Friday, October 19, 2012

Five Books I've Recommended

Five things on a Friday: In reading my "Newbery Year" of juvenile books, here are five I've recommended and the reactions I got from the other readers (including myself). As always this does not indicate that I or anyone else on the committee have suggested or nominated these books, only that as I attempt to read a broad swatch of juvenile literature this year, these five were included.
  1. One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
    I recommended this to a young man who was sad that all of the Animorphs books had been weeded due to age, lack of popularity, and lack of a complete set. He reported loving it. At least one librarian I discussed it with didn't like it and didn't think it would appeal to kids. I liked it, but found it quite hard to push myself through the pathos in the middle.
  2. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
    Recommended this to a local school librarian who LOVED it. I haven't got to try it on a child reader yet, but I liked it and I don't normally enjoy mysteries much. One quibble was that I kept forgetting that the book was set in North Carolina and kept trying to put it in the Gulf Coast instead. I'm not sure if that is my issue or a failing in setting by the author.
  3. Neversink: a puffin saga by Barry Wolverton
    I lent my copy to a friend's 10 year-old son and she ended up having to buy it for him. It was THE BEST book that boy has ever read and he is continually drawing the characters from it even four months later. I liked it a lot too. Maybe it is that we live in Alaska with the puffins? Or maybe it is just that puffins are cool. The setting was marvelous both the arctic I know and the arctic of fantasy at the same time. I think this would be a huge hit with kids who liked the Ice Age movies.
  4. Freaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia Clifton
    When a 10 year-old boy asks you for a boy "with a kid who rides his bicycle", this is an obvious answer. Two weeks later he was back to ask for the sequel. Sadly I've told him not every book has a sequel. But I understand that feeling. This book had very engaging characters and I found myself emotionally attached enough to Frankie Joe and his brothers to want a sequel too.
  5. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
    I feel like everyone has read this book and everyone is talking about it, but that might just be the fact that I read a lot of children's literature blogs and my slice of "everyone" on the internet is skewed.  When my fiance and I have conversations about what "everyone" on the internet was talking about during a given day/week, we find that we have very different groups of everyones. Lent my copy to my children's librarian and my future mother-in-law. Haven't heard yet from the future mother-in-law but my children's librarian adored it. This is another book wherein I got really invested in the characters. Everytime we switched narrators I was a bit sad because I felt like I was leaving behind the voice of a friend until I got to know the new narrator and then was sad to leave them behind. It's amazing to me how quickly each narrator's voice was established as unique and yet it formed a cohesive story. Unfortunately there were one or two moments that felt forced and rushed that pulled you out of the narration and caused you to doubt those particular narrators.
Realizing I haven't much committed myself about what I've thought about any books read this year, at least not in print. It's not forbidden by Newbery rules, but you are warned to be cautious. And with every book, I tend to have a gut reaction and a more nuanced reaction with a more critical eye. Here you're mostly getting my gut reactions to five random books.

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