October 22, 2016

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Goodbye Stranger and Rhythm Ride

Okay, here’s a second look at our last pair . . . GOODBYE STRANGER When I read all the overwritten books that got published this past year–and they are legion!–I just wanted to make GOODBYE STRANGER required reading for their authors.  Stead uses a minimum amount of description, allowing the dialogue to carry plot and […]

Mock Newbery Update

While Nina and I announced the dates for our respective Mock Newberys, we didn’t give you the additional details. The San Diego County County Library and the San Diego County Office of Education are co-sponsoring mine.  It will be held on Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30 pm in the evening at Miguel’s Cocina (10514 Craftsman […]

Seneca Village Redux

Am I the only person that dreams my dreams? Does anybody else on this planet think my thoughts? Are my ideas like darting lights I’ve caught? Is my mind a net sieving through thought-filled streams? I know when we first posted about this book it was a bit under the radar.  It had a couple […]

Crazy About Gone Crazy

UNPACKING THE BAGGAGE As you well know, if you’ve followed this blog long enough, I am an unabashed plot-driven reader.  I most enjoy those types of books where the plot drives the action of the book and where I can anticipate the events to come.  For example, even before I picked up HARRY POTTER AND […]

Orbiting Jupiter

Then Pastor Ballou prayed again, and he said that Joseph had put himself in danger to save others, and then he said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” And that’s when I started crying.  Crying like a kindergarten kid in front of everyone.  Crying […]

What’s Wrong With the Printz?

Debbie Reese recently noted that ALSC had added language in support of diversity to their committee manuals, but YALSA has had that language in the Policies and Procedures since the inception of the Printz Award: “Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity, and that focus is a fundamental value of the Young Adult Library […]

Curse of the Three Star Book, Part 2

On Friday, we talked about a pair of three star books that I’ve read.  Here are a whole heap–seven!–that have either languished in my to-be-read-pile or I’ve started them but not finished them (not for lack of interest, but lack of time).  So I present them here, leaning on the reviews to provide some insights […]

Curse of the Three Star Book, Part 1

We don’t necessarily create our shortlist with the intention of predicting the winners, but it’s nice when that works out.  I’ve noticed that we’ve been especially prone to missing or underestimating the winner if the book has three starred reviews.  We missed MOON OVER MMANIFESTANIFEST and DEAD END IN NORVELT entirely and while THE ONE […]

Top Five

In the past couple years we’ve checked in with our readers at various points in the year to see what they would nominate.  Due to the shorter timetable this year–the YMAs are on January 11th–we’re consolidating those into a single post.  I’ll go first.  In alphabetical order . . . DROWNED CITY ECHO THE HIRED […]


After much reading and deliberation, Nina and I have decided on the following nine–nine!–titles: DROWNED CITY . . .             ECHO . . .             GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA . . .             GOODBYE STRANGER . . .     […]

Great Expectations

It’s been a banner year for nonfiction yet again.  Since we’ve been saying that every year for the past several years maybe it’s time to start speaking of a Golden Age of Nonfiction?  In any case, many of the most excellent titles this year are published for ages 12 and up, what many people would […]

Graphic Novels

Nina opened our running annual text vs. images conversation with THE MARVELS.  Last year, EL DEAFO made history by being the first graphic novel recognized by the Newbery committee.  Nina discussed it here and here, but my voice was noticeably absent as I was on the Caldecott committee; thus, we didn’t put it on our shortlist. […]

My Seneca Village

I know this book hasn’t published yet–November 1–but this is to serve notice that Nina and I are both extremely enamored of it, so much so that we have decided to put in on our shortlist despite the late publication date.  We encourage you to put your holds on the book, or better yet buy […]

The Hired Girl

I have always admired the work of Laura Amy Schlitz, but I have never been in love with it.  Until now.  Not only am I pulling for Newbery recognition for this one, I’d love to see it join THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION and LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY as only the third book […]

Listen, Slowly (and Carefully)

I typically read one book at a time, occasionally two books at a time, but when I read for an award committee, I feel the pressure to always be reading, and so I will often have three to four books going on at the same time, constantly picking up books and putting them down throughout […]

The Popcorn Astronauts

THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS by Deborah Ruddell is an excellent poetry collection, definitely one of the best of the year, perhaps the best Newbery eligible collection, especially if we think of Marilyn Nelson’s MY SENECA VILLAGE as more of a narrative work of poetry. All of the poems in THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS are about food, as the subtitle […]

Lost in the Sun

Lisa Graff appeared on our Newbery radar with the publication of A TANGLE OF KNOTS which was long listed for the National Book Award, then came another strong book with great reviews (ABSOLUTELY ALMOST), and now she delivers what is arguably her best novel to date, LOST IN THE SUN. I am not the ideal reader […]

Hey, Old Friends: Part 2

When I started my list of sequels this year, it grew so rapidly that I decided to focus on sequels of Newbery-winning books, but there are some other high profile sequels as well, and a couple of them have already creeped into our discussion. COMPLETELY CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker . . . This is the […]

Hey, Old Friends

We know the odds of repeat Newbery recognition are slim (the percentage of repeat winners in the past 5 years ranges from 20%-50%) and the odds of repeating for a sequel are slimmer still–in fact, limited only to Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Robin McKinley, Cynthia Voigt, and Richard Peck.  And yet we cannot help but […]

George and the Question of Didactic Intent

Given our conversations so far, I think GEORGE is the perfect next book to discuss because (a) it is indeed serious work, and (b) it is also didactic (an issue we’ve been exploring in our discussion of ECHO). Now the Newbery Medal is expressly NOT given for didactic intent.  Throwing the D-word at a book, however, […]