewell, Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

I was so sorry to hear this news this morning. The New York Times and other news outlets are reporting the death of Maurice Sendak, "widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century," as Margalit Fox writes in an obituary. NPR's "Fresh Air" will be devoting today's show to him.

What's your favorite Sendak book? Mine is Swine Lake, a collaboration with James Marshall, about a wolf and a pig ballet and the power of art.


Advice from Emily Post, 1951: Hats

StateLibQld 1 205152 Two women enjoying a drink, 1940-1950

 

Shall I Wear a Hat?

Notwithstanding the continued practice of certain younger women to go hatless on all occasions, best taste exacts that in a city a hat be worn with street clothes in the daytime. In fact it is impossible for a hatless woman to be chic. With an evening dress a hat is incorrect—except on the stage in a musical review.

 from Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, by Emily Post. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1951.

Reading excerpts from Emily Post's 1951 guide made three of us laugh til we cried. Hatless! Horrors. 

Image digitised by the State Library of Queensland, and provided to the Wikimedia Commons as part of a cooperative project. The original photograph is in the public domain. The metadata has been released by State Library of Queensland under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 license.