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October 23, 2014

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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 [...]

2013 Best Book Outliers

2013 Best Book Outliers

You’ll recall my Best Books Overlap post which demonstrates the way that Booklist, the Bulletin, Horn Book, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly have already come to a kind of consensus.  But each journal champions books that the others do not, and they are not necessarily any less distinguished because of it.  Earlier this [...]

San Diego Winners

San Diego Winners

Seven people met at our very first San Diego Mock Newbery, and our results were as follows– Newbery Medal THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP by Kathi Appelt Newbery Honor ERUPTION! by Elizabeth Rusch We had our winner on our first ballot, and this is how the voting went. CLEMENTINE AND THE SPRING [...]

Saving the Best for Last?

Saving the Best for Last?

What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost.  The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and daring, and the ancient ghost . . . well, let it only be said that his intentions were good. If more heavily seasoned with romance, this might have made [...]

True Blue Scouts

True Blue Scouts

Earlier, Nina described this book as peacocky, and I think that’s an apt description.  No other novel on our shortlist, save FAR FAR AWAY, has such a striking, distinctive narrative voice. OFFICIAL SUGAR MAN SWAMP SCOUT ORDERS keep your eyes open keep your ears to the ground keep your nose in the air be true [...]

2013 Best Books Overlap

2013 Best Books Overlap

Well, it looks like Jen J beat me to the punch.  She must get the print copy of the Bulletin whereas I have to wait for them to post online, so I’m taking her word for the Bulletin Blue Ribbons. six lists- BOXERS/SAINTS five lists– ELEANOR & PARK LOCOMOTIVE MARCH: BOOK ONE MR. TIGER GOES [...]

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

PICTURE BOOK  VS. POETRY When last we discussed IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE, Leonard brought up a good question: Should we consider this text as a picture book or a single poem?  Ultimately, I’m not sure that it really matters how we classify it, but it’s definitely helpful to look at it through [...]

Clementine and the Spring Trip

If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14-year-olds but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes; but it can be given an award only if it does what it sets out to do as well as or better than other, younger books that are also eligible. Of course, we may say the same thing for [...]

December Nominations

December Nominations

This is the third and final time that the Newbery committee will trade nominations (3 in October, 2 in November, 2 in December).  In order for a book to be on the table for discussion, it must first be nominated, so we may see many people use their final two nominations, not to build consensus, [...]