While we wait with baited breath, we can already seek out the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award winning titles (for outstanding nonfiction) which were announced last week. This year's winner is Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words by Leda Schubert. In this book, Schubert captures Marceau's magic in delighting audiences for over fifty years without saying a single word. Not only that, she takes a look at the man behind the mime, a story which only a few ever knew.
Along with the winner, the Orbis Pictus Committee awarded several honor books: Citizen Scientist: Be Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns; Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Rober Byrd; The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch; Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley; and We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson. With the current trend of amping up nonfiction reading in our classrooms, these will certainly be welcome additions to our libraries.
And while we have to wait until Monday to find out the Caldecott and Newbery winners, there are some early indicators of who the front runners might be. Recently, a team of SAS teachers from across the divisions participated in a Mock Caldecott Committee to determine which artists should be awarded our choices for "most distinguished American picture books for children" from 2012.
Led by our own Nancy Johnson, who is currently serving on the actual Caldecott Committee this year, we met in a series of meetings throughout the fall where we showcased books, examined techniques, and put forth our favorites. Last week, we determined our winners. Leading our pack was This is Not My Hat by John Klassen, a companion book to his wildly popular, I Want My Hat Back.
We also couldn't resist naming a list of notable honor books as well: Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (yes, he's that good!); Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger; The Insomniacs written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by the Brothers Hilts; Oh No! written by Candy Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann; and Unspoken by Henry Cole.
Of course with Nancy on the actual committee, some of us tried to gain an inside track by continually peppering her with leading questions, but she just wouldn't budge. And now that she's in Seattle, sequestered away with her colleagues, we'll just have to wait until Monday to find out how right on we were with our choices.
Inspired by my work on the Mock Caldecott Committee, last fall I decided to run a Mock Newbery Committee in my classroom. By reading five books from mock Newbery lists that were being tossed around on blogs such as Heavy Medal--A Mock Newbery Blog, students could vote for their choice for the Newbery Medal winner and any honor book they wanted. The clear favorite was Wonder by RJ Palacio, the story of Auggie who, with his badly deformed face, heads to school for the first time in 5th grade and survives with love, patience, and faith from others and from within. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate came in at a close second.
So I'll be keeping these titles in mind as I check out the winners early this week. For those of you who want to experience the press conference live, click here. Or, you can follow results in real-time by logging on to the ALA Youth Media Awards Facebook page or via Twitter at #ALAyma. In the meantime, I'm sure you'll join me in wishing all the potential award-winning artists and authors, "May the odds be ever in your favor."