Monday, January 26, 2009

And the award goes to...

Publisher's Weekly's rundown of today's children's and young adult literature awards is the most concise, so that's the link I'll give you, if you haven't already looked up the awards for yourself.

I was at the awards press conference in Denver this morning and had both cheers and jeers. I do think the choice of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book as the Newbery winner might answer some of this year's debate about commerical viability and popularity of the award winners, but does not satisfy those who wish the award would skew younger. So there. I haven't read it yet because our library copies had publisher errors and had to go back, thus making those on the waiting list wait even longer. I liked The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson, and I am fine with it winning the Caldecott, but it wasn't my favorite. What really disappointed me was not seeing any honor for either of the books many of the librarians felt were stand-outs: Diamond Willow and Chains. Ah well, we'll go on reccommending them anyway! Some of the other, less well-known, awards were much more satisfying. Hurray for The Blacker the Berry, by Joyce Carol Thomas, and We Are the Ship , by Kadir Nelson, for their many honors.

The newest award, the William C. Morris Award, for a debut young adult title, had really strong contenders and we've been hotly debating the possibilities ever since we heard they were giving the new award. The winner, A Curse as Dark as Gold , by Elizabeth Bunce, was not my favorite on the list. It's quite good, though. (Obviously, if you've read my blog before, you'll know that I'm a huge Graceling fan. Which reminds me...I have an ARC of the prequel, Fire, right now and will get around to reviewing it soon.)

And that's my round-up. How are you feeling about the results?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some Awards Links

If you're interested in hearing the winners of the aforementioned children's book awards as quickly as possible tomorrow morning, the blog for the Allen County Library System has a great round-up of ways you can hear the big news, from the Today Show to Twitter.

If you're interested in seeing what titles other librarians have loved and think are worthy of awards, the author Jim Averbeck has created a great spreadsheet of nationwide mock discussions lists. Enjoy!

Mock Newbery Awards 2009

This week at the Denver Public Library we held a lively Mock Newbery discussion. We had created two lists of excellent titles during the year and encouraged our participants to read as many as possible. Here is the list of the books we read and discussed:
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Hummingbird by Kimberly Green Angle
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
Quadruped Delights by David Elliott
The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman
Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes

Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
Trouble by Gary Schmidt

The Newbery Medal is given by the American Library Association each year to the author of the most distinguished work of literature for children, which includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Here is a link to the criteria considered for the award. Here is a link to past winners.

Our group discussed and debated the pros and cons for each title and determined what we believed to be the most distinguished titles. Our winner was Diamond Willow and the way the votes played out, our only honor vote went to Chains. Yay! Those were definitely the ones I'm hoping to see recognized at tomorrow's awards ceremony. Speaking of...

The American Library Association's Mid-Winter Meeting/Conference is in Denver this week and I was fortunate enough to attend the notable children's picture book discussion yesterday and picked up tons of ARCs for hot new titles coming out this year. I'm sure you'll be seeing my reviews of those books in the coming months. As a part of the group being in town, the announcement of the chidren's book awards will also take place in town, so I'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning at the press conference to hear their winners firsthand. So exciting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So exciting

The most exciting new today is that the Hunger Games sequel is coming out in September and ARC copies will be given out at Book Expo America in May. If you're going and you want to grab me a copy, I'd love to get my hands on it!!!
Here's a link to the notice in today's Publisher's Weekly:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Non-Fiction Book Reviews

I've been given mostly non-fiction books to review lately, which has me rather bogged down. Here are a couple of current reviews.

Making Cents, by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon.
The United States has a lot of different forms of currency, or money, from the penny up to the $100 bill. How much is the money worth and how can you get some of it? This non-fiction title describes each monetary unit, shows a nice picture of it, and describes what you can buy with it. Turn the page, and the penny is multiplied to the nickel, and its buying power is multiplied too. As the amount of money grows, the illustrator continues drawing pennies, nickels, and dimes so that the reader can see the pile of money growing and growing. The author also shows how the choices of purchases multiply along with the money. For a penny, the kids can buy one-penny nail, but for one dollar, the kids can buy one hundred penny nails or twenty spiraled wood screws or ten marking pencils or four sandpaper squares, or a hinge for a door. The ascension of money and products is simply laid out and explained and makes a bold impression. In addition to the text, the bright and appealing illustrations show kids doing various neighborhood tasks to earn the money they are going to need to build a clubhouse, so the concepts of earning and saving are mildly introduced as well. An author’s note at the end discusses other currency not mentioned in the text, such as the two-dollar bill or the one-dollar coin. The author also describes how the pictures on our coins change all the time and gives the websites for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the U.S. Mint so that kids can see the various designs for themselves.

Hide and Seek: Nature's Best Vanishing Acts, by Andrea Helman with photographs by Gavriel Jecan.
Animals around the world and across many habitats use camouflage to hide themselves from predators. Giraffes in the savanna, candy crabs in the sea, grasshoppers in the desert, seal pups in the arctic, tigers in the forest, and jackrabbits in the mountains are just some examples of the varied animals that use their skin to stay safe. In this book, dramatic photographs show how difficult it can be to see these, and other, animals hiding in plain sight. Notes at the end of the book will help you find animals you might have missed hiding in the photographs. The notes also pinpoint where in the world the photos were taken and give further information about the animals pictured, including each animal’s Latin name. Large, bold-face type and simple text make this an accessible choice for younger elementary children. The layout of the book is not particularly special, but the space on the page devoted to the amazing photographs makes up for the lack of jazzy editorial features.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

More Newbery Fervor

Since my recent post about the various Newbery articles out there, even more have been published. This year the Newbery is really a popular tempest in a teapot. Today the Scripps Howard News Service summed up both sides of the argument nicely. No doubt there will still be more hubbub before the award announcement, which is still two weeks away - I get to go to the press conference this year, which should be fascinating.
I'm currently reading the fourth installment in the Enola Holmes mystery series, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, and I think this one is the best yet.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Play with Elephant and Piggie for a while...

I have not been liking anything I have picked up lately and I'm reading some dry adult non-fiction, so there isn't much for me to blog about right now. Instead, I will give you the link to the Elephant and Piggie Dance game from Mo Willems, which is not new, but still gives me the giggles. Enjoy!

If you are not familiar with Elephant and Piggie, they are the stars of a series of early reader books by Mo Willems (who also wrote Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus). Here is my recent review of an Elephant and Piggie book, I Will Surprise My Friend:

Elephant and Piggie are good friends. As they are walking, they see a squirrel surprise his friend, making everyone laugh. Elephant and Piggie decide together that it would be really fun to surprise each other. After sneakily hiding on either side of a rock, each friend waits for the other to appear. When neither friend sees the other, each friend begins to worry that something has happened to the other. Characteristically, Elephant envisions terrible scenes of what might have happened to Piggie. Piggie imagines Elephant may have become hungry for lunch. Lost in their own daydreams, Elephant and Piggie each leap from the rock and startle each other. Elephant and Piggie discover that not all surprises are funny—but readers will find the situation very funny, indeed. Showing his unfailing understanding of children’s humor, Willems has created a delightful story for very early readers. What is really wonderful about the Elephant and Piggie stories is how skillfully Willems uses the simplest words combined with illustrations of outstanding expressiveness to convey rather complicated ideas. Each arch of an eyebrow, position of an arm, and line of motion tells the story and cues early readers to recognize the thoughts behind the words and teaches plotting and pacing. The illustrations are done in Willems’ standard line art style and with a limited color palette, which highlights the action in the illustrations better than a busier page would. These stories are terrific for early readers but can also be enjoyed by younger children when read aloud or by older children who will continue to enjoy Willems’ trademark humor.