The Winners Are…

Newbery Award



Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos  

   I love all of Jack Gantos’s other books, so I can’t wait to read this one—as soon as I can find a copy!


  Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

This is the only one of the winners I read before the awards! Short novel in verse.

  Breaking Stalin’s Nose Eugene Yelchin

   I had never even heard of this one before the awards.



Printz Award


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley   

I’d seen and been intrigued by the cover of this, but it hadn’t made it to my to-read pile yet. It certainly has now!


   Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

   I thumbed through this at the bookstore a week ago. It looks interesting. Heavily illustrated with heavy paper, it’s a strikingly beautiful book. Daniel Handler is Lemony Snicket.

   The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Never heard of this book or author–

   Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Or this one!


I have a lot of reading to do!


The American Library Association (ALA)’s mid-winter meeting begins this weekend in Dallas, Texas. On Monday, January 23, the winners of the various big awards will be announced. Last year I watched the ceremony live on my computer with my school librarian and a couple people who wandered into the library. The year before I had the winners texted to my phone while I waited for a friend at an appointment.

This year I have a meeting that begins right about the same time as the awards. I may have to follow the awards on twitter and try to contain my enthusiasm for the winners. I would prefer watching with other book-loving friends and being able to cheer as winners are announced.

The two awards I’m the most interested in are the Newbery and the Printz.

Last year the Newbery went to:

   Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

with honors to


Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm   

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Dark Emporer and other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia


The Printz went to:

    Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

with honors to



Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Nothing by Janne Teller

I haven’t read all the winners. I enjoyed Turtle in Paradise and One Crazy Summer a lot. Turtle is about a girl sent to live with relatives in the Florida Keys in the 1930’s, and One Crazy Summer is about three sisters who spend a summer across the country in California with their unknown mother during the 1960’s. Two books grounded in events of the times where characters learn about their families. I’m looking forward to the sequel to One Crazy Summer!

Ship Breaker takes place in a bleak future where people survive by collecting scrap metal and wire from ships and other places and selling/trading to try to stay alive. It has adventure and survival themes, plus bio-engineered “monsters”, rich girls who appear dead but aren’t, and hurricanes. The companion novel, The Drowned Cities, will be out in May. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy. Although it doesn’t have many of the same characters, it is another great adventure in this world.

I also enjoyed Vera Dietz which has an interesting format—even some of the buildings have chapters telling what’s going on from their point of view. The Revolver is about a boy whose father has just frozen to death. While he waits for help to arrive, a man shows up saying the boy’s father cheated him during the Alaskan Gold Rush. Good tense mystery!

Next week when the awards are announced, I’ll have lots of books to add to my reading piles! I can’t wait!

Sara Zarr

I have several authors whose work I anxiously await. Sara Zarr is one of them. Her books are all excellent and highly recommended.

Story of a Girl   

   Once Was Lost


And the newest: How to Save a Life


I finished How to Save a Life this week—staying up way too late because I couldn’t stop reading. This is the story of Jill who’s a senior in high school and whose dad died eight months before. When Jill’s mother decides to adopt a baby, pregnant teen Mandy moves into their household to wait to deliver and give up her baby.

Can you imagine having a pregnant girl your age living in your house? Can you imagine that this girl’s baby is going to be YOUR sister?

This story is told in alternating chapters between Jill and Mandy. Read it!

 And then you’ll find that you’re anxiously waiting for the next book Sara Zarr writes!

Novels in Verse

Most novels in verse annoy me because I’m not sure why they’re not in prose. They’re more interrupted lines rather than poetry. A few are works of poetry (see Sonya Sones—especially Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy) and a few need to be brief because of topic (see Patricia McCormick’s Sold), but often they’re just…short.


Of course, sometimes I like to read something short, something I can sit down and read in an afternoon or evening. And, truthfully, after a few pages when I get caught up in the characters and the story, I don’t notice the form that much anymore.


My first book read for 2012 was the verse novel, Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards. This is a historical novel that takes place in 1889 when the Johnstown Flood wiped out several towns in Pennsylvania. The flood was caused when a dam for a fishing pond at a wealthy resort dumped 20 million tons of water on the valley below.

The story is told in verse, alternating between wealthy Celestia, the hired boy from the village she falls in love with Peter, a nurse, Celestia’s father, and others. Class consciousness, which has partially caused this flood, is evident in the love story between Celestia and Peter. I was so caught up in the story, I didn’t notice how late it was until I finished. Read this one!


Other novels in verse you might enjoy:

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (about living in the Dust Bowl)

Exposed by Kim Marcus (about an abusive relationship with a best friend’s brother)

Ringside, 1925 by Jen Bryant (about the Scopes monkey trial)

Day of Tears by Julius Lester (about a slave auction)

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!