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