Some people get excited about the Oscars, I get excited about the ALA Youth Media Awards. I was hoping to watch the awards with my students, but we had a snow day, so I enjoyed them at home in my pjs Did you watch the awards as well? Did you follow it on Twitter? I had Twitter open as well as my Goodreads page.
To be completely honest, I’ve barely read any of the books that received awards and honors. I’m proud of the few I did happen to read, especially The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate which won the Newberry Award! I’m kind of happy that I haven’t read that many of the titles, however, because now I have so many books to look forward to reading. I know many people were shocked, maybe even angry, that John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars didn’t even receive a Printz honor. I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m a tiny bit glad it didn’t receive the award or an honor. There, I said it. I hope I don’t make any enemies over that statement. I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, I did. The reason I’m happy it didn’t make the cut is because it’s already received so much hype. I love that the Printz committee has been choosing more obscure titles lately. Those obscure titles are now going to find a wider audience of readers. I’m excited for those authors and the readers who connect with those books. I can’t wait to read the 2013 Printz titles and share them with my students.
If you weren’t following the awards, here’s a link to all of the winners. The rest of today’s post is going to focus on some of the titles I’m really excited to read. I’m even thinking about creating a Donors Choose project so I can add more of these titles to my classroom library.
Alex Award (I really want to read more adult titles this year):
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (Goodreads): In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Goodreads):
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
Randolph Caldecott Medal:
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Goodreads): From the creator of the #1 NEW YORK TIMES best-selling and award-winning I WANT MY HAT BACK comes a second wry tale.
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.
One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small (Goodreads): On a momentous visit to the aquarium, Elliot discovers his dream pet: a penguin. It’s just proper enough for a straight-laced boy like him. And when he asks his father if he may have one (please and thank you), his father says yes. Elliot should have realized that Dad probably thought he meant a stuffed penguin and not a real one . . . Clever illustrations and a wild surprise ending make this sly, silly tale of friendship and wish fulfillment a kid-pleaser from start to finish.
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown (Goodreads): The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him. Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.
He eats them on the way to school.
He eats them going to Little League.
He eats them walking home.
Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?
Celebrated artist Peter Brown’s stylish illustrations pair perfectly with Aaron Reynold’s text in this hilarious eBook with audio that shows it’s all fun and games…until you get too greedy.
Stonewall Book Award (This list helps satisfy my book gap challenge. I’m also very happy that Drama and October Mourning made the list!):
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz (Goodreads): In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer. It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.
Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.
Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable…and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.
This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Goodreads): A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
William C. Morris Award (I’ve already featured other books on this list that I’d like to read):
Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (Goodreads):
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a
menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze!
But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among
the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister
watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, that she could never leave.
Free at last, Portia begins a new life on the bally, seeking answers about her father’s
disappearance. Will she find him before Mister finds her? It’s a story for the ages, and
like everyone who enters the Wonder Show, Portia will never be the same.
Michael L. Printz Award:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Goodreads): Oct. 11th, 1943–A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.
The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna (Goodreads): The White Bicycle is the third stand-alone title in the Wild Orchid series about a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome. This installment chronicles Taylor Jane’s travels to the south of France where she spends a summer babysitting for the Phoenix family. Including flashbacks into Taylor’s earliest memories, along with immediate scenes in Lourmarin, a picturesque village in the Luberon Valley, The White Bicycle results in a journey for independence both personal and universal, told in Taylor’s honest first-person prose.
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Goodreads): In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. ‘Shorty’ is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free …
There are plenty more books I’m looking forward to reading, but these titles are at the top of my list. Which titles did you miss and look forward to reading?