Friday, August 31, 2018

Meanwhile at Mock Newbery and Printz Clubs...

First rounds of Mock Newbery and Mock Printz happened at my library this summer. Each group consisted of 6-8 teens who read a variety of eligible books and discussed them afterwards. For the purposes of our groups, at least two teens had to agree to make a book a nominee for the final discussions which will take place in December.  The following are the nominees and the other books recommended by each group.

Mock Printz



Eldon is a boy in the remote town of Madison, where you wishes come true. But he is going to learn the real consequences of wishing.  --Prajwal


After her mother commits suicide, Leigh is convinced that she is returning as a bird that she has seen in her neighborhood. --Ananya


Maya Aziz has to deal with being raised by an Indian, Muslim family while she wants to follow her dream of becoming a film major at NYU. I nominate this book because it shows an accurate representation of what life is like nowadays being a Muslim Indian and constantly being accused of being a terrorist  –Annika



This is a story of two former best friends that have a lot in common. Bunny made it into the championship where he can win and secure his future or lose to get his best friend back.  –Prajwal


A girl who grew up in a family without Green Cards uses an easy style to tell the serious truth, about both the struggles and about growing up and living in two different cultures.  –Yun


This book about Henry VIII and the fates of his wives uses creative twists on perspective and style.  –Ria


When Zarin is found dead on a highway in Saudi Arabia with a boy, the mystery of her life slowly unravels through multiple perspectives. -- Sanvi


A girl named Nisha whose mom was Muslim and dad is Hindu, struggles with how her mom’s death affects her harshly. You should read this book because of the dangerous journey they have to go through – Sanvi


Set in a world where people are immortal, this book shows multiple perspectives about what that means and how technology is used to make it so. It leads the reader to think deeper about life and its meaning   – Yun


This killer mystery keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. –Manas

Mock Newbery



Baby Monkey, Private Eye is an adorable story about a monkey, who is a detective, and he loves snacks! –Philip


With a radical ruler and terrorist groups causing havoc, a family tries to escape their home in Syria. When one of their daughters is separated from them, directions from her family and the help of a strange old man are all she has to guide her.  –Jeremy


A thrilling and exciting sequel to Nemesis. Continues Noah’s and Min’s journey in a world where no one can die, but they can only kill. –Kaanjaree


7 Days of the week,
7 children,
7 – the evil number

A family of 7 kids has many, many problems. Can they fix it in time? I recommend this to kids who believe in mischief.  –Naina


Join Elizabeth in a book filled with magic that could go good or bad…with a magic hotel and two people dressed in black.  –Mihika



A girl named Betty lives with her aunt because her mother was not ready to take care of her. But she has to go to her mother when her aunt passes away. Very emotional. –Dhruva


A funny and exciting story about Megan, a girl who is trying to fit in at her new school when she sees a cat clock in her history class. She makes a wish at 11:11 and then strange things start happening.  –Kaanjaree


Mia Tang is a Chinese immigrant in a family facing poverty. When her family lands a job and living space at a motel, life seems to turn for them. But a corrupt manager, debt troubles, English struggles, and conflict create troubles. With a thesaurus and her friends and family, Mia faces her problems. – Jeremy


A girl discovers that there is a whole other world full of storybook characters. As she journeys to and through it, she finds surprising facts about herself and her family. People aren’t always what they seem. –Anushka


This book is about a girl who does not remember anything about her island and she needs to complete an assignment about where she used to live. Through asking others she finds out about her home and other unexpected things.  –Anushka


For those who believe in family sticking together no matter what. This is perfect for you. –Naina


I would recommend this book for younger kids who are interested in music. It is inspiring and pretty amazing how the Libba becomes who she was meant to be. She was also born in North Carolina!  --Sudiksha


Join Leo in an unforgettable magic adventure. She learns about family and friends and becomes a bruja along the way!  --Mihika


Join Nisha in her quest to find where she belongs in Southwest Asia. As a half Muslim and half Hindi, she struggles to find her homeland in 1947. –Mihika


Natalie’s mom is suffering from depression. How can she help? –Mihika


Kiranmala is on an adventure in a different dimension to rescue her parents with a handsome prince.  --Naina


Etzel, a German Shepherd who is torn away from his home to be trained as a police dog, is discovered by an American director who sees the potential in him. After renaming him Strongheart, the two bond and partake in a life of adventures together.  –Jeremy


This book is about a group of girls going through drama. Boys, friends, and parents are all involved. It’s basically middle school drama.   – Anushka


For those who are bullied and for those who care about friends. This book is about a boy who gets bullied and loses his friend and almost loses another.  –Naina

There they are! Both clubs start back up next month, so we'll see what else they pick. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Printz Rewind: 2000

Since I'm doing both a Mock Newbery and Mock Printz group this year, I thought I could reread the Printz books as well. In some cases, this was a first read, but lots of these I have read already.

The Michael L. Printz Award began in 1999 with the first set of awards being given in 2000. This means it is coming up on its 20 year anniversary! For more information on criteria and past winners, check out ALA's Printz Award page.

What happened in 1999?

  • Bill Clinton was acquitted for impeachment.
  • Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones became the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon.
  • NATO launched air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • Family Guy and SpongeBob SquarePants premiered.
  • Canada established Nunavut as an Inuit homeland and new territory.
  • Bill Gates became the richest person in the world.
  • Tornadoes ravaged Oklahoma, killing 36 people.
  • Napster debuted.
  • The Columbine School Massacre resulted in the deaths of 12 students, 1 teacher and the 2 perpetrators.
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr. died in a plane crash.
  • Pokemon became the most popular toy/game in the US.
  • Star Wars Episode I, The Matrix, and The Blair Witch Project premiered.
  • Stanley Kubrick died on March 7, followed by Joe DiMaggio on March 8 and Shel Silverstein on May 10. 
  • Stephen King got hit by a van and was hospitalized for three weeks.
  • The first Georgia Nicholson, second Series of Unfortunate Events, and third Harry Potter books were published.
  • Holes won the Newbery.
790289The Honor Books....

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

John is a lonely guy with a sad home life who writes zines. While dropping off his newest creation, he meets Marisol, a "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian" who warns him not to fall for her. Off course he does...

24271Fairly good place to start my Printz book read. This just threw me back to the late 90's so hard. Much of it rang true, mostly in a good way. Remember how great zines were? Also, who hasn't fallen for someone who wasn't attracted to them and never could be? I wish I had found this book then instead of now, but I still felt the realness of it.

Skellig by David Almond

When Michael's family moves into an old house, he discovers a weird stranger in the garage. One who he wants to help and who might be able to help his sick baby sister.

Well, that book was just as weird and magical as I remembered. I read it the year it came out and surprisingly remembered most of the plot and feel of it clearly. This feels like a strange dream from beginning to end.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

For Melinda, freshman year of high school is just one big lie. Because she got the end-of-summer party busted, everyone hates her. But she had her reasons. In art class, she finds solace and begins to deal with the events of that night. 

This was a reread for me too. In fact, I recently read the updated graphic novel version. Sadly, this is still a quite pertinent topic. I am so glad that this book exists.

And the Winner Was....

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

An intense story about a boy on trial for murder told in a movie script format. I like the mystery of this book, how at the end you are still not sure what exactly happened. I think it is still very timely in its issues of race and the criminal justice system. Would love to hear reactions from modern teens.

Friday, August 10, 2018

What I Read in July

Another Summer Reading month, so time and energy for reading was in short supply. However, there were definitely some standouts.


The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

A refreshing book about being different and the pressures of trying to live up to other's expectations. By day Sebastian is a prince looking for a bride; by night he is Lady Crystallia, fashion icon and trendsetter, who works with his personal dressmaker and best friend Francis to wow Paris. How can he reconcile his two worlds? And what about the feelings developing between the prince and his dressmaker?


Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

When one of her best friends accuses Mara's twin brother of rape, she struggles to understand the disconnect between who she believes her brother to be and what he has done. Meanwhile, her parents and schoolmates immediately take his side, while her ex-girlfriend, Charlie, and his best friend, Alex, also question what really happened. And Mara also has to deal with her own past experience with sexual assault.

This was a very hard book to read and it should be. How do you deal with a rape when the rapist is your twin and the survivor is one of your very best friends? And your parents and most other friends totally believe your brother without even hearing the rest of the story? The emotions and behaviors in this book are very appropriate to the age group and situations, quite realistic and believable. We needed this book.

 1. As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman
 2. Skellig by David Almond
 3. Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger
 4. All Summer Long by Hope Larson
 5. Gordon: Bark to the Future! by Ashley Spires
 6. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
 7. The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life by Cookie Monster
 8. Call of the Wild by Jack London
 9. Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks by Holly Black, et al.
10. The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
11. Shade's Children by Garth Nix
12. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
13. Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
14. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
15. Paper Girls vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughn
16. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu
17. "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlen Ellison
18. Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate
19. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
20. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
21. Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell
22. The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
23. The Funeral by Matt James
24. A Busy Creature's Day Eating by Mo Willems
25. Play by Jez Alborough
26. The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail by Avi
27. A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi
28. We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
29. What Samantha Berger
30. Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan
31. Ocean Monsters by Natalie Lunis
32. The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley
33. Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies
34. See Me Grow by Penelope Arden
35. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Friday, July 13, 2018

Third Friday the 13th Horror Movie Maration

We won't have another Friday the 13th until September 2019, so we had better enjoy this one.

White Zombie (1932) with Cthulu, Sopapilla Bats and Boo-nanas

First up, a classic Bela Lugosi film set in Haiti. A couple travels to a plantation to be married at the invitation of the owner. Unbeknownst to them, he plans to use the powers of a local voodoo priest to steal away the bride for himself. Definite undertones of Dracula, esp. Nosferatu.

Bela Lugosi hyponotizes in the role of Murder Legrande. Sadly he settled for a flat salary for the film and regretted all of his life. His amazing eyes deserved a salary of their own.

Now I know, the whole appropriation of voodun culture and the preponderance of white, male characters makes this one problematic; however, to me that almost makes it a perfect example of rape culture and white superiority. Not what they intended but a pretty good allegory nonetheless.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Wasn't sure what to expect from this one but I was excited about it. And it did not disappoint. Sometime in the near future creatures appear that attack based on sound. Two parents do whatever is necessary to protect their children in this new and dangerous world.

The first thing you are struck by is the silence. It is almost like one of the characters itself. Speaking of characters, the acting is superb. Even the little boy is quite good. The parents are played by real life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski and their on screen chemistry is obvious. The stand-out, however, is the daughter, Millicent Simmonds. This is only her second film but we should expect great things from her in the future. Overall an outstanding film.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) with Spiderweb Taco Dip and Chips

Musical time! A barber who was unjustly sentenced to transportation returns to London with a new name to be reunited with wife and child but discovers that his wife is dead and his daughter the ward of the judge who sentenced him. Full of bloody good fun!

Although the CGI is a bit much at the beginning, this version of the legend is quite a trip. The above song makes me a bit sad that I enjoy it so much but it is creepy good. Can't help but laugh out loud as I sing along.

Ghostbusters (2016) with Green Slime Popcorn

I know, I know. Some people hated this one. But I am not one of those people. I love the concept, I love the characters, and I love the cameos. Holtzmann is my hero; she's badass, smart as hell, and
could totally be my best friend....or maybe my girlfriend. That would be cool.

Patty and Abby are the heart of the group and Kevin, well what's not to like about Kevin?

Pretty sure most of the haters just didn't want their movie remade with women. How can they complain so much when this was Dan Aykroyd's original idea for the sequel in the first place? The dance at the end makes me laugh so hard. I would so make everyone thriller dance if I could control people's movements, wouldn't you?

IT Part 1 (2017) with Skelasagna, Eyeball Caprese, and Bread Snakes with Blood (Sangria) and Strawberry Monsters for dessert

Moved to the Eighties but still pretty close to the book, the first part of IT draws you in with the creepiness and keeps you watching for the friendships and the surprising amount of hope. Of course, there are a lot of similarities to Stranger Things that pop up, mostly because Stranger Things is in part an homage to IT and other Stephen King movies. 
Skaarsgard is not Tim Curry but he is pretty damn creepy in his own right. With a whole year to wait for the next installment, watching this can be a bit frustrating.

Well, that's it for this installment. We'll try to do this again on Halloween, if we can.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What I Read in June

AAAAHHHH! Summer is crazy!

Okay, I feel better. So anyway, I challenged myself to read mostly books that I already own and then decide if I am keeping them or not; those will be marked with a 😣. Little bit of cleaning up for summer.

Reviewing three picture books today:


Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

When Julián notices some ladies on the bus dressed as mermaids, he is fascinated and decides to make his own mermaid costume. His grandmother discovers him and they both go to a parade full of mermaids.

I love the soft pastel colors and graceful lines of the art. I love that everyone is a different body type. And, of course, I love that Julián's grandmother supports him and doesn't act like dressing up makes him inferior. Such a lovely book!


Ocean Meets Sky by Terry and Eric Fan

After his grandfather dies, Finn decides to honor him by building his own ship and sailing on a magical journey. Fantastic illustrations and a careful exploration of grief for children makes this a stand-out.


Drawn Together by Minh Le; illustrated by Dan Santat

A boy and his grandfather think they have nothing in common until they work together to create a supernatural world and a pair of heroes on a mission. The combined art styles are gorgeous and the language and cultural barriers that are overcome are very real. The idea of art as a form of communication is amazing.

 1. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes
 2. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
 3. Blaze by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) 😣
 4. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
 5. Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
 6. Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan; illustrated by Eric Fan
 7. Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge
 8. Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
 9. Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension vol. 2 by Nick Abadzis, Cavan Scott, and George Mann; illustrated by Rachael Stott and Mariano Lacclaustra
10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 😣
11. Juliản is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
12. Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce; illustrated by Ềdith
13. New Shoes by Sara Vernon
14. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
15. Drawn Together by Minh Le; illustrated by Dan Santat
16. I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly; illustrated by J. M. Ken Nimura
17. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 😣
18. The Dream Coach by Anne Parrish; illustrated by Dillwyn Parrish

Monday, June 18, 2018

YALSA Hub Challenge Part 3

So since the last post, I have finished 3 more books from the Challenge. Officially this means it is complete, but I'll probably try to read a few more, if I can.


The Book of Dust vol. 1: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman; read by Michael Sheen (Odyssey Award)

In a prequel to the original Mortal Instruments series, we learn how Lyra came to Jordan College and meet some people who influenced her very, very early life. She is an infant here, so the story primarily concerns two young teens who help her survive a flood and a dangerous man, Malcolm and Alice. The narrator for the book is quite good. I like this every bit as much as The Golden Compass. I didn't think I would be sucked back into the world but I truly was. Can't wait for the next book.


Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery; read by Damaras Obi (Amazing Audiobooks for Teens)

Moving first-hand account of a turbulent time in American history (one we sadly seem to be repeating). The reader was amazing, esp. when she sang the songs at the beginning and end. The appendix that details significant people that the author encountered during the march was well researched and appropriately detailed.


I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (National Book Award)

Technically this one wasn't included in the Hub Challenge, but it should be.

Julia's perfect older sister dies unexpectedly and now her parent's seem to think she should take her place in their home. But Julia is not her sister and she suspects that her sister wasn't as perfect as she appeared to be.

At times Julia seems a bit whiny but this seems authentic to her age, situation and mental illness. I was surprised several times near the end and moved by the life experiences of many of the characters.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Newbery Rewind: 1924

Here we are again. This one I read while my new Mock Newbery group was meeting, so it was interesting to match it against current Newbery contenders. I will be posting soon about how that went, what books they liked and what they didn't. For now....


  • King Tut's tomb is open in Egypt.
  • Warner Brothers studio is established
  • Time Magazine publishes its first issue. So is the first issue of Weird Tales.
  • In September, the Great Kanto Earthquake leaves over 100,000 dead in Japan.
  • T. S. Eliot's poem The Wasteland is published in its full form.
  • Bambi by Felix Salten is published in Austria
  • Louis Armstrong makes his first recording, "Chimes Blues", with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
  • Both Yankee Stadium (US) and Wembley Stadium (UK) open their doors.
  • Mt. Etna erupts.
  • Pancho Villa is assassinated.
  • President Warren G. Harding, dies of a heart attack and is succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge, who becomes the 30th President of the United States.
  • Interpol is created.
  • The Walt Disney company is founded.
  • Actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough is born
  • Astronaut Alan Shepherd is born.
  • Frozen food is invented by Clarence Birdseye.
  • The first incarnation of the Hollywood sign goes up (Hollywoodland).
  • Edwin Hubble discovers galaxies outside the Milky Way.
904372Once again, there are no honor books. So the winner of the Newbery Award for 1924 is....
The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes

Thus we have our first posthumously awarded Newbery.  Hawes submitted the finished manuscript shortly before he unexpectedly died in July; the book was published in October. He was also the first winner to be born in the United States. As you may remember, his book The Great Quest was an honor book the first year that the award was given.

This story is full of action and adventure, a pirate story that glosses over very little. In many ways it reminds me of Treasure Island. The writing is fairly good; however, I feel like after the first few chapters, we lose track of our teen (twenty-something?) protagonist amongst all the colorful figures on the ship. It is also extremely sexist. In the end, I feel they likely gave him the award because he died unexpectedly. Wouldn't be the last time the Newbery was influenced by outside events more than the actual content of the book.

With all the recent discussion about some Newbery honor books being too "old" for the award, I find it very interesting that this author's works were once so prized by the committee. They were considered children's books even though they were filled with vice and violence. By today's standards they would likely be teen books or even adult books. Yet many feel the award has somehow strayed from it original intent. I say again, this award is for children birth to 14, inclusive. Stop trying to make it a "middle grade" award; that is not and has never been its purpose.

Meanwhile at Mock Newbery and Printz Clubs...

First rounds of Mock Newbery and Mock Printz happened at my library this summer. Each group consisted of 6-8 teens who read a variety of eli...