Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mock Newbery Reads - October 2013

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

Better Nate Than EverBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED THIS BOOK. I loved Nate, I loved the silliness, I loved the rollercoaster plot, I loved the ending phone call (spoiler: there's a sequel in the works). The absolute perfect book for all the misfits who want to make it to Broadway. As well as anyone who enjoys middle-grade fiction. I laughed out loud so many times, I am now following Tim Federle on Twitter.

My one reservation re: buying for school is the use of the word "fag" (and variations thereof). I feel like it's reaching the forbidden status of the R and N words - even if it's only used by jerkface characters. In fact, a Google search on the topic just brought up articles about a UFC fighter named Nate who got suspended for using the word. Any advice from other school librarians?

PaperboyPaperboy by Vince Vawter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had thought I was sick of coming-of-age novels, but then I read this one. SO GOOD. Reduced me to tears several times. The narrator wants so desperately to understand everything and to be understood. He types up a list of questions for Mr. Spiro (p.66):

1. Why do most grown-ups treat me like I'm not a real human being?
2. When does a kid become a grown-up?
3. What can I do to be smart like you?

Killed me. As did "So both of us ended up doing something we didn't really want to do so we could make the other feel good."(p. 212)

I feel like there were no wasted words or actions in the book. Perhaps a vestige of Vawter's newspaper days? RIYL Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt.

The Year of Billy MillerThe Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I loved most about this book is that Billy is so normal, and his stressors are so mundane. Unless, of course, you are in second grade and have a hint of generalized anxiety disorder.

Counting by 7sCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I laughed, I cried, I adored this book ... until about the final quarter when it got a little too philosophical and then got a little too far-fetched. Really, Pattie? After just a couple of months you are ready to go into a joint custody relationship with someone? Who happened to win $20,000? To go with your secret fortune that was stashed away while your kids had to sleep on the floor of a garage? What?!?

I did really love Willow, though, and her observations about other people as she strove to understand them. The first 200 pages were delightful, if also tragic and stressful.

 Beholding BeeBeholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars. I finished this book a week ago, and I can't really remember much now; it didn't have much of an impact. I remember being dismayed by the carnival and mean old Ellis, annoyed by the otherworldliness of Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, and disgusted at the way that anyone who was different - even if only physically - was hidden away in the "special" class with no supplies. But I never felt very connected to Bee.

Zebra ForestZebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Zzzzzzzz. Well written, but not much happens besides reading "Treasure Island" a bunch of times. I am most sympathetic with Rew.

Hokey PokeyHokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Has Mr. Spinelli earned a completely free pass from editors? I found this to be ghastly. Granted, I only made it through disc 1 of 5. The grating narration didn't help. Certainly there was imagination poured into the work. But it felt dystopian (even as it was developing a kids' paradise) and creepy. I didn't like any of the characters. I didn't care about Jack finding his bike. Or growing up. I just wanted it to end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re better late than never: glad the book is wonderful, but elementary libraries are places full of challenge landmines. Buy it for middle school library. Recommend that kids take it out of the public library. They handle challenges their own way. I LOVED James Howe's the Misfits, again, for middle school. It's hard to combat homophobia at the elementary school level. Wish we could :-(

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