Recently in Award Winners Category

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Barnhill_GirlWhoDrankMoon_HC_jkt_rgb_2MB_HR.jpegThe Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin Young Readers, 2016) by Kelly Barnhilll is unusual. It's not told all in the viewpoint of a child main character--in fact we're in the viewpoint of two adults, a swamp monster, and even a tiny dragon. The girl's viewpoint comes later in the book.

The people in the village sacrifice the youngest born child each year to keep themselves safe from a witch. What they don't know is that the witch is actually kind and she's been rescuing these children and giving them to good homes on the other side of the forest. This time Xan keeps a baby girl, whom she names Luna. She raises her with the help of Glerk, a swamp monster, and Fyrian, a perfectly tiny dragon. To keep everyone safe from Luna's magic, Xan locks it inside her until she's thirteen. Meanwhile, a young man from the village plans to kill the witch.

I loved this epic story and had a hard time putting it down. And isn't that a beautiful cover? The book has been put on a number of Best Book lists and is a New York Times bestseller.

The author describes herself on her website as: "Author. Teacher. Insufferable Blabbermouth. I also make pie." Read more about her here. I haven't read all of her books, yet, but besides this one, I've already recommended The Mostly True Story of Jack here.


Echo

ECHO-medal-693x1024.jpgEcho (Scholastic Press, 2015) by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a 2016 Newbery Honor book--my vote is for the top award as it is so amazing.

Four stories, four different time periods, different cultures, and a prophecy, a promise and a harmonica are all woven together in an unexpected way. Otto's story is very short, but it kicks off with mystery when he gets lost in the forest. He must pass the harmonica on at the right time. Over sixty years later we meet Friedrich struggling with hiding his birthmark in a country gone crazy labeling someone like him a defective--welcome to Nazi Germany. He finds and passes on the harmonica. Next we jump two years later to an orphanage for destitute children in Pennsylvania to be with Mike who is trying to make sure he and his little brother stay together . . . somehow. Again, the harmonica plays an important part. Seven years later we meet Ivy in California dealing with prejudice for her Hispanic background and another family's Japanese heritage. The harmonica comes to her, too.

Each of the three main stories were heart-jerking and so important for kids (and adults) today to hear. I love how the book is resolved. This really is a must read! (It's also a New York Times bestseller.)

The author is an eclectic writer with books in the following categories: novels, picture books, early readers, and short stories in anthologies. Learn more about her here.


All Four Stars

allfourstars_final.jpgAll Four Stars (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2014) by Tara Dairman is deliciously funny and definitely appropriate for any foodie.

Eleven-year-old Gladys Gatsby secretly cooks gourmet food when her parents aren't at home, since they think cooking is nuking something in the microwave. They also don't know Gladys' dream of being a restaurant critic. But she gets a lot of practice after she catches the kitchen on fire--practice in writing up food disasters, that is. With a ban on cooking and orders to go out and make friends, the school essay contest sounds like a solution to her problems.

This book has an engaging main character and a satisfying ending. I'm not the only one to think so, because the book has received awards, including a 2015 Crystal Kite, and been put on state lists.

According to the author's website, parts of the book "were written in a mall in Brazil, a guesthouse in Morocco, and coffeehouses in Argentina, Cameroon, Gabon, and Tanzania." Recipes from the book are on the website here. Tara Dairman also includes recipes in her blog from time to time.

stars-of-summer.jpgTwo more books have followed the first: The Stars of Summer is second in the trilogy, and the third is Stars So Sweet.stars-so-sweet-cover-1.jpg











The Crossover

CrossoverNewbery.jpgI'm late to the party to celebrate the 2015 Newbery medal book, The Crossover (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) by Kwame Alexander. But actually it's never too late to read a good book.

If you haven't read this believable novel in verse, I strongly recommend it. It'd be especially great for those reluctant readers as it is a very quick read and so accessible. Kids into sports will like it. It's fun to read for anyone!

That doesn't mean it's a piece of fluff by any means. Instead we experience the highs and lows with thirteen-year-old Josh and his twin Jordan (JB). His brother is thinking more about GIRLS than BASKETBALL. Will the brothers even be friends after this year?

booked.jpgKwame is the author of 21 books. His most recent novel Booked came out in April and looks great. Read more about the author/poet on his website.


The Year We Sailed the Sun

YearWeSailed.jpgI loved this historical middle grade novel, The Year We Sailed the Sun (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015) by Theresa Nelson. It's set in the year 1912 and took me into a unfamiliar world of Catholic orphanages and Irish street gangs in St. Louis.

Eleven-year-old Julia Delaney and her almost fourteen-year-old sister are being sent to The House of Mercy. Their older brother Bill, only fifteen himself, promises it will just be for a short time. Mary's the good sister, so living with nuns won't be hard on her. But Julia, that's quite a different story. And you can tell so from the first sentence of Chapter One: "I suppose I will go to hell for biting the nun."

That made me laugh. Yet I found Julia a sympathetic character as well. The author was a Winner of the PEN/​Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship for this book. It's also a Junior Library Guild Selection.

The novel is a fascinating blend of fiction mixed with actual history. (Of course, I had to read the Author's Note at the end to know that.) On the book's page on Theresa Nelson's website there are great pictures of the time period, including one of the real Julia who inspired the story.

The author has a number of other books to put on my "to be read" list.



The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Echo

All Four Stars

The Crossover

The Year We Sailed the Sun

Ship Breaker

Prisoner 88

El Deafo

On My Way to Buy Eggs

This Girl Is Different

Payback - Nickel Bay Nick

Quick and Cute - Number One Sam

Dory Fantasmagory

MG Adventure in Verse - May B.

Discoveries and Escapes

A Wow Adventure

Dangerous Adventure

An Eggstraordinary Story

MG Mystery - Three Times Lucky

A Boy and an Elephant - Chained

Secrets! - The Pledge

Hilariously Creepy - Creepy Carrots

Moving Story - The Stamp Collector

Cute Grandma Story - Silly Frilly Grandma Tilly

Heartbreaker - The One and Only Ivan

The amazing Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Eye-opening Historical - Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

Anything But Typical

Historical MG in Verse - Inside Out and Back Again

Amazing Historical - The Year We Were Famous

Fascinating problem - Flip

Whose life? - How to save a life

Another time and now - Blessing's Bead

Just love this kid! - Okay for Now

A book with heart - Heart of a Shepherd

Really good story - Grounded

One Strong Girl! - One Crazy Summer

Distinct voices - Blink & Caution

Great first line - Split

Very Very Good! - Crunch

Very Interesting - The Everafter

Real or not real? - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Funny pet story - Guinea Dog

Something a bit different - Ashes

Fearful stuff - Countdown

What a sweet winner! - Moon Over Manifest

Unputdownable Fantasy - The Demon King

Shortlisted? - Mockingbird

Facts just slip into your mind - The Red Umbrella

Book Felt SO Real - memoirs of a teenage amnesiac

Great First Line - How to Steal a Dog

Book 1 - glad more is coming - Shiver

Newbery honor book - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Great opening scene - The Middle of Somewhere

You thought you had it tough? - Sweetgrass Basket

Unforgettable - Unwind

Character Growth - Red Glass & Mexican WhiteBoy

Got voice? - Penny from Heaven & Elijah of Buxton

2009 Newbery Winner - The Graveyard Book

Fantasy to Love - Graceling

A 2009 Newbery honor book - Savvy