Monday, June 21, 2010

Mock Printz: Jump by Carbone

P.K. is a normal teen who loves to rock climb and whose parents just don't understand her.  She's not doing well at her school where they focus on standardised tests and traditional classes, plus her parents don't like her non-conformist friends.  So they want to send her to a nice boarding school where they believe that she will focus on classes and become a 'good' student.  Her answer is to run away on a rock climbing trip, but none of her friends can go with her.  Enter Critter.  Critter is a patient in the psych ward and has been kept drugged up on various pills.  He believes he doesn't need them and manages to skip doses and escape the hospital.  The first night out he stops the gym where he and his father used to go rock climbing and there he overheads P.K. asking her friends to go with her.  He volunteers when none of them will and the next morning off they go.  A new take on a road trip story, the pair start out as strangers and get to know one another and for P.K. herself a bit better. 

I liked this book for a lot of reasons.  Short chapters and two very unique voices that both rang true were two of the first I discovered.  The mix of mundane and dramatic details was another.  I loved the fact that P.K. wasn't running from horrible, abusive or neglectful parents....just normal parents who loved her, but just didn't understand her or agree with her.  She still loved them as well and in the end, even if everything wasn't perfect they all found a way to make peace and live with each other.  Critter's story unfolds slowly as he reveals it to P.K., and is left open but hopeful at the end.

This one will be added to my list of favorites for the year, at least for now.  It's definitely one that is worth the read.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mock Newbery/Printz : Guardian Angel House by Kathy Clark

Title: Guardian Angel House
Author: Kathy Clark
Publisher: Second Story House
ISBN: 978-1-897187-58-6
This historical fiction about a young teen living in Budapest, Hungary who winds up hidden with her younger sister in a Catholic convent makes a contribution to this genre. It is 1944 and of course in Hungary, which was one of the last countries to affect the Jews, it is no longer safe. Even though Hungary was slow, it was particularly effective in instituting an accelerated program of eradication of the Jews. Fortunately for Susan, a young teen, her mother's close family friend is accutely aware and pushes her mother to place the two girls. The placement winds up being a Catholic convent. The description of life with the nuns is excellent. From becoming one of the gardeners to caring for the younger children, Susan learns and appreciates their generosity. She especially develops a close relationship with one nun who later sacrifices herself to protect Susan and her sister. This book will not be a candidate for either Printz or Newbery but I did enjoy it. The author based the story on that of her mother and aunt who stayed at an actual convent called the Sisters of Charity. The way the nuns cared for the girls and expanded their dormitory to help other children is very touching and vivid. The fact that some of the nuns do lose their lives shows how dangerous the entire operation really was. The whole relationship between these youngest Jews and the nuns is very respectful and humane, something to think about and consider.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mock Printz: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Marchetta, Melina
Finnikin of the Rock
Melina Marchetta brings her gift of writing to the field of fantasy. Finnikin makes a blood oath with a prince and the prince's cousin at the age of nine to protect his country of Lumatere. A short time later, a blood bath ensues when an impostor king takes over the country. Finnikin himself loses all his family and everything. Killing, rape, and death spreads throughout the land. The devastation is complete until ten years later. Finnikin, under the tutelage of the former King's First Man meets a young novice, Evanjalin. Unbeknownst to Finnikin, they begin a quest of a sort as they slowly gather around them the key people to restore Lumatere back to its original humanity. The rich character development and complex plot gives this story a mystery and suspense until the reader discovers who the players really are. Throughout their journey they deal with language and culture differences, personality complications and genocide. How does a society recover? This is an interesting fantasy with a lot of deeper meaning. My only criticism was the long, protracted ending. But aside from that, it is the best YA book I have read all year. I think it should be a Printz candidate. It is well worth the read.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A bunch of books that aren't going to win the Printz...

but they are awesome and you should read them or at least buy them for your library.

Riker's High by Paul Volponi
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti
Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont
The World as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mock Printz: A Million shades of gray by Kadohata

A million shades of gray by Cynthia Kadohata

Notes from the catalog: In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when Viet Cong attack his village.
The Good: This is a historical fiction firmly in the middle grade level which looks at a side of the war in Vietnam that is often overlooked. What did happen in Vietnam after the US left? It's also classic Kadohata. It's tender and the writing solid.
The not so good: Lets start with those notes in the catalog. The attack mentioned doesn't happen until ½ way through the book so they (and the flap text) dismiss the first ½ of the book! They are incorrect or at least misleading. All that is of course not about the book, but about the flap notes and cataloging summaries.

So why wasn't I thrilled with the actual story? For a story which takes it's title from the animal that Y'Tin cares for, it contained little about them. I never felt the personality of Lady, Y'Tin's family's elephant. The 3rd person narrator told the reader what she was like and what Y'Tin thought of her etc, but I was never able to connect to her. When Y'Tin had to contemplate sending her away to save her life, I couldn't feel his pain. None of the characters seemed to have much depth to them and that was disappointing since I loved Weedflower.

All in all this one will not be on any of my fav lists for the year.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Current favorites as of 4/19/2010

Caldecott Faves:
Bildner, Phil                      The Hallelujah Flight
Kimmelman, Leslie            The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah
Schoenherr, Ian                Don't Spill the Beans
Tavares, Matt                  Henry Aaron's Dream

Newbery Faves:
Paulsen, Gary                 Woods Runner

Printz Faves:
Green, John and David Levithan               Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Sonnenblick, Jordan                                     Ever After Ever
Stork, Francisco X.                          Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Agree with these faves?  Disagree?  Read other books you think should be considered?
Read and comment here on the blog or on the Bccls Youth Services Listerv!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mock Printz: Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

This British import might sound like a stock novel if you just look at the quick summary.  Boy is bullied, ends up dead, his friends are working through thier grief and trying to understand what happened.  But if you pass up the experience of reading this book you'll be missing some laugh out loud moments of teen boys doing what they do best; getting into trouble, hanging out, and being friends.

Blake, Kenny, and Sim have all been friends with Ross for years.  Kenny since they were tots, Sim since primary, and Blake since he and his mom moved into town years ago.  So when Ross is killed in a car accident and some of the people who made his last weeks alive miserable show up at his funeral, the three of them decide to take revenge and to give Ross the funeral he deserved.  The one they think he'd have wanted.
This kicks off an insane weekend where the boys bond with each other, fight with each other, break friendship and strengthen it.  By the end, the three friends learn that they didn't know everything they thought they did when the whole thing started and that though they understand alot, there is just as much they won't understand any time soon.  The ending is a bit abrupt, but it also suits the story in an odd way.

This book isn't a serious dramatic lesson on bullying.  It isn't a funny road trip book.  It somehow manages to be both and neither at the same time.  Expect to laugh out loud at some of the images, or maybe that's just my twisted sense of humor.  Expect it to make you think when the guys joking suddenly turns into some fairly philosophical discussions of friendship, death, and afterlife.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mock Newbery 2010: The Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Title: The Woods Runner

Author: Gary Paulsen

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN: 9780385738842

In Woods Runner Gary Paulsen presents a side of the American Revolution that is not always discussed in juvenile literature. Instead of the glorified rebellion, the 13 year old Samuel is dealing with a dark war that is on his homefront. Samuel has learned to survive in the wilderness of the Pennsylvania colony, although his city parents are not as accustomed to the wild as he is. When Samuel hears about the rebellions in the Massachuesetts colony he rushes home to tell his parents, but finds their farm burnt and his parents gone.

Samuel narrates the story as he uses his survival instinct to track his parents. Chapters are broken up with brief descriptions of some of the more unknown historical details. Paulsen's newest was a quick read, fun, and never a dull moment. Descriptions were detailed and placed the reader in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Paulsen's pacing never slowed and the writing was superb. This is definately a great book to sell!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Anyone Read Happyface yet?

I don't remember what reviews this got, but it was here waiting for me when I got back from PLA.  I picked it up and it looks really interesting...reminds me of Wimpy kid, but older and deeper.


Oh's by Stephen Emond

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Everyone ready for a new year of BCCLS Mock Awards?

This year I'm reading for the Printz and I just finished a book that Amy from Teaneck gave me a heads up on.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.  It's definatly worth a read and I think it will be talked about when the Printz award comes around.  Not just because Marchetta won with Jellicoe Road a few years back either!

Finnikin of the Rock is a fantasy/quest novel, but Marchetta's skill with characters raised it well above the norm for this genre.  She explored questions of national identity, what defines a nationality - thier common language, thier history, or thier land.  What happens to a people without a land and the choices people make to survive, protect the people they love and to protect themselves. 

Don't hand this one to your younger precocious fantasy readers, but to your 13+ readers who are looking for more than fairytale fantasy and definatly give it a try for yourself.

Monday, January 11, 2010

And the results are in! Winners of BCCLS Mock Awards!

Below are the results of the Mock Awards sponsored by the BCCLS Youth Services Committee and held on Friday, January 8, 2010:

Printz Award Winner:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Dorothy Heiligman

Printz Award Honors:
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fire by Kristin Cashore

Newbery Award Winner:

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Newbery Award Honors:
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

Caldecott Award Winner:
The Lion & the Mouse written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Caldecott Award Honors:

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields

Our thanks go to the Washington Township Library for hosting the event! And thank you to all of the attendees who came out in the snow and participated in our lively discussions!