November 17, 2017

Subscribe to SLJ

Archives for March 2013

Peanut Gallery

Just a quick reminder that SLJ BoB has been highlighting posts and tweets and responses to the previous week’s matches. Check out this week’s The Peanut Gallery; and swing back to past ones.  

Michelle’s PD panel and more edWeb webinar goodness

In case you’ve missed it, my dear friend, Michelle Luhtala hosts a series of free, monthly webinars for the professional learning community, Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program.  The series is sponsored by Follett Software Company. About a week ago, Michelle’s virtual panel discussion presented a comprehensive array of perspectives on online […]

Undead Poll Winner Announced

Drum roll, please. And the Undead Poll  Winner is….   Just as I had predicted! Or, rather, hoped against hope because John Green has all those nerdfighters.  

This Week’s Peanut Gallery

 

 

We are particularly excited to hear about those who have or are considering using the Battle with students. Say Texas librarian Donna Steel Cook who gets her whole high school involved. Read more in “Texas High School Celebrates Battle of the Books“.

HSLibraryIcon

“March Madness” has taken on a secondary meaning in rural Pollok, TX, where 423 high school students have been closely watching, rooting for, and predicting the winners of a unique elimination contest this month—not basketball, but books. Under the direction of Donna Steel Cook,district library director and high school teacher-librarian, Pollok’s Central High School has incorporated School Library Journal ‘s fifth annual Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB) into an engaging program to support reading.

And Librarian’s Quest who considered that:

Screen shot 2013-03-31 at 8.57.42 AM

As the weeks have passed so too has the School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books.  Even though the end is getting closer it still might be fun to do this with students after it’s over to see how they vote as opposed to the judges’ decisions.  School Library Journal has provided a page of downloadable graphics to use in designing your own brackets.  Each match appears as a PDF file.

 

If there are others out there, please let us know!

As to other things, please don’t miss our Battle Pinterest board filled with lots of cool stuff.

There’s Liz B on Bomb v Code Name Verity, Endangered v Stars, Sky v Glooms,  Seraphina v Star, Round 3, Match 1, and Round 3, Match 2.

Judge of Judges Sutton takes on Napoli v, Leavitt and Lai v. Griffin

The Card Catalog weighs in on Lows and Highs…, Lots of Sighs….

Book Nut considers Week 3 and Week 3 (Part 2).

Random Musings of a Bilbiophile thinks about The Final Four and The Finals.

Sondy’s got  strong views of Round Two and The Big Kahuna Approaches.

One of our contenders, The Fault in Our Stars, after a very contentious Zombie Round in The Tournament of Books (the tourney for adult literature that inspired the BoB), made it to the finals.

Some of this week’s tweets:

This Week’s Peanut Gallery

 

 

We are particularly excited to hear about those who have or are considering using the Battle with students. Say Texas librarian Donna Steel Cook who gets her whole high school involved. Read more in “Texas High School Celebrates Battle of the Books“.

“March Madness” has taken on a secondary meaning in rural Pollok, TX, where 423 high school students have been closely watching, rooting for, and predicting the winners of a unique elimination contest this month—not basketball, but books. Under the direction of Donna Steel Cook,district library director and high school teacher-librarian, Pollok’s Central High School has incorporated School Library Journal ‘s fifth annual Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB) into an engaging program to support reading.

And Librarian’s Quest who considered that:

As the weeks have passed so too has the School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books.  Even though the end is getting closer it still might be fun to do this with students after it’s over to see how they vote as opposed to the judges’ decisions.  School Library Journal has provided a page of downloadable graphics to use in designing your own brackets.  Each match appears as a PDF file.

 

If there are others out there, please let us know!

As to other things, please don’t miss our Battle Pinterest board filled with lots of cool stuff.

There’s Liz B on Bomb v Code Name Verity, Endangered v Stars, Sky v Glooms,  Seraphina v Star, Round 3, Match 1, …

» Continue Reading: This Week’s Peanut Gallery

On Common Core | Nonfiction as Mentor Text

Many people hold on to the belief that nonfiction writing is “just the facts,” often synonymous with formulaic, dull writing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Writers for young people model both substance and style, and can serve as mentors to their readers.

Preview: Ernest & Rebecca, vol. 4

Ernest & Rebecca is an unusual series. Translated from the French, it’s the story of a little girl who is sort of sickly, and her friend who is a germ. It’s a cute fantasy tale, but it’s set against the backdrop of family problems, as Rebecca’s parents separate during the course of the series. Volume […]

This is War . . . Chocolate War

True confession: I have never read The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Or, if I have, I’ve forgotten it. Also? Sometimes I get it confused with another book I haven’t read, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I’ll give you all a moment to recover from that. Back? You OK? Need a glass of water? […]

Round 3, Match 2

The second match of round two is Splendors and Glooms vs No Crystal Stair, Judged by James Patterson. My prediction was “Splendors and Glooms v The One and Only Ivan, Judge James Patterson. Neither seems like Patterson’s books, but I’m going to go with The One and Only Ivan. Call it intuition.” Well, pretty poor […]

And the 2013 BoB Undead Winner Is…

commentator

Our money was on THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and WONDER as the winners of the Undead Poll, and those books fared quite well, coming in second and third respectively. SERAPHINA came in fourth, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN fifth, and BOMB sixth.

What came in first? Well, it’s a book that captured 27% of the vote, and held a commanding lead from start to finish. It is such a great book that, for the first time, I think the Undead Poll winner might win the whole thing. Could it be SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS? LIAR & SPY? MOONBIRD? STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY? Nah, it’s …

 

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.42.03 PM

Undead_Winner

Congratulations, Code Name Verity!  See you on Monday, April 1st!

And the 2013 BoB Undead Winner Is…

Our money was on THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and WONDER as the winners of the Undead Poll, and those books fared quite well, coming in second and third respectively. SERAPHINA came in fourth, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN fifth, and BOMB sixth.

What came in first? Well, it’s a book that captured 27% of the vote, and held a commanding lead from start to finish. It is such a great book that, for the first time, I think the Undead Poll winner might win the whole thing. Could it be SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS? LIAR & SPY? MOONBIRD? STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY? Nah, it’s …

 

Congratulations, Code Name Verity!  See you on Monday, April 1st!

Notes on March 2013

In March… …we learned that Abraham Lincoln is alive and into graphic novels for kids. The reincarnated 16th President appeared in a video created by John Schumacher and Colby Sharp about Newbery-winning book Lincoln: A Photobiography. …we found out about some of the graphic novels hitting shelves in 2013. In the inaugrual Preview Interview, First Second […]

An interactive video round-up (seven tools to explore)

Interactive video is a powerful new tool that allows teachers and learners to enhance video they make themselves–as well as the videos they discover on the Web–with text, images, maps, links, and other media. It transform video from static to dynamic, enabling the traditional medium to morph from monologue to conversation, often crowd-sourced style. It […]

5 Reasons ‘Blancanieves’ is the Most Thrilling ‘Snow White’ Ever

From Spain, a true new classic…

This Week’s New Comics: Boo Shaker

It’s gonna be a busy weekend, with both Easter and Wondercon! Pick up some good comics to read between panels, or to stuff the Easter basket! BOOM! Studios has another easy reader featuring the friends of Ice Age. Dark Horse Comics continues their re-release of the tween friendly manga Angelic Layer by the well-known manga […]

Pick of the Day: Action! Fun! Dance! for Kids (Audio)

Don’t miss the starred review of Learning Station’s Action! Fun! Dance! For Kids, a new album of 14 rousing songs that will get children up and moving.

Flashing Back

As I explained last April in Flashback Reviews, I’m “flashing back” to books read in prior years. This past year, I highlighted reviews I did in 2010, 2007, and 2005. I like highlighting past reviews for a few reasons: – I like revisiting the books I read – I like putting a bit of a […]

Round 3, Match 1

We’re getting down to the end! Round Three, Baby! It’s Match 1. Bomb vs The Fault in Our Stars, Judged by Lynne Rae Perkins. My prediction for this had been “Code Name Verity v The Fault in our Stars, Judge Lynne Rae Perkins. Much as I adore Verity, I think Perkins will be swayed by […]

Round 3, Match 2: Splendors and Glooms vs No Crystal Stair

3_2_Crystal_Splendors
No Crystal Stair
by Vaunda Nelson
Carolrhoda Books/Lerner
Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick

Judged by
James Patterson

 


It seems criminal to have to pick between SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS and NO CRYSTAL STAIR, to lead kids away from either of these tremendous stories.

SLJ, what gives?

SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS is one of the year’s best. It’s on the bestseller lists, won a Newbery honor, and is certainly worthy of all the attention — kids are loving the mystery story of two young puppeteers willing their new friend out of a curse. I loved it, too.

It’s peppered with twists and turns. Author Laura Amy Schlitz says she’s paying homage to Dickens, and she’s done him justice—I jumped from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, and was genuinely afraid for these poor kids. And I can’t decide who I’d run faster from, OLIVER TWIST’S lurking Fagin or SPLENDORS’ drunken Grisini.

There’s years of rich research packed into the story here. I can see classrooms reading this book and talking about the poverty of Victorian London, the history of entertainment, the thrills of steampunk…

Suffice to say, SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS is a pageturner to be reckoned with for years to come.

But NO CRYSTAL STAIR hit a vulnerable spot for me, and what I think should be a vulnerable spot for everybody: it proves that books, and people like the librarians and booksellers who surround others in books, can change lives, strengthen neighborhoods, even change the world. There’s power in a place that gives access to books and reading—a power we can’t afford to lose.

NO CRYSTAL STAIR, by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson, tracks the life of Lewis Michaux (who happens to be Nelson’s grand-uncle) and his founding of the African National Memorial Bookstore in Harlem. Michaux started by setting up a cart of books on the street corner and yelling “Don’t get took! Read a book! Come on by and take a look!” (Man, I miss living in New York City.)

Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. DuBois, and Malcolm X hung out at Lewis Michaux’s bookstore, and Michaux’s number one priority (after selling books, of course) was to keep their minds fueled, and keep the conversation heated.

I love that this could be read as a book, or played as a documentary. The quick monologues fly off the page like a movie.

And Michaux is a character and a half. The FBI—whose files are printed alongside his accounts–kept a watch on Michaux for selling “antiwhite” literature.  But what Michaux was really doing, was providing the best place of learning to ever hit New York City.

The African National Memorial Bookstore was a forum for people who didn’t have one before, and a rich source of African American authors and culture too. He pointed his finger at the white students who made their way uptown; he accused them of not doing enough to help their black neighbors. And when Black Panthers came in the store, holding up their fists, he unclenched them, and gave them books to clench instead. Michaux’s book collection and his personality began to change people’s habits, change people’s minds.

Nelson notes in the back of the book that she visited the store once as a child, but had no idea of its influence, or the story she had at her fingertips, until she was older. At that point, Michaux was already gone. And soon, as is becoming the trend in this country, the bookstore was gone too.

How could I resist this almost-non-fiction, Civil Rights-insider, media map of a story? A book about a man who grew up picking berries, then worked hard, opened up a bookstore, and became a superstar?

Sorry, but that’s my idea of a national hero.

Is it too late for us to redefine who we’re calling heroes in this country? Can’t the booksellers, the librarians, be king?

While kids read NO CRYSTAL STAIR, flipping through the mixed media, jumping through the different people’s voices, they’re getting a great message, one of the most important messages we have to offer as authors and librarians and teachers and gatekeepers: it’s cool to love books, to come together and share your ideas and passions. Books can be powerful enough to upset the norm, to actually change the way our world thinks. We’ve got to keep hammering this point home, because it’s true, but too many people out there seem to have forgotten it.

We’ve got to face the facts. Bookstores in this country are dying. Libraries are being pulled out from under us. The chances of a kid in this country coming in contact with a book he or she will love are getting pretty slim. Isn’t that scary?

So what are we doing about it? Let’s start with making some noise about this no-more-books, no-more-bookstores problem. And then, of course, let’s go out, and pick up books to bring home for our kids—books as great as NO CRYSTAL STAIR and SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS.

Give SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS to all of your kids who want a terrific, meaty mystery. But everyone should read NO CRYSTAL STAIR, which, if I must call a winner here, is my pick. Give it to all of your students, and let them flip around and go at it at their own pace. Better yet, bring a bunch of kids together and read this one aloud.

James Patterson

 

And the Winner of this match is……
NO CRYSTAL STAIR


I’m already on record as belatedly and somewhat reluctantly jumping on the SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS bandwagon. I really do think it is a fabulous novel—even if it’s not quite my cup of tea. On the other hand, I’ve announced my unwavering support for NO CRYSTAL STAIR since the very beginning of the Heavy Medal season. I understand why some people have trouble warming up to it, but James has articulated what works so well that I find no way to improve upon it. What he said.

— Commentator Jonathan Hunt

 

Rooting for both Splendors and Glooms and No Crystal Stair in the previous rounds puts me in a tough position to comment on this match. With Round 3 coming to a tight close, the victor of this match goes on to the Big Kahuna Round, the round which determines this years winners. Both books are highly qualified to win this title, but one must  prevail over the other. Splendors and Glooms transported me into a dark, twisted , fantastical world that imprisoned my outside thoughts and focused my every being on the story unfolding before my eyes. No Crystal Stair told a story that every human being regardless of age should read and have knowledge about, a story that was both moving and important about our country’s past. Although I was strongly compelled and moved by the heartwarming story about the African American fight for racial equality, Splendors and Glooms not only interested me and transfixed me, but gave me the power to let go of my wandering thoughts and focus on the truly amazing masterpiece that Laura Amy Schiltz created.

— Kid Commentator GI

 

Again, I can’t trust myself with Splendors and Glooms. In hindsight, I’ve appreciated it more, but I really have to read it again.

And Mr. Patterson is definitely right – No Crystal Stair is an important book. Since Lewis Michaux’s story is also absolutely fascinating, it definitely deserves a spot in the finals.

But, as of this match, there is no middle-grade fiction left, and it is unlikely to come back in the Undead Poll; Code Name Verity will probably win (which isn’t a bad thing). Is MG Fiction cursed? They fare badly against non-fiction, worse against YA fiction… Although the judges clearly enjoy books like Splendors and Glooms, those stories just don’t seem to have enough importance to most readers (including myself). And middle-grade fiction does have meaning, just not as tragically.

— Kid Commentator RGN

 

Round 3, Match 2: Splendors and Glooms vs No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Nelson Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz Candlewick Judged by James Patterson

 

It seems criminal to have to pick between SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS and NO CRYSTAL STAIR, to lead kids away from either of these tremendous stories.

SLJ, what gives?

SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS is one of the year’s best. It’s on the bestseller lists, won a Newbery honor, and is certainly worthy of all the attention — kids are loving the mystery story of two young puppeteers willing their new friend out of a curse. I loved it, too.

It’s peppered with twists and turns. Author Laura Amy Schlitz says she’s paying homage to Dickens, and she’s done him justice—I jumped from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, and was genuinely afraid for these poor kids. And I can’t decide who I’d run faster from, OLIVER TWIST’S lurking Fagin or SPLENDORS’ drunken Grisini.

There’s years of rich research packed into the story here. I can see classrooms reading this book and talking about the poverty of Victorian London, the history of entertainment, the thrills of steampunk…

Suffice to say, SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS is a pageturner to be reckoned with for years to come.

But NO CRYSTAL STAIR hit a vulnerable spot for me, and what I think should be a vulnerable spot for everybody: it proves that books, and people like the librarians and booksellers who surround others in books, can change lives, strengthen neighborhoods, even …

» Continue Reading: Round 3, Match 2: Splendors and Glooms vs No Crystal Stair