Monday, December 03, 2007

Mock Printz shortlist

It's official!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Click by Linda Sue Park, et. al.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Newbery Short list

Our short list ended up being 13 books, but at least three are very quick reads so don't let the number scare you away!

Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Schooled by Gordon Korman
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller
Call me Hope by Gretchen Olson
The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker *Quick read*
Freak by Marcella Fleischman Pixley
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick *Quick read*
Emma-Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree by Lauren Tarshis
Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
Feathers by Jaqueline Woodson
Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer *Quick read*

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mock Newbery: Freak by Marcella Pixley

Title: Freak
Author Marcella Pixley
Review: Booklist September 15, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-32453-7

Twelve-year-old Miriam is considered a freak by the popular girls at her middle school. Eventually she explodes and fights back after doing so she learns that she and her tormenter have more in common than she thinks. It's unfortunate that a teacher who plays a small and rather weak part in the book has to point this out for her to take notice. This book is a good read and a powerful book, but it just skates on the surface of a really deep issue.

The plot is normal and predicable. Wierd girl, picked on, no adult notices...or if they do they don't do anything, she attempts to tell her parents, no help, explodes....comes into her own, and in the end some reconsiliation is made with the main bully.

Many girls will love it and I recommend it, but not something that rocked by world.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Let's talk about the books!

All are welcome to join us on November 13, 14, and 15 to chat about the Mock Awards online. At these chats you can ask any questions you may have for the Youth Services Committee about the awards.

Chat with us...

...on November 13 at 11 a.m. EST: Mock Caldecott discussion
...on November 14 at 11 a.m. EST: Mock Newbery discussion
...on November 15 at 11 a.m. EST: Mock Printz discussion

You do not have to work for a BCCLS library in order to participate in the chats. No matter where you're from, we're happy to have you. To join the chats, go to and click the link to enter when you're ready to join. Chatting with us only requires a web browser (IE, Safari, and Firefox all work well with our chat program), no AIM or YM or Meebo or anything.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Revolution is not a dinner party/ Yin Chang Compestine

Title: Revolution is not a dinner party / Ying Chang Compestine.
ISBN 9780805082074
Publisher New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2007.

Annotation Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists' Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter.

This historical fiction takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, so recently it feels like current events, but so far away from our consciousness it seems rooted in fiction. The events were real and the story feels real as well. Naive, 9 year old Ling does not quite grasp all that is going on. Her love for her father is evident. Her grousing about her mother makes her more accessible as a character. I didn't expect to like this book, I thought it would be on my list as the politically correct choice. I was wrong, it was a well written story with power. I'm not sure what title to "bump off", but it's definitely going to end up on my top ten.

Beth Jonus
Closter Public Library

Mock Newbery: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Title: Elijah of Buxton
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-13: 978-0439023443
Starred review in: Booklist, Kirkus, PW

Review: I must confess that Curtis is one of my favorite authors and I am delighted to report that he does not disappoint. Elijah is the first free child born in the Canadian settlement, Buxton. At 11, he is all boy with a voice (in the vernacular) that rings true. Curtis does not shy away from portraying the brutality and prejudice of the time (1860) but it is tempered with the love and respect that the people of Buxton share. Elijah thinks with the naivete of a young boy backed by more than a little common sense and a keen eye for the world and people around him. This book will have you laughing and crying, joyous and outraged. The ending juxtaposes unimaginable horror with undeniable hope. Although Elijah is not a real person, Buxton is a real place and his story is the story of the people who lived there in freedom. This book is definitely in my top 10.

Review by: Debby K., Oradell

Mock Newbery: Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf

Title: Someone Named Eva
Author: Joan Wolf
Publisher: Clarion
ISBN-13: 978-06188535798
Starred review in: PW

Review: Eleven-year-old Milada had a normal life in Lidice, Czechoslovakia. All this changes when she, and everyone in town, is brutally arrested by the Nazis. The blond-haired, blue-eyed girl is separated from her family and sent away with other "Aryan" looking girls. She is renamed Eva and forcibly taught German. Bit by bit, her old identity is replaced by a proper German one. Her fortune changes yet again when she is adopted into the family of a high-ranking Nazi official. Milada tries hard to remember her old life and fight for her identity, but it is not until the end of the war when she is reunited with her mother that she regains her Czech self. Milada's struggle to remain true to herself through the ups and downs of life is poignant - especially when you realize that her story really happened during World War II. The book does a nice job of shedding light on a subject that's not often explored.

Review by: Debby K., Oradell

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mock Newbery: Raleigh's Page by Alan Armstrong

Title: Raleigh's Page
Author: Alan Armstrong
Publisher: Random House
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-83319-9
Starred review in: Kirkus Sept 1, 2007

In the late 16th century, Twelve-year-old Andrew leaves school in England and must prove himself as a page to Sir Walter Raleigh before embarking for Virginia, where he helps to establish relations with the Indians. ** Notation in BCCLS Catalog reads as "Fifteen-year-old Andrew" - At the start of the book he is 12, but he is probably 15 by the time the book ends.

Raleigh's Page was a well researched and interesting historical fiction set in Elizbeth's London and the founding of the Virginia colony. I loved the section of the book set in London, but found the section set in the New world a bit distasteful. There was a bit of the cliche noble savage in some Indians, but not all. I found myself as disillusioned as the main character by the behavior of the Europeans.
The author fills the book with great details of daily life as well as 'new science' and 'new medicine'. Most of the time the reader will be able to identify the plants, medicine, or scientific tool being used and so it seems to almost be an inside joke between the author and the reader. He doesn't sugar-coat why the crew is willing to explore and he doesn't make a hero out of the captain, however he very nearly makes a villain out of him.

Review by Latricia Batchelor Markle - Tenafly Public Library

Mock Printz: Click by Scholastic, et. al.

Title: Click
Author: Scholastic, et. al.
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-41138-7
Starred review in: VOYA

Review: As a huge fan of short stories I was delighted to see this offering of ten stories that center on a single person. George "Gee" Keane traveled the world and took photographs of the people and places that shaped what the world is today, from Muhammed Ali to Japanese soldiers who fought in WWII. Ten authors contributed stories about Gee and his legacy: David Almond (winner of one Printz Award and an honor), Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Deborah Ellis, Nick Hornby, Margo Lanagan (Printz honor), Gregory Maguire, Ruth Ozeki, Linda Sue Park (Newbery Award winner) and Tim Wynne-Jones. The stories span decades and the styles range from fantastic and lyrical (David Almond's) to funny yet bittersweet (Roddy Doyle's). Often in an anthology some stories are weaker than others, but this is one of the few where every story is an outstanding, worthwhile, literary read. It's not for every teen, but to be fair, no book is. This is a great addition to the "literary" side of YA, something that can be discussed and remembered.

Review by: Carlie, BCCLS

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Long list for the Mock Newbery

Below are the top picks lists from all of the Mock Newbery committee members.

Tarshis, Lauren -- Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Schmidt, Gary D -- Wednesday Wars, The
Woodson, Jacqueline -- Feathers
Pennypacker, Sara -- The Talented Clementine
Wiles, Deborah -- The Aurora County All -stars
Taylor, Laini -- Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn -- Reaching for sun
Korman, Gordon -- Schooled
Armstrong, Alan -- Raleigh's Page
Salisbury, Graham -- Night of the Howling Dogs
Compestine, Ying Chang -- Revolution is not a dinner party

Not read as of this moment, but on my reading list.
Curtis, Christopher Paul -- Elijah of Buxton
Selznick, Brian -- The Adventures of Hugo Cabret
Clements, Andrew -- No Talking

Latricia Batchelor Markle
Tenafly Public Library

Curtis-Elijah of Buxton ***** (loved it!)
Pennypacker-Talented Clementine
Schmidt-Wednesday wars
Clements- No talking
Tarshis- Emma-Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree
Korman- Schooled
Miller- Miss Spitfire
Zimmer- Reaching for sun

Debby Kyritz, Youth Services Librarian Oradell Public Library

1) Reaching for Sun - Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
2) The Wednesday Wars - Gary D. Schmidt
3) Feathers - Jacquelin Woodson
4) Victory - Susan Cooper
5) Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam - Cynthia Kadohata
6) The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trent Lee Stewart
7) The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
8) The Talented Clementine - Sara Pennypacker
9) How it Happened in Peach Hill - Marthe Jocelyn
10) Emma-Jean Lazaus Fell out of a Tree - Lauren Tarshis

Carol Hienz, Youth Services Librarian Franklin Lakes Public Library

1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
2. Emma-Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree / Lauren Tarshis
3. Reaching for sun / by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
4. Feathers / Jacqueline Woodson
5. The Wednesday wars / Gary D. Schmidt
6. The talented Clementine / Sara Pennypacker
7. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World / E.L. Konigsburg
8. Call Me Hope / Gretchen Olson
9. Freak by Marcella Pikley
10. Schooled by Gordon Korman
11. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Still to read: A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban,
True Meaning of Smekday byAdam Rex,
Isabel and the Miracle Baby by Emily Pearce Smith,
Raliegh's Page by AlanW Armstrong,

These are not in order, right now I like the Wednesday wars, with reaching for sun and feathers tying for second
-- Beth Jonus
Closter Public Library

1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret>
2. The Wednesday Wars>
3. Feathers>
4. Miss Spitfire>
5. How it happened in Peach Hill>
6. The Talented Clementine>
7. Emma Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree> >

The final three to be determined as quickly as possible.
Will read Faeries of Dreamdark next, the new Curtis when I get my hands on it, and Reaching for Sun to see if I concur with the other's decisions.

Joann - New Milford Public Library

The books which are duplicated on two or more of these lists are the likely suspects to make our short list! Start reading now and feel free to drop your two cents on the blog in comments!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mock Newbery: The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg

Title: The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
Author: E.L. Konigsburg
Publisher: Atheneum
ISBN-13: 978-1416949725
Starred review in: SLJ, Horn Book, PW

Review: Konigsburg weaves two sixth-grade boys, an eccentric opera singer, and a self-important art director with art history and the Holocaust. Amedeo Kaplan helps William Wilcox and his mom catalog the eccentric Mrs. Zender's house for her move (and downsizing) to an adult community. Along the way, the boys become friends and discover a Modigliani with a mysterious background. The plot bobs and zigzags before finally tying it all together. The language and themes are thought-provoking and include guilt, religious intolerance, homosexuality, friendship, heroism, and responsibility but the characters never really grabbed me.

Review by: Debby K., Oradell

Mock Newbery: No Talking by Andrew Clements

Title: No Talking
Author: Andrew Clements:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13: 978-1416909835
Starred review in: SLJ, Booklist, Kirkus, PW

Review: Clements returns to the school setting with the story of a 5th grade that's so uncontrollable they have been dubbed "The Unshushables" by the faculty. After reading about Mahatma Gandhi and his nonviolent protest, Dave takes his principles to heart. This leads to a "quiet" competition between Dave and his nemesis, Lynsey. And now the entire fifth grade is involved, boys against girls. The book not only shows how the students handle the contest, but also the teachers and principal. I liked the book because everyone, kids and adults, have different reactions. The third person narrative gets "precious" in some places, but the book does work on many levels. The characters are sympathetic, the situation is interesting, there's a nice resolution and it's a great springboard for discussion.

Reviewed by: Debby K., Oradell

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mock Printz: Books to consider/early favorites

The Mock Printz committee met today, and these are some early favorites for the award:


Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color by Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson, 978-1590784563

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 978-0316013680

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher,

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks,

Someday this Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron, 978-0374309893

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke, 978-1932425956

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd,

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale,

Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill,

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles,

Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan,

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, 978-0618723935

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, 978-0060890353

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville,

What They Found: Love on 145th Street by Walter Dean Myers

Tamar by Mal Peet,

Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb,

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling,

Freak Show by James St. James,

Kissing the Bee by Kathe Koja, 978-0374399382

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt,

Click by Scholastic, 978-0439411387

The Arrival by Shaun Tan,

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr,

Don't panic if you can't find these all in the BCCLS catalog just yet! A few of them won't be released for another week.

This list of books is the one from which the Mock Printz committee will draw their Top Ten. We know there are a lot of books on this list, so don't feel like you have to read them all cover to cover right now. Instead, check out the ones you haven't read and skim them over. See if they fit the criteria for the award, and check this blog regularly for updates on our top lists.

Mock Caldecott: Books to consider/early favorites

The Mock Caldecott committee met today, and here is their current list of favorites for their award:


Deep in the Swamp by Donna M. Bateman, 978-1570915963

Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman, 978-0060560256

The Giant of Seville by Dan Andreasen, 978-0810909885

Dog and Bear: two friends, three stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, 978-0810909885

Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars by Douglas Florian, 978-0152053727

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington, illus. by Shelley Jackson, 9780374312510

Papa and the Pioneer Quilt by Jean Van Leeuween, illus. by Rebecca Bond, 0803730284

Catching the Moon by Myla Goldberg, illus. by Chris Sheban, 978-0439576864

Nini Here and There by Anita Lobel , 978-0060787677

The Cheese by Margie Palatini, illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, 978-0060526306

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry 978-0803731929

Bow-Wow Bugs-a-Bug by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, 978-0152058135

Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt, illus. by Tricia Tusa, 0316882690

Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel, 978-1596432703

Knuffle Bunny Too: a case of mistaken identity by Mo Willems, 978-1423102991

Leaves by David Erza Stein, 978-0399246364

Magic Rabbit by Annette LeBlanc Cate 978-0763626723

Pssst! by Adam Rex, 978-0152058173

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, illus. by Jonathan Bean, 978-1416912408

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach, illus. by David Small, 978-0689869228

Help! : A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller, 978-0061239137

The Wizard by Jack Prelutsky, 978-0061240768

What does all this mean? Although the committee hasn't chosen their top picks yet, their top picks will most likely come from this list. To get a head start on reading, check out these titles. All are available in BCCLS.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mock Printz: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Little, Brown
ISBN-13: 978-0316013680
Starred review in: Horn Book, PW, Kirkus, SLJ, VOYA

How many times have we read a book and thought, "Wow, that's a great memoir, but not a very good YA novel?" Fear not this semi-autobiographical tale, for it is a great memoir AND a great YA novel. Alexie's protagonist is geeky artist Arnold "Junior" Spirit, a Native American boy living on a reservation just outside Spokane, WA. When a teacher encourages Junior to leave the reservation and go to a better school he takes the idea and runs with it, demanding to be enrolled the next day at an all-white school twenty miles away. At his new school he is "Arnold" rather than "Junior" and after a few trials and tribulations he ends up with a sort-of girlfriend, a philosophical, brutally honest book addict for a friend, and a spot on the school basketball team.

Junior's life seems to be one big drama after another, with several major character deaths, questions of identity, and breaking and forming of friendships. What saves this novel from being gloom and doom is Junior's wonderful voice, which is both humorous and matter-of-fact. Junior never tries to glamorize his impoverished life. He is a character in two worlds, both accepting and rejecting his poverty and heritage. At a time when most junior high students have enough to deal with just with friends, crushes, and school, Alexie throws in the worry and furor experienced by Junior's close-knit Indian community when Junior leaves to go to a white school. Ellen Forney's illustrations compliment the text very well. There is much pathos here, but the use of humor alongside tragedy will make you think of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes or Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Reviewed by: Carlie, BCCLS

Mock Printz: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Title: Boy Toy
Author: Barry Lyga
Starred review in: VOYA, PW, Kirkus

Josh Mendel, math genius, varsity baseball player, and school pariah, was sexually abused by his seventh-grade history teacher, Eve. After Josh's parents learned the truth of his relationship with Eve, Eve went to trial and later to jail. Just before Josh's graduation he learns that Eve is about to be released from prison. The news of her release stirs feelings of confusion and regret in Josh. He knows what he lost when Eve abused him, but for years he has carried a painful secret about their Eve that has affected his relationship with Rachel, the only girl who could ever strike him out.

Lyga uses first-person POV and flashbacks to tell Josh's story and although this can lead to a bit of confusion at the beginning of the novel, it is ultimately the only way the story could have been told. Josh, though it's been five years since Eve went to jail, is still scarred and vulnerable because he cannot face the most important truth about Eve...which I won't write about here or it will spoil chapter 24.

It would have been easy, I think, to write this book in a linear fashion and have it be Angst on a Scandal, but instead it's a look at love, manipulation, blame, and wisdom. There's a LOT going on here. Josh's parents and friends have their own dramas, and he's trying to make a lot of important life decisions at once. But the end result is something tense and exhilarating, and I for one found it kind of soul-shattering (in a good way).

Judging by the past winners of the Printz it's unlikely this book could take the big award, but I think it holds up as well as many of the recent past honor books.

Reviewed by: Carlie, BCCLS

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mock Newbery: Freak by Marcella Pixley

Freak by Marcella Pixley
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2007
ISBN: 9780374324537
Annotation: Twelve-year-old Miriam, poetic, smart, and quirky, is considered a freak
by the popular girls at her middle school, and she eventually explodes in response
to their bullying, revealing an inner strength she did not know she had.

Heartbreakingly sad with flashes of humor. You want to shake the family and scream,
"Pay attention to this child!". Mean girl Jenny tortures intelligent, sensitive,
poetic Miriam. When the principal remarks that the two girls are quite alike, it
takes Miriam by suprise. Ignored by a distracted mother, left behind by a suddenly
cool and pretty older sister, betrayed by family friend (brother figure) Artie; poor
Miriam has no where to turn. The climax is original. This is the author's first
book. Impressive!

Reviewed by: Beth J., CLTR

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Early favorites for the Mock Newbery

1. The invention of Hugo Cabret : a novel in words and pictures / Brian Selznick
2. Emma-Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree / Lauren Tarshis
3. Reaching for sun / by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
4. Feathers / Jacqueline Woodson
5. The Wednesday wars / Gary D. Schmidt
6. The talented Clementine / Sara Pennypacker
7. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World / E.L. Konigsburg
8. Call Me Hope / Gretchen Olson
9. Cracker! : the best dog in Vietnam / Cynthia Kadohata
10. How it happened in Peach Hill / Marthe Jocelyn

We still have lots to read, so this list is far from complete.
Great books are arriving continually!
Beth Jonus
Closter Public Library

These books aren't in any particular order and I just wanted to add some of my personal tops which aren't on this list because not enough of us had read them yet or I had not even read them when we made this list!

Schooled by Korman - In some ways it reminded me of Stargirl. I'm not convinced it will have the staying power to remain one of my top picks for this award, but I did like it and I will be recommending it as a must read to many adults and students I know.

Friskative Dog by Susan Straight - It's a quiet book, but it's stayed with me since I read it early in the year.

Faeries of Dreamdark - BlackBringer by Laini Taylor - Fresh from the last page of this book I was saying it was the next Harry Potter. I don't know if I still feel that strongly, but I do still love it and I'm still eagerly awaiting the next book.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mock Newbery: On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck

Title:  On the Wings of Heroes
Author: Richard Peck
Publisher: New York : Dial Books,c2007
ISBN: 0803730810

Annotation: A boy in Illinois remembers the home front years of World
War II, especially his two heroes--his brother in the Air Force and
his father, who fought in the previous war.

When I opened the delivery of books, this title was on the top of the box.
"Oh, no" I groaned inwardly, "Not another Peck book to read". Even the
cover was unappealing to me. His books are always well written, but do
they have kid appeal? I find adults like them more than any child I have
recommended his titles to. Still, when I started to read, I found myself
liking these new characters, even chuckling at his homey, heartwarming
humor. This was a pleasure to read. A charming tribute to a loving
father. However, not groundbreaking or new. A recommended purchase,
not a Newbery contender.

Mock Newbery: Call me Hope by Gretchen Olson

Title:  Call me Hope 
Author: Gretchen Olson
Publisher: New York, NY : Little, Brown & Company,2007
ISBN 9780316012362

Annotation: In Oregon, eleven-year-old Hope begins coping with her mother's verbal
abuse by devising survival strategies for herself based on a history unit about the
Holocaust, and meanwhile she works toward buying a pair of purple hiking boots by
helping at a second-hand shop.

I just finished Call me Hope, a novel by Gretchen Olson, who lives in Oregon. This
a satisfying book about verbal abuse beween a mother and a child.
Satisfying because it was more than an issue book. The main character, Hope, reads
"Anne Frank" and draws inspiration from Anne's diary to help her deal with her own
life. I worried about whether to make it J or YA. In the end I thought it would find
more J readers. I thought the author's choice of the Thrift shop friends was a good
choice, gently used things being new again. The character's name Hope, the sixth
grade class trip as a reward for responsibility, all fit with the theme. Hope's
survival tips are listed in the back of the book. Recommended.

Review by: Beth J., CLTR

Mock Newbery: Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

Title:  Emma-Jean Lazarus fell out of a tree / Lauren Tarshis.
Publisher: New York : Dial Books for Young Readers,2007
ISBN 9780803731646

Annotation: A quirky and utterly logical seventh-grade girl named Emma-Jean
discovers some interesting results when she gets involved in the messy
problems of her peers.

Review: Emma Jean Lazarus fits the definition of strange. She is a girl separate
from the crowd. When confronted with Colleen (nice girl) Pomerantz sobbing at the sink,
Jean steps in to solve problems and sets into motion an avalanche of events. A
charming novel filled with middle school personalities. Wonderfully written in a
fresh voice. In my top ten!

Reviewed by: Beth J., CLTR

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mock NEWBERY: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Starred Review: Kirkus 01/15/07
Author: Kinney, Jeff
Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
ISBN: 97801810993136

This book is funny and interesting, but very episodic and I didn't feel there was a cohesive plot through the whole book. The main character did 'do the right thing' at the very end of the book, but still didn't seem to have developed much. It felt more like a one shot deal. Again and again through the book the main character, Greg, disreguards others feelings, uses his 'best friend', and just generally acts like a jerk. There is no eppifany when he realizes that he's been treating his friend badly and owes him an apology or even that how he acts is wrong. It's a good read and funny, but could be so much better if the plot and characters were developed more.

I know that boys will pick up the book and may even enjoy the unique blend of prose and comic art. It reminded me of Moss' Amelia's Notebooks. A good pick for the collection, but not an award winner in my eyes.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mock Printz: Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox

Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox

ISBN 0374318549

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007

Laura Hame is the last in a long line of Dreamers. She was first introduced in the book, Dreamhunters. She, with assistance from her family, continues her quest to discover the truth about the Place, a separate, barren piece of earth containing powerful influential dreams, where only but a few people have the ability to dissolve into. In this alternative world, dreams have replaced technology and a whole different society has formed. Dreams are used to punish criminals, dreams are used to provide contentment and stop people from thinking, and ultimately, dreams are used to wield power. Laura, like any true hero, figures out the mystery of the Place and in turn heals the world. Even though this book is second in a series, I think it can stand on its own. The fantasy is highly imaginative with excellent characterizations. There is plenty of drama and adventure with girls being the risk takers. It left quite an impression on me and it was disappointing to finish the book.

Reviewd by Susan R., Rutherford Library

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mock Printz: Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Title: Shark Girl
Author: Kelly Bingham
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763632076
Starred review in: PW

While swimming at the beach one day, aspiring professional artist Jane is attacked by a shark. Although she is able to escape with her life, thanks to her brother, she loses her right arm above the elbow. As she lies in the hospital, the sympathy cards and letters pour in, but she doesn't want any of them. She wants the man who sold his home video of her attack to the news to suffer. She wants her life back. While in the hospital, she meets another amputee, Justin (age 9), who has only one request for her: He wants her to draw a picture for him. To Jane, that's an impossible request. Her drawing arm is gone, and drawing a computer, to her, is NOT art.

When Jane returns to school in the fall, things are different between her and her friends. Her best friend Rachel is as loyal and caring as ever, but it seems like their other friend Angela can do nothing but criticize Jane about the way she looks. And does swimming hottie Max really like Jane for who she is, or does he just feel sorry for her?

Like many novels in verse, this is a quick read with moments of brilliance. Interspersed with the poems are some of the letters Jane receives while she recovers and receives therapy in the hospital. It's an excellent readalike for fans of Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins, with depth, despair, and an eventual turn towards a mental and physical recovery. Is it Printz-worthy? I don't think so. But it is a worthy buy for many libraries and a solid read.

Reviewed by Carlie W., BCCLS

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mock Newbery: Reaching for the Sun

Starred Review: Kirkus 01/15/07
Author: Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn
Title: Reaching for sun
ISBN: 1599900378

The annotation in the catalogue reads simply: "Josie, who lives with her mother and grandmother and has cerebral palsy, befriends a boy who moves into one of the rich houses behind her old farmhouse."

This one simple sentence just doesn't do it justice. Reaching for the Sun is a short, but elegant, novel in verse about a year in the life of young girl with CP who lives with her single working mom and her grandmother. The short verses communicate clearly the voice of Josie as she befriends a new boy, learns to stand up for what SHE wants, deals with her Grandmother being sick, and reconnects with her mother. So much happens in the few words that the author writes and yet nothing feels glossed over or neglected.

With quotes like: "like a blip on the radar of my life" refering to how little Josie sees of her mother between her job and her classes in the evening, this story of a young girl turning into a woman and learning about ethics, friendship, and herself will stay with you long after you close the book itself.

Review by:
Latricia Batchelor Markle
Tenafy Public Library

MOCK NEWBERY: Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis

Starred Review: Kirkus 12/15/06
Author: Druitt, Tobias
Title: Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis
Fantasy 12-15
ISBN: 375833838
This sequal to Corydon and the Island of Monsters is of course similar to its predicessor in style and language. It is full of references to classical mythology some of which the 12-15 yr old readers will be familiar with and even more which they won't be. It sometimes reads as a more serious version of the Percy Jackson books.
The cover of the book and the flap noes do grab your interest and the premis of the book will grab the interest of many readers who like adventure or mythology. The problem comes once you actually get into the book. The adventurous plot starts to slow down and get bogged downin details. Then even more characters are added to a fairly large original group of monsters.
I can't tell you how the book ends or if the slow plot picks up speed again, though I will wager a guess that it does about 3/4 or so through the book, because I stopped reading and just couldn't dredge up the interest in it to even peak at the ending.
Review by:
Latricia Batchelor Markle
Tenafly Public Library

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mock Newbery: Way Down Deep

Title:  Way Down Deep
Author: Ruth White
ISBN: 0374382514
Publisher: New York : Farrar Straus Giroux,2007
Starred review in: PW April 2007

"God is in that place where sleep takes us. Way down deep inside, where all the
answers lie."

Annotation In the West Virginia town of Way Down Deep in the 1950s, a foundling
called Ruby June is happily living with Miss Arbutus at the local boarding house
when suddenly, after the arrival of a family of outsiders, the mystery of Ruby's
past begins to unravel.

Appalachian fable with themes of sleep and dreams, reads like a fairytale. Opening
the book to find a map and cast of characters as long as your arm, this might
intimidate rather than inform. A sweet, charming dream of a book. A place where the
goodness of people is the rule for conduct. Who wouldn't want to live here?

Review by: Beth J., CLTR

Mock Newbery: Remembering Mrs. Rossi

Title: Remembering Mrs Rossi
Author: Amy Hest
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press,2007
ISBN: 0763621633

Without being overly maudlin, Amy Hest manages to explore a child's grief. Third
grader Annie and her father settle into their motherless life. Set in NYC.
Sympathetic teacher Misss Meadows. Bewildered father. Former students of her mother
write a touching eulogy book and present it Annie and her father. The students book
is presented as a conclusion. A fine introduction to the quiet grief that hopefully
none of the readers will ever experience. Was it too quiet, was it bibliotherapy?

Review by: Beth J., CLTR

Mock Newbery: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of HUGO CABRET
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press,2007
ISBN: 0439813786

Imagine a combination of "Griffin and Sabine" and "The Thief Lord". Abandoned
(orphaned) child in a Parisian train station, theives out of necessistiy and keeps
the clocks running so as not to have his uncles's disappeatrance noticed. This
tender book is a combination of art that unfolds in cinematic fashion, echoing
(presaging) the events in the text. An automaton in need of repair holds the clue to
characters pasts and their futures. Skillful blending of text and art brings an
added dimension to the storytelling. While the book works on more than one level, is
this the finest of literature or an author's fancy?

Review by: Beth J., CLTR

Mock Newbery: A Friendship for Today

Title:  A Friendship for Today
Author: McKissack, Patricia C
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press,2007
ISBN: 043966098X
Starred review: PW 1/8/07

Based on the author's real life experience, this novel of intergration in the 1950's
skillfully layers storylines.
Rosemary is the only black student in her fifth grade
class. Her best friend JJ
contracts polio, her parents marriage is dissolving and she
changes schools. Rosemary's family and community lend
her the strength and dignity
to face these challenges. Rosemary starts an unlikely friendship with
Grace, one the
Dead End kids, who used to make her life miserable. Rosemary and Grace team
up to
counter prejudice. Tolerance is the theme in and out of the classroom.

Review by: Beth J., CLTR

Monday, March 12, 2007

F.A.Q. for the 2008 Mock Awards

F.A.Q.s for the BCCLS Mock Awards, 2007:

Q: How do you choose the books you read?

A: All the books we choose receive starred reviews from authoritative review sources, including Booklist, KLIATT, SLJ, VOYA (we add books to our reading list that receive a 5Q, regardless of the P rating), Kirkus, PW, Horn Book. In the case of the Mock Printz, we also consider a nomination to YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults equivalent to a starred review. From the list of starred reviews, we see which books have garnered the most praise and begin with those. We also read according to our personal interests.

Q: How do you choose the books that appear on your short list?

A: Everyone on a Mock Awards committee puts a list together of their personal top ten candidates for their award. The ten books that appear on the largest number of top ten lists are the ones shortlisted for the Mock Awards.

Q: What other criteria do you use in choosing books?

A: When deciding what books to honor, we use the criteria from the ALA Awards. Most importantly, the awards are about writing quality, not popularity, and not emotional reaction. A book that sits on the shelf and collects dust could still be eligible for a Mock Award if the writing is strong enough.

For more information on the ALA Awards, visit the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz sites.

Q. Can I come to the Mock Awards program in January even though I'm a director? Not a youth services librarian? Employed by a non-BCCLS library?

A: Absolutely. All professional and paraprofessional library employees with an interest in literature for children and young adults are welcome to attend.

Q. Do I have to read every page of every book listed?

A: No, but it helps to have some familiarity with the book. Read enough to find out whether it's worthy or not. Read reviews! Check to see if the book has generated buzz among librarians, including discussion on children's and YA literature listservs like PUBYAC, YALSA-BK, and Adbooks.

Q: Does my library have to buy everything on the list?

A: No, but everything on the list should have a starred review from an authoritative review source. Check to see if this type of book is well-received at your library. Lists like these are a fast checkup for your collection.

Q: How can I give my favorite title the best chance of being on your list?

A: Contact one of the members of the BCCLS Youth Services Committee and ask that your book be read and considered. Campaign for it on the blog, or on the BCCLSYouth mailing list. Bring it to the program anyway and find out why it didn't make the list.

Q: Why isn't the final list published earlier?

A: We would miss too many great books fromt he fall publishing season. September and October are big months in publishing, and we have to allow time for libraries to acquire copies of these books and for committee members to read them.

Q: How do you read that many books in a short period of time?

A: Start by reading some star-reviewed items as they come into your library, especially items that have more than one starred review or are nominated to YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults. Look at the blog to find out what's getting a lot of discussion. Chances are some of the books you see listed here will make the final cut.

As for the rest, reading is part of the job. Turn off the TV, stay up late reading, and come in to work a little bleary-eyed in the morning. Also, consider listening to some of the selections. It's a great way to handle that horrible rush-hour commute, or to make time pass while you're chopping vegetables or on the treadmill.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

MocK Newbery: On the Wings of Heroes by Peck

The first title I finished for the Mock Newbery is On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck (Specifics at the end). Note I said finished and not the first started. I'm still attempting to slog my way through Corydon and the fall of Atlantis.

When I started Wings, I had a bit of trouble getting into the book, but I was soon drawn into Peck's characters and I kept thinking just a few more pages until I find Of course by the time I answered that question or plot point there was something else I wanted to know so I was strung along to the end mostly in one sitting. The plot wasn't terrifically original or new, but the characters felt real and the narrator's voice rang true, though slightly old for the age in the book, excusable since it's told looking back on the events. I liked the book, but don't feel that there was anything groundbreaking about it. The ending was a lose/lose situation for Peck....if the brother dies, then it's cliche and old; if the brother comes home alive from war, then it's too neat and idyllic. I'm not going to say which happens....just that I don't think there is a way he could have made everyone happy with any ending. Personally, I have mixed feeling about the end and wish that a few of the episodes in the book got a bit more attention (like the Chicago gangsters & fake gas books or even a bit of explaining about rationing and war stamps).

Starred review in: Kirkus 01/01/07
Peck, Richard
On the Wings of Heroes
Fiction 10+

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Awards announced, 2007!

Thanks to everyone who attended and voted at the Mock Awards this week. The winners are:

Mock Caldecott:

WINNER: Flotsam by David Wiesner
HONORS: The Secret Science Project that Almost ate the School by Judy Sierra and John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith

Mock Newbery:

WINNER: Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
HONORS: Toys Go Out: Being the adventures of a knowledgeable Stingray, a toughy little Buffalo, and someone called Plastic by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Mock Printz:

WINNER: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
HONORS: Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Remember that although the final list is compiled by members of the Youth Services Committee, anyone is welcome to suggest a book for consideration. Here's to a great 2006, and we're looking at 2007 to be even better.