Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Support Your Local Library Challenge January 25, 2012

Filed under: book challenges,Library Challenge — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:53 am

This is a challenge my husband supports 100%. It means not so many boxes from Amazon and trips to local book stores. I do love that I can get onto the library’s on-line catalog when I see a new book that interests me and have it waiting for me at the front desk next time I arrive. It’s already saved me a ton this past month!


My newbery predictions—mostly a swing and a miss January 24, 2012

Filed under: Newbery,Newbery potential — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:51 am

The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer Holm

Inside Out and Back Again by  Thanhha Lai (the only one I was in the park with!)

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberley Bradley

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu


Don’t Forget About the Printz Award January 19, 2012

Filed under: ALA,Caldecott,Newbery,Newbery potential,Printz — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:54 pm

It seems like every year there is quite a bit of buzz about potential Newbery and Caldecott award winners. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I’ve always loved trying to “pick” what book I think is going to be the winner– before the announcements. Some years I have been even willing to place a bet with a friend-I was that certain.

This got me thinking about the Printz award. There isn’t nearly the buzz about it as the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Why is that, I found myself wondering?

The Printz Award has only been around since 2000 as compared to 1937 for the Caldecott Award, which is awarded to the “artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year”. The Newbery Award is the oldest and began in 1922 and was the first children’s book award in history! .  It is awarded “for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year”.

The Printz “honors excellence in literature written for young adults” and the “book may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an anthology and can be a work of joint authorship or editorship. Nominated books may have been previously published in another country , but must have been in the U.S. during the preceding year. The books must be designated by their publishers as either a young adult book or one published for ages 12 through 18”.

Hmmm…. Are there other “awards” out there that are similar? What about the Cybils or the National Book Awards?

The National Book Award seems to have some overlap between those finalists and the Printz, or sometimes the Newbery. The National Book Award is given “by writers to writers” and was started in 1950.

The Cybils, on the other hand, came about in 2006 and “rewards the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal”. Created by bloggers for bloggers, it certainly has caught on. Despite the existence of the Cybils, which is more open to participation by the non-librarian, mock Newbery and Caldecott “clubs” continue to go strong.

Here’s a short round-up of Printz predictions/contenders from the web:

Bookhenge2011 blog, which is tied to Young Adult Literature course and a library (appears to have just shy of 30 members) gave their mock awards to:

2012 Printz Winner – Paper Covers Rock, by Jenny Hubbard

2012 Honors

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
Every You, Every Me, by David Levithan
Chime, by Frannie Billingsley
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente

Someday My Printz will Come  is from the School Library Journal and had votes tallied from 116 votes and gave their mock winner and honors to:

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Chime by Frannie Billingsley

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Steph Su Reads blog has a longer list of possibilities.

Here’s what I am thinking are possibilities based on what I have read–

Everybody Sess the Ants by A.S. King (my money is on this one-I’ll post my review this weekend)

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Here’s my to-read pile that:

I’d like to try to complete before the award is announced, but I won’t get to AND–

I think has a shot at winning–

Paper Covers Rock

Scorpio Races

The Girl Who Circumnavigated the Earth

The Returning

Chime (started, but couldn’t get into)


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu January 13, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

September 2011, 320 pages

Walden Pond Press

Library Copy

Anne Ursu has written an amazing book. I love the intersection of realistic fiction with a version of  The Snow Queen. The two friends Hazel and Jack each are suffering from their own family problems. Hazel doesn’t “fit” with her school and her father has recently left, doesn’t call, and is getting remarried. Jack gets teased by the boys in his class for being friends with a girl and has a mother suffering from a serious depression.

So that I can get on to other reading, instead of writing my own review, I’m going to give you a couple links to other blog reviews:

NPR December 2011 Kids’ Book Club Pick  (This is the first I’m learning of Backseat Book Club. Love it!)

Jen Robinson’s review 

Book Smugglers interview  with author in their Inspirations and Influences category.

The author’s use of language really grabbed me. I aspire to write as well as she. Here are my favorite lines:

“Everyone in the fifth grade had messenger bags, everyone but Hazel, who had not been cc’ed on that particular school-wide e-mail.” (p. 11)

“She spoke in bright, shiny words, as if that might distract Hazel from thoughts of Jack.” (p.98)

“Her heart plummeted, and her feathers fell away.” (p. 108)

“…their voices were rough and loud and had the sharp edges of crushed-up beer cans.” (p. 138)

“They were plastic flowers of words–but they looked nice on the surface.” (p. 142)

“She had stepped into the woods in the park and landed in an entirely different place. She knew this might happen. She’d been to Narnia, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Dictionopolis. She had tessered, fallen through the rabbit hole, crossed the ice bridge into the unknown world beyond. Hazel knew this world. And it should have made this easier. But it did not. (p. 160)

“There were so many Jacks she had known, and he had known so many Hazels. And maybe she wasn’t going to be able to know all the Jacks that there would be. But all the Hazels that ever would be would have Jack in them, somewhere.” (p. 247)

“The truth was he had been getting more and more scratchy and thick lately. Because sometimes when you are scratchy and thick you don’t want to be sitting in a shack with someone pretending it’s a palace, especially someone who can tell you are scratchy and thick, especially someone who tries to remind you who you really are.” (p. 248)

Brilliant don’t you think? 

I had heard about this book for a long time before it was released. I probably would have read it sooner if it wasn’t for the one thing that bothers me about it. I don’t think it’s very nice to point out a negative about such a great book, and of no fault of the author’s, but it REALLY bothers me that the girl on the cover looks so much like a Disney cartoon. In the shower this morning, I decided she looks like a cross between Lilo from Lilo and Stitch and Pocohantas. I don’t want a Newbery-worthy book to have a cartoon-like character on the cover. I know that’s probabaly dumb, but really???

That aside, teachers and parents definitely should introduce this book to your middle grade readers! 


Ambassador of Young People’s Literature January 7, 2012

Filed under: Ambassador of Young People's Literature — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:30 pm

Ambassador of Young People’s Literature is always an exciting announcement to me. Walter Dean Myers is this year’s ambassador and I love his platform “Reading is not an Option!”. In his School Library Journal there is a great interview. He was quoted as saying “The value of reading has escalated in my lifetime. As a young man, I saw families prosper without reading because there were always sufficient opportunities for willing workers who could follow simple instructions. This is no longer the case. Children who don’t read are, in the main, destined for lesser lives. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to change this.”

Myers an amazing author who I’ve had the privilege of hearing talk and have him autograph books.




Couldn’t Put it Down! January 6, 2012

It was unfortunate that both my children were sick today. It was not unfortunate for my reading life though. I finished Jefferson’s Sons, which despite my initial hesitation, completely grabbed me today. I’ve never been to Monticello and have added to the places I would love to go some time. The author did an amazing job with her research with this historical fiction. When part two (of three) of the book started and it became clear to me that each section was going to be narrated by a different character, I was a little annoyed. I can’t really put my finger on why, but I think it’s because the change from Beverly to Maddy was more abrupt than I would have cared for. The change from character two to three occurred without me hardly noticing.

I can see why it is on potential Newbery lists. A story about an American icon, slavery, family and a part of history not known to many all make a great story.

I then picked up The Apothecary, which I read in two long sittings today! LOVE THAT BOOK! The characters are so well developed and felt like real people you’d like to know. A great blend of historical fiction/adventure/fantasy that I can’t really compare to anything else. The preface had me wanting to know about Benjamin. The first chapter had me ready to read a whole book set during the 1950’s when Hollywood movie writers were suspect and often accused of Communism. I then could have read a whole book about an American girl transplanted to a British prep school. If this makes the book sound choppy, it is not at all! It moves seamlessly, weaving in murder, magic, mean girls, espionage, all in a way that I could not put down! I’m having to reevaluate my list after this one.


Christmas Books 2011 Given and Received January 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:27 pm

The Scorpio Races By Maggie Stiefvater

Icefall by Matthew Kirby

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill

Crossed by Ally Condie

It’s Christmas David by David Shannon

The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristen Kladstrup and Matt Tavares

Ivy and Bean books by Annie Barrows

Babymouse books by Jennifer Holm

It’s Not Fair by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Lichenheld

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Divergent by Veronica Roth (x2)

The Death Cure, The Scorch Trials, The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

Shark Wars by Ernie Altbacker

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations by Amy Rosenthal

Mentor Author, Mentor Texts by Ralph Fletcher




Search for the Next Best Book January 4, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,Newbery — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:16 pm

Cuddled up with three dogs and a stack of books has a lot of appeal to me, especially when it’s cold outside! I wish I had my camera so I could upload a picture of them right now. Love my public library where I was able to go online yesterday and mark all the books I consider possible Newbery winners I am hoping to read that I didn’t have and then have start arriving today, with a convenient pick-up reminder e-mail.

So I’ve started Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Bradley, which I am liking well-enough but I am not in love with. I then moved on to surfing KidLit blogs and find an old Mother Reader post  that completely grabbed my attention.

“This is a new one for me. I read the first chapter of this book online, switched to Amazon, and ordered it immediately.”

I love the Kindle/Amazon feature that allows you to read the first chapter free! I currently have 43 free first chapters on the Kindle app on my iphone. I’ve read 17 of those first chapters, sometimes several in one sitting until I find something that grabs me. I keep the sample chapter if I think I might read later, kind of like a visual list, delete those that don’t grab me. It allows me try out books that I wouldn’t normally come across such as nonfiction books, business psychology books, as well as new Children’s and Young Adult books that other bloggers mention.

Mother Reader provides a link to the first chapter of The Only Ones by Aaron Stramer that is currently online and I will tell you that it grabbed me in a way that I want all Newbery contenders to be able to do. I think I’m wrapping this up to head to the library to check out their copy!


It’s That Time of Year January 3, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,Cybils,Newbery — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:44 pm

It’s the time of year when I try to read every book that is getting serious Newbery buzz and/or Cybil finalists that I haven’t read already. So far, I’ve read The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. I LOVED, LOVED Wonderstruck and REALLY LIKED The Mostly True Story of Jack. I’ve been following some of the blog conversations about whether Wonderstruck can be considered for a Newbery or not. I’m not going to get too worked up about it one or the other, but if the decision is made that Wonderstruck can be a contender, it is pretty darn brilliant. Once again, Selznick knocks it out of the park. I even loved reading the Afterword where he discusses his research process!

The Mostly True Story of Jack is also a really great story. I can imagine it as a great read-aloud or having students who have been really into all the “new” fairy tale shows be enthralled.

I’ve read Okay for Now (loved it-screamed Newbery at me as soon as I started reading it), Small Persons with Wings (disappointed), Inside Out and Back Again (loved it),

Up next: Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Bradley (this one just hit my radar this weekend) , The Trouble with May Amelia, A Monster Calls, Breadcrumbs, and Lunch-Box Dream, not necessarily in this order.


2011 in review January 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:18 pm

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 38,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.