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Monday, September 27, 2010

Mock Caldecott Kick Off

Today I hosted my Mock Caldecott Kick Off. The Mock Caldecott is being run as a focus group for members of my school and community. We have a nice cross section of our school represented and a school/public library connection. I was hoping that we could mimic the actual committee as much as possible and so I aimed for 15 participants. I selected myself as chair and sent out an email to all the staff of my building. I'll blog about how it came to be another time. For now, it's all about today.

I prepared folders for each participant with the materials I thought they would need. This included a copy of my Power Point slideshow for taking notes, contact list for all participants, evaluation sheets, a list of titles to start looking at and a bookmark with all the Caldecott Medalists up to 2005 which I had bought from CBC back in the day. To add to the festive nature of the day I put a gold medal sticker on the cover of each and wrote a name on each one.

I served refreshments. After a full day of teaching people need to unwind a bit. We had tea and soft drinks available. I wanted something Caldecott theme oriented, so I baked some brownies, frosted them and placed circles of white chocolate which was tinted yellow in the middle of what I thought would be each brownie. I thought when I cut them apart they would look like books with gold medals. Well, it was a nice fantasy, but really I think I'd better leave the themed baking up to two of my favorite bloggers - Grace Lin and Jamma Rattigan. Those are two ladies who know how to do it right. On the contrary, when you try to cut fudge brownies with a table knife they don't cut evenly. In fact, they kind of form balls. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't choose fudge style brownies and I would  bake them until dry. At least they would look good. The rollos and peanut butter cups which were both wrapped in round gold foil held up the theme of gold medals a bit more successfully.

Although most of us work in the same building, we don't really all know each other. Our member from the public library needed to have a way to meet us as well. So I asked everyone to wear a name tag and tell about a picture book that they love. Any picture book they love. I was not foolish enough to ask for a "favorite". I couldn't have answered that - my "favorite" changes from moment to moment. It was really interesting to me, who knows everyone, what books they chose.

We turned to the power point in which I outlined some of the background of the Caldecott Medal, an overview of the criteria, the format of our meetings, some background on picture book evaluation and some resource information.

From tomorrow, people will start coming to the library to read and review the books. In conjunction with our public library, I have ordered a selection which I will keep behind my desk. Members are welcome to help themselves any time. They are also given a list so they can order them through ILL and see them at their leisure at home.

This all took about one hour. I looked about me and was really excited. It is a very lively group of people with very different perspectives. Hosting a group like this will be a real learning experience. I have no doubt that debate about the various merits of the books will be hotly contested at times. I look forward to this challenge. It will certainly stretch my abilities and my vision.

It was a good day.

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