When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
One of my most horrifying blogger moments was realizing that I had this book as an ARC, but didn’t get around to reviewing it until it seemed like everybody had talked about it already. Still kicking myself. I did profile it on Booklights as a very strong contender to win, and was right there. It also was a book that got some of the most engaged and passionate discussion at the DC Kidlit Book Club, which was telling right there. Awesome choice for the win. (Edited to add Booklights text: Miranda is comfortable with her friends, family, and generally her New York City life. But it feels as if things start to shift when her best friend Sal pulls away from her. Left adrift in sixth grade, she meets new people and tries new things - but is most intrigued by the strange notes appearing for her eyes only. The story is clever, layered, interesting, and intelligent. The buzz is big, the hype is high, and the love is loyal for this title. I won't be surprised to see it somewhere on the list, and maybe even as the winner.)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
On the other hand, I’ve been talking about this book a lot. Like crazy a lot. I fell in love from the moment Grace posted the cover art, was delighted to get the ARC, was happy to be part of the blog tour, gave it to my daughter for Christmas, and will be talking about it on Wednesday at my Mother/Daughter book club. I didn’t think that it would win, because it doesn’t have that dark edge that the Newbery goes for, but am so happy to see it take a medal. (Edited to add Booklights text: Seeped in her father's fairy tales and pushed by her mother's sighs, Minli leaves home to search for the Old Man of the Moon to change her family's fortune. Along the way her kindness makes her many friends, who turn out to provide the help she needs. Incorporating Asian fairy tales with her own adventure, this is a beautiful book of love, friendship, and gratitude. The full color panel illustrations throughout add to the astonishing beauty of the book. And just look at the cover! Lots of people are hoping for a Newbery for the delightful book and author too, but it may be too light and happy for another award that tends towards death and calamity.)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
So I didn’t write about this book either until recently, but I was late to the party on discovering it. I did read it, loved it, and thought that it had a good chance of making the Newbery list for its strong writing and story. And hey, a historical fiction winner without death or dismemberment! It’s a new day for Newbery. (Edited to add Booklights text: The hardest thing about this book is making the one sentence description sound gripping. It's the story of a girl in 1899 who discovers the world of science under the tutorage of her grandfather. Calpurnia Tate is the youngest of a bunch of brothers, and can sometimes get lost in the shuffle to spend time at the creek looking at plant specimens or holed up in Grandfather's lab, testing the fermentation of pecans to wine. But for all this exposure to science, she's still growing into a woman at the turn of century and wonders when she'll have to put away her magnifying glass for a mop. Wonderful historical fiction that doesn't focus on death, dismemberment, or abject poverty - which is why it may not be taken seriously enough to win the Newbery.)
Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice
by Phillip Hoose
Didn’t read it, but have it on hold because I was pretty sure it would make the list. Some list, at least.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
by Rodman Philbrick
Never heard of this title, so here’s our Newbery surprise.
The Lion & the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
Seriously, no one is surprised here. The book is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. By taking the old tale and making it wordless, Pinkney gave the story new life and interpretation. I’m only concerned where the gold medal will go on this breathtaking cover. I’m glad I have a copy without the medal, frankly.
All the World
written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Another beautiful book that could have won had it not been published the same year as Pinkney’s book. Guess those are the breaks. Like The Lion & the Mouse, it’s on the Cybils Fiction Picture Book shortlist.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
I haven’t seen this book yet, but it did make the shortlist for Cybils Poetry.
A complete list of the ALSC winners in a variety of categories is available at the ALSC site.
by Libba Bray
Read it, liked it, recommended it as a must-read of 2009. Did not think it would win because it seemed to get a love it/hate it reaction from people, and I figured that the reactions would cancel each other out and knock this off the list.
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, The Monstrumologist, by Richard Yancey, Punkzilla, by Adam Raff, and Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973, by John Barnes
I’m running these together, because I haven’t read any of them and have only even heard of Charles and Emma. It seems like an odd batch of mostly quirky or unusual books, and with a glaring omission of Marcelo in the Real World.
A complete list of the YALSA winners in a variety of categories is available at the YALSA site.
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