Mock Caldecott Winners!

Neither snow nor conferences could prevent our class from picking this year’s Mock Caldecott winners! Despite not having school all last week, and despite Ms. Houghton’s two-day absence this week at the National Title I Conference, our class has arrived at a decision.

Two books received honors, two very different books, in my mind. The first honor book selected was:

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg. I actually didn’t read this book to the class until the day before our first round of voting, but it just barely made it onto our 11-book short list. Students say they voted for this book because we were amazed by the story of a woman going down Niagara Falls in a barrel. The book pointed out she was an old lady and a woman, and we thought it was strange that people were disappointed that she was so old.

The second Caldecott honor book we selected was a write-in candidate that made it onto our short list:

Sidekicks by Dan Santat. Sidekicks made it as a write-in candidate because it was funny. Specifically, we liked when they fought the hippo that was eating fish and he sat on the pile of fish (one critter was talking). It was also funny at the end of the book because at the the end Vapor Man goes out to his car and sees that it exploded.

OVERWHELMINGLY, the winner of this year’s Mock Caldecott award is:

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. Despite the fact that Wonderstruck got no Caldecott or Newbery love, this book was by far the tops in our class. SPOILER ALERT: We liked that Ben never knew that Rose was his grandma. A lot of times books try to trick us but we figure it out before the end, but not this one. We enjoyed the part of the book where Rose escapes from her house and sends a note saying “HELP ME” across the water as a boat. We discovered that William was the brother of Rose — that helped us put together what the “Wonderstruck” book meant.

Congratulations to our talented winners!


For immediate release:

This morning, at 9:47 AM, Ms. Houghton’s class announced its selection for this year’s Caldecott award. By a landslide, three-time Caldecott award veteran David Wiesner won for his hillarious book, Art and Max.

Two honor books were also selected, and they included Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein and Chalk by Bill Thomson.

“I think Art and Max was a really good book ’cause he paints Max and then he puts water on him and he turns invisible. Then, he paints him a lot of colors and then he looks like a rainbow,” Eddy said.

“I liked Chalk even though I didn’t hear it; I can still picture the book in my head. I like drawing a lot, and I’d like to have those things in real life, so I picked that book,” Ra’Seana said.

“I really liked Art and Max because it had a lot of colors in it,” Payton said. “Plus, I really liked the book because it has colors that people don’t have and wouldn’t usually use to make art.”

Anthea added, “I liked Interrupting Chicken because whenever his dad told him a story, he interrupted every single story. I liked it because at the end he tried to tell his dad a story and by the time he told it, his dad was already asleep.”

“I liked Chalk because whenever they found chalk and were drawing stuff, it kept becoming in real life,” Deandre said.

“I liked Chalk because when the boy made a dinosaur and they were scared and they figured a way to get him away,” Miriam explained. “The boy made a cloud that could make the dinosaur go away, and when the dinosaur went away, they never touched the chalk ever again.”

“I liked Chalk whenever the dinosaur came out because it scared all the kids and it looked funny,” Shi said.

“I liked Art and Max because it was funny because Max said that the other guy can paint him, but he like literally painted him,” Cecilia said.

Alexis said, “I liked Art and Max because when they painted him he was invisible, but then they painted him and he was so colorful.”

“I liked Chalk because the dinosaur came alive and the dinosaur scares them,” Thalia said.

“I liked Chalk because it’s like the dinosaur was holding the chalk and the dinosaur wanted them to draw it,” Esther said. “So they’d be like, dinosaur, yeah!”

“I liked Art and Max because it had a lot of color and it was funny because it was like he was an actual rainbow,” Kaybrien said.

Ms. Houghton said she was incredibly proud of her students’ work on literacy and reading so far this year.

“They read 11 books that were eligible for the Caldecott this year,” she said. “Plus, we’ve already read 16 previous Caldecott winners, and we’re in the middle of two other Caldecott winners. They’re excellent voters because they are well informed.”

Ms. Houghton’s parents have already purchased a copy of Art and Max for the classroom, and Ms. Houghton will order Interrupting Chicken and Chalk this afternoon.

TOMORROW! The official Caldecott winners will be announced, and Ms. Houghton will be at Wildwood early to see the awards given live at 7:45 AM.

Ms. Houghton’s class says, “Sincerely, Ms. Houghton’s class.”



A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Because we have so many amazing books filling up our classroom, I rarely purchase new picture books. Because we usually read different books each year, the library is often a better (and much cheaper!) option. But when I saw this book being consistently short listed for the Caldecott award, I knew I had to check it out.

Elizabeth Bird is a NYC children’s librarian, and I agree with her suggestions almost always. Here’s her review.

I stopped by the excellent Ravenna Third Place Books last weekend, and fresh on the heels of my own sick day, the fact that A Sick Day for Amos McGee was prominently featured on the picture book table, made it seem a rather serendipitous purchase.

Vintage is hot right now, and you’ve probably figured out by now that I love it. 365 Penguins is one of the best picture books written in the past ten years, for example. (And the author has a sweet new book out too, by the way, that looks fantastic!)

But as many reviewers before me have mentioned, Amos McGee isn’t so much vintage as it is timeless. I wonder if it’s because woodcuts are such a big commitment to create that when you make them, you want the designs to be relevant for a long time as well.

Speaking of woodcuts, I’m also excited to talk about this woodcut book after we’ve read a woodcut book of a pretty different style. I’m speaking of the excellent Drummer Hoff, which we’ve revisited several times already this year. Here’s a read-along version of the book.

And a group of kids singing the book.

I’m getting off topic. Bottom line:

1. Woodcuts are amazing.
2. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is lovely.
3. I can’t get Drummer Hoff off my mind.

((By the way, in case you’re wondering “If you think 365 Penguins was such a great book, why didn’t it get a Caldecott, Ms. Houghton?” I see two explanations. First, it would have gone up against the incredible The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Second, Caldecotts are given to US illustrators.))


Sub Video 9-17-10

Hi there!

Here are all the videos you should need for today’s class. You can watch The Man Who Walked Between the Towers here:

And here’s a video that might help you do the H Chart lesson to compare and contrast Mirette on the High Wire with The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. It also explains some of the math you’ll be doing today.

Remember what we talked about yesterday afternoon regarding appropriate guest teacher behavior. I hope you have an excellent and productive Friday!


Tightrope Walking

This week we’ll be reading The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. You can hear it read aloud here:

You can also read the entire book on Google Books by clicking here.

Watch an interview with Philippe here. There’s actually a full documentary called Man on Wire, if you’re interested. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

And on a side note, I adore this song by Janelle Monae, also called “Tightrope.”


The Funny Little Woman

This week, we’ll be studying The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent. This is another Caldecott winner, although I personally prefer Mosel’s Tikki-Tikki-Tembo.

In the book, the funny little woman makes rice dumplings. If you’re not familiar with rice dumplings, they usually come wrapped in banana leaves and look like this:

Rice Dumplings

Click here to find out how they’re made.

I love getting food from Mee Sum Pastry at Pike Place Market, but I’ve never tried their rice dumplings. I’ll let you know what I think next time I’m downtown!