Tuesday, February 22, 2011

School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books 2011 Bracket Challenge

(you can find the link to the bracket contest is at the end of this post)

This is the third year School Library Journal has run a Battle of the Kids' Books. Back in 2009 final round judge Lois Lowery chose The Hunger Games over M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II The Kingdom on the Waves. Last year final round judge Katherine Paterson choose Elizabeth Partridge's Marching to Freedom over Frances Hardinge's The Lost Conspiracy and Pamela S. Turner's The Frog Scientist. What will 2011 bring? Well today the judges for this year's contest were finally announced (titles were announced back in January) so we can start making some guesses (intelligent or otherwise).

Like last year I am running a bracket contest similar to the NCAA basketball bracket you fill out during March Madness. The rules are simple. Each contestant picks the winner of each round and receives points for correct guesses. First round matches are worth 1 point each, second round matches are worth 2 points each, third round matches are worth 4 points, and correctly guessing the winner earns you 8 points. You can also earn 5 points by guessing which book will return from the dead via the undead poll (which is open now and closes March 6). A perfect bracket can earn a total of 37 points.

Last year's Battle of the Books proved to be incredibly unpredictable as none of the 52 participants correctly predicted the winning book. Our eventual winner did however manage to earn 16 points.

Since the Battle of the Kids' Books matches will not begin until March 14, there is still plenty of time to get a hold of and read the books you haven't read. The bracket challenge will open today with the publication of this post and end on March 11 in order to give me time to check through each participant's bracket for errors and contact any participants if they need to make changes.

Bracket Challenge entry is free and there is no prize other than prideg. (unless of course someone out there wants to sponsor a prize in which case please email me!)

To enter simply fill out the googleform via the link below. You will be asked to enter your email address so that in the event of an error in your bracket (for example selecting a winner in a latter round match which you've already eliminated) I can contact you and get your true choice.

Unfortunately I am not nearly computer savvy enough to make the form resemble the actual bracket so I recommend printing the pdf from the official SLJ Battle of the Kids' Books website, filling it out, and then answering the form questions with your printed out bracket in hand.

At the end of each round of matches I will tally up the points and post the top scores. I will also post some round by round match up analysis and summary as once the battle begins so check back often.

To enter the contest click on the link below and answer each question. Please feel free to share the link with anyone who may also be interested in participating.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2010 Cybils Awards Winners

This year I had the honor to be one of the second round judges in the Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books category for the Cybils. Not only did we get to read and discuss some amazing books, but because our category is really two-in-one, we got to pick two winners!

Easy Readers

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that Mo Willems' We Are in a Book is bringing home the Cybil this year to go along with the truck load of awards it has already received. This book is my students hands down favorite book in the classroom and mine too. Mo Willems posted the following image of Piggie and Gerald celebrating their Cybil win on his blog.

Gerald's reaction is pretty much the same one I had when we came to our final decision.

(Looking for more Elephant and Piggie greatness? I Broke My Trunk was released just a few weeks ago and once again Mo has not disappointed. Run, don't walk to your local independent bookstore and pick up a copy.)

Early Chapter Books

I am equally happy to see Jacqueline Jules's Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off win the award for early chapter books. It's a truly fantastic book that I've been pushing onto my colleagues and peers for months and everyone of them has come back to thank me. Anyone who works with first or second grade students needs to pick up a copy of this one and start putting it into the hands of your young readers. I promise you they will love it!

(the third Zapato Power book is due out March 1 of this year you should probably call your bookstore and order it)

The rest of the fantastic winners:

Fiction Picture Books: David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken
I read this one to my class and after it one it Caldecott Honor and they really enjoyed it. Since then I've noticed a few less interrupting chickens during read alouds.

Graphic Novels: Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
I picked this one up last spring when it was released and loved the concept but I just don't have the patience to make very much progress through the insanely complex (in a good way) story. Maybe it's because I like vanilla so much more than chocolate.

Middle Grade Fiction: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
I was ecstatic to see this one get the win. Certainly the kids' pick for best middle grade fiction of the year. Its a fantastic book for reluctant readers and rabid readers alike. I for one can't wait to the upcoming sequel.

Poetry: Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Like Shiga's Meanwhile one has to admire the shear originality and brilliant execution to pull off such a unique work. Creating a whole new type of poetry cannot have been easy.

Nonfiction Picture Books: The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain (Accorind to Susy) by Barbara Kerley
If I was blogging three years ago Kerley's 2007 middle grade novel Greetings From Planet Earth
would have been my top pick for most over looked novel of the year. I'm still waiting to get this picture book from my local library but I am eager to read it.

Check out the Cybils website for a the complete list of winners including the young adult winners that I haven't read yet.