Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hooray for Flora & Ulysses!! Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal (ages 8-12)

Wow-oh-wow!! It's been an exciting week telling kids about the news that Flora & Ulysses won the Newbery Award. Our students have loved this story since they first started reading it last fall and they started bounding back to the library exclaiming how fantastic it is.
Flora & Ulysses is just the sort of book that adds a bounce to your step and a smile to your face.

Here are some of the comments our book club made when they first started discussing it:
  • "I loved the characters, especially Ulysses. It was so ironic and not-normal--you can only get this from a book. It was unexpected and unrealistic. But also realistic at the same time."
  • I asked whether Flora change or develop in the book. Naomi said, "Her love for her mom changes throughout the book. Flora didn’t really know the truth about the situation between her parents. Her dad changed--he was unexpected. Underneath an ordinary businessman was a superhero, in a way."
  • Bella E. said, "I liked the fact the squirrel crashed into the window - it makes it more realistic. The author played it for humor as well. The wacky words didn’t bother me because I got the sense it was a wacky type of story."
  • Ben said, "Wacky, weird, amazing! One of my favorites I’ve ever read. My favorite moment is when Flora’s dad had a really fat cat on his head -- it was funny & entertaining. It seemed like a point when Ulysses was established as a superhero." 
  • Ruby agrees: "INCANDESTO!"
  • Naomi added, "My favorite person was William Spiver because he was really important, even though he didn’t have that large part of the story. Without him, it wouldn't be that weird and funny."
  • Julia said, "You thought it would be just all wacky and silly, but it was actually deeper than I thought it was going to be. The relationship between Flora and Ulysses--I didn’t really expect it to be like that. It was also mysterious because you didn’t always know exactly who the characters were."
As I write this, I'm drawn back to a wonderful post written by Amy Koester, a friend and wonderful children's librarian, which she titled "On Giving Readers Credit". Amy talked about hearing Jasper Fforde speak about how once a book is shared, it is no longer just the author's creation. When a book goes out into the world, it creates a unique experience within each reader. Amy wrote, 
"Readers are active participants in the world of the book, and it is their participation that makes the story so rich for them."
As we all celebrate the Flora and Ulysses winning the 2014 Newbery Medal, I want to keep in my heart the joy seeing readers bound into the library full of enthusiasm.

Many many thanks to my Mock Newbery book club students for the joy, thoughtfulness and camaraderie they brought to all our meetings. Also thanks to Betsy Bird who gave Emerson kids a shout-out on her Post Game Show over at SLJ's Fuse Eight.

Many thanks to Candlewick and all the publishers who supported our Mock Newbery at Emerson. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited about this book, it seems to move towards helping children actively think and analyze while reading. I'm sure if you can help children become active readers and help them become involved in the story you wont hear so much of the typical, "reading is boring" excuses that grown adults make in their later years. Thanks for the post, it will be on my buy list for my nieces and nephews!

    Luke |