Jan 31, 2012

Around the World Challenge: January & Global Domination Challenge: Africa

The objective is to read a new book from a different country for each of the 12 months in a year.

Time for my January review:

Spud by John van de Ruit

John Milton has a lot on his plate, as any 13-year-old boy does. He is heading off to a private, all-boys boarding school, thanks to a new scholarship and his beautiful singing voice. While he's excited to be leaving behind his crazy and embarrassing parents and eccentric grandmother he calls The Wombat, he's terrified to discover what awaits him at school - things like being nicknamed Spud because his balls haven't dropped yet, having a crazy bunkmate who only talks to inanimate objects and pulls out his own hair, and getting caned after getting caught with the rest of the Crazy Eight (his first-year dorm mates) sneaking out to go midnight swimming. He also meets both The Mermaid and Amanda (2 girls! While attending a boy's school!), trounces and gets trounced on and off the cricket field, decides to become both an actor and an activist, and explores the complexities of forced friendship and loyalty. With no punches pulled, no description too graphic, from the heights of love to the depths of loss, Spud captures it all in his diary, fully chronicling his first year at boarding school.

All of this takes place during the 1990s, making the backdrop issues of apartheid, the release of Nelson Mandela, race relations, class relations, and other related social issues. It's a bit crazy to think the 1990s are now "historical fiction," but Spud does a great job of capturing a White teen perspective at the time - learning about issues that didn't seem important until they suddenly are, struggling to catch up and make meaning out of political history, living in an accepting mixed-race environment at school but dealing with blatant racism at home, etc.


Spud: The Madness Continues by John van de Ruit

Surprise! I read two books for this challenge this month. I had forgotten that Spud, my original book choice, has 2 sequels! I was only able to get my hands on the second book, Spud: The Madness Continues, but I've requested my library purchase the third, so stay tuned to see if I ever get a chance to read it.

In Spud: The Madness Continues, the madness of the Crazy Seven (Seven due to a loss of one boy in Spud; then Eight, when a new boy comes; then Seven, when the new boy leaves; then Eight, when they induct Roger the Cat as an official member; then Six, when two of the boys get expelled; then Seven, when one of the boys gets back) really does continue. Spud is going to turn 15 during this year, is no longer in his first trembling year at the school, and has high hopes for both ball dropping and hair appearing in that same region. Despite his optimism (and the eventual voice-cracking, ball-dropping accomplishment), Spud soon finds that with both enemies and allies still at school, this year will not be any smoother. Still writing in his diary, the Spud of this year will chronicle his mother's plans to emigrate, The Wombat continuing to lose her mind, and his father's moonshine business; his first breakup, first ball hair, and first trip to England; the Crazy Eight's torture attempts at the Normal Seven (the new batch of first years); his actor career hitting a snag when he's cast as the Dove of Peace in a disastrous school play; and all the usual adventures of midnight swimming, cricket matches, brews, books, and broads, with just a hint more seriousness this year than last.

Let's see if I followed the guidelines:

1. Books must be set in the country. - Yes, all over South Africa, with a brief stint in England in book two.

2. Books should be by an author of that country, if you can find/get hold of one. - Yes, John van de Ruit is apparently quite a big deal over there.

3. Books must be fiction or memoir. Children’s books count too. - This is children's historical fiction, perfect for advanced tweens and early teen readers.

4. Books can count towards other challenges. - As I'm also participating in the Global Domination Challenge over at Insatiable Booksluts, I will count this for my Africa read.

Stay tuned for next month: FEBRUARY: Bangladesh - Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

For my complete book list, click on my original post or the challenges tab.

Jan 29, 2012

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by

So many books, so little time! Last week, I received:
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Despite the lack of an Oxford comma in the title, this still caught by eye when advertised. Random House was nice enough to send me a copy. 

Description: Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
by Olaf Olafsson

Okay, in the first place, great name. Then you add love stories, war, Tuscany, and I'm hooked. Ecco books, an imprint of HarperCollins, sent me a copy at my request.

Description: Having grown up in an exclusive circle of wealthy British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920s, Alice shocks everyone when she marries Claudio, the son of a minor land-owner, and moves to San Martino, a crumbling villa in Tuscany. Settling into their new paradise, husband and wife begin to build their future, restoring San Martino and giving birth to a son. But as time passes, Alice grows lonely, a restlessness that leads her into the heady social swirl of wartime Rome and a reckless affair that will have devastating consequences. While she spends time with her lover in Rome, Alice's young son falls ill and dies, widening the emotional chasm between her and her husband-and leaving her vulnerable to the machinations of a nefarious art dealer who ensnares her in a dangerous and deadly scheme. Returning to San Martino, Alice yearns for forgiveness. But before she can begin to make amends, Claudio disappears, and the encroaching fighting threatens to destroy everything they built. Caught between loyalists and resisters, cruel German forces and Allied troops, Alice valiantly struggles to survive, hoping the life and love she lost can one day be restored.

by Jessica Shirvington

There's a very cool story to this book - I belong to the Young to Publishing Group, Boston chapter, and Sourcebooks reached out to us as a group in the industry and sent us ARCs. I got a package in the mail at work - how cool is that?

Description: On her 17th birthday, everything will change for Violet Eden. The boy she loves will betray her. Her enemy will save her. And she will have to make a choice that could cost not only her life, but her eternity.

(And a big thank you to Book Stacks On Deck for the mailbox pinup!)

Jan 28, 2012

Book Review: The Angel Makers by Jessica Gregson

The Angel Makers 
by Jessica Gregson
9781569479797, Soho Press, $24.00

Both shocking and encouraging of sympathy, The Angel Makers is a haunting novel that will slyly seduce you.

Taking place in an isolated village in Hungary, the story revolves around Sari Arany, first as a young girl, then as a woman, and her place in village life. Her father is the village medicine man and seer; her only friend is the feared village midwife and herbal woman. Before her father dies, he arranges (with her permission) for Sari's engagement to Ferenc, the son of the wealthiest family in the village. It is a surprise to most, for because her mother died soon after her birth, Sari is thought to be unlucky and treated with scorn and suspicion by the villagers. It doesn't help that Sari is peculiar - beautiful, piercing eyes, more learned than most women, and surprisingly forthright with her speech and actions. Despite this, it is seen to be a good match, and when her father dies sooner than expected, Ferenc assumes they will marry immediately instead of waiting for Sari's 18th birthday. Yet Sari stands firm, and instead chooses to live with Judith, the herbal woman, to learn about being a midwife prior to marriage.

But soon the war comes to Hungary, and the men must go off to fight. Suddenly, the women of the village find themselves living in a strange new world where they don't worry about when food is on the table, where they have time to make new friends, where they begin to feel more free in thought and action - no longer worried about a harsh rebuke from a husband or father. When a POW camp sets up nearby, they also feel free enough to get jobs (and lovers) at the camp. Sari slowly becomes more accepted in the village, making a few particular friends, learning more about herbal medicine and midwifery, occasionally receiving letters from Ferenc about his dreams of home.

Then the war ends. The village men begin to return. The POWs leave. And the women are no longer so free as they once were. Sari's friend, Anna, again begins to creep around the village trying to hide the fresh bruises that are a marker of her husband's homecoming. But change did happen in the women. And they are not as willing to lie down and take the men's actions and decisions as they once were. It is at this point that they begin to rely on Sari and Judith's herbal knowledge for getting rid of those pesky problems - the men who maybe should not have returned home from the war.

The best part? This is based on a true story. As the author writes, "The novel details a peculiar kind of madness that gripped the women in a small, isolated village over a period of around ten years, and writing the novel was my attempt to try and understand what circumstances might have brought it about, as well as what may have been going on in the heads of the women in question." This is a fascinating look at how far some women will go to assert their freedom.

Jan 27, 2012

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!


In the words of Book Riot (where I found this photo), it's 5 o'clock somewhere.


"In the Land of the Non-Reader" - a man spends several weeks as a non-reader and this article talks about why and what he learned.

Flavorwire article of the week: "15 Great Works of Literature-Inspired Nail Art" - just to prove there really IS something out there for everyone.

Second Flavorwire article of the week: "10 Cult Literary Traditions for Truly Die-Hard Fans"

Okay, okay, THIRD Flavorwire article of the week: "10 Legendary Bad Girls of Literature" (I had to include it, especially as I think they did a much better job on this list than the previous 10 Legendary Bad Boys of Literature).

"Some of my worst friends are books" from The Guardian. Some of my best friends are, too, though I also enjoy people IRL.

"Nine Coolest Literary Siblings"

"The Business Case for Reading" in the Harvard Business Review


The Penguin Press (where I found the typewriter poster on the right, entitled "Typewriters and the Men Who Love Them")


The Last Bookstore, LA, CA.

I have never been to this bookstore, but if I ever find myself spending time in LA (doubtful), you can bet this will be my first stop. This is the article that got me interested. The sentences that sold it for me?

"The Last Bookstore lets you hold a new or used book in your hands in a chic-vintage, one-of-a-kind interior. The store is decorated with things like elephant tusks and mannequins. Even when you go to the checkout, you will see that the counter is made up of books. It’s like an Amoeba Records meets Best Buy meets Borders meets Goodwill, decorated by someone’s hipster sister."

How could you not want to go see a store like that?

"25 Things I Learned From Opening a Bookstore"


The filming of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is back on! Thanks to EarlyWord for this info:

Kate Winslet is set to star as WWII magazine columnist, Juliet Ashton in the film version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Random House, 2008). Kenneth Branagh will direct (and, some speculate, star as Dawsey Adams). Filming is to begin in March.
Back in November, Variety reported that Branagh had abandoned Guernsey for an adaptation of Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell (New Press, 2009), starring Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins. That project appears to now be on the back burner.

Children's Books

Dr. Seuss was almost never published! But a chance street encounter led to the fateful publication of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. NPR relates "How Dr. Seuss Got His Start 'On Mulberry Street'".

Want to know what district you'd live in, if you were in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games? Check out this map of Panem. I'd be living in the Wilderness which I'm pretty happy about.

Watch this RIGHT NOW (Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak. Hilarity ensues.).


The Huffington Post's Arts section presents a photo montage of Eric Fonteneau's "Haunting Library Installation"

"20 Heroic Librarians Who Save the World" - and yes, I've seen all THREE The Librarian films (though whether I'm proud or ashamed of that, I haven't figured out yet). Also, you must read that Garth Nix series if you haven't already. Lastly, HUGE crush on Giles, even though I'm not a Buffy fan.


Can you name these popular children's book characters?


"The 5 Books That Inspire the Most Tattoos" (though I would hasten a guess that the movie "Fight Club" has more to do with the tattoos than the book does).

Jan 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: FrostFire by Zoe Marriott

Waiting on Wednesday (WoW) is a weekly meme hosted by

My posts about adult literary fiction are here:
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

My posts about my guilty pleasure reading (romantic, often paranormal, novels) can be found here:

My posts about YA/teen titles are here:

My posts about middle grade titles are here:

And now for today's:

FrostFire (Burn #2)
by Zoe Marriott
9781406318142, Walker, Pub. Date: June 2012 

The first book in this series, Daughter of the Flames, was a much under-rated, under-appreciated, strong female protagonist fantasy novel that came out in 2008. Many years later, there is a whole new audience that will be appreciative of both the first and what promises to be an equally kick-ass second book in this series.
The publisher's description:

Frost is cursed - possessed by a wolf demon that brings death everywhere she goes. Desperate to find a cure, she flees her home, only to be captured by the Ruan Hill Guard. Trapped until she can prove she is not an enemy, Frost grows increasingly close to the Guard’s charismatic leader Luca and his second in command, the tortured Arian. Torn between two very different men, Frost fears that she may not be able to protect either of them ... from herself.

Jan 24, 2012

Top Ten Historical Fiction Titles

The Broke and the Bookish, a brilliant book blog, 
hosts a weekly top ten list meme.

I like this meme because I like lists. I like this meme because it reminds me of the Top 5 lists from High Fidelity (by Nick Hornby as a book, starring John Cusak as a movie). And I like this meme because it causes me to think long and hard about book-related topics. So here goes:

Top Ten Historical Fiction Titles
(Quick note: Thank all that is holy I've started categorizing the books I've read on Goodreads. It was SO helpful to be able to look through my "historical fiction" list.)
Forgive me as I've needed to create two lists, one for adult fiction and one for children's/YA fiction.

1. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Hands down my favorite book of all time. Some of you may know that already. For those who don't, this is the New York Times bestselling authorized sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Don't be put off by the romance novel-esque cover (unless you like romance novels in which case, go ahead and like that aspect of it); there is no bodice-ripping to be found. Instead, all of the potential that Scarlett shows in Gone With the Wind is fully realized in this 400+ page novel that picks up right where GWtW leaves off and ends when Scarlett has finally grown up, thankfully without losing her impish charm and backbone of steel in the process.

Definitely #2 on the list of favorite historical fiction titles (apparently this list really IS going in order of appreciation). The sweeping epic is a dual-narrator epistolary novel switching between the perspectives of a White American young woman who has been taken away to live in the UK following a scandal in US society and a high-yellow former slave from New Orleans who has also made his way to Great Britain. Encompassing racial politics on the verge of the Civil War in the US, as well as the spiritual medium craze of that time in the UK, coupled with a political and social commentary on society's rules and expectations of young women, this brilliant book is sadly the only one published by Ms. Hague and is currently out-of-print but is SO worth the find.

3. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Spanning the 40 years between the 1960s and the 21st century, this is a story about 4 people and the lengths they will go to protect the innocent, uphold promises, and believe in love, set to the backdrop of the history of mental institutions, racial tension, and the raising of a child. Read my review here.

4. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
This is, in my opinion, the best thing Geraldine Brooks has ever written. I have tried, again and again, to read her other books (and have finished most of them), but none of them are as well-written, thought-provoking, and engaging as this one. The historical fiction chapters in People of the Book come close, but I think that one is ruined by the contemporary storyline that weaves throughout. Regardless, this tale based on a true story of a village that chooses to close themselves off to the rest of the world to contain the plague outbreak, all told from the point-of-view of a village housemaid, is heartbreaking and beautifully told. Read my review here.

5. Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh

Let's discuss epic, shall we? The first two of this incredible trilogy are out, and I can't decide whether to advise you to wait until #3 has come out to begin reading or to run out and grab the first one right away. Both, I guess. These novels are almost unbelievable in the scope of what Mr. Ghosh is trying (and succeeding!) to accomplish. So many characters, so many styles of writing and speaking, so many dialects, so many countries, so many plot points! I admit it's hard to keep them all straight but this is definitely a series that makes that small headache worthwhile. Centered around the opium trade between India and Great Britain, with China as a major port of transfer, everyone from the poppy growers to the opium traders, British gardeners to escaped convicts, there is no one too large to too small to not be fully explored in these books. It would take me days to read a chapter and yet every time I put the book down, my head almost spinning with the assault of plot and unfamiliar language, all I wanted to do was pick it back up again to be literally swept away, immersed in so many sensory experiences that were nearly unbelievable to me. Mr. Ghosh is a true genius in how he is able to bring so many people and threads of plot together. I am greatly anticipating the final book but fear I will have a few years to wait.

The entire Flavia de Luce mystery series, really, as they are all so charmingly written and perfectly present the village life of post-World War II British countryside, including the land-rich, cash-poor local gentry around whose family manor the stories center. Read my review of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie here and my review of I am Half-Sick of Shadows here.

7. Serena by Ron Rash

Ooh, Southern writer creates a truly reprehensible character that you can't stop reading about in Serena. Set in North Carolina just before the Great Depression, the story centers around a lumber town and has great political and social commentary about logging and environmental protection efforts, all with a backdrop of murder. Read my review here.

8. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Confession: It has been too long since I've read this to give it an in-depth blurb here. Second confession: I have been unimpressed with any Anita Diamant book I have picked up since. But, I do remember reading this, really enjoying it, sharing it with my BFF and my mother, and so I recommend it to you.

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Though its historical context is not a main plot point in this novel, and there are fantasy elements - certainly magic exists - that may make some people question it being on this list, it is so wholly enjoyable, and so delicately described, and so fully imagined, that I dare anyone to read it and not enjoy it.

10. Miss Timmins' School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

I, myself, was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, knowing nothing about it when I picked it up, but it quietly sneaks in and grabs hold of you with its descriptions of places I've never seen, feelings I've never felt, rules and expectations I'll never have to live by, and a point-of-view change that enhances that unusual foreign sensibility rather than detracting from the story. Read my review here.


I believe Scott O'Dell to be the preeminent children's historical fiction writer. Also, Native American history (and present) is a personal interest of mine, so I was always on the hunt for books that at least tried to present Indian history in a truthful and culturally sensitive way. Thunder Rolling in the Mountains is about the sad plight/flight of the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph's niece, while Streams is Sacagawea at her fictional best (with a hopeful ending imagined for her and her child).

2. Anne of Green Gables (series) by L.M. Montgomery

Do books like this count? Because they technically weren't really historical fiction when they were written? Well, there will be a few more on this list like that, just to warn you. The first 4 books and #8 (Rilla of Ingleside) are my personal favorites.

3. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Not just my favorite, this Printz Medal winner is a wonderfully imagined experience of an American teenager caught up with her British cousins in wartime in England. Brutal and brilliant, self-sacrificing and exploring first-love, the writing style will spare no emotional punches as you run from scene to scene, experience to experience, leave and are brought back to the hope and love that binds the cousins together.

4. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Another medal winner, this time the Newbery, this middle grade novel tells the fictionalized true story of the courageous attempt of Denmark's citizens to help save their Jewish population. As a Jew, this made a HUGE impression on me as a child, and continues to be meaningful in my life as an adult.

5. The Agency (series) by Y.S.Lee

This is a new series, only books 1 and 2 are currently available, but they've captured my attention with the plucky heroine and society of secret female spies. Also, though I love romantic tension, I equally love it when the storyline ISN'T focused on the girl getting the guy. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a little cross-dressing? Racial tension between whites and Chinese, class warfare, and political intrigue abound in this thrilling YA historical spy series. Read my thoughts about it here.

6. The Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Do I really have to explain this? I hope not. Also, please do begin with Little House in the Big Woods, which is the real first book in the series, despite the series title taken after book 3.

7. Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice and Matilda Bone and Alchemy and Meggy Swann and pretty much any other book with a female protagonist set in the Middle Ages written by Karen Cushman

What is so engaging about all of these titles is how easy it is to relate to each character, even as they experience life so very differently than how we experience it today. That, and the amount of factual information, the truly impressive amount of accurate historical detail that is put into each novel, is in itself worth noting and praising. Read my review of Alchemy and Meggy Swann here.

8. Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Delicious and delightful. A teenage regency romance that operates under the supposition that magic exists. Some people have it, some people don't. Two cousins - Kate and Cecelia - write letters back-and-forth as one spends the season in London and the other spends it in the country, both working to solve the mystery of the enchanted chocolate pot (and possibly find husbands in the bargain).

9. Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

Both were childhood favorites and continue to be, I believe, some of LMA's best writing. Eight Cousins is about one girl, on the cusp of young adult-hood, sent to live with her Uncle, some aunts, and 7 boy cousins after having been raised an only child attending a prestigious school for girls. She's got a lot to learn (and luckily, to teach) as she and her cousins figure out just what to do with each other. A Rose in Bloom is what happens once the cousins are grown up.

10. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

This is my all-time favorite young adult novel. Another one of those, not sure it can be considered historical fiction because she was writing about her own time period, sort of books, GSP published this first in 1904. GSP was a pioneer in her own time, being one of the first female nature photographers, one of the first females to work in the film industry in CA, loved and was married to a man she did not share a residence with, published both fiction and non-fiction with themes way ahead of her time but that spoke to millions, etc. An all-around amazing woman who wrote some incredible books. This one, in particular, tells the story of Elnora Comstock, a poor farm girl who lives out of town near the Limberlost, who overcomes all sorts of adversity on her quest for education.

Jan 23, 2012

ALA Children's Book Awards 2012

In case you somehow missed it, the American Library Association's Association for Library Service to Children announced the 2012 book & media awards today. Congrats to all the authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, voice actors, translators, and everyone else involved!

Newbery Medal

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

Newbery Honor Books

Caldecott Medal

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
  • A Ball for Daisy illustrated and written by Chris Raschka, published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Here's a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy's anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka's signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.

Caldecott Honor Books

  • Blackout illustrated and written by John Rocco, published by Disney/Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group
  •  Grandpa Green illustrated and written by Lane Smith, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing
  •  Me...Jane illustrated and written by Patrick McDonnell, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Batchelder Award

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is given to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.

  • Soldier Bear written by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman, translated by Laura Watkinson, published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Batchelder Honor Books

  • The Lily Pond written by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Belpre (Illustrator) Award

The Pura Belpré Medal honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Belpre (Illustrator) Honor Books

Belpre (Author) Award

  • Under the Mesquite written by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, published by Lee and Low Books Inc.

Belpre (Author) Honor Books

Carnegie Award

The Andrew Carnegie Medal honors the producer of the most outstanding video production for children released during the preceding year.

Geisel Award

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.
  • Tales for Very Picky Eaters written and illustrated by Josh Schneider, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Geisel Honor Books

  • I Broke My Trunk written and illustrated by Mo Willems, published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group
  • I Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press
  • See Me Run written and illustrated by Paul Meisel, published by Holiday House

Odyssey Award

The Odyssey Award will be awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.
  • Rotters produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc. (Written by Daniel Kraus; Narrated by Kirby Heyborne)

Odyssey Honor Audiobooks

  • Ghetto Cowboy produced by Brilliance Audio (Written by G. Neri; Narrated by JD Jackson)
  • Okay for Now produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc. (Written by Gary D. Schmidt; Narrated by Lincoln Hoppe)
  •  The Scorpio Races produced by Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Audiobooks (Written by Maggie Stiefvater; Narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham)
  • Young Fredle produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc. (Written by Cynthia Voigt; Narrated by Wendy Carter)

Sibert Medal

The Robert F. Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year.

Sibert Honor Books

  • Drawing from Memory written and illustrated by Allen Say, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
  • The Elephant Scientist written by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson, illustrated by Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell, published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Jan 20, 2012

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!


Gorgeous carved book landscapes by Guy Laramee.

Salvador Dali illustrates Alice in Wonderland.

Feeling both betrayed and excited: former librarian and independent bookstore advocate, Nancy Pearl, presents Book Lust Rediscoveries, a series published by Amazon.com (ew.).

Amazing idea of the week! Weller Books is doing a huge "book drop" around the city to advertise their grand re-opening. Read about it here.

Absolutely beautiful covers for the e-book versions of Michael Chabon's works by designer Connie Gabbert showcased on The Casual Optimist.

Obviously this travel bookcase is what I'll be taking on my next vacation. Ms. Crowe - is this how you do it?

"We all read in the Yellow Trolley Bus" in Bulgaria. This cool public library housed in an old trolley bus on a deserted city street is right up there with the Book Barge in the UK for its unique idea and brilliant execution.

Read this article about book landscaping.

Digital Rights Showdown! Harper Collins vs. Open Media


Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves (with pictures!)

The PageTurn, the website/blog by HarperCollins's School and Library Marketing team.

Book Lists

Book Dirt offers "8 Famous People You Never Knew Wrote Mysteries". I know I'm putting Hugh Laurie's on my TBR.


I'm in love with Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, the main character in the Raylan Givens series by Elmore Leonard, in the TV show Justified:

Children's Books

Cinder (a debut YA novel about Cinderella as a cyborg) author, Marissa Meyer, writes about reimagined fairy tales in "Twice Upon a Time in Hollywood"

Brain Pickings' article of the week: "Seven Nonfiction Children's Books Blending Whimsy and Education". My favorite is a tie between The First Book of Jazz by Langston Hughes and The Serif Fairy by Rene Siegfried.

Publisher's Weekly reports on Chicken House - the children's publishing company begun by the man who discovered JK Rowling's Harry Potter in the UK - expanding to the Netherlands in "Chicken House Goes Dutch".


It's that time again! (I say that like I've done this before. I haven't.) "It is time to announce the contestants, judges, and brackets for the original, one-and-only, full-combat, oddly-predictive-of-the-Pulitzer-Prize, eighth annual TMN Tournament of Books, coming March 2012, presented by Field Notes." Don't know what I'm talking about? Check it out here.


Moment of silent appreciation for the Kansas City Public Library.


"The Learning Network" at The New York Times has some fantastic suggestions for encouraging book discussions, particularly between multiple classrooms in "Reading With Strangers: Ways to Study Literature Collaboratively"


Despite the bizarre choice in music, this video is a cute montage of library scenes from movies and T.V. shows:

Jan 19, 2012

Virginia Hamilton/Jean Craighead George on winning the Newbery

Thank you to Open Road Integrated Media for encouraging me to share this video of Virginia Hamilton and Jean Craighead George talking about winning the Newbery Medal.

2012 Sydney Taylor Book Awards

Thanks to Shelf Awareness for making me aware of this! I always like to give a little shout-out to my peeps when they're in the news.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. This award is sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The 2012 winners are:

Younger Readers: Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda (Candlewick)
9780763655334, $34.99

I'm pleased to say, I had already posted about this title during my Chanukah picture book round up back in December.

From a pop-up master and an acclaimed poet and author comes a glorious celebration of the true spirit of Chanukah. Open this beautiful gift book and follow the Festival of Lights through place and time -- from Herod's temple to a shtetl in Russia; from a refugee ship bound for the New World to an Israeli kibbutz. Inspired by Michael J. Rosen's reverent poem, Robert Sabuda's striking pop-ups depict each night's menorah in a different scene, using imagery such as desert tents, pushcart lanterns, olive trees, and a final panorama of skyscrapers. Sure to be a treasured family heirloom, this stunning collaboration showcases the spirit and resilience of a people in search of home. 

Older Readers: Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin (Charlesbridge)
9781580893442, $19.95

Beginning with Lenny's childhood in Boston and ending with his triumphant conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic when he was just twenty-five, Music Was It draws readers into the energetic, passionate, challenging music-filled life of young Leonard Bernstein.

Teen Readers: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow (HarperTeen)
9780061579684, $17.99

Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him. So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing. But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Eight Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2012:

The judges also named 18 notable books. The winners will receive their awards at the AJL convention in Montreal June 17-20.

Jan 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Waiting on Wednesday (WoW) is a weekly meme hosted by

My posts about adult literary fiction are here:
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

My posts about my guilty pleasure reading (romantic, often paranormal, novels) can be found here:

My posts about YA/teen titles are here:
Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep 
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

My posts about middle grade titles are here:

And now for today's:

Froi of the Exiles: The Lumatere Chronicles
by Melina Marchetta
9780763647599, Candlewick, $18.99, Pub. Date: March 2012

It should be no secret by this point that I adore everything Melina Marchetta writes. This, the second novel in her first fantasy series, The Lumatere Chronicles, should be no exception. Though I was originally nervous about her foray into the fantasy genre, she has not let me down, and I rave about the first book, Finnikin of the Rock, here.

Here is the publisher's description:

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.