2011 Teen Buckeye Book Award winners announced

Ohio teens read then nominate their favorite books.  The books with the most votes win the Teen Buckeye Book Award.  And the winners for 2011 are…

Grades 6-8:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Grades 9-12:

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, Book 2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Congratulations to all winners!  For more information about the Teen Buckeye Book Award, visit their website: http://www.bcbookaward.info/teens/index.html.  Winners for grades 6-8 are included in the voting for the Buckeye Children’s Book Award (here: http://www.bcbookaward.info/).


Sara Zarr knows How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 341 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was released in October, 2011.

Jill’s dad died in a tragic car accident.  She’s not over her grief even a year later.  Her mom, Robin, has found a crazy way to get past her grief: adopt a baby.  On a website dedicated to open adoption, matching babies with families without legal intervention, Robin has chosen Mandy’s child to become part of the family.  Mandy comes into the MacSweeney home with a whole lot of baggage; lies, manipulation and a couple of big secrets.  Whose life will be saved by the end of the book is anyone’s guess.

Wow.  I’m impressed.  It didn’t take me long to get to suspension of disbelief (online message board? picking a birth mom and bringing her into your home sight unseen? really?).  Zarr’s ability to tell the story from both Mandy and Jill’s perspectives is remarkable.  Mandy’s paradox of innocence and manipulation actually endears her.  I liked that her narration is printed in a sans-serif, non-traditional font; it suits her.  Jill, too, is a believable character, hiding in silent grief then slowly melting into a concerned friend and loving daughter.  Her narration is told with a more traditional, Times New Roman looking font.

Teen girls will love this book.  Teen pregnancy is not glorified.  The tortures of deciding whether or not to keep a baby are also realistically covered.  Other issues, which I will not divulge, are also handled in a realistic yet sensitive manner.  Character development is believable; no uninspired moments of unexpected growth here.  Zarr has captured and delivered a realistic story with believably likable characters.  She also captures the blurred definitions of family, friends and parenthood, revealing the most altruistic definitions of them all.

I expect big things for this book, which has already received a number of starred reviews.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover Art: The ARC cover and the final cover don’t appear significantly different, but I think they are.  Both are cold, lonely snow scenes, with empty benches and lots of blankness.  Two sets of footprints appear in the snow on both covers.  However, the addition of a seated blond (obviously Mandy) on the final cover detracts from the fact that multiple lives are saved in this story; that Mandy’s is not the only story revealed.  However, I do think the blurred edges of the title are appropriate to the fuzzy lines between what friends, family and parenthood really mean.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

Advanced Reader Copy cover

How to Save a Life final cover

The Daughters Take the Stage puts Hudson in spotlight

The Daughters Take the Stage by Joanna Philbin; published by Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 273 pages.

The third installment in The Daughters series finds Hudson struck with stage fright.  Her wildly famous pop star mother has taken control of Hudson’s music career before it has even started.  Lost in her mother’s shadow, Hudson freezes at her first performance and decides to quit music.  But a chance encounter with a high school jazz trio reignites her fundamental love of music.  With the advice of her new life coach and the support of her friends (Lizzie and Carina, who were the focus of the first two books in the series), Hudson finds her own way to shine.

I had a harder time getting into Hudson’s story but found it enjoyable nonetheless.  Philbin has developed a winning formula in writing her series which is made obvious by the fact that it’s hard to get a copy of any of the books from the library shelves.  For reluctant readers, and for middle school girls, the formulaic stories create a comfy read to slip into while taking a break from school work.

Now that the three friends have all explored their stories, I wondered whether the author would revisit each girl to continue the series.  But I discovered that a new book was released just a few days ago.  In The Daughters Join the Party, the trio becomes a quartet.  I’m sure I’ll be on the waitlist for this one for awhile, but I’ll take a peek and let you know about the newest member of The Daughters.  Information about the series can be found at the publishers website: http://pickapoppy.com/page/the-daughters.

5P     3Q     Grade Level: 6-9

Cover Art: The trio of friends are still real images superimposed on a line-art setting and it makes the franchise immediately recognizable.

Suddenly silent?

I apologize for the gap in reviews.  After two years of searching and transitioning, I have finally landed a terrific library position.  So I took time to finish divesting the marketing communications clients and slipping into the “I. Am. A. Librarian.” role.

However, that has left a stack of books almost as tall as I am to review.  I have a free day later this week so look for a spate of catch-up reviews!

As always, thank you for your loyal readership! 🙂

National Book Awards back to 5 nominees in Young People’s Literature category

With great grace, Lauren Myracle withdrew her book Shine from National Book Award consideration.  According Myracle, quoted in an article in School Library Journal:

“I was over the moon last week after receiving the call telling me that Shine (Amulet, 2011) was a finalist for the award,” says Myracle, referring to her much-praised gritty novel, which involves a brutal hate crime, poverty, and drugs. “I was later informed that Shine had been included in error, but would remain on the list based on its merits. However, on Friday I was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work, and I have agreed to do so.” (Read the whole article here.)

As of today, the five nominees are:

  • Franny Billingsley, Chime (Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc.)
  • Debby Dahl Edwardson, My Name Is Not Easy (Marshall Cavendish)
  • Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
  • Albert Marrin, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy  (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
  • Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

From the reviews I’ve seen, Shine is a must-read.  I’ll be reviewing it here soon.

My respect and admiration of Lauren Myracle has been reinforced, and has even increased, in light of the way she has handled herself in an unbelievable public relations nightmare for the National Book Awards.  Do you think their donation of $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in Myracle’s name (at her request) will smooth over the “regrettable incident?” (Read more at the New York Times blog.)


Teen Read Week 2011 kicks off with Teens’ Top Ten winners

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has kicked off Teen Read Week 2011 with the announcement of the Teens’ Top Ten winners, as selected by 9,000 teen voters.  And the winners are:

  1. The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Simon & Schuster)
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
  3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon & Schuster)
  4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (HarperCollins)
  5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin)
  6. Matched by Ally Condie (Penguin)
  7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson (Little, Brown & Company)
  8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (HarperCollins)
  9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)
  10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Penguin)

According to YALSA’s website:

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Readers ages twelve to eighteen will vote online between Aug. 15 and Sept. 16; the winners will be announced during Teen Read Week.

To celebrate Teen Read Week, watch this blog for reviews of new and soon-to-be-released teen titles!

Back to school poll results

September’s back-school-poll is now closed.  I was surprised by the results, how about you?  With well over 500 votes, there was no clear-cut winner.  In fact, playing with the numbers could yield a victory for school-lovers!

Officially, the winner is “Do you have to remind me?!?” with 215 votes, or 41.35% (it’s the dark green wedge).  Hold on, though!  Look at the two blue wedges.  Light blue is “Hooray!” with 212 votes (40.77%) and dark blue is “Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but summer was boring and I like school” at 69 votes (13.27%).  Combine the two and at over 54%, there is a clear winner.  You are glad to be back at school, whether you admit it or not!  Maybe I’ll ask again in February. 😉

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