Recently in Award Winners Category

The Someday Birds

SomedayBirdscover.jpgThe Someday Birds (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2017) by Sally J. Pla is a moving and amazing story. I would have chosen this book as the Newbery winner if they'd let me.

Charlie likes routine. He's also fascinated by birds. His younger twin brothers and older sister are not so patient with his routines or interests. With Dad in the hospital and not able to speak due to a brain injury from his time as a war journalist in Afghanistan, Gram is staying with them. None of them like the fact that Charlie speaks too directly about Dad's condition. But life is about to change drastically for all of them, including a lady who might be a spy, a road trip, and of course for Charlie, birds.

I love how the chapter headings are related to birds in some way. I also love this story being in Charlie's viewpoint and how he deals with his OCD/sensitivity/autism spectrum issues.

This award-winning book is the author's debut. Read more about her here and about her other books here. And you should definitely read this blog post about what it was like for her as a child and how a teacher made a difference.

Roller Girl

RollerGirl.jpgRoller Girl (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015) by Victoria Jamieson is such a delightful story of hard work, heart, old and new friends, and roller derby! The drawings are fun and really bring the story to life. If you've never read a graphic novel, this is the perfect one to start with. Really!

Twelve-year-old Astrid is at that age where friends are having diverging interests. Girls interested in fashion and the mall think those who are not are babies. Which makes Astrid very unhappy. And then she goes to her first roller derby. Her new hero is now Rainbow Bite. But unfortunately Astrid gets herself in trouble with assumptions and by hiding the truth. Will she make her new dream come true?

Roller Girl was a Newbery honor book in 2016! And it became a bestseller. If you go here, you can learn about the making of the book.

And go here to learn about author/illustrator Victoria Jamieson's other books.

Hello, Universe

hello universe.jpgHello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly is the 2018 Newbery Medal winner and such a fun read. I loved the multiple viewpoints and how the characters are brought together despite their aloneness.

First, we meet shy Virgil Salinas, whose own family doesn't seem to understand his quietness. He feels "like unbuttered toast standing next to them." And they call him Turtle. Only his grandmother, newly from the Philippines, seems to get him.

Next up is Valencia Somerset who is struggling with a repetitive nightmare where she is all alone. She's adopted a dog who lives in the woods and sneaks off to feed him.

Then we meet Kaori Tanaka, with her powers of second sight and her younger sister, Gen, who helps her out preparing for clients.

And, of course, there's the bully--Chet Bullens--aka the Bull--who plays an important role in this story of young middle schoolers on summer break.

Each character was unique and interesting, and yet so identifiable. Except for the bully, of course.

This is Erin's third book. Go here to read about the rest of them.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

lifeofacactus.pngInsignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (Sterling Children's Books, 2017) by Dusti Bowling was so good.

Thirteen-year-old Aven was born without arms, but loves making up stories about what happened to her arms. It's a fun joke with her friends, but when she and her family have to move because her dad lost his job and Aven has to go to a new school, she doesn't feel like joking. Or eating lunch in front of anyone. And the "looks" and stares are hard.

Her new home is a rundown Western theme park in Arizona which has some mysteries. Eventually she meets Connor who has his own struggles and they start investigating those mysteries plus create some excitement of their own. The two also ending up helping each other.

Aven is funny, interesting, and a good friend. I like her parents and how they've encouraged her.

This really is a sweet book, but not too sweet. ;-) Go here and read about all the awards and lists this book has been chosen for.

Dusti's second book, 24 Hours in Nowhere, comes out in September. Read about it here.

A Death-Struck Year

A_Death_Struck_Year.pngA Death-Struck Year (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) by Makiia Lucier is a wonderful historical set 100 years ago.

Seventeen-year-old Cleo Berry is temporarily staying at her school in Portland, Oregon while her guardians are on a trip to San Francisco. But then the Spanish influenza, which has been devastating the East Coast, hits Portland. Cleo is supposed to stay at her school but she sneaks out and goes home where she is alone. She ends up volunteering for the Red Cross and risks her life helping those who are stricken with flu.

Cleo is a strong character who grows during the story to understand much more about life, and death, than she ever has before. I love how this wealthy girl who knows so little about practical things in the real world learns what's really important.

This was author Makiia Lucier's debut novel. The book was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association. Oh, and a bonus on the author's site is pictures of what Portland was like in 1918. See them here.

Makiia's next book is a fantasy that came out in April. Read about it here.

The Someday Birds

Roller Girl

Hello, Universe

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

A Death-Struck Year

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse

Lucky Broken Girl

Strange the Dreamer

Insignia

The Sun Is Also a Star

The PROBLEM with FOREVER

Leave Me Alone!

Wolfie the Bunny

The Only Road

The Wolf's Boy

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Mother Bruce

One for the Murphys

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 - Rooftoppers

A Wow Adventure

Dangerous Adventure - Badger Knight

An Eggstraordinary Story - Under the Egg

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