Monthly Archives: January 2014

What’s Coming in February

Mom,

I’m very excited about the books you mentioned in your last post, and we’ll definitely be talking about these, plus more on the ALA awards (I still need to have my annual breakdown of the BFYA list).

But first! Next week is all Robert Cormier all the time. In response to a comment from Jonathan Hunt, I wrote a Completist post on Cormier that ballooned to five posts. So that’s what we’re doing next week.  See you on the other side!

Mark

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What’s Coming in 2014

Mark,

I actually had some time to spend in the exhibit hall at Midwinter this year, so I ended up coming home with a bunch of galleys. So here are a few things that I’m looking forward to reading, starting with authors we’re already familiar with:

DeepBlueJennifer Donnelly has a new book from Disney Book Group. It’s called Deep Blue, and is first in a series of  “four epic tales” about mermaids. The description makes it sound like a quest-type fantasy, only set in the sea. I ordinarily wouldn’t read a mermaid book, but then, it’s Jennifer Donnelly, and also, I thought that about Monstrous Beauties and was wrong.

TinStarNext, Cecil Castellucci has a new book, called Tin Star, from Roaring Brook. Like Donnelly, Castellucci’s books are all very different, and this one sounds like pure sf: a 16-year-old girl abandoned on a remote space station with aliens, and then three humans crash-land on the station. Okay, got me interested!

GoingOver

I really liked Beth Kephart’s book Small Damages in 2012. This one, from Chronicle Books, takes place in 1983, and is about a girl from West Berlin and a boy from East Berlin.

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ALA Awards

Mark,

Okay, I’m home from Philadelphia, had a good night’s sleep, did my laundry, sorted the mail, and now I’m ready to say a few words about my reactions to the Youth Media Awards.

In order of their announcement:

The Alex Awards: that was me yelping when Lexicon was announced. Actually, it turns out that it was the only one of the ten that I had read, although Brewster and Sea of Tranquility have been on my TBR list since AB4T reviewed them. I was disappointed at the fact that nine were fiction titles, although there are more nonfiction titles on the expanded list, including my personal favorite, Frozen in Time.

Edwards Award: Yes, yes, yes! Some people were saying afterwards that they didn’t think of Markus Zusak as having been around long enough for an Edwards nod, but Fighting Ruben Wolfe came out in the US in 2001, and Getting the Girl  in 2003. Laurie Halse Anderson got the award in 2009, for Speak and Fever 1793, which came out in 1999 and 2000, respectively, so it isn’t unprecedented. As you note, I’m a big fan of Zusak’s “Aussie slacker” books, and I was especially gratified that Getting the Girl was one of the honored books, because it’s a personal favorite of mine, and I think it is one of the great overlooked YA books of the 21st century. It is a stand-alone sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and I am looking forward to re-reading both of them before the Edwards brunch at Annual.

Morris Award: As you know, I’ve been a fan of Charm and Strange since I read it, and I was delighted that it won the Morris. To be fair, I still haven’t read the other finalists, so I can’t offer any salient remarks on them.

Nonfiction Award: I was kind of rooting for GO!, just because it was nice to see a non-history (dare I say, non-World War II?) book on the list. But I managed to snag a copy of Nazi Hunters at the reception, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (You can make me eat my words next January, when my Nonfiction Committee chooses a World War II book!)

Printz: Again, we’ve both talked about Midwinter Blood. I see your issues with it, but it is a book that has really stuck with me. You mentioned its daring and inventiveness, and I sometimes think those kinds of things are like the “degree of difficulty” ratings they give ice skaters and gymnasts–even if the execution isn’t perfect, the attempt is so audacious that it merits extra points.

I was definitely surprised at Navigating Early. I read it back in the beginning of the year, but didn’t even talk about it on the blog, because I didn’t see it as Printz potential, nor was it particularly resonant with me. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, but honestly, it kind of slipped from my radar as soon as I read it.

Also a surprise to me was Maggot Moon. We both had issues with it, and one of mine was that I thought it was too young for the Printz. When I said this on Monday to a member of the Printz committee, that person–who had admittedly read the book more often and more deeply than I–looked startled, and obviously the committee thought it was a young adult book.

Eleanor & Park didn’t excite me, as you know, but I felt it was a solid YA book and I wasn’t surprised to see it on the list.

I had not even heard about Kingdom of Little Wounds until the night before the announcement, when I was having dinner with other librarians and someone brought it up as a book she thought was a strong contender this year. Clearly she was right!

Other awards:

Newbery: I haven’t read Flora and Ulysses, but I have it on hold. I was happy to see some younger books acknowledged, like that one and The Year of Billy Miller.

Caldecott: Not my area of expertise, but I heard Brian Floca speak on Friday afternoon, talking about the creation of Locomotive, and I’ve flipped through the pages, and it seems a worthy choice. I “read” Journey (it’s wordless), and thought it was lovely.

Schneider Family Awards: When Rose Under Fire was announced, I asked the person sitting next to me, “Why that one? What’s the disability?” She couldn’t answer, but fortunately, I ran into a member of the committee later, and she told me that it was Rose’s PTSD that they were mostly thinking of, but also the disabilities of the “rabbits.”

So there are some quick thoughts. Tomorrow I’ll post on some of the galleys I picked up at Midwinter (including a new one by Marcus Sedgwick), and we can start speculating about 2014.

– Mom

 

 

 

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YMA Reactions

Mom,

What are your reactions to the announcements of the ALA Youth Media Awards?

My primary reaction was happy surprise at the Newbery Award going to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. To be honest, I have not been a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo – I think The Tale of Despereaux is a fine book, but not necessarily a Newbery-level one. And Because of Winn Dixie I can take or leave, although it too is a perfectly good book. But I was really enthusiastic about Flora & Ulysses (as I was about most of the ampersand titles of the year). And I’m always happy to have a comedy win.

You know my thoughts on the Printz Winner, Midwinterblood. On the one hand, I think it is great that the committee honored such a daring and inventive book–it certainly is more interesting than 95% of the YA literature out there. On the other hand, as you know I think Sedgwick was less than successful in his daring. So there’s that. Also, I stand by my (and your) position on Printz Honor Maggot Moon – it’s just really not very good.

But what I’d really like to talk about (or rather have you talk about) is the Edwards Award.  You have been very vocal (at least to me) about your love of Markus Zusak’s earlier work – I think you’ve called it his Aussie-slacker novels. Which appears to be what the committee awarded. I’ve read I Am the Messenger, and of course The Book Thief, but not the other two named titles: Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl. So what do you think?

– Mark

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