Archive | February, 2018

Day 4 in Denver – #alamw18

11 Feb


Sunday morning, I was up early for the MacMillan Children’s “Rise and Shine Breakfast. I had to leave a before the presentations ended, for my final Sibert meeting.

This meeting was fun. We divvied up the books and wrote the text for tomorrow’s announcement and the press release.  The criteria are tight. The winner of the award gets 50 words for the description of the book, 25 words to quote content or comments and another 50 words for the author and/or illustrator bio(s). Honor books get even less: a 50 word description of the book and a mere 20 words for authors and illustrators. It was fun, intense work.

Once each group finished, we read aloud what we’d written. And then we placed medals on the books that will appear in the YMA presentation. It felt like a coronation.

I spent some time in the exhibit hall later and shipped home some books. Then, I went back to my hotel for a nap. I can’t tell you how exhausting the process has been. It has been wonderful, but I am pooped.

We reconvened Sunday evening to call the winners. Let me just say, there were tears and cheers, from all of us and on the other end of the phone.

You can watch the presentation live here at 8 a.m (Mountain Time)


Day 3 in Denver – #alamw18

11 Feb

I awoke to snow, falling and on the ground. I bundled up and attended the Harper Collins breakfast, where I got  several arcs I wanted – and a few I didn’t know I wanted!


As for the rest of the day – I can’t say anything. We were locked in our room from 8 a.m. we took bathroom, coffee, and meal breaks.

We have a  short meeting tomorrow morning, then reconvene in the late afternoon to make THE phone calls. The time between the two meetings will be mine to explore the conference.

Day 2 – #alamw18

10 Feb

I accomplished my goal of getting my badge before my 8 a.m. meeting. Here is the sign that greeted me outside the door of our room


Because our deliberations are secret, our doors were locked, we could exit, but had to knock to get back in.


And yes, there really is a locked trunk of books.


We met from 8-noon, then took an hour lunch break. We met again from 1-5, when we took a dinner break. I went over to the exhibit hall,but, after concentrating all day, it was too much. I saw a few friends, then took a little downtime in my room. We met for our third session of the day from 7-9.

Exhausted, I went back to my room.

Overall, it was a great day. Even though we are discussing nonfiction books, we laughed a lot!  Though maybe not as much as the Geisel committee. They are meeting in a room between our room and the women’s restroom. Every time I walk past their locked door, I hear laughter!


Day 1 in Denver: #alamw18

9 Feb

I dropped Lucy at Sniff Dog Hotel Wednesday evening, then went home to pack my bags. I had to get up before the birds Thursday – the 7:58 a.m. flight I booked a few months ago had been changed to a 5:15 a.m. flight. But, the universe was shining down on me, despite the early hour. There was no line at the check-in counter and the security screening line was quick. My flight departed on time and we actually arrived 30 minutes before the scheduled time.

I took the train from the airport to Union Station, which was excellent value – $9 instead of a $60 taxi ride! I arrived at my hotel around 10, after a short walk from the station. I planned to ask the Hyatt Regency if I could drop my bag until check-in time later in the afternoon, but they anticipated people arriving early and I got my room! I dropped my bags and went out to explore a little bit of Denver.

I’d scoped out a few places I wanted to see near the hotel. My first stop was the only yarn shop downtown, called The Yarn Shoppe! I had a nice chat with the woman behind the counter. I was a bit hungry, so stopped by Five on Black, where I had a delicious bowl.


The next few days promises a lot of sitting, and I want to be sure I eat healthy food before we open the snack containers during our meetings and discussions.

Refreshed and energized, I walked to the Tattered Cover Book Store. It was just a browsing visit, but well worth stopping by.


I was starting to feel weary and decided to head back to the hotel for a nap before meeting my committee colleagues for dinner. I simply HAD to stop at the The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Denver Branch. It was a small but very interesting place to stop. I took a bag of money as a a souvenir.


According to what I read at the museum, this Denver branch shreds 320,000 bank notes EVERY DAY! I guess that’s why they give these bags away as free souvenirs.

Back at the hotel, I took a short nap. Here is the view from my window. You can see the mountains in the distance and the Convention Center, only one block away. I am looking forward to meeting the bear tomorrow when I pick up my badge first thing in the morning.


The nine Sibert Committee members met for dinner at a marvelous restaurant called Rioja. Our chair made the reservation here because the restaurant came highly recommended, but also because the executive chef is a woman. Here is my plate: grilled lamb loin, pomegranate-black truffle risotto, Brussels sprouts, black trumpet mushrooms, pomegranate molasses 



The meal was delicious and it was wonderful to talk with the other committee members in anticipation of the discussions we will have tomorrow.

This week’s book talks 2/5-7

7 Feb

I’ve been waiting for over a year for this week. Tomorrow, I leave for the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver!!!!! My four days of sub plans are written, but, this week, my students will only get three days of book talks – all from my Mock Newbery pile.

Monday,  it was See you in the Cosmos  by Jack Cheng


Tuesday, I waxed poetic about Nikki Grimes’ One Last Word.


And, finally, today, Wednesday, I will share The Someday Birds  by Sally J. Pla.


I’ll be travelling tomorrow, so look for my first ALA update Friday morning.

Staying focused

6 Feb

After a year of waiting, it is almost time for me to go to Denver, deliberate with my Sibert Award Committee colleagues , and make our decision. I am so excited.

I am also so distracted.

Jane Siberry has a song entitled “Everything Reminds Me of My Dog”.  Right now, everything reminds me of my upcoming trip. You can listen to Jane’s original here,  but, with heartfelt apologies to Ms. Siberry, here is how I am feeling today.

Everything Reminds Me of My Trip

everything reminds me of my trip
the kid reading nonfiction reminds me of my trip
receiving mail remind me of my trip… hold placed – YES!
taxicabs remind me too

if you remind me of my trip
we’ll probably share a smile –
smile and the world smiles with you…

smiling at strangers reminds me of my trip
(strangers are friends I just haven’t met)
the way people dress reminds me too
(I must pack just the right clothes)
sad things remind me of my trip –
I wish my dog Lucy could come –
(I’ll miss her so much)
But pretty soon I’ll be standing
on a sidewalk in Denver
blinking in the sun
ho oh!


What I’m reading now

5 Feb


Publisher’s Summary: Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

I am savoring this one and reading it at school. I get 15 minutes in each Humanities class and 20 more minutes every other day, when I have an Enrichment class. This is too good to rush through.

A few new characters are added, and, in this book, the journal entries come from the Thunderhead itself, giving us some insight into its mind and thinking, if AI can possess such things. A couple of students have read Scythe and they are eyeing my library copy enviously. Maybe I tease them with it a little, waving the cover at them. I did tell them that Neal Shusterman will be at the Powells in Beaverton on February 15th. I hope that makes up for the teasing.

This week’s book talks 1/29-2/1

2 Feb

I added some of the Mock Newbery club books to my classroom library and decided to book talk them this week.


Monday, it was Clayton Bird Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia.


Tuesday,  I chose Train I Ride by Paul Mosier, one of my favorites.


Wednesday,  I chose the book that has been getting a lot of Newbery buzz, Beyond the Bright Sea  by Lauren Wolk.


Thursday,  I chose The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish.


Today marks the end of the semester, so we have no kids today.

And the winner is…

1 Feb

The first ever Stoller Middle School Mock Newbery Club concluded Tuesday. Students voted, feasted and got to choose some books to take home with them. Here is what they chose.

The Mock Newbery Winner: Forget me Not by Ellie Terry


They chose two Mock Newbery Honor books

Real Friends  by Shannon Hale and Refugee by Alan Gratz

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They are excited to see what the official Newbery Award committee selects on February 12th. You can watch the announcements live here. I’ll be in the audience, sitting with my Sibert colleagues.


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