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December 18, 2014

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Transitional Chapter Books

Transitional Chapter Books

Since traditional chapter books have spot illustrations, and since some people might consider them picture books instead of illustrated books, I’m going to quote from some of the reviews and read your comments below about their literary merit. DORY FANTASMAGORY by Abby Hanlon Kirkus;  Often just on the edge of out of control, this inventive child [...]

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza

This is the only book on our shortlist that we have not previously discussed, and while that may have made it something of a surprise, it really shouldn’t have been: the book got five starred reviews and was a Kirkus Prize finalist.  This is the fifth and final book in the Joey Pigza series and [...]

It’s a Small World After All (The Prose Edition)

It’s a Small World After All (The Prose Edition)

Cynthia Kadohata won the National Book Award last year for THE THING ABOUT LUCK, and she follows that up with another strong book.  Lightning didn’t strike twice, however.  She doesn’t have the most memorable character of the year; that honor would go to Gregory Maguire for Baba Yaga in EGG & SPOON. But it’s still [...]

Top Five

Top Five

For the past several years, we’ve surveyed you about your “nominations” at various points in the fall, mirroring the process that the real committee follows.  We skipped October and are late here in November. The reason that I’ve dragged my heels here is that (a) for me, THE FAMILY ROMANOV and BROWN GIRL DREAMING remain [...]

It’s a Small World After All (And in Verse, No Less!)

It’s a Small World After All (And in Verse, No Less!)

Over at Calling Caldecott, they recently took time out to consider international picture books that are ineligible.  We could probably do something similar here, as there seems to be quite a few translated books for middle grade and young adults: AS RED AS BLOOD, MARINA, NINE OPEN ARMS, VANGO, WHY WE TOOK THE CAR–not to [...]

Looking Back: 2007

Looking Back: 2007

Last year, we began a retrospective series where we revisited the 2005 Newbery crop.  This year, we’re going to turn our attention to the 2007 Newbery picks. WHAT WON Susan Patron won for THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY.  You’ll remember there was a big fuss made in some quarters about the use of the word [...]

Whither Fantasy?

Whither Fantasy?

If you’ve read the blog long enough, you probably know that when push comes to shove, I’m going to advocate for nonfiction and fantasy if there are viable contenders from those genres.  We’ve already covered the various possibilities in the former genre, and while Nina recently brought up EGG & SPOON as the most likely [...]

Nonfiction Contenders

Nonfiction Contenders

If Nina and I have anointed THE PORT CHICAGO 50 and THE FAMILY ROMANOV as the most likely Newbery nonfiction candidates there is a bevy of wonderfully written books that may also get a look from the committee. ANGEL ISLAND by Russell Freedman has four starred reviews and while it dovetails nicely with the fourth [...]

The Family Romanov

The Family Romanov

First of all, you need to know something about me as a reader to understand why I find this one quite possibly the most distinguished contribution of American literature for children this year.  I like biography, but it can often feel too claustrophobic for me to inhabit a single viewpoint with a very linear narrative [...]

Spring Contenders

Spring Contenders

Earlier Nina asked us to glance ahead and talk about some of our Fall Favorites, but we’re not done with the spring season yet either.  What about this trio of contenders? ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff I haven’t read this anywhere, but does anybody else get a slightly WONDER-ish vibe from this one?  New York [...]

Nuts to You

Nuts to You

Of course I’m biased, but I happen to think that CRISS CROSS is one of the best Medal winners in the canon.  To be sure, it’s a polarizing kind of winner, but there’s no question that–like THE WESTING GAME–it’s individually distinct.  One was made and then the mold was broken. If AS EASY AS FALLING [...]

Mystery/Thriller

Mystery/Thriller

The mystery/thriller category is a popular one with children, and I keep waiting for that special book that will lead to a pop culture phenomenon like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Nevertheless, we have a good crop of books this year.  We’ve already discussed THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO [...]

Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer

This is the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, and we’ve already discussed one book depicts that time, REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles.  Like its predecessor, COUNTDOWN, it’s a work of fiction that borrows heavily from the conventions of nonfiction, namely the incorporation of numerous primary source materials, both textual and visual. There also happen to be [...]

Present Tense

Present Tense

Now that we’ve got Southern Girl and her cousin Country Girl out of the way, there’s another pet peeve–present tense–I’ve got to tackle before we get deeper into discussions of major Newbery contenders. While present tense will probably have no bearing on whether a book receives Newbery consideration, it is nevertheless bad writing, and 90% [...]

NBA Longlist

This is old news, but worth sharing.  For those of you who may have missed it last year, the National Book Award began announcing a longlist of 10 books before announcing the shortlist and eventual winner.  The reason being to shine the spotlight on even more worthy books.  The NBA typically skews older with 2/3 [...]

A Snicker of Magic

A Snicker of Magic

I haven’t read this one yet, so I’m going to quote its three starred reviews below and let you weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses in the comments below.  Maybe you’ll convince me to read it sooner rather than later. KIRKUS: The protagonist of this debut joins a growing list of endearing young girls from [...]

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

THREE TIMES LUCKY was a very mild surprise as a Newbery Honor book a couple of years ago. While I enjoyed Turnage’s debut, I did have some reservations about it (and I think Nina did, too).  I acknowledged that I needed a second reading to sort out my feelings, but I just didn’t have the [...]

Could Squirrels Be the New Zombies?

Could Squirrels Be the New Zombies?

I spent Monday presenting a Common Core seminar to elementary school librarians in Knoxville, TN.  Our YMA feed stopped working properly during the Belpre Awards, so I had to wait until our morning break to see the full results.  While the Newbery picks surprised me, all the books did get great reviews, and will now [...]

Virtual Winners

Virtual Winners

We had 76 voters which is about 5 times the size of the real committee.  Our results are followed by some analysis.   THE THING ABOUT LUCK . . . 16 (1st) + 6 (2nd) + 3 (3rd) = 88 points FAR FAR AWAY . . . 9 (1st) + 8 (2nd) + 8 (3rd) [...]

Calling the Virtual Mock Supercommittee!

Calling the Virtual Mock Supercommittee!

It’s time for our virtual edition of the Mock Newbery!  We’ll declare a winner and honor books after the first ballot so it won’t really be very similar to what the real committee will be doing, but it will still be a lot of fun, and that’s what counts, right?  What follows is the list [...]