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November 21, 2014

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The Witch’s Boy

The Witch’s Boy

Several of you have mentioned Barnhill’s THE WITCH’S BOY, and our library copies finally hit the shelves recently.  I wasn’t a fan of Barnhill’s starred debut THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK, and was underwhelmed by IRON HEARTED VIOLET….so I’m having a hard time parsing my appreciation of THE WITCH’S BOY.  Did it simply exceed [...]

Picture Books

Picture Books

There is no stipulation that the Newbery be fiction, nor that it be long, though it tends to happen that way. Some exceptions from the lengthy category include a 1973 Honor for FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER, a 1983 Honor for DOCTOR DE SOTO, the 1989 winner for JOYFUL NOISE, and the 1982 Medal for A VISIT [...]

The Madman of the Piney Woods and How it Went Down

The Madman of the Piney Woods and How it Went Down

Curtis’ companion novel to ELIJAH OF BUXTON is an equally excellent stand alone, which shares much of what made its predecessor distinguished: unique voices that take their time, building deep familiarity with character and setting so that–in this case–a fairly simple but highly dramatic plot line supports a complex coming-of-age in the two main characters. [...]

Convince Us

Convince Us

Jonathan and I are working on our shortlist of titles that we’ll be discussing at our in-person Mock Newbery discussions in January (dates TBA for Oakland and San Diego).  We try to announce our list just before Thanksgiving, to give you the chance to read up, and limit ourselves to publication dates through October, so [...]

Egg & Spoon

Egg & Spoon

If Gantos and Preus are in the running for using the fewest words possible to excellent effect, nobody filled in Gregory Maguire on that contest.  However, for the right reader, his EGG & SPOON dishes out delectable word after word after word after word after word, for a classic-feeling adventure/fairytale/coming-of-age story as fancy as the [...]

El Deafo

El Deafo

I was glad to see this one listed among so many of your favorites, as it is in mine.  But how do we discuss this graphic novel for the Newbery?  Let’s look at some of the language in the criteria. Definition #1: . “Contribution to American literature” indicates the text of a book. It also [...]

Brown Girl Dreaming, and How I Discovered Poetry

Brown Girl Dreaming, and How I Discovered Poetry

In another interesting pair of subject-matter-coincidences, we have two works in verse from African American female writers this year that are memoirs of their childhood experiences which prepared them for their writing careers.  (These both follow closely on last year’s Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes, for a triple coincidence.) Jacqueline Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING is [...]

Zane and the Hurricane, and Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Zane and the Hurricane, and Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Debbie made a plea back in Fall Favorites for ZANE AND THE HURRICANE, which I’m seeing on many Mock Newbery lists. But we have to talk about it alongside Julie Lamana’s UPSIDE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, which is essentially the same story:  Katrina. Stranded in the Lower Ninth. Dog escaping causes trouble. Rescue. [...]

Stranger than Fiction?

Stranger than Fiction?

I like quirky.   Yet Jenni Holm’s THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH and Jack Gantos’ THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA both put me pretty off-kilter, in that stomach-dropping “Whoa!” way of a roller-coaster.  I enjoyed both thoroughly, but am still trying to clear my head.  I do think that the oddball humor in both speak directly [...]

Fall Favorites?

Fall Favorites?

We’re certainly not done talking about Spring and Summer titles, but as it’s now October, it’s time to get cracking: which are your fall release favorites? We’ve heard from fans of BROWN GIRL DREAMING, RAIN REIGN, EGG & SPOON…. This becomes the hard part of the season, as we try to read ahead and keep [...]

The Crossover

The Crossover

Speaking of the Present Tense…. I feel like everyone was talking about THE CROSSOVER as soon as the ARC came out, and I’ve been looking forward to talking about it here. I expected the biggest question would be “the age question”, so was tickled to see Eric comment here that he can’t remember why it [...]

The Port Chicago 50

The Port Chicago 50

I’m in the midst of the ALSC Institute here in Oakland, where we just listened to Steve Sheinkin give the opening session talk about his approach to writing history, with The Port Chicago 50 story as his centerpiece.  My Boston Globe Horn Book committee awarded it this May, and it just showed up on the NBA [...]

West of the Moon and The Night Gardener

I’m trying to re-read A SNICKER OF MAGIC again to participate in that discussion, which has gotten very interesting. Meanwhile, Julie Corsaro mentioned in that comment thread a couple of spring titles I’m more interested in talking about. Recalling Vicky Smith’s guest post this time last year, Reader Know Thyself, I had to recognize that [...]

Revolution

revolution

This seems the spring book to talk about, based on comments from our first post, with raves from many, and a few of us voicing qualms. Rachel Stein offers a nice synopsis of the book at For Those About to Mock, though she mentions she hesitates to comment on its Newbery chances because she listened [...]

Welcome Back

It is the day after Labor Day, and time to getting rolling on a new season of Heavy Medal!   Jonathan signed us off in January with a list to look forward to, and you’ve all been adding to it as the months have trickled by. Danae is excited about THE CROSSOVER, THE FAMILY ROMANOV, [...]

The Real Winners!

The Real Winners!

Here we are folks, with a whole row of Heavy Medalers/BOBers. The room is smaller this year, and completely full…with an overflow room set up downstairs. We were here….early. There are many many amazing award winners being announced, and I won’t be able to get them all in, but here are some recognizing books we’ve [...]

Announcements Nigh

Announcements Nigh

Don’t forget that you can watch the announcements live tomorrow morning. I’ll be putting up a very brief post as it goes, and publish right away so we all can start commenting. http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/presskits/youthmediaawards/alayouthmediaawards

Notable Books Discussion

Notable Books Discussion

While the award committees doors are locked, the “media evaluation” committees such as Notables Books, Notable Recordings, YALSA’s BBFA, etc., are open. Here’s the Notable Books committee, discussing in front of an attentive audience, including many editors and publishers who wait patiently to hear the books they worked so hard over publicly praised and pulled [...]

Chilly Philly

Chilly Philly

I’m here in Philadelphia, just diving in to the conference, but the Newbery Committee is well into their first full day of discussion! After a dinner break, they’ll keep on going. And yes, the door is locked.

Other outliers?

At the end of this week the committees will start their discussions.  What haven’t we covered enough yet? I want to highlight one other Best Books Outlier, Tim Tingle’s HOW I BECAME A GHOST: A CHOCTAW TRAILS OF TEARS STORY, which showed up on Kirkus’ Best list, and also got a strong review from Horn Book.  It bears an [...]