I’m happy to see this is in paperback so more readers will have access in classroom collections. I still need the hardcover for an elementary library, but paperbacks make great teacher gifts. This would also be a good recommendation for multiple copies in centers in classrooms.
Some books have artwork that is simply pleasing and makes you happy. I think Lori Mitchell’s work is colorful and precise. It appeals to the obsessive part of my nature because everything is just right in the pictures. Remember Lori’s first work: Different Just Like Me from Charlesbridge?
Personally since I have a black thumb, not a green thumb, I can relate to Holly Bloom’s wishes to be a gardening expert like her family. She sticks with her attempts to make things grow, and we commiserate as those things just won’t grow no matter what tools she tries. I think this is a perfect book for reading at your own speed so that you catch the visual clues to predict how Holly will create her garden. Be sure to access the activity guide so you can include directions for creating paper tissue flowers and much more in your centers.
I particularly like the web page blurb which concludes:
The cover image of Holly measuring herself against a tall sunflower encapsulates her yearning to
see how she measures up against the excellent gardeners in her family. This charming book uses
playful language to teach plenty about gardening, but more about the joy of being yourself and
finding your own true talents – even if that makes you a late bloomer.
Bullies? Anyone have problems with bullying in your school? If you said, "no," you are either lying to me or clueless. Bullying is the biggest problem kids talk about in school. They don’t obsess that they don’t have the designer clothes or mechanical pencils. They worry because someone is being mean to them or their friends and they don’t know how to respond.
But what about the bully’s side of things? Have you considered helping bullies to transform and to empower themselves to stop? You will after reading Alley Oops by Janice Levy and illustrated by CB Decker. Be sure to read Janice’ interviews for insights into the deeper themes of Alley Oops. This title was released in 2005 and showed up on some of the bully lists I read, but I hadn’t held it in my hands until today.
Could I plead having a limited budget as my only reason for not having this title? Not convinced? How about that I simply never saw this book or had access to it? Does that sound more realistic? Okay, I’m only human. I can’t read every single review out there and still play with the kittens. To make up for it, let me make sure you have this in your collection.
I particularly enjoyed the illustrations where the much larger boys seems intimidated by the bully. Having four sons I appreciated the arm wrestling in this title. I can remember trying to arm wrestle my brothers. I was a little concerned at J.J.’s transformation as being too quick and less than perfect, but in her interview Janice Levy responds to this well. You’ll have to go read the interview yourself, I can’t tell you everything.
I was able to see her point. Some people hold on to grudges their entire life. Is it because I am a girl that I can recite every time my ex-husband said something that hurt my feelings? Nah…When my sons are angry with each other, they settle things much more quickly and move on from it as friends. But, when it comes to bullying episodes, they remember every one they’ve experienced.
Hopefully you will share this with students and families. I particularly like the humorous approach the author uses to communicate between the generations. You’ll recognize yourself there.
Recently I received a package of books from Flash Light Press and the Independent Publishers Group. I didn’t know I’d received it, because I was out of town at the time and #4 son had set it with a pile of boxes I’m moving from one school to another. Fortunately the company followed up to ask if I’d seen it and I started digging through the kitten playground (AKA stacked boxes) and found it this week.
I’m so glad I opened this box. Inside were picture books that are treasures to read. Looking through the catalog I found some of the titles had made it on to state award lists, but I had never seen the majority. Why not? Access, I’m sure. I decided more of us bloggers need to actively highlight the independent publishers, so this week I’ll take time to chat about some of these titles. That’s just in case you are like me and sometimes miss one or two.
I have this theory that some of you never click the bold-faced Read More link for these blogs, so I’m going to try to post individual mentions of each title as an experiment. Yes, readers, you are my lab rats. Let’s begin the experiment.
Most states have special awards for children and young adults’ favorite books. Either adults or students create a list, narrow it down, and then students read from a "select" list to vote for their favorite. Some committees only accept suggestions from students, some committees rely solely on experts, some welcome preview titles from publishers, and some refuse to be influenced by publishers. How does your committee choose their books?
I served short stints on these committees in Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. While I enjoyed reading from a large list of books and helping the committee narrow the list, I was often frustrated by LACK OF ACCESS to the newest of the new books to recommend titles. Have you experienced this? If you are in a no-budget school, you aren’t likely to be buying a larger variety of titles before they are on the "great" lists. The bottom line is no money means you are very selective. The state committees have to have much broader access to be inclusive.
Access is a huge determinant of how titles get on to the initial lists for states. I have seen titles that are given away at ALA conference in special events like breakfasts, dinners, and parties becoming standards on many lists. They may not always be the best book out there, but there are enough copies available for the committee members to read and evaluate them for the state. Is this fair to smaller publishing companies? Did they have access to the committee members? Will those people receiving books share them with other members on the committee?
What about the members who didn’t have access to the event? Many are not invited. Many are in other meetings or events. Some of us attend a working meeting every Sunday at ALA annual for AASL’s affiliate assembly and miss the huge Grolier/Scholastic breakfast where many of these titles are given away. Sorry, Scholastic, I’m naming names. I tried through corporate channels to let them know 2 leaders of nearly every state are busy that Sunday morning in the Affiliate Assembly meeting and can’t get these titles and goodies, but there are plenty of other librarians out there to attend the breakfast so they don’t seem concerned about the 130 or so people who don’t attend.
This is not my opportunity to complain and whine about not getting the books or the occasional coffeemug (I find a way) . I believe this a lost opportunity to get books in the hands of every state school library organization or to make contact with them so companies can update the committee chair names. Publishing companies need our help. If we continue to put only the books on the list that are available through a bookfair, we are relying upon the bookfair companies to overcome our lack of access.
I asked several publishing companies to chat with me about how state committees obtain books. They cite these problems:
State award committee web sites don’t have a well-maintained, up-to-date list of committee chairs so publishers can contact them to offer to send books.
Committee chairs change frequently so when publishers are proactive and contact them, members have changed.
Some committees accept review books, others don’t, and they may not spell out the difference on their website.
There may be some people requesting these review books who <gasp> are not on the committee.
It’s expensive for publishers to reach out.
There is no simple site to access all state lists and contacts.
Okay, I understand all of those reasons. So let’s try approaching this from another perspective. If you are a committee chair and need to obtain copies of books for your members, how do you do this? Have you found a list of publishing companies that are willing to send books? Could you use such a list? Are you content with choosing from the limited access you currently have? Would you be willing to contact publishers if I developed a list and posted it here of contacts?
Let’s work together and solve the access problem for committees.
I was unpacking a library when I found a box labeled: Inappropriate to Shelve. "What does that mean?" I wondered. "Are they worn out? Is there something wrong with them? Are they potentially hazardous chemical journals for would-be terrorists?"
No. It seems they are books that "some people" were afraid might trigger a book challenge so they pulled them off the shelves pre-emptively. Now, take a look at the partial list below and see if you can determine the trends that caused these books to be censored by "some people" without undergoing a proper challenge procedure:
European Art Since 1850
What would you do? Put these back on the shelf immediately and wait for any challenges to arise naturally? Re-evaluate the collection to determine if each is appropriate for the collection (grades 6-8)? Withdraw them to prevent controversy? Prominently display these for Banned Book Week?
I think I’m doing nearly all of those things. I’m not scared of controversy so I don’t plan to continue hiding the evolution books or those that might have an accurate portrayal of the human body.
I re-read Guyaholic to consider whether I believe this is a true grade nine and up book. Same with "Hello, Groin." I think these might be better matched at the high school right across the street, so I will take them over there if that is more appropriate. Why would I keep them hidden? Either they are for the middle-schooler’s or not. Do any of you have them in your middle school collection?
Why didn’t "some people" follow the district collection development policy? I know the district has one. In my previous libraries, I always had a five-year plan for development based upon the analysis model from Karen Lowe. The library collection where I found this box was purchased in 2001. New collection. I’m trying to understand the reasons here.
One thing I am certain: I am not starting my time at a new school with a secret shelf of books that I’m afraid someone might object to. What would you do?
AHA! Here is the quote that I must have printed as a poster for my new school library:
“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy