Monday, January 30, 2012

3rd Grade Book Club List

I am always thrilled and honored when someone asks me for a book recommendation!  Recently, I was asked to come up with a "short list" of suggestions for a 3rd grade book club in my area.  I tried to think outside the Wimpy Kid/39 Clues/Harry Potter box, since most kids who joined the book club had already read these books (and those books were probably the cause of their excitement for books!!) The list I came up with was so darn good, I thought I would share it with all of you - and ask which books I should have added! 

3rd Grade Book List:

FRINDLE by Andrew Clements
Is Nick Allen a troublemaker?

He really just likes to liven things up at school -- and he's always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he's got the inspiration for his best plan ever...the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there's nothing Nick can do to stop it.

James Trotter loses his parents in a horrible accident and is forced to live-miserably-with his two wicked aunts. Then James is given some magic crystals that give him hope. But when he accidentally spills these crystals on an old peach tree, strange things begin to happen. A peach starts to grow and grow until James is able to climb inside and escape his awful aunts! And through this adventure, he makes some interesting friends, including Grasshopper, Earthworm, Miss Spider, and Centipede, and finally finds a place where he belongs.

HOLES by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys "build character" by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

NERDS by Michael Buckley
NERDS combines all the excitement of international espionage with all the awkwardness of elementary school, and the results are hilarious. A group of unpopular fifth graders run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, they transform their nerdy qualities into incredible abilities! Their enemies? An array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last. Publishers Weekly raved: “Buckley has a flair for exaggerated humor.” School Library Journal said: “Funny, clever, and thoroughly entertaining.”

SPACEHEADZ by Jon Scieszka
Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren’t kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens, who have invaded our planet disguised as school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,400,001 kids to BE SPHDZ in order to save the world! But with a hamster as their leader, "kids" who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K. as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment?

Rob Buyea, a teacher and first time author, has written Because of Mr. Terupt. It is a beautiful book about a class of fifth graders and their new teacher. The book is told by seven students. They write about their experiences with a special teacher. The students share the impact that tragedy has on their young lives. The experiences are sad, touching and life changing. Jessica, one of the students, tells Mr Terupt early in the book that she likes happy endings. This book does have one.

HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS by Thomas Rockwell
Because of a bet, Billy is in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. The worms are supplied by his opponent, whose motto is "The bigger and juicier, the better!" At first Billy's problem is whether or not he can swallow the worm placed before him, even with a choice of condiments from peanut butter to horseradish. But later it looks as if Billy will win, and the challenge becomes getting to the worm to eat it. Billy's family, after checking with the doctor, takes everything in stride. They even help Billy through his gastronomic ordeal, which twists and turns with each new day, leaving the outcome of the bet continually in doubt.

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick
In a return to the eye-popping style of his Caldecott-award winner,The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick’s latest masterpiece, Wonderstruck, is a vision of imagination and storytelling . In the first of two alternating stories, Ben is struck deaf moments after discovering a clue to his father’s identity, but undaunted, he follows the clue’s trail to the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City. Flash to Rose’s story, told simultaneously through pictures, who has also followed the trail of a loved one to the museum--only 50 years before Ben. Selnick’s beautifully detailed illustrations draw the reader inside the museum’s myriad curiosities and wonders, following Ben and Rose in their search for connection. Ultimately, their lives collide in a surprising and inspired twist that is breathtaking and life-affirming

SAVVY by Ingrid Law
Mibs Beaumont is anxiously awaiting her 13th birthday because, in her family, 13th birthdays bring about big changes. The Beaumonts always get their savvies--their supernatural powers--on their 13th birthdays. But this year, Mibs' dad is in the hospital and it looks like her savvy isn't coming. Ingrid Law has written a tale that is sure to appeal to kids of all ages. I loved the idea that all kids have their own savvy, even if it isn't as splashy as the ability to move mountains.

THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander
Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve
Fever is a foundling, adopted as an infant girl and educated by the Order of Engineers, all male, who live in the head of a giant statue. But she has other memories, too--ones that aren't hers, that arise on her first assignment outside the head. Who is Fever Crumb, and why do people want her dead? This prequel to Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines quartet, set in a future London that bears the traces of our own in its language ("Who gives a blog?") and technology, introduces a new series. Yet smart, original, and full of memorable images--of paper boys, and movable fortresses, and a head full of bald engineers--Fever Crumb also stands alone. –

After being forced to move into an old Victorian household with her Math nut parents, 11-year-old Olive discovers an amazing secret, stuffed into a dresser drawer is a pair of spectacles that allows Olive to climb through the pictures on the walls and into another world that is strangely similar to the real world, right down to the houses and neighbors. However, Olive quickly realizes there are a lot of hidden secrets contained within the old house like why a mysterious cat follows her around, why none of the pictures on the wall can be moved and who is the child Morton who lives inside the mysterious world known as Elsewhere. This first book in the Books of Elsewhere series, weaves a dark tale of mystery, adventure and a battle against a darker power that is determined to turn the lights out on Olive’s world for good

The following books might be more “girly” than some of the boys would like…but they are fantastic books you should definitely share with the girls!

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle



11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass

So, how did I do??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

A perfect blend of historical fiction and mystery!  If Dan Brown and Phillippa Gregory had a love child, she would be Nancy Bilyeau.

The year is 1537, King Henry VIII is on the throne next to his newest bride; the Church of England threatens the old ways of Christianity; and aristocrats and religious leaders alike are jockeying for power.  Meanwhile, Joanna Stafford, a girl of noble blood and a Novice at Dartford Priory, breaks her vows and travels to the side of her beloved cousin, Lady Margaret Bulmer, who is scheduled to burn at the stake for high treason and plotting against the King.  Sister Joanna and her father, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, caused a scene at the execution and were swiftly arrested, along with a mysterious, but helpful stranger, Geoffrey Scovill.

After several months locked in the Tower of London for her possible association with Margaret's crimes, Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, has a demand to make of Joanna - in order to save her father, she must find a holy relic hidden somewhere back in her priory.  She travels back to the priory with two Friars, neither of which know her quest, or the consequences should she fail. 

Well-researched, interesting, and suspenseful, THE CROWN was a very good, fast-paced read.  There were so many layers to the story, both in regards to the crown, as well as the political story of the time.  The story of the relic was fascinating, both in its holy significance, and its legendary mystical properties. 

I must admit, there were several times I had to hit Google to refresh my memory on the history of King Henry VIII, as well as the other royal houses of the time.  I tend to get a bit dizzy, especially with all of his wives, their family connections, and the men trying to get into the King's favor. Considering that all of my knowledge of 16th century England is from Shakespeare and historical fiction novels, it's always best to check with the facts. 

 I was also so intrigued by the idea of the Crown that Joanna was sent to find, I also spent some time researching other holy relics, their significance and where they are today.  I am happy to report that author Nancy Bilyeau took her research seriously, which makes this story even more fascinating.

There were a few aspects of the novel that seemed a bit incongruent, or unnecessary - the twist with Joanna's father at the end of the story, and the constant threat of a romantic interest for Joanna.  I could discuss these two points further, but they were not so significant as to ruin the novel for me.  They were my own minor hiccups in what was, on the whole, a very good read.

I believe the ending left room for another book, if not a sequel, than definitely a companion piece.  There were so many wonderful characters in THE CROWN, I could see a novel exploring the backgrounds and lives of any one of them! 

If you are a fan of Phillippa Gregory or Dan Brown (or both!) you must read THE CROWN.

Book Extras:
Nancy Bilyeau - website,, Twitter , Blog
Reading Group Guide

About the Book:
THE CROWN (Joanna Stafford) by Nancy Bilyeau
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451626851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451626858

  • About the Author: (from author website)
    Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Most recently, she served as deputy editor at InStyle magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay "Loving Marys" reached the finalist stage with Page International Screenwriting Awards and Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. The Crown is her first novel.

    Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

    Today is Monday...Ok, so it's really Tuesday, January 24, 2012 (and later in the day at that.)  We had a lot going on yesterday with the ALA Awards announcments, and I wanted to let you all know about the 50th Anniversary Celebration for Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME, so I'm a bit late checking in with you all on my weekly reads.

    So many terrific books were honored yesterday, my To Be Read list, which I have vowed to keep somewhat under control, grew once again.

    You know where else I find some great books to add to my TBR list?  Sheila's Book Journey, the hostess of our weekly meme.  Hello, Sheila!!

    Read This Week:

    THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE by Maureen Johnson (HarperTeen; April 2011)
    THE CROWN by Nancy Bilyeau (Touchstone/Simon&Schuster; January 2012)
    THE GOLD COAST by Nelson DeMille (Warner Books; 1997)

    Currently Reading:

    ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis (Razorbill; Paperback; November 2011) I have been wanting to read this one since it came out in hardcover last January.  Everyone raves about this YA Sci Fi.  I'm not far into it yet, but keep you eye out for a review!

    Currently Listening to (still):

    THE GAME OF THRONES: BOOK 1 by George R.R. Martin

    Plan To Read This Week:

    THE FOURTH STALL: Part II by Chris Rylander (Walden Pond Press; February 2012)
    THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown; September 2011)

    What Are YOU Reading??

    50 Years - 50 Days - 50 Blogs!

    50 years ago, Madeleine L'Engle introduced A WRINKLE IN TIME to the world.

    A new 50th Anniversary Edition is available with a special features including scrapbook photos, manuscript pages, foreward by Katherine Peterson, afterward by Madeleine L'Engle's granddaughter, and a Murry-O’Keefe family tree.

    Macmillan is celebrating the Anniversary of this beloved book by inviting 50 blogs to discuss A WRINKLE IN TIME throughout the course of 50 days. During each of the 5 weeks, book blogs are discussing different aspects of the book.

    I admit.  I have not read A WRINKLE IN TIME...yet.

    Lucky for me, the good people at Macmillan have invited me to join in the celebration during Week 5: Feburary 13-17: Reading A WRINKLE IN TIME for the First TIme.  During that week, I will post each day with my progress, my thoughts and my feelings on this classic children's book.

    I can't wait!

    If you haven't read A WRINKLE IN TIME, join me the week of February 13th! 

    Here is a list of the other blogs who will also be reading A WRINKLE IN TIME for the first time:

    Geek Girl’s Book Blog
    The Cozy Reader
    I Just Wanna Sit Here And Read
    Jenn's Bookshelves
    Booking Mama
    Page Turners
    I Read Banned Books
    YA Bibliophile
    Alison’s Bookmarks

    A Wrinkle In Time Celebration: Facebook Page
    A Celebration for A Wrinkle In Time Event (In NYC, at Julliard School's Peter J. Sharp Theatre)

    About the Book:
    A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary Commemorative Hardcover by Madeleine L’Engle. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24.99 Jan. ISBN 978-0-374-38616-0
    A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary Trade Paperback by Madeleine L’Engle, $9.99 Jan. ISBN 978-1-250-00467-3

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    2012 ALA Awards

    2012 Youth Media Awards:

    John Newbery Medal
      for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:
    DEAD END IN NORVELT by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux/Random House Children's)

    Honors: INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins)
    Honors: BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt)

    Randolph Caldecott Medal
     for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
    A BALL FOR DAISY by Chris Raschka (Schwartz and Wade/Random House Children's)

    Honors: BLACKOUT illustrated and written by John Rocco, and (Disney · Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group)
    Honors: GRANDPA GREEN illustrated and written by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership)
    Honors: ME...JANE illustrated and written by Patrick McDonnell(Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

    Michael L. Printz Award
     for excellence in literature written for young adults:
    WHERE THINGS COME BACK by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.)

    WHY WE BROKE UP written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman(Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group)
     THE RETURNING by Christine Hinwood (Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group Young Readers Group USA)
    JASPER JONES by Craig Silvey (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
    THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)

    Coretta Scott King Book Awards
     recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

    Author Award:

    Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of HEART AND SOUL: THE STORY OF AMERICA AND AFRICAN AMERICANS (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

    Eloise Greenfield,“The Great Migration: Journey to the North,” illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
    Patricia C. McKissack, author of “Never Forgotten,” illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
    Illustrator Award:

    Shane W. Evans, illustrator and author of UNDERGROUND: FINDING THE LIGHT OF FREEDOM (Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership)

    Kadir Nelson, illustrator and author of HEART AND SOUL: STORY OF AMERICA AND AFRICAN AMERICANS (Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

    Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Ashley Bryan is the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime achievement. The award, which pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.

    Alex Awards
    for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

  • In Zanesville,” by Jo Ann Beard, published by Little, Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
  • The Lover’s Dictionary,” by David Levithan, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens,” by Brooke Hauser, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  • The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • Ready Player One,” by Ernest Cline, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.(ISBN: 9780307887436)
  • Robopocalypse: A Novel,” by Daniel H. Wilson, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • Salvage the Bones,” by Jesmyn Ward, published by Bloomsbury USA
  • The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures,” by Caroline Preston, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • The Talk-Funny Girl,” by Roland Merullo, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • Big Girl Small,” by Rachel DeWoskin, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

  • Andrew Carnegie Medal
    for excellence in children's video

    CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard of Weston Woods Studios, Inc., producers of “Children Make Terrible Pets,” are the Carnegie Medal winners.
    The video is based on the book written by Peter Brown, and is narrated by Emily Eiden, with music by Jack Sundrud and Rusty Young, and animation by Soup2Nuts.

    Margaret A. Edwards Award
    for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

    Susan Cooper is the 2012 Edwards Award winner. Her books include: The Dark Is Rising Sequence: “Over Sea, Under Stone”; “The Dark Is Rising”; “Greenwitch”; “The Grey King”; and “Silver on the Tree.”

    May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture
     recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site:

     Michael Morpurgowill deliver the 2013 lecture.
    Born in England, Morpurgo was teaching when he discovered the magic of storytelling and began writing. His books are noted for their imagination, power and grace. In 1976, he and his wife established the charity Farms for City Children. He is an officer of the Order of the British Empire and served as Britain’s third Children’s Laureate. His novel, “War Horse,” has wowed theater audiences in London and New York and movie audiences all over.

    Mildred L. Batchelder Award
     for an outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States:

    SOLDIER BEAR Originally published in Dutch in 2008 as “Soldaat Wojtek,” written by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman, translated by Laura Watkinson (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

    THE LILY POND by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

    Odyssey Award
     for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States:
    ROTTERS  by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne.(Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing)

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

    Pura Belpré Awards
     honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
    Author Award:
     Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of UNDER THE MESQUITE published by Lee and Low Books Inc

    Author Honors:
    “Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck,” written by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt and Company, LLC)
    “Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller,” written by Xavier Garza (Cinco Puntos Press)

    Illustrator Award: 
    Duncan Tonatiuh, illustrator of DIEGO RIVERA: HIS WORLD AND OURS (Abrams Books for Young Readers)The book was written by Duncan (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

    Illustrator Honor:
    “The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred,” illustrated by Rafael López, written by Samantha R. Vamos (Charlesbridge)
    “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match /Marisol McDonald no combina,” illustrated by Sara Palacios, written by Monica Brown (Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee and Low Books Inc.)

    Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
     for most distinguished informational book for children:
    BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

    • "Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor," written by Larry Dane Brimnerand (Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc) "Drawing from Memory," written and illustrated by Allen Sayand (Scholastic Press)
    • "The Elephant Scientist," written by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson, photographs byCaitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwelland (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
    • "Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem" written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzerand (National Geographic Society)

    Schneider Family Book Award
      for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

    (The Jury chose not to award a book in the category for children ages 0 – 8 because no submissions were deemed worthy of the award)

    Middle School Award (2):

    CLOSE TO FAMOUS by Joan Bauer (Viking; Penguin Young Readers Group)

    WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)

    Teen Award:

    THE RUNNING DREAM by Wendelin Van Draanen (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

    Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award
     given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

    PUTTING MAKE UP ON THE FAT BOY by Bil Wright and (Simon & Schuster BFYR)

     “a + e 4ever,” drawn and written by Ilike Merey (Lethe Press, Inc)
    “Money Boy,” written by Paul Yee ( Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi Pres)
    “Pink,” written by Lili Wilkinson (HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins)
    “with or without you,” written by Brian Farrey (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon&Schuster)

    Theodore Seuss Geisel Award
     for the most distinguished beginning reader book:
    TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS by Josh Schnieder (Clarion Books; HMH)

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

    William C. Morris Award
     for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:
    WHERE THINGS COME BACK written by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
    “Girl of Fire and Thorns,” by Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
    “Paper Covers Rock,”by Jenny Hubbard, (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
     “Under the Mesquite,”by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, (Lee and Low Books)
    “Between Shades of Gray,” by Ruta Sepetys, (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group USA)

    YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
      honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults, ages 12 – 18, each year: 
    THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.)

    “Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science,” by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
    “Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition,”  by Karen Blumenthal, (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
    “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way),”  by Sue Macy, (National Geographic Children’s Books)
    “Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein,” by Susan Goldman Rubin, (Charlesbridge)

    Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by judging committees of librarians and other children’s experts, the awards encourage original and creative work. For more information on the ALA youth media awards and notables, please visit the ALA Web site at

    ABNA Writing Contest!

    It's that time of year again, when the dreams of winning a major writing competition presents itself and the long-held hope of becoming a published author can come true.  

    Today, Monday, January 23, 2012
    the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) begins!

    The contest, jointly presented by, CreateSpace and Penguin Group (USA) runs through Feb. 5, 2012. 

    Up for grabs is a $15,000 advance and a publishing contract with Penguin Group (USA).  Winners will be chosen in two categories, general fiction and young adult fiction. Both unpublished and self-published novels qualify. 
    Two grand prize winners, one for general fiction and one for best young adult fiction, to be published by Penguin Group (USA) and receive a $15,000 advance

    To learn more about the contest, please visit the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award page for more information.

    Good Luck to Everyone!!

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

    Even better than the first!

    In this sequel to Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes (click here for review), Ginny gets an e-mail from Oliver, the guy who found her lost bag containing the little blue envelopes from Aunt Peg, the letters she thought were lost forever - including the mysterious, unopened 13th envelope.  He asks her to meet him in England during Christmas break, so he can give her the envelopes, but there's a catch. 

    Ginny goes on yet another adventure, but this time, even though she is not alone, the decisions and mistakes are hers to make. She is the driving force behind this journey, in which she finds love, friends, and a bit more of herself.

    Even though THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE is full of the suspense, excitement and intrigue we loved in the first book, there is a darker element constantly lurking, adding multiple layers to this plot.  The characters are more fully developed, as they remain with Ginny for the duration of the book, and readers are able to see their depth.  Just like the relationships, the conflicts more serious, and Ginny is making choices on her own without her Aunt Peg's letters to guide her.  In the end, she might just make the biggest choice of her life.

    I felt like the first book, 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES, was more about Ginny's discovery of her wild Aunt Peg, while she was pushed beyond her comfort zone to follow in her footsteps.  THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE was Ginny's discovery of herself, and she was the driving force of the group.  Both book receive very high marks from me!  The writing, the characters, the punchy dialogue, I loved it all! 

    Book Extras:
    Maureen Johnson Website, Blog, Twitter (she owns Twitter...don't let her tell you different)

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061976792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061976797

  • About the Author:
    I heart Maureen Johnson. Her bio is extensive, as is the list of books she has written. Go here to learn all you can about her. Then, go read lots of her books. Finally, go to one of her appearances. I don't want you to stalk her, though. Listen to her speak - she's funny as hell and you'll want to be just like her (without the Catholic school stuff).

    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

    So much fun!

    Virginia Blackstone is a shy girl, doesn't feel comfortable talking to boys, and she certainly doesn't act impulsively. She is the complete opposite of her eccentric aunt, who sends her on a quest. In each of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Aunt Peg gives Ginny instructions on where to go and what to do - in Europe.

    "So Aunt Peg was exactly the kind of person who would send her to England alone, with a package from a Chinese restaurant. That wasn't so odd.
    The odd part was that Aunt Peg had been dead for three months."

    So, Ginny gets on a plane with no guidebook, no cell phone, and no idea of where she is headed. She is armed with nothing but her courage and her envelopes and embarks on a journey that will change her life.

    Ginny meets the most interesting people, like Mari, a sweet and eccentric artist; Beppe, bearer of gelato and cake; the Knapp family, marathon tourists; and a group of friendly Australians. She doesn't see Big Ben, the leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Mona Lisa, but she is introduced to hidden cafes, and dares to ask a boy out for coffee. She might find herself in a bit of trouble, more than once, but unbeknownst to herself, Ginny is a survivor.

    I need an Aunt Peg to kick me in the ass and tell me to go to Europe! Instead, we have Auntie Maureen to gift this magical journey in the form of 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES. I'm enamored by the idea of traveling while you're young enough to stay in hostiles, and fearless enough to take a path without knowing exactly where it may lead.

    I absolutely loved this book! I read it in a little over a day, but it has stuck with me, and given me such a desire to travel!

    Warning: This book will give you wanderlust.

    Book Extras:
    Frommer's Europe (because of above warning re: wanderlust)
    Maureen Johnson Website, Blog, Twitter (she owns Twitter...don't let her tell you different)

    About the Book:

  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060541431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060541439

  • About the Author:
    I heart Maureen Johnson.  Her bio is extensive, as is the list of books she has written.  Go here to learn all you can about her.  Then, go read lots of her books.  Finally, go to one of her appearances.  I don't want you to stalk her, though.  Listen to her speak - she's funny as hell and you'll want to be just like her (without the Catholic school stuff).

    *Disclosure:  This book appeared on my shelf.  I don't remember how it got there.  I think I bought it after the publisher sent me a review copy of the sequel. 

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    In My Mailbox

    In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren. It's our opportunity to get a peek into what books everyone is receiving for review, borrowing from libraries, buying in bookshops and download onto eReaders.

    RAYLAN by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow; January 2012; 272 pgs)
    Leonard's Raylan shines a spotlight once again on the dedicated, if somewhat trigger-happy lawman, US Marshal Raylan Givens - one of Leonard's most popular creations, thanks in part to the phenomenal success of the hit TV series "Justified."

    THE FACE THIEF by Eli Gottlieb (William Morrow; January 2012; 256 pgs)
    A powerfully dark and gripping tale of two men obsessed with one very charismatic, very damaged woman who's determined to con from each of them everything she needs to survive, The Face Thief offers highest quality psychological suspense - an ideal follow up to the author's masterful Now You See Him.

    AMERICAN SNIPER by Chris Kyle (William Morrow; January 2012; 400 pgs)
    Gripping, eye-opening, and powerful, American Sniper is the astonishing autobiography of SEAL Chief Chris Kyle, who is the record-holding sniper in US Military history. 
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