Friday, December 24, 2010

Second Impressions: Mock Printz Edition

One of the things I most appreciate about doing Mock Newberys and Mock Printzs is the chance to go back and re-read books. The first time you read something you have a reaction that you base your opinion on, but I find that when I re-read something I'm less dependent on my mood and whatever else was influencing my reading experience. On the re-read you really see more of the style and quality of the book while also seeing what the author hoped to accomplish much clearer. Having said that I sometimes find I love a book more and I sometimes find a book falls apart because the momentum is gone.

I just finished re-reading two of our Mock Printz books and I think my opinions have shifted some on both of them...and in different directions.

I found You to be even more impressive. The writing really held up and I think I appreciated the story more. The foreshadowing is so incredibly evident, more so when you already know how it ends, but that actually let me see the way the pieces of the story fit together. And they fit together incredibly well. I found the second person narrative less jarring this time around. I found Kyle to be an even sadder person. I still loved the themes of personal responsibility and I still wonder if Zack isn't too much of a evil genius. Spoiler --> that final scene he's practically rubbing his fingers together like Mr. Burns. Spell it out for me Scooby Doo bad guy! But at the same time I liked the interplay between him and Kyle. But! BUT! He took Kyle's job, his girl, and got his locker searched for drugs? Why the triple whammy? Wouldn't one have been enough? Too much I think. <--end of spoilers.

As for Nothing I think I was less impressed. The kids are 13 or 14 ish, but the girl who is writing it sounds far too young. I kept having to remind myself that our narrator isn't 9. It jarred me out of the story more than once. And the way she would use words to illustrate her opinion irritated me. "Dark. Darker. Afraid of the Dark." I didn't find that it added anything to the story except to make our narrator sound even younger. Perhaps that was the point? And if it was, why?

I found the story to hold up on the suspense and the slow building of the most grotesque conclusion in any teen book I've ever read. Which serves to make me very divided on this book. One the one hand I think the story is handled masterfully, the single lines on the end/beginnings of chapters was hands down brilliant. Had the lines been tacked onto the end/beginning of a paragraph they would have lost their power. It was the single line on a blank page that really drove the point home. "She shouldn't have done that." Gah! Seriously Frickin' OMINOUS!

This book is perverse and grotesque and true about human nature in a way that is unflinching and painful. This is not a happy ending (ha!) but it was an ending which, I think, was the point of the story and it was done for more than simple shock value. So thumbs up on that. Thumbs down on the weird narrative quirks.

Book Source = both Library Copies

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2011 Mock Newbery Results

Around 16 people gathered to join in on our 3rd Mock Newbery Discussion. I liked so many of our mock books and didn't have a clear favorite that I think I enjoyed this year's discussion even more than last year's.

Our Winner:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Honor Books:
Only One Year by Andrea Cheng
The War to End all Wars by Russell Freedman
The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt

We ended up picking three honor books because the number of votes they got were so much higher than any of the other books. Poor Night Fairy, it only had one person vote for it (and that was me. ahem.) so when we did our second vote for honor books it was one that got removed. The other books that were removed were Farm, Keeper, and Sit In.

No one seemed too bothered by my major complaint against The War to End all Wars, which was that the author would be talking about Canadians or Australians and then mention British casualties. Which is plain *weird* if you ask me (and maybe a little offensive to people who live in those countries because they have national identities despite being part of a commonwealth). Anyhow, the discussion raised my opinion of the book, strange lumping of commonwealths aside, and in the honor vote I ended up voting for it. In my 3rd place spot, of course. heh.

The most interesting thing to me was that Water Seeker got an honor despite the fact that people seriously questioned whether it was a book for children. I am still pondering that and for the record, that is why I didn't vote for it. Loved the book, but a book about the journey to manhood as told by adult women? Also it was the only one I didn't have time to reread and that probably hurt it in my view only because it wasn't fresh in my mind.

Anyhow, it was a great discussion and I am seriously excited about our Mock Printz in two weeks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 Mock Caldecott Results

Here are the results of the 1st Mock Caldecott. Nice job, committee.

The APL Mock Caldecott winner:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee. By Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Two Honor Books:

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Tree of Kenya. By Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadie Nelson

Henry in Love. By Peter McCarty

Full list of nominees from the website.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Favorites

So with all my reading for our Mock events, I highly doubt I'll read anything else this year. Another thing is that I read a lot less this year...a lot less. I was way more interested in sewing and I just seemed to have other things going on that took up my time. Regardless, here are my favorite books that were published in 2010. They are not in any particular order and I am probably missing a ton since I didn't keep a list of every book I read this year (Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.).

Picture Books:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead
Oh Daddy by Bob Shea
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

Children Books:
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Teen Books:
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Nothing by Janne Teller
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
You by Charles Benoit
As Easy As Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Adult Books:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

I can't help but feel this is missing something... oh well!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Can Die Now...But Not Before I get to Read it

So when I reviewed Ship Breaker way back when, the last thing I said was that I would love to know more about Tool.

Well, Mr. Bacigalupi must have been listening. From A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Teacozy:

Liz B: What are you working on now? And if it’s not a sequel to SHIP BREAKER, can we hope for a sequel? What if I promise you chocolate for a sequel?

Paolo: LOL. Well, it depends what kind of chocolate we’re talking about. In all seriousness, it’s more of a companion novel rather than a sequel. It’s set in the same world, but Tool is the only character who overlaps, and the thematic focus is very different. The story is set in a place called the Drowned Cities, and focuses on a sister and brother pair who have been orphaned by war. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. We’ll see if it’s still about that when I reach the end.

Looking forward to it!