Criteria A writing style that is appropriate for the targeted audience A plot that will hold a young reader’s attention without being too complex for the child to follow Appropriate pacing within the plot Meaningful characters-ones to whom the reader can relate or ones that offer a window into a different experience or lifestyle A layout that cohesively blends the illustrations and the text Illustrations that complement the text and enhance the overall experience of the story
Boston Globe Award Among the most prestigious literary recognitions awarded in the United States Presented by the Boston Globe and Horn Book, Inc. Only books published in the USA are eligible Winners are chosen by a panel of three judges One winner from each of three categories (Picture Book, Fiction, and Nonfiction) is chosen in June of every year Up to two Honors may be awarded in each category
I Know Here A young girl learns that she is moving from her home in Saskatchewan to the big city of Toronto. She voices her uncertainty, saying, “This is where I live. I don’t know Toronto. I know here.” As she reflects on all of the familiar things that she knows and recognizes from her current home, she decides to draw a picture of those things
Book Information Genre: Fiction Author: Laurel Croza Illustrator: Matt James Medium: Acrylic and India ink on panel Style: Slightly abstracted
Text Analysis The theme of coping with the change of a move is clearly presented in a style that is descriptive, but simple. Children can relate to the main character if they have ever had to deal with a significant change in their lives. Each page covers a separate idea, and they combine to form a cohesive story that develops at a comfortable pace. There is repetition in the phrases “I know” and “I’ve seen.” The pattern gets interrupted a few times, but the reader easily recognizes that the main character is listing the things about her current home that she wants
Illustration Analysis The text is sometimes inserted directly into the illustrations and sometimes separate from them. The illustrations are visual representations of the text. They show the things that the little girl is describing in a distinct but slightly abstracted way, almost as if a child had drawn them. On each page, the reader’s eye is drawn to one particular aspect of the picture. The dominance of this object is typically due to its color. On some pages, the illustrations seem to be drawn onto a section of cardboard or some other thick paper. All of the illustrations are paintings, and the texture of
Social Analysis The book is an easy read that revolves around a theme relevant to many children. The simple, yet powerful message that it sends makes it likely to be popular among both children and adults. The story does not address any social justice issues, nor does it make any gender or racial commentary.
Caldecott Award Awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished picture book published that year in the United States Award is presented by the Association for Library Service to Children Recipient must be a U.S. citizen Honor books may also be recognized
Lon Po Po In this Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood, a mother leaves her three daughters home alone one night, and a wolf comes to the house disguised as the children’s grandmother. The eldest quickly realizes that the wolf is not their Po Po, and tricks the wolf into believing that eating a gingko nut will make him live forever. Since the wolf cannot climb the tree, the three sisters pull him up in a basket, dropping him
Book Information Genre: Fiction/Fairy Tale Author: Ed Young Illustrator: Ed Young Medium: Watercolors and pastels Style: Modern version of Chinese panel art, abstracted, sometimes reminiscent of Impressionism
Text Analysis The story is told in a narrative fashion, and there is suspense with each page turn, encouraging the reader to continue. The story is recognizable and somewhat predictable, but still new and surprising to a child who has only ever heard the typical story of Little Red Riding Hood. Repetition is found in the scene where Shang realizes the wolf is not her grandmother (“Po Po, Po Po, your foot has a bush on it.”). Since this is an adaptation of a Chinese Red Riding Hood tale, the characters are archetypal. Readers can recognize some of the characters’ qualities in
Illustration Analysis The illustrations are split into panels, and the text is written in one of the panels on top of the illustration for every spread of two pages. It is clear that the illustrations dominate this story; they are large and eye catching. The illustrations supplement the text, but do not always directly depict what is being described. They are somewhat abstracted, creating a sense of mystery and unease. Watercolor and pastels combine to create a blurry, yet still detailed world. The wolf is often presented in a darker or cooler color to contrast the three little girls, and he is larger than life, dominating most pages and sometimes extending beyond the borders of the panels that confine the rest of the illustrations. The fear and suspicion in the eyes and facial expressions of
Social Analysis No social justice issues seem to be openly addressed in this book. The three girls are drawn as Chinese, but no reference is made to Chinese culture, except for their calling their grandmother “Po Po” and eating gingko nuts. As far as gender roles are concerned, I think that the eldest of the sisters, Shang, challenges the status quo of young girls as being naïve and helpless. She quickly recognizes the wolf for what he is, and then cleverly tricks him with the gingko nuts. In the end, the three young girls prove to be more cunning than the wolf and come out victorious. This book is sure to be popular among readers of any
Coretta Scott King Award Awarded each year to outstanding African American authors and illustrators by the Coretta Scott Book Awards Committee One award presented in each category Honors may be given in either category The books must be written for children or young adults and must be a celebration/reflection of African American culture
Duke Ellington A biography of the life of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, one of the founding fathers of jazz music in our country The story is accompanied by bright, vibrant paintings that have a movement of their own
Book Information Genre: Biography Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney Illustrator: Brian Pinkney Medium: Scratchboard renderings with luma dyes, gouache, and oil paint Style: Colorful and at times reminiscent of the art of the
Text Analysis The book is written in narrative form, but has a rhythm to it that echoes the jazzy mood of the time, assisted by the heavy use of period lingo. The frequent use of onomatopoeia brings the music of the story to life. Despite the uncommon words and phrases and the colorful figurative language, children can easily follow the events being described. Each page presents a complete thought, and they add up chronologically to tell the story of Duke Ellington’s life and career at a pace that will not lose the reader’s attention.
Illustration Analysis The text is inserted into the illustration, with the first letter of the passage drawn in bubble letters and painted like the rest of the picture. The pages are completely filled by the illustrations, which are painted in rich, bright, vibrant colors that dominate the eye of the reader. The scratchboard method created thin lines over everything, giving the pictures texture and motion, like they are wiggling and dancing to the music. Ellington’s music had been likened to painting, and so the music was represented by bursts of color, a different one for each instrument. African Americans were depicted authentically in the way they were drawn, and the settings and activities shown were accurate for the time period.
Social Analysis Subtle references to racial inequality are made (“Few African- Americans had played at Carnegie Hall before.”), but in general, the book is more a celebration of African American culture rather than a commentary on the struggles and discrimination that they have historically faced. Instead, Duke’s rise to fame acts as a framework to highlight elements of the jazz scene in Harlem during the early 20th century, providing valuable historical information hidden within a “hot- buttered…sassy-cool” narrative. The story of Duke Ellington’s success as a musician at a time when racism was still very prevalent in our society challenges the common assumptions about that time period and shows the powerful impact that African Americans were making on our country’s history and culture despite the barriers they faced. The fun and funky writing style, coupled with the bright, eye-catching
Pura Belpré Award Awarded to Latino authors and illustrators whose books celebrate and affirm Latino culture One medal in each category (author and illustrator) awarded annually by the American Library Associations Honor books may be recognized Books may be children’s fiction or nonfiction and my be written in Spanish, English, or both (bilingual) Books must be published in the United States or Puerto Rico to be considered, and the recipients must be citizens
The Storyteller’s Candle A bilingual historical fiction about Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system, and her impact on the children and families in the area. The main character, Hildamar, learns in school that they speak Spanish in the library now when the librarian Pura Belpré comes in to visit, and she convinces her family and neighbors to go together.
Book Information Genre: Historical Fiction Author: Lucía González Illustrator: Lulu Delacre Medium: oil washes and paper collage on bristol paper primed with clear gesso Style: Realistic
Text Analysis The book is excellent for introducing children to Spanish, or introducing Spanish-speaking children to English. It is bilingual, so the reader can compare the two side-by-side. In the English version, Spanish words are still incorporated, so there is always some degree of exposure. The story is simple and easy to follow, but the pages are longer in length, a pace perhaps targeted at a slightly older audience (middle to late elementary). There are some small instances of repetition on individual pages. The characters in the story are children who are excited for the holidays, which almost every reader can relate to. However, the characters also offer a window into the lives of
Illustration Analysis The illustrations take up the entire page, and the text is simply typed over them. The illustrator layered oil washes and paper collage to create the artwork for the book and incorporated actual clips from the January 6th, 1930 copy of the New York Times. The clips often relate to the text on that page, tying the story and the illustrations together more closely. The illustrations are detailed and smooth and depict what the text is describing in soft colors. People and objects are drawn realistically, without abstraction. The dominance of warm colors on all of the pages creates a sense of harmony and unity
Social Analysis The book addresses issues of immigration, language barriers, and cultural adjustment. The main character has only just moved to New York from Puerto Rico a few months ago. The family reminisces about the weather, food, and customs from their home, but in the end, with Pura Belpré’s help, they bring the celebration of el Día de los Reyes to New York for the first time. There is some tension evident regarding the language barrier when Hildamar’s aunt says, “We don’t speak English, and the people in there don’t speak Spanish.” There is a clear establishment of an “us vs. them” mentality that seems to imply that Hildamar’s family does not feel like they fit in or have been welcomed by the city of New York. Pura Belpré made a huge impact on the New York community as a Puerto Rican woman during the Great Depression. Her success as a woman at that time, particularly as a non-English-speaking woman, challenged the status quo of a woman’s role in society. This book, as well as the award that is her namesake, celebrates her contributions.
The Storyteller’s Candle in the Classroom Social Justice Issue: Immigration and Language Barriers Quote: “That’s the library,” Titi María replied, “and libraries are not for noisy niños like you.” “How about for grown-ups like you?” asked Santiago. “We don’t speak English, and the people in there don’t speak Spanish,” she told them. And so it was that they never went inside. I would ask the students to put themselves in Hildamar and her family’s shoes. Would they go to the library if they knew that the people in there didn’t speak the same language as they did? How would they feel if they were trying to talk to someone who couldn’t understand what they were saying or if they were trying to read a book that wasn’t written in their language? The children could try to tell each other something without speaking and reflect on the problems that they encountered. Stuart Ching argues in “Multicultural Children’s Literature as an Instrument of Power” that “harmony is always a negotiation of power.” Therefore, I would ask the students if they could think of anything that Hildamar and her community could do to change the situation so that the power within the library system was more fairly distributed.
Critical Literacy Principle 3: Examining relationships, particularly those involving differences in power I would ask the students who they think had more power in New York at this time, those who spoke English or those who spoke Spanish, and why. I would then ask them if they think it is fair for one group of people to have an advantage over another just because there are more of them. Puerto Ricans were clearly underrepresented in the New York library system, and as a result, they were not benefitting from that resource. Pura Belpré’s work made a big difference for the Puerto Rican community. I would provide multiple resources from various media, and ask the students to use them to research another area in New York society where Puerto Rican citizens were being left out during that time period because of the language barrier. They would share what they found with the class, and then together we would analyze how things have changed (or not changed) in those areas today. This could potentially lead to the critique of a system that is still in place today, giving the students practice in “the ability to critically analyze…society,” that Ladson-Billings cites as an important component of culturally relevant pedagogy. In this analysis of the current situation, we could incorporate everyday texts like those used by Vivian Vasquez and David Chiola-Nakai with their students in Chapter 2 of Getting Beyond “I Like the Book” to enhance the discussion and the children’s understanding of the
Critical Literacy Principle 4: Reflecting on and using literacy practices to take action for social justice Pura Belpré made a big difference in the lives of Hildamar and the rest of the New York Puerto Rican community. I would ask the students to write a thank-you note to Pura Belpré from Hildamar’s point of view. I would then have the class evaluate their school’s own library on whether or not they felt it represented and welcomed everyone in the community (the community being our class). We would look through the books and find ones that students in the class could identify with. If a group felt underrepresented, then the class could take action from there to change that because like we read in Chapter 1 of Getting Beyond “I Like the Book”, it is important for children to see themselves in the books they read. As Hefflin and Barksdale-Ladd said in “African American Children’s Literature That Helps Students Find Themselves,” “To read for years and not encounter stories that connect closely with one’s own cultural understandings and life experiences is problematic.” Just as the children in Vivian Vasquez’s kindergarten class did, the students could write letters to the librarian, the principle, and the school board asking them to provide books that would make the
Reflection It seems to me that the key to successful picture books lies in finding a happy medium. The stories cannot be too complex or children will get frustrated, but they cannot become too simple or they will grow bored. The characters should be relatable or they should offer readers a window into a different way of life. The pictures and the text must complement each other, and both must play a role in moving the story forward and keeping the reader interested. Illustrations should authentically represent the characters and settings and should assist the text in creating the mood of the story. I had not heard of some of the awards that we researched in this project, but now that I know of them, I will be sure to take them into consideration when choosing books to read to my own students and when creating my classroom’s library. Although they are far from being the only books that exemplify outstanding children’s literature, they provide a strong base on which to start my search. Using books that I know have won critical recognition, I can examine the qualities that they possess and use those qualities as criteria as I look for other books to provide my students with. The Coretta Scott King and the Pura Belpre awards are especially ideal for finding books that can
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