Thursday, August 7, 2014

RICBA Nominees 2015

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

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All of my students think this book is about Morgan Freeman when they look at the cover. Sigh. One girl has read it, though, and said it made her cry. It's well done.

Gone Fishing: A Novel in VerseGone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The actual story was nothing special, but I am giving Wissinger an extra star for using so many poetry forms and explaining them at the end. Will be recommending as a RICBA readaloud to 3rd- and 4th-grade teachers.

Doll BonesDoll Bones by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So this is more of a feelings novel, about putting away childish things and navigating changing relationships, than a scary adventure book. Not that there isn't adventure - bus rides and piracy and breakins - or scariness - creepy doll that may or may not be a dead girl. But it wasn't what I expected.

Black writes well; the prose pulled me along effortlessly (as opposed to a couple of other books I started this week). And the plot has a mix of elements that my kids will like. So I will plan to add to the collection when I can. But I will also be on the lookout for a cheap copy of "A Drowned Maiden's Hair" by Laura Amy Schlitz for those who prefer more Gothic, less realistic (and fewer cell phones).

p. 75: "He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be lies."

The Mighty Miss MaloneThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A classic Curtis novel. Which is to say that it includes a certain kind of family dynamics and certain quirks in the narrator. Set during the Depression, which seems to be a popular choice for authors lately. Liked it but didn't love it, although I did enjoy the Manipula Mobile explanation and the line "Hoping is such hard work."

Mountain DogMountain Dog by Margarita Engle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Super quick read. I think my kids will love it.


The Blessing CupThe Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a Patricia Polacco book.

Island: A Story of the GalápagosIsland: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this to my 5th graders at the end of the school year to get them started on the list, and it led to some good discussion about natural selection and geologic cycles.

Hiding Out at the Pancake PalaceHiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I could have done without the references to the Jersey Devil and the song of the pines. They were kind of jarring, since the rest of the book was so realistic.


Bats: Biggest! Littlest!Bats: Biggest! Littlest! by Sandra Markle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The layout took away from the content for me. However, said content was clear and easy to understand. I had both a first-grader and a third-grader read it this spring and report back a ton of facts, so it's definitely a hit with its audience.

Gaby, Lost and FoundGaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sweet but simplistic. I - not an animal lover - teared up at the end, so it did have an emotional impact, albeit a somewhat syrupy one.

Legend of the Ghost DogLegend of the Ghost Dog by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All of the kids who circled this on their RICBA list at the end of the year may be disappointed by the lack of true creepiness. Will recommend to a 4th grade teacher who does an Iditarod unit.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the YearCharlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We elementary librarians need more books like this! Simple, sweet, small, slim. Boys will read it. Most kids will bother to finish because it's not hard to get through or overwhelming to look at ... there are pictures on almost every spread. Not a fantastic work of literary import, but I find my students aren't willing to put in the work to read those.

Odessa AgainOdessa Again by Dana Reinhardt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not my favorite, but may recommend to teachers looking to read RICBA nominees because it could lead to some good discussions about making choices.

Athlete vs. MathleteAthlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh for me. However, I think a lot of my students will like it. Too bad I ordered "Double Dribble" by mistake instead of this one for the RI Children's Book Award shelf!

Wild Born (Spirit Animals, #1)Wild Born by Brandon Mull
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Obviously calculated to be a moneymaker, what with the online tie-ins and different authors for different volumes. But I don't want to read any more of them, because I don't really care what happens. The narrator of the audiobook didn't help, but I don't feel attached to a single character. They were cardboard cutouts.

Navigating EarlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Vanderpool's writing is great, but as the chapters unfolded, it couldn't save the plot from becoming COMPLETELY ANNOYING. I really didn't like the Pi story, and I really really didn't like the way it had parallels during the trek through the woods. Glad to be done.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

of books with
one-note characters,
dialogue that makes my eyes roll.

over pie.
We get that Kelly's
mom is a good baker. Enough.

tell us
his writing
is so prize-worthy.
We'll be the judge of that. OK?

think some
of my kids
will enjoy, and an
extra star for Fibonacci.

check out
"Blockhead: The
Life of Fibonacci"
by Joseph D'Agnese for more.

Kelsey Green, Reading QueenKelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Too bad, because I usually like Claudia Mills. But I have a problem with the reading being turned into a competition ... and thereby a chore. I did like how she referred to so many other books, though. Will probably set up a display with the ones we have and steer my kids to them.

The Secret Garden
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Dear Whiskers
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Amber Brown is Not a Crayon
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Mr. Crumb's Secret
Frog and Toad Together
Stuart Little
Henry and Mudge
Junie B. Jones
Ramona the Pest
Emily Dickinson poetry
Harriet the Spy
The Mouse of Amherst
A Little Princess
Charlotte's Web
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic
Farmer Boy

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I so wanted to love this. I love books and I love puzzles. But I also love strong characters (not caricatures) and crisp writing (not constant puns and lame dialogue). Disappointing.

Rump: The True Story of RumpelstiltskinRump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I returned the audiobook to the library after the first disc. Maybe I'll retry with a print copy. One fourth grader liked it, one fifth grader did not.

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