Friday, February 5, 2016

6 Books I Loved in Childhood

¡Hola amigos!

Yesterday's post was full of thoughtful details for parents who want to know how to limit their kids' reading; it took me a long time to write -- I spread it out over three days. So today I want to do something quick and easy!

When I asked for ideas of things to post about, a couple friends wanted to hear about what books I enjoyed in my childhood. When I was a kid I saw an episode of Sesame Street where Bert talks about how nobody's favorite number is 6, but it's his favorite (ah! here it is.) I decided 6 was my favorite number, too. So let's have 6 favorite books from my childhood.

My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston -- I would like to own a copy of this book. Something about the red-headed Arizona captured my imagination. Maybe it was that I lived in Arizona. Maybe it was that I grew up hearing stories about my ancestors from my dad. Maybe it was that she sat reading on the front steps. Maybe it was that she had red hair, like some of my lucky cousins. Anyway, it's a beautiful book.

we're being lazy remember?
so this is the only book I'm linking to.
it's a beauty.

Pickle Things by Marc Brown -- Everybody knows Marc Brown for Arthur, of course, but I love Pickle Things. It's out of print, so it's ridiculously expensive online. It's great though. "Pickle things you never see, like pickles on a Christmas tree. . . . You never hear a pickle sing, or see a pickle leave a ring." It rhymes, it's silly, and it's brilliantly illustrated. What more could a child want?

Swan Lake by Mark Helprin, illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg -- Speaking of awesome books that are out of print, this one is a favorite of mine. I remember my parents reading it aloud to us kids and I remember it being amazing and sad and incomprehensible and so romantic. Rereading it as a teen and as an adult has been a great delight.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett -- Speaking of books I reread as an adult, A Little Princess was awesome to reread. I remembered loving it as a child, and watching the movie and thinking the movie was very different from the book. When I picked it up again after I had kids of my own I loved it all over again, and even found myself feeling sorry for Miss Minchin, something I never did in childhood!

Sleeping Beauty by Mercer Mayer -- Oh man, I remember poring over these illustrations for a long, long time. Again, Mercer Mayer is best known for the Little Critter books, but this fairy tale retelling is what captured my imagination. It's been years since I've seen a copy.

Animalia by Graeme Base -- I used to look at these illustrations for hours, too! I'm lucky enough to own a copy of this one, and have shared it with my kids. It goes through each letter of the alphabet, with a rhyme and a ridiculously detailed scene which features innumberable objects that start with that letter. It's kind of like an I Spy book, except less stressful. (I could never find all the things on the I Spy list, you know? But finding everything in these rhymes isn't too hard, and then going above and beyond and finding more and more was just so enjoyable).

What were some of your favorite books in childhood? Of course I've barely scratched the surface of my own childhood, here. I loved The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew and Madeline L'Engle and so many more.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Kid Reads Too Much! One Important Question + 13 tips

Hi there! I'm Alysa.

You're reading this post because you have a child who READS TOO MUCH, right? Your precious offspring has been sucked in by book after book and you want to know how you can get your child back. What happened to those halcyon days when you read your baby bedtime stories? Those days when you said "that's enough for tonight" and your kid didn't wake up in the morning with a Harry Potter Hangover and a stolen flashlight with dead batteries?!

Well. You CAN bring your kid back to the real world. I know you can do it, and I know how you can do it. In my youth, I was one of these children! And not only that, I have a bookworm of my own -- an eight-year-old who reads multiple chapter books a day if I let my guard down.

Ashley told me her 11-year-old niece Emily is really into reading and that Emily's mom, Debi, is suffering from Emily's bibliophilia.

I confess that when I first heard "My kid is reading too much!" my reaction was "Impossible. Reading is a good thing."

But I thought about it, and there really is a limit to how much a kid should read. You want to raise a successful adult who happens to be a bookworm, not a slob who can't communicate and hides behind books.

It would be simple to say "Grow a backbone! Limit your child's reading and stick to that limit." But that's not helpful.
How do you limit reading? 
How do you know how much is too much?

The answer is different for everybody, so before I dive into some examples I'm going to give you the the big question you need to guide you.

The Big Question: 
WHY do you think your child is reading too much?

When you think about this deeply and answer it honestly, potential solutions are much easier to find.

Here are some of the reasons you might come up with, and ideas for each.

1. I can't keep up with what she's reading! Is she reading garbage that will harm her soul? Is she reading books that are a waste of time?

If you're worried about what she's reading, your essential concern is "This might be dangerous." My advice is to take the time to find out if it really is dangerous or not. Here are some ways you can do that.

  • Ask her about it. Would this be a good book for me? Why, or why not? Would this be a good book for your little sister? Why, or why not? Did anyone in the book do something that you would not do? Did anyone do something you admire and would want to do yourself?
  • Require her to keep a book log. Just the title and author of each book should be enough. You can reward her for logging books, if she's too busy reading to write them down. You could even make a game of it. If one of our family members sees you reading a book and writes it on the log before you do, they get the reward!
  • Look at reviews online. If you have title and author info, this is fairly simple. You can try a site like Amazon or Goodreads, which will have reviews from a large variety of users. Or you can find a book reviewer you trust who reviews loads of books. Ms. Yingling Reads and Jean Little Library are two book blogs I trust for middle grade recommendations, and of course you can use the search function here on Everead anytime you'd like. 
  • Ask a friend about the books she is reading. I'm happy to be that friend. (Sign up for my email list and make it easy for us to chat!) The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and she was complaining that her son's class was studying the Percy Jackson books. I asked her why that worried her. She said that her son had already read the books, and that when she flipped through them they seemed to be just one violent episode after another. I assured her that I had read the books and that they were solid. They're the kind of books that a class could study and get something out of, even if it's not your son's first read-through. Also, I thought carefully about her violence concerns and once I had considered the books and what I know about her son and her family, I didn't think they were inappropriate in any way. The Percy Jackson books are fast paced, and there is plenty of fantasy violence, but they're explicitly teaching against violent behavior and advocating for good values of friendship and loyalty and being kind to others who aren't like you. So, take some time to talk with a friend, or phone your local children's or teen librarian and discuss your concerns. You may be pleasantly surprised about what she's reading. And if you're getting warning signals from the adults of the kidlit community, you'll have some specifics to talk to your daughter about.
  • Teach her about danger in books. What things do you think "cross the line?" Talk to your daughter about what you think, and ask her what she thinks. You could even say something like "At some point you'll probably run into [swearing/sex/violence/whatever it is], when you do, will you talk to me about it? Together we can see if you thought it was handled well and made the book better, or handled badly and made the book less likable." Don't shame her for coming across bad material in books. We've all picked out something that looked innocent but turned out to be too much. Instead of criticizing, use these times to teach her how to be a discerning reader.

2. I can't get her to help out! As soon as I turn my back she's reading again. Her room is a mess, her chores aren't done, she hasn't practiced piano...

If you can't get her to help out around the house, you have some unmet expectations.

  • Make sure your expectations are clear. I just posted a new chart for my kids. It seems like after a little while we stop seeing our old reminders, and I think that's just human nature. We need to refresh and reset often. These charts tell my kids that if I catch them reading before their duties are done and make them stop there is no complaining allowed. They must complete the list before they can GO.
  • Keep free time free. If you catch her reading and you're annoyed because you think she should be doing something else, ask yourself if that's true. Should she be doing something else just because you think she should, or should she be doing something else because she really is neglecting some other essential area of life? Remind her that there are many types of time at home. If it's "free time" let it be free and let her choose to read. If it's not free time but "family time" then tell her "this is family time," "this is game time," or "this is helping time." If free time is coming to an end, you can help her transition away from her book by saying things like "Find a good stopping place, soon." This is courteous, in the same way that knocking on a door before you enter is nice. It takes a little bit of the edge off of the shock of having to come back to reality. Another thing you can do is ask her about her book once she finally puts it down. I know first hand that reading a good book keeps you thinking about that book, that subject or that world. And having someone ask me about my book is a great way to transition from thinking about the book to thinking about what's going on around me. 

3. I want more time with her! I have to be doing my own household duties, but any time I wish I could chat with her while I scrub pots, she is reading.

If you want her to spend more time with you (or other family members), you've got two basic options: spend time together not reading, and spend time together reading.

  • Make non-reading time an expectation. For instance, put "chat with mom for 10 minutes" on the list of things she has to do before free time. Or make up stories together. Require your daughter to tell you about her day at school, but as if she were a character from one of her books. Engage her imagination outside of books. Help her see the drama and the stories that are part of life around her.
  • Spend time reading as a family. Listen to audiobooks together in the car or while you work on household jobs. Read to each other during mealtimes. 

4. I'm worried she's not learning important skills she needs. I know you can learn by reading, but some things are learned by practice. She's not practicing those things!

If you're worried she's reading instead of practicing life skills, define those skills.

click to shop
  • Make a plan.  I've been reading a great book about this called The Parenting Breakthrough: A Real-life Plan to Teach Your Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent by Merrilee Browne Boyack. It's targeted to an LDS audience, but I think it has valuable information for parents regardless of whether or not you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For one thing, it has a great list of things that children should be able to do at each age from 3-18. Boyack suggests that 11-year-olds should be arranging for their own haircuts. What a great idea! That's the kind of task that an 11-year-old probably has all the skills to complete, but most of us haven't thought of assigning it to her. 

5. She's not getting enough sleep! She stays up all night reading and in the morning she is grouchy and slow.

If your child isn't getting enough sleep, I recommend doing all three of the following things. Sleep is serious!

  • Check in. Of course she is going to get better sleep if you check on her now and then, and remind her to turn off the light. 11-year-olds still need their parents and they still need accountability. But we want to "teach them how to fish," too. We want to teach our kids to go to sleep without us, eventually. 

click to shop
  • Teach her how to go to sleep on her own. I found some good advice on how to do this in what is probably the most famous kids sleep book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. I have translated that advice into this little poster, which hangs by my kids' light switch. Something like this might be helpful for an 11-year-old, as long as you don't shame her for not knowing how to do it already. Start from where you are and try to help her feel like following these rules at a reasonable hour will help improve her life. 
  • Help her experiment to find out how much sleep she actually needs. A quick search told me that 11-year-olds need between 9-11 hours of sleep each night. Well, that is a two hour range! And your 11-year-old would probably be thrilled to try out some different bedtimes, and different amounts of evening reading time, with your assistance. 

I think we could go on here. But I also think that parenting is something that is most effective when it is between the parents and the child. You know your child. You know their limits and your limits. By now you know that what used to work might not work anymore, and that when something doesn't work, thoughtful parents try a different tactic. It's worth it to raise kids who are successful, independent adults!

That said, I think we can leave this post open for comments. What other reasons can you think of to answer The Big Question? What other advice do you have for parents who feel their kids are reading too much? 

Learn more about my email list here.
Books I recommend for 8-12 year olds.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Top 7 New Graphic Novels for ages 8-12

Hi friends!

Your kids are always bringing home graphic novels, right? They love them and they can't get enough. I know because every time I tell someone I read graphic novels they say, "Oh my kids love graphic novels!" And they ask me for recommendations.

So let me tell you about the best ones of this year.

But first an embarrassing story:

Yesterday I posted about the 2015 Cybils Graphic Novel shortlist for teens, and I named some emotions each book made me feel. But right away I got a note from Sheila, reminding me that I'm not allowed to post anything about my own opinions (or those of the other judges) until after the big announcement on Valentines' Day. Oops! I am usually a round 1 judge for the Cybils, and round 1 judges are encouraged to post about nominees.

So I went back and edited the post to include the official Cybils summaries instead. Once the winners are announced, I'll fill that post back in with my original commentary, plus a little bit more. :)

Today I want to clue you in on the best graphic novels of the year for middle grade readers (ages 8-12). For now I'll put the Cybils summaries in, and after Valentine's Day I'll add my commentary. In the meantime the cover images will link to Amazon so that you can go there and read reviews and such. If you shop through my links (for anything on Amazon, not just books), I earn a small commission.

2016's Top 7 Graphic Novels for ages 8-12

Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola
Masha is in a bit of a rough spot. Her mother died when she was young, and her beloved grandmother has died more recently. Her father, always distant towards her, has revealed that he’s marrying a woman she hasn’t met, much less heard of… and the new wife has her own young daughter who never misses an opportunity to point out that Masha doesn’t belong. Masha agrees, and sets out to find a place where she feels competent– in the chicken hut of Baba Yaga, whose stories play a huge role in her memories of family and belonging. Masha thinks she’s equal to any challenge Baba Yaga might set for her, but when her new stepsister and friends appear to be on the dinner menu, she finds that she’s not really up for murder. Now she must come up with a solution that will allow her to keep the kids alive… and follow Baba Yaga’s directions and keep her job. Many kids dealing with unpleasant family issues might dream of running away to a fairytale world. The macabre story choice here and the need to work out troubles in both places anchor what might otherwise feel escapist. It showcases Masha’s depth and kindness, and make this a compelling read. ~ Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Courtney Crumrin Vol 7: Tales of a Warlock by Ted Naifeh
In the new volume of Ted Naifeh’s Crumrin series, we get to read the back story of her Uncle Aloysius Crumrin as a young man…. err, warlock. Courtney herself has yet to be born, but the exciting tale of magical intrigue, greed, and murder features a tough heroine determined to do what’s right. Aloysius and Alice’s romance adds a lot to the telling, and though it’s not clear how things will play out in future volumes, longtime fans of the series will note Alice’s physical resemblance to Courtney. This volume works well as a standalone for readers new to the series, who will almost certainly seek out the rest of the books after reading this one. ~Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Dragons Beware by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
Dragons Beware! has all the cliches of the dragon-slaying genre, but the standard elements are turned on their heads with hilarious characters and dialogue. Claudette is the daughter of warriors (and the sibling of a young chef) who is set on recovering her father’s magic sword from the belly of a ferocious dragon while surrounded by an uproarious supporting cast of princes, princesses, soldiers and servants.
The kid appeal of Dragons Beware! is strong, and the messages about negotiation, courage, and family are subtly integrated into a highly satisfying adventure. ~Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Astrid is twelve years old, and has just developed a love for roller derby. She is devastated to learn that her best friend, Nicole, will not be joining her at derby camp. In fact, they are drifting apart, and Astrid can’t figure out why. Astrid learns that being honest with yourself and those you love is a difficult but important journey to take. With beautiful color illustrations and excellent storytelling Roller Girl is a fun take on that awkward time of life. ~ Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang
Fish-out-of-water, first-day-at-new-school stories are dime a dozen, but 12-year-old Hopper’s new school, Stately Academy, is something entirely different. For one thing, all the buildings have the number 9 on them, and in the trees all the birds have four eyes in varying combinations of being open and closed. But it’s the combination of discovering binary numbers and a secret robot hidden in the janitor closet that sends Hopper and her new friends on the path to opening a portal that will reveal the secrets hidden within Stately Academy… but only if they successfully can work out the code! The first book in a new series that sets out to teach readers how to code while solving a mystery, Secret Coders is an entertaining and accessible graphic introduction to the building blocks of computer programming. ~ David Elzey, Guyslitwire

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
In 1976, Sunny Lewin is sent to spend part of her summer is her grandfather in Florida. Sunny is upbeat about the trip, but quickly loses her optimism the more her grandfather takes her on errands and not to Disney World. Sunny knows, however, that she was sent to be with Gramps for a reason that had nothing to do with Disney World. Her older brother has started to act strangely mean and aloof, and she thinks it’s all her fault. With cute color illustrations and a story that connects with younger readers, Sunny Side Up, proves to hit a tough subject with grace and understanding. ~ Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
In Brian Selznick’s unique graphic hybrid style, The Marvels draws the reader into a dizzying tale of shipwreck,, theater, family, and legacy. We follow the generations of Marvels as they perform on various stages, and lead lives both admirable and dissolute… and then look again, as a modern descendant, Joseph, tries to put all the pieces together after running away to his uncle’s house in London, and discovers a truly marvelous testimony to family, and to love. As the book says –you either see it… or you don’t. ~ Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How This Year's Top 7 Graphic Novels Will Make You Feel

Hello book lovers!

I'm a judge for round two of the Cybils, in the Graphic Novel category. That means that this year I'm reading, studying, and discussing the top Graphic Novels published between Oct 2014 and Oct 2015. These are GN's selected on the basis of literary merit (Is it a good book?) and kid-appeal (But will my kid actually read it?). They're painstakingly picked by top-notch
kidlit bloggers.

My panel gets to take this list of seven and declare one *the winner*. We're in the middle of discussions, and I have to keep the details top-secret.

EDIT: Oh no! The first time I published this post I said too much! I'm replacing my brief comments with the official summaries from the Cybils website.

Don't worry, though, the winner will be announced on Feb 14th. But they're all so good! I just had to mention them and and recommend them. They're coming straight from the Cybils shortlist and I want to tell you about how I reacted when I read them.

This is the list for teens -- books selected for ages 13 and up. I'll post about the Top 7 for ages 8-12 soon. If you have any questions about these books, ask and I will answer! Covers are going to link to Amazon, so you can read summaries and full reviews. If you shop through my links I make a small commission at no cost to you.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
In this graphic-novel memoir, 14-year old Maggie finds herself at an all-girls summer camp transitioning from a celebrity crush on Backstreet Boys singer Kevin Richardson to a very real crush on Erin, one of the camp’s counselors. Honor Girl feels authentic as Maggie struggles with figuring out what her emotions mean. And imagine doing that while surrounded 24 hours a day teenage girls! The free-form artwork is a perfect way for author Maggie Thrash to convey her story as a 14-year might doodle her way through memories. The colors are slightly muted but not somber, which also reinforces the life-like quality of Honor Girl. Thrash also gives us several catchy uses of panels, sound effects, and perspective.
-Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Lion of Rora by Cristos N. Gage
Lion of Rora tells the true story of farmer-turned-military tactician, Joshua Janavel, who fought for the religious rights of his people and the Waldensian church. This novel is told using simple black and white illustrations to tell of a people fighting for their religious rights for the first time in European history against a ruler who denies them that freedom. The characters are sympathetic, the cause is just, and the story itself was new to all of our panelists, making this book a winner. 
-Sami Silva, Reading. Happily.

March: Book Two by John Lewis
Just as powerfully as in March: Book One, Book Two continues the story of John Lewis’s involvement in America’s civil rights movement. March: Book Two, despite its title, stands alone as a distinct chapter in America’s long struggle with race, but it also emerges smoothly from its predecessor volume. The book focuses on the Freedom Riders and ends just after the August, 1963 March on Washington.. Although somewhat denser than Book One, Book Two alternates effectively between the political discussions among the movement’s leaders and the more dramatic scenes in streets and prisons. The black-and-white artwork evokes the familiar black-and-white newsreel footage of protestors being set upon with firehoses and police dogs, as well as the well-known images of George Wallace on the steps of the Alabama capitol and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. When those iconic images show up in comic form, they are simultaneously familiar and new. March: Book Two is an important contribution to our understanding of America and its history.
-Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
Kamala is 16, Pakastani-American, Muslim, and a Marvel comics fan. Then something weird happens, and she finds herself imbued with superpowers she uses for good when transformed into Ms. Marvel!
Volume 1 is engrossing as it introduces Kamala and her family, friends, and enemies. Ms. Marvel will do wonders in Jersey City … when she’s not grounded by her parents or in trouble at her mosque. This comic should have wide appeal, and its Muslim superhero is an obviously welcome positive portrayal of a demographic under-represented in literature for young readers.
-Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Heroes and sidekicks are always popular in the world of graphics, and Nimona follows in that tradition, but with some pretty big differences. Nimona, our sidekick wannabe, is trying to apprentice herself to the bad guy, who keeps trying to convince her to be less violent, and isn’t entirely sure he wants a sidekick in the first place. As he learns more about his shapeshifting assistant, he discovers that her role playing runs deeper than the physical, and her presence in his life enables him to rise from his own detested role and into his true nature. Clear and graceful art and endearing characters keep the reader riveted throughout the tale.
-Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Oyster War by Ben Towle
Pirates are rapidly depleting the oyster supply along the Eastern seaboard in the years after the Civil War. Civic leaders call in Commander Davidson Bulloch, a blustery submarine officer fond of spouting inspirational quotes although with at least one mangled word. Bulloch agrees to assemble a crew and go to war against Treacher Fink and his band of oyster pirates in Oyster War, a grand adventure that looks and feels like a throwback to the comic adventures of the 1930s.
Bulloch’s colorful sailors and Fink’s motley crew are wildly entertaining as they go to battle in a plot that is both complex and easily understood. Throw in a dash of historical accuracy and splashes of mysterious maritime legends, and you have a completely satisfying graphic novel.
-Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Terrorist by Henrik Rehr
In a time when “terrorist” conjures up nothing positive, Henrik Rehr gives us the story of Gavrilo Princip, the self-described terrorist whose assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand touched off World War I. Rehr never asks readers to condone Princip’s actions or sympathize with him, nor does he require the reader to condemn them. We are simply shown how the mind of a terrorist works and allowed to draw our own conclusions. The black-and-white artwork is dramatic and although the characters are sometimes hard to distinguish, the overall visual effects are compelling. The political discussions weigh down the narrative in places, but Rehr creates a suspenseful plot as he alternates between the activities of Princip and the Archduke as they move toward the moment of the murder.
-Gary Anderson, What’s not wrong?

Which would you pick?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Post a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Hello friends!

What do you mean it's an APPLE a day?

I've been having so much fun creating more with the drawing challenge that I did in January, that I'm going to keep creating daily!

In February 2016, you can expect a post each day here on Everead. 

It's bold. Blogging has changed quite a bit since I began, back in 2007. Lots of the things we used to put on our blogs are things we now put on social media, instead. If you check out the archives of Everead (which begin in 2008) you'll see that I was posting shorter posts, more frequently. But I've never been a daily blogger. In October 2008 I posted 25 times, sometimes twice in one day. But 25 posts in a month is the most Everead has ever seen. I intend to change that.

I confess I'm planning on cheating . . . just a little bit. Since I observe the Sabbath on Sundays, I plan to write Sunday posts ahead of time and schedule them to publish automatically.  If I'm really on top of it, I'll do that for some other days, too, and then I'll squeeze in more than one post a day. Millions of posts!!!

I'm really excited about this! Also a little nervous. I'm not worried that I'll miss a day, I'm worried that people will wish I had just skipped a day rather than posting what I posted. Heh. So, if you want to give me a boost this month, comment on my posts. Or send positive vibes in some other form. Preferably a form I can actually discern; bear in mind that I'm not actually psychic and can't tell if you're smiling at your screen.

This month of daily blogging is going to give me a chance to tell you about some great books, old and new. It's going to push me to come up with something interesting and valuable to write each day. It's going to help you get to know me better, and I hope it'll help me get to know YOU better, too.

So let's start off with a question: What would you like to hear about, from me? What should I post about???

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Create More" one day at a time.

A photo posted by Alysa Stewart (@everead) on
Hello there! I just wanted to pop on for a minute and tell you what I'm up to.

A couple of years ago a great phrase came to my mind when I was making New Years Resolutions:
Create More, Consume Less.

Though it's been a little while, this little mantra has stuck with me; and when I decided to write about drawing it came to mind. I love the feeling of creating something, so I've really been enjoying participating in a class on It's called "Daily Drawing Challenge: 31 Things to Draw" and the instructor is Lisa Congdon. Every day in January a new short video of her goes live and she demonstrates how to draw something. The class is ongoing, so you can join any time you're reading this, but I will say it has been very fun to participate as each day is rolled out.

A photo posted by Alysa Stewart (@everead) on

I'm drawing daily and posting the work on my Instagram.

A photo posted by Alysa Stewart (@everead) on

I've been super good about it for a couple of reasons:
1. If you post along with the challenge every day in January, you can win a prize (some fancy pens and art paper). I am highly motivated by prizes.
2. I got myself a buddy. When I knew I wanted to do this challenge, I also knew I would shortly feel discouraged if I didn't feel accountable to someone else. Sure, there's a teacher in the class, but it's not like she's handing out grades. I took Gretchen Rubin's quiz and it said I'm an "obliger" and I kind of believe it. So I asked Melissa Wiley if she'd be my buddy for the class. She and I were on a Cybils committee together a few years back and since then I've just fallen in love with her blog. It was through her that I discovered creativebug and Lisa Congdon's work, which I love. She said yes, and even though she's been out sick for a good chunk of the challenge, just knowing she was my buddy was enough for me.
3. I love that it is a short, daily exercise. I'm really jiving with that right now.

A photo posted by Alysa Stewart (@everead) on

So above are a few of the pages that I've done so far, and you can see them all (and more) on my instagram account. Check them out! Share your thoughts with me! Because I love feedback and comments. You can leave comments here or on instagram or whatever floats your boat.

At the moment I've got to go get my boys from the bus stop. After that I'll need to do some more Cybils reading and today's daily drawing challenge. Talk to you soon!

related books:
Better Than Before
 by Gretchen Rubin (Have read parts of this, but haven't yet reviewed it)
Fortune Favors the Brave
 by Lisa Congdon (haven't read this, but I want to!)
Fox and Crow Are Not Friends
 by Melissa Wiley (my review)
*These three links are affiliate links and if you make any purchase on Amazon after clicking through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Win-win. :)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Newbery and Caldecott winners 2016!

Newbery winner announced today! 
I know you rely on me for your bookish news...maybe.

The book is Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. It's a picture book!!!

I'm not sure if a picture book has ever won the Newbery Medal before, though I know a picture book has got a Newbery Honor.

I was watching the livestream of the announcement ("This is how you know you're into children's literature," said Jacob) so of course I immediately clicked over to put the book on hold at my library. Bad news: issues with the system mean no new holds this week! Even worse: my city library doesn't own a copy of the book yet! I called to tell the librarians this, at 9:24 a.m. but the library doesn't open till 9:30.

Leave it to librarians to have their biggest awards ceremony -- their Oscars, their Grammys -- before work on a Monday morning. hahaha. :D

Other interesting facts: Last Stop on Market Street is the first book by a Latino to win the Newbery. Last Stop on Market Street was also recognized as a Caldecott Honor book (different committees select each award, and aren't allowed to communicate), and a Coretta Scott King Honor book. The Coretta Scott King award went to the illustrator, because that award is made for "recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books from children and young adults."

Newbery Honor books:

The War That Saved My Life, which I have not read yet. It's audiobook also won the Odessey Award today, so that's promising! I love a good audiobook.

Roller Girl, which I just read and loved, and is a contender in the Cybils graphic novel category. It was remarkably fun.

Echo, which I know nothing about!

That's it for the Newbery Awards, now on to Caldecott!

Caldecott winner was Finding Winnie, which looks excellent, especially since I enjoyed Sophie Blackall's work in A Fine Dessert. The kids and I even made the dessert.

Caldecott honors went to Trombone Shorty, Waiting, Voice of Freedom, and of course Last Stop on Market Street. I look forward to reading all of these!

The one I have already reviewed that was recognized today is Symphony for the City of the Dead, which was recognized as a finalist in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-fiction for Young Adults. Full review of that one here.

I'll put in cover images that are Amazon links so you can go read reviews about these and "look inside" and shop for them etc. When you buy anything through my links I earn a small commission, just fyi.

Full list of winners can be seen here, at the American Library Association website.

Do you like knowing what the new Newbery books are? What do you remember about the Newberys and Caldecotts from your childhood?

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