Recently in Award Winners Category


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.

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.


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


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

A 2009 Newbery honor book

Behind on my Reading

Emotional Involvement with Characters