Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Shot at Prediction: please hand me my Swami turban

I’ve been reading everyone else’s predictions regarding the upcoming AlSC awards on Monday and I want to play. As I mentioned before I will be hosting my own Mock Newbery for grown-ups this Saturday. Some of my students are in the midst of a Mock Newbery of their own, on which I also plan to post the results of at some point. In the mean time let me revert back to my tried and true method of holding an awards ceremony with a committee of one, so much simpler than arriving at a consensus.

Two years ago I made my first venture into the prediction game, and as you can see here I didn’t do too bad with my results, with 2 of the actual four as my finalists. Last year I scored 3 of 5. I have yet to get the gold placed in the right spot which may not bode well for my Medal pick this year, but they might find comfort in the fact that they are assured of earning silver.
This year, in an act of bravado, I’ve decided to branch out and hit a few other awards as well.


First the winners if I were a committee of one.


  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I’ve been happy with many a book this year. But nothing said “Look at me, I bet you haven’t seen my ilk in quite some time.” I like this story of friendship, mystery, game shows, and redemption, I really do.


  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly– Some say too long, I say I could have spent a few hundred more pages in Texas, unbearable heat or no, with Calpurnia, her brothers and her curmudgeon of a grandpa.
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice by Phillip Hoose– I find this account of one un-sung girl, who was a catalyst for one of the most important events in the Civil Rights movement, distinguished in every way.
  • Wild Thing by Clay Carmichael – Every year I have a choice on my list just because I absolutely adored the book (Emma Jean Lazarus, Alvin Ho). This story of a precocious untamed girl connecting with her unmanageable Uncle, a feral cat and mysterious forest boy is everything I would have loved in a book at the age of 12.

My prediction of what I think the real committee will come up with:
Medal: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Honors: When You Reach Me, and Claudette Colvin



  • The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney – If there can be a sure thing on Monday this would be it. I’ve been sharing it with most of my students this week and we all agree that this wordless story is worthy of all the hype. And really, can 900 kids be wrong?


  • Higher, Higher by Leslie Patricelli – I have been reading this all week to my wee ones and I so wish I could have a video of the faces as we move through the pages:
    • First few pages - polite amusement
    • The mountain page – jaw dropping, bug-eyed incredulity
    • Leaving earth behind page – utter unadulterated delight
    • Spaceship page – uncontrolled giggling
    • Wordless dissention pages - always accompanied by appropriate winding-down sound effects
  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca – a perfect book in every way.
  • A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis – Simple, succinct, and delightful.

Medal: The Lion & the Mouse
Honors: All the World, Moonshot, and Red Sings from the Treetops


(Confession, I haven’t read much non-fiction, but by all accounts this was a killer great year for the facts, and nothing but the facts. I have yet to read two of my picks so these are also my prediction. On my honor I will read the other two or may hellfire rain down)


  • Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice by Phillip Hoose


  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
  • Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
  • Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge


(I’m not as familiar with the field for this award so I’m going with what has gone over like a house-a-fire with my students)

  • Little Mouse Gets Dressed by Jeff Smith


  • Pigs Make Me Sneeze by Mo Willems
  • Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
  • Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker


  1. I love your picks -- thanks for sharing. Bill and I still have to do that ourselves. But I guarantee you that you have a FAR better track record than we do! :)

    I couldn't agree with you more about When You Reach Me. I'm on my 4th read, and it is ever bit as intriguing as the 1st 3 reads. Plus, since it is a read aloud, I am fascinated by my students' reactions to the story, the cover, and the chapter titles.

  2. How fun, I wish I had the luxury of reading it aloud to some of my students.

    Some of our sixth graders are involved in their own Mock Newbery and WYRM is going to be the unblinking winner.

  3. Good job on your picks. I'm going to go find When you reach me. I haven't read it yet.

  4. *Clapping!* I love this game. Used to do that too when I was a children's book seller (a while ago). I enjoyed your picks, and thank for the description that you added each time. I remember the Lion and the Mouse, and finding the illustrations absolutely stunning and rich.

    Wasn't aware of when your each me as well...

  5. You think Grace Lin's gonna come away with the medal? I'll be the first one jumping up and down with joy if she does, I think she deserves it, although I think it might be a long shot. What great choices, I wish I could have been there -- we'll have to hash it all out on Pie Night. Good work!

  6. It'll be interesting to see you do. You certainly have a very good track record!

  7. I just posted my picks (Newbery only), and wanted to stop by to say we'll have to compare notes through our blogs on Monday. Would love to see how we both do, since we chose the same book to win!

    I'll check back Monday.

  8. Brooke: I have a bit of inside info that leads me to believe that WTMMTM will walk with accolades. I have to confess I began the book back in December and set it aside as I was having a hard time connecting. After my sister's Mock Newbery gave it gold last week I sat right down, picked it up and began once again from the beginning. This time I was nothing but impressed, although I do think I would benefit from a better understanding of asian Fairy Tales. (Maybe a certain Children's lit class can cover the topic.)

    Karen: don't you think there should be some sort of Mock ceremony to recognize those of us pretenders. I'm thinking of setting up a point system: 5 points if you get the gold correct, 3 for each honor you match, 1 if you at least read the book. The points are pointless I know, but now I know why gold stars are such great motivation for 1st graders.