Recently in Award Winners Category

Prisoner 88

Prisoner88.jpgPrisoner 88 (Charlesbridge, 2013) by Leah Pileggi is an amazing story of a boy put in prison for murder. This historical novel was inspired by an actual ten-year-old prisoner who was held in the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary.

Ten-year-old Jake Oliver Evans figures he can pretty much take care of himself. He's not happy about being named Prisoner 88, as if he's just a number. But when he finds out he'll get to eat a big meal every single day, he can hardly believe it. He wonders if he's in heaven, not prison. Of course, a punishment of bread and water soon make that clear. And so does having to learn to read and write.

Leah Pileggi has taken what could be an unsympathetic character and made me care about him. At first, all I knew was that Jake had shot someone, but as I read on what happened is revealed bit by bit until . . . But I don't want to spoil the story for anyone else.

This book had won a number of awards--read about them on the author's site.

El Deafo

ElDeafo.jpgI loved the graphic novel El Deafo (Amulet Books, 2014) by Cece Bell. Based on her own childhood, four-year-old Cece becomes ill and loses her hearing. The story outlines kindergarten through fifth grade showing Cece's struggles and accomplishments. I can relate to Cece's shyness as a child, and felt so sympathetic for her and rejoiced when . . . well, I don't want to spoil the end if you haven't read it. Here's a book trailer with Cece herself talking about El Deafo.

I believe this story is important for kids to read to not only help them understand better how to deal with someone who is hearing impaired, but to learn that differences can be "superpowers" as Cece says. I'm not the only one who thinks it is important as the book is a 2015 Newbery Honor book! On the publisher's site you can read all kinds of great reviews. Here's an article about Cece and how she made the book, too.

Author/Illustrator Cece Bell has written and illustrated other books. See details here.

On My Way to Buy Eggs

onmywaytobuyeggs.jpgI love this simple, but sweet picture book On My Way to Buy Eggs (Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2003) by writer/illustrator Chih-Yuan Chen. Shau-yu is sent to the store to buy eggs. She has simple adventures as she enjoys pretending along the way. The book has a nice mixture of diversity and universal feelings.

I really like how the artist has let us see what Shau-yu is seeing, first through the blue marble, then through the glasses. I also like the use of shadows. Both of these you'll have to look inside the book to enjoy.

On My Way to Buy Eggs was named a Best Children's Book by Publishers Weekly.

Chih-Yuan Chen has illustrated and written The Featherless Chicken, Guji Guji (a story about a crocoduck), Best Christmas Ever, and Artie and Julie--all of which have been translated into English and Spanish, as On My Way to Buy Eggs has been. He also illustrated Mimi Says No and Mimi Loves to Mimic. Several of the books have also been translated into German and French.

This Girl Is Different

different.jpgEvie in This Girl Is Different (Peachtree Publishers, 2011) by JJ Johnson is not your stereotypical homeschooled girl. She's the more realistic version--confident, smart and independent. And, she's bucking her mom's wishes by going to the local High School for her Senior Year. Evie isn't one to stay in the background and how she stands up for others ends up coming back to bite her.

On this page you can read the story behind the story!

The book came out in Korean in 2012.

In French in 2014.

And in German in 2015.




Quite a variety of covers, eh?

On her website, author JJ Johnson has the quotes that are epigraphs in This Girl Is Different.


nickelbaynick.jpgNickel Bay Nick (GP Putnam' Sons, 2013) by Dean Pitchford was a fun read.

Not that 11-year-old Sam Brattle is having a good time. He's just had the worst Christmas ever. And his town of Nickel Bay isn't doing so well either. They mysterious Nickel Bay Nick who has been the anonymous Santa that starts up Christmas for the whole town is a no show this year. Sam's in trouble again, too. This time his running from the police ends up with damage to Mr. Wells' house, and his neighbor is going to make Sam pay for the damages by working for him.

I loved reading about Sam's training and his special assignments and how he changes as a result. It's a story to give one hope.

Nickel Bay Nick received the 2014 Cybils MG Fiction Award book.

Author Dean Pitchford is also an actor, singer, songwriter, screenwriter, playwright, director. Look at his amazing and extensive biography here. You'll definitely recognize songs and movies.

Prisoner 88

El Deafo

On My Way to Buy Eggs

This Girl Is Different


Quick and Cute


MG Adventure in Verse

Discoveries and Escapes

A Wow Adventure

Dangerous Adventure

An Eggstraordinary Story

MG Mystery

A Boy and an Elephant


Hilariously Creepy

Moving Story

Cute Grandma Story

A Spooky Story just in time for Halloween


The amazing Laini Taylor

Eye-opening Historical

Anything But Typical

Historical MG in Verse

Amazing Historical

The Problemsolver Has His Own Problems

Love a Winner

Fascinating problem

Whose life?

Lovely Picture Book

Another time and now

Just love this kid!

Victorian fantasy

A book with heart

Really good story

One Strong Girl!

Distinct voices

Great first line

Very Very Good!

Very Interesting

Real or not real?

Funny pet story

A Dog Detective

Delightfully Dangerous

Something a bit different

Fearful stuff

What a sweet winner!

A 2011 Golden Kite Winner and Newbery Honor!

Unputdownable Fantasy


It Takes a Thief

Facts just slip into your mind

Humor, Attitude and Murder!

"Strange, adj, extraordinary, remarkable, singular"

Book Felt SO Real

Great First Line

Book 1 - glad more is coming

Newbery honor book

Great opening scene

You thought you had it tough?


Character Growth

This book sticks with you! And offers hope.

Got voice?

2009 Newbery Winner

Fantasy to Love