EMPORIA - A story about a fourth grade budding journalist and a story about a ten year old orphan in search of his real father have been selected by Kansas children as the 50th annual William Allen White Children's Book Award winners directed by Emporia State University.
"The Landry News" by Andrew Clements is the 2002 White Award winner in the third- to fifth grade category and "Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis is the 2002 White Award winner in the sixth- to eighth grade category, according to Joyce N. Davis, Dean of the University Libraries and Archives at Emporia State University, and Executive Director of the White Awards Program. The White Awards Program, which is the nation's first statewide reader's choice award, is directed by Emporia State and is supported by the Trusler Foundation.
More than 50,000 boys and girls in the third through eighth grades in Kansas schools participated in the voting for this year's awards. This year for the first time in the history of the award voting was opened to home schooled children who voted at their local public library. The boys and girls voted for their favorite book from master lists chosen by the White Awards Book Selection Committee, which is made up of representatives of education institutions in Kansas, Kansas educational and professional organizations concerned with children, classroom teachers, and school or public librarians working with children.
Clements' "The Landry News" is the story of a fourth grade girl who starts her own newspaper. Her first editorial is about a teacher who does not teach. The repercussions of the editorial are far reaching including a discussion of the first amendment, intellectual freedom, and what makes a good teacher. The story is told with humor and the fully developed characters engage the reader in the drama of the story.
Clements, author of the 1999 White Award winner "Frindle" says the "Writing for children is a great privilege, and I am grateful for it." Before becoming an author, he taught in the public schools near Chicago for seven years. He moved to New York to pursue a career as a songwriter which never happened. Instead, he went to work for a children's book publisher where he wrote advertising copy, story summaries, etc. One day he was asked to write a story for an illustrator and thus his career as a children's author was born.
Curtis' "Bud, Not Buddy" is the story of an orphan boy on the run from abusive foster homes to search for his real father. He has his suitcase filled with his own important, secret things; his own "Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself"; and a clue left to him by his Mother as to who his real father is. It is full of laugh-out-load humor and wonderful characters, hitting the high notes of jazz and sounding the deeper tones of the Great Depression.
"Bud, Not Buddy" is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.
Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan. After completing high school, he worked at the Fisher Body Plant #1 for 13 years. His job was hanging doors on cars as they passed down the assembly one. This has left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large cars - especially large Buicks. His talent for entertaining was greatly influenced by his grandfathers - Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and Herman E. Curtis, Sr. the 1930's bandleader of "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression".
Since 1952, more than 2,723,000 votes have been cast by the children of Kansas to select the annual winners of the White Book Awards. The White Award Program was founded by Ruth Carver Gagliardo, a specialist in children's literature, to honor the memory of one of the state's most distinguished citizens by encouraging the boys and girls of Kansas to read and enjoy good books. Gagliardo's dedicated and inspired leadership guided the White Award Program from 1952 until her death on January 5, 1980.
The Landry News. Andrew Clements; Simon & Schuster, 1999
Grade Level: 3rd-5th
ISBN Number & Cost: 0-689-81817-3; $15.00
Synopsis: Cara Landry is the type of student that is easy to ignore. She wore the same plaid skirt and blouse with her hair tied back every day, always got her assignments in on time, and aced all her tests. Then she ends up in Mr. Larson’s 5th grade classroom, the worst teacher in the school. Even though his classroom is brimming with educational material, he does not teach. With so much spare time in Mr. Larson’s class, Cara decides to begin a newspaper, The Landry News. Cara proves to be a budding journalist and in her first editorial writes about her unconventional teacher and his ineffectual teaching methods. Inspired by the truth of this editorial Mr. Larson begins teaching again. All of the sudden the class is learning about the freedom of speech, responsible reporting, teamwork, and most of all truth and mercy. Even though the newspaper has become a valuable classroom project it also provides the principal with a reason in attempting to fire Mr. Larson, which brings the class to another engaging lesson in teaching methods and reconciling differences.
General Review: Like FRINDLE, The Landry News is another great story in the school setting. Andrew Clements has a knack for giving us realistic characters in realistic settings. From Horn Book, “Clements writes with a light touch that allows the text to flow effortlessly for the reader, yet lays out thought-provoking issues such as intellectual freedom that are likely to engender further exploration.” The Landry News touches upon the essence of teaching and learning with characters that could be our next-door neighbors. A wonderful, thought provoking story that children, parents, teacher, and yes, principles will enjoy. From Parents Choice, “Definitely funny and surprisingly wise.”
Themes: Education, Administration, Constitutional Rights, Journalism, Friendship
Discussion Questions: Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. Mr. Larson’s teaching methods had become somewhat lax over the years. Even though his theory that children learn best on their own has some validity, he was doing absolutely no teaching. How would you feel if your teacher was like that? Would you prefer more guidance?
2. Freedom of Speech was brought up when the principal thought the article Lost and Found was inappropriate for the school newspaper. What does the freedom of speech mean to you? Do you think the article should have been published? Do you think Cara should have written the unflattering editorial about Mr. Larson?
3. Underneath the title of the newspaper The Landry News, Cara wrote truth and mercy. What do those two words mean to you and what do you think they meant to Cara as a journalist?
1. Read the first 10 amendments of the Constitution of the United States, which is also known as the Bill of Rights, and see how they apply to your life. Standard 3, Benchmark 3
2. Stage a mock public meeting like Mr. Larson went through. Standard 3, Benchmark 4
3. Read at least one or part of one newspaper a week to get an idea of how a newspaper is formatted and see how much information you can find. Standard 1, Benchmark 1
Bud, Not Buddy. Christopher Paul Curtis; Delacorte, 1999
Grade Level: 6th-8th
ISBN Number & Cost: 0-385-32306-9; $15.95
Synopsis: This is set in 1936 in Flint, Michigan. Bud, not Buddy, is a motherless boy who leaves an orphanage and foster home in search of whom he thinks is his father. Through flyers left by his mother of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, he concluded this might be his father. So he was on his way with nothing to stop him. The book is humorous with wonderful characters hitting the high notes of Jazz and the deeper tones of the Great Depression. 2000 Newbery Medal Book
General Review: This book is ideal for those who love adventure with a tough of mystery. It brings out the determination of a ten year old, alone, hungry and afraid but ready to reach his goal.
Themes: Family, Survival, Jazz, Great Depression
Discussion Questions: Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. How would you feel begin in an orphanage or foster home and mistreated? What would you do?
2. Were you surprised at who Herman E. Calloway was in the life of Bud?
3. Can you think of something that could be included in Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself?
1. Write a story that includes clues in a story of mystery. Share the story with your class. Standard 3, Benchmark 2
2. If you had a suitcase filled with things that mean a lot to you, what would be in your suitcase? Standard 5, Benchmark 2
3. Draw a map of the places Bud was and was going. How many miles would it be? Standard 1, Benchmark 4