Sunday, August 5, 2012

RICBA Nominees 2013

I will be adding to the list as I make my way through the nominees ... favorites closest to the top.

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This is how you do a novel in verse.

Fuse8's review pretty much sums up my thoughts as well:

WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, so the plot was not the most earth-shattering genius of the world, but it was interesting and engaging. And after forcing myself to finish some other Mock Newbery nominees, it was so nice to WANT to keep turning the pages and find out what happened. I couldn't wait to see how the stories intertwined, and I kept going back to the picture of the special exhibit that Rose explored.

Also, the change in movies from silent to talkies made me think about the current sea change ... Red Boxes and streaming Netflix. You don't even need to wait for the DVD to be mailed to you anymore!

When Life Gives You O.J.When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica S. Perl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a funny, sweet story. Cranky grandfather + fake dog + early adolescent angst = charming. And the touches of grief and understanding elevate it beyond quirky. Very nicely done.

Because of Mr. TeruptBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not expect to read this all in one sitting. Or to sob through the entire second half. Wow. There's a little bit of cheesiness, a little bit of predictability. But it's still done very well. I think this could be a life-changing book for a kid, because it drives home the point (again and again) that who you see in class is not necessarily the whole person. And that speaking up is necessary. And that being a kid is hard. And that it's probably not your fault.

PiePie by Sarah Weeks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Started off a little slow, but turned into a charming old-fashioned mystery complete with red herrings.

Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American FeudWorst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Jurmain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chock full of facts and written in a slightly arch tone ... I will break this out when my students hit the American Revolution.

SidekicksSidekicks by Dan Santat
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dan Santat, have you seen the movie "Mystery Men"? Because your plot makes me think so. I was yet again confused by fight scenes, and I am not sure where that peanut came from, but I did enjoy this RICBA nominee. Predict that I will need to buy extra copies in the fall to keep up with demand.

The PS BrothersThe PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was going to say that this is much darker than other RICBA nominees, but then realized the ones I've read already deal touch on the Vietnam War, bullying, and racism. Nonetheless, this one has crime and violence on top of poverty. Which you really wouldn't expect from the cover. Luckily, it also has resourceful kids and a happy (if a little too neat) ending.

I did like it, but I don't know that I will be reading it to the students.

JakeJake by Audrey Couloumbis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Simple and sweet.

My Life as a StuntboyMy Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, the conflicts! And a monkey! Much appeal for reluctant readers. Who may start illustrating their own vocabulary words.


Marty McGuireMarty McGuire by Kate Messner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute. Will recommend to Judy Moody fans.

Fractions = Trouble!Fractions = Trouble! by Claudia Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute story that introduces fractions and the scientific method (loved that Josh brought the baked pickle to the science fair). Also can make struggling kids feel better about needing a little extra help and realize that different people learn in different ways. Need to figure out when which grades cover fractions so I can do the readaloud then ... hopefully before RICBA voting!

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's ParadeBalloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Will probably read this the week before Thanksgiving and have the kids design their own balloons/floats. For older grades, maybe try and tie in to marketing somehow ... pick a product/service/company and come up with a visual? Or even just do a "can you ID this logo" game to show how these things get stuck in our brains.

Which could lead to a unit on fonts! Ooh, now I am excited.

Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in HaikuWon-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great artwork, okay poetry. I remember learning somewhere along the line that in a haiku, the last line should offer some kind of contrast from the first two. The beginning poems do this, and I think they're more effective.

Regardless, I will be using this in class (not sure which grade(s) yet) and having the kids write their own haiku. Maybe about pets. Maybe about library rules. Or give them the choice. I'm trying to embed more choice in my lessons this year.

And from the "it's funny 'cause it's true" department: Letmeoutletme / outletmeoutletmeout. / Wait - let me back in!

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe LouisA Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Anything Kadir Nelson does is going to be beautiful. Reading the book to students is going to require a lot of context, though. I'm surprised there was no author's note. And the proofreader in me had fits about the lack of periods.

Tortilla SunTortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I was totally on board until the visit to Socorro and the gobbledygook about seeing the truth. Then there was just too much schmoopiness and annoying fatalism.

I did like the idea of Izzy's story cards ... could have students write their own beginnings and then have others continue them? Could also develop a lesson on famous first lines, the power of a hook ... relate to music as well. Although I am now so decrepit, the kids probably won't recognize any of the songs that would first come to mind.

Small as an ElephantSmall as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I did not enjoy this at all. If it weren't a RICBA nominee, I would not have finished it. The entire premise pissed me off ... I realize that Jack wanted to protect his mother, but come on. Just call your grandmother already. Also, I didn't get much of a sense of Jack's personality. He loved his mom and he loved elephants. The end.

And the narrator should not have bothered with attempting different voices ... his female ones made me want to punch the CD player. I don't remember Bob the Builder being so annoying.

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