#IMWAYR 11/23/15

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Okay, last week I was just in a random reading mood- I did not read for four hours in dedication to the Children’s Literary Awards, but I did read A LOT.

Believe it or not a lot of the picture books I picked from the shelves last week featured cats… weird (not). So, I decided I would pick a few of my favorites to share today!

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This book by Karla Kuskin disappointed me, but only because the Upstairs Cat and the Downstairs Cat never became friends! The illustrations by Howard Fine are beautiful oil paintings. Both artists did an amazing job at depicting a kitty confrontation.

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I loved this story about a cat and the unique relationship it has with its owner. The cat is lost and missed dearly by its owner, but when the man at the cafe shop finds the cat, he isn’t as charmed with the cat’s “bad” habits.

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At first this story caused my palms to sweat- what was the man in the van going to do?! But it all worked out for everyone in the end! This is the second book that Sarah Hayes has both written and illustrated and I think she did a great job! Very colorful and detailed.

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This book was created by a husband and wife from Maine to demonstrate a lesson about lending a helping hand and also to express a wacky love for cats (I can only assume). The watercolor art work really amplifies the kooky story of  Nana Quimby and her concern for the accumulating number of cats in her tree.

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And my favorite book from this week… dare I say from this entire semester of reading?!  Yes! This book is all about cats- history, mannerisms, and essential advice from an expert older cat to his younger cohorts. This book reminded me of the Purina commercials “Dear Kitten.” If you haven’t seen them, they are hilarious- even if you aren’t a cat lover.

#IMWAYR 11/16/15

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It’s Monday. And it feels like Monday. The entirety of last week felt like a Monday.

I did read last week, but it wasn’t anywhere near four hours- at least not the reading for this class. SOOOOO I don’t really have anything to blog about as far as my reading challenge goes. BUT I will post a blog regardless, because I know that I am not the only one who has been in this position. Sure I could blog about some other book, or make something up about a book in my current award category, or I could even give a half-assed review on the book that I am currently reading, but I think that I’ll just be honest and real with you all instead.

Last week, I had a weird flurry of assignments all due at once (isn’t it funny how that happens) and it was my boyfriend’s last week of football ever so I was really preoccupied with the supportive girlfriend roll. I spent a lot of my “free time” (and reading time) building him a scrapbook of all of his five seasons playing here and can I just add I have never scrapbooked before -it’s harder than it looks, but I think I’ve discovered a new hobby!

So, though this may not be considered an excusable absence from my school work it was absolutely worth it to me, when he opened up that book (:

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?! #imwayr 11-9-15

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Last week, I continued with my reading challenge and read the Theodor Seuss Geisel award winners and honor books.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.   The winner(s), recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading, receives a bronze medal.  Honor Book authors and illustrators receive certificates, which are presented at the ALA Annual Conference.  The award was established in 2004 and first presented in 2006.

The award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel. “A person’s a person no matter how small,” Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. “Children want the same things we want: to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.” Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped them to read.

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I always enjoy Jon Klassen’s stories and artwork because it is exactly what I want to emulate in my own work- simple, clean, clever, and silly.

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This book is an easy read that would be great for a child read aloud to his/her parent or even for their classmates during reading circle time.

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This would be a fun read aloud… as long as no one is too embarrassed to “chomp! slurp! chomp!  buuuuuurrrrrrppp!”

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A great book for new readers, Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day is a level 3 Transitional Reader book in the Penguin Young Readers collection. It includes more dialogue and vocabulary , different points of view, and a more complex storyline.

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And my favorite book of the week featured a CAT named PETE who says “GROOVY!” Need I say more? Besides the obvious, this book was my favorite because it teachers a lesson of staying positive and optimistic which is a virtue for everyone -young and old.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?! 11/02/15 #imwayr

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This week’s reading was dedicated to the Coretta Scott King Award:

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

Here are a few:

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This first book was adapted from a West African Folktale in which the black sheep of the family dreams of becoming a musician and therefore his family has to ban him from their village because music can’t help any of the villagers in a traditional sense. Once Banzar is out on his own he meets an old mentor named Sholo who teaches him that it is their job to tell the history of the African people so that they can have a better future. In the end Banzar returns to his village to show them how successful he has become and the importance of music.

“Yams fill the belly and trade fills the pockets, but music fills the heart.”

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The Great Migration  is a poetic narrative about the courage of those who were suppressed by segregation in the South to make a change and move North. These beautiful stories are accompanied by a collage style artwork in bold colors that really reflects the many families coming together in a journey of bravery to make a better life for themselves.

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This book was true, and by true I mean real. No matter why this boy’s father is absent, whether he chose to leave or he is incarcerated (which is what I believe to be the case) this is a great story to explain any parents dream for their child to succeed, whether they had any dreams for themselves or not.

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Pinkney’s art work in this book is just beautiful and accompanied by Aston’s prose this book will bring tears to your eyes. Mae’s grandfather believes in his granddaughter and her dreams to one day be an astronaut just like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. A great way to bring a little bit of history into children’s reading.

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Two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Ashley Bryan praises three favorite spirituals: “This Little Light of Mine,” “Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” The fun illustrations of brilliant colors along with the the songs real make reading this book aloud a lot of fun. 

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #imwyr 10-12-15

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For week two of my award winning and honor books challenge,  I decided to focus on The Pura Belpré award.

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

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I really appreciated how this book compared life for a young Latin American boy in a U.S. city and in Mexico -neither is better than the other or worse than the other, just different. Family is always an important subject in Latino culture and that was definitely featured in this book as well. I also found it interesting the way that Duncan Tonatiuh used real images and patterns pasted into his illustrations for a collage-feel.

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This book employs a little imagination to tell about a symbol of Latina culture. A rebozo is a traditional Mexican woven shawl with many uses – both practical and fantastical.

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First Day in Grapes describes a common life for a young boy in Latin American culture in which the family moves around depending on the harvesting season. Being the new kid is hard, especially if you don’t speak the same language or share the same culture, but Chico has a special talent that he uses to gain confidence as the new kid and to make third grade his best year yet.

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This was one of the cutest folktales I have ever read. This story is well known in Cuban culture (much like Little Red Riding Hood is to us) and teaches the lesson that your beauty is not what truly matters, but how one handles your flaws -such as spilling hot coffee on your shoes.

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This was my favorite book in this category because it gives a great account of Pura Belpré and some what she did for Latin American youth and literature. This story emphasizes a sense of belonging and community. I also liked how the story was translated in both spanish and english on each page so everyone can read the book together and understand the effect that Pura Belpré and others like her had on all of our lives.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 10-05-15 #imwayr

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Just to recap my previous blog post Challenging Myself (Realistically)I decided that my reading challenge would be to read more award winners and honor books so I have dedicated my reading time to doing just that. I further organized my challenge by dedicating each week to one specific award category and this week is The Caldecott Award.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

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Maurice Sendak is most know for Where the Wild Things Are, which is a significantly better book in my opinion. Ida must save her baby sister who has been kidnapped by goblins to be a baby bride. If the theme of kidnapping isn’t scary enough, Ida’s father is also away at sea and the girls mother seems to be sedated in a  deep depression, forcing Ida to be the one in charge. Strange. Sendak’s illustrations are washed in muted colors and are grotesquely realistic in my opinion -the facial expressions are not cutesy or soft.

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I loved all of the color and detail that Stephen Gammell put into these silly and relatable characters. We all have those eccentric family members who we only get to see every once in a while, but when we do it’s like we’ve never been apart.

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This story was great because of its ability to take the readers emotions on such a grand journey in so few pages. Kadir Nelson’s use of shadows and light in his illustrations are nothing short of true art and really drive Ellen Levine’s words home.

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If the entire book looked like this cover it may have been more appealing to me. The story wasn’t bad, but it kind of felt all over the place -true Mei Li was all over the place exploring the fair and New Year’s Eve celebrations, but it didn’t feel like it was working towards and end goal for me. The illustrations were good, but could have been taken to the next level with color.

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I’m sure you can guess what my favorite part of this book was… If you guessed the dog then you guessed correctly! I just love illustrations of animals! But other than that Dav Pilkey did a great job of demonstrating a boy’s companionship with his dog and both of the characters dedication and love for delivering papers to the sleepy neighborhood. A simple, yet beautiful story.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 9-28-15 #imwayr

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My reading this past week was dedicated to a Newbery Award Honor book Doll Bones by Holly Black. This book has been on my “to-read” list for almost a year now so I was excited that I finally had the opportunity to finally dig into it!

I loved it.

This book had so many different elements to it – it’s no wonder it made the Newbery honor list.

My favorite aspect of this book was the theme of growing up or not wanting to grow up. Zach, Alice, and Poppy have a “Neverland” worthy adventure to close the chapter of childhood make-believe, but is it all just pretend or are they on a true quest? Black does an amazing job of mixing the children’s imaginations with true events, such as adults seeing a blonde girl with them and historical facts, to keep the mystery going.

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SPOILER ALERT!! 

Do not read any further if you are interested in reading this book.

When Zach’s father threw out his toys and Zach chose not to tell Alice and Poppy the truth but rather let them believe he no longer cared about their game, I was crestfallen. These kids had such sharp imaginations and exercised them everyday after school – so what if they are “too old” to be playing with dolls (I played with my barbies until 8th grade!). Immediately I thought, Just tell them and you can get some new action figures! The story can go on! And then I thought, What if they just continued the story through the “Questions” or just wrote out the stories for each other. That would be more age appropriate! And I was so overjoyed when I read the last page and Zach had come to this exact conclusion himself.

Middle school is a hard time for kids; It’s time to grow up BUT not too fast! I thought that Black did an outstanding job of presenting this dilemma as a 12 year old would.

P.S. There is a cat in this book named “The Party!”