Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My #nerdlution: Newbery Challenge: getting back on track

So I've been inspired by the #nerdlution so renew the Newbery Challenge.  I plan to read some of a Newbery book each and everyday.

I watched this again today:

I had trouble watching it on the blog.  Here is the direct YouTube link:

Since my first children's literature class in library school back in 2001, I wanted to read every Newbery book (honors and medal).  Discovering Mr. Sharp and Mr. Schu's Newbery videos inspired me to begin this challenge in earnest.  I got a good start (on reading I should say; I've been horrible about blogging), but have kind of lagged off since Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp completed their challenge.  It isn't that I haven't been reading, but I've been reading so many new books, particularly ones that are contenders for the 2014 Newbery Award.

I've decided to get back on the horse.  I started reading A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin (2003 Honor) on Monday and have checked out many more to read.

I plan to use Mr. Sharp and Mr. Schu's videos to keep me going.  Mr. Sharp has made a Pinterest Board will all the videos up to 1939 and has assured me that he is going to add to them.  Here is the link:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Newbery Challenge

I know hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people would agree that Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp are totally awesome!  They are teaching rock stars!  They are also champions of children's literature and reading.  I am so glad I discovered their blogs and follow them on Twitter.  I learn so much from them on a daily basis.  I think this is the way professional development should be – learning a few things every day instead of sitting in meetings all day and being overwhelmed by a bombardment of information being dumped into your brain.  I wanted to write this post in honor of Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp’s completion of the Newbery Challenge.  They have read and posted videos about every Newbery Medal winner since 1922.  It has been part of my Saturday routine to sit in a comfy chair, usually still in my pajamas, and watch their videos.  Their last post, focusing on The One and Only Ivan, is scheduled for September 14, 2013.  I’m excited to see what they share, considering they are such huge fans of the book, yet saddened about saying goodbye to such a wonderful part of my Saturday routine. 

I enjoy musicals and classic movies, and on Labor Day I was watching Dr. Doolittle, a 1967 film starring Rex Harrison.  As a librarian, I am seldom satisfied with merely watching a movie.  I usually research the movie’s production, the actor/actresses and the books behind the film.  While doing this research, I discovered that The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle won the 1923 Newbery and I instantly made the connection to Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp’s Newbery Challenge videos.  When I started following their blogs, they were creating videos about books that won the Newbery during the 1950s.  I always meant to go back and watch the older videos, but had not found time to do so.  In the days since, I have started with The Story of Mankind and watched all the way up to Dead End in Norvelt.  I have noticed that these videos have evolved over time.  Some differences:

*Do you remember when they included a picture of themselves with each book?
* In the beginning, the videos were not posted on Saturday and they were not posted every week.
* In the early ones, they struggled with much of the reading, and each video addressed how hard/easy the book was to read. 
*Mr. Schu in particular addressed others partaking in the Newbery challenge; in later videos, he just speaks to Mr. Sharp directly.
*The end phrase Mr. Sharp has always used is “Happy reading.”  Mr. Schu uses that too, but in his first videos, Mr. Schu simply ended with “Goodbye” although he usually comments that he hopes Mr. Sharp is having a “wonderful day.”

Parts of the videos that I have loved:
*ONE TAKE RULE – they mention this frequently.
*Mr. Schu comments that people are staring at him while he is talking to the camera in public.
*Mr. Schu features so many wonderful places in his videos, from the American Girl store in the video for Hitty: Her First Hundred Years to Times Square for Moon Over Manifest.
*Mr. Sharp includes his children in many videos.
*Both include their pets in some videos.
*In addition to his video, Mr. Schu includes links and videos related to the books.
*For some of the books, they were able to meet in person and film a Newbery Challenge video together.
*Some videos include guest stars like Travis Jonker and members of the Nerdy Book Club.
*They have inspired others to take part in their challenge, or create their own Newbery Challenge.  Find out more by exploring #nerdbery on Twitter.

And the thing I love most:  They are so open about their lives and are willing to share so much of themselves with their followers.  Mr. Sharp showed us his new classroom at Parma Elementary school, which is the same school he attended as a child.  Mr. Schu took us to the college he went to for library school.  Reading their blogs and watching these videos feels like correspondence with an old friend. 

Thank you Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp! 
Mr. Schu’s blog:  Twitter: @mrschureads
Mr. Sharp’s blog:  Twitter: @colbysharp

Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 Newbery Honor Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage

I couldn’t have chosen a better book to begin my Newbery Challenge.  First off, I’ll say that this was on my TBR list for months before it was chosen as a Newbery Honor.  I was thrilled to receive it as a Christmas gift from my sister, but my TBR stack was as huge as a Christmas tree.  I finally had the chance to read it in February.  As a life-long North Carolinian, I was destined to love this book.  I was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the “big city” that was the hometown of Detective Joe Starr.  There is just something about reading a novel set in your home state.
Even at thirty-five years old, I would love to hang out with Mo LeBeau, and while reading this book, it felt like I was with her every step of the way, investigating crimes and serving up peanut butter sandwiches and Mountain Dew.  To me the distinguished part of this book is obviously its characterization.  From the Colonel to Miss Lana to Dale’s mother, each character comes alive on the page.
Mystery has never been my favorite genre, but I remained pretty intrigued throughout the story and didn’t solve the mystery before it was solved in the book.
How does it compare to the other 2013 Newbery books?
I think it is a nice addition and rounds out (in terms of genres) of this year’s winners.  I loved Ivan and Bomb so if I enjoy Splendors and Glooms even half as much, I’ll be able to rank 2013 as being one of my favorite Newbery years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What this blog is not...

Before jumping in, I thought I talk about what this blog is not:

1)  Heavy Medal: a Mock Newbery Blog - I've followed Heavy Medal for the past couple of years and enjoy their thoughtful posts.  They attempt to recreate the Newbery experience, which they know well, having served on the committee in the past.  As I read these books, I will not be evaluating how distinguished they are based on Newbery criteria.  Although I've been a children's librarian for ten years, I am first and foremost, a reader.

2) A place to find professional reviews - Lots of you have already read these books and they have been previously reviewed by all the children's literature review journals.  I will post my own reactions to the book. In some cases I will have a lot to say; in others, very little.  I do not want to provide long plot summaries or be confined by format in any way.

Right now, I am reading the selections for SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books, which includes all the 2013 Newbery Books.  I've read The One and Only Ivan and Bomb already; still on tap TBR are Splendors and Glooms and Three Times Lucky.  I did love the winning book, although I thought Starry River of the Sky should have gotten an Honor.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Newbery Challenge

My Newbery Challenge is to read all the medal/honor books I have not previously read.  I will start with the present year and go backwards.  I will post blog posts on each book I read.

I'm anxiously awaiting next Monday's announcement of the 2013 Newbery Awards so I can get started with the challenge.  Other books scheduled to-be-read after this year's Newbery Medal/Honor winners:

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Dark Emporer and other poems of the night by Joyce Sidman
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
The Surrender Tree: poems of Cuba's struggle for freedom by Margarita Engle
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson