Monday, December 31, 2012

Kathleen's 2012 in Books

None of us has posted much this year, but we've definitely been reading. My goal was to read at least 100 new-to-me books this year, and I made that easily -- I've read 111, not including re-reads (and I do re-read a good number of books each year; I just don't track them).

So, here are some of my stats from Goodreads:

Books I rated 5 Stars
There are 11 of these, which is more than I thought there were. Toward the end of the year I felt like I was being really picky and hadn't given out five stars for a LONG time. You can click the titles to see my reviews

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow
The Mighty Miss Malone, Christopher Paul Curtis
Ish, Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot, Peter H. Reynolds
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Greensleeves, Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Anastasia on Her Own, Lois Lowry
How Girls Can Help Their Country, Juliette Gordon Low
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
Countdown, Deborah Wiles
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson

Books I rated 3 and 4 Stars
I gave 56 books four stars, and 40 books three stars. You can click the links to see which books.

Books I rated 2 Stars
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly
Little Women and Me, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

One Star and Lower
I didn't give any books one star. In fact, it appears that I've only got two one-star books in my entire Goodreads history. Why? I think I'm at least somewhat picky about what I read. I pick things I know I'll be interested in. But I also tend to put the book down unfinished if I really don't like it. I have only one of those this year - Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad. It just wasn't for me. And I've currently got Les Miserables unfinished and on hold. I plan to see the movie musical, and I'd never read the novel, so I thought I'd read it, but it's been quite a slog. I mean, I can see why it's considered a great story, but it's also a difficult read.

Other stats
Total pages: 32,355
Longest book: 11/22/63, Stephen King, 849 pages
Shortest books: Ish and The Dot at 32 pages each. Okay, I may have read a few more picture books as well. I have a 7-year-old to whom I read aloud. But I don't keep track of all of those books.
Publication dates: 26 of these books were published in 2012. Only 15 of the books I read were originally published in the 20th century. The remainder were published from 2000-2011.

Book formats
I didn't officially track how many paper books vs. e-books I read, but by my count I read 51 of 111 as e-books (most through library loan), and I think the amount of e-book reading I did increased over the course of the year. There are still many books not available through the library's e-book program, but it's gotten better. I don't have a full-size e-reader, but I usually do my bedtime reading on my phone now.

Books I re-read
I don't track the books I re-read, but I can tell you what some of them are. I generally re-read these each year.

The Betsy-Tacy series
The Little House series
The Dark Is Rising Sequence
Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Jack and Jill, Under the Lilacs
The Anne of Green Gables series
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean

I usually re-read several Madeleine L'Engle books (but not always the same ones), and there are many others that I will pull off the shelf and re-read, or read with my girls.

Currently Reading

As we prepare to ring in the new year, I'm reading Stephen King's Under the Dome.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Today I did something I've been wanting to do for years: I went to the Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale!

Now, I know Scholastic has had their problems. And they're not a local, independent bookstore. In fact, I felt a little dirty afterward, like I'd been shopping at Walmart or something. But, books! For kids! My kids, and students I work with. Half price, or even better!

Aside from Christmas presents, I wanted books for kids to read in the computer lab when they're finished taking tests, and also for my before-school reading area. This year, I'm on duty outside the front door for 15 minutes before school. There's one bench near the front door, which a lot of kids would like to sit on, so I made a rule that they could sit there only if they read (and if space allows). I have a bunch of books that were library discards, or that were left behind and never reclaimed, but many of them do not hold the kids' interest, or they have gotten tired of them. So I was specifically looking for high-interest books that could be read in short spurts. I ended up with some easy-to-read sports biographies, a book about President Obama, and another election-themed book (hey, the election's over, but I figure it's still a familiar topic), as well as copies of Holes, A Wrinkle in Time and Clementine's Letter.

But I'm disappointed by what I didn't find: non-fiction books about women athletes, or really, any prominent women or girls who aren't actors or singers. There are plenty of princess-themed books, High School Musical books, and biographies of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stars. And Taylor Swift. But no Gabby Douglas, Venus Williams, or Missy Franklin? Not Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton? J.K. Rowling? Or any of thousands of other women doing great things?

The only thing I saw was a nice, gift-type hardcover about Coretta Scott King, which appeared to be on an African-American-themed table. And that's great, but it wasn't what I needed -- I bought inexpensive and easy-to-read paperbacks.

Now, Scholastic does list books about some of these women online. I suppose it's possible they were there and I didn't find them, or that they'd already been bought out (which would be great!), but I did look pretty thoroughly, and I would have at least expected books about female athletes to be shelved near books about male athletes.

Aside from that, the warehouse sale was definitely worth shopping. I got everything for 50% off, including 50% off on books that were stickered with a special, final price of $2.50-5.00. My final total was $30.25 for 13 brand-new books. They also had a section where you could fill a box with books for $24.95, but I didn't like the selection available (mostly Disney and such). I was told that sometimes the selection is better, though.

The Portland warehouse sale is open through December 18 (closed on Sundays), and Scholastic does hold warehouse sales in many cities throughout the United States (check here for listings and info). Despite my concerns, I would recommend it as a low-cost option for gift-buying and to acquire books for classrooms.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

No Sunday Brunch

Once I tweeted "Does anyone else feel like they're just killing time on Sunday until Peter posts the Sunday Brunch?" And I know at least a few people felt the same way, because they retweeted it.

The loss of Peter D. Sieruta is a tremendous one, especially for his family, whom he mentioned frequently on his blog, but felt by many who never met him.

The influence of Collecting Children's Books on this blog can't be overstated. I wanted nothing but to be a pale cousin of Peter's blog. He wrote lovely, long posts without a hint of self-advertisement--or ANYTHING-advertisement, except the love of reading. It was always clear that his blog was just for reading and discussing books; he never tried to sell anything or convince anyone of anything. If he ever had any goals about "monetization" or increasing readership, it didn't show. Peter shared with the Six Boxes sisters a deep interest in the oldest books and the newest books. Like us, he seemed less interested in writing reviews and most interested in discussion of books in general, as well as in the little oddities that made his blog a frequent topic of conversation between us, when we wondered either "how can that be?" or "how can we not have known that?" We are greatly looking forward to his book, written with Betsy and Jules.

Peter knew a lot, but he was also quick to research any question that came up. It's hard to imagine going into Newbery Season without Peter here to answer questions about "would this be the first Newbery winner that---" and "has there ever been a year where---".

Every once in a while, I was able to pounce with glee on some small error or omission about Newbery history or the older books we both loved. Peter was never defensive or at all put out by this; rather than trying to minimize it, more than anything else, he seemed to delight in the new knowledge. This is uncanny in a blogger. It's uncanny in anyone.

I wonder whether Peter was working on a new Sunday Brunch post while he was laid up with his broken ankle. I wonder what he would have posted about--maybe the new movie of Madeleine L'Engle's Camilla Dickinson, which I would have loved discussing with him. I wonder whether he had already read this year's Newbery winner. Even though I know there will be many Newbery winners yet to come that he should have had a chance to read and won't, I have an irrationally sentimental hope that he did get to read the 2012 winner.

This post isn't particularly representative of Peter's work, but it is a delightful one that I have often thought of, with a smile. Do you remember the hat Aretha Franklin wore to President Obama's inauguration? I especially like the Giver wearing The Hat.

Thank you, Peter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Now playing

This year's Seattle International Film Festival features adaptations of two young adult books which have little in common except that I really liked both the books--and the movies sound good too. Fat Kid Rules the World, based on the novel by K. L. Going, was filmed in Seattle. I missed it at SIFF, but look forward to seeing how the humor and punk rock music come through on film at a future screening.
Camilla Dickinson, based on the 1951 novel by Madeleine L'Engle, premieres tonight. I am so excited to see it, even though I have avoided all previous L'Engle film adaptations. Somehow I have high hopes for Camilla. It probably has something to do with how, upon first hearing about the movie a few months ago, I went to the movie website, and said, "OMG that's Pompilia Riccioli!" I look forward to seeing Camilla's New York, which I have walked so many times on the page, on screen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hungry for the Hunger Games?

Wendy made me read The Hunger Games AGES ago (my Goodreads account says November 30, 2008). I enjoyed it and gave it four stars, but never sought out the sequels and read them (I think Catching Fire was never available at the library, and I never cared enough to put it on hold).

And so, I am not one of those who has tickets to see the movie at midnight. I probably won't even go to see it in a theater, unless my 12-year-old daughter insists.

She did insist that I read Catching Fire, though, which she just checked out from the middle school library and read. And so I did, staying up well after I was ready for bed last night to finish it. I liked it quite as well as the first one (which is to say, liked it a whole lot, but don't think it's the best thing ever), and we're moving on to Mockingjay over spring break.

I do see why people become obsessed with the world of The Hunger Games. It is a well-developed and well-described world, and one does become immersed in it, as well as the story, while reading. That's why I found this map of Panem, and the description of how it was made, intriguing. V. Arrow is also the author of the upcoming unofficial book, The Panem Companion. Arrow (and collaborator "badguys") combined what we know about the districts of Panem from the books with possible geological and climate-change catastrophes to come up with a spiral-based map of Panem (formerly North America). No, it isn't entirely plausible -- but it's fiction anyway, right?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Roger Sutton: "I loved terrible books" (an interview)

What's more fun, Roger Sutton (editor of The Horn Book) or the Scott O'Dell Award? Happily, we don't have to choose, because Roger Sutton is the chair of the Scott O'Dell Award committee.

Here's what the medal
looks like, on a book chosen 

totally at random.
I love the Scott O'Dell Award. I love it because twice it wasn't awarded when the committee didn't think anything was good enough--a bold move when the award is given for juvenile historical fiction set in the Americas, which makes up about 80% of kids' books published today*. I love it because once they awarded it to Scott O'Dell himself. I love it because there's a cash prize attached** and most authors I know*** are not rolling in independent wealth.

I love it because I love historical fiction. The website is great. You can get a list of the books grouped into historical periods. They say this is for teachers; I say it's for me, because I am more interested in some periods than others, and because it makes posting those statistics I love**** so much easier.

Roger Sutton is a busy man, as well as a witty one. He generously took some time out of his day recently to discuss the award with me. I borrowed his five-question format. Because otherwise I would have tried to talk historical fiction with Roger Sutton all day.

Wendy: When you are choosing books for this award, what works really well? What makes great historical fiction?
RS: We're always looking for a book that needs to be set at the time and place that it is. Not just a story kind of thrown into another era, nor is it a book that has great history, but there's no story.
Wendy: That's interesting, because it was suggested on Heavy Medal that Dead End in Norvelt wouldn't win [the Scott O'Dell] because it didn't have enough history in it*****.
RS: Well, when else could that story have taken place? I thought that story not only told us a lot about that time and place, which in itself was historically significant--I think what also pushed the committee in its favor was that its character is so interested in history himself.

Wendy: What is something that you see over and over again in the books you read, a common mistake that authors make [in writing historical fiction]?
RS: The thing that always bothers me the most, both judging this award and reviewing books, is undigested historical information thrown into a story. There was this great article in School Library Journal by Joan Blos called "Bunches of Hessians" where she talks about the various mistakes that are made in historical fiction. She said to take something from a historical novel--for example, a mother making dinner--and translate it into contemporary fiction. And then she wrote this hilarious passage about "Mother stood in front of the white box and carefully adjusted the black dial." It has to be natural to the person telling the story. They shouldn't be noticing things that only an outsider would be paying attention to. That always pulls me right out of the story.

Wendy: Now, considering this award, I'd like to know something about the logistics--how many books each of you read, and what it's like for three people to come to a consensus.
RS: Probably about sixty books were submitted [by the publishers], but the committee is not limited to books that were submitted. I would say, personally, I probably read close to 50 books. Some of them I could dismiss very quickly; carefully read... maybe 20 books.
Wendy: Was there a list of books that you discussed seriously as a committee?
RS: It's a very casual process, because we've known each other for thirty years. I would say we seriously discussed fewer than half a dozen books.
Wendy: A very different experience from the Newbery, I imagine.
RS: Oh, yes. I mean, there are criteria that you can see on the website--the author has to be an American, the book has to be set in the New World--which I'm guessing is a term we're not supposed to use anymore. Do you know?
Wendy: Yes, I was describing it to someone who wasn't familiar with the award and said "it has to be set in the New World--I mean, I guess I should say that it has to be set in South, Central, or North America"--and then I wondered why they didn't say that in the first place.
RS: Well, I'm guessing that's Scott's wording. And he was very big on that, that he thought we needed more books told to American kids about their own history, rather than books that go back to Europe.

Wendy: So, speaking of setting, is there a particular setting or historical period that you'd like to see more of?
RS: I haven't really thought about it... The last two books have been set in the sixties. I feel like we're doing pretty well with colonial times, Civil War does well. In more recent years it's been the twenties and the thirties... what are we missing?
Wendy: I would love to see more books about Latinos and American Indians, South America.

I have one more question. This award has only been around since the early 80s. Is there a work of historical fiction that stands out to you from your childhood, a classic, or something that you feel like is a great exemplar of historical fiction?
RS: Oh, I loved terrible historical fiction when I was a kid. I loved the We Were There series. That's what I read over and over and over again. Don't look to my personal reading history for excellence here.

Thank you, Roger! I found this most enlightening.

* not intended as a factual statement.
** Scott O'Dell donated his prize money to charity.
*** Read: "who have twitter feeds I follow"
**** 17% of winners have a World War II setting.
***** What Jonathan actually said, which shouldn't be taken as a criticism of the book: "I also think they tend to prefer books where the history is front and center, rather than a backdrop. So I’d be inclined to think that because OKAY FOR NOW, DEAD END IN NORVELT, and THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA don’t have those easy taglines–WWII, Civil Rights, etc–they might not contend as strongly as some of the other stuff."

I am contractually obligated as a Betsy-Tacy fan (you think I'm joking) to mention Maud Hart Lovelace on every occasion, at least where it's applicable. So let me sneak in that Scott O'Dell was buddies with Maud Hart Lovelace and her husband Delos, and they gave him advice about writing, and Maud read the manuscript of Island of the Blue Dolphins and was the first to tell him he'd written a children's book, a very good one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newbery: What I Said Before They Won

It's incredibly difficult to review Newbery winners and honors in an objective way after you KNOW they've won. Sometimes you feel stupid about what you said earlier, after you found out they won. (Though I don't take the attitude that I was "wrong" about a book based on its win; I just figure "well, we like different stuff, then".)

I'm going to own what I said earlier. I don't know if I would do it if I didn't like what I'd said, though. These are from my Goodreads reviews and comments on Heavy Medal.

Honor, Inside Out and Back Again:

(three stars) I find it difficult to review this, just like I found it difficult to review the last novel-in-verse about a Vietnamese refugee in the 1970s that I read, All the Broken Pieces. Like anything negative I might say is me judging the immigrant experience itself. At first I didn't like this that much, but it's growing on me some after the fact. Ha reads like a more original character than many, and the thoroughly-sketched mother and sketchily-sketched brothers are all so clear to me in my mind. One heartbreaking sentence at the very end made me feel that Brother Khoi has his own fascinating book in a parallel universe. The sense of place is much greater for the scenes in and memories of Vietnam than they are for Alabama. Overall: good, but not great. I don't think it's a Newbery.

Hmm. While Inside Out and Back Again isn’t one of my top choices, nor is it one of my favorite novels in verse (a small group; I react to these with distrust and they have to win me over), I don’t find the line breaks ineffective. They feel a little more daring, innovative, than what you quote from Eddie’s War (which I haven’t read). And the style also evokes to me (I hope I can say this without sounding horribly racist) both the harshness of life depicted in the book, and the rhythm/sound/feel of what spoken Vietnamese sounds like to someone who doesn’t understand it. [ETA: I should have said "what it sounds like to me as a nonspeaker"] I felt like it added to my perception of the mother, in particular, as a living breathing character.

Honor, Breaking Stalin's Nose:

(four stars) An intriguing little book, certainly a perspective I have not read before (devoutly Communist child). Does not waste any words or any time. The ending is pretty ambiguous and I'm not convinced it will work for young readers. I don't know enough about Stalin and Communist Russia to know how much of this is realistic and how much might be propaganda. Pulls no punches.

Winner, Dead End in Norvelt:

(three stars) I got impatient with this about halfway through. Occasional moments of clever brilliance, but Newbery-wise, I can't see this standing out in a field that includes Okay For Now. Also, the punk kid with quirky elderly neighbor plot ought to be locked in the vault for the next ten years or so.

I finished Dead End in Norvelt last night. I thought there was a great sense of setting–I was interested enough to read the Wikipedia article on the town, and as I read I could picture the town I’d imagined from the book very clearly. But I agree on the plot getting lost, and I’m also iffy about most of the characters. I’m not sure whether this is intentional or not, though. Jack is a fully-realized character; Miss Volker comes close; but everyone else felt pretty muddled to me. Mrs. Gantos, in particular, I couldn’t get a handle on. I didn’t understand her or her relationship with Jack, and certainly not her relationship with her husband. But since so much of the book takes place in Jack’s head, maybe we’re seeing all the characters through his eyes without nuance. I could sort of support that.

It irritated me that there are a couple of references to Girl Scouts selling cookies to make money for themselves/their families. That’s one of those small things that shouldn’t matter and probably only matters to people with specialized Girl Scout knowledge, right? It’s a much smaller point than the Eagle Scout inaccuracies that actually affected the plot of Mockingbird last year.

Miss Volker felt like the secondary character equivalent of a Mary Sue. She always seemed to have the precise 21st-century liberal view of every issue. The teasing Harold-and-Maudey jokes about Jack being her boyfriend that people kept making did not ring true to me as being things people would really say, especially not the boy himself.

I did think there were moments of comedic brilliance. My favorite scene was the initial one with Miss Volker cooking her hands. I’m unfamiliar with Gantos’s work, so I can’t compare this to my reaction to his humor in general.

The books have a lot of similarities and it’s unfortunate that they came out in the same year; I said in my Goodreads review that I didn’t think Norvelt would get attention in Okay For Now’s year. Yet looking back on both books, after not having looked at either in quite some time, it seems like Norvelt is the more daring, risky book; Okay For Now is easier to like. It may actually be better (as was my first impression) or it may just be more comfortable.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Morris Finalists 2012: Under the Mesquite

Under the Mesquite is the story, told in free verse, of Lupita, a Mexican-American immigrant in Texas. Lupita's mother is diagnosed with cancer when Lupita is 14, and of course this drastically changes life for her family. The novel follows Lupita through her high school years, but her family life is the real center of the book.

And it's a heartbreaking tale. But the free verse didn't really work for me. I didn't see a compelling reason for it to be told in verse, besides that being what the author wanted to do (apparently it grew from a group of poems to a novel in verse). For instance, in the case of Inside Out and Back Again (a 2011 National Book Award winner), the use of verse complemented the story, which was being told by a younger child in a child's language. I felt like the use of verse also helped make the story more intense with that book. But in Under the Mesquite, I wanted more. I wanted more details; I wanted to get more inside Lupita's head and Lupita's world.

Maybe there's more to that than the use of verse. I suppose the author (Guadalupe Garcia McCall) could have gotten more in-depth while still using verse. And she did skim right through a lot of Lupita's life. It's a short book, only 144 pages (of verse, which has fewer words per page), considering the amount of time it covers and the potential depth of the story.

So while it's a good novel, I think there could have been more to it, free verse or not.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Morris Finalists 2012: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Yes, I really did read this in between posting about Between Shades of Gray last night and right now, 24 hours later.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle, soon to be Queen Lucero-Elisa de Vega né Riqueza of Joya d'Arena, and familiarly known as Elisa. We meet her on her wedding day, when she is to be married to King Alejandro de Vega of Joya d'Arena. It's a political match, naturally; she's given in exchange for an alliance and protection from the invading forces of Invierne.

And while the names and titles sound impressive, Elisa is actually the fat, awkward second daughter of the king of Orovalle. But she's also the chosen one of her generation: on her naming day, as a baby, a stream of light from the heavens bestowed on her a Godstone, a blue gem embedded in her navel. A child is chosen in this way every hundred years, destined to complete some great service to his or her people.

So Elisa is an unlikely heroine, about to undertake her heroine's journey in this book. And she is a heroine, though she doesn't always feel it: strong, intelligent, morally and spiritually aware, but not afraid to question. She is a leader of others; a true queen.

I enjoyed both the story and the setting. Author Rae Carson builds a world that is both strange and familiar. It's earthlike, but there is just a bit of magic, and it's made clear that this is not the first world that these people have lived on. There are references to the old world that died before God brought them here. It's also a pre-modern world -- people ride horses and camels and fight (mostly) with swords and arrows and spears.

The story moved along at a good pace and never went quite where I expected it to, especially in terms of romance.

Spirituality is an important part of Elisa's life. Neither she nor anyone else in the story ever questions the existence of God. After all, he put the stone in her belly, right in front of everyone! And she senses God through the stone when she prays or when she is involved in worship. However, Elisa does have questions about God's will and God's purpose for her. She wonders why everyone, both friend and enemy, has a different interpretation of God's will. And she wonders whether all of the killing she and her people have to do is worth it, even if it is done to protect others.

Elisa doesn't resolve these questions. She completes her mission to protect the people of Joya d'Arena and Orovalle, but people do die. And I had other unanswered questions after reading the book -- like where did the people of this world originally come from? Their religious practices do have things in common with Christianity. For instance, Elisa prays something called the Glorifica, which is similar to Mary's Magnificat (and it's entirely fitting for Elisa):
My soul glorifies God; let it rejoice in my Savior
For he has been mindful of his humble servant
Blessed am I among generations
For he lifted me from the dying world...
There's also a ceremony similar to a communion service in which people are pricked with the thorn of a rose instead of receiving communion bread (hence the thorns of the title, I suppose). Aside from these elements (and the priests and monasteries which are also in the story), there are no overt references to Christ or Christianity. So I'm interested in seeing whether anything else will develop in future books (this is apparently the first of at least 3 books).

I'd have to say this one is my favorite of the Morris finalists so far. I've got one more to read -- Under the Mesquite.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Morris Finalists 2012: Between Shades of Gray

Yes, I did read this over my holiday break! But then, well, life got in the way and I never reviewed it. And it had to go back to the library!

But I can tell you that it was well worth reading. Between Shades of Gray is the story (not based on any one true story) of 15-year-old Lina, whose family is taken by pre-KGB Soviet secret police from their home in Lithuania and sent to Siberia. Horrible things happen. The ending is not particularly happy.

This is good storytelling. Author Ruta Sepetys does a good job unfolding the events in a not-totally-predictable manner. I also liked a theme that ran through much of the book: kindness matters. Lina's mother is in the habit of being kind to people, even when they are not kind to her, and it does matter in the end, even though Lina thinks it silly.

However, I did notice that despite the really horrible things that happen in this book, emotionally, it didn't pull me in as deeply as other books have (for instance, The Birchbark House). I couldn't pinpoint exactly why; perhaps just because this story is told fairly starkly.

Between Shades of Gray takes place during World War II (it begins in 1939), but tells a different, little-known part of the war story. It would make a good companion to World War II studies in the classroom. And if you've read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, this would make a great comparison read.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Newbery is Coming

It is possible that I have completed my pre-Newbery reading for the season, with sixty books.

Sixty! That's almost as many as I had to read in order to read all the winners in the first place. I have a better-funded library system here, so I was able to read almost twice as many contenders as I was last year. (The two years before that I didn't keep track in the same way.)

Yet still, I have the nagging feeling that I'm missing something. Even though every year I've already read most of the books that get make the podium, and this year I've read so much more. I think there are always the books that don't get attention from any of the attention-makers that the committee has ferreted out. And, of course, sometimes the ways of the committee are mysterious.

My ideal Newbery results are when I have read everything on the podium except one book; it gives me a good feeling of satisfaction, but I still have something exciting to read. (Last year it was Moon Over Manifest, which I did have out of the library to read next; it hadn't escaped my notice. In 2010 it was Homer P. Figg, which I admit I still haven't read because the cover is so wildly unappealing to me. In 2009 I hadn't read The Graveyard Book, because we didn't think it was eligible, or The Surrender Tree, which would have been my own frontrunner if I'd read it.)

I don't feel invested in the results this year. There are so many books that are considered frontrunners that I don't think are good enough that none of them even particularly stand out as "ANYTHING BUT THAT". There are a lot of books that I think are pretty good. Most of all, I think the theme of this year for me is the number of books that I really enjoyed but don't think will win. They're books for readers, regardless of award podiums. Books like One Day and One Amazing Morning
on Orange Street, and Jefferson's Sons, and The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, and Akata Witch, and Icefall.

You can see my list of everything I read that has been mentioned as a possibility for the Newbery somewhere here. (You'll see only 57 books. I count 60, but I didn't include any of the three Mo Willems books that have been suggested as possibilities. I can't bring myself to believe that these books' Newbery chances are anything but manufactured by the blogosphere.)

And the Goodreads poll for Newbery winners always makes for interesting reading. I've read 50 of the 69 listed there as of today.

There are still a few books I would like to read--Wildwood, Blizzard of Glass, The Freedom Maze, Eddie's War--but looking at the hold list, I'm unlikely to get to read them before the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 23.

As soon as they're over, I'm going to read NOTHING but adult non-fiction for a solid month.