Recently in Award Winners Category

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.



Ship Breaker

ShipBreaker-PaoloBacigalupi-197x300.jpgI'm late to the party on this award winning book--it won the 2011 Michael L. Prinz award (go here to see more awards), but perhaps you missed it too. (original hardback cover on the left, paperback cover on the right)

Ship Breaker (Little, Brown and Company, 2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi took me into a believable future world with an age old story of kids doing what they have to to survive. I found it fascinating and, at times, heartrending.

shipbreaker.jpgNailer works on a light crew stripping wires from rusting ship hulks. It's dirty, dark, and dangerous. When he goes home, he has to be equally cautious depending on the mood of his brutal father. A hurricane in the gulf changes his luck. Or does it?

I want to know more about this world. Fortunately, there's a companion book, The Drowned Cities, that I can read next. It came out in 2012.

I'm not sure how I missed this author--Mr. Bacigalupi writes adult and YA fiction. Check out his books on his website.


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.

The Year We Sailed the Sun

Ship Breaker

Prisoner 88

El Deafo

On My Way to Buy Eggs

This Girl Is Different

Payback

Quick and Cute

Fantasmagory

MG Adventure in Verse

Discoveries and Escapes

A Wow Adventure

Dangerous Adventure

An Eggstraordinary Story

MG Mystery

A Boy and an Elephant

Secrets!

Hilariously Creepy

Moving Story

Cute Grandma Story

A Spooky Story just in time for Halloween

Heartbreaker

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

Shortlisted?

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?

Unforgettable

Character Growth

This book sticks with you! And offers hope.

Got voice?

2009 Newbery Winner

Fantasy to Love

A 2009 Newbery honor book

Behind on my Reading

Emotional Involvement with Characters