Tag Archives: realistic fiction

Mock Printz 2012 Results

Ten Ocean County Librarians have voted. The first round results are as follows (you could choose up to 3 titles, ranking first to third):

Between Shades of Gray – 16
Beauty Queens – 16
Daughter of Smoke and Bones – 10
A Monster Calls – 9
Stick – 6
Shine – 5
The Berlin Boxing Club – 4
Chime – 4
Blood Red Road – 3
Scorpio Races – 3
The Name of the Star – 2
Dead End in Norvelt – 2

In terms of first place votes:
Beauty Queens – 4
Between Shades of Gray – 2
Daughter of Smoke and Bones – 1
Stick – 1
Chime – 1
A Monster Calls – 1

So we went to a second round of voting for titles with 5 or more votes (meaning at least two people had to have voted for the title). The results:

Beauty Queens – 21 (with 4 first place votes)
Between Shades of Gray – 16 (with 2 first place votes)
A Monster Calls – 12 (with 1 first place votes)
Daughter of Smoke and Bones – 11 (with 2 first place votes)
Stick – 7  (with 1 first place vote)
Shine – 5
Chime – 2

Mock Printz 2012 Winner – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

Mock Printz 2012 Honor books – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Lani Taylor, and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Here are some comments:

Erin: I think Between Shades of Gray should win because it was beautifully written and you felt you knew the characters and could feel what they were feeling. Also because it brings up a part of history that is not spoken of and needs to be brought out into the light.

Mary Jo: Between Shades of Gray is award worthy. It’s written at that level. The ending reinforces the power of writing. Even when a culture conceals, the power of storytelling and having an audience to hear the story allows the silenced to to reclaim their story. Just as Hollywood loved Hugo Cabret because it is a movie about the power of movies, this is a soty about the power of storytelling. So it adds value to an already strong text.

Katie: I wish every book was as well-written and witty as Beauty Queens.

Jen: I’d give an honor to Beauty Queens—no higher than that.  I also loved The Name of the Star (my #3).  Though it wasn’t my cup of tea, Chime by Franny Billingsley is surely in the mix with the Printz committee.  I also don’t think you can count out Okay For Now and Dead End in Norvelt in this category.  I did really like A Monster Calls, but not sure if I’d give it the medal—an honor for sure.  I just think a lot of people may have initially picked it up because it’s such a slim book and thus may not have read some of the thicker  books (read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone).  Lastly, my dark horse/ long shot pick is Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando.  It came up on one of the best of the year lists, which is how it came to my attention.  It really was very well-written and had an interesting mix of realism and a fantasy-within-reality element.  My I-wish–it-were-so-but-it ain’t-never-gonna-happen pick is Rick Yancey’s Isle of Blood.

As for me, my number one pick is Stick. It’s not getting the blogosphere attention I believe it deserves. Stick is an incredible character. The writing is sparse and it has an almost Punkzilla quality toward the conclusion. I believe it’s very literary and I’d love to see it recognized. Our winner, Beauty Queens, doesn’t have a chance in my opinion, though it is a better book than Daughter of Smoke and Bone because it actually adds something to its genre. I wish I had had an opportunity to argue against Beauty Queens and Daughter of Smoke and Bone (or rather lobby for Stick, A Monster Calls and Between Shades of Grey) but our voting took place via email. We did discuss at a meeting but not all were able to attend and many who did attend the meeting didn’t read a majority of the books. So… we voted electronically and heard from all the avid readers.

Mock Newbery 2012 Discussion

Five Ocean County Librarians and one retired OCL Librarian met to determine our Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott titles. Here are some snippets of the confabulation.

Priscilla commented, “When I’m reading, I’m thinking what will the committee vote for versus what will I vote for.” I took the moment to remind folks this is our opportunity to decide what we would select if we were the committee. Still, I understood where she was coming from.

Regarding Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt, what makes it distinguished? Kristen answered immediately: “Its characters.” Does it tie itself up too neatly? Kristen said, “It needs to tie up neatly with all the over-the-top stuff, though some of that stuff might have been needless…. But it ends with a sense that we’re okay for now but not necessarily forever.” That’s what made it okay in Okay For Now.”

Then we mused on how willing we are to suspend disbelief when reading a children’s book. Did the ending in Okay For Now seem too implausible? Does it even matter? Kristen, who will attend the 2012 ALSC Morris seminar at ALA mid-winter, shared an article that stressed the importance of looking at a book’s strengths within its genre and evaluating it on those strengths, not its weaknesses. What does it contribute to that genre? (Which means more support for Okay For Now from my perspective!) Interesting.

So what about the Audubon art? Does it serve the message? Priscilla was skeptical. My arguments: the art resonates with Doug. He’s illiterate. Learning through pictures isn’t threatening. “But why the lessons?” Priscilla countered. First, Doug wouldn’t talk about the pictures to begin with. He learns because the Librarian leaves some paper and a pencil by the prints. So Doug wants to learn. And when have you known a Librarian to pass up the opportunity to impart a lesson? It’s in my (our?) nature to teach! Kristen added, ” It gave him something to be successful at.” Elise chimed in, “He’s getting acknowledge and support from an adult.”

Amanda pointed out, “The children in each of these books (meaning Dead End in Norvelt, Okay for Now, and Hound Dog True) are learning something. Mattie is learning to trust. Doug is learning about art. Jack is learning about writing. Priscilla argued learning to write in Dead End was more important than Doug learning art in Okay For Now.

Kristen predicts A Monster Calls will win saying, “It doesn’t do character as well as Okay for Now but it does plot and language better.” Elise wanted Okay For Now to be tighter, more spare. She though Norvelt was streamlined and macabre but very funny.

What do we do with Wonderstruck? Even if it is included in the Newbery committee’s discussion, we did not think the text strong enough to contend with our other titles.

We’re all very sad The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World is ineligible.

And finally, we voted.

After the first round, we had four clear frontrunners. A second round of voting showed a clear favorite with a majority of #1 votes. Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt is our 2012 Mock Newbery winner.

Our three honor books are much loved reads. With the strongest showing of the three, Hound Dog True by Linda Urban (it also received a first place vote in the final round) is our first honor book. With an equal number of points, we added Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (which also received one first place vote in the final round) and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Our Caldecott winner was Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell!

Overall it was a tight race. We selected three honor books. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen was a tight tight second place. It had equally as many first place votes as Me… Jane. Coming in on their heels were Grandapa Green by Lane Smith and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2011)

“What’s your favorite song of theirs?” Tiara asked.
” ‘Let Me Shave Your Legs Tonight, Girl,’ ” Petra blurted out.
“Ohmigosh, I LOVE that one!” Tiara said, clapping. “How about ‘I Only Want to Be with You’ or ‘I Just Need to Be Yours’ or ‘You, You, You’?”
Nicole chimes in. ” ‘I Gave Up My Hobbies So I Could Spend More Time with You.’ ‘I Love You Like a Stalker!’ Or — ooh, I know: ‘Safe Tween Crush’? (p 73)”

En route to the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant, a plane full of beauty queens crashes on a (supposedly) deserted island. Thirteen contestants survive – clumsily at first – and then thrive, eventually building huts, a water filtration system, and a micosociety.

Admixture, a bunch of rowdy, handsome pirates shipwreck on the island and men in black shirts with guns and explosives kidnap Mary Lou’s boyfriend and threaten the girls.

Beauty Queens is an amagamation, a melting pot. It pokes fun at a slew of issues ad nauseam: reality tv, marketing, education, media, race, ethnicity, bias, sterotyping, sexuality, and of course, beauty. Sometimes Bray delivers (Ladybird Hope’s interview on Barry Rex Live on page 56) and I found myself laughing out loud (“Protect the citadel!” p 71) and sometimes the references were blunt and fell flat.

Sometimes, I felt this was less of a satire and more home-hitting. Take the quote I led off with. Anyone read some of the teen reactions to Stolen by Lucy Christopher? Yeah. Scary.

I don’t doubt it was a fun book to write (possibly contributing to its unnecessary length) but it is only a mildly entertaining read. I agree with Patti @ Opps…Wrong Cookie though – best cover of the year.

Read other reviews/thoughts:
A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
Books Smugglers
Opps… Wrong Cookie
Tia’s Book Musings

Top 10 Books I Look Forward to Reading in 2012

Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a Top 10 in 2011 Blog Event. Today, the top ten books I’m looking forward to in 2012!

  1. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (5/1/2012)
  2. Froi of the Exiles by Melinda Marchetta (3/13/2012)
  3. The Princess of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen (4/10/2012)
  4. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (4/3/2012)
  5. The Drowned Cities by Paolo Baciqalupi (5/1/2012)
  6. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Fall 2012)
  7. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (4/3/2012)
  8. The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima (Fall 2012)
  9. Bink and Gollie: Two for One by Kate DiCamillo (6/12/2012)
  10. Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker (5/2012)

I’d also like to include the fourth book in the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey but I didn’t hear of a title and I’m not even sure it will get a 2012 pub date. Regardless, I’m VERY excited about it!

Top 10 Characters in 2011

Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a Top Ten of 2011 Blog Event. Today, I list my Top 10 Characters in 2011. I listed my top ten boyfriends yesterday so I won’t repeat those characters.

  1. Dr. Pellinore WarthropThe Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey: Hands down, the best character of the year. I’m in love with the doctor. It goes beyond ‘boyfriend.’ It’s sick and twisted and glorious.
  2. Uncle Potluck Hound Dog True by Linda Urban: A secondary character who almost upstaged the protagonist.
  3. ConnorA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: … just perfection.
  4. BearI Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen: This bear of few words is my hero. mwa ha ha ha!
  5. RebeccaBigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder: Just a really well-developed character.
  6. Jack GantosDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos: Oh, Cheesus Crust!
  7. Tyrion LannisterA Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin: He is so damn fun.
  8. The Penderwick GirlsThe Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
  9. Percy JacksonThe Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: A fun, humorous character I enjoy reading about (keep ’em coming Rick!).
  10. ClementineClementine and the Family Meeting by Sarah Pennypacker: My favorite female character for young readers.

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones (2011)

Look up at the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light. Count the floors – take your pick (p 3).

Blink lives on the street. He sneaks into hotels and steals food from the room service trays. One morning, while scrounging, something weird happens inside a hotel room. A crash… then a thump, padded by silence. Three rough-looking men leaving with another. A Suit. They ditch the room key, which Blink uses to enter the room and a world of weird. He takes the wallet containing a wad of cash and a picture of a beautiful girl. Perhaps foolishly, he takes the smart phone.

Caution can’t forgive herself for murdering her brother, Spencer. She’s sentenced herself to death by magic. Merlin, a dealer and thug, is her executioner. She’s living out a death sentence, until she takes Merlin’s stash and runs. Confident he will find her and finally kill her, she believes she is getting what she deserves.

Their stories converge as Blink attempts to unravel the mysterious crime he witnessed that shivery morning and Caution runs from her abuse boyfriend.

The suspense starts immediately and lets up only enough for the two characters to have brief flashbacks, explaining the circumstances that led to their current dire state. The language is mostly lyrical, with a fine cadance and only a few missteps with over-expounded storytelling or cliché lines such as, “Anyway, the only law on your side right about now is the law of survival” (p 63).

On occassion the convoluted plot had me skeptical but I was invested in the characters. So I suspended by disbelief and went along for the ride. I’m glad I did.

Read other reviews:
A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
Annette’s Book Spot
Eve’s Book Addiction
Kirkus (starred)
National Post (a pretty close to perfect review)

Library copy | ISBN 978-0763639839 | Ages 14 and up | 342 pages | $16.99

Read Alikes:

Waiting on Wednesday: Try Not to Breath by Jennifer Hubbard (1/19/2012)

I just happened across a book that I want to read and it just happens to be Wednesday. Thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting WoW!

A dark and provocative novel from the author of The Secret Year

Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it’s the only thing that makes him feel alive. He’s sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital. Then Nicki barges into his world, brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan’s depression that no one else has ever been brave enough – or cared enough – to ask. Ryan isn’t sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again. Jennifer R. Hubbard has created a riveting story about a difficult but important subject.

 Viking Children’s |ISBN 9780670013906 | 272 pages | 19 Jan 2012 | 14 – AND UP years

Top 10 Book Boyfriends (or Girlfriends) of 2011

Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a Ten Ten event! Today, a look back at the top ten boyfriends/girlfriends of 2011. I’m going to take this to mean characters I couldn’t help but fall in love with… and not necessarily romantic love. But I came away very connected to the character, forgetting he is not real. Because that’s great stuff people.

  1. Stark McClellan (aka Stick) of Stick by Andrew Smith: I suppose it’s only logical the protagonist in my favorite book of 2011 is the one I cared for the most.
  2. Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin: Petyr steals the show… and I’m not even sure he’s mentioned in Dragons! He’s a cunning, devious man and I can’t help but love him. He plays the game like a master.
  3. Jon Snow of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin: Being played by the very fine Kit Harington certainly helps, but Jon Snow’s compassionate nature, skill with the sword, and underdog status is enough. He’s a lover and a fighter and he better be back for The Winds of Winter.
  4. Will of The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Emporer of Nihon-Ja by Jon Flanagan: I just adore this archer who bumbles a marriage proposal to his girl, Alyss, at the conclusion of this excellent series.
  5. Horace of The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Emporer of Nihon-Ja by Jon Flanagan: The perfect counter point for Will. Just so straightforward and honest.
  6. Peeta of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: This poor dude got the shaft. I know Katniss is one tough woman but Peeta is totally dedicated and he just seems to get the short end here, even though, technically, he gets the girl. Again, it helps that he is going to be played by the adorable Josh Hutcherson.
  7. Douglas Swieteck of Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt: I worry about this kid’s future and he isn’t real!
  8. Han Alister of The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima: Yum.
  9. Travis of Bluefish by Pat Schmatz: Just a great character and my heart went with him all the while.
  10. Xavier of A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheenan: Another character that proves to be a great man and he really got the shaft!

My all time favorites (and one isn’t even human!): Marcus Flutie (Megan McCafferty), Gen (Megan Whalen Turner), Bartimaeus (Jonathan Stroud), Brigan (Kristin Cashore), and Syaoran (CLAMP).

Top 10 Book Covers of 2011

Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a Top 10 of 2011 event. Today, a look back at the top ten book covers of 2011. It is because of their covers (at least in part) that I read these books. Obviously, some these appeal to my feminine sensibilities! Click on the picture to go to my review of the book.

Top 10 Books I’ve Read in 2011

Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a Top 10 of 2011 event. Today, a look back at the top ten books I’ve read in 2011. These are the books that I find myself revisiting months after I’ve read them. I find myself rereading bits of them and pondering them. I find myself sharing them with strangers! That’s good stuff.

  1. Stick by Andrew Smith: I was enthralled by this book. Completely. I read it in one sitting. (Read my review of Stick.)
  2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: The story bends and overlaps and stretches until you have lost your sense of direction just as a circus patron feels skewed upon entering one of the circus tents. But this topsy-turvy feeling is fleeting because what you find inside these black and white pages has captivated you. (Read my review of The Night Circus.)
  3. The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey: Yancey, once again, delivers a riveting story full of horror, suspense, and excellent character development, as well as an exploration of the human psyche. (Read my review of The Isle of Blood.)
  4. Grandpa Green by Lane Smith: A gorgeously illustrated, clever, humourous, multigenerational, sparsely worded but perfectly paced and poignant picture book. (Read my review of Grandpa Green.)
  5. Hound Dog True by Linda Urban: A slender book that tackles mother/daughter relationships, bullying, early adolescent worries, the art of  story through writing/drawing, and (a hint of) romance with elegance and brevity. (Read my review of Hound Dog True.)
  6. A Song of Fire and Ice – A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin: It’s a race to the dragons in this lengthy but thrilling tome. (Read my review of A Dance with Dragons.)
  7. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: Gripping from the outset and fluid in its telling, I couldn’t put this one down. (read my review of Between Shades of Gray.) 
  8. Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt:  Layered and subtle with excellent writing and a realistic, fresh protagonist. (Read my review of Okay for Now.)
  9. Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett: With her trademark sparsity and gorgeous illustrations, Gravett has created another picture book with depth and humor. (Read my review of Blue Chameleon.)
  10. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos: Brilliantly written, hilarious, and efficient. (Read my review of Dead End in Norvelt.)

Check out some other 2011 book lists:

Amazon’s Best Books of 2011
David Levithan’s Favorite Reads of 2011
GoodReads 2011 Choice Awards
Horn Book Fanfare
Kirkus Best Books of 2011
Los Angeles Public Library Teen
Los Angeles Public Library Children’s
The Ten Best Books fo 2011 by The New York Times
NPR Best Books of 2011
Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2011
School Library Journal