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2017 National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature

13 Sep

The 2017 National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature was announced yesterday.  I’ve read four already. I have a few on hold, one ARC, and there are a few that my library doesn’t have yet. And the first three weren’t even on my radar.

MY TBR pile just got longer.

Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of

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Robin Benway, Far from the Tree

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Samantha Mabry, All the Wind in the World

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Mitali Perkins, You Bring the Distant Near

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Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down

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Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

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Laurel Snyder, Orphan Island

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Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

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Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

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Ibi Zoboi, American Street

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A Radiant Evening

6 Apr

Just as Spring Break began I received an email inviting me to a dinner event on April 5th, with Caldecott  and Coretta Scott King  Award winner Javaka Steptoe.

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I knew he was going to be in town and visiting one or more local libraries. The invitation seemed odd because it came in my school email and I usually get these sorts of things through my personal email, which is the one I use for ALA business.

I hemmed and hawed for a day or two because that week was already busy. I  then told myself  You’ll regret this if you say NO, so I emailed back my acceptance.

So, last night, I said goodbye to Lucy again after her walk and dinner and drove to the Firehouse restaurant in NE Portland. I arrived a little early because I worried about parking and waited in the car for a bit before going in. It was self talk time. I didn’t know if I’d know anyone and sometimes I have to gear up for social events.

When I entered the private upstairs room, I worried because the two people already there had on conference name badges. Apparently, the American Bookseller’s Association’s ABC Children’s Institute   is going on in Portland this week.We made small talk and eyed the beautifully arranged room. More name-tagged people arrived and I worried I’d been invited by mistake. Then, my Sibert colleague arrived as did a few other locals on ALA committees, namely the Newbery and Caldecott. Altogether we were maybe a dozen people. Finally, Javaka arrived and the event got started.

I was seated next to Javaka for the first part of the meal, which learned it took him FIVE YEARS to make this book. I asked him about writing his speech for the Newberry-Caldecott Award and learned that he has already written it because he had to submit it this week and will have to record it soon. In, fact, he had to write two speeches because he has to give a different speech at the CSK Awards banquet!

Javake moved around the table for the second and third courses of the meal, but I was not without conversation partners. This was heaven for kidlit nerds!

At the end, we all got a personlized, signed copy of the book and, since there was a lot of food left over, a doggy bag! Lunch today will be delicious.

Thank you Javaka and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for an excellent evening.

The 2016 Cybils Awards

15 Feb

Well my term as a Round 2 Audiobooks judge for the 2016 Cybils Award is over. It was great fun doing something new, and listening to Audiobooks is a different way. The award winners were announced yesterday on the Cybils blog. But I wan to tell you about our winner and my nominee that won.

As a committee, we chose The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, for the Audiobooks award.

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Read by Vikas Adam, Mark Bramhall, Jonathan Cowley, Kimberly Farr, Adam Gidwitz, Ann Marie Lee, Bruce Mann, John H. Mayer, and Arthur Morey.
Listening Library

Nominated by: Katy Kramp

In a 13th century French inn, travelers including a nun, troubadour, and brewer, exchange stories of their encounters with three miraculous children who are set to be brought before the king for treason. Jeanne is a peasant girl who has visions; William, a teenage monk with incredible strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy who has healing powers. They are accompanied in their adventures by Gwenforte, Jeanne’s faithful greyhound, who has returned from the dead.

Using a style reminiscent of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the oral story telling traditions of the past,The Inquisitor’s Tale is narrated by a full cast of characters, each of whom adds a new layer to the story, building to a satisfying conclusion. The variety of voices and accents makes the unfamiliar setting come to life for middle grade readers, who will also appreciate the slightly off-color humor, a dragon quest, and courage of the young heroes. Along the way, listeners get to know the three children and the multiple narrators, one of whom is the author, Adam Gidwitz.

The book I nominated in the poetry category, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan, was that category winner! This is the first time one of my nominees has won, so I am rather excited about this award.

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When this school year ends,
I will have spent
one thousand days
in this building.
I want a thousand more
so I’ll never have to say
goodbye to friends.

From “First Day” by Rachel Chieko Stein

Eighteen narrators, from diverse backgrounds and experiences, tell the story of their final year at elementary school before moving up to middle school.  Their final year also corresponds to the last year of Emerson Elementary itself. The school is scheduled to be demolished to build a supermarket in their food insecure neighborhood.

The fifth grade has been asked by their teacher, Ms. Hill, to write poems for a time capsule to be incorporated into the new building project. The poems in various forms reveal the distinctly personal stories of each student and the classroom dynamics. As the year unfolds, students find their voices by organizing and protesting the demolition of their beloved school.

Of all the candidates for this year’s award for poetry, the committee found The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary to be the most appealing in its diversity, its capturing of the emotional lives of children on the brink of adolescence, and its poetic acrobatics.  Laura Shovan’s writing is masterful.  Readers will find themselves reflected in the experiences of the fifth graders.  A thumbnail illustration of each character accompanies the poem helping the reader further identify the character.  An introduction to poetry and poetic forms at the end completes the package.

Visit the Cybils blog to see the  annotated list of winners.

 

 

 

 

 

TGIF: A Monday Retrospective

13 Feb

It was a tough week. I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say, I was looking forward to Friday night. And not for the reason you think. Yes, it was the end of difficult week, but it was the night that Leah Thomas and Len Vlahos were going to be at Powells in Beaverton!

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It was a small but devoted group of fans who assembled. For us, it was nice because it was less formal. I got to reconnect with Leah and chat with Len, both of whom were William C. Morris Award finalists in different years.

They talked a lot about how they came up with the ideas for their current novels:

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Publisher’s Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone’s father is dying.

When Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can’t imagine how she’ll live without him . . .

Then, in a desperate act to secure his family’s future, Jackie’s father does the unthinkable–he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.

But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever . . .

In this brilliantly written tragicomedy told through multiple points of view–including Jackie’s dad’s tumor–acclaimed author Len Vlahos deftly explores what it really means to live.

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Publisher’s Summary:Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

Both have some odd things happening in their book ( a brain tumor as one of multiple narrators in Len’s book and the Blunderkids in Leah’s). I bought both books and got them personalized. I got an arc of Nowhere Near You at ALA and had already read it. I will send the autographed arc to my twin sister. I’m planning on reading Life in a Fishbowl this week during independent reading time at school.

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It was a really fun evening and a great way to end a long week.

My never ending TBR pile

6 Feb

The TBR pile never seems to get any smaller. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. And a good problem to have.

Besides binge watching season 2 of Narcos  this unexpectedly long weekend,   I read two picture books from my pile. Bothe are  nominees for the Oregon Book Award’s  ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE.

First,was Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube. This is a sweet story about a girl overcoming her fear of dogs. This can be a difficult thing to do. I once brought Clara to the kindergarten summer school for migrant kids I was working in because they were so scared of dogs.

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Publisher’s Summary: Every day after school, Hannah’s school bus is greeted by her classmate’s dog, Sugar. All of the other kids love Sugar, but Hannah just can’t conquer her fear of dogs. Then, one day, Sugar goes missing, so Hannah joins the search with her classmates. Will Hannah find a way to be brave, and make a new friend in the process?

Next, I read The Otter, the newest in The Lighthouse Family  series by Cynthia Rylant.

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Publisher’s Summary: Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant brings the peaceful sounds, sights, and characters of the coast vividly to life in the sixth book of the Lighthouse Family series, in which the family assists an otter in need.

On a lovely summer day, the lighthouse family hears the bell on the fog buoy ringing. It is an otter, whose sister is trapped in an old fishing net! With the help of some friendly dolphins and sawfish, the lighthouse family devises a plan to free the trapped otter—and makes two new friends along the way.

 

Books to kick off 2017

1 Jan

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I mentioned a while back that I was a Round 2 Audiobook judge for the Cybils awards. Well, round 2 starts today. The finalists have been announced and now I have to start listening to these books. I’ve never judged audiobooks before and we will use different criteria from what I have used before on other panels. The books I will be listening to over the next few weeks are below. You can see the full list of finalists on the Cybils’ Blog.

2016 Finalists: Audiobooks

Out of Abaton, Book 1: The Wooden Boy by John Claude Bemis

Oasis Audio

This surprising and original retelling of Pinocchio takes place in a magical steampunk version of 15th century Italy. The title character is an “automa,” a wooden robot powered by alchemy. He seeks to be reunited with Geppetto & the musical cricket Maestro as they all race to save Prestor John, ruler of the Magical Kingdom of Abaton, from the wicked Doge of Venice. Pinocchio’s discoveries about family, friendship, and free will are deftly woven in with episodes of high adventure. The audiobook is truly a movie for your mind, with a full sound track that includes music and sound effects.

Raymie Nightingale  by Kate DiCamillo                                                                         Listening Library

Raymie Nightingale has one goal, to win the 1975 Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Her father left town with the local dental hygienist and Raymie’s plan is for him to read about her win in the paper and to come home to her. While preparing for the competition, she befriends Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski as they all take baton twirling lessons from Ida Nee, the town expert. The Three Rancheros, as they call themselves, help each other to solve the problems they are facing. While Raymie wants to win back her father, Beverly is determined to sabotage the pageant and Louisiana hopes to get her cat Archie back. These underlying motivations lead to some unlikely and amusing adventures for the quirky friends.

Lamia effectively conveys the emotions and personality of three distinctly different characters; single-minded, yet sensitive Raymie, ethereal and swooning Louisiana, and the tough and ardent Beverly. Lamia’s expert storytelling brings this this poignant tale of love and loss to life.

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The Best Man  by Richard Peck                                                                                                                          Listening Library

A classic Peck tale, this is the story of Archer and his grandfather, uncle, and teacher. Told through his years as a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade student, we see the influence these individuals and others have had on his life during this bildungsroman story. Crouch strikes a balance between Archer aging through the grades, bring a sense of wisdom to the grandfather, and a general relatability to all the characters portrayed. Balancing both humor and touching moments, this audiobook is a fit for families and middle graders alike.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz           Listening Library

On a dark night in 1242, a group of travelers gathers in an inn in France to exchange stories of three remarkable children: Jacob, Jeanne, and William. With flavors of The Canterbury Tales, each tale teller adds a unique slant to the collection, slowly building on each others’ version to build a complete picture. This is a book that’s perfectly done as a full cast production, as each narrator gives a spin to their section that makes the characters come to life. With plenty of topics that middle grade readers will relate to today, this is a historical book with just the right amount of humor and magical realism to give it a wide audience appeal.

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin                                                                                         Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Traditional Chinese tales are interwoven with an adventure story in this book that follows the pattern of Lin’s award-winning books Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky. There are some characters in common with the earlier two books, but readers stepping in for the first time won’t feel out of place. Young Pinmei has grown up with her grandmother, the Storyteller, on a remote mountain. But one year when the winter has gone on far longer than it should, her grandmother is kidnapped by a threatening stranger Pinmei can tell is only disguised as a common soldier. She and Yishan, the boy who lives alone up the mountain, set out to rescue her. Kim Mai Guest’s narration portrays Pinmei’s journey to confidence, as well as the full cast of characters. The audio format highlights the interconnected details and the poetic language in this book that’s destined to be a classic.

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

13 Oct

Wasn’t I gobsmacked to read this morning that the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature went to

Bob Dylan!!!

 

 

 

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