Sunday, March 23, 2014

Caudill, Bluestem, and Monarch

My students participate in three readers' choice book award programs: Caudill, Bluestem, and Monarch. The Caudill winner was announced a week ago and Bluestem and Monarch were announced on Friday. Drum roll, please! 

2014 Rebecca Caudill Award Winner

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

2014 Bluestem Award Winner

Wonder by R.J. Palacio  (Wow, it is a good year for August Pullman!) 

                   2014 Monarch Book Award Winner

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray and Mike Lowery 

The following interview was originally posted on August 9, 2013. I wrote the words in red, and Laura wrote the words in black. 

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School is a funny twist on the classic tale, told by the Gingerbread Man himself –

“I began in bowl. I was not yet myself,
just a list of ingredients pulled from a shelf.”

But this time, he isn't on the run… he's sliding down handrails, hiding in lunch bags, and spinning in the Principal's chair—all on the quest to find the children who made him 

I was a teacher before becoming a writer, and this story was inspired by my students’ favorite unit – the school Gingerbread Man Hunt. At its heart, the story is about belonging and acceptance, which is what I want for every child out there.

Mike Lowery’s illustrations are fresh, funny, and so endearing!  The comic/graphic novel style is just genius in my opinion.
The illustrations are really child-friendly as well - the kids at my school visits get such a kick out of being able to draw a close approximation of the little guy. I’ve heard comments like, “Hey, look! Mine’s pretty good – maybe I could be an illustrator too someday.”  When I hear that seed of an idea, it makes my heart happy!


The companion book is a “fired-up, follow-up” called The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck, where the same little determined Gingerbread Man falls out of a classmate’s backpack on a field trip to the fire station, and is discovered by a hungry, crumb-snatching Dalmatian! An adventure ensues…
This book idea grew from our annual school Fire Station visit for October Fire Safety week. The students were always in awe, and the fire fighters were so friendly and genuine, letting the children try on their gear, explore the fire engine, and spray the hose. They also did an incredible job teaching the students about fire safety.
I started to envision how much fun it would be to put the Gingerbread Man and his class in that setting and see what adventures might happen.

School visits ROCK! They are one of my favorite "joys" of being a writerI love hearing the giggles and seeing the smiling faces full of mischief, wonder, and creative energy. When I visits schools, it's my goal to entertain, inspire, and show kids' how to let that creative energy bloom.
And the things kids say crack me up – at one of my recent school visits, a little guy in the front row was so excited to tell me that he was a writer too. I said, “Awesome! What do you write?” And he replied, “I write comics, my newest one is called…
What a title! What an imagination! I told him that I could already picture the illustrations for that one, and I would totally pick it off the shelves in a bookstore.
I’d also love to share the pictures below to show the incredible creativity of librarians, teachers, and parents. It is a blessing to work with these dedicated folks - they truly make books “come alive” for children.

A school library decorated so that kids could act out 
scenes from the first book -MISSING posters and all.

School Staff dressed like the GB Man, greeting kids in the auditorium. You should have seen the kids’ faces!

An awesome book nook created by teachers and kids! Who wouldn't want to read in this cool GB house?
I think book trailers
·are an incredibly fun way to capture attention and create anticipation for a book.
· tap into kids’ “visual” sides.
· would make great middle-grade class projects for the kids’ favorite books.

Picture books are magic, wonder, and adventure all wrapped up in a 32 page mini-art show.

Reading is when you hear your voice in a character’s voice, and understand others by walking in their shoes (or their little cookie feet.)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me Where in the World is the Gingerbread Man?  Can you name the places he’s been? 
(This is a mapping game we have fun with at school visits. Would you like to test out your geography too?) 

Congratulations to R.J. and Laura! 

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