Monday, May 13, 2019

Seeing Guest Contributors

With 2019 nearly half gone (how did that happen?!), we here at Guessing Geisel are once again seeking guest bloggers. Guessing Geisel could never happen without our amazing guest contributors who bring a variety of perspectives, observations, and experiences to the shared table. Their time, thoughtfulness, and energy are so appreciated!

Thinking you might want to be a guest contributor? You might be a good guest blogger candidate if: 
  • You are a public or school librarian or teacher passionate about beginning readers. 
  • You have served on a beginning reader award committee (Geisel, Maryland Blue Crab, etc.) or a best books committee that included beginning readers. 
  • You are excited about digging into the Geisel Award criteria. 
If one or more of these statements applies to you, we encourage you to consider guest blogging for us. 

Guest contributors are asked to write at one or two blog posts between July and December. Posts are approximately 500 words and focus either on a current Geisel contender or on a topic related to beginning readers. 

If you’d like to participate, please email us at by June 1, 2019. In that email include a short paragraph to let us know: 
  • Your name Position/Organization If you’re a school or public librarian or teacher. 
  • Why you’d be an excellent guest contributor. 
  • Share at least 3 beginning reader titles (already or soon to be published in 2019) and/or topics that you’d like to blog about.

If you have questions, you can comment below or send us an email.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Horn Book Highlights Beginning Readers, plus a 100 Scope Notes' Round Up

Want to take a deeper dive into the definition of the beginning reader format? We here at Guessing Geisel highly recommend Sylvie Shaffer's recent article in The Horn Book Magazine, New for New Readers: What (Exactly) IS an Easy Reader? Sylvie served on the 2018 Geisel Award Committee and has been a guest blogger on Guessing Geisel. The article can also be found in the March/April 2019 print issue of the magazine. 

We were also excited to see that Travis Jonker has posted a round up of forthcoming titles by past Geisel winners and honorees. Are there any on his list you're super excited about? Anything he missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Are there other excellent blogs or articles out there about beginning readers? We'd love to know about them! Leave us a link in the comments below.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Looking Forward

We're so glad you joined us for such a great year! A special shout out of thanks to our many guest contributors! It's so wonderful to have so many perspectives, opinions, and thoughts shared surrounding books for new readers. It's time for us to take a break, but even when we're not posting, we'll be reading upcoming beginning reader titles. Here are some of the ones we're excited about. Use the comments below or email us( to let us know what we've missed!

We're also happy to announce our new Twitter handle! Follow us @GuessingGeisel and say, "Hello!"

Charlie & Mouse Even Better 
book cover
  • Poof! A Bot! by David Milgrim
  • Good Boy by Sergio Ruzzier
  • King & Kayla and the Case of Found Fred by Dori Hillestad Bulter, illus. by Nancy Meyers
  • Fox + Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
  • Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder, illus. by Emily Hughes
  • Motor Mouse by Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Arthur Howard
  • Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! by Dan Santat
  • I Will Race You Through This Book! by Jonathan Fenske
  • I Dig by Joe Cepeda

  • Horse and Buggy Paint It Out! by Ethan Long
  • Look Out! A Storm by David Milgrim

I Dig book cover
  • Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot by Cece Bell

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What a Year!: The Guessing Geisel Co-Hosts Share Post-YMA Reactions

In this post, the three co-hosts of Guessing Geisel (Amanda, Amy, and Misti) share their thoughts and reactions to the 2019 Geisel Award winner and honor titles. 

Watching the YMAs

Amy: I watched the YMAs live this year in Seattle surrounded by a sea of very excited book people! I must admit, the fact that the Geisel comes so close to the end of the announcements (third to the last, just before the Caldecott and Newbery) really built the suspense for me. The honors are always announced first and I was absolutely thrilled with all of them. But in those seconds before they said the name of the winner, I realized neither of Corey R. Tabor's books had been given an honor. And I thought, "There's no way the committee won't recognize his amazing work!" So I might have done a fist pump when Fox the Tiger was announced! It was magical. 
Amanda: I came in to the office early to watch the livestream. Not exactly like being in the room where it happens, but delightful to text with friends as things were announced, and to hear the reaction in the room (ALA, could we eventually add crowd reaction shots to the livestream?). I definitely let out an audible cheer when Tiger vs. Nightmare was announced as an honor - while all the books are excellent choices this is the one I was afraid might be overlooked. And I am elated for Corey Tabor's win for Fox the Tiger!
Misti: I also watched the livestream from my office, though being in the Eastern time zone meant a morning of gleeful anticipation, rather than the early wake-up that an east-coast conference necessitates. Since my workspace is shared with other staff members who are not as invested in the results from the YMAs, I watch with my headphones on, and amuse my co-workers with my suppressed exclamations and Muppet-like arm flails at certain key points!

Fox the Tiger by Corey R. Tabor

Amy: I'll be honest, I've been hoping for a Geisel win for Tabor pretty much all year. But I had really put my money on his other title, Fox is Late. Something about a fox on a skateboard really spoke to me, I guess! That said, I'm thrilled with the committee's choice because I think both Fox books pair Tabor's crisp, clean, engaging illustrations with simple, yet fun sentences that build to a satisfying and humorous ending. Fox first made his appearance in two picture books a couple years ago, but I think Tabor really hit on something when Fox made the transition to beginning readers. Let's hope there are more Fox books in the works!
Misti: I'm super pleased with this win (and also with the fact that our Guessing Geisel mock vote resulted in a win for the same author/series). The Fox books have a classic feel, and Fox the Tiger certainly deserves its place on the shelf of Geisel winners.
Amanda: I'm thrilled with this win. Like Amy, I've been super impressed with both Fox titles, but thought Fox is Late stood the better chance (all that page-turning momentum). Fox the Tiger is so special and affirming, though, and I am so happy that more kids will see this book as a result of this win. 

The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap by David Milgrim

Misti: Speaking of books with a classic feel, I love what Milgrim is doing with his beginning reader series. We can't have enough of these books on the shelf at my library, and I'm glad the committee chose to recognize this one.  
Amy: This is Milgrim's second Geisel honor (Go, Otto, Go!, 2017), and with more titles in the Adventures of Otto series coming out in 2019 I wouldn't be surprised to see this trend continue! I really appreciate that Milgrim is adding such high quality titles to the too small beginning reader scifi canon. 
Amanda: I agree with Amy - great to see Milgrim's excellent work recognized again this year. I expected it to be the other title released this year, See Zip Zap! but these titles are so strong for the very beginning reader and I'm pleased to see further recognition for the series. 

Fox and Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Amy: I've always been a fan of Ruzzier's surrealist style. In this title especially I think the illustrations and Ruzzier's wry sense of humor combine to offer three short stories that never underestimate readers' ability to appreciate a sophisticated, slightly surreal, world. I'm very excited that a second Fox and Chick title is coming out this year!
Misti: It's so delightful when a funny book is recognized by any award committee, and particularly the Geisel. Being funny is hard enough; doing it with a limited word count and an eye towards the needs of the youngest readers is quite a feat! I'm a big fan of this book, and I can't wait to see what's next for Fox and Chick.
Amanda: I'm not surprised that this is the year Sergio Ruzzier gets Geisel recognition. This Is Not A Picture Book and Two Mice both had fans among the Mock Geisel crowd, and with Fox and Chick sharing the multi-story format popular among some easy readers it makes sense that this would be the one to garner Geisel recognition. I look forward to what Ruzzier will create for young readers in the future, both in this series and in other titles!

King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Amy: Hooray for more Geisel honors for King and Kayla! Butler and Meyers won an honor in 2018 for King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats. Representations of humans in beginning reader titles are few and far between, so it makes me so happy that the committee choose this excellent title featuring a human.
Misti: I'll admit, this book was just a blip on my radar when looking at books with Geisel potential -- more fool me! I should have known to pay more attention when this series has already been honored once before by the Geisel committee. Taking a closer look, I can certainly see the distinguished elements that were present in earlier books in the series -- it's good to see that it continues to excel!
Amanda:  Back-to-back honors in 2018 and 2019! King and Kayla are clearly a very solid new series in the tradition of other pet/person combos like Henry and Mudge or Mr. Putter and Tabby, and with a mystery solving element too! Here's hoping they keep going strong with many more adventures. 

Tiger vs Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Amy: When the three of us chose to write about Tetri's book for our CaldeGeisel guest post on Calling Caldecott, we all agreed we loved, loved, loved it, but thought it might be a long shot for Geisel. Imagine our delight when it was announced Monday morning! I think the artwork in this title is so distinguished, so thoughtful, intentional, and lush. I can't wait to see what Tetri comes up with next! 
Misti: Yes, the three of us have been extolling the virtues of this book for a while now, and I was thrilled beyond words when it won its Geisel Honor. The artwork elevates it above others in the field of early graphic novels, and the characters are so lovable and well-developed.
Amanda: I am so pleased that the committee saw and chose to honor the strengths in this beautiful book. I have been pushing it on everyone who comes near my desk, but didn't dare hope too hard that a graphic novel would be recognized in a year with many strong contenders in traditional easy reader formats. This was the announcement of the morning where my joyful surprise couldn't be contained.

Other Thoughts

Amy: It's interesting that of the five titles discussed above, only one is not illustrated by the author. I think that really speaks to the importance of the text and illustrations working together to create a successful reading experience. I also wonder (as I did last year about Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy) about series that have two or more titles published in the same year. There's no rule in the award handbook that says you can't recognize multiple titles by the same author or series, but looking back on past winners and honors, it seems the committee has never done that. If Fox is Late and Fox the Tiger were published in separate years, would both have won in their respective years? How about the Milgrim's See Zip Zap? It's an intriguing line of thought, although, of course, we'll never know the answer. 
Amanda: Like Amy, I too marvel that we have two titles recognized that have other related titles also published this year. I imagine that the Geisel Award Committee had their work cut out for them, differentiating the strengths between a very strong field of contenders with multiple works by the same authors. Congratulations to the committee again on your results - this is a very fine group of winners, and it is clear you worked hard and thoughtfully in selecting them.
Misti: I had also noted the prevalence of books illustrated by the author, both in the actual Geisel winners and in our mock winners. By the way, readers, good work on choosing those mock winners -- we picked two of the actual Geisel Honor books as mock honors, and two of the other books we selected (including our winner) were by authors recognized by the Real Committee. While our goal is more about gaining a better understanding of the process than it is about picking the actual winners, it's always gratifying when we get so close.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Congratulations, 2019 Geisel Award Winner and Honors!

The winners have been announced! 

The recipient of the 2019 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is  . . .

Fox the Tiger by Corey R. Tabor

The committee also selected four honor books. They are:

The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap by David Milgrim
Fox and Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth by Dori Hillestad Butler
Tiger vs Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Congratulations to all five creators on their excellent books. Thank you to Sarah Stippich and the entire committee - Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Angela Frederick, Diana Garcia, Alex Matheson, Cathryn Mercier, and Toby D. Rajput for your work over the past year. We'll be back soon with additional thoughts on these fantastic choices.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

And the Mock Geisel goes to...

Fox is Late by Corey R Tabor wins Mock Geisel gold this year!

Our honor books are:

Fox + Chick: The Party + Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes
See Zip Zap by David Milgrim
Tiger Vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri
It was an interesting year in Mock Geisel results.  As you can see from this screenshot, if we were the Real Committee, we would have had to do at least one more ballot to determine our winner -- although Fox is Late had the highest number of first-place votes as well as the highest total points, there was not enough of a margin between it and Fox + Chick to satisfy the official rules.  However, the results are certainly decisive enough for the purposes of this blog! 

We had several different options for selecting honor books. We could have given an honor only to Fox + Chick, but would that have done justice to the many other distinguished titles on our ballot? In the end, we decided that four honors recognized the broad spectrum of books for beginning readers.

Congratulations to the talented author/illustrators represented above!  Will any of them go on to be recognized by the 2019 Geisel Committee? We'll know in a few days -- the ALA Youth Media Awards announcement begins at 8:00 A.M. (Pacific Time) on Monday, January 28th. Check back here after the awards announcement for our reactions to the news!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ballot #2 + A Quick Discussion

It's time for a second mock ballot (at the bottom of this post)! Why? Because the results of the first ballot simply too close to call. According to the Geisel Award Manual:

There is a formula to determine the winner. A book must receive at least four first place votes at four points per vote for a total of at least 16 points. In addition, that book must have a four-point lead over the book receiving the next highest number of points.

In our mock Tiger vs. Nightmare had enough first place votes (4), but didn't have the required four-point lead over the title with the next highest number of points (A Parade of Elephants with 38). 

Tally for Ballot #1
So what next? The manual says:

If the first ballot does not produce a winner, the committee follows procedures for re-balloting.

The committee may not proceed to another ballot without a second round of book discussion. At this point, certain choices present themselves, and certain procedures apply: 
  • By consensus the committee may choose to withdraw from the discussion list all books that received no votes on the first ballot. 
  • By consensus the committee may choose to withdraw additional books that received minimal support on the first ballot. 
  • Once withdrawn from the discussion list, a book is permanently eliminated from consideration for the award. 
  • Once a second round of discussion is complete, the committee proceeds to a second ballot.  

In the case of our mock, we've decided to eliminate 5 titles because their final point tally was much lower than the 7 titles (highlighted in purple) at the top of the heap. If we were on the real committee, we'd discuss and re-ballot as many times as necessary to select a winner and then honor titles (if any). However, in the case of this mock, we'll just re-ballot once and hope a clear winner and honor titles emerge. 

You might have noticed that the manual states, “The committee may not proceed to another ballot without a second round of book discussion.” Wouldn't it be great if we could sit around a table together a discuss our 7 remaining books? We'd love to know your appreciations and concerns for each titles. But since time and space won't allow that, we encourage you to champion your favorites in the comments below. A short couple of sentences on the strengths of each of title is included below. We hope you'll also take a moment to re-read titles or delve into a review or two before casting your vote. This ballot will be open until Midnight on Tuesday, January 22nd.   

Kick It, Mo! by David A. Adler, illus. by Sam Ricks
I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for a Mo Jackson book. Don't Throw It to Mo! won the year Amanda, Misti, and I were on the Geisel Award Committee. But beyond that, I think there's excellent word repetition and white space. I get asked for soccer books all the time at my library, so I think it has definite cover appeal. 

A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes
The only picture book in our top 7, the pastel colors and soft edges of Henkes' elephants seem like they would appeal to the younger side of the K-2nd age range. As usual, Henkes has picked a wonderful font with stick-and-ball a's and just-like-kids-learn-to-write-them g's. 

See Zip Zap by David Milgrim
Go, Otto, Go! took home a Geisel honor in 2017, could a second honor or even a win be on the horizon for Milgrim? With hilarious repetition and an alien-filled story, it just might happen! 

One of two true graphic novels on this mock ballot (My Friends Make Me Happy has speech bubbles, but is being marketed as a beginning reader), the sophisticated artwork and snarky humor make this book a stand out. 

Fox is Late by Corey R. Tabor
Of the two Fox books by Tabor this year, this one is my favorite (Although I love Fox the Tiger quite a bit as well). Short, declarative sentences are paired with enticing illustrations. This one has an undeniable page-turning dynamic as Fox skates from one page to the next. 

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri
The lush watercolor illustrations in this graphic novel are definitely some of the strongest illustrations in our final 7. It's clearly for more experienced readers though, so I think it depends on if you feel it falls within the K-2nd age range or if it's a tad higher. 
Speech bubbles, oh, how beginning readers love speech bubbles! I love that the cover of this book screams, "Open me! I'm funny!" 

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