I always get so excited when the American Library Association announces all of their book awards! Many times they are announced on MLK, Jr. Day, so I can curl up in my flannel pjs (our district has that day off) with a big mug of coffee and watch the live stream on my iPad. This year they were held this past Monday and I raced to work and was able to catch the Caldecott and Newbery winner and honor books. I must admit that I really thought that The All Saw a Cat was going to be the winner:
I was happy to see that it was chosen as one of the four Honor books. My students were really engaged in decided why Brendan Wenzel chose to illustrate each page the way he did. The committee chose Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe to be the winner:
I do love the illustrations in this book. Steptoe used salvaged wood for his paintings, which gives it a very unique look. I didn’t know very much about the subject of this book, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and had to do a little research to learn more about him (random fact: he dated Madonna in the early 80s!). He had a mother who encouraged him to pursue his love of art and creating. I love how he was so determined to become a “famous artist”, no matter how challenging it would be. There are, however, some darker elements to this book. The author writes that Jean-Michel’s mother had to leave home when he was younger. My students wanted to know why she left and I simply said that she was ill and needed special care. The end notes do mention that Basquiat died of a drug overdose, but I chose not to read that to my students. I’m showing this book to our school’s art teacher. She may want to use this as a springboard for some future art study.
If you would like to have your students participate in a mock election, you may be interested in my Caldecott Mock Election resource. It includes Powerpoints, ballots and tips on how to conduct a mock election in your classroom or library. I do this unit every year in my library and my students are so engaged! The ALA has a link to the awards ceremony that you can show and we all cheer and clap along with the audience as they are announced.
If you’d like to check out the 2017 awards list and view the recorded ceremony, click here: