The Five 2011 Newbery Winners

Okay, technically, it’s one winner and the four honor books. I don’t know about you, but on lists like this I almost always find that I like one of the runners-up more than the winner.

Also, I am somewhat pained to admit that I’ve only read one of the five Newbery books. I won’t say which one because, honestly, I wasn’t crazy about it. Nevertheless, the winner looks like a good one. If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

“Moon over Manifest,” written by Clare Vanderpool, is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

“Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.” (Booklist)

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named:

“Turtle in Paradise,” by Jennifer L. Holm and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc..

“In 1935, jobs are hard to come by, and Turtle’s mother is lucky to find work as a live-in housekeeper. When she learns that her employer can’t stand children, she sends her 11-year-old daughter from New Jersey to Key West to live with relatives. Turtle discovers a startlingly different way of life amid boisterous cousins, Nana Philly, and buried treasure. This richly detailed novel was inspired by Holm’s great-grandmother’s stories. Readers who enjoy melodic, humorous tales of the past won’t want to miss it.”    (Booklist)

Heart of a Samurai,” written by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.

“In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.”  (Booklist)

“Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night,” written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“Like Sidman’s Caldecott Honor Book, Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (2005), this picture book combines lyrical poetry and compelling art with science concepts. Here, poems about the woods at night reveal exciting biology facts that are explained in long notes on each double-page spread. In a poem about crickets, lines describe “the raucous scrape / of wing against wing,” while a prose passage explains that the cricket’s wing has a serrated “file,” which the cricket rubs against a hard “scraper” on its other wing to attract a mate, creating a sound called “stridulation” that can swell to deafening levels. The facts are further reinforced in the accompanying picture, which shows the small file on a cricket’s wing.

In an opening note, Allen explains his elaborate, linoleum-block printmaking technique, and each atmospheric image shows the creatures and the dense, dark forest with astonishing clarity. Looking closely at a picture of a snail, for example, readers will see the physical detail, described in an adjacent poem, in the small animals’ moist, sluglike bodies, “riding on a cushion of slime.” The thrilling title poem captures the drama of predator and prey: a mouse in the undergrowth flees an owl’s “hooked face and / hungry eye.” A final glossary concludes this excellent, cross-curricular title.”  (Booklist)

One Crazy Summer,” by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.”

Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love.” (Booklist)

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The 2011 Newberry and Caldecott Medal Winners.

The American Library Association announced on Monday the 2011 John Newbery Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal. The Newbery Medal honors the most outstanding contribution in children’s literature and the Caldecott Medal honors for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The ALA also announced more than 20 awards total for top books, video and audiobook for children and young adults at its Midwinter Meeting in San Diego.

It’s a looooooooooong list with lots of different awards so check out the whole thing when you have some time.

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature

“Moon over Manifest,” written by Clare Vanderpool, is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

I haven’t read it, but this is how the publisher describes the book.  “Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.”

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named:

“Turtle in Paradise,” by Jennifer L. Holm and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.;

“Heart of a Samurai,” written by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS;

“Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night,” written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and

“One Crazy Summer,” by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:


“A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.

Two Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

“Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and

“Interrupting Chicken,” written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein and published by Candlewick Press.

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Easy Reader Series That Boys Will Love

The question I  get asked the most often is — can you recommend something my 5, 6, 7-year-old boy will actually want to read?

It’s a tough age, for both boys and girls, because they’re used to being read to and frequently haven’t quite gotten into the habit of reading on their own.  Or they want to read, but get frustrated because the material that interests them is too difficult for their reading level.

Here are three different series, each of which has lots of books in the series so if he likes it you can get more.  I’ve included a sample page from each series so you can gauge for yourself if the reading level is appropriate for your little man.

The Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold is adorable fun with quirky cartoons and zany plots that keeps kids reading and laughing.  In the first book we meet a boy who goes out searching for a smart animal to take to The Amazing Pet Show and bumps into a fly that is intelligent enough to say the child’s name, Buzz. Although his parents and the judges feel at first that a fly is only a pest, not a pet, the insect puts on a performance that astounds them all and wins an award.

Got a little superhero at home?   It doesn’t matter if his favorite crime-fighter is Superman, Batman, Spiderman or even, gulp, Wonder Woman, there are tons of these “I Can Read” books in which good always defeats evil. This series will have them reading without even knowing that it’s good for them.

The P.J. Funnybunny series is a very sweet series that deals with problems that feel relatable to kids.  For example, in this book P.J. thinks that camping is not for girls.  At least, that’s what P.J. and his pals tell Donna and sister Honey Bunny when they want to tag along on a camping trip. But when two mysterious ghosts frighten the boys all the way home, only the girls know the real story.

Next time, I’ll tackle the same topic except we’ll switch genders and talk about girls as emerging readers.

“The Adventures of Nanny Piggins” by R.A. Spratt

Mary Poppins, move over—or get shoved out of the way. Nanny Piggins has arrived!

Why didn’t I come up with this idea?  The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt (grades 3 – 6) is irreverent fun that is impossible to resist.  This is a most excellent choice for out loud bedtime reading that I guarantee will have both parent and child giggling.

As the story opens we learn that Nanny Piggens was most recently employed at the circus as the pig shot out of a cannon.   She assumes the title Nanny when she spies a “Help Wanted” sign on the lawn of the Green family.  Mrs. Green is dead, and Mr. Green is so tight-fisted he refuses to pay a human nanny. So when a pig with no criminal record who will work for ten cents an hour applies, Mr. Green is delighted.

The children—Derrick, Samantha, and Michael—promptly fall in love with Nanny Piggins because she lets them eat sweets all day, watch as much TV as possible and stay up quite late.  She also comes up with the most marvelous ideas, like taking a boat to China to get Chinese takeout.

Even when things don’t exactly work out as planned (and they rarely do), the high-jinks and hilarity make them excellent adventures. Stuffing adjectives into this review is as easy as watching Nanny Piggins stuff pies into her mouth. This smart, sly, funny book is marvelously illustrated with drawings that capture Nanny’s sheer pigginess.

Readers may worry that this first novel is so full of stories about Nanny Piggins that there won’t be enough left for sequels. Never fear!  The last line of the book predicts Nanny will be stirring up more adventures, possibly even before breakfast. (synopsis excerpts stolen directly from Booklist)

School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2010

HERE’S SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL’S BEST OF LIST.

VERY COMPREHENSIVE LIST SORTED BY AUTHOR FOR ALL AGES.

While some of the novels here include some historical settings and contemporary concerns, it is fantasy that continues to reign supreme. More original than ever, these selections are frightening, edgy, wildly funny, electrifying, and magical, with protagonists fighting evil in brilliantly created new landscapes, realms, and kingdoms, as well as in our world. This year’s humor is found mainly in the fantasy; most of the realistic books revolve around more serious events—children surviving Hurricane Katrina, a teen trying to understand what his ex-marine brother is going through, three boys who survive by sifting through trash mounds.

Keeper small(Original Import)

APPELT, Kathi. Keeper. illus. by August Hall. S & S/Atheneum. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-5060-8.
Gr 4-7-Ten-year-old Keeper and her guardian live happily with BD (Best Dog) in a tiny Texas coastal community until the day things go terribly wrong. The impressionable youngster decides to take advantage of the blue moon’s magic to meet up with her mermaid mother to make things right and puts her life at risk in the process. A lovely, lyrical book about loss and redemption. (July)

BARRETT, Tracy. King of Ithaka. Holt. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-8969-1.
Gr 8 Up-When soft and spoiled Telemachos sets out to find Odysseus, the father he barely knows, he encounters danger, betrayal, treachery, and terrifying creatures as he searches land and sea, accompanied by a brazen but loyal centaur and a runaway weaver. In the end, his quest has become one of self-discovery and maturation. With vivid characters and nonstop action, this is a perfect introduction to the classic tale. (Nov.)

zombie.1(Original Import)

BLACK, Holly & Justine Larbalestier, eds. Zombies vs. Unicorns. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8953-0.
Gr 9 Up-Two authors, each unabashedly zealous about her cause, assemble 12 creature-centric stories intended to settle that age-old debate: Which are better, zombies or unicorns? Penned by YA’s elite, these edgy, finely crafted tales reach far beyond the expected shambling corpses and shimmering steeds to ponder themes of love and loss, moral dilemmas, and the state of modern society. (Oct.)

BOYCE, Frank Cottrell. Cosmic. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-183683-1; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-183686-2.
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Liam Digby looks so much like a full-grown adult that he’s accepted as an in-flight chaperone for a thrill ride that sends a group of kids into simulated space. When the experiment turns into the real thing, he faces the challenge of his life. This wild adventure is as funny as it is serious, and Liam’s problem-solving skills, based on his success with role-playing computer games, serve him well. (Feb.)

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NY Times Best of 2010

Notable Children’s Books of 2010

 

Illustration by Jakob Hinrichs

BUSING BREWSTER
By Richard Michelson.
Illustrated by R. G. Roth.

Unpaged. Knopf. $16.99. (Ages 6 to 10)

Brewster is a black child living in a segregated neighborhood in the early 1970s. He’s not dreaming of a way out, only of starting first grade with Miss Evelyn — until his mother announces that he and his brother will be bused to the “white school” an hour away. The understated honesty of Michelson’s writing and Roth’s art capture the period perfectly in this tale, one of this year’s New York Times best illustrated children’s books.

CENTER FIELD
By Robert Lipsyte.
280 pp. HarperTeen/HarperCollins. $16.99. (Ages 12 and up)

Lipsyte’s pitch-perfect young adult novel follows a jaded but likable suburban kid who wants only to play center field, where it’s “open and clean, no foul lines or crazy angles.” But it takes time to get there. The suburb he lives in, with its neglected teenagers, overworked adults and scheming, self-serving authority figures, seems like a stand-in for early-21st-century America.

DUST DEVIL
By Anne Isaacs.
Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Unpaged. Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. (Ages 5 to 9)

In this gorgeous sequel to the Caldecott Honor-winning “Swamp Angel,” the brave and resourceful Angelica Long rider, all of 16 years old, once again proves herself worthy to wear the boots of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill or John Henry. Zelinsky’s precise and witty illustrations, in American primitive style, match Isaacs’ text, which captures the outsize tone of the frontier, where the soil is “rich enough to open its own bank.”

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