Category Archives: Other

Thoughts on Newbery: Today’s Announcements

This was only the second time I wasn’t at Midwinter for the announcements. I went to school figured I’d see if I could watch the live stream or perhaps peek at my phone. Happily, someone was doing something with my class and I was able to watch all of it. And, boy, did I end up happy and pleased. Congratulations to all the honorees and committee members!

Here are some quick responses (while my class is out for a few minutes):

First and foremost — I’m over-the-top pleased with Erin Entrada Kelly  receiving the Newbery medal for Hello, Universe . I fell in love with this book last March and have been advocating for it ever since.

And then there are the Newbery honors, all beloved by me:

  • Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down. Another I fell madly in love with, but since I didn’t read it until late December I wasn’t able to advocate for it on Heavy Medal until after they made up their list.
  • Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together. I read and liked this, but it took participating in my school’s first ever Faculty Mock Newbery this past Saturday to really appreciate it. So much as we selected it as our winner.
  •  Derrick Barnes’s Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. So so happy about this as I’d been arguing that it should be considered as much for Newbery as for Caldecott.

I haven’t read the Printz winner, so can’t comment, but I adore all the honors:

  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  •  The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Among the CSK honorees, all fabulous, I was especially pleased to see Charly Palmer honored for  Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song, a book I reviewed with great enthusiasm.

Jackie Woodson for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.  Absolutely!

Angela Johnson getting the Edwards — hurrah!

Debbie Reese for the Arbuthnot. Yes, yes, yes!!!



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Gentleman Bill Teale

I am remembering the intelligent, kind, pensive, thoughtful, quiet actor, beautiful, wonderful Bill Teale. I knew him first as a smart leader in the field of literacy education, later as a fellow mascot to the 2002 Newbery Committee (we both were connected to members of that legendary group and so allowed to hang around:), then as a trailblazer in educational technology who invited me to present with him, as one who so loved his wife Junko, and of his sense of fun. My sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues, and all who knew this very special man.

I spent many delightful times with Bill over the years. The photos below are of a favorite memory. During the 2012 IBBY Congress in London, Junko, Bill, Claudia Söffner, and I entered the Victoria and Albert via a back entrance and came across these spinning chairs. May you spin in joy, Bill.


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The Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece is coming to NYC’s Museum of Illustration

This looks completely awesome!

The Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece
On display at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators
February 28 – June 30, 2018.


The Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece walks visitors through the story of Congressman John Lewis’s experience in the civil rights movement as depicted by the pen of MARCH trilogy illustrator Nate Powell. This landmark exhibition of Congressman Lewis’s celebrated graphic novel memoir, co-written with Andrew Aydin, takes visitors on a visceral tour of the movement, illuminating pivotal moments, people, and philosophies through the display of over 150 pieces of original art, interactive materials, and new exhibition essays by Jonathan W. Gray, Associate Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination: Innocence by Association (The University Press of Mississippi. 2013).

The exhibition gives a glimpse into how this graphic novel was created, with behind-the-scenes process art and artifacts from Powell’s illustration process. A portion of the exhibition also shows how Eisner Award-winning Powell evolved from an SVA student steeped in the punk zine culture into the illustrator of MARCH.

The Society of Illustrators will be organizing events open to the public in conjunction with the exhibition. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, March 1st, beginning at 6:30 PM. A schedule of lectures, panels, tours and workshops geared toward students, teachers, as well as the general public will be announced in the coming weeks. More information on the exhibit and related events can be found here.
In addition, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin will be Guests of Honor at MoCCA Arts Festival. This 2-day multimedia event, Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival, draws over 8,000 attendees each year. Held on April 7 and 8th, the Fest will include speaking engagements, book signings, and parties. Further scheduling information for MoCCA Arts Festival will be available in future announcements.
The MARCH trilogy has been recognized for its groundbreaking storytelling with numerous accolades. MARCH: Book One became the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, MARCH: Book Two won the Eisner Award, MARCH: Book Three is the first graphic novel to receive a National Book Award, and the trilogy has spent a combined 99 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. MARCH is published by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing.

The Art of MARCH: A Civil Rights Masterpiece exhibition is co-curated by John Lind (Creative Director, Kitchen Sink Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics) and Charles Brownstein (Executive Director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund).. The mission of SI/MI is to promote the art and appreciation of illustration and its history and evolving nature through exhibitions and educational programs.

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R.I.P Julius Lester

The great Julius Lester died yesterday, peacefully and surrounded by family.

I first met Julius in the mid-1990s in  rec.arts.books.children — an Internet space similar to Reddit where all manner of groups formed. Not long thereafter we both joined the child_lit discussion group and became online friends. Julius was the sage amongst us, willing to ponder, engage, and smooth ruffled feathers in an intelligent, elegant, and remarkable way. Those wise posts were lost with the end of child_lit, but fortunately,  they continue to live in our hearts.

Once the discussion was about classic books we hadn’t read and I, shamefaced, said the Bible causing Julius, a devoted converted Jew, to send me his favorite edition which I treasure. Another time, a debate on the racism of Helen Bannerman’s Little Black Sambo inspired Julius to retell the story as Sam and the Tigers  illustrated by his frequent collaborator, Jerry Pinkney. Wrote Julius in his author’s note:

The biggest challenge for both of us was history. Many whites had loved Little Black Sambo as children and were afraid their love for it made them racists now. That is not so. Many blacks, angered and shamed, resolved it be thrown into the garbage. For many years so had I.

Yet what other story had I read at age seven and remembered for fifty years? There was obviously an abiding truth in the story, despite itself. I think it is the truth of the imagination, that incredible realm where animals and people live together like they don’t know any better, and children eat pancakes cooked in the butter of melted tigers, and parents never say, “Don’t eat so many.”

Today to honor this remarkable man I read Sam and the Tigers  to my 4th graders and they, of course, loved it.

We met once in person — at an ALA convention where he was receiving a CSK award. His publisher, knowing of our on-line friendship, seated us together at the Newbery-Caldecott banquet where I also met his wife. It must have been there that he signed my copy of Sam and the Tigers.

Thank you, Julius Lester, for all you did for humanity and me too.

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WNYC, Apollo Theater Commemorate the Legacy of MLK

I spent a very moving afternoon yesterday at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater for a commemoration of Dr. King jointly presented by WNYC radio and the Apollo. First of all, there is something very special about being at such event in such a space. The audience was diverse and committed. Listening to them was as important to me as to those on the state. Of all the speakers the most electrifying was Dr. Clarence Jones, attorney, speech writer, and confident of Dr. King. There was prayer, calls to action, song, and music. You can view it here  and here.

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The 6th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2018-2019 is….

Jacqueline Woodson — Congratulations!!!

National Book Award Winner and four-time Newbery Honor Medalist encourages readers to embrace the impact reading can have on creating a more hopeful world with her platform, READING = HOPE x CHANGE

New York, NY, January 4, 2018 – The Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Library of Congress today announced the appointment of Jacqueline Woodson, four-time Newbery Honor Medalist, Coretta Scott King Book Award-winner, former Young People’s Poet Laureate and National Book Award Winner for her memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming, as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program, established by the three organizations in 2008, highlights the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.

Woodson will travel nationwide over the course of her two-year term promoting her platform, READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?), which encourages young people to think about — and beyond — the moment they’re living in, the power they possess, and the impact reading can have on showing them ways in which they can create the hope and the change they want to see in the world.

Woodson succeeds beloved and esteemed authors Jon Scieszka (2008-2009), Katherine Paterson (2010-2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012-2013), Kate DiCamillo (2014-2015), and Gene Luen Yang (2016-2017) in the position.

The inauguration ceremony, to be presided by the 14th Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden and attended by both Woodson and Yang, will take place on Tuesday, January 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the Members’ Room of the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not required for this event, which is free and open to the public.

“I think the work ahead of me is challenging,” says Jacqueline Woodson, “I don’t believe there are ‘struggling’ readers, ‘advanced’ readers or ‘non’ readers. I’d love to walk away from my two years as Ambassador with the qualifiers gone and young people able to see themselves beyond stigma or oft-times debilitating praise. Martin Luther King Jr. said people should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In that regard, I think young people should not be judged by the level of their reading but by the way a book makes them think and feel. By the way it gives them hope. By the way it opens them up to new perspectives and changes them. I’m excited to have these conversations with some of the best conversationalists in our country – our young people.”

“We are delighted that Jacqueline Woodson has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “I have admired Jacqueline Woodson’s work for years, especially her dedication to children and young-adult literature. The Library of Congress looks forward to Jacqueline’s tenure of encouraging young readers to embrace reading as a means to improve the world.”

Nancy Paulsen, President and Publisher of Nancy Paulsen Books, says: “We think Jacqueline Woodson is the perfect Ambassador for our time because of her commitment to making sure all children have access to all kinds of books, and are sure to see themselves portrayed in those books. This is exactly what’s needed to appeal to today’s readers and to grow the next generation of book lovers.”

Carl Lennertz, Executive Director of Every Child a Reader and the Children’s Book Council, added, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of Jacqueline Woodson as the next ambassador. She embodies everything that we look for in this position and we can’t think of a more passionate advocate for young people and for reading over the next two years.”The National Ambassador is selected for his or her contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering children’s literacy in all forms. The selection, made by the Librarian of Congress, is based on recommendations from an independent committee comprising educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature experts.

The 2018-2019 selection committee for the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:

  • DeAndra Beard, CEO and founder of Beyond Borders Language Learning Center, Kokomo, IN
  • Sarah Park Dahlen, Associate Professor in the Master of Library and Information Science Program at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN
  • Earl Dizon, Bookseller at Green Bean Books, a children’s bookstore in Portland, OR
  • Travis Jonker, Elementary school librarian in Dorr, Michigan and School Library Journal blogger
  • Starr LaTronica, Director of the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, VT
  • Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Collection, U. of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
  • Gene Luen Yang, Printz Award-winning author, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2016-2017, 2016 McArthur Fellow, Berkeley, CA

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program is administered by Every Child a Reader. For more information about the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, visit

About Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Timesbestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor. In 2015, Woodson was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Her recent adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Other SideEach Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners FeathersShow Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award.
Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and was the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. In March 2018, Penguin Young Readers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Woodson’s If You Come Softly with a special edition of the beloved story of star-crossed love between a Black teenage boy and his Jewish classmate. The Dream of America, a middle grade novel, and The Day You Begin, a picture book illustrated by Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López will publish in August 2018. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
About the Children’s Book Council
The Children’s Book Council, is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading. The CBC offers children’s publishers the opportunity to work together on issues of importance to the industry at large, including educational programming, literacy advocacy, and collaborations with other national organizations. Learn more at
Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) literacy charity whose popular national programs include Children’s Book Week, the longest-running literacy initiative in the country; the Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards, the only national book awards chosen by children and teens; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program, in partnership with the Library of Congress. Launched in 1919, Children’s Book Week will celebrate its 100th anniversary in May 2019. Learn more at
About the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at
Press contact: Audra Boltion, The Boltion Group, PR for the Children’s Book Council: (646) 331-9904,
Press contact: Benny Seda-Galarza, Library of Congress: (202) 707-8732,
Public contact: Lee Ann Potter, Library of Congress: (202) 707-8735,


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Action Words for 2018

Ironically, 2017 was both challenging and good for me. The challenges came in politics, in world events, in grappling with my privilege, in recognizing my need to change, in tense conversations, in pain global and personal. The good was because I was on sabbatical for seven of the twelve months, a happy and productive time that brought me back to school this fall refreshed. I don’t have resolutions as such, but here are some words I’m living by these days and will do so all the more deliberately and consciously in 2018:

  • I’m listening a lot as I follow difficult and important conversations about diversity, race, identity, gender, and more.
  • I’m pondering what I thought I knew, what I thought was true, and how to reconcile this for me today.
  • I’m avoiding assumptions.
  • I’m trying to be more outspoken and more visible as an ally — hard for me as both an introvert and shy in unfamiliar situations.
  • I’m learning always, reaching out to know more in areas that are necessary for me as a person, human being, teacher, world citizen, and more.
  • I’m reading out of my comfort zone.
  • I’m leaning into discomfort — to be honest, trying to.
  • I’m regularly rethinking my teaching so it better serves all my students.
  • I’m still championing and drawing attention to Sierra Leone in particular and other parts of Africa that I don’t know as well too.
  • I’m trying hard to be always willing to change.

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