Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Newbery Picks

As Bill said in his post on Friday, this last month has included some intensive reading and reflecting on our parts, but it has been very enjoyable. And maybe, just maybe, we actually reviewed a book that will be announced a "winner" tomorrow morning in Denver. That being said, all of these books were wonderful reads, and true winners in my mind (ok, I know that was spoken as a true elementary teacher)!!

But now it's time for us to share what was, for us, the cream of the crop. That being said, start the drumroll, please...

Karen's picks in no particular order (or in case I don't know what I'm talking about - Karen's favorites of this year):

Waiting For Normal (reviewed by Bill) -- Bill said it well, and I just tagged on by saying Waiting for Normal is a wow!!

We Are The Ship - this book deserves some kind of love. I'm not sure what category it fits in, but I thought it was a beautifully composed book. (reviewed by Karen)

Greetings From Nowhere - I said it in my review and I'll say it again -- I think Barbara O'Connor has a true gift when it comes to character development.

Trouble (reviewed by Karen)- loved how two apparently divergent story lines mesh into one. Might be for a slightly older reader, but the message is a great one!

Eleven (reviewed by Karen) - as a side note, any book that lays emphasis on the power of words and reading is a winner for me!

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and other Scary Things
(reviewed by Karen) - what an unexpected pleasure this book has been as I just finished reading it aloud to my students. The language is amazing -- it is so much more than just a humorous book!!

The Porcupine Year (reviewed by Karen) - I don't think I would have ever picked it up on my own while shopping in a bookstore, or browsing in a library. However, I read it because it made a few mock Newbery lists, and, much to my surprise, I was totally entranced by the people, the setting, and the language.

Jimmy's Stars (reviewed by Karen) - another unexpected surprise. This book literally moved me to tears.

Along Came Spider (reviewed by Karen) - this is a book that hasn't generated a lot of Newbery talk, but I think this story does an incredible job dealing with an issue that becomes more and more prevalent in schools today. I know I'm very "character-driven" when I read, but Preller does a fabulous job giving insight, compassion, and understanding into two very different main characters. And the actual cover is MUCH better than the ARC I had! :)

And now, here's what Bill has to say:

Nice picks, some surprises from the last time we chatted about this. It's been interesting this year talking with other teachers and librarians. It seems to me that no one has a real, true, favorite pick that they feel completely sure about. I'm in that boat too. I have lots of books I like, but few I love. Last year I had a hard time narrowing it down. And so, my choices are...

1. Waiting for Normal: I won't bore you with the details, I've reviewed it twice, and nothing else is as good this year in my mind.

2. Shooting the Moon: I never reviewed this one due to the fact that lots of others did, but the story was moving. It does a great job of dealing with the conflicted family during the Viet Nam War in a way that the elementary readers can understand.

3. Itch: Haven't seen it on anybody's list, and it's definitely a dark horse, but it's one of my absolute favorites of the year.

4. Savvy: We had a very Grand Discussion on Thursday, and I would love to say we picked this one before it won the award. Not to mention, it's a great book that really resonates with kids.

5. Diamond Willow: Awesome characters, interesting concept with the story in the story.

6. Six Innings: Something of a selfish pick, although I think the book is deserving, since James Preller is coming to see us in March. The characterization in this one is extremely well done.

It's been a fun year. Hard to believe that this time last year, Karen and I had just written our first blogs for our friends at A Year of Reading and we were hooked. It was just a few weeks later that Literate Lives was launched. Thanks for reading.


  1. Time flies when yer havin' fun, dunnit?

    Yeah, when Franki and I were brainstorming who to get for our "Friends Picks" post for this year's Newbery, we were remembering back to last year when you were two of our stars! Our post is weaker this year, but the blog world is stronger because you two are in it. This has been an AMAZING month of reading and reviewing at Literate Lives. Wow! Kudos!

  2. You guys are much too kind, but it's a nice feeling to even be in the conversation. Thanks.

  3. I hope that you all will do this again this year. I loved your book recs and bought many (or found them at the library).