The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the "most distinguished American picture book for children" by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association). This year, for the second time, we held our own event to try and predict the winner and to choose our own favorite picture book from the past year.
The Library's children’s and teen services team (Celeste and Kirsty) selected 25 picture books as our nominees based on professional reviews and a careful examination of titles (there is no shortlist for the award). From 9 December 2015 - 9 January 2016 these books were available in the Children’s Library for visitors to read and review. Ballot form were available that invited readers to rate each book's illustrations and story.
Over several weeks, children, parents and adult fans of children's books read through the selections and rated each book they read.
In January, Celeste and Kirsty tallied up the votes, and we had a clear winner: Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins! Rude Cakes is a story about a rude little cake who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents, and a giant cyclops who is polite - and who happens to like wearing little cakes as hats. The book earned lots of laughs when we read it out loud during our celebratory event.
We announced the winner at our event on 16 January. We then asked the children present to create an award for the book, which we then shrank to a smaller size and attached to the book. So, if you see homemade "Mock Caldecott Medal" on one of our picture books, you'll know it was hard-earned!
In response to the tragic events in Paris this past weekend, the Library staff has asked crisis counselor Keri Hicks for permission to repost these tips from her blog on how to help your children and teens cope with anxiety and terror. For those of you who would like more information, Keri will be hosting a discussion at the Library (click here for details).
Talking About Terrorism
All trauma impacts children, and terrorism is a unique type of traumatic event. Like all trauma, it is sudden and unpredictable. Unlike all trauma, it is inherently violent. Individuals purposefully harm others, which makes it particularly hard to explain. And terrorism stresses the entire community - no one escapes being impacted, even our children.
WHAT SHOULD YOU SAY?
So how do we talk to our children? How do we know what’s right to say to a 5 year old? 9 year old? 14 year old? Each time we are confronted by terrorism the situation will be unique, and we will once again struggle with what to say. But there are some general tips that can help you navigate these conversations at any developmental stage:
- Answer questions, but especially with young ones, keep facts and details vague.
- It is important to answer children’s questions so that they feel heard, but we do them harm by telling them more than they can make sense of. It is always better to give too little information. It may, in fact, be enough to satisfy your child. Do not offer painful or disturbing details, but with older kids ask what they already know. Additionally, do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know” when that is the truest answer you have.
- Stress safety in all conversations. Remind children that they are safe, and that it is your job to protect them.
- Remember that, at their core, most children’s questions are truly asking one thing – Am I safe? Are the people I love safe? When your child asks, “Why did they have guns?” interpret this as a question about safety. “I don’t know why they used guns. But I know most people don’t have guns and they don’t use guns when they are angry.”
- Plan for the immediate future
- Talking about what is to come is normalizing. For instance, if your child is worried about a parent returning home from work in the midst of a crisis, reassure her that Daddy is safe and ask her what you should all eat for dinner when he gets home. Making this simple ‘plan’ for dinner will offer comfort and bring a sense of stability.
- Be honest about your feelings.
- It’s okay to admit you feel sad or mad or distracted. But make sure your child knows he isn’t the cause of your feelings!
- Keep children away from visual imagery! Pictures we see on TV, and even in print, stay with us.
- Don’t give your children images they are not ready to witness. (Older children will access it on their own – ask them what they’ve seen and talk with them about it.)
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD MANAGE THIS STRESS?
There are some measures you can take that are protective during times of stress. These work regardless of the stressor, but are particularly relevant to terrorism:
- Maintain routines o It is best for everyone if you keep your daily routines as close to normal as possible. Maintaining homework and bedtime rituals offers comfort in its familiarity. It sends a message to kids that our world is still safe and orderly. · Spend time together
- During difficult times, be proactive about spending extra time with your children. Offer hugs, cuddles, and playtime, and do it before signs of stress appear.
- Focus on being helpful
- Being helpful is good for our state of mind. Give young children tasks around the house. With older children, brainstorm ways to be helpful to the community at large.
- Make lists o Lists help us all feel organized, and can help us to focus on the immediate future. Engage your children in making lists for favorite dinners, activities for the weekend, wish lists for birthday parties, etc. The topic isn’t important, but the act of creating the list is.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
There are many common and perfectly normal psychological reactions to terrorist attacks. Children may show normal reactions such as sadness and fear. In addition, it is possible for children’s anxiety to manifest itself as physical pain or bad dreams. Younger children may exhibit some separation anxiety. Older children may be more aggressive or moody.
Children are resilient, and reactions will most often work themselves out over time. Using the above techniques will help children to feel safe and secure and allow them to manage the additional stress. But if you notice changes that are significant, or that do not subside over a few weeks, it may be best to check with a school counselor or other mental health professional.
Additional resources (in English):
"Talking to Children about Terrorism and War" by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent PsychiatryAmerican Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Additional resources (in French):
"Attentats à Paris : comprendre ce qu’il s’est passé" by 1 Jour 1 Actu
"Et maintenant, que va-t-il se passer ?" by Le P'tit Libé (Libération)
Young authors all over the greater Paris area are sharpening their pencils and collecting story nuggets in their writing journals in preparation for the 2014 Young Authors’ Fiction Festival (YAFF), co-sponsored by Time Traveler Tours and the American Library in Paris.
The deadline for YAFF submissions is April 1st (no fooling!). Which means that many young Paris-based authors will have already moved beyond free writing. They may have committed to an idea already that they are now drafting into a story, from beginning to middle to end. Or perhaps they have finished their first story draft and are ready to type it out on the computer, thus moving into the revising and editing stages. If this is the case, they’re probably asking for some guidance right about now. If you are wondering how to help your young author, or even if you can, then this post is for you!
Sarah Towle, co-director of the Young Authors Fiction Festival, has written a blog post with some useful tips as to how parents can help their young writers. The main point, according to Sarah, is to use every call for help as an opportunity for a “teachable moment” (ie: an opportunity to learn):
The key is to not do for your young authors, but to guide them so that they may do for themselves. Challenge yourself to make each call for support a Teachable Moment, i.e., an opportunity for them to learn. Be ready to accept a “No” if your young author does not enjoy your point of view. The author gets ultimate veto power. End of story!
Sarah also reminds parents that in order to inspire great writers, it’s important to read to your children often:
Read to your young author, always and often. Remember that receptive linguistic skills always precede productive ones, i.e., reading comes before writing. The more you cuddle your burgeoning readers on your lap and read to them, the better readers and writers they will become. Guaranteed. It’s like magic!
See Sarah's full post on her website at www.sarahtowle.com
On Monday 27 January the American Library Association announced the winners of the most prestigious awards for American children's books: the Newbery and Caldecott medals, which are given annually to a children's novel and a children's picture book, respectively. You can read all of the past and present winners here at the Library, as our collection include all of the winning titles in both categories as well as many honor books.
Since 1938, the Randolph Caldecott Medal has been awarded annually for the most distinguished American picture book for children. The award was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Past Caldecott winners include A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead, May I Bring a Friend? illustrated by Beni Montresor, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, to name just a few.
This year's Caldecott medal went to Locomotive, which was written and illustrated by Brian Floca. Our own children's librarian was rooting for Flora and the Flamingo, which was awarded a Caldecott honor (she also had high hopes for Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great and Hello My Name is Ruby which won absolutely nothing, but which she insists are fantastic). The children's librarian will be reading this year's Caldecott winners and the Coretta Scott King award winner for illustration (Knock, Knock, My Dad's Dream for Me, by Daniel Beaty)during a Saturday program on 15 February.
The Newbery award this year went to Kate DiCamillo, (author of Because of Winn-Dixie) for her latest children's novel Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, with honors going to Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, One came Home by Amy Timberlake and Paperboy by Vince Vawter. Young members of the American Library in Paris who are interested in discovering one of the Newbery honor books can join our March Bookworms group where we will be reading and discussing One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is available at the Library now, as are the 2014 honor books and past Newbery winners.
Eager to check out these award-winning reads? The American Library in Paris's collection includes all Caldecott and Newbery medal winners, as well as a large collection of honor books in both categories. Have you ever noticed the silver and gold spine labels on some of our picture books? That's an indication that you've just picked up a winner!
Published by Usborne
Reviewed by Children's Library volunteer Carole Black
Usborne has published two instructive books entitled How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas and How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids, that provide a clear, step by step guide to varying styles of illustrating for the creative and not-so-creative young artist.
Simple drawing and erasing techniques using lines and basic shapes are embellished with the following effects:
-Basic collage techniques to create depth
-The use of soft colors with dark shading to create contrast
-Color mixing to create skin tones
-Chalk smudge and watercolor techniques to emphasize softness and subtlety
-Embellishment and 3D effects with doilies and foil collage paper
The designers suggest a selection of the following basic materials to create your whimsical princesses, ballerinas, fairies and mermaids: paper, pencils, colored pencils and fine markers, chalk, crayons, paints, paint brushes, collage paper, foil paper, doilies, cutting scissors, glue and glitter glue.
The books provide useful information on how to draw interchangeable scenes and settings including: a castle, a carriage, a stage, a lake scene, moonlight scene, a fairy flower garden, mermaid door signs and ballerina/fairy paper chains. You can also see how to add facial expressions and hairstyles in the Fairies and Mermaids book, and hairstyles, crowns and tiaras in the Princess and Ballerina book.
A real treat for budding young artists!
New @ the Library: How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas can be found in Juvenile Non-fiction under J 751 W34p and How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids can be found under J 751 W34f.
For more resources on drawing and cartooning, check out some of the other great titles in the Children's Library:
by Mike Artell
A step-by-step guide for drawing animals and people, such as alligators, bears, skunks, smiling faces, angry faces, hairstyles, movement, and captions.
Find it with the Juvenile non-fiction under J 741.5 Ar75c
by J.C. Amberlyn
Starting with the basics, this book teaches aspiring artists how to create the mascots that populate mangas.
Find it with the Juvenile non-fiction under J 741.5 Am16d
by Mike Artell
Learn how to draw simple characters, then exaggerate, simplify or contort them to crack your friends up.
Find it with the Juvenile non-fiction under J 741.5 Ar75f
by Tad Hills
Reviewed by Children’s Library volunteer, Carole Black
Rocket Writes a Story is Tad Hills' second story about Rocket, a loveable puppy who learns about letters, sounding out words, sharing ideas and reading stories with his chirpy encouraging teacher, the little yellow bird.
Having coaxed Rocket from his favorite napping spot with a story, in the first book: Rocket Learns to Read, the little yellow bird now encourages Rocket to create a word tree with the new words he sniffs out each day. She adds a few connecting words to his collection and, before long the tree is full of little notes with illustrated words ready for Rocket’s next assignment: he is to use the words to write his own story.
Naturally Rocket looks to his strongest sense for inspiration. He becomes captivated by the wonderful smell of the nest high up in a tree and announces that he will write a story about it. A shy new friend lives in the nest and is eventually lured further and further down the branches to hear Rocket’s growing story.
The oil paint and colored crayon illustrations richly convey Rocket’s new found passion for story telling, his experiences of frustration as he searches for inspiration, and his growing friendship with his little yellow teacher and his new friend in the tree.
Rocket Writes a Story is a wonderful resource for encouraging young children to learn about words and create their own stories - alone or in a group with friends.
New @ the library. You can find both Rocket Writes a Story and Rocket Learns to Read in the Easiest Readers Section of the Children’s Library under EH.
A little over a month ago, a very curious young patron asked for all the books we have in the Children's Library about hamsters. "I'm going to get a hamster for my birthday," he said "and I need to know how to take care of one."
He ended up taking home a book about caring for hamsters, as well as Olga da Polga, a story about another small mammal - a guinea pig - that was written and illustrated by the creator of Paddington Bear.
A few weeks later, our hamster fan came back to the Children's Library with his new friend Champ. Apparently, Champ's favorite color is purple and if he crawls up your arm, that means he really likes you!
If you and your family are thinking about adopting a pet, come in to the Children's Library and check out some of the resources we have available about all types of lovable pets. Maybe you'll even run into Champ and his boy.
by Felicia Lowenstein Niven
A book for children about how to choose and care for small mammals.
Find it: With the Juvenile Non-fiction under J 636.035 N644l
by Mark Evans
Offers information for the first-time pet owner on the physical characteristics, selection, care, and feeding of guinea pigs.
Find it: With the Juvenile Non-fiction under J 599.323 Ev16g
by Jean Craighead George
Describes how dogs communicate with people through their behavior and sounds and explains how to talk back to them.
Find it: With the Juvenile Non-fiction under J 636.7 G293h
by Andrew Edney and David Taylor
Breaks down cat care into 101 easy-to-grasp tips.
Find it: with the Juvenile Non-fiction under J 636.8 Ed63c
by Jim Arnosky
An introduction to frogs by naturalist Jim Arnosky. He explains how frogs live and grow, and answers some of kids' biggest questions about these amphibians, such as: How do frogs jump so far? What do frogs eat (and what eats them)? What's the best way to handle a frog?
Find it: With the Juvenile Non-Fiction under J 597. 89 Ar66a
For some great stories about pets to read aloud together, don't forget to check out the classic animal stories by Judy Dunn with photos by Phoebe Dunn.
DYSTOPI-WHAT!? If you liked The Hunger Games, you should check out some of the other dystopian novels found upstairs on the Teen Mezzanine.Divergent by Veronica Roth
In the debut novel by American author Veronica Roth, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life. Each of the factions is meant to uphold a particular virtue of humanity: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). The decision is made more difficult for Beatrice when she discovers that she is an anomoly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
Find it: Young Adult Fiction, YA ROT
YA ROT Check out the sequel, Insurgent, also under YA ROT
In a futuristic version of America's Gulf Coast region, teenaged Nailer works the light crew in a for a team that breaks down grounded oil tankers for parts. Nailer scavenges for copper wiring every day and hopes just to make quota in order to live another day. When he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA BAC
In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl wakes up from a coma. Jenna Fox is her name, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident she was involved in a year ago. But Jenna doesn't remember her life before the accident. Or does she? Recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, Jenna learns a startling secret about her existence.
Find it: with the Young Adult Fiction under YA PEA
Brave New World By Aldous Huxley
In Aldous Huxley's classic dystopian novel, Bernard Marx lives in a World State where everyone consumes daily grams of soma to fight depression, babies come from laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie" (a movie that stimulates all the senses). There is no violence and everyone is provided for, but Bernard feels that something is missing. He begins to sense that his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than what the rules of their society allows.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA HUX
The House of the Scorpion By Nancy Farmer
In a future where human clones are raised to be harvested for organs, Matt has enjoyed a special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt has been spared because of El Patron's power. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he comes to realize that escape is his only chance for survival. Escape will not guarantee his freedom however, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA FAR
Animal Farm By George Orwell
This is a fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm overthrow their drunken human master and take over the farm, things seem to be heading in the right direction. Everyone willingly works overtime, and for one brief and wonderful season, the animals are happy and well fed. Soon, however, the animals' leaders succumb to the temptations of privilege and power.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA ORW
The Unwanteds By Lisa McMann
In a society that purges thirteen-year-olds every year, identical twins Aaron and Alex are separated, one to attend University while the other is to be "eliminated." Alex tries hard to be strong when his fate is announced as Unwanted, but when he arrives at his destination he discovers that in Artime each child is taught to use their abilities magically. It's a rare occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, however and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across the two worlds, a threat arises that will pit the two against one another.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA MCM
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world. When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. However, her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she would like to. She begins to care for him until she realizes that not all is as it seems. Even her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next.
Find it: Young Adult Fiction, YA MAR
Variant By Robinson E. Wells
After years in foster homes, seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher thinks that a scholarship to New Mexico's Maxfield Academy is a ticket to a new life. Upon arrival at the academy, Maxwell finds instead that the school is a prison and no one is what he or she seems.
Find it: Young Adult fiction, YA WEL
Pretty Little Liars is the first book in a series of novels for teenagers written by Sara Shepard.
After the mysterious disappearance of Alison, her four best friends slowly lose contact with one another. Three yearslater, Hannah, Aria, Emily and Spencer begin to receive strange messages from a certain ''A''. The girls renew their friendship and try to discover who is behind these messages or if, in fact she is still alive.
This is a great book full of suspense, and it is perfect for young adults who love mysteries and thrillers.
You can find Pretty Little Liars on the Teen Mezzanine with the Young Adult Fiction under YA SHE (YA).
This is a great graphic novel about a likeable girl in her early teens named Raina. As well as the usual stresses an adolescent has to deal with (boys, friends, her appearance), she also has to cope with a series of dental procedures. Her broken two front teeth make Raina feel self-conscious, and the book deals with the ways she struggles to fit in with the other sportier, more mature, toothier kids. The greater task she faces is learning to feel comfortable in her own skin and to feel proud about the things she’s good at and enjoys. The novel explores this message very well and the reader feels uplifted and entertained. The cartoons are very cute and help the reader visualize the situations and feelings Raina experiences.
New @ the Library! You can find Smile on the Teen Mezzanine with the Young Adult Non-fiction under YA 617.6 T237s.
Ivy Breedlove is as committed to being a historian as her family is committed to being lawyers; a long-line of loud, strong-willed and pushy individuals, individuals whom she wonders how she could be related to. Upon researching her family history, she goes on a life-changing adventure to find her missing and mysterious aunt Josephine Breedlove. As any sixteen year old, Ivy is both naive and mature. She tries to reason with her family to no avail but she herself has the guts to leave her suburban comfort zone to seek a family member living on a rocky mountain top —literally. This book is full of witty quotes within a simple writing style. It’s a silent gem.
Paris book lovers will be chagrined to hear the news that The Village Voice Bookshop will close its doors on July 31.
In a letter to friends and patrons, founder and owner Odile Hellier cites the reasons – reasons which will surprise no one who follows trends in publishing and bookselling. On-line book retailers such as Amazon and the growing popularity of e-readers, among other market forces, are threatening independent bookstores all over the world.
What is more, when Village Voice opened its doors in 1982, the St. Germain quartier was funkier. Once known as the “triangle d’or de l’edition” and a cultural crossroads in Par
is, Hellier laments, “the neighborhood has been overrun by fashionable boutiques and bars and lost its attractiveness to book browsers and buyers.”
The Village Voice is familiar to expatriates and visitors alike for its unique offerings of books tucked by the thousands into the tiny space’s nooks and crannies, and for the good judgment and personal attention of its booksellers. What is more, for three decades Odile Hellier’s bookshop has been a coveted rendezvous with readers for an incredibly distinguished roster of American and other English-speaking literary figures.
At the Library, we feel this loss acutely. We share a clientele. The bookshop has been our close and mutually supportive partner – providing books for sale at the Library’s evening events (as do other local bookstores) and helping to meet the great demand in Paris for literary presentations of all kinds. The American Library in Paris can’t entirely take up the slack, but we will do our best.
Odile and her colleagues Michael, Vincent and Marc will be saying farewell at the Village Voice on the evening of Saturday 16 June, and everyone is invited to the wake.
- Charles Trueheart