Sunday, September 3, 2017

RI Mock Newbery 2018 - September Reads

My piles and piles of summer reading are paying off ... by the time the list came out, I had already read 14/20 books on the initial list (and abandoned 1). Favorites closest to the top. I have a few more to go, so I'll be adding as I finish them. NOTE: Moved a couple to November since we didn't discuss them in September.

ShortShort by Holly Goldberg Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So funny. I dog-eared practically half the pages because so many sentences made me laugh. So sweet. I did not expect to cry at the end. Buy now for any short or neurotic or theater-inclined middle-grade kids in your life.

Pro tip: p. 16: "... it's good to feel cozy with what you are wearing when you're going into a situation that is new and scary. The last thing you want to do when you are nervous is wear wool."

Train I RideTrain I Ride by Paul Mosier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Editors, take note: You CAN publish a solid middle-grade novel full of complex characters and situations that is LESS THAN 200 PAGES. I laughed, I cried. Held back a star for a couple of scenes that stretched the definition of "realistic" fiction.

p. 32: "Everything here looks crazy, like it was drawn by Dr. Seuss. The plants and rocks, especially in the desert, look like they're from beneath the sea. They look like they were drawn to be silly."

p. 90: "My timeline stretches behind me, a chart of other people's mistakes and bad choices and sadness that put me in this seat on this train on this night."

p. 95: "I've never heard or seen the word but I'm sure I've felt it. The whole thing is like something I've always felt but could never understand."

p. 145: "Even before she died, I was always a motherless child"

Me and Marvin GardensMe and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good depiction of adolescent angst - family issues, changing relationships, secrets, your place in the world (and how to help save it) ... BUT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH MARVIN'S POOP???? It made me anxious!

p. 11 - "So, the ocean started here, at Devlin Creek. That's how I saw it."

p. 64 - "[Dad] told me more than once that boys should be fearless, daring, and brave. I was being more fearless, dafing, and brave than ever since Marvin Gardens showed up, but since I couldn't tell anyone about Marvin, no one could know how brave I really was."

p. 111 - "... I took a side. It was the right side, but everyone on every side thinks they're on the right side once they take a side. No matter if you're wrong, it's hard not to be loyal to the side you picked."

p. 140 - "People are really weird. They just think you should be like them, pretty much. Dad thought I should be like him. Tommy thought I should be like him. I just wanted to be me."

Forever, or a Long, Long TimeForever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So many feelings! We are right in Flora's head. And heart.

Also one of my feelings is rage at the system.

Amina's VoiceAmina's Voice by Hena Khan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gentle novel about a middle-school girl wracked with anxiety over friendships and culture/religion.

p. 70 - "And like the Oregon Trail, I wouldn't have to pioneer the uncharted territory of Soojin finding Emily 'not so bad.'"

Hello, UniverseHello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nicely contained plot. I could have done without Ruby in the well, though. Was Virgil hallucinating?

p. 70: "Meanness always shows on people's faces. Sometimes you have to look hard for it. Sometimes it's just a part of a person's features."

p. 83: "If you didn't have bad things, you wouldn't have good things. They would all just be things. Did you ever think about that?"

The End of the WildThe End of the Wild by Nicole Helget
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't read this if you're looking for a lighthearted story. I did like that it was an "issue" novel that wasn't overly preachy. But man, Fern's house made me feel cold and hungry.

Beyond the Bright SeaBeyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book made me learn some new geography. And it was very nicely written. But settings without bus stops or CVS make me nervous. And this was so slow to get started. Would have liked more about the day-to-day on Penikese Island.

Scar IslandScar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Much less painful to read than "Lord of the Flies."

Family Game Night and Other CatastrophesFamily Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lots of characters making lots of bad decisions. I never get when people lock up their secrets and let them take over their lives ... I tell everyone everything. Anyways, I'm glad they're off to counseling.

Clayton Byrd Goes UndergroundClayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ms. Byrd needs to take 17 chill pills. How does she not see that denying Clayton more time with his dad makes no sense when she is so full of rage at HER dad not having been around? UGH.

Starts slow and ends with something that needs more explanation, but I did like that so much action happened on the subway. The timing seemed off, though ... I thought it was midmorning when it was actually afternoon.

The Warden's DaughterThe Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This went from a 4 for liveliness and characterization to a 3 for remembering at a pivotal moment, "Oh, yeah, it's a Jerry Spinelli book, so naturally something tragic would happen," to a 2 for Eloda's (SPOILER) diary. Yes, Cammie needed you, but you needed some lessons in how to be there for a damaged, angry girl. And then to just (SPOILER) take off with no goodbye?s Jesus Christ, her other two mother figures did the same thing, and now you're just adding to the trauma. I guess people weren't as tuned in to basic psychology back in the 50s? Fail.

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