Friday, November 17, 2006

Final reading lists: Mock Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz

Welcome to all readers for the 2007 BCCLS Mock Awards! Here are the dates and places for awards selection:

Caldecott: Tuesday, January 9, 2007, 9: 30 a.m. at the New Milford Library
Mock Newbery: Tuesday, January 9, 2007, 1:30 p.m. at the New Milford Library
Mock Printz: Thursday, January 11, 2007, 9:30 a.m. at the Paramus Library

To RSVP for one, two, or all three Mock Awards, send an email to carlie @ (without the spaces) and include in your email which programs you plan to attend.

Reading lists:

Mock Caldecott:

1. Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky
2. An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston.
3. Max's Words by Kate Banks
4. Tiger of the Snows by Robert Burleigh
5. Sea Horse, the Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth
6. Walk On! by Marla Frazee
7. The Boy Who Cried Wolf by B.G. Hennessy
8. Sleepy Boy by Polly Kanevsky
9. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
10. Moon Plane by Peter McCarty
11. Jazz by Walter Dean Myers
12. Cookies, Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
13. Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman
14. The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School by Judy Sierra
15. John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith
16. Flotsam by David Weisner

Mock Newbery:

1. Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora
2. Victory by Susan Cooper
3. The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman
4. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
5. Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm
6. Part of Me by Kimberly Willis Holt
7. Toys Go Out: Being the adventures of a knowledgeable Stingray, a toughy little Buffalo, and someone called Plastic by Emily Jenkins
8. Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
9. Alabama Moon by Watt Key
10. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
11. Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
12. Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
13. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Mock Printz:

1. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
2. Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr
3. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos
4. Rash by Pete Hautman
5. Time's Memory by Julius Lester
6. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
7. a brief chapter in my impossible life by Dana Reinhardt
8. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
9. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
10. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
11. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A change to my top picks: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I know I've already posted my top ten, but this is a book I can't stop thinking about. I read it in two sittings (and I was sorely tempted to read it instead of getting some much-needed sleep) and the buzz on YALSA-BK and Adbooks has been huge.

Title: Life as we Knew It
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 0-15-205826-5

Starred review in:
Booklist and PW
Review: Miranda is as normal a teenage girl as anyone can get. Her divorced parents make an effort to get along (even though her dad's new wife is pregnant), her older brother is away at college, and her younger brother is a rising baseball star. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, swimming, skating, and obsessing over her favorite Olympic men's figure-skating hopeful. Everything in her life changes, however, when an asteroid hits the moon. In the days before the asteroid hits, no one seems too worried, because asteroids hit the moon all the time. When the force of the asteroid knocks the moon out of its orbit, however, disastrous climate changes occur. Massive tsunamis wipe out millions of coastal dwellers. Earthquakes occur in Missouri. Volcanic eruptions cause a nuclear winter. Miranda's concerns quickly go from whether the captain of the swim team likes her to her family's dwindling food supply. Told in diary format, this is a frightening look at a dystopian future no one can control. Through illness, starvation, death, and subzero temperatures Miranda tries to cling to normalcy.

This title would make an excellent group discussion book, as it covers so many subjects: environmentalism, family relations, love, and survival, just to start. It's a quick read, great for both the junior high and high school set, and tense from start to finish. If you don't already have this in your collection, please consider buying it. I believe it has a wide audience and the potential to win a lot of honors.

Carlie, BCCLS

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mock Printz: Barbara's top eleven

From Barbara W. at Wyckoff:

  • Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
  • The Wish House by Celia Rees
  • a brief chapter in my impossible life by Dana Reinhardt
  • A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • The Unresolved by T.K. Welsh
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
  • Storm Thief by Chris Wooding
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Mock Printz: Lynn's top ten

From Lynn K. at Englewood:

  • Time's Memory by Julius Lester
  • Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  • St. Iggy by K.L. Going
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Clay by David Almond
  • Rash by Pete Hautman
  • Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hannah Jansen
  • Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mock Newbery: Carol's top twelve

From Carol H. at Franklin Lakes:

  • Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm
  • Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
  • Singing Hands by Delia Ray
  • Bread and Roses Too by Katherine Paterson
  • Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  • Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
  • Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
  • The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
  • I'll Sing You One-O by Nancy Gregory
  • Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mock Newbery: Amy's top ten

From Amy S. at Teaneck:

  • Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
  • Penny From Heaven by Jennifer Holm
  • The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman
  • Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
  • Part of Me by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • Bread and Roses Too by Katherine Paterson
  • House of the Red Fish by Graham Salisbury
  • Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  • Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora
  • Victory by Susan Cooper
  • The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mock Printz: Carlie's top ten

I've had a few additions and subtractions since I made my informal post. My formal top ten...okay, eleven, are now:

  1. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
  2. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  3. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
  4. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos
  5. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
  6. Rash by Pete Hautman
  7. a brief chapter in my impossible life by Dana Reinhardt
  8. Time's Memory by Julius Lester
  9. Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
  10. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  11. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mock Printz - Susan's Top Ten


I am adding another title to my top ten, which is

A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt....

The following is the list of my favorite top ten, actually eleven contenders for the mock Printz Award. This list reflects my personal tastes so there are lots of fantasy and historical fiction... Fortunately there were many of those kinds of books published...Changes to this list are likely...

1. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
3.Summer of Kings by Han Nolan
4. Bread and Roses Too by Katherine Paterson
5. Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos
6. Monster Blood Tattoo Book One : Foundling
7. Bella at Midnight by diane Stanley
8. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
9. Monkey Town by Ronald Kidd
10. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
11. River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Reviewer: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Mock Printz: Annie's Top Ten

In no particular order....

An Abundance of Katherines- John Green
Born to Rock- Gordon Korman
Sold- Patricia McCormick
Time's Memory- Julius Lester
The Rules of Survival- Nancy Werlin
It's Kind of a Funny Story- Ned Vizzini
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life- Dana Reinhardt
The Book Thief- Marcus Zusak
The Pox party / taken from accounts by [Octavius Nothing's] own hand and other sundry sources -M.T. Anderson
The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs- Jack Gantos

--Annie Miller, Paramus

Mock Newbery: Latricia's Top Ten

These aren't in any specific order, and there are actually 11 because I had a late addition before posting this:

Penny from Heaven - Jennifer Holm
Here lies the librarian - Richard Peck
Gossamer - Lois Lowery
Corydon and the Island of Monsters
Quail Club - Carolyn Marsden
Year of the Dog - Grace Lin
Weedflower - Cynthia Kadohata
King of Attolia - Megan Turner
Victory - Susan Cooper
Fairest - Gail Carson Levin
Defining Dulcie - Paul Acampora

Latricia Batchelor - Tenafly Public Library

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mock Printz or Newbery: Bread and Roses Too

Title: Bread and Roses, Too
Author: Katherine Paterson
ISBN: 0618654798
Review: Bread and Roses Too touched me in a way that it had me crying by the end of the book. I really came to care for the characters and the historical background was fascinating. The book takes place during the mill strikes in Lawrence, Mass in 1912. The story focuses on two kids in two different positions whose lives become intertwined. Jake is a boy whose alcoholic father works him in the mills and beats him up on pay day to take all the money for drink. He leaves the boy living on the streets like a "rat". Rosa meets him sleeping on a trash heap. In contrast, she is the daughter of Italian immigrants, much loved and the hope of the family because of her intellectual abilities. Her Dad died in a fire at the mills. She too lives from hand to mouth but her life has some joy in it because of her caring mother and siblings. When the big strike happens, the kids are sent off to Italian families in Barre, Vermont. Jake can't get the proper paperwork done so he sneaks on the bus and gets Rosa to lie for him by pretending he is her brother. Their experiences with a wealthy family in Barre and the bonds that begin to form make for a touching, well thought out historical novel. Although the kids are not teens, this book will still work for teens. These kids have plenty of responsibility and live much older lives than contemporary counterparts. Jake is essentially on his own and Rosa has a definite leadership role in the family. This book will definitely win an award somewhere.
Reviewer: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mock Printz or Newbery: Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora

Title: Defining Dulcie
Author: Paul Acampora
ISBN: 0803730462
Starred Review: April Booklist and PW
Defining Dulcie is about a sixteen year old girl who just lost her father. Just that sentence made me want to put the book down and avoid it, but I'm glad I didn't. This isn't just about the death of a parent, it's a book about growing up and realizing that the world doesn't revolve around you. Dulcie was very close to her father. She even worked with him at the local HS where he was a janitor and her gandfather was in charge of maintenance. After Dulcie's father dies, her mother decides that she cannot stay in this town. She wants to move to California and reinvent herself. Dulcie deals with this though she is unhappy about leaving home and her grandfather and her father, even if he is in the ground. When they get to California and her mother wants to trade in her father's pickup for a little car, Dulcie has had enough. This is the truck that she and her dad rebuilt together in the HS autoshop. SO at night Dulcie takes her mom's creditcard and the truck and drives back to CT. The balance of the book is Dulcie's summer with her Grandfather working for free at her old job as punishment for stealing the truck and worrying her mother. Over the summer she meets Roxane, an older teen, who her grandfather hired in her place nad who knew her dad. Quickly Dulcie realizes that there is something going on at Roxane's house....something that makes her fights with her mother seem childish.

There are themes of grief and loss through out this book and it's great at showing that different people need to grieve in different ways. Dulcie's mom had to get out of town and away of ther memories, but Dulcie needed those memories and needed the safety of home to deal with losing her father. Woven through the grief that Dulcie deals with though are also themes of growing up, of looking outside yourself to really SEE other people. The ending was somewhat unrealistic, but it fit the story perfectly. It was the happy ending that everyone needed.

One other thing I loved about this book is that it does what all those "SAT Novels" try to do. There is great vacab in it and at times the characters even stop and define the words out loud to each other or to themselves in interior monologues. There is also a ton of quotes and saying and deper layers of meaning if you feel like digging into the story. This truely is a book about a teenager finding herself and defining who she is.
Reviwer: Latricia Batchelor, Tenafly

Mock Newbery: Victory by Susan Cooper

Title: Victory
Author: Susan Cooper
ISBN: 1416914773
Victory is two stories in one. The contemporary story is of a British teen (Molly) whose mother married an American with a son a few years ago, but now he is being transfered back 'home' to the states. So she and her mom have to pick up thier life and move to New England. The second story is that of Sam, a boy serving in the British navy in 1803 aboard the HMS VICTORY.

The two stories are linked through an old copy of a biography of the commander of the ship which Molly, the British teen, finds in an old used book store. In alternating chapters, the readers learn both Molly's and Sam's stories. Sam's story does seem to overwhelm Molly's at some points in the book. It just just that his story is much more dramatic and action filled while Molly's story is quieter.

The alternating chapters and time jumping did throw me off a bit. Every time I started to really get into the story of Molly or Sam the chapter would end and the book would jump back to the other. I almost wish the book was set up as all of Sam's story then Molly's or as 3/4 Molly's until the point where she and her Grandfather are visiting the Victory and then all of Sam's story was inserted there. Jumping back for the final 1/4 of Molly's wouldn't have been as jaring and I think it would still have made sense. That complaint aside, it was a great story about life changiing and dealing with it. I found the view point of Molly as an English girl trying to get used to America as a new home an interesting idea. I wish a bit more had ben done with that.

Overall, I found the book to be a unique look at outsiders trying to fit in and adjust to a new life. Even with it's weaknesses this book will easily make my top 10.
Star Review: Booklist May,
Revewer: Latricia Batchelor, Tenafly Public Library

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mock Printz: Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

Title:Bella At Midnight
Author: Diane Stanley
ISBN: 0-06-077573-4
Review: This book rightfully deserves the three starred reviews it has received. Bella is a cast-off from her father, part of the knight aristocracy, who is not only devastated by his wife's death, but also a nasty guy on a good day. Bella is raised as a peasant in her nursemaid's family where she learns love from her blacksmith father and caring mother. In this peasant home, she meets the prince of the kingdom and they forge a special bond as true, loyal friends. Many years later, Bella is returned to her father where she once again suffers poor treatment. The prince is sent off to another kingdom as part of a condition of a treaty. Their lives intertwine again when Bella learns of danger to both the prince and the entire kingdom. This book contains great values, wonderfully developed, individualistic characters, some magic and surprises and a happy ending. It will definitely go on my top ten list for the mock Printz.
Reviewed by:Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mock Printz: What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

Title: What Happened to Cass McBride
Author: Gail Giles
Publisher: Little, Brown 11/1/06

Cass McBride is your typical uber-popular high school girl. Beautiful, self-aware, and aloof. This works well for her, until she gets asked out by nobody David Kirby. She laughs it off and writes a note about it to her best friend, belittling David and securing her status as the girl who looks down on everyone else. What she doesn't count on is David seeing the note, and what he does afterwards. Or how that little incident results in her being buried alive.

This was a quick read which I would recommend especially to reluctant readers. The writing and plot seem tighter than Giles' Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, but runs along the same " get through the book to see what happens at the end" vein. Part of the reason I would say it won't get the Printz is because it will actually interest teen readers.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mock Printz: Monster Blood Tattoo Book One: Foundling by D. M. Cornish

Title: Monster Blood Tattoo Book One: Foundling
Author:D. M. Cornish
I kept putting off reading this book but it truly surprised me. It is a very original and creative fantasy, beautifully illustrated and written by a young Australian man. His concept of the made-up world is finely detailed and almost plays second fiddle to his story. But although a slow start, once the story got going, it really got going. A young teen, raised in a protected world of an orphanage finally is sent on his merry way to become a lamplighter for the government. But his journey becomes unforgettable as he gets on the wrong boat and gets inadvertently caught up in this bizarre world of monsters and monster fighters. At first I thought the book was too plot driven for my personal taste but I came to care about the characters. Towards the end of the book, there is some humor and more humanity as well as "monsteranity"... Now I can't wait for the second book. This book will probably be on my top ten list.....
Reviewed by: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mock Newbery: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Title: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Author: Kate DiCamillo
ISBN: 0763625892
This book seems to draw strong opinions no matter if you like it or hate it. I found it…..pleasant. I didn't like Edward. Even in the end I didn't find him particularly sympathetic or likeable. I did like the Hobo and Lucy and I found the story well written. It had both a sophisticated style and yet was still very child friendly. I don't think it lives up to the hype at all. It will probably make most mock newbery list and I'm sure it will be discussed for the award, but it will not be on my top picks.
Star Review: January Kirkus
Revewer: Latricia Batchelor, Tenafly Public Library

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mock Printz: My informal top ten

This is in no way the official top ten I will have for the Mock Printz committee in October, but I did want to share what I think is the best, so far, of what I've been reading.

Two books are conspicuously absent from this list: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and White Time by Margo Lanagan. I haven't read them yet and don't want to rate books I haven't read. I'm going to read those, but not today. There are other books I'll have read by next month that I haven't yet: King Dork by Frank Portman and The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks.

In order, my top ten for the Mock Printz as of September 18 are:

1. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
2. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
3. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
4. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos
5. Rash by Pete Hautman
6. Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
7. Time's Memory by Julius Lester
8. A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
9. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
10. What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

Of course, I'll probably have a different opinion by tomorrow :) but it's fun to think about now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mock Printz:Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Title: Gossamer
Author: Lois Lowry
Review:Gossamer has a light touch, just like the fabric. It still conforms to Lowry's interests in societies but it is a more poetic and imaginatic rendering. The book defies category because, although seemingly easy, it could be a fine jumping off point for much further discussion. It is a simple plot, a war between makers of good dreams and makers of nightmares... They fight over three main characters: an elderly, lonely woman, a much deprived foster child who is placed with the woman, and the boy's mother. How these people gain the strenth and courage to face their own demons, literally and figuratively, is a delightful read. Good characters, unusual story and original ideas... This book will certainly make my top ten list for the mock Printz.
Revewer: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mock Printz: A Summer of Kings

Title:A Summer of Kings
Author:Han Nolan
Review:This excellent book retells the story of the summer of 1963 through the eyes of a young, perceptive, adolescent girl named Esther Young. The summer of 1963 isn't just any summer but an important one, that is, before the Civil Rights Act, during the contention between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, during the protests when the fire department in Alabama turned their hoses on children and before the assassination of JFK. Esther is a privileged white girl from a wealthy playwright's family who lives in Westchester County, NY. She is the black sheep in the family, the one without talent, who was left back in the third grade, and is struggling to find her skills, her identity, and her place in the family and in the world. She gains an insight into the brutality of race relations in the south when an 18 year old African-American boy who is accused of murder in Alabama gets sent up north to stay with her family. As she gets to know him and her crush turns into a real caring bond, she learns about the great sadness and hardship in his life. This book is so touching and more than anything else it is about the characters you as a reader come to care about. They are real people who change and grow as they must make decisions. Unfortunately, they live in "interesting times", and get caught up in a powerful period of time where their decisions have huge ramifications. This is definitely a contender for my Printz list. I loved this book and will look for more by the same author....
Reviewer:Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mock Printz:Monkey Town by Ronald Kidd

Title: Monkey Town
Author: Ronald Kidd
ISBN: 1-4169-0572-3
Starred Reviews: School Library Journal
Review: I picked up this book since it is so timely. As it turns out, the main character, a teenage girl named Frances Robinson is loosely based on a person Ronald Kidd actually met. Frances has a crush on her teacher, Scopes and lives across from the courthouse where the trial takes place. The girl and her father become intimately involved in the trial because her Dad is the school board chairman and instigates the case as a publicity trial. As the trial takes on a life of its own, it forces Frances to question her religious and moral values as well as her relationship with her Dad. The town becomes a laughing stock of the intellectual world but affords Frances to expand her own world as she meets H.L. Mencken, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. But the one individual who is irrevocably changed is the teacher, Scopes. Because of Frances' crush, she sees his perspective and life will never be the same for her or her family or the town. This book has some meat on it and tries to show the complexity of the characters and the times. I enjoyed the book very much and intend to use it in the fall with my Mohter-Daughter Discussion Group. It could be one of my top ten for the Printz but I am not sure yet.
Reviewer: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Mock Printz: Voices by Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin
Starred Reviews: School Library Journal
Review:I always enjoy Ursula Le Guin and Voices is no exception. Written in the same world as Gifts, published in 2005, Voices sets up a new situation which although vaguely linked, stands very well on its own. Memer is the main character here living in a defeated country, Ansul, where the oppressors, the Alds, have subjugated the whole place and removed all books and education. Memer lives with the Waylord ad clandestinely learns how to read in a secret room. Things change several years later when unexpectedly a poet and his wife, who has special bonds with animals, come looking for an original manuscript rumored to be in Ansul. Their visit serves as the catalyst for Memer's people to restore their once peaceful, highly civilized way of, life. Although not outstanding, this book presents interesting ideas and very memorable characters. I have not yet decided if it will be on my list ....
Reviewed by:Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mock Printz: Theodora Twist by Melissa Senate

Title: Theodora Twist
Author: Melissa Senate
ISBN: 0385733011
Starred review in: Kilatt (May '06)
Review: Reality television's next star is already a star in her own right. Theodora Twist (formerly Dora Twistler), discovered at age thirteen while trying to talk her way out of a shoplifting charge at Bloomingdale's, has earned a Paris Hilton-esque reputation as a bad girl. To fix her damaged rep, Theodora's agent concocts a plan to show the world how much of a "real teen" Theodora really is. Theodora will return to her hometown in Bergen County, New Jersey, live in the house she grew up in, and go to high school.

Emily Fine moved into Theodora's house after the Twistler family left for California. She's dealing with some real teen problems of her own, including a new baby stepsister and the fact that the guy she likes doesn't know she exists. But she's catapulted to reality TV stardom when she learns she'll be sharing her room with Theodora.

Mixed into this enagaging story of Hollywood and high school are some serious but well-handled themes of grief, sex, and superficiality. Emily is charming, and Theodora, despite her best efforts, comes to like Emily very much. The girls have a lot of typical teenage fights, but in the end they support each other and make the most of Theodora's life as a "real" teen. This is a bettter addition to collections than Jen Calonita's Secrets of my Hollywood Life, which tackles many of the same themes of teens and Hollywood, and it's a terrific readalike for fans of Meg Cabot and Lola Douglas.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mock Printz: The BookThief by Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
ISBN: 0-375-83100-2
Review: This is a story of a book thief. Now why would anybody need to steal books, one can ask, especially since we're all librarians. Well, in Nazi Germany, stealing a book was an act of rebellion. And this is the story of a girl whose life gets caught up in that whirlwind. She is the daughter of communist parents and winds up in a foster home in a Munich working class neighborhood. She first survives through the kindness of the foster father, who teaches her how to read. Because of his kindness and decency, the foster father eventually offers a hiding place to a Jewish man. This girl then forges a deep bond with this Jewish man in the basement. How they mostly cope and survive is a courageous story. The book is peopled by wonderful characters who grow and change as their world gets increasingly dangerous. This book has stories within stories and that complexity makes the story even more real. The perspective of the book offers a glimpse at how much freedom and reading of books are intertwined. This is an original and fine book which stuck with me for a long time. It is definitely a candidate for the Printz list.
Reviewed by: Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mock Printz: Dead Connection by Charlie Price

Title: Dead Connection
Author: Charlie Price
ISBN: 1596431148
Starred review in: Publishers Weekly (March 20), nominated to BBYA
Review: Murray Kiefer sees dead people. He not only sees them, but he talks to them. He comforts them. They are his friends and confidantes, and until Pearl Janochek gets involved, they are his closest secret.

Nikki Parker, average high-school cheerleader, has been missing for weeks. The only lead Detective Roman Gates has in her disappearance is an unreliable, highly medicated eyewitness. He knows a man in a white car is involved, and that his eyewitness can't bear the sight of cars with whip antennae, but most of his investigation is just an exercise in frustration.

While Gates is conducting his investigation, Murray hears a new voice in the cemetery. It's a girl, crying, begging for someone to find her. His friends, including his favorite Dearly Beloved, who died in a car wreck, don't seem to know who she is. Teamed with Pearl, the cemetery groundskeeper's daughter, he starts an investigation of his own. His exploration and Gates's come together in a meeting, which is interrupted by a failed police officer bent on getting "revenge" on Murray.

Short chapters and alternating points of view make this story a must for any fan of Law and Order or CSI. Charlie Price has an eye for description and seems to know just what words to use to entice the reader without boring him. There's a large cast of characters, but each character is well-developed, slightly weird, and altogether fascinating. A great addition to the mystery genre and highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mock Printz: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Title: Dairy Queen
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
ISBN: 0-618-68307-0
Starred review in: KLIATT (May), PW (May 15), VOYA (June)
Review: Welcome to Red Bend, Wisconsin, where you can breathe our dairy air. And does sixteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk ever know about dairy farming. With her brothers away at college, her mother tied up in her new job, and her father unable to keep the family farm running, it's up to D.J. to milk cows, keep the fields maintained, and get all the other farm chores done. By herself. In addition to going to school and making a faint attempt at doing homework and hanging out with her best friend, Amber. Well, never mind about Amber. They're not talking much these days, anyway.

While milking thirty-two cows a day, D.J. takes on the job of training Hawley High School's star quarterback, Brian Nelson, for the upcoming football season. D.J.'s older brothers, both football players, have taught her a lot about the game, and amid a field of cow pies a romance begins to blossom. At the same time, D.J. starts to envision a better life than just doing what she's told and, as she puts it, "being a
go along doing what they're supposed to do without complaining or even really noticing, until they die." Football gives D.J. strength and identity, and with these new traits she can weather teen dramas and family revelations.

I found this book charming, with plenty of depth but very little of the melodrama. Of course, my memories of living in Wisconsin may color things a little. But the small Midwestern town is perfectly captured, and D.J.'s work ethic is inspiring. My only complaint about the book is the ending, which left me feeling somewhat betrayed. (Also, I've already read Rats Saw God.) I wouldn't vote against this for the Mock Printz, but I wouldn't vote for it, either.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mock Newbery or Printz: The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

Title: The Loud Silence of Francine Green
Author: Karen Cushman
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 9780618504558
Starred review in: Booklist (July), Kirkus (July 1), SLJ (August)
Review: This is the city, Los Angeles, California. But it's not the LA of today's celebrity tell-alls. It's 1949, a time when conformity kept you alive and questions were not allowed. Francine Green's new best friend, Sophie Bowman, has yet to learn the lessons of safety and silence. Sophie speaks up in their Catholic school class, challenging the nuns' statements about war, peace, protesting, and Communism. For this, Sophie is punished, and Francine, though she's not known for being outspoken in the first place, resolves to stay quiet and out of trouble. For all her resolve, though, Francine can't help but question the oppressive world around her, including her father's plans to build a bomb shelter in the backyard. The book is filled with pop culture and news references that cement the zeitgeist of the McCarthy era.

This is a solid offering, if only because Karen Cushman on her worst day is still better than most other writers on their best days. Sophie seemed a little caricature-ish, but that could be because she was such a contrast to obedient Francine. I also liked that Francine's innocence as well as her ignorance never slipped; she never seemed wise beyond her years and her growth from accepting to questioning seemed very natural, using Sophie as the catalyst. Not a personal favorite, but far from a bad book. I've marked it as both Printz and Newbery because it seems to be a book that could go in either direction.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Mock Printz: Nailed by Patrick Jones

Title: Nailed
Author: Patrick Jones
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0802780776
Review: "The nail that sticks out the farthest gets hammered hardest", says his dad. Bret Hendricks is an outcast. With his blue ponytail, his distaste for auto mechanics and sports, and his love for reading classics, he drives his father crazy. Not to mention all the popular jocks in his school who live to torture him, who he's named the "jockarchy". The only things that provide a means of escape are playing in his grunge rock/funk band, "Radio Free Flint" and participating in school plays. When he meets Kylee, the violet haired pixie girl who shares his interests, he thinks he's finally found happiness. He and Kylee become inseparable and Bret feels like he has finally found someone who understands him. Are things to good to be true? A turn of events tests all of Bret's relationships, including his relationship with himself.

Bret is one of the best male characters I have met in YA literature. You like him from page one and are immediately experiencing the story through his eyes- connecting with him, understanding his feelings and struggles. Jones “nails” (sorry, couldn't help myself) the setting as well as shows us some of the most layered relationships I’ve seen. Bret’s interactions with his father teach us more about him and where he comes from and in turn, you learn much about his father through their fights/conversations. I felt differently about him when the book was done.
Overall, great read- totally sucked me in.
*I read this title a while back and am desperately trying to remember details. I’d love some backup/input!
Reviewed by: Annie Miller, PARA

Mock Printz: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN: 0-375-83531-8
Review: The basic premise is this: boy meets girl/girl meets boy. Boy and girl spend crazy night in Lower East Side, dodging their crazy ex’s, witnessing nuns stripping to Edelweiss, watching obscure hardcore bands play in random hole-in-the-wall bars downtown. The basic question this: is Norah as frigid as her friends tell her she is? While we’re at it, is Nick completely over Tris, the bombshell groupie who played him and broke his heart? Can Nick and Norah let their collective guard down and make it work?

Take this very modern day, unexpected love story and mix in as much music as one story can hold. Told from both Nick (written by Levithan) and Norah’s (written by Cohn) point-of-view in alternating chapters, this tale is funny, adventurous, and right on. Nick and Norah are characters you easily become friends with that have been created so perfectly by the authors, you can’t believe they aren’t real people. So far, this is one of my votes for the top ten.
Reviewed by: Annie Miller, PARA

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mock Printz: Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller.

Title: Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 1-58234-960-6
Starred review in: Booklist (7-06), nominated to BBYA
Review: Ananka Fishbein has resigned her life to social purgatory and boredom, until two extraordinary things happen: A sinkhole reveals an underground furnished room, and petite, white-haired Kiki Strike appears at her school. Employing her minimal detective skills, Ananka trails Kiki and the two eventually go into business together. Their mission is to explore the Shadow City, a world of rooms and streets below the NYC subways. Kiki employs three other girls, including a renegade Girl Scout, in what is both her goal to explore the Shadow City and solve a mystery of her own.

More than anything else, this book is fun. It's fast-paced with one foot solidly planted over the line of reality. The girls display extraordinary talents but also extraordinary friendships, and the book works because the reader cares what happens to the characters outside their adventure. The pursuit of the Shadow City brings out the best in the girls and it becomes their relationships, rather than the adventure (although there's plenty of that right up to the end!) that keeps the pages turning. You'll want to go on a tour of Kirsten Miller's New York when you're done reading.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Mock Printz: The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Title: The Rules of Survival
Author: Nancy Werlin
Publisher: Dial
ISBN: 0803730012
Starred review in: Kirkus (07-15-06)
Review: Fear rules fourteen-year-old Matthew's life, and for good reason. He never knows when his mentally unstable (never labeled, but bipolar, or possibly borderline personality, but I'm not a doctor so don't take my word for it) mother, Nikki, is going to explode. At once, Nikki can be charming and affectionate, but she is also reckless, even suicidal, conniving, and manipulative. She endangers Matt and his sisters, Callie and Emmy, and most of Matt's life is dedicated to avoiding Nikki, placating her, or protecting his sisters from her. When Nikki begins dating Murdoch McIlvane, a man Matt has seen stop a potentially violent act, Matt thinks that Murdoch might be the key to getting away from Nikki. When all the adults in Matt's life seem to fail him, though, he knows that he has to stop Nikki on his own, somehow.

There are some books that defy reviews, that have to be experienced firsthand in order for the reader to see what's both on and beyond the page, and this is one of them. There is pathos here, and horror, and sympathy and anger. From Matt's unreliable narration, we know that Nikki is a danger to her children, but we can also see why no adults ever did anything about it (hence the reason why the book works so well in first-person and would have never worked in third). Nancy Werlin always writes cerebral, powerful books, and although this is not her usual adventure/mystery fare, it is every bit as good as, or better than, her previous books. This one is in my personal top 5.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mock Printz: Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Title: Skin
Author: Adrienne Maria Vrettos
Publisher: S&S (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Starred review in: Kirkus (3-15-06)
Review: I have to say that this book is nowhere near the top of my list of favorites, or even on my list of favorites at all. Quiet, friendless Donnie defines himself by his vivacious older sister, Karen, who dies on page three of heart problems related to anorexia. In flashbacks, we see Donnie's memories of Karen's anorexia, his infatuation for her best friend, and the havoc their dysfunctional parents wreak on their lives. While the writing has a somewhat lyrical quality to it, I found the characters too unbelievable to consider this for a major award. Donnie defines himself mostly by what other think of him. The parents are caricatures, sort of Teen Novel Evil Overlords. Also, I wasn't entirely convinced by Donnie's transformation through Karen's illness and his eventual romance with Amanda. He was a completely different character inside than out, and while I don't necessarily have a problem with that, it did make for uneven storytelling.
Reviewed by: Carlie Webber, BCCLS

Mock Printz: The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

Title: The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
Author: Jack Gantos
Publisher: FSG
ISBN: 0374336903
Starred review in: Kirkus (4-1-o6), nominated to BBYA

Review: Jack Gantos, well known for his humorous Joey Pigza series and his Printz Honor autobiography Hole in my Life, offers a gothic novel with themes of familial love, eugenics, and taxidermy. Trust me on this one. Ivy has lived all her life in a small town in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, with her mother. Her mother works for the eccentric but kind Rumbaugh twins, Abner and Adolph. Then Ivy discovers that the twins' eccentricities go a little beyond their quiet nature. Expert taxidermists, the twins have preserved their mother and all her little parts in the basement of their pharmacy. More than just a fascination with the macabre, this need for preservation is tied to the Rumbaugh family curse, which is not something from which Ivy can so easily escape.

Although it's not outright horror, this is a creepy, creepy book, and I'm still amazed that Jack Gantos, whose books are always so funny, wrote something so unnerving (and incredibly well-structured). There's a lot of metaphor here, about love, about racism and eugenics. And some parts of it are just plain weird. Overall, it's wonderful and in my personal top 10 of 2006.

Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mock Printz: A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Title: A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl
Author: Tanya Lee Stone
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random)
ISBN: 0385747020

Starred review in: Kliatt (January '06), School Library Journal (January '06)
Review: Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva don't know each other very well, but they do all know the same bad boy. He woos all of them to a degree of success, and when each of the relationships end, the girls feel bad, not for what they've done but because they realize that the boy is just bad news. Josie decides to send the message to other girls about the bad boy, and she uses the school library's copy of Forever as her sort of bathroom wall. The book is written in verse, and cleverly Stone uses forms and words that teen girls would, such as writing one/word/per/line/like this. It looks like a simple, light read, but there are thoughtful themes of what sex and love mean to teens. The incorporation of old books/stories in new books is a popular trend in teen lit right now. I don't think this book will win the Printz, but it will definitely win teen girl fans and be passed around just like Forever.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Mock Newbery: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Title: The King of Attolia
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 006083577X
Starred review in: Booklist (January 2006)
Review: I finished this one awhile ago. I loved it and was so happy because I really didn't like The Queen of Attolia, but now I might have to go back and reread both The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. After reading the third, I think I might end up liking the second a bit more. I'm not so sure that this book will stand as a read alone. If anyone has read this, or is planning to, but hasn't read the first two yet, I'd love to hear what you think of it as a stand alone. There is a whole subtleness to how Gen acts that readers familiar with the first two books get that I'm not sure will come through to a reader introduced to King of Attolia first.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENA

Mock Printz: It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Title: It's Kind of a Funny Story
Author: Ned Vizzini
Publisher: Miramax
Starred review in: Booklist (2-1-06), Publishers Weekly (4-10-06), School Library Journal (April), nominated to Best Books for Young Adults
Review: Bright but mostly directionless Craig Gilner is under a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed at his prestigious Manhattan private high school. He studied for months before the entrance exam and aced said exam, but life in his classes is much more involved and time-consuming than the test would lead him to believe. Craig frets over not being an overachiever and spirals into depression. He can't eat, feels distant from his few friends, and contemplates suicide. On the advice of a suicide hotline worker, he checks himself into the psychiatric ward of his local hospital, where he begins the journey to recovery. The hospital gives him the opportunity to find out what it is that he loves to do, and he resolves to "live for real."

I felt torn while reading this, like I never knew whether to laugh or cry. Craig's situation is tragic, but Vizzini, who based Craig's experience on his own, uses dry humor, honesty, and perspective to make Craig into someone completely likeable, who we want to succeed and be happy. Unlike many other teens with depression, Craig is lucky enough to have a supportive, loving family who wants nothing more than to see him get better. Underneath the story, there's a lot of commentary on the high pressures to achieve both socially and academically that today's teens face, and the consequences of this pressure. This book is one of my personal top five of 2006.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

Mock Printz: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 0670061050
Starred review in: Kliatt, VOYA
Review: After a traumatic summer, Annabel Greene returns to high school friendless and isolated. A part time model, Annabel comes from a family where everything seems fine on the surface and everyone’s problems are held inside. As a result, Annabel has perfected the art of swallowing her emotions, until she begins a friendship with Owen, the loner-with-an-anger-management-problem. Owen helps Annabel face the truth and deal with her problems , instead of pretending they don’t exist. I found this book to be very true to high school life. Owen’s obsession with music provides much of the framework for the story and is appealing. Annabel is a very likeable character who is easy to relate to. The other characters are believable and the problems very real. (KIND OF) SPOILER: The storyline does seem to mirror Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak a little too closely to be considered very original, but there are other situations and problems that help make the story more well rounded. All in all, this is another good Sarah Dessen story. It will be popular with her fans, but is in no way groundbreaking.
Reviewed by: Annie Miller, PARA

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mock Newbery: The Quail Club by Carolyn Marsden

Title: The Quail Club
Author: Carolyn Marsden
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 076362635X
Starred review in: Kirkus (3-15-06)
Review: A companion to the Gold-Threaded Dress, but I would not call it a sequal. I never got around to reading Gold-Threaded Dress and had no problem sinking right into Quail Club. It's set two years after Gold-threaded Dress and Oy is in 5th grade. She and three other girls have formed a club which watches a clutch of quail eggs waiting for them to hatch. When Oy hears about the 5th grade talent show, she wants to do a traditional Thai dance, but one of her friends wants to do an american dance together. Oy is worried that if she doesn't dance with her friend she will lose her friend and her place in the quail club. With advice from her mother, Oy comes up with a compromise for her friend. The book addresses a prolem many children of Asian/American families have of holding on to thier asian culture while fitting into american culture. Marsden does a great job of presenting a realistic problem and solving the problem with a realistic solution that doesn't feel forced or preachy.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENF

Mock Newbery: The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

Title: The Homework Machine
Author: Dan Gutman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Starred review in: Kirkus (2-1-06)
Review: Four fifth-grade students--a geek, a class clown, a teacher's pet, and a slacker -- is how the annotation for the book starts and it's one of the problems I have with this book. The four kids who are the main characters of this book are all stereotypes and nothing but stereotypes. Add to that loose ends all over the place at the end of the book and a concept that kids might love, but isn't at all realistic. I'm all for fantasy, but this book didn't fit that either. The idea was interesting and I'm sure that it will be a fast, popular read with kids, but so are Animorphs and Babysitter's Club books.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENA

Mock Newbery: Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: Warrior Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 0786839163
Starred review in: Kirkus (4-1-06)
Review: This book had such a promising idea. A hidden race of magical beings: Wizards, Enchanters, Warriors, Sorcerers, and Soothsayers. A complex political struggle and an ancient pact which rules them. It had all the elements fo a fantastic epic fantasy, but somewhere it fell flat for me. It started with flashes of history before zooming to modern day Ohio. From there the plot advanced quickly at first and was interesting. Maybe not totally unique, but clearly a new mix of ideas by a skilled author. However, just after the main character find out he's not 'normal' his aunt drags him off on a sudden hunt which seems abrupt. He and two friends confront wizards, dig up an ancestrial sword, and then go back to school on Monday as if nothing changed....except now there war Warrior lessons for Jack. From there the plot slows even more. I just couldn't seem to get on track with this book. Each time I would start to get into the story, it would bog down and just when I was about to give up something interesting would convince me to try one more chapter. I ended up giving up around the middle and jumping to the last 2-3 chapters. The ended was really good and I liked how most of the history now made sense and losse ends were tied, but I still couldn't face going back and reading the 2nd half.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENA

Mock Newbery: Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks

Title: Jumping the Scratch
Author: Sarah Weeks
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0060541091
Starred review in: Kirkus (4-15-06)
Review: Jamie thought that bad things happened in threes and once his cat died, his father left him and his mom, and his aunt had a freak accident which forced he and his mom to move in with her that the worst was over. Moving in with his aunt meant changing schools in the middle of the year and his mom working nights for extra money. Unfortunatly for Jamie, he found out that not being able to forget is sometimes worse than not being able to remember. The characters were interesting and the plot with just a touch of mystery was interesting enough. Even most young readers will guess Jamie's secret fairly early though and everything in the end almost seems to wrap up too neatly and too quickly. A good fast read, but not outstanding.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENA

Mock Newbery: Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Title: Gossamer
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 0618685502
Starred review in: Kirkus (3-1-06)
Review: Littest, a young dream-giver, tries to learn how to give dreams while helping young boy deal with the after effects of an abusive home. I found the whole book very unique. The idea of dream-givers or beings that protect one's dreams isn't all that new, but I have never read it presented in such a way. I really liked this book and it made me think about many things some more obvious than others. It's a very unique coming of age story where instead of a boy becoming a man or a girl becoming a woman, it was Littest becoming Gossamer.
Reviewed by: Latricia B., TENA

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Welcome to the blog for the BCCLS Mock Awards 2007! Watch this space for more information on what we're reading.