Readers Advisory Conundrum

Today, I had a more unique readers advisory interview. A young girl came up to the desk, blushing (or maybe sunburned), and asked for recommendations for good books for a 10-year-old. After going through the “what’s the last book you read you like” and “what did you like about it” I learned she likes romance books. Now I read romantic type books too when I was that age (almost every Ann Rinaldi * and Dear America ** book had some sort of romance), but we don’t have many of those anymore. And our young patron would have to be interested in historical fiction to enjoy my pre-teen reads.

I recommended the Wide Awake Princess series by E.D. Baker, Bloomability by Sharon Creech, The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (can’t remember any romance, but she did say she liked mermaids), and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She seemed less interested in Anne since the first books isn’t very romantic, but I hope she does eventually read the Anne series. Anne and Gilbert are one of my favorite fictional couples. So sweet.

Did I miss something obvious? She seemed on the younger end of 10 so I didn’t to get too crazy with the romance, and certainly not into young adult, but I’m stumped! And this should be my wheelhouse (as opposed to J Sci Fi)! Blerg.

*in 6th grade I read Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi so many times that we almost bought the book from my middle school library since it was out of print at the time. Lucky for me, it was reprinted by the time I was in 7th grade.

**Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic, 1912A Coal Miner’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminksa, Lattimer, Pennsylvania, 1896 and The Great Railroad Race: the Diary of Libby West, Utah Territory, 1868 were particular favorites of mine. 

The Wednesday Wars

I read The Wednesday Wars for the PopSugar Reading Challenge (read a book with a month or day of the week in the title), and it just so happened to also fit in the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge as well (Newbery Award or Honor book). The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt snuck by me in that awkward time between when I was still reading Newbery Award Winners and going to grad school, so I totally missed it. Until now. While the blurb did not interest me at all (see below), the book ended up totally engrossing me.

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. 

Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

There seems to be a lot of mixed reactions on Goodreads as to whether or not the intended audience enjoys this book, or will enjoy it, or if it’s a book adults think kids should like and read. I go back and forth on this one, as I tended to really enjoy award winners when I was at the intended age. However, a lot of my peers felt they were automatically boring books.
In the case of The Wednesday Wars, I don’t see most kids picking it up off the shelves loving it, but I do see it as a very meaningful and enjoyable read aloud and discussion in the classroom. Much of the context surrounding the Vietnam War and Shakespeare plots are foreign to 4th graders, but could lead to some excellent discussion perhaps an early appreciation for Shakespeare.

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

A friend of mine from grad school posted on Instagram that she was approved for a NetGalley copy of Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan and I decided I had to try as well. I am so pumped about the third installment of Crazy Rich Asians! Anyway, once I got into NetGalley (it had been a while) I poked around and found a few more books that might fit into my goals of 1) reading more juvenile books this year and 2) could fit the PopSugar Reading Challenge checklist. One of which is Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George.

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The story centers around orphaned mouse Mona who finds herself carried away in a storm and finds refuge in a fantastical hotel called Heartwood Hotel. Readers meet sweet woodland creatures (like Mrs. Prickles the cook, Tilly the squirrel maid and owner Mr. Heartwood the badger), go on brave adventures with Mona, and learn about Mona’s family and past.


One Goodreads reviewer compared Heartwood Hotel to The Wind in the Willows, and while I see his point, I disagree. Mostly because the writing and characterizations are lacking. While Heartwood Hotel is no The Wind in the Willows it is a sweet and enjoyable read. I foresee those who like Critter Club and Puppy Place and The Saddle Club snapping these up. The fact that the book is an ARC and already a “book one” tells me publishers are also seeing the connections.

Mock Caldecott

I attended my very first Mock Caldecott discussion on the 8th (this really delayed, I know). Fortunately, I’d read most of the titles in my rush to read all the Goodreads best of picture books, and in my perusal of other “best of” lists. It’s interesting, however, to note that the actual winner (and only one of the four official honor books was included) was not discussed at all in our meeting. The titles discussed are as follows:

Medal winner: Erin E. Stead for The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas

Honor: Brendan Wenzel for The All Saw a Cat

Honor: Beth Krommes for Before Morning by Joyce Sidman

Honor: Nick Wroblewski for Wake Up, Island by Mary Casanova

Honor: Yuyi Morales for Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Honor: Christian Robinson for School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

Tessa Blackham for Monday is Wash Day by Maryann Sundby

The Fan Brothers for The Midnight Gardner

Dan Santant for Are we There Yet?

Evan Turk for The Storyteller

While I don’t agree with the winner (I liked Before Morning and School’s First Day of School) much more, the process was fascinating! We each voted for four titles, with a weighted vote (our first choice gets more points etc), so there’s less of a chance for ties. We also discussed in great detail, the gutters, continuity (in School’s First Day of School a little girl draws a picture and on the next page, when it is hung up on the teacher’s bulletin board, the sun has changed locations), and whitespace. Many things I have to admit, I had not looked at before.

Hopefully next year, I can also participate in the Mock Newbery! I hope to be more on top of things this year, read the books as they come out.

And the Winner is….

Today is the day! The Youth Media Awards (YMA) were announced this morning at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Atlanta. For more information on the awards themselves and the various honor books, check out School Library Journal, The Horn Book and The American Library Association.

The Newbery goes to… 

Kelly Barnhill for The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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(Goodreads summary)

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.

The Caldecott goes to…

Javaka Steptoe for Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

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(Goodreads summary)

Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.

The Printz AND the

Correta Scott King Award go to

John Lewis and Andrew Aydin for March: Book Three

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(Goodreads summary)

Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

Upcoming 2017 Releases

Now that we’ve gone through all (or most of) the Best of 2016 books, it’s on to 2017! Forever Young Adult released their “Most Anticipated Books of 2017: Sequels and Follow-ups” list.

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

I have to admit, I have no interest in the majority of these titles. However, I am all about Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You) and I need to know what happens! Stephanie from Forever Young Adult pretty much sums up my feelings on the third book in the series: “Why I’m Excited: More Lara Jean, what the what?! But I’m so torn, y’all! On the one hand, I love Lara Jean and her family, and I will absolutely jump at the chance to see more of them. But on the other hand, she and [REDACTED] ended the last book in a good place, and if there’s anything we know about telling a story, is that there must be some kind of conflict to keep it interesting. And, guys, I don’t want there to be any more dramalama for Lara Jean and [REDACTED]. Why do you do this to me, Jenny Han?”

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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

I LOVED Code Name Verity so I’m super pumped about the prequel, The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein. It has a lot to live up to, and I don’t think it will pack quite the same punch as Code Name Verity (for obvious reasons), but Wein created such wonderful characters I’m excited to spend time with them again.

I also checked out Forever Young Adult’s list of upcoming YA standalones, in addition to various Goodreads lists, and found myself a few more intriguing titles.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

This is an incredibly niche genre, but I find I enjoy fantasy most when it’s set in historical time periods. Think The Night Circus. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue seems to fit this niche nicely. And there’s a boy-boy love story, which I still (unfortunately) do not see a lot of in literature.

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

New Sarah Dessen! Hooray! I love her. Once and for All promises to be just as delightful as all the rest of Dessen’s novels. I can’t believe she’s written 13!

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is billed as a “laugh out loud, heartfelt, YA romantic comedy about two Indian American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.” I think that pretty much sums up why I want to read it. Also #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices

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Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

First, amazing cover! Second, I really enjoy middle grade novels in verse. Add that to our main character having Tourettes Syndrome and changing schools, and I’m officially intrigued.

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Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King

I really enjoyed A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers (side note, interesting that the YA novels are under A.S. King and this MG novel is Amy Sarig) and I’m interested to see how she writes for Middle Grade. Me and Marvin Gardens is about a lonely boy who befriends a secret creature who eats plastic, and only plastic. The Goodreads blurb describes it as “her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King tells the story of a friendship that could actually save the world.”

Brightly also has a list of 2017 Picture Books. I’m very excited about the Jim Henson biography and Anna Dewdney’s latest. I was so sad to hear of her passing!