The Wild Robot – Mock Newbery 2017

Wild Robot

Can a picture book author/illustrator write a chapter book?  Of course.  But can they write a good one? Peter Brown can.  Since I first read The Curious Garden, I’ve been a fan of Peter Brown’s picture books.  Now, I’m a fan of his first middle grade novel, The Wild Robot.

This book is a definite read aloud.  Hopefully, MLs teacher will let me come to the class and book talk some books before summer.  This will be on the list.  I can’t wait to read “Have the nicest evening Pinktail.  I shall look forward to the pleasure of encountering you again in the future.  Soon, I hope.  Farewell.” (page 68)  The other quote that will be shared is when the animals are helping Roz with a garden.  She thanked all the animals for their help.  “I am not capable of defecating so your droppings are most appreciated.” (page 94)

It’s hard to find books for children who read on a higher grade level but aren’t emotionally ready for some of the themes explored in middle grade novels.  I’m adding this book to my post titled First Graders Who Fly Through Magic Tree House Books I wrote after ML’s first grade teacher asked for recommendations.

I hope Peter Brown has another middle grade novel in the works.  And some picture books.  His talent for both types of books is phenomenal.  Another book for my Mock Newbery 2017.  So many good books are being published this year.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to choose which one deserves the medal.


Second Grade So Far – Once Again, ML’s Teacher Has A Greater Influence on The Books ML Chooses to Read Than I

ML’s not big on answering questions about school.  Especially, “What happened at school today?”  She will usually tell me if she had music, art, PE or one of the other specials.  I’ve asked her this every night since kindergarten.

I’ve added two questions this year,  “Did your teacher read a book to the class?” and “What did you read today?”  So far, she’s answering these questions; and I’m pleased with the answers.



How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague – “A schoolboy tells his class about his summer vacation, during which he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede.”


My Teacher Is Monster

Busy night with the final StrollerThon planning meeting at our house.  I forgot to ask what the teacher read.  We did read a book together.  My Teacher is a Monster! No I am Not. by Peter Brown.  ML assured me her teacher is not a monster.  I already figured that out.


“I can’t remember because I read two chapter books.  A Jack and Annie book.  And a Mercy Watson book.  Well almost two.  I have another chapter in the Jack and Annie book.” For those unfamiliar with the term Jack and Annie book.  It’s the Magic Tree House series.




The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith – “Mean Jean is the biggest bully on the playground until a new girl arrives and challenges Jean’s status as the Recess Queen.”  I’m learning from ML’s teacher too.  I have a post on picture books about bullying in draft form.  I’ve added this book to the list.


Mercy WatsonMercy Watson Princess

Once again, ML’s teacher is more influential in getting ML to read great books than I.  For over a year, I’ve encouraged ML to try a Mercy Watson book by Kate DiCamillo  and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.  Last night, ML informed me she has read two so far this school year.  She’s eager for me to bring the other four books in the series home from the library.

There are several books I am dying for ML to read.  I purchased paperbacks of a few of these.  Looks like the best way to get her to read them is to donate them to the classroom library.  I’m bringing our copy of Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee to Open House Wednesday night for the class to enjoy.


Back to School – New Picture Books

There are a couple of things you can count on in the picture book publishing world.  New picture books about going to school and new Christmas picture books each year.  In honor of ML starting second grade tomorrow, some of the best new picture books about school.

Dog Days of School

Dog Days of School written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Brian Biggs – Be careful what you wish for or you might end up drinking out of the toilet.  It happened to Charlie when he wished he was a dog one Sunday night; so he wouldn’t have to go to school the next day.  Miraculously, his dog Norman and he traded places. Noone seemed to notice.  Although they looked the same as always.  Norman with his four legs and floppy ears spent the week creating clay sculptures, making a food pyramid and eating cupcakes.  Charlie with two legs and two arms ate dog biscuits, played fetch and visited the dog groomer.

Planet Kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore – Even if you attended preschool, kindergarten is a different world.  According to this kindergartner “gravity works differently here.  We have to try hard to stay in our seats.”  A fun twist on the anxieties of the first day of kindergarten.  Last Thursday, I checked out a stack of books about going to kindergarten to a mom.  I made her wait while I ran and found this book.  She agreed it was the perfect book for both her son and herself.  Like most parents of kindergartners, you could hear the anxiety in her voice.  Watching your small child with their big backpack enter the school on their first day takes your breath away.

My Teacher Is Monster

My Teacher Is a Monster!  No, I Am Not. by Peter Brown – Will my teacher be mean?  A thought on every child’s mind tonight.  Bobby’s teacher Ms. Kirby is.  Actually, she’s a monster who stomps and roars in the classroom.  One weekend, Bobby runs into  Mean Ms. Kirby at the park.  They have a rollicking adventure concluding with the best paper airplane flight ever.  Monday, Bobby flies a paper airplane to Ms. Kirby from his desk.  Do you think the monster reappears?


Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School by Adam Auerbach – A story about Edda who lives in a magical land with everything a Valkyrie wants, except someone her age.  Her father knows the perfect place for her to meet a friend.  He sends her to a school on earth.  It’s a strange and somewhat difficult world.  Waiting in line, sitting still, writing assignments and more.  Edda perseveres and makes it through the first day.  Her new friends are delighted to see who she brings to school on the second day.  The cover of the book provides a hint.

Monsters Love School

Monsters Love School written and illustrated by Mike Austin – We loved Mike Austin’s book Monsters Love Colors.  When Monsters Love School arrived, I knew great things were in store.  A rollicking, colorful read about a monster’s first day of school.  From buying school supplies, to the crosswalk, meeting the librarian, art and music teachers, recess, spelling, lunch and the bell ringing to end school… Blue experiences it all.  ML loved the quote, “What’s school for, anyway? asks Blue.  “I already know my ABGs and 413s and XYDs!” My favorite part of the book is when they study hisssssssssstory.

On My Way To School

On My Way to School by Sarah Maizes and illustrated by Michael Paraskevas – Luckily, ML is not like the character in this book.  She does not say “School is for people who need to learn stuff.  I have gone to school a hundred times, and I already know lots of stuff.”  However, ML dilly dallies in the morning in a similar manner to the character in this book.  It won’t happen the first day.  Not even the first week.  But towards the end of September I’ll be saying, “Are you dressed?  Did you eat breakfast?  Teeth brushed?  Backpack and lunch?  We gotta GO!”

Dear Panda

Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer – Florence recently moved and is attending a new school.  As any child would be, she’s nervous.  With the help of the panda who lives at the zoo next door, Florence makes it through the first day of school and meets a new friend. The perfect book to encourage ML to welcome new students at her school.

And the Winners Are…


I am sure a Caldecott Medal has never been awarded as quickly as ML and Calvin did.  It only took fifteen minutes.  They whittled the choices down to five titles.  Then, two.  They were digging their feet in; and I knew a consensus would never be reached.  I didn’t want to hear their arguing.  So I let them each choose a book.

ML’s choice was Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead. Her reasoning… it’s really colorful… he mixes colors together… the background’s pretty… like how he uses birds.

Calvin’s choice was Journey by Aaron Becker.  He explained… it was kind of a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon… a really cool story… could really tell the story from the illustrations.

I explained sometimes books are chosen to receive a Caldecott Honor.  ML and Calvin quickly agreed on which two titles they wanted to name as Caldecott Honor books.


Locomotive by Brian Floca


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I didn’t receive two books from our Mock Caldecott 2014 list before the “committee” met.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown and The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney were not in the mix.  So if one of those two titles win, Calvin and ML can claim it would have been their choice.  They were very interested in what they would get if they chose the book which received the Caldecott Medal.  I told them, “Bragging rights.”

Mock Caldecott 2014 List

Below are the books, I am hoping ML and her friend, Calvin will look at this weekend for their Mock Caldecott Award.  I’m still waiting on a few to come from other library branches.  So they may not have a chance to win.

One really cool aspect of our multimedia world is many illustrators have videos showing them creating their work.  This post includes links to these.  And a quick note if I know the mediums used to create the illustrations.


Hello, My Name is Ruby by  Philip Stead – Mixed media… chalk pastel, colored pencils, and colored ink


If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin Stead – Pencil and linoleum prints


Journey by Aaron Becker – Watercolor


Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet – Watercolor, pencil and collage


Locomotive by Brian Floca – Pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic, and gouache.  Scroll to the bottom of the following like to watch 3 short videos on the process and a view of a book dummy


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown –   still trying to determine mediums


Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner – Water color and ink line


Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov – mixed media


Stardines by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Carin Berger – shadow boxes, diorama and cut-paper


That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems – pencil and watercolor with additional digital color and compositing


Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney – Watercolor

Looking forward to seeing if one of the Stead books are chosen or a book with Mr. in it’s title.  I feel more confident in predicting which books I think the Caldecott committee will pick for the award and honors; than I do guessing what ML and Calvin will choose.  It’s going to be fun hearing two first-graders opinion.