Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Star of the North Award: 2015-16 Winners and 2016-17 Nominees

This year was probably the first year ever that Pinewood Elementary has participated in the Star of the North Award program. This program is for grades K-2. Librarians from around the state of Minnesota select 10-12 books as nominees. Students then need to read 8 of the nominees to vote on the book they believe should win the award. This year only our 2nd grade students voted as we just ran out of time to read the books with first and kindergarten. At this time, I plan to read enough nominees to each grade level to allow them all to vote, but things do change. We are also exploring STEM curriculum at this time, so we may do a little less reading. Either way, summer is a great time to get ahead in reading, and these books would be a great addition to your summer reading list.

Star of the North Reveal Party

The winners for the 2015-2016 school year were announced at a ceremony at Mackin Books in April. Third place went to Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz. This book retells the story of Little Red Riding Hood with Little Red beating the wolf in Tai Chi. Second place went to Gaston by KellyDiPucchio. This story tells of a puppy mix up and teaches a life lesson about fitting in. And in first place was The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This book tells the hilarious story of crayons walking off the job and expresses the importance of creativity.

This year'Rhoda's Rock Hunts nominees are (descriptions taken from publisher/author website or Amazon):
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret written and illustrated by Bob Shea: Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich written and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach: This is the delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls ill.: Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

In a Village by the Sea by Van Muon, April Chu ill.: Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative imagery, In a Village by the Sea tells the story of longing for the comforts of home. A perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures and lifestyles through rich pictures and words, moving from the wide world to the snugness of home and back out again.

Night Animals written and illustrated by Gianna Marino: First Possum hears it. Then Skunk. Then Wolf comes running.
“What could it possibly be?” asks Bat.
“Night Animals!” the animals declare.
“But you are night animals,” Bat informs this not-so-smart crew.
Children will love the oh-so-funny animals in this twist on a cozy bedtime book.

Red: A Crayon's Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall: Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let's draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can't be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He's blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!

Rhoda's Rock Hunt by Molly Beth Griffin, Jennifer A. Bell ill.: Rhoda is on a long, long hike with her aunt and uncle, each of them carrying backpacks of gear as they walk through the north woods. While Auntie June and Uncle Jonah watch for wildlife and set up their campsites, Rhoda is on the hunt for one thing: ROCKS.
She finds them in all shapes and patterns, from hearts and hats to stripes and sparkles. And every last treasure goes into her pack, making it heavier and heavier as they hike through forests and along streams. Soon Rhoda is sweaty, and tired of salami sandwiches, and wishing for her own bed. Then, on the last day, they come to the Big Lake. And its beach is covered in rocks. Rhoda can’t believe her luck.
After hours of play and even more rock discoveries, it’s time to head for home. By now Rhoda’s pack is too heavy to lift. Will she give up her rocks and return to the cabin for a real shower, a hot meal, and a soft bed? Or will she stay on the beach forever with her beloved collection? Her clever solution makes the most of her treasures—and offers delights for other hikers.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, Sydney Smith ill.: In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter. "Written" by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people, and small gestures.

Water is Water  by Miranda Paul, Jason Chin ill.: Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water heats up.
Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam cools high.
This spare, poetic picture book follows a group of kids as they move through all the different phases of the water cycle. From rain to fog to snow to mist, talented author Miranda Paul and the always remarkable Jason Chin (Redwoods, Coral Reefs, Island, Gravity) combine to create a beautiful and informative journey in this innovative nonfiction picture book that will leave you thirsty for more.

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, Zachariah O'Hara ill.: The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day? 

Maud Hart Lovelace Award: 2015-16 Winner and 2016-17 Nominees and Program

The Minnesota Youth Reading Awards announced the Maud Hart Lovelace Award winner at an evening event at the Red Balloon Book Shop in St. Paul. The third place winner was Summer of the Wolves by Polly Carlson Voiles. This book about a girl who doesn't fit in anywhere has a number of Minnesota connections from the setting to the author. The second place winner, full of humor and mystery, was Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander. And taking first place was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. This book was raved about by the students. The plot is similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but with more modern elements such as video games all built into a library setting.

This year was the first year in a while that we have attempted to participate in the Maud Hart Lovelace Award Program. The students were very excited to read the books. This year the program consisted only of voting on the award winner. This meant students had to read 3 of the nominees in order to vote for a winner. You can read a little more about that here. In the end we had six students vote. One of the reasons we had so few students able to vote was the lack of books. With our minimal budget, we are only able to purchase 2 copies of each book. It was suggested to me to limit the program to 5th grade students, but I hate limiting any program that I know will be good for my students.

In the next school year (2016-2017), we will still only be able to purchase two copies of each nominee. We will be doing a few things to make this program more successful working with our limited number of books. First, I plan to read at least one of the Maud Hart Lovelace nominees to all of our 3rd-5th grade classes. We are also asking for parent support to order more books through (If you are able to help please do.).  Lastly, we are hopeful that by sharing the nominee list with parents, students will be able to get the books from the public library to read over the summer. (You can also purchase them from most book stores. Shop Amazon here to support Pinewood.) Below you will find a list of the 2016-2017 Maud Hart Lovelace Nominees and a brief description. (Descriptions are taken from the authors website or amazon.)

This year's nominees for Division 1 are:
Almost Home by Joan Bauer: Sugar Mae Cole doesn’t often get downhearted, but lately it’s been a struggle to keep up her spirit. Newly homeless, Sugar, her mother Reba, and her beloved rescue dog, Shush, have come to Chicago to make a fresh start.  But it seems like everything goes wrong. Pouring her feelings into letters and poetry, Sugar is honest about her fear and confusion while holding tight to her dreams for a normal life… and learns to reach for the best she’s got during the worst time in her life.

Army of Frogs: A Kulipari Novel by Trevor Pryce: For years, the frogs of the Amphibilands have lived in safety—protected by an elite group of poisonous frogs named the Kulipari and by the dreamcasting spell of the turtle king that cloaks their lands in mystery. Now the spell is threatened by the Spider Queen, a talented spellcaster, and Lord Marmoo, leader of the scorpions. With the Kulipari off training in secret, the Amphibilands have never been so vulnerable. Enter Darel, a young frog who dreams of joining the Kulipari, despite his utter lack of poison and limited fighting skills. With the help of a motley crew of friends, Darel has the chance to become the warrior of his dreams.

Ava & Pip by Carol Weston: It’s the first day of fifth grade, and Ava feels invisible in your own family. Her parents, Anna and Bob, are constantly worrying about her shy big sister Pip. It’s not fair! Sure, Ava feels bad for Pip, but she gets mad at her too. Ultimately, Ava decides to help her sister find her voice--and in doing so, she finds her own.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin: Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner: Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington DC airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger…news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in, too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice. But when accusations start flying, the kids soon realize there’s more than a national treasure at stake. And with unexpected enemies lurking at every corner, do Anna, José, and Henry have what it takes to solve the heist?

Image result for el deafoEl Deafo by Cece Bell:  Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

Escape by Night by Laurie Myers: Ten-year-old Tommy and his sister Annie are intrigued by the new soldiers arriving in their Georgia town. Since the Civil War started, wounded men waiting to be treated at the local church-turned-hospital have been coming in by droves. When Tommy sees a soldier drop his notebook, he sends his dog, Samson, to fetch it. Tommy soon meets the soldier and is faced with the hardest decision he's ever had to make: whether or not he should help a Yankee escape to freedom.

Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin: In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, Oona tells the stories of his previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives have echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts: In 1963, as Kizzy Ann prepares for her first year at an integrated school, she worries about the color of her skin, the scar running from the corner of her right eye to the tip of her smile, and whether anyone at the white school will like her. She writes letters to her new teacher in a clear, insistent voice, stating her troubles and asking questions with startling honesty. The new teacher is supportive, but not everyone feels the same, so there is a lot to write about. Her brother, James, is having a far less positive school experience than she is, and the annoying white neighbor boy won’t leave her alone. But Shag, her border collie, is her refuge. Even so, opportunity clashes with obstacle. Kizzy Ann knows she and Shag could compete well in the dog trials, but will she be able to enter? From Jeri Watts comes an inspiring middle-grade novel about opening your mind to the troubles and scars we all must bear — and facing life with hope and trust.

news-featureNickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford: Eleven-year-old Sam Brattle is already having the worst Christmas ever – his dad’s bakery is going bankrupt, and his mom is spending the holidays with her new family. To make things worse, Nickel Bay Nick – the Good Samaritan who could always be counted on to anonymously distribute hundred-dollar bills around town every Christmastime, is a no-show. So this year the rest of Nickel Bay is as miserable as Sam.
When he stumbles upon the secret identity of this mysterious do-gooder, Sam is stunned to learn that he might now be Nickel Bay’s only hope. But before he can rescue his hometown, Sam has to learn the skills of a spy and unravel some even darker secrets that will change his life forever.

Secret Chicken Society by Judy Cox: When Daniel finds out that his class is going to hatch chicks as a science project, he is thrilled. He's sure that his parents will let him adopt Peepers, who is his favorite. But who ever guessed that chicks could run amok and get into so much trouble? This warmheated chapter book about an environmentally-conscious family's experiment with poultry farming will provided plenty of clucks and lots of chuckles for young readers.

Wild River by P.J. Petersen:When twelve-year-old Ryan reluctantly agrees to join his experienced older brother, Tanner, on a camping trip, he never dreams that it will turn into the most frightening day of his life.
Ryan admits he's no good at sports or outdoor stuff. He'd much rather be playing video games. But Tanner assures him it will be an easy trip. They'll kayak down the Boulder River, fish, and toast marshmallows at night.
When they set out, the river is higher than usual, and the kayaking is scary. Tanner keeps saying there's no reason to worry. But when he's badly hurt in a kayaking accident, Ryan is afraid he's not up to the challenge of saving his brother's life. The only danger Ryan has confronted has been in his video games. What good are those games now, when he's facing a real-life battle?