Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reaction Post: 2013 Newbery, Printz, and others

So what did I think of the 2013 winners?

Overall, a pretty decent year. No huge surprises, unless you count Wonder's total lack of appearance. I know a lot of people have been loving on that book, but I've been avoiding it. Now that it hasn't won anything, I don't have to read it.

The actual Newbery winner, Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan, is a book I've been hearing good things about, so I'm happy to read that.

Huzzah for Bomb getting three mentions: a Newbery Honor, a Sibert medal for nonfiction for children, and a YALSA medal for nonfiction for teens. In fact, a lot of books ended up on the same two nonfiction lists. Tasha over at Waking Brain Cells pointed out on Twitter that so much of the really good nonfic out there is for grades 6-8, which also happens to be an overlap period for the two age ranges. Hmm. Interesting to think about.

I had never heard of the Printz winner, Nick Lake's Into Darkness. That's not unusual for the Printz - in fact, this is kind of a banner year in that I've read two of the honor books (Dodger, Code Name Verity) and heard of one more (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), leaving only one honor and the winner as unknowns.

The other big winner, besides Bomb, was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, which carried off a Printz honor, the Pura Belpre author award, and the Stonewall award. Someone pointed out that this is the first year a book with Latino characters has won the Stonewall. Initially, I went, "The award is, what, three years old? How is that significant?" And then I researched, and I learned that while it's only been included in the ALA announcements for about three years, it's actually been around since 1971. I am humbled. And yeah, that's big. Congrats, Ben Saenz!

Finally, my personal, "EEEEE!!!" moment? Seraphina winning the Morris Award. You can see how much I loved that book.

(But Bibliovore, what about the books for younger kids?)

(I'm not ignoring those! Go over to Kid Tested, Librarian Approved for the scoop on that.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 Youth Media Awards

John Newbery Medal
for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
(H) Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
(H) Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
(H) Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Randolph Caldecott Medal
for the most distinguished American picture book for children
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
(H) Creepy Carrots illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
(H) Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
(H) Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(H) One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo
(H) Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue

Michael L. Printz Award
for excellence in literature written for young adults
In Darkness by Nick Lake
(H) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
(H) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
(H) Dodger by Terry Pratchett
(H) The White Bicycle by Beverly A Brenna

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
for the most distinguished beginning reader book
Up! Tall! and High by Ethan Long
(H) Let's Go for a Drive by Mo Willems
(H) Pete the Cat and HIs 4 Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
(H) Rabbit and Robot: the Sleepover by Cece Bell

Coretta Scott King Awards
for the best book about the African-American experience
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney
(H) Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
(H) No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I, Too, Am America illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Langston Hughes
(H) H.O.R.S.E.: a game of basketball and imagination by Christopher Myers
(H) Ellen's Broom illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons
(H) I Have a Dream illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Martin Luther King Jr.

Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement
Demetria Tucker - Roanoke Public Library system

Schneider Family Book Award
for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
Picture Book
Back to Front and Upside Down by Claire Alexander
Middle Grade Novel
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
Young Adult Novel
Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

Alex Awards
for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences
Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Juvenile In Justice by Richard Ross
Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My Friend Dahmer by Derf
One Shot at Forever: a small town, an unlikely coach, and a magical baseball season by Chris Ballard
Pure by Juliana Baggott
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Andrew Carnegie Medal
for excellence in children's video
Anna, Emma, and the Condors by Green Planet Films

Margaret A. Edwards Award
for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.
Tamora Pierce (specifically for the Song of the Lioness series and the Protector of the Small Quartet)

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
Andrea Davis Pinkney

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children
Katherine Paterson 

Mildred L. Batchelder Award
for an outstanding children's book translated from a language other than English and subsequently published in the United States
My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve, translated by Tammi Reichel
(H) A Game for Swallows: to die, to leave, to return by Zeina Abirached, translated by Edward Gauvin
(H) Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

Odyssey Award
best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults
The Fault in Our Stars written by John Green, read by Kate Rudd

Pura Belpre Awards
For the best books about the Latino cultural experience
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
(H) The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
Martin de Porres: the rose in the desert illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt
Robert F. Sibert Medal
for most distinguished informational book for children
Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
(H) Electric Ben: the amazing life and times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
(H)  Moonbird: a year on the wind with the great survivor B95 by Philip M Hoose
(H) Titanic: voices from the disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award
Books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
(H) Drama by Raina Telgemeier
(H) Gone Gone Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
(H) October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepherd by Leslea Newman
(H) Sparks: the epic, completely true blue, (almost) holy quest of Debbie by SJ Adams

William C. Morris Award
for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
(F) Wonder Show by Hannah Rodgers Barnaby
(F) Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
(F) After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
(F) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.
Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
(F) Steve Jobs: the man who thought different by Karen Blumenthal
(F) Moonbird: a year on the wind with the great survivor B95 by Philip M Hoose
(F) Titanic: voices from the disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
(F) We've Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham children's march by Cynthia Levinson

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gothic Double Feature: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron and The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Book: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Published: 2012
Source: ARC from colleague

Katharine, a poor relation, is used to doing her aunt’s dirty work for her. Sent off to the country in order to prove her uncle mad so that her aunt (not his wife; his sister-in-law) can gain control of all his lovely money for her spoilt son, she accepts it as another dirty job she has to do in order to keep a roof over her head.

But in the country, she discovers a ramshackle country house, a fascinating and childlike uncle who makes mechanical works of genius, and maybe a home. Something strange is happening to her, however. She’s sleepwalking, hearing things, and nobody will believe her that she isn’t doing any of it on purpose.

Is she going mad?

Book: The Twin’s Daughter
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Published: 2010
Source: purchased from BetterWorldBooks.com

The day she answered the door, Lucy’s life took a sharp right turn. For the person at the door looked exactly like her mother--and yet, was not. It was her mother’s twin sister, Helen. Separated at birth and raised in very different circumstances, Helen wants nothing more than to meet her sister. Lucy's mother, for her part, greets her unexpected sister with apparently open arms. Helen gets adopted into the family, educated, dressed, and presented to society.

As her aunt begins to more and more closely resemble Lucy’s mother, it becomes harder and harder for Lucy to tell them apart. Then tragedy strikes. One of the twins dies, the apparent victim of a murderous housebreaker, and one lives. The living one is Lucy’s mother . . . or is she?


I ran across both these books in a span of about two weeks, and their Gothic nature was a surprise to me. I was expecting The Dark Unwinding to be a steampunk, mostly on the basis of the cover, and The Twin’s Daughter to be a historical mystery.

They both had elements of the genres I first assigned them to. What, then, made them particularly Gothic? I have a little better awareness of this genre and all its tropes after reading Sarah Rees Brennan’s blog, which had a strong focus on Gothic novels leading up the publication of Unspoken, her own updated Gothic. There were all sorts of things, but what it came down to was girls facing down peril alone. She had a very neat post talking about how this reflected girls’ and women’s real positions before they had the right to vote, control their own money, or own property. They really were in peril much of the time, and around the world, many women still are.

Simply to be in peril does not make you a Gothic heroine. You have to be the only one that recognizes or acknowledges it, your concerns are derided or ignored, and you have to fight it on your own. You can have a few allies, but it's really all you, and that's what makes it so compelling.

Both these books drew their power from this girl-against-the-forces-of-evil tension. They weren't perfect novels by any means, but they kept me flipping pages. That is also the great fun of Gothic novels, and why they've been in and out of fashion in popular literature for at least two hundred years.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book: Five Flavors of Dumb by John Antony

Book: Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: John Antony
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

Teen rock band Dumb has a new manager. She doesn’t know anything about music. She barely knows anything about the band members, narcissistic Josh, passive Will, and hardcore Tash. But she is ferociously good at chess, and she’s promised Dumb’s front-man Josh that she can wheel-deal Dumb’s way to stardom, or at least to paying gigs. Oh, and she’s deaf.

As Piper dives deeper into the world of hard rock and struggles to juggle the five (she adds two new members) personalities that make up Dumb, she gains self-confidence and a better understanding of both music and how families, her own in particular, function . . . or don’t.

This won the Schneider Book award a couple of years ago, and I generally add award-winners to my list. It’s so much more than a book about being deaf, though. Sure, it delves into that. Piper, the only deaf member of a hearing family and a hearing school, feels out of place and ignored. She never pities herself for that, however. She gets frustrated, sometimes angry, but never self-pitying or martyrish. She feels that her parents think of her as the “flawed” child, and come to find out, she’s somewhat right.

But it’s also about music, and about people, and families, born or assembled. It's about business and standing behind the promises you make and functioning in an adult world. Piper trips and falls down over things that have nothing to do with her deafness, and then picks herself up again.

There was one thing that did not set right. In the beginning of the book, we’re told that Piper’s parents raided her college fund to pay for her baby sister’s cochlear implant (something Piper is too old for). The money was left specifically to Piper by her deaf grandparents, and she has it earmarked for a specific university that serves the deaf and hearing-impaired, someplace where she will finally stop feeling out of place. This money is never replaced, and no real apology is ever given. Sure, it’s symptomatic of the fractures in the family that ultimately get repaired, and yes, medical procedure for a baby, but I’m still not happy that it was dropped with a “well, you can get financial aid!”

That’s a nitpick I had to get off my chest. Overall, I'd recommend this to music-lovers, contemporary readers, and anybody who wants a great heroine.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Book: Hokey Pokey
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Published: January 8, 2013
Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Hokey Pokey is a wild and wonderful desert place, where kids run wild and there’s not an adult to be found. The king of them all is Jack, who has the fastest bike, the kindest heart, and the direst nemesis.

Then one day, Jack wakes up to find that his beloved bike, Scramjet, has been taken. Surely the evil girl Jubilee is the culprit, isn’t she? But as the day progresses, Jack begins to understand that his bike disappeared for a different reason. More, he comes to realize that it’s almost time for him to leave Hokey Pokey. But where will he go from there?

This is a weird little book. Fables often are. Spinelli also uses the surroundings, a Wild West brand of Never-Neverland, and various oddball constructions and word combinations to reinforce the outlandish feel of the book, and the notion that the world of childhood is set apart from the rest of the world, and maybe from the rest of your life.

Overly idealized? You could make a case for that. But we can argue about adult concepts of kids' understanding of the world some other time. That's not what the book is really about. It’s about the moment when you start to leave childhood behind, but instead of rushing forward to what’s next, this book dwells on what’s being left behind, and the gentle melancholy that comes when you realize that you've outgrown your skin when you weren't looking. The wars, the friendships, the simple pleasures and fears of childhood are all falling away.

It also examines the reactions of those around Jack as they see him change and grow beyond them. His two best friends, the little kids who idolize him, even Jubilee, whose nemesis status fades over the course of the day, realize that he's drifting away and react in their own ways that ring true.

It won’t be a slam dunk for every kid. In fact, I kind of want to try this out on a real kid before I make any conclusions on its likely appeal. (And side note: that cover? No. It looks like a pretentious adult literary novel, maybe about a kidnapped child or something. Just . . . no.) But I have the feeling that the right kid will read this book with a growing sense of recognition, either for what he is going through at the moment, or for what she passed through a long time ago and is only now realizing that it was a major shift in her life.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stuff I've Missed

Mind, you haven't missed it, because there are people living in caves in the Marianas Trench who've blogged about some of this stuff. But if I don't write about this, they'll take away my kidlit blogger card.
  • Cybils! On the the 1st, the Cybils finalists were announced. And because they're awesome, the Cybils team already has a printable PDF for teachers, parents, and librarians of the finalists. I'm a second-round judge for the YA category. Did you see the list that my fabulous fellow judges and I get to choose from? It has Code Name Verity AND I Hunt Killers. Seriously, guys, this is gonna be hard.
  • Comment Challenge! It starts today, y'all. MotherReader and Lee Wind are running their famous Comment Challenge once again, because they're awesome like that. Never done it before? It works like this: Sign up. Pledge to comment at least 5 comments a day for 21 days, from 1/11 to 1/31. (That is so 21 days. Shup.) Watch as other people visit your blog and comment too. Sound good? Hop over to Lee's blog to sign up.
  • ALA Youth Media awards! Otherwise known as the Newbery, the Caldecott, and an increasing boatload of others. They're still a little over two weeks away, (January 28th), which means the kidlit community is progressing through the frothing-at-the-mouth stage of speculation on the winners and headed full tilt toward the uncontrollable twitches and vague death threats. (Probable actual quote: "If Wonder doesn't win something, I will BURN THINGS.") Me? I have no opinions. No, honestly. I'm still reading stuff from 2011, guys. I have no idea. I haven't even read Wonder. I just get up for the webcast at ridiculous hours of the morning for the Twitter party.
Okay, that's enough. Over and out, folks. Over and out.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Reading Roundup: 2012

By the Numbers
Teen: 194
Tween: 99
Children: 79

Review Copies: 102
Swapped: 5
Purchased: 29
Library: 189

Standouts (titles link to my reviews)
Teen: Selected in June: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
"This book tore out my heart, stomped on it, then sat down next to me and offered me a cigarette and a very strong drink."
Tween: Selected in July: Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
"How do you follow up a Newbery winner? With another book that seems simple on the surface, but bubbles with secrets underneath."
Children: Selected in March: Keeper by Kathi Appelt
"It's not an action-packed heart-thumper of a book, although there are certainly tense moments. It meanders, it daydreams, it wanders. It has that magical-realism-type acceptance of the marvelous and fantastical next to the everyday. You have to assemble the real stories from the crumbs dropped by the author."