Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mock Newbery 2013 - Finalist Reads

(I will be adding to this post as I make it through the list ... favorites at the top)

 See You at Harry'sSee You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Devastatingly heartbreaking. Fern's voice is authentic, the dialogue is believable, and the grief is crushing. I lost it at the answering machine.

The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I loved it. Not sure if kids will appreciate its somber tone, but I sure did. Killer comments close out many of the tiny chapters: "Old age is a powerful disguise." ... "I always tell the truth although I sometimes confuse the facts."

Actually, now that I think about it, it's almost like a novel in verse, even though it's written as prose. Applegate's writing is a hell of a lot more poetic than so many of those "verse" novels out there that just seem to have returns sprinkled randomly through sentences.

And it's based on a true story.

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I completely second Brandi Rae's review, and rather than trying to paraphrase, she said I could just use it for mine:

"For the most part I really enjoyed this. Auggie was born with many extreme facial deformities. After extensive surgeries, he is starting 5th grade; attending a public school for the first time. This was thoughtful, funny, touching ... the rotating points of view were varied enough that upper elementary would like it as well as lower middle school (good 5-7 book). There were some flaws (I did find the ending ridiculous). But overall, a good book ...."

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well-crafted story that sucked me in immediately - a page-turner with a twist that I appreciated. Kind of annoyed that it's already set up to be a trilogy, though. I hope Nielsen continues to write well and doesn't phone it in by the end.

Speaking of trilogies and similar plotlines, I wonder if I could push "Westmark" to my students.

View all my reviews Starry River of the SkyStarry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lin does a lovely job weaving together traditional stories with an original plot (that still feels very traditional ... in a good way). Most of the questions that arise as you read get answered, but the ending confused me. I'm still not exactly sure how the moon fell from the sky ... the timing seemed off. Anyways, I did enjoy it, and I was surprised by how much I came to care for the characters.

 The Lions of Little RockThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm glad I stuck with this one. At first, I was kind of turned off by Marlee and her assigning people drink personalities and her loving math and her not speaking. But I grew to really like her, especially when she began making her first few acts of defiance.

I also liked that I learned about a facet of the Civil Rights Movement that I wasn't aware of before. The hypocrisy and bigotry made me want to scream, and the hatred that went into threats against children ... wow.

Some stock characters, some unlikely events, but a good book.

Liar & SpyLiar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An engaging read, but at the end I felt let down. Other reviewers have stated that feeling manipulated fits in with the overall theme. And I guess I should have thought a little more about some of the things that made me say "What?" Anyways, good parts included smile therapy, big picture v. dots, and spelling reform via Bob Edwards Who Draws. And I always did find the taste bud map suspect.

Kepler's DreamKepler's Dream by Juliet Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started off really liking this book. I didn't have time to read most of the books on our December list, so I read a bunch of first chapters, and this was the only one I wanted to keep reading. It started in medeas res, Ella had a great sense of humor, the writing was fresh, and I always like mysteries. "We have to find the missing book!" reminded me of the Peggy Parish novels I read back in elementary school (haven't revisited, so I don't know if they hold up).

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm waned as I made my way to the end. After a relatively slow pace, too much happened all at once, and the solution to the mystery was kind of ridiculous. It made me say "(expletive deleted)."

Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1)Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Who is voting for the National Book Award? Because I was not terribly impressed. What's up with the coal? And the river flooding? Don't leave me hanging just because you have a contract for a trilogy. The "resolution" with Rowan was stupid. Pfffft.

That said, I did enjoy the goblin troupe members.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work by Meredith C. Moore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.