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YALSA’s 2016 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #3

3 Jan

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I’m rereading the Morris award finalists in reverse order: my favorite first, and working my way down to number 5. My logic is this: I have a favorite, but I need to give the other four an objective opportunity to convince me that they also deserve to be the winner. Reading them in this order, I will arrive in Boston with my #5 fresh in my brain and ready to discuss all five finalists well. I hope my strategy works.

I also managed to reread two nonfiction finalists this week, before I have to go back to work tomorrow . (It is a good thing I love my job!)

Symphony for the City

My first journey through Symphony for the City if the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad,  by M. T. Anderson, was via audiobook. This time through, with the hard copy in hand, I was able to enjoy the text along with the many photos included.

When I first heard that Margarita Engle’s Enchanted Air was a nonfiction finalist, I was a little surprised because, although it is a memoir, it is written in poetry. I love this bold move on the part of the committee!

Enchanted Air

I always talk to may students about the need to reread and a second reading of Enchanted Air,  was a real treat. If nonfiction isn’t your thing, this would be an excellent place to start.

I still have one more nonfiction book to go, and my hold is waiting for me to pick it up at the library this afternoon.

It is hard to believe that, in a week, I will be a in Boston and on a week and a day, we will know the winners. The 2016 Youth Media Awards will be announced at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, January 11, 2016, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Boston. If you can’t make it to Boston, you can watch the presentation live HERE.

…Hello 2016

1 Jan

Lucy and I welcomed the New Year, snuggled in bed.

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Before falling asleep, she told me that her 2016 resolution was to refrain from sleeping in the middle of the bed to give me more room. I hope she keeps it!

She wasn’t feeling very well last night, and I am now in debate mode: do I take her to the emergency vet or wait until tomorrow to see my regular vet? I wish she could tell me what is wrong.

I am especially worried because, one week from today, I am off to the ALA’s 2016 Midwinter meeting in Boston and I don’t want to worry about Lucy being unwell while I am gone. I am excited about the events I am scheduled to attend. I don’t anticipating having to ship home another box like I did at the Annual meeting.

Today also marks the official start of my second year as a round 2 CYBILs judge for YA Nonfiction.

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The announcement of the finalists in all categories has been made and I can now tell you that the finalists I will be reading are

Symphony for the City Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

Most DangerousMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Unknown-1 I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

UnknownTommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal

Unknown-2Courage and Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

Unknown-3Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger

Unknown-4Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long

 

SHIFT: A year of a word

29 Dec

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Last New Year’s Eve, I wrote about my One Little Word for 2016: shift. I wanted to change jobs, be a more creative teacher and embrace the instructional changes happening in my district. I was looking forward to a year of exciting work on the Morris Award. Now, two days short of a year, I want to reflect a little on the shifts I’d hoped for and the unexpected shifts that happened.

I am thrilled by my new job. I was very disappointed two years ago when I wasn’t hired to teach at either of the middle schools where I interviewed. I don’t really believe in Destiny, but it feels as though I was destined for the job I got. It is that good a fit. I work on an excellent 6th grade  team and we gather every lunch period and eat together. I share the teaching of the Humanities with another teacher (we each get half the kids on our team for a two-hour Humanities block). This could be tricky, but Nina and I work incredibly well together.

The instructional shifts that were happening in elementary are also happening in middle school. In the summer, I attended a TCRWP inservice as middle school teacher shifted how writing instruction was happening. The 6th grade teachers at my school made this our learning team project and we’ve been working through TCRWP’s Units of Study. It’s been work but we are learning how to make it fit our kids.

I am wrapping up my Morris Committee work by rereading our five finalists. I will go back to work for only four days next week, then go to Boston where we will decide on the winner. It has been an incredible year. I’ve met great authors and committee members. I’ve thought about literature in a new way. I will miss the work, but I am looking forward to some free range reading, too.

Last year I was a round 2 YA nonfiction judge for the CYBILS Award and I will repeat that again this year. The finalists will be announced on January 1st ad that’s when my work begins.

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Some unexpected shifts happened. I lost my dad in late July and my dog, Fiona, in November.

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I’d hoped Fiona would make it other 15th birthday in February. And you always think your parents will live forever.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year. Best wishes for 2016!

YALSA’s 2016 Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #2

27 Dec

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The rereading of the Morris Award finalists continues. I can’t believe it is only 12 days until I go to Boston.

Unknown

I finished Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War  by Steve Sheinkin. It is interesting that it all took place during my childhood. I remember bits of it in the news, but never really put it all together.

Most Dangerous

I also read This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain.

Unknown

I never really gave Mr. Audubon much thought. Although I’ve read a few novels in which he is featured, I just sort of imagined him in a studio, painting. This Strange Wilderness really sheds light on the struggles he had to simply make the paintings and what it took to get the book published. This book feels much more like a  traditional biography than Most Dangerous, but it is very well-written and researched and, reading it, I got a real feel for the times in which Mr Audubon lived.

I have two of the other three books checked out from the library.I’ve already read these, but will reread them with a more critical eye. The third is on hold ad, of course, it is the one I haven’t read. I’m hoping to get it this week.

Re-reading

17 Dec

Like the students I teach, I’m rereading a lot right now. They are rereading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and  The Call of the Wild. We hit literary essay writing pretty hard the last few weeks, so, instead of having them write a paper, they are creating an info graphic to compare and contrast the two stories.  Core 1 cheered when I told them. They are drawing and cutting and leafing through both stories, looking for their text evidence.

I’m rereading the 2016 William C. Morris YA  Debut Award Finalists.

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It’s only three weeks until I leave for Boston, where the committee will choose the best of these five to win the award. If you haven’t read them yet, take some time over the break (if you get one) and read them because they are all fantastic.

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda written by Becky Albertalli, published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Conviction written by Kelly Loy Gilbert, published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group
  • The Weight of Feathers written by Anna-Marie McLemore, published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press
  • The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly written by Stephanie Oakes, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers
  • Because You’ll Never Meet Me written by Leah Thomas, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

 

The 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalists

3 Dec

After 10 months of reading, we are ready to announce the 5 finalists for the 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009. This award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

Drumroll, please!

Unknown-4

Because You’ll Never Meet Me written by Leah Thomas, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Ollie ​is allergic to electricity​ and lives in isolation with his mother. Moritz was born with no eyes​, has a pacemaker, and is bullied at school. ​They become pen pals and unlikely friends as they learn more about one another.

 

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Conviction written by Kelly Loy Gilbert, published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group

Braden is firm in his convictions; he trusts his father, believes deeply in God, and is dedicated to a future playing baseball. His faith, truth, and justice are tested when his father is accused of murder.

Unknown

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda written by Becky Albertalli, published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

On the brink of coming out, Simon’s plans are derailed by a scheming classmate who learns about Simon’s email exchanges with a mysterious boy that Simon may just be falling in love with.

Unknown-3

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly written by Stephanie Oakes, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers

After spending most of her life in the Kevinian Cult, Minnow loses her family, her freedom, and her hands. Now Minnow is behind bars, recounting her life in the cult and facing what really happened the night the camp burned down, leaving the Prophet dead.

Unknown-2

The Weight of Feathers written by Anna-Marie McLemore, published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press

 

Lace and Cluck are from rival performing families. The troupes only cross paths once a year, but tensions mount and fights break out. When tragedy strikes during a performance, fate thrusts them together and the star-crossed pair are forced to deal with their families’ feuding past.

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