Slice of Life - A Splash of Red - #sol14

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays.  For the month of March, we are posting a slice daily.

Fetching the mail is not one of my favorite things to do. Lately, it seems that most of it is circular flyers and other kinds of junk.  If it isn't junk, then it is a bill.  Seldom do I receive honest to goodness real letters.  However today, there was a surprise in my mailbox.   It was addressed to me and was quite colorful.

Since June 2013, I had the pleasure of serving on the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Jury. One of the books we selected was A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  If you haven't read it, you should.  It is fantastic.

Inside the envelope, two cards were attached to a cellophane wrapped picture. 

The envelopes contained handwritten notes from Jen and Melissa. Can I call them Jen and Melissa?

Under the notes was a specially wrapped print of one of the pages from the book, which was signed by Jen and Melissa.

I think I may have cried a little when I opened up the notes and read them. It was truly special and unexpected, and such a wonderful surprise to find when I arrived home.  I would hug this if I wasn't worried about crushing the print. I guess sleeping with it is out unless I want to mangle it. Best thing will be taking it to be framed so I can display it.

Thank you Jen and Melissa for creating such a special book as A Splash of Red, for the wonderful gift, and for being so amazing.  I can't wait to meet you in June, and I look forward to your next joint book, which comes out in the fall.

Congratulations to the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winners

This morning, in a packed room of 800 people with more watching from an overflow room or at home, the American Library Association announced their 2014 Youth Media Award Winners. Below is the Press Release issued by ALA, and can be found here.  It was an honor to serve as this year's chair of the committee.  Thank you everyone for your support and enthusiasm for this award.

PHILADELPHIA – The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Awards, which honor an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. The award was announced today during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, Jan.24 - 28.

Recipients are selected in three categories: birth through grade school (age 0–8), middle school (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). Winners will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque, which will be presented in Las Vegas during the ALA Annual Conference in June.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin,” written by Jen Bryant illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by Alfred A.Knopf, an Imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.won the award for young children.

“This picture book biography of self-taught African American folk artist Horace Pippin demonstrates the dogged determination of a wounded soldier to paint again. After a WWI injury threatened to end his potential artistic career, he trained himself to paint by supporting his injured arm with the other hand.”

“Bryant and Sweet’s stunning picture book biography effectively depicts that perseverance and courage are essential ingredients of living with a disability and realizing your dreams.” said Award Chair Alyson Beecher.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers” written by Merrie Haskell and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers won the award for best middle school title.

“Reluctant Princess Tilda, sheltered due to her deformed foot, longs to escape her destiny. A thwarted kidnapping sends Tilda, Lord Parzifal and her handmaiden Judith on a dragon-hunting quest. Supported by friends and dragons, Tilda realizes her physical limitations do not define her.”

“Ms. Haskell presents a high-spirited fantasy in which an endearing heroine’s perception of what her life can be is altered by her adventure.” said Beecher.

The teen award winner is “Rose Under Fire” written by Elizabeth Wein and published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

After a daring flight maneuver, young pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Assigned to a high security unit, Rose survives under the wing of the “Rabbits,” Polish political prisoners, subjected to medical experimentation by Nazi doctors.

“Through Ms. Wein’s searing portrayal, readers experience the physical and emotional consequences of Nazi torture.” said Beecher.

Members of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award committee are: Chair Alyson Beecher, Pasadena Unified School District, Pasadena, Calif.; Jill Garcia, National Library Service For The Blind & Physically Handicapped, Beltsville, Md.; Peg Glisson, Pittsford, N.Y.; Marilyn M. Irwin, Indiana University-Indianapolis, Bloomington, Ind.;Judy T. Nelson, Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Wash.; Susan Person, Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library, Broomfield, Colo.; and Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, Conn.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world with approximately 60,000 members. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

For more information on the Schneider Family Book Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit

Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
Public Information Office (PIO)

ALA 2013 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

On Friday, June 28th, I left Los Angeles to fly to Chicago for what I knew would be an exceptional four days at ALA's annual conference.  I was excited to see Beth Shaum who I would be rooming with and all of the other Nerdy Book Club Members that would be in attendance.

When I arrived at my hotel on Friday, June 28th, there was a big, big party happening that had nothing to do with books.  It turned out that the Chicago Blackhawks were celebrating their Stanley Cup win at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The Chicago Public Library's Lion sported a hockey helmet in honor of the Blackhawks. (Photo credit @cppotter)

I don't have any photos from the Walden Pond Press reception but thank you Kellie Celia for hosting such a marvelous party.  It was great running into: @liblaura5 @libraryreeder @colbysharp @mindi_r @utalaniz  and so many more friends that evening.

On Saturday, June 29th, I was invited to a small dinner party given by Katherine Tegen (Katherine Tegen Books) to celebrate several of her authors.  Here I am with the other folks at my table.  Debut author, Mindy McGinnis (Not a Drop to Drink) was the author at my table. Other authors in attendance were Debra Driza, Michael Grant, and Veronica Roth.     

The Schneider Family Book Award is part of the ALA Award Ceremony and Reception.  It may not be as fancy as the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, but it was still very special for me to be part of the celebration on Sunday, June 30th.

Here are the three books selected by the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Jury.  I love seeing the medal stickers on each book.

Claire Alexander receives her Schneider Family Book Award for Back to Front and Upside Down from the ALA President while accompanied by Peg Glisson, Schneider Family Book Award Juror 2013.

Sarah Shumway, HarperCollins editor of A Dog Called Homeless accepts on behalf of author, Sarah Lean.  Jill Garcia from the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Jury accompanied Sarah onto the stage.

Peter Lerangis, co-author of Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am, accepts the award on behalf of both he and Harry Mazer from the president of ALA.  It was very special to be on the stage while the award was given.

After the Schneider celebration, I headed over to the Sheraton where all of the activity leading up to the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Reception.  Both Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer & Nerdy Book Club member) and I had busy weekends but we managed to connect up at the Scholastic Pre-Newbery/Caldecott Reception.   While there, I also ran into Teri Lesnese, Kirby Larson, Raina Telgemeier, and Dave Roman

Picture from the ALSC blog - Some Nerdy Book Club friends (Sherry Gick, Brian Wyzlic, Kathy Burnette, and Beth Shaum).

Our Caldecott inspired dessert.  Brian Selznik designed the image used for the 75th Caldecott Anniversary.

From Charisse Melotto, Scholastic - Rock stars of children's books. Can you name them all?

From Beth Shaum - Jon Klassen's Cladecott speech has me laughing and crying at the same time
From Sherry Gick - @libraryfanatic - gives a shout out to & !!! YES!! We love

At each table setting for the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet was a special cookie, program and dvd to remember the event.

On Monday, The Schneider Family Book Award Jury along with the winning authors and publishers sat down for a very special luncheon.  Katherine Schneider was unable to be present but she did call in to wish the winners a special congratulations.  Above: The 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Jury with Claire Alexander (Back to Front and Upside Down) and Peter Lerangis (Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am).

I was thankful to find time to hang with Mary Ann Scheuer and Cathy Potter to chat about books, education, and share Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza.

I capped off Monday evening by attending the Printz Award Ceremony to listen to the acceptance speeches by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Elizabeth Wein, Beverley Brenna, and Nick Lake. (Note: Author, Terry Pratchett's speech was read by his editor.)  Benjamin Alire Sáenz kicked off the evening with an emotional and heartfelt speech that left us all teary eyed and earned him a standing ovation.  Elizabeth Wein impressed me when her speech included references to the books and characters of each of the other winners.  Beverley Brenna spoke up boldly for characters with disabilities and Nick Lake started off with a nod to Caldecott Winner, Jon Klassen.   

This post is completely inadequate in providing everyone with a sense of what the weekend really was like.  How do you talk about all of the many authors and illustrators, and teachers and librarians that I met for the first time or re-connected with?

How do you explain what it is like to shake the hand of someone like author, Katherine Paterson? Or what do you say as you stand before Patricia MacLachlan as she is about to sign a copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall?

What do you say to Audrey Niffennegger whose book The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my all-time favorite books? Thanks Jen Vincent for standing in a long line while waiting for Audrey.

How do you not become completely tongue-tied while sitting next to David Levithan and Brian Selznik at the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet?

I wish I had more time to spend with Mr. Schu or with other members of the Nerdy Book Club but then I can look forward to NCTE 2013 in Boston and ALA Midwinter 2014 in Philadelphia to catch up.

Now off to read some of the books that I picked up at ALA.

ALA's Youth Media Awards - Schneider Family Book Award Winners

Part of me is terribly exhausted but the other part is running on adrenalin.  It was an amazing morning being a part of ALA's Youth Media Awards.  It started with pictures at 6:00 a.m. for the committees.

The 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Jury

After hanging around for awhile, we were able to go into the room where the announcements would be made.  Each committee has reserved seats. Look what was on our chairs:

Believe it or not, we were in the front row in front of the big screen.  However, it is pretty dark in there so my pictures are limited.

Me in front of the big screen
Here is a picture of room as people were coming in:

The Youth Media Award Announcements are made quickly and efficiently.  The Schneider Family Book Awards were announced early on.

Each year, the Schneider Family Book Award Jury selects three awards.  The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Usually, they are given in the following categories - Young Child, Middle Grade, and Young Adult.  And the winners of this year's Schneider Family Book Awards go to:

Young Child Award -
Back to Front and Upside Down by Claire Alexander (Eerdmans Books for Young Children)

Middle Grade Award -
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins)

Young Adult Award -
Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (Simon & Schuster)

I am excited about the hard work of the jury and really feel that we selected some great books that fit what the award is all about. 

When the awards were over, I went down to the exhibit hall to see the books on display.  I was able to take some pictures with the books.  However, the highlight was when HarperCollins let me place the Schneider Family Book Award Sticker on A Dog Called Homeless.

I am with Sarah Shumway Liu (Editor for A Dog Called Homeless)
Ok, that's all for now.  I'll be posting more about this incredible experience, but now off for a nap.