Friday, January 30, 2015

My Hopes and Wishes for the 2015 ALA Youth Media Awards

This Monday, February 2nd, the 2015 ALA Youth Media Award winners will be announced. The past two years I watched the live webcast but this year, I am so excited that I will be attending the event in person. This is definitely a bucket list item for me. If you can't be there for the announcements in-person though, watching the live webcast is the next best thing.

Last year I wrote a post about my predictions, but this year, predictions have been replaced with hopes and wishes.


Schneider Family Book Award Hopes and Wishes

This award honors the books (one picture book, middle grade, and young adult) that portray people with disabilities in a positive light. These are the two main books I hope get some love on Monday:


When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds' debut novel does something that not many YA novels do: shows a positive, counter-narrative portrayal of contemporary African American teens.  So in that regard, I hope that this book is also given a Coretta Scott King nod. In addition, there is a character in this book who has Tourette Syndrome and is one of the most memorable, loveable characters in the entire novel.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Cece Bell has done something extraordinary with El Deafo: she has shown young kids that you can turn a disability into a superpower. I can't think of a more beautiful message than that.


Printz Award Hopes and Wishes


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
 These books are both funny and poignant and in my opinion represent how interesting, innovative, and literary young adult literature can be.


Caldecott Award Hopes and Wishes





Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
The addition of the photographer as one of the illustrators might complicate things and prevent the committee from choosing Viva Frida as a Caldecott medalist. Or they might set a new precedent. I just know that Viva Frida is one of the most lovely, innovate, and unique picture books I've ever laid eyes on. I'd love the committee to recognize that, especially since it would be a step in the right direction for bringing greater diversity into the list of Caldecott winners. At the very least, I hope it wins a Pura Belpre award, but I'd love to see it take the ultimate prize of the Caldecott medal.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
In my mind Dan Santat is kind of the class clown of illustrators. His picture books are always lighthearted and/or funny. The Adventures of Beekle, however, is totally different. It is sentimental, heartfelt, and tugs at your heartstrings.

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Speaking of tugging at your heartstrings, this wordless picture books is one of the most sweet and tender picture books I have ever laid eyes on. I wasn't able to put my finger on just what made The Farmer and the Clown so special until I read Dylan Teut's blog post connecting this story to the recent passing of his sister and his attempt to find closure.

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison
This book is a total long shot because I haven't heard anyone else besides me talk about it as a possibility, but Extraordinary Jane is really special to me. The illustrations are some of the most endearing I have ever laid eyes on and they tell more of the story than the words do. By the time I got to the last page I was weeping. Up until this point, the only other picture book illustrator whose art has made me cry is Kadir Nelson.


Newbery Award Hopes and Wishes

My head tells me this book will win:

and that would be a good thing. 

...but my heart really wants this book to win:

Almost a year ago, I reviewed A Snicker of Magic on Nerdy Book Club. Even that early in the year I made the declaration that this was the book I wanted to win the Newbery award. I still feel that way. Though I'm feeling less certain that is going to happen. Still, I am holding out hope.


Another book my heart would be happy to see win:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
The rhythm, pacing, and heart of this novel in verse makes it probably the best I've ever read of this format. It's one of those books I am kicking myself for not having read sooner. I know everyone is giving much love to Brown Girl Dreaming, and rightly so, but honestly, this is my favorite book in verse of 2014.

So what are your choices for the ALA Youth Media Awards?


Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-26-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I reviewed:

Demon Derby by Carrie Harris


Favorite picture books from last week:


My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien
Carrie Gelson was absolutely right: this book is a writing lesson waiting to happen. Love how Jessica Young takes our normal perception of colors (blue is sad, red is angry, yellow is cheerful) and turns it on its head. 

Creature Features: Twenty-Five Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins 
I continue to marvel at the amazing paper collage artwork of Steve Jenkins, but what I especially love about Creature Features is the conversational nature of the text with a jovial question and answer format. It's definitely a fun AND educational book for kids.


Currently Reading:

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


Currently reading with my ears:

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl   

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Demon Derby by Carrie Harris

Casey Kent is a teenage cancer survivor and hates being seen by her friends and family as fragile. So when she tries out for the local roller derby team, many are hesitant to allow her to do so -- especially the team captain, who seems to want to do nothing but make her life miserable. But Casey soon finds out that cancer was a walk in the park compared to the new demons she must fight: well, that's because they're actual demons.

Carrie Harris's novels are perfect to give to readers like me who don't particularly like paranormal stories that involve zombies, werewolves, demons, and the like because there is always an element of comedy in her writing. Laughter and smart-assery are Carrie's M.O. in her writing and in her life -- and no doubt Carrie will read that statement as a badge of honor, as she should.

In Demon Derby, the comedy is toned down more so than it was in her first two books, Bad Taste in Boys and Bad Hair Day, but it's still there. However, what Harris adds to this narrative is a greater purpose than her previous books. You see, this book is dedicated to her husband Andy who is a cancer survivor -- and having heard Andy's harrowing story from Carrie herself, I see where those personal moments are inserted into the narrative. Despite the fact that Harris's writing never takes itself too seriously, there is definitely an underlying gravitas happening beneath the surface. The fact that the paranormal beings Harris's protagonist must fight are demons rather than zombies, werewolves, vampires or any other paranormal being, is clearly symbolically intentional: because cancer is a demon that survivors must fight in myriad ways.

Don't miss the acknowledgements as well as the Q & A with Carrie at the end of the book to learn more about the inspiration for this story. It will make you read it in a whole different light.


Demon Derby by Carrie Harris
Published: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 294
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Purchased Copy
 
If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Participate in the National Readathon Day: January 24, 2015


Penguin Random House, the National Book Foundation, Goodreads, and Mashable are sponsoring this Saturday's National Readathon Day. To learn more about the readathon, visit Penguin Random House's webpage, and also follow along with the #timetoread hashtag.

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-19-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I reviewed:

The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss, illustrated by Mirto Golino


Current Giveaway:

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little


Last week I finished reading with my ears:

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
I would compare In a Handful of Dust to a YA version of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Talk about intense. Even more so than Not a Drop to Drink


Currently (still) reading: 

Demon Derby by Carrie Harris
I'm enjoying this one, but I've just been super busy this past week. I'm hoping I'll have this finished before the end of the week.


Currently reading with my ears:

Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Bahni Turpin is the narrator of this audiobook, which immediately got me excited because she is my favorite audiobook narrator of all time. I'm not that far into this story though so I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dreaming of Books Blog Hop: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little



For my portion of the blog hop, I am giving away a copy of:

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Format: Hardcover
Published: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 397
Genre: Romance
Audience: Young Adult

Goodreads Summary:
In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.



Terms and conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be selected
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss, illustrated by Mirto Golino

Around the Chapel
     of Old St. Paul
Blow the dancing leaves
     of the coming Fall.
In the morning breeze
     they leap and fly
Beneath the towers
     that scrape the sky.

The Little Chapel That Stood is an illustrated poem about St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, which was built in 1766 and is less than 100 yards from where the Twin Towers once stood. Miraculously, on that fateful day in September of 2001, St. Paul's was left unscathed. Even the fragile chandeliers that had once been packed away during two world wars never wavered. The firemen who valiantly risked their lives to rush into the World Trade Center in an attempt to save lives, hastily left their shoes on the iron fence as they laced up their boots and went to work.

After the events of 9-11, St. Paul's became a meeting place, a place of solace, a place of hope, and a place to grieve those who lost their lives. This beautiful, moving poem is a tribute to unwavering strength, faith and the search for a symbol of hope in a time of such tragedy.

It's nice to be big
     and it's nice
     to be tall.
But, sometimes, 
     being little
Doesn't mean
     being small.
 
The Little Chapel That Stood, while written shortly after September 11, 2001, stands the test of time and is a text that will undoubtedly be read and studied now that we are viewing 9-11 more as a moment in history rather than as part of the raw wounds of the present.


The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss, illustrated by Mirto Golino
Published: July 1, 2003
Publisher: OldCastle Publishing
Pages: 40
Genre: Picture Book/Poetry
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade/Young Adult
Disclosure: Library Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound