My #alayma Predictions!

When You Reach Me won the 2010 Newbery Medal.

At 11am EST/8am PST the ALA Youth Media Awards will begin. I will be hunkered down in my classroom with a few students (hopefully!), watching the awards as they unfold over our lunch. Every year I set a goal for myself- read the Newbery, and now the Printz, Award winner and honor books before they are announced. So here goes again… predictions for this year. These are in no particular order and I don’t pretend to know what will take home the gold as opposed to an honor. These are just the books I expect/hope to see honored later today!

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer


Can’t wait to see if I get any of them right! What are you predicting will take home a sticker?


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (Review and Giveaway)

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is a love song to book lovers.  I first heard about it when a few of my Tweeps mentioned it on Twitter.  When I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher, I set my other books aside and sank into my couch with it.  A few hours later, I struggled to leave Ursu’s world behind in order to be a functional member of society again.  It’s that good.  Enchanting, heartfelt, sincere, and magical are the only words I can use to describe  Breadcrumbs.

A modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, Breadcrumbs is the story of Hazel and Jack.  Best friends their entire lives, they are inseparable.  That is until, something happens and Jack begins to change.  No one else notices anything different about Jack and when Hazel tries to point it out, she is only told that sometimes boys and girls grow apart as they grow up.  Luckily for Jack, Hazel doesn’t see this as a valid reason for his sudden coldness and distance.

Hazel finds herself drawn into a fairy tale world full of magic, witches, enchanted flowers, and spells.  I found myself utterly enchanted by Hazel.  She is a real (non-white!) girl experiencing the growing pains of early adolescence.  She is struggling to understand her parents’ divorce.  She has been forced to transfer to a regular public school rather than the creative arts schools she previously attended.  And she doesn’t fit in with new classmates but she is unwilling to compromise her self in order to fit in.

And the geekiness!  Ursu has created a love song for bookworms with Breadcrumbs.  Hazel is a book lover and she views the world through the lens of the books she has read and loved.  Harry Potter, Madeline L’Engle, Rebecca Stead, The Golden Compass, and many more in between.  I loved the obvious and not-so-obvious mentions of books that shaped my own childhood.  Breadcrumbs is just magical.

Highly, highly recommended.  This is being marketed as a middle grade book but I handed it to some of my sophomores and they are raving about it.  I think this is a book the will leap across the divides of gender and age.  It’s a book that should be in all classroom libraries.  The writing is poetic and brilliant and the story is one that wraps you up in its arms and doesn’t let you go until you reach the last page.  Get this one now!  You will want to own a copy before the Newbery Award is awarded this winter.  😉

Interested in winning a copy of Breadcrumbs?  Walden Pond Press has kindly offered a copy for one reader of the blog!  Simply comment on this post by 10/7 in order to be entered.  Be sure to leave your name and an email address where you can be reached in the event that you win!

ALA Award Winners

On Monday I had the ALA Youth Media Awards Twitter account running in the background while eating lunch. I checked every few seconds while waiting for the awards to be announced.  Boy, was this a wildcard year for a few awards!  I was thrilled with some, surprised by others, and shocked by some more.  Here are the winners:

Newbery Medal-
Moon Over Manifest written by Clare Vanderpool- Well, I did not read this one before the announcement.  In fact, I did not even recognize the title!  However, upon coming home I did find a copy in my TBR pile. Needless to say, it has been moved to the top of the file!

Newbery Honor Books:

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm- My sister’s all-time favorite author. She was so excited when I called to tell her that Jennifer won another Newbery Honor.  Needless to say, my sister read “Turtle in Paradise” the day it was released and is anxiously awaiting Holm’s next book. 🙂  (read)

Heart of a Samurai written by Margi Preus

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night written by Joyce Sidman

One Crazy Summer written by Rita Williams-Garcia

Printz Award:
Ship Breaker written by Paolo Bacigalupi- I was actually in the middle of reading this one on Monday. So I am counting this as read!

Printz Honor Books:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher  (read)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (was on the TBR pile, reading now)

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Nothing by Janne Teller- Woohoo!  This was my pick and I am so glad that it got recognized. My favorite book of the year, without a doubt.


And I was beyond thrilled when After Ever After won the Schneider Middle Grade Award. I love love love this book and somehow managed to leave it off my “hopeful” list. Needless to say, I am thrilled it picked up a shiny sticker!

Alex Awards (Best Adult Books for Teens)
“The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel,” by Alden Bell,

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel,” by Aimee Bender

“The House of Tomorrow,” by Peter Bognanni

“Room: A Novel,” by Emma Donoghue (read this one!)

“The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel,” by Helen Grant

“The Radleys,” by Matt Haig

“The Lock Artist,” by Steve Hamilton

“Girl in Translation,” by Jean Kwok

“Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard,” by Liz Murray

“The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To,” by DC Pierson

Looking forward to adding all of these to my library.

See all of the award winners here!

On a more personal note, I was checking Facebook and saw that a high school friend posted a link to the ALA Notable Recordings list. Imagine my surprise when I learned that The Flannery Brothers, he and his brother’s band, made the list!  How cool is that?!  So if you are a children’s librarian, make sure you get a copy of The New Explorers Club into circulation!

Finally, I am not happy to learn that the Today show did not invite the winners of the ALA Awards onto their show this year.  I love seeing the books and authors get more exposure and it’s always a great segment.  This year, they turned down ALA’s proposal and their literacy time was devoted to Snooki and her book instead.  Jersey Shore is a guilty pleasure of mine (I admit it…), but it should NOT be bumping actual authors promoting great children’s literature from major media promotion.  Ridiculous.

My ALA Awards Predictions!

By late Monday morning, the wait will be over!  We will know the 2011 ALA Award winners.  But before they are announced from San Diego, here are my predictions.

Newbery 2011:
(In no particular order, as I would be happy to see any of these as the medal winner or honor books.)
Keeper by Kathi Appelt

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins


Printz Award:
Nothing by Janne Teller

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner


Sibert Award:
The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field Series) by Loree Griffin Burns

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

ALA Awards


Jan. 10, 7:45 a.m. PST


It’s almost Newbery and Printz Award time!  Be sure to follow the awards live online, via Twitter or Facebook.  I’m compiling my list of Newbery and Printz hopefuls and will post it later this weekend.  In the meantime, what do you hope will take home a shiny sticker on Monday?


As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins

I’ve been hearing a lot about this one- all good things- for months now.  I finally ordered it when school ended and I have to say, all those good things were warranted!  As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth is one for the ages.  Kid appeal?  Check!  Distinguished writing?  Check!  Fun almost comic-like illustrations sprinkle throughout the book?  Check plus!  I’m telling you- this is a book for everyone.

In As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, sixteen-year old Ryan has been having a bad string of luck.  Seriously- every last thing that could go wrong has been going wrong.  He was supposed to spend the summer at camp while his parents sailed the Caribbean and put the spark back in their marriage.  Instead, camp is cancelled and he doesn’t open the cancellation notice until he is on the train.  Then the train leaves him behind when he steps off for some fresh air.  He is in the middle of nowhere (ok, he is in Minnesota, but still…).  He soon loses a shoe, his phone charger, and all contact with his grandfather back home.  His poor grandfather ends up hurt and can’t remember where he is.  His parents are blown off course.  And life continues to go wrong from there.

This one knocked me off my feet.  The story is perfection- who hasn’t had one of those days or weeks where every single thing that can go wrong, does?  And while a summary of the story might sound fantastical, it doesn’t read that way.  Each event plays off those before it and they are completely believable.  Cell phone batteries die, plans change, bankrupt companies are becoming more and more common, Facebook is a way to chat without really talking to someone, and nice people do exist.  Ryan’s situation gets more and more complicated in realistic situations that teens will see as a part of their own lives.  (Maybe not all in a few weeks’ span, like Ryan, but still…)

And the writing! My god, it’s like poetry.  This is full of distinguished writing and I can not wait to share it with my new high schoolers. However, it is also perfect for middle school readers.  I think this one will be on the shortlist for awards season this winter, and rightfully so.  It’s just one of those perfect books that has kid appeal and distinguished writing.  Those don’t come around too often, so pick this one up as soon as you can!

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

I will be up-front with you all- Kathi and I had coffee when she was last in NJ and I consider her a friend (albeit a friend who lives in Texas.  🙂 ) However, that did not affect my view of her latest book. (Kathi and I met after I reviewed The Underneath and I fell in love with her writing.)

I admit I was reluctant to pick up her newest novel, Keeper. I loved, loved, loved her Newbery Honor winning book, The Underneath; I was its biggest champion. When I received my review copy (courtesy of Ms. Appelt and the publisher), I put it on my shelf and kept moving it down in my pile. I was so afraid that nothing could live up to the beauty that was The Underneath.

Well there was no reason for me to worry- Keeper is a stunning book.  STUNNING.  It is poetry, prose, magic, fairy tale, and real life wrapped into one.  I think it will appeal to readers across the board.  The entire story takes place over the course of one short day, but with flashbacks to different points in the characters’s lives.  I love how Appelt doesn’t hesitate to toss perspective around like a beach ball.  Most of the book is told from Keeper’s viewpoint, but at times Signe tells the story, Dogie steps in, and even the animals get their chance to share.  The chapters are short, which kept me reading.  However, Kathi’s signature cadence is here, which may frustrate some readers.  The plot is not action-filled but rather ebbs and flows like the waves on the shore.  However, the story does take place over the course of one day, so it never slows to a stop.

This is a beach book.  As I was reading I could practically feel the sand beneath my toes and smell the saltwater in the air.  Appelt has drawn a world that readers immediately fall into, head over heels, like  Alice into the rabbit hole.  Reading this homage to the Gulf and Gulf coast I couldn’t help but feel sadness for what it is going through right now.  This book is especially apropos given the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico right now.  I already ached for the people and nature affected, but Kathi Appelt made me fall in love with a place I have never even been and now my heart breaks even more.

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, too.  They complement Appelt’s text perfectly and I found myself drawn to them. (And I am not an illustrations person at all.)  Hall’s illustrations matched my own visions of the characters perfectly.  Which leads me to the characters- you will fall in love with them all.  I do think there will be some shocked parents out there, though.  Old Mr. Beauchamp has spent his entire life missing his love.  He frequently sits back and remembers the 15 year old boy named Jack that he met briefly in France, before setting sail on the seas.  I admit I was a caught off-guard but only because the relationships I see are almost always heterosexual in mainstream children’s literature.  Mr. Beauchamp’s love is pure and beautiful and he brought a tear to my eye more than once…I am thrilled that a tale like this is being told in a middle grade novel and that it is presented without fanfare or shock and awe.

This is a book about nontraditional families and the importance of family.  It is about the Gulf and the nature that is a part of it.  It is about friendship and heartbreak.  It is about mermaids and legends of the sea, dolphins and stingrays.  But most importantly, it is a simple store about the complicatedness of love.  And it’s on my shortlist for the Newbery.

*There are portions of this book that I would pull out and share on their own, like the chapters devoted to the stingrays.  They are just that gorgeous.

*review copy courtesy of the publisher

2010 Newbery Award Winners


2010 Newbery Honors:

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

And the 2010 Newbery Medal goes to………… Rebecca Stead for When You Reach Me!!!!!!!!!

This year I read 3 of the 5 award winners, including the medal winner.  My kids chose When You Reach Me as their mock Newbery winner.  I am so excited for Rebecca Stead, who is such a sweetheart.

The awards were interesting this year, because @randomhousekids tweeted a congratulations to to When You Reach Me before the award was announced, breaking the embargo.  Imagine if a dark horse won and the book was exposed early?!  I have a feeling this won’t bode well for Random House at next year’s awards….

Some other winners that I read this year…..

A complete list of the winners can be found at the ALA website.

My ALA Awards Hopes and Dreams!

Right now, there are authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and other book people getting ready to go to bed (or already sleeping) and completely unaware that they will receive a life-changing phone call in just a few hours.  The Newbery Committee has made its selections, the press release has been drafted, and at 7:45am the awards will be announced.

Yesterday I posted the books that my four Language Arts classes chose as their Newbery Medal and Honor books.  Tonight I am posting my own hopes for the 2010 Newbery Medal and Honor books.  I’m not going specify which books should win which awards….I am just hoping that many of these books garner a shiny medal tomorrow morning!



When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Love, Aubrey Suzanne LaFleur

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton



I’ve never made a guess about the Printz Award before, but I read a lot of YA this year, so I figured I’d take a stab.  I would love to hear one of these announced as a winner tomorrow:

Fire (Graceling) by Kristin Cashore

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor




And I read so few picture books, but why not make some wild guesses for the Caldecott?  Once, I was able to say I read both the Newbery and Caldecott before they were chosen.  That was only because The Invention of Hugo Cabret won and it was not a traditional picture book! But here are some of my absolute favorites from this year:

Bella & Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Love Story (Amiri And Odette) by Walter Dean Myers

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy



And here is one of my favorites for the Sibert Award:

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann



Don’t forget to watch the live webcast from ALA at 7:45am tomorrow morning! I won’t be with my students, as we are off for MLK, Jr. Day so I will be tweeting with other kidlit bloggers, bright and early!

Our Mock Newbery Results!

On Friday my four Language Arts classes voted for their mock Newbery awards.  Each class voted for the book (chosen from our 4 read alouds this year) that they think most deserves the Newbery Medal.  I added up each classes votes and determined the Medal winner and one Honor book for each class (the top two vote-getters).  Then, I added up each book’s total votes from the day and determined a team winner and honor book (from my four classes).  Without further ado……

Mock Newbery Results


Overall Newbery Medal- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 1:

Newbery Medal–  All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Honor- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Period 3:

Newbery Medal–  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 7:

Newbery Medal–  Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Honor- All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Period 8:

Newbery Medal- Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

HonorWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Some comments from my students as they cast their vote….

“I think When You Reach Me should win because it was a great book….it shows what it feels like to have a best friend and have them leave you.  This book is showing that you might feel bad about someone and in the end you might not know exactly what they put on you and how you changed.”

“I think When You Reach Me should win because it’s an amazing, mind-boggling book that you need to listen carefully to and it’s just an enjoyable book.  I could even see what was going on in my head as it was being read to me.”

Anything But Typical– I think this should win because it gives life lessons and explains what kids with autism are going though.”

All The Broken Pieces should win the Newbery Medal because it was very descriptive and it made me want to keep reading.”

All The Broken Pieces should win because I felt like I was there with the characters and experiencing the events with them.”

There were also write-in votes for Being Nikki (Airhead, Book 2) by Meg Cabot, Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino, Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins, Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal.