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  • 2020 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Awards 


    2020 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award Winner

    Circle written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, and published by Candlewick Press, 2019. 

     circle “If you close your eyes, what shape do you see?” Young readers are asked to imagine all possibilities in this final book of Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett’s Shapes Trilogy. As a game of hide-and-seek begins between three friends, Circle reminds Triangle not to hide behind the waterfall. But when Circle opens her eyes, that’s exactly where Triangle has gone. In a story that uses deceptively simple text and illustrations, readers engage in a discussion of complex ideas. What does it mean to be a friend? How do you respond when a friend does something you don’t like? And just because we don’t see or understand something, does it mean that it is bad? Perfect for a lively discussion, this story will have young readers thinking about important concepts, using their imagination, and inspiring repeated readings. 

    Readers from age four to eight were completely engaged in Circle. Teachers noted several examples of students trying to move closer to the book and laughing spontaneously, as well as showing intent facial expressions. Many teachers mentioned that students either chose to read this story after it was read aloud or requested that they be able to check this out from the library. In a couple of instances, students wanted to talk about the shapes they imagined long after the book was read to them. Teachers also loved how such a simple book could inspire such a complex discussion and spark imagination in their students.

    Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett have written six books together, including the two previous books in this trilogy, Triangle and Square, as well as the Caldecott Honor books, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn. This is the second time Klassen and Barnett have won the Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award. The first was for Sam and Dave Dig a Hole in 2015. (LOUIE LAUER)


    2020 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award Honor Books

    Hey, Dog written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, and published by Charlesbridge, 2019.

     Hey Dog A perceptive young boy discovers a thin, brown dog cowering in the bushes near his home. The dog has been abandoned and abused, but with patience, kindness, and some luscious dog food, the boy is finally able to entice the pup to come out with the whispered wish, “Hey Dog. Come on. Let’s go home.” The illustrations are effective in conveying the emotions of the boy, his mother, and the dog. Truly a heartfelt story of love and redemption.

    Teachers noted that children were captivated by this book and swept up by the strong emotions portrayed in the story. The book taught many important concepts including empathy, problem solving, perseverance, and how to care for dogs and others. The children noted how careful the boy was with the dog and that the mood and illustrations became lighter once the boy had won the dog’s trust.

    Tony Johnston lives in California and has written more than one hundred books for children including Winter is Coming, Puma Dreams, A Small Thing…But Big, Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace and The Harmonica. Her books have won numerous awards and prizes. Illustrator Jonathan Nelson is Diné (Navajo) and was born and raised in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. His graphic novel, The Wool of Jonesy, was an American Indian Youth Literature Honor book in 2018. Nelson illustrated the book, First Laugh – Welcome Baby!, notable for its depiction of Navajo culture and traditions. (PAM WERRE)

    A Tiger Like Me written by Michael Engler, illustrated by Joëlle Tourlonias, translated by Laura Watkinson, and published by Amazon Crossing Lids, 2019. 

    tiger like me
     Is he a tiger or a boy? That is the question. Imaginative play creates a frenzy of activity as a tiger-boy stalks his food, roars a powerful roar, stretches, growls, pounces on his unsuspecting father, and generally creates mayhem. When evening comes, the wide-awake tiger eventually becomes a cuddly, snuggly, sleepy tiger cub. The illustrations emphasize the frenetic energy of the wild and wary tiger-boy. Splashes of color dot the pages and emphasis the movement of the boy throughout the book. The stuffed animals that follow him are cleverly hidden on each page and add visual interest to the story.

    Children loved joining in on the story by “roaring” and chanting the refrain, “I am a tiger!” They liked the illustrations, the jungle theme, and could relate to the boy pretending to be a tiger. Many children asked that the book be bought for their school library.

    The book was first published in Germany as Ich bin ein Tiger in 2016. The author, Michael Engler, lives in Düsseldorf, Germany and writes children’s books and plays for theater and radio. He has written more than fifteen children’s books that have been translated into thirteen languages. Illustrator Joëlle Tourlonias also lives in Düsseldorf and has illustrated more than thirty picture books. (PAM WERRE)