2014 Monarch Book Award Nominees (Part 3 of 3)

The Monarch Award is a K-3 readers' choice book award.

The name Monarch was chosen because of its familiarity to K-3 children and to symbolize the growth, change and freedom that becoming a reader brings. The Monarch is designed to encourage children to read critically and become familiar with children's books, authors and illustrators. The program is open to all K-3 age children in Illinois.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three 

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas. Random House | 2010 

Random House's Description: 

What would you do if you were invited to the princess’s tenth birthday party but didn’t have money for a gift? Well, clever Jack decides to bake the princess a cake. Now he just has to get it to the castle in one piece. What could possibly go wrong?

Download "The Books of Candace Fleming: An Educator's Guide." 

Candace Fleming likes to write biographies. 

"I love to write and I want kids to have that joy and passion. I used to go to schools and we'd talk about writing and I realized that kids did not know where to begin. I understand that. It's a difficult process, especially when you're learning about things like capitalization and punctuation and paragraph breaks and the conventions." - Candace Fleming

Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich. Simon and Schuster | 2011

Simon and Schuster's Description: 

Mister Bud is a dog of routine. He has wake up time, nap time, rest time, dinner time, etc. And everyone knows to follow his schedule. 

Then disaster strikes. A stranger comes home at "make a fuss time" and throws everything off! Zorro is little bit bossy and Mister Bud wants nothing to do with him. But when the dogs discover they like the same things (like chasing the cat and napping), everything becomes more fun. As long as everyone follows the schedule. 

Read about Zorro Gets an Outfit and Mister Bud Wears the Cone on Carter's website

Chicken Big by Keith Graves. Chronicle Books | 2010

On a teeny little farm, in an itty-bitty coop, a very small hen laid a big, giant egg. And out of this egg came one big, humongous  something. "It's big!" clucked the little rooster. "It's enormous!" clucked the small chicken. "It's anelephant!" peeped the smallest chicken. "Run for your lives!" they cried. No matter how they try, these clueless chickens can't make sense of the gigantic new member of their familyuntil he saves the day. With wacky, laugh-out-loud humor and silliness to spare, this BIG twist on the classic Chicken Little story lends a whole new perspective to what it means to be chicken.

Keith Graves talks about Chicken Big

Perfect Square by Michael Hall. HarperCollins | 2011

If the job of a picture book creator is to seamlessly merge artwork and text, then Perfect Square is about as successful as picture books come. Each day of the week brings a new challenge for the square, as it is cut, ripped, and shattered to pieces. But each time, something beautiful comes from the destruction. Big, bright, and bold, but with a subdued tone,Perfect Square will quietly inspire creativity in young readers. -Travis Jonker (Travis and I named Perfect Square one of the best books of 2011.) 

Ocean print Greenwillow

Michael Hall described on Greenwillow's blog how he created the illustrations for Perfect Square.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press | 2011 

Oh, goodie! It’s time to discuss I Want My Hat Back. The thirty-two page picture book that caused folks to take sides and tweet, “Are you on #TeamBear or #TeamRabbit?” Twibbons were created, hats sewn, and very opinionated blog posts were tweeted, facebooked, and emailed. Some people decided not to join either camp and formed #TeamSquirrel and #TeamTurtle. When was the last time a picture book caused such strong reactions and side-taking?
Reading I Want My Hat Back feels like you’re playing the detective game Clue. Who took Bear’s favorite hat? Was it the friendly frog? The determined turtle? The loquacious rabbit? The confused armadillo? Can Bear trust any of the forest critters? Will he ever get his red hat back? The intense and surprising conclusion will leave some kids speechless. (Travis Jonker and I named it a best book of 2011.) 

Download a "Read to Us Story-Hour" kit.

I Want My Hat Back | Weston Woods

Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. Henry Holt | 2011

Henry Holt's Description: 

Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different!

Explore Jenny Sue's studio. 

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw talks about her name

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray and Mike Lowery. Penguin | 2011. 

I am thrilled Laura Murray dropped by Watch. Connect. Read. to chat with me about picture books, school visits, reading, and writing. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Laura! 

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?) 

11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter. Random House | 2011

Random House's Description: 

Is it possible to eat snowballs doused in ketchup—and nothing else—all winter? Can a washing machine wash dishes? By reading the step-by-step instructions, kids can discover the answers to such all-important questions along with the book's curious narrator. Here are 12 "hypotheses," as well as lists of "what you need," "what to do," and "what happened" that are sure to make young readers laugh out loud as they learn how to conduct science experiments (really!). 

A Q&A with Nancy Carpenter. 

One by Kathryn Otoshi. KO Books | 2008 

KO Books Description: 

Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. As budding young readers learn about numbers, counting, and primary and secondary colors, they also learn about accepting each other's differences and how it sometimes just takes one voice to make everyone count.

Kathryn Otoshi talks about the power of reading. 

Download "One Guide: Empowering Our Young Readers."

                                            Part One | Part Two | Part Three


  1. Wow, this is some lineup of books! I know about half of them and own two (I WANT MY HAT BACK and CHICKEN BIG---both hilarious!). Always love the interviews, too! :)


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