Share this Page

 Mock combined

Every year the Provo Library gets together to try to guess what books will become the winners of the coveted Caldecott Award and the Newbery Award both given by the American Library Association’s ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) division. The Caldecott Award is given for the best illustrations in a children’s book for the year. The Newbery is given for the best writing in a children’s book for the year. There was a lot of discussion (and passion) for different books; however, these are the books that rose to the top. What are your picks for the best children’s book or children’s book illustrations? 

2.12 Blue Sky White StarsMock Caldecott Winner: BLUE SKY WHITE STARS
By Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

In this patriotic book Naberhaus compares the United States flag to the country—both the people and the land. The blue sky and white stars could be a part of the flag—or it could be the blue sky full of white stars above the Statue of Liberty. There are “sea waves” that lap against our shores or we can “see waves” of the flag as it flutters in the breeze. Each page depicts a different part of patriotic zeal associated both with the symbols of the United States and with the parts and people of the country. And of course we have to talk about the illustrations! These illustrations are quite stunning. Nelson has managed to depict scenes that one Mock Caldecott attendee described as a “modern day Norman Rockwell type of illustrations.” Needless to say many in our group were quite enamored with the details and expressions in the pictures. 

 

2.12 Grand CanyonMock Caldecott Honor: GRAND CANYON
By Jason Chin 

This is one of my favorite books of the year. In it Chin talks about the different parts of the Grand Canyon—one of the most iconic landscapes in North America. Not only does it tell about how the canyon was formed, but it also goes into detail about the geological layers, the flora within the different regions of the canyon, and what fauna can be found there. Also, this information all comes about through the well-written text. But the true star of the book is in the illustrations. The main illustrations depict a story all on their own of a girl and her father as they camp and hike through the Grand Canyon. Plus those illustrations look like they are placed on top of animal or nature field guides that showcase the various wildlife and plant life and habitats within the area. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrations also have some cut outs—which help to show readers the past life of fossils or rocks that the characters see while on their trip. The illustrations give a life and purpose to knowing all the facts and details listed in the text—and it increases a reader’s desire to visit that great National Park! 

 

2.12 TriangleMock Caldecott Honor: TRIANGLE
By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen 

This is a tale of two shapes that are friends. Triangle lives in a triangle house among shapes that are triangles for a landscape. Square lives in a square house in a place with square shapes all around. One day Triangle goes out on a quest to play a “sneaky trick” on Square. And he succeeds in scaring Square—which in turn causes Square to want to retaliate by playing a trick on Triangle. The beauty of the illustrations of this book are most prominent in the shapes themselves—specifically the expressiveness in their eyes. These little oval spheres with black dots convey such emotion! How in the world Klassen can indicate what each shape is thinking just through the eyes is remarkable. And one of the main reasons as to why this was one of our Mock Caldecott Honor picks.  

 

2.12 UndefeatedMock Newbery Winner: UNDEFEATED: JIM THORPE AND THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM
By Steve Sheinkin 

Sheinkin tells the story of how Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner, and many others changed the way football is played today. Most people know about Jim Thorpe as a football player, but the background of where he came from, the atrocities that he and his classmates endured, and those other teammates that shaped the game of football are less known. The beauty of this book is that even though this is a book full of facts and bits of history it doesn’t read like a boring textbook. In fact, many of the Mock Newbery participates don’t even like football—yet they really liked this book! With phenomenal writing and a good story it isn’t a surprise that this book was a strong contender.  

 

2.12 Tumble and BlueMock Newbery Honor: TUMBLE & BLUE
By Cassie Beasley 

This is the story of Blue (who no matter what loses at anything he tries) and Tumble (a girl who more than anything wants to be a hero to save the day). When Blue is dropped off at his grandmother’s house just before a magical chance to change their fates—if they figure out how to meet a crocodile with magical abilities—he is hopeful that this will be the beginning of good things. Tumble does not believe in all the fate/destiny talk that Blue’s family is certain of, yet she does believe in helping Blue navigate his bad luck. This magical realism story is well-written for the intended audience. The discussion, comments, and love that we had for this book made it quite a strong contender. Some of the strengths that we especially liked were: the characters, the setting, the pace, the dialog—well, just about everything! It was refreshing to see not only the main characters grow throughout the story, but the minor characters seemed well-developed as well.  

 

2.12 Beyond the Bright SeaMock Newbery Honor: BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA
By Lauren Wolk 

Crow is uncertain where she comes from. She knows that Osh rescued and has raised her—and she loves him. Only, she can’t stop wondering about her past. When Crow starts looking into the history of an island that housed a leper colony she finds more mysteries and danger than answers. We not only knew Crow and Osh and Miss Maggie, but we knew the Elizabeth Islands and the historical setting when the story takes place.  Along with the characters and the story, particular phrases and sentences stuck with us long after we read the book. Wolk is a master wordsmith. And this book received quite a bit of love at our Mock Newbery event.

 

book club 2

So you've put together a great group for book club, and everyone's excited to get reading. If it's your turn, hosting can feel intimidating, but hopefully these tips will help.

  1. Choose books carefully
    If you're choosing what the group reads, be thoughtful about your selection, and don’t leave it to the last minute. Be mindful of what the group will enjoy and have a good discussion about. It can help if you or someone else in the club have already read the book. That way no one is caught off guard by content and you know you'll have plenty of topics to discuss. If a few group members have already read it, don't hesitate to choose the book anyway. Chances are they'll enjoy the month off and will still be excited to discuss their thoughts.

    Be sure to mix things up as far as genre and audience go. Contemporary adult literature, historical fiction, and classics don't have to be your only options. YA and children's lit provide plenty of depth and a wonderful change of pace from typical book club reads, as do fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

    Still feel a little overwhelmed by options? Bring it to the group! Even though the host selects the book each month in our club, they typically discuss options with all of us before making the final call.

  2. Review the book before you meet
    Even if you’ve just read the book, doing a quick refresher on timelines, character names, and themes is a good idea. Sparknotes or Shmoop are perfect tools for this. I’ve been guilty of skipping this step and have been amazed at how much I’ve forgotten in the moment. It’s helpful to do as a book club attendee too.

  3. Plan out discussion topics and questions
    You might think discussion will happen organically, and occasionally it does, but more often than not, you’ll need a plan. Discussion guides are easy to find online for classic and popular books at sites like LitLovers and Reading Group Guides. Author interviews or biographical articles also add a great depth to conversation.

    If the book you’ve chosen is one of our library book club sets, you’re in even better luck. Even if you aren’t checking out book club set, we’ve already done the research for you and have discussion guides and relevant articles for each book available on our website (see an example here). 

  4. Let them eat cake (or buffalo wings)
    You don’t have to go all out, but refreshments can help loosen the mood and make things more fun. Don’t feel like cooking? My group often meets at restaurants, sometimes in ways that are vaguely related to the book (we met at Wingers while discussing CODE NAME VERITY, for instance).

  5. Allow time for casual chatting
    Book club is about books, but it’s also about friendship. We usually spend a good hour catching up on each other’s lives before discussing what we’ve read, and we don’t feel guilty about it at all. It’s all about finding a balance.

Well, faithful readers, that brings our series on book clubs to an end. What did we miss? Why do you love your book club? How have you kept it alive and thriving?

IB Creativity FB 1

I believe that creativity matters. This may seem a little strange to talk about as far as libraries go, but bear with me. Many effective adults are masters of using creativity or imagination. Important innovators change the world based on their ability to think beyond what has already been done—a trait gained when they were young. Authors and illustrators (which are well-loved in library world) create stories and pictures from their imaginations. And as a manager, I often use imagination or creativity to tackle tough problems and to find successful solutions. In fact, being able to think creatively may be one of the traits most needed in the world today.

A kid’s job is to play. When children play they exercise their brains, developing imagination and creativity. When they pretend one object is something else (like pretending a toy block is a phone), they grow in the ability to take what they have and turn it into what they want. But preschoolers playing pretend aren’t the only ones being creative. Kids also exercise their creativity when they work to make things—from artwork to music to a science slime project. This sort of creation requires children to think through what to draw, what medium to use, what note to play, or what amount of ingredient to add. The process of thinking ahead to create something they are excited about strengthens their ability to think through tough problems at school, and later as adults in the workplace.

At the library we encourage creativity. One great way we do this is with events like our Fairy Tea Party. The first weekend of March, we turn the library ballroom into a magical fairyland. Kids ages 3 and up come dressed in fairy costumes to participate in the festivities. Even the library director gets to become the Fairy King to personally greet each little fairy. We believe that inviting children to use their imaginations with us will help them recognize the importance of keeping creativity a part of their lives. Because when a child has learned the magic of creativity, the world becomes a better place.  

historical anniversaries 1

Irish philosopher Edmund Burke famously said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Here at the Provo Library, we like to keep the doom at bay by keeping our readers informed. With the New Year comes new historical anniversaries, so here are some books to help you keep the past in mind as you progress through 2018.  

 

The End of World War I

Let’s start out with a happy anniversary for the end of the four year conflict in which ended in a win for the Allies. The end of the war became official on November 11, 1918 when the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. Did you know that this is why we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11? At the library, we have a ton of books on World War I, but here’s a great title to read in order to celebrate:  

2.6 11th Month 11th Day 11th HourELEVENTH MONTH, ELEVENTH DAY, ELEVENTH HOUR: ARMISTICE DAY, 1918, WORLD WAR I AND IT’S VIOLENT CLIMAX
Joseph E. Persico
(2004) 

 

The Spanish Influenza

This year marks 100 years since the outbreak of one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. In just a few years, over 50 million people died of this disease, with some estimates of up to 100 million deaths. Though most people are aware of this terrible part of our history, few are aware of just how devastating the disease was to communities, politics, and the economy. To learn more about this deadly pandemic, check out: 

2.6 The Great InfluenzaTHE GREAT INFLUENZA: THE EPIC STORY OF THE DEADLIEST PLAGUE IN HISTORY
John M. Barry
(2004)

 

The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This April will mark 50 years since the shocking day that the world lost beloved leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Few men have made more of an impact on our nation than Martin Luther King, Jr. Renowned for his non-violent approach to civil rights activism, his moral character, and his moving oratory, King continues to be loved my many around the world. The library has many noteworthy books on Martin Luther King, Jr. This title is a good jumping off point to learn more about King and his ideas: 

2.5 The Martin Luther King Jr. CompanionTHE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. COMPANION: QUOTATIONS FROM THE SPEECHES, ESSAYS, AND BOOKS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
By Martin Luther King, Jr.
(1993) 

Provo Library Blog

Your daily stop for recommendations, reviews, and random facts about the Provo City Library. Look for new content every week day. 

Blog Contributors

Other Blogs

Library Staff Reviews 

Children's Book Reviews 

Archive