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Snow Day Rituals

20 Feb

Last year, we missed 10 days of school due to snow.

This year, we have had no snow days. It doesn’t seem fair. It seems especially unfair that we had snow this weekend and icy streets Monday morning – President’s Day – a day with no school.

There is hope. Snow is in the forecast, though it is hard to say if there will be enough to impact the school day.

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There are myths about how to ensure a snow day. The one we used at my previous school was simple: wear your pyjamas inside out.

A quick online search reveals that other places have other traditions  Here are a few

1. Place an ice cube in the toilet and flush it (one for each inch of snow you want). Alternatively, I also found a site that says to flush six ice cubes. It was also very clear that it must be ice cubes, not crushed ice.

2.  Several sites suggested sleeping with a spoon under your pillow.

3. Run around the kitchen table five times before bed (and chanting “I want it to snow” three times in a row).

4.  Eat ice cream for dinner.

5.  Do a snow dance on your front yard (while wearing your PJ’s inside out).

6.  Go to the freezer and open the door and dance singing SNOW DAY, SNOW DAY, SNOW DAY!

7. Put a spoon in the freezer.

8.  Put a white crayon in the freezer. Then,  put it under your pillow when you go to bed.

I am not doing any of these tonight, but who knows how I might feel later in the week.


This week’s book talks

16 Feb

It has been a whirlwind week! Although I was only at school for three days, I managed to talk about seven books.

Wednesday, I shared the Sibert winner and honor books.


Thursday, I book-talked Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, the winner of the Newbery Award.I wrote about this book back in May. you can reread my post here.


Friday,  I book-talked Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman. I won the YALSA Award for Nonfiction and was a Printz Honor book.

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Writing the blurbs

13 Feb

Nine people. Five books.A winner and four honor books.

The four Sibert Honor books were divided evenly among eight of us, assigned by our Chair. Our mission : a 50 word description of the book and a mere 20 words for authors and illustrators.

The struggle was real. How can you truly explain the merits of a book in  a mere 50 words?

The night before, before our final vote, our chair held the gold medal to each and we gave reasons why they deserved the gold medal. We should have recorded it.

My partner and I, assigned  Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix  started by brainstorming the words and ideas we had thrown out during the previous evening’s discussions. Form that we edited until we had word-smithed this:

Part biography, part culinary adventure, this vibrant and energetic book captures the essence of the LA street food scene. Graffiti-inspired art and hip-hop flavored text blend food, community and identity into a delicious feast for the eyes and ears that reflects the melting pot of America.

We were a little over 50 words, but hoped we’d be forgiven.

Summing up an author in 20 words was nearly impossible. We wrote and rewrote, trying to capture the facts without sounding boring. Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix had two authors and an illustrator. Here is how we described them:

Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of many award-winning children’s books. She lives in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and tries to eat kimchi every day.

June Jo Lee is a food ethnographer and co-founder of Readers to Eaters. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, she now lives near Seattle. This is her first children’s book.

Pioneering graffiti artist Man One grew up in Los Angeles, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount. He is a global leader in the movement to legitimize graffiti art.

While we were writing our honor book, our chair started to work on the blurb for the winner,Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner. My partner and I finished early so we were then tasked with the bio. The winner gets a 50-word bio, but even so it was difficult because the author of a very serious book has a really great sense of humor that we wanted to capture. Here is what we write:

Larry Dane Brimner is the author of 200 books and divides his time between Tucson and San Diego. He taught elementary, high school and university for 20 years. Despite the seriousness of his many award-winning books, his presentations to schools are a blend of stand-up comedy and storytelling. He believes everyone has a story to tell.

Once all the blurbs and bios were written our chair read them all aloud. And then we got to place the stickers. Each pair placed the sticker on the book they wrote up. I can’t begin to tell you how emotional this was.

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.

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