- Rebecca Purdy
Athletes train for the big game, musicians rehearse for their recital and area youth services librarians prepare for the mock Theodor Seuss Geisel awards named after America’s beloved Dr. Seuss. This past year we read a multitude of recently published beginning readers, carefully evaluating each for it’s quality of writing, distinctiveness and ability to instill in young children a love and enthusiasm for books.
This is not the first time we’ve done something like this. Each year we concentrate on a different American Library Association Youth Media Award, selecting several titles we think could win. At a special meeting, individual staff share the reasons they believe a book should win and then the group as a whole will discuss its merits. This year’s event is on Wednesday, January 23rd at the Headquarters Library from 3:00-4:00 pm and all are welcome! We end with a ballot, choosing one award winner and several honors.
“Bink & Gollie: Two for One” by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee tells the story of two best friends, one is tall and one is short, but both take care of each other as good friends should. Three short chapters describe their visit to the state fair. In the first, Bink tries repeatedly and unsuccessfully to throw a ball into a duck to win the “world’s largest donut.” Her terrible aim leaves the Whack-a-Duck man a little worse for the wear, but Bink buys a bag of donuts making all three of them feel better. When Gollie decides to participate in the talent show, Bink worries she’ll be nervous standing on stage in front of everyone, but Gollie is determined. Unfortunately, Bink was correct and Gollie finds herself standing silently on stage before walking off. Bink renews Gollie’s self-confidence by finding her the perfect audience--a good friend and a barn full of cows.! The final chapter describes their visit to a fortune teller who accurately recounts their recent experiences, but they’re only interested in the future. The one that shows them together!
In “Penny and Her Song” by Kevin Henkes, Penny’s efforts to share her new song are thwarted. It’s her very own, but first Mama and then Papa worry about waking the sleeping babies. Penny starts to sing to herself, but she wants someone to listen. She tries singing to her glass animals, but it isn’t the same. Finally, it’s dinnertime so she tries again. This time, Mama reminds her there is no singing at the table. After dinner, it is finally showtime and she sings the whole song. Everyone enjoys it so much, they join in and “even the babies sang in their own baby way.”
“Let’s Go for a Drive” by Mo Willems is a safe bet since he’s already received two Geisel honors and won the award twice. His delightful, recurring characters, Elephant and Piggie, are at it again, this time deciding to drive. They gather all of the necessary paraphernalia--maps, sunglasses, umbrellas, and bags to put it all in. However, in their enthusiasm they forget one small detail. They don’t have a car! Ever the optimist, Piggie comes up with a new and even better plan, playing pirate.
Staff will also present the books “Step Gently Out” by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder and “Monkey and Elephant” by Carole Lexa Schaefer. The American Library Association will announce their Geisel winners, among others, on Monday, January 28th at 11 a.m.
Originally published in the 1/21/13 Free Lance-Star newspaper.