Author Archive for Casey Maynard



Looking for a Level ____ Book?

by Casey Maynard on October 16th, 2018

Have you ever come to the children’s desk and asked “Where can I find the level 1 books?” or “Where are your books with a Lexile number of….?” and received a long-winded round about answer? At the ALSC National Institute in Cincinnati, I attended a wonderful session on the history and uses of leveling and I thought that since I hear the leveling question often, this information would be useful for our community.

It is well known that leveled reading is a dominant educational structure that most if not all caregivers and children learning to read will find themselves functioning within. Leveling books can be an extremely helpful tool in terms of finding books that children will be able to read independently. But it is just that, a tool, a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. If you take one thing away from this blog post I hope it is this: there is no such thing as a book that is ‘too easy’ or ‘too difficult’ for a reader at any level.   That’s a bold statement right? But when you think about the why, it really starts to make sense. Read the rest of this entry »

And the Winners are…

by Casey Maynard on February 2nd, 2018

I am happy to present the medalists and honorees for ICPL’s 2018 Mock Youth Media Awards. Without any further ado here they are–

The Newbery Medal goes to:
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The Newbery Honor titles are:

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Midnight without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

 

 

 

The Caldecott Medal goes to:

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The Caldecott Honor titles are:

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in ICPL’s 2018 Mock Awards! We will be making an announcement with the real winners on February 12th.

Mock Caldecott Review: Here We Are

by Casey Maynard on January 26th, 2018

Image result for oliver jeffers here we areLast, and last to be published in 2017, but certainly not least in our Mock Caldecott review series is Here We Are: notes for living on planet Earth by acclaimed author-illustrator, Oliver Jeffers.

Written for his son during the first few months of his life, Here We Are is exactly what the title suggests, a guide to life on our planet. With his singular illustration style and tongue in cheek humor, Jeffers takes us through what makes Earth, Earth, and in the process what makes us, human. The overarching theme throughout is respect for our planet, ourselves and one another.

“It looks big, Earth. But there are lots of us on here so be kind. There is enough for everyone.”

Be sure to watch out for characters from other books throughout the illustrations and read the quotations he has chosen for the dedication and copyright pages. Also, don’t forget to vote in our Mock Caldecott awards by January 31st.

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Mock Caldecott Review: Over and Under the Pond

by Casey Maynard on January 19th, 2018

Image result for over and under the pond messnerThe third installment in a nonfiction picture book series, Over and Under the Pond, is a delightful exploration of freshwater ecology for young readers.

A mother and son spend the day on the water discussing the various forms of life they encounter over the pond and in “the hidden world” below the surface. The mixed media illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal, highlight the childlike sense of wonder conveyed vividly within the delicate prose and examine this brimming ecosystem from varied perspectives. The soothing color palette and gentle text work together to make this a perfect read for quiet times that imparts knowledge without becoming dry or inaccessible. Well researched back matter provides further information about each of the animals highlighted in the book as well as resources for further reading, making this title great for classroom and instructional use as well.

Be sure to take a look at the other two books in the series, Over and Under the Snow, and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt which are equally lovely. And if you love this title don’t forget to vote in our Mock Caldecott awards before January 31st.

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Mock Caldecott Review: The Antlered Ship

by Casey Maynard on January 12th, 2018

Related imagePrepare to go on a quest seeking the answers to Marco the fox’s world of questions. The journey may be tough, and you may go hungry. But in the end you’ll be much wiser, though the questions have changed and many have gone unanswered. The Antlered Ship serves as a lovely reminder that the journey is just as if not more important than the destination.

As lyrical as it is visually stunning The Antlered Ship delivers a narrative packed with multiple juxtaposed tones. Humor and gloom walk hand in hand, existentialism meets realism and whimsy, danger. The art and text perfectly compliment each other with the Fan brothers bringing great emotive depth to their otherwise non anthropomorphic animal characters.

Be sure to check out the Terry and Eric Fan’s works from 2016, The Night Gardener and The Darkest Dark and if The Antlered Ship is your favorite be sure to vote in our Mock Caldecott awards by January 31st. Related image

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Mock Caldecott Review: Grand Canyon

by Casey Maynard on January 5th, 2018

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This week we are taking a look at Jason Chin’s Grand CanyonIf you are unfamiliar with Chin’s nonfiction works, I encourage you to give Gravity, Redwoods, Coral Reefsand Island a look as well.

Grand Canyon is a fabulous story about a father and daughter exploring this natural wonder and serves as a young reader’s reference guide to the canyon’s geology and ecology past and present. Readers of all ages will find something to enjoy from the narrative and the immersive artwork to the heavily researched back matter. Chin’s book design soars using every piece of the pages to further illuminate life in and the history of the canyon. His use of marginal imagery is particularly lovely. Also be sure to note the wonderful fossil cutouts that set up page turns to the distant past and the fantastic gatefold vista at the end.

Check this one out and let us know if it’s your favorite by voting in ICPL’s Mock Caldecott Awards by January 31st.

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Mock Caldecott Review: Wolf in the Snow

by Casey Maynard on December 29th, 2017

Given the current conditions in Iowa City, our next Mock Caldecott review is fitting. It has been almost a year since the publication of Matthew Cordell’s Wolf in the Snow and somehow it remains as fresh and vibrant as it was when I first saw it last January. It was also just given a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Though stylistically reminiscent of Cordell’s other works, Dream and Bob, Not Bob!  specifically, the juxtaposition of realistic pen and ink wolves with cartoonesque watercolor characters is something entirely new. Cordell takes risks here and they all pay off, turning narrative and artistic tropes we see in many picture books and fairy tales on their heads. Be sure to look out for his consistent use of shape and color as well as the incredible expressiveness he manages to show with our protagonist’s very limited facial space. There’s also a special surprise under the dust jacket you won’t want to miss. If you love this book be sure to vote for it as our 2018 Mock Caldecott winner by January 31st.

 

Mock Caldecott Review: Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

by Casey Maynard on December 22nd, 2017

Related image Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines is one of the most successful picture book biographies that I have seen to date.  Not only is the text fantastic, illuminating Lin’s childhood experiences and passion for art and the earth, but Dow Phumiruk’s illustrations soar. This is her debut picture book and it is simply stunning. Phumiruk’s use of a soft color palette, crisp edges and incredible perspective along with Harvey’s succinct blocks of text mirrors Lin’s minimalist nature inspired structures.  Phumiruk also utilizes large negative space inviting readers to approach Lin’s life and work with the same quiet introspection inspired by Lin’s art. Overall this nonfiction title is wonderfully accessible and is a beautiful tribute to one of the most influential modern artist-architects. Related image

Mock Caldecott Review: Now

by Casey Maynard on December 15th, 2017

Image result for now antoinette portisAntoinette Portis consistently creates delightful read alouds for children and her latest, Nowis a treasure. A young girl shows us her favorite things including a paper boat, a song, a worm and mud. As we follow her throughout her day it becomes apparent that everything she does and has is her favorite, because it is what she is experiencing in the moment.

The exception emerges at the end of the title with her “favorite now”. Pay particular attention to Portis’s masterful use of negative space, vibrant colors and exaggerated brush strokes encouraging breath and space throughout.  Not only is this picture book a joy to read, but much like Wait before, it serves as a reminder to slow down and live every moment to its fullest potential.

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Mock Caldecott Review: Full of Fall

by Casey Maynard on December 8th, 2017
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Librarians and educators are constantly seeking books about seasons and revisit perennial favorites for storytimes and classroom use year after year. Full of Fall has quickly become one of those favorites.

Utilizing short rhyming text with breathtaking photos of fall foliage, animals and scenes, April Pulley Sayre gives readers a lush reminder of why fall is so lovely. Combined with a hearty amount of backmatter including information regarding why leaves change color, how animals prepare for winter and which trees are marcescent, this title is perfect for older readers looking to glean more information about seasonal change as well. A photo illustrated book has never won the Caldecott, Full of Fall would be a perfect first.

On a personal note, as a fellow Hoosier, from the northwest part of the state, I loved seeing some of my childhood stomping grounds represented here. In particular Sayre has used fantastic scenes from Potato Creek State Park and Warren Dunes . Also, sometimes I really miss seeing the red pine squirrels featured in this title–they’re just so cute!

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