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Caldecott and Newbery Predictions!

5 Jan

The Caldecott and Newbery awards are just around the corner, and our offices are all abuzz with excitement. The Caldecott and the Newbery awards are given to outstanding children’s books each year. Past winners include Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me (2010 Newbery Medal winner) and The Lion & the Mouse (Jerry Pinkney’s 2010 Caldecott Medal winner).

We here at Book Clubs take children’s literature seriously—all year we follow what books have the best reviews, which ones are the most popular, and the cult favorites. Thanks to that, we all have opinions about what books will win! In the spirit of that excitement, we wanted to share what some of our senior editors predicted to be the award winners.

Steve M., our Senior Editor for younger clubs, has the following Caldecott predictions:

Medal:

City Dog, Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Honors:

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange
Farm
written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Art & Max
written and illustrated by David Wiesner

Lucille S., Senior Editor of Acquisitions, sent in her Newbery predictions:

The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan, with illustrations by Peter Sís
Mockingbird
by Kathryn Erskine
Countdown
by Deborah Wiles
Keeper
by Kathi Appelt
The Cardturner
by Louis Sachar
Forge
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Of course, like many of us, Managing Editor David A. is rooting for Mockingbird!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

29 Dec

This holiday season I was lucky enough to head down to Florida to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It – was – awesome! Walking up to the gates, we began to hear John Williams’ score from the movies, and then the Hogwarts Express came into sight.

And then of course, Hogsmeade.

They had everything—from Zonko’s to Honeydukes, and of course the Three Broomsticks…but we had a different plan. First off, we went to Olivander’s where we got to see a special kid get chosen by a new wand, and then Hogwarts!

The ”castle ride” had a bit of a wait (2 hours!), but all the while we were in line, we got to walk through Hogwarts. There were mandrakes in the conservatory and Harry, Hermione, and Ron even paid a visit to let us know what we were getting into (lots of flying and action, it seemed). We actually passed by the entrance of Dumbledore’s office!

And they were kind enough to give us warnings early on:

Once we got out of Hogwarts, we of course had to try Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice! And then it was straight on to Honeydukes and Zonko’s!

There were Ton Tongue Toffees and Cauldron Cakes, and Extendable Ears and U-No-Poo tablets!

We headed back to Platform 9 ¾, where the conductor and a Weasley twin were kind enough to take a picture with a friend. (As you can see, the twin is still a bit of a prankster).

Sadly, we did have to leave The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, our own money bags a few galleons lighter, but our eyes full of wonder and magic in real life! I have to be honest, I bought a wand.

Overall, the experience was wonderful and it really was Harry Potter come to life. I just wish I could live there! I suppose I’ll just have to reread them yet again!

Wayside Stories in Real-Life Situations

7 Dec

Maybe we all teach at Wayside School. Maybe we all have a Maurecia, who only eats ice cream (and Todd-flavored ice cream at that!); a Paul (who only sees two things: Pigtail 1 and Pigtail 2); and a Joy (who has the biggest mouth at school) in our classroom.

Maybe we’ve all had teachers at Wayside School. Maybe we’ve been served lunch by a Miss Much (a lunch lady), a Mrs. Gorf (the meanest teacher in the school), or a Mrs. Jewls (a teacher who believes her students are monkeys).

In any case, we want to know: What’s the most “sideways” experience you’ve had as a student, a teacher, or a parent in the classroom?

If you want to learn more about these crazy students and teachers, check out Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, available for only $1 in Arrow December.

Happy Hanukkah, Everyone…and Happy Reading!

3 Dec

I love Hanukkah. I love the latkes (potato pancakes), the applesauce, the jelly doughnuts, the dreidels (spinning tops), and the gelt (chocolate candy coins). I love lighting the shamash on my menorah and the way my windowsill looks with the soft lights from the candles.

It’s really important to learn about the reasons we all partake in these traditions, as the holiday is about a really important time in Jewish History, one that can be shared by some of my favorite (yes, you guessed it) books.

Here are a few wonderful titles that can help you teach your class or family about these eight candle-latke-dreidel-filled nights:

Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale. This Lucky November title by Brian P. Cleary showcases the wonders and traditions of the Hanukkah season in an amusing rhythmic text and brought to life with rich, colorful illustrations. This funny holiday read is sure to get each and every member of the family laughing! It even includes a paragraph summarizing the holiday.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Driedel, with pictures by Amy Cartwright, will help young kids sing and read the familiar words to the Hanukkah song. Featuring sparkly (and sturdy) pages and a pop-up dreidel that really spins, this book is an excellent Honeybee November choice for holiday celebrations that is sure to delight!

Hoppy Hanukkah is my new favorite title Hanukkah title. November Firefly showcases the talent of Linda Glaser, who has crafted as story about two little bunnies want to light all the candles and blow them out! But Mama and Papa explain to them how the candles are lit each night and the menorah is placed in the window for all to see. Grandpa and Grandma come over, too, and there are latkes (potato pancakes) to eat, presents to open, and a dreidel (spinning top) to play with.

What’s your favorite part about the holiday season?

We Listen to You…All of You!

8 Nov

It’s simple, really. We work in our offices in Soho (great neighborhood!) in the lovely New York City, but you are our eyes and ears into the classroom. Scholastic Book Clubs really thinks of parents and teachers as partners—we’re all in it to help children across America find books they can’t wait to read.

So we tout our customer service phone numbers and e-mails on every catalog and online,

AND we even include an e-mail address for our President, Judy Newman, so that you can write to her with any book recommendations or suggestions (judy.newman@scholastic.com). Comments like yours have made changes. No more service fees, unlimited enabling of catalogs online, Bonus Points (for teachers) starting at $1…and so much more.

In fact, I had the privilege of speaking to two teachers on Friday who had called customer service teams earlier in the week. (Yes, we care so much about what you have to say that we review comments and e-mails originally directed to our customer service team.)  These two early childhood directors had said that their parents weren’t ordering online (“jumped on the bandwagon” as one of them put it) and didn’t know why. So I spoke to them about educating parents on online ordering: ways to teach them how to order, how to find what they want, and how to talk about the rewards they would receive just for ordering online. We then talked about the books that their students were gobbling up  …and just kept talking. These two teachers gave me 30 minutes out of their hectic days, and they thought they were receiving help. I beg to differ. I learned so much, and was able to bring it all back to our teams here in NYC.

Thank you to these two teachers (you know who you are!), and to the thousands of teachers and parents who let us know how we can help.

Keep your ideas coming.

1-800-SCHOLASTIC &  bookclubs@scholastic.com

Comics in the Classroom

13 Oct

Call them what you will—comic books, graphic novels, illustrated guides—but these formats are permeating the mainstream. On Monday, we posted a mini picture post from our adventures at New York Comic Con this past weekend, and you guys had plenty to say! The comments covered everything from comic books being just like TV and video games to comic books being a great gateway into reading. Just like any other medium, comics are both these things and many others.

We were lucky enough to attend a lecture given by Scott Westerfeld on Sunday. He spent a few minutes talking about how he decided to write a series of novels (the Leviathan trilogy) with illustrations, and reminded us that, historically, most novels were once illustrated. On the right, you’ll see illustrations from a late 18thcentury edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. He noted an edition of The War of the Worlds that heralded the illustrator’s name far larger than that of H.G. Wells! Illustrations are beginning to regain the reputation they lost for being just as legitimate as the words themselves.

Comic books aren’t comic books because of their content—they are comic books because of the heavy use of illustrations to denote action that interacts with the text. They can contain any type of story or information: Comic books can be about superheroes or space aliens, but they can also be about history (as with the Maus graphic novels) or science (as with The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook)! For some children, sequential art makes difficult concepts easier to grasp.

Elephant & Piggie, a series of beginning readers by award-winning illustrator Mo Willems, feature common comic-book styles while still using the repetitive text and illustrations classically used in the genre. Compare these illustrations below: On the top, you have Elephant & Piggie and underneath, you have a strip from Scholastic’s own middle-grade graphic novel series, Amulet. Both use sequential art and speech balloons while also containing positive themes that students can relate to…but one is a reader and one is a comic.

Books for older children are also embracing traditional comic-book characteristics. Did you know that Jeff Kinney actually started the ever-successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a Web comic? Now the very same series has kids thrilled about reading! It also deals with issues kids face every day: bullying, growing up, friendship—look how excited these kids were to get their copies of the fourth book, Dog Days.

Graphic novels, illustrated guides, comic books—however you want to refer to them—have evolved into an excellent reading tool. Many of them cover complex issues and concepts in an accessible design. Some of you noted that this format has aided students with learning disabilities, others mentioned that these books were a great way to get kids interested in reading. After reading your comments, we decided to put together a list of classroom-appropriate graphic novels that cover a variety of subjects. If you have any suggestions, definitely leave a comment! We’d love to see what books you use!

Ghostopolis | Tab October
Bone | October
Amulet | Teens September
Resistance | Teens September
Maus | Teens September
Diary of a Wimpy Kid | Pre-order #5
Calvin and Hobbes | Fall
Dork Diaries | Arrow October
Popularity Papers | Arrow September
Adventures of Ook and Gluk | Lucky September
Elephant & Piggie Pack | SeeSaw October

Teacher Town Hall: Recap

27 Sep

Did you all watch and/or participate in the Teacher Town Hall last Sunday?

Pro-charter school, pro-public school, pro-tenure, anti-tenure—the opinions were strong, poignant, and conflicting.  It’s clear that there is no “one” answer to enhance America’s educational system.  But what do you think can help make a difference? And perhaps this question is more meaningful to you: What do you already do to affect lives? We heard from teachers who spend over $1,000 to help stock their classrooms, from teachers who stay until late in the evening to help supervise study hall for their students—I’m sure you have more to share.

Thank you to all of the teachers out there who help make a difference.  Really, we salute you. 

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, you can learn more here: www.educationnation.com. Education Nation is throughout the week of September 26th, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.