Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald

A Valentine's Day blizzard strands three 7th grade best friends in their New York City appartment building. Deciding to make the most of this legendary snow day (they almost never happen in NYC) Kate, Georgia, and Olivia learn how to make fortune cookies in Georgia's family restaurant and they deliver them to their unsuspecting neighbors. What happens is a bit magical, each fortune in each cookie seems to speak to the reciever in a very special way. But can the cookies deliver an important message to the girls who have been growing increasingly apart?
  • Confident Kate is interested in boys, gossip, and making new friends, which may leave her two best friends behind.
  • Observant Olivia has had an ongoing infatuation with PBJ (Philip Becker-Jacobs) that is no longer amusing but annoying to her two best friends. And her Observation Notebooks and trademark nature for investigating just might drive a wedge between all three girls.
  • Quiet Georgia, has a secret crush that she does not feel like sharing with anyone, and is beginning to realize that being a best friend does not mean you have to share everything all the time.
All three girls are trying to bring their building together on a snowy day, get to know their neighbors, and maybe make some new friends. During their adventure, they get to know themselves and each other a bit better.

A great cozy coming-of-age book that is perfect for a winter night (or a snow day). Read it and pass it on. And make up some fortunes while you are at it.
The author even promotes her favorite sweet treats:, just to make you that much hungrier while you read this book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve

When I first took a look at the cover, I wanted to love this book. People sitting in umbrellas in the rain riding around a ...well what the heck was that? Forget the old adage, I judge books by their covers all the time. The more interesting the cover, the more I will be willing to give a book a chance. And I am so glad this one followed through in my expectations of Dahl-like fun.

Once I read Drizzle I figured out that these lucky people on the cover have been to eleven-year-old Polly Peabody's family rhubarb farm. And they don't grow just any rhubarb, but they have rhubarb that tastes like chocolate, and their Weeping Willows really weep, and it rains every Monday at 1pm, where you can take the Giant Umbrella Ride around the Giant Rhubarb.

Van Cleve, you had me at chocolate rhubarb.

And not only is Polly's farm special, but Polly herself is too. She can talk to rhubarb, Harry is her particular friendly plant and the insects spell, albeit cryptic messages. But now Polly's beloved farm and family are in danger. The rain has stopped, the rhubarb are fighting back, and her brother becomes mysteriously ill. It all comes down to Polly to save her family and her farm, but can she figure out in time what she needs to to?

I am always up for a good coming-of-age novel, and this one fits the bill. It even throws in a bit of environmentalism with its whimsical magical realism. A truly delicious book.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

2010 Newbery Award Winner

6th grader Miranda is searching for more than a new friend when her best friend Sal stops speaking to her. In the streets of 1978 New York City Miranda knows where it is safe to go. She walks to school, finds a new friends, avoids bullies and strangers, and then she starts to receive mysterious letters and the sender seems to know a little too much about her.

When You Reach Me is a novel that works with several themes. There are the wonderful parent/child relationships between Miranda and her mother, and Miranda and her mother's boyfriend. Annemarie and her father, Sal and his mother are all examples of solid parent and child trying to figure it out in an imperfect world. Much like the book that this one mirrors, A Wrinkle in Time, a resonating theme throughout is family love.

And that is what makes this book so wonderful, is because nice, family stories are such a rarity in the children's book world. A problem novel, where the real problem is just growing up and trying to figure it all out, why does someone not want to be my friend? Why is someone a bully? Why are some kids popular and I'm not? It's ok to love your parent(s) and be frustrated with them at the same time. These are the questions and issues that are universal through the decades, and Stead treats them with geniune care and concern.

Much like I felt like time travel was an unnecessary device in A Wrinkle in Time, I felt much the same of its use in here, love of friends and family was the resonating theme in both books, and I think they should be read in conjunction with one another. I can't wait to see that Stead writes next.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 ALA Book and Youth Media Awards

Can you hear it? The cheers? Hundrends of librarians screaming, huzzahing, and applauding for their picks and winners of favorite titles for this years Youth Media Awards announced right here in Boston.

I sat at home at my computer and watched the snow and ice pound my windows and thanked goodness that I did not have to ride the T to go into town to hear the annoucements. I was drinking hot chocolate and watching the live webcast at 7:45am. For the first time in ages, many of my favorite titles have won something.

The John Newbery Award
(for the best children's novel of the year)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
(H) Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose
(H) The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelley
(H) Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Gace Lin
(H) The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

The Randolph Caldecott Medal (for the best picture book of the year)
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
(H) Red Sings from Treetops illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman
(H) All the World illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon

The Michael L. Printz Award (for the best YA novel of the year)
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
(H) Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
(H) The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
(H) Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
(H) Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

The Alex Awards (for ten adult books with teen appeal)
The Boy Who Harnassed the Wind: creating currents of electricity and hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
Everything Matters! by Ron Currie
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
The Kids are All Right: a Memoir by Diana, Liz, Amanda, and Dan Welch
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Stitches by David Small
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards (for the best book about the African-American experience)
John Steptoe New Talent
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Bad News for Outlaws: the remarkable life of Bass Reeves, deputy U.S. Marshall by Vaunda Micheaeux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
(H) Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis
My People illustrated by Charles R. Smith, written by Langston Hughes
(H) The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes

Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Walter Dean Myers

The Pura Belpre Award (for the best children's book about the Latino/a experience)
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
(H) Federico García Lorca by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro
(H) Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz

Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora
(H) Diego: Bigger Than Life illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen Bernier-Grand
(H) My Abuelita illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston
(H) Gracias Thanks illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora

The Robert F. Sibert Medal (for the best children's nonfiction book of the year)
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
(H) The Day-Glo brothers: the true story of Bob and Joe Switzer's bright ideas and brand-new colors by Chris Barton
(H) Moonshot: the Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
(H) Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose

The Schneider Family Book Award (for the best book about the disability experience)
Young Adult Novel
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork
Middle Grade Novel
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Picture Book
Django by Bonnie Christensen

The Theodore Seuss Geisel Award (for the best early reader book)
Benny and Penny and the Big No-No by Jeffrey Hayes
(H) Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan
(H) Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee
(H) Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith
(H) I Spy Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

The William C. Morris Award (for the best YA novel by a first-time author)
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
(F) Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
(F) Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose
(F) The Great and Only Barnum: the tremendous, stupendous life of showman P.T. Barnum by Candace Fleming
(F) Written in Bone: buried lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

The Margaret A. Edwards Award (for the YA author who's made a lasting contribution to the field)
Jim Murphy

The May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Award
Lois Lowry

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award (for the best translated children's book)
A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck
(H) Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, translated from French by Claudia Bedrick
(H) Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahako Uehashi, translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano

The Odyssey Award (for the best children's audiobook of the year)
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo
(H) In the Belly of the Bloodhound by LA Meyers
(H) Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
(H) We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

The Andrew Carnegie Medal (for excellence in children's video)
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus produced by Weston Woods

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On the eve of the Newbery

Being the lucky Bostonian librarian that I am, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend ALA Boston Midwinter 2010 yesterday, and it was a bookapaloza of freebies. My beloved Lois Lowry gave an interview at the Horn Book Booth with Rodger Sutton and I got to see the wonderful writer and friend Bethany Hegedus sign copies of her fabulous book, Between Us Baxters for a line of people. I also got to give M.T. Anderson a hug hello (yes, I know him from Vermont College, it wasn't a rabid fan moment) before he was wisked off to do another interview.

But the buzz now is who will win tomorrow am? I don't know but you can bet I will be up, all cozied up to my computer while it snows away in Beantown, and I hope I can get through to the live webcast.

My Newbery predictions? Either Evolution of Calpurnia Tate or When you Reach Me, reviews of both to come later, but both are wonderful, fabulous books.

And I hope that Kekla Magoon gets the John Steptoe that she truly, (imho, of which you are all entitled to) deserves.