Previous month:
October 2006
Next month:
December 2006

Posts from November 2006

Ben Franklin's Fame: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

Ben Franklin's Fame is the sixth book in the Blast to the Past series, by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon. This is an early chapter book with occasional illustrations, perfect for 7 to 10-year-olds who like reading about historical events. The premise is that an elementary school teacher, Mr. C, has created a time machine.

"It looks like a hand-held video game with a larger screen and extra buttons. When we put a special cartridge in the back, a glowing green hole opens and we jump through time. Taking the cartridge out brings us home again." (Prologue)

Here "us" refers to a group of four third-graders, Abigail, Jacob, Zach, and Bo, who help out Mr. C by going back in time and troubleshooting for him. You see, an evil former assistant of Mr. C's (Babs Magee) is using her own version of the time machine to go back in time. Babs hopes to convince some famous historical figure to give up on his or her own dreams, so that she can take their place, and be famous. The kids have to go back and talk with the figure that she's targeting each week, and try to convince whoever it is not to give up. They call themselves The History Club.

In this episode, Babs has her sights set on Ben Franklin. In fact, as the story begins, Ben has already disappeared from the history books, to be replaced by a picture of Babs. The History Club has to go back to several points in time, until they can find the place where Babs influenced Ben Franklin to step off of his own path, so that she could step in. They start out at the signing of the Constitution, and move backwards through other milestones in Franklin's life.

Each of the four kids has some special skill that he or she brings to the mission. Zack can relate to Ben Franklin because he, too, has trouble deciding what he wants to do with his life, and wants to keep trying out new things. Jacob needs his computer skills to tweak the time machine, and allow the kids to visit the different time periods and places in Franklin's life. Bo's encyclopedic knowledge about Franklin guides the kids to where they go. And Abigail is the documenter of incidents and follower of clues, who comes up with a critical brainstorm near the end of the book.

This book is a lot of fun. It's filled with facts about Ben Franklin's life that I think kids will find interesting, like the fact that he had 16 older brothers and sisters, and once invented a pair of swim fins for his hands. The description of the signing of the Constitution is both reverential and humorous. For example:

"We knew our time was ticking away, but not one of us could move. We were frozen to the floor. This was it! The signing of the Declaration of Independence." (Chapter 4)

And when Thomas Jefferson is inadvertently knocked to the floor by Zack, Bo steps in.

"Bo knew that this was his chance to help his hero. He straightened his backbone, puffed out his chest, and stepped forward, hand outstretched. Thomas Jefferson took Bo's hand and pulled himself off the floor. "Thank you, son," he said to Bo.

Bo didn't reply. He just stared down at his hand. He was still gripping Thomas Jefferson's fingers. I had to give Bo a little reminder to drop Thomas Jefferson's hand. "Time to go," I whispered.

Bo let go of the future third president of the United States and said softly, "You're welcome." (Chapter 4)

I think that the book strikes a nice balance between making the kids realistic and making them excited about history. I'm interested to go back and read an earlier book in the series in which they apparently meet Walt Disney. What kid wouldn't be excited about that?

In this particular story, I liked the parallels between Zack's inability to focus on a single passion, and Ben Franklin's success in many different fields. I think that a book like this gives kids permission to be third graders, and try out different things, without having to always know exactly where they plan to end up.

Oh, there are some questions I bring to the logic behind the story, reading with my adult eyes (Why can they only time travel on Mondays? Why is Babs limited to visiting a particular list of historical figures in order, that Mr. C can track? If Ben Franklin really ceased to exist as a famous figure at the beginning of the book, why could they all remember him?). But I think that questions like this are inevitable in any time travel story, and it could be that some of these points were clarified in the earlier books. And it doesn't matter anyway. I think that kids will find the story fun, and will pick up some miscellaneous tidbits about history, too. There's a nice letter to readers at the end that clarifies what is fact and what is fiction in the story, and a timeline showing the major events in Ben Franklin's life. I definitely recommend this series for the early elementary school set.   

Book: Ben Franklin's Fame: Blast to the Past
Author: Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon
Publisher: Aladdin
Original Publication Date: September 2006
Pages: 128
Age Range: 7 to 10
Source of Book: Review copy from Rhody Cohon

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

A Few Interesting Links

I'm going to be taking a few days off, but I have left some reviews lined up for you. And here are some links to entertain and inform in the meantime:

  • I got a real kick out of Kirby Larson's link to my review of Hattie Big Sky (see the Latest News section on Kirby's website). She's got news from School Library Journal, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Booklist, two newspapers, and ... Jen Robinson's Book Page. I feel like I've hit the big time, being in such well-known company. Thanks for the link, Kirby!
  • I am frequently entertained by the questions of the week over at The Longstockings (and what a great blog name, too!). This week's question is: "Which two characters from children's or YA literature would make the perfect couple?". I'm not creative enough to think of any couples myself, but this response is hilarious.
  • This one is much less amusing, but worth knowing about. A Fuse #8 Production has apparently been a victim of book review plagiarism. By a librarian, no less. People are up in arms, and there's quite a discussion going on in the comments about how to handle this incident, and book review plagiarism in general. Personally, I think that Betsy is handling it well - maintaining a sense of humor, being prepared to give the person in question a chance to explain, but not sitting back and accepting it.
  • A Fuse #8 Production also takes up a question that I mentioned briefly in my Saturday round-up: the issue of whether or not receiving free books compromises bloggers' integrity. Betsy says no, of course not, concluding with "Kids, if I don't put ads on my blog (and I don't) then I'm certainly not going to shill for anyone. You may not know me, but you can trust me. I promise." She also links to some thoughtful comments on the same topic by Gail Gauthier over at Original Content. Gail says that lit blogs aren't review sites anyway, but are more like fansites. She and her commenters discuss the difference between maintaining a blog because you love books and being a professional critic. I especially enjoyed Bonny Becker's point: "It's not just reviews. It's a wonderful collective discussion. And bottom line is the good will sort itself out from the bad, anyway. Banal, poorly written blogs won't get read for long. So Standards of Excellence Will Be Maintained, I'm sure." Liz B. also weighs in over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy.
  • Michele addresses a different question over at Scholar's Blog. She cites Jay Amory, a young adult author who laments the minimal role that adults play in young adult literature and the adult non-presence unrealistic. Michele asks "Do readers of YA fiction agree with Amory that adults should be more involved in YA novels ? Or will it put off the readers at whom the books are marketed?" There are some interesting responses in the comments. Head on over and share your opinion.
  • Finally, there are year-end book lists sprouting up everywhere. I'm not such a list fan, personally, because I can't get enough of an impression of a book just from seeing its title on a list to decide if I want to read it or not. However, Linda Sue Park's loosely categorized list of "titles submitted for National Book Award consideration that I loved, that have stayed with me now even months after I read them" caught my eye. Linda Sue includes brief sentences about each book, and her comments, combined with what I know about her role in the National Book Award selection, give me enough to go on. Two of my favorites made her list (A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life and Rules), and I'm sure that many other titles will become favorites in the future. (Speaking of Rules, I also enjoyed Sherry's comparison of Rules and Shug over at Semicolon. )
  • And speaking of lists, all of the Cybils nominations lists have now been posted over at the Cybils site. You can find wonderful titles in the areas of Fiction Picture Books, Fantasy/Sci Fi, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Fiction, MG and YA Non-Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Poetry, and Non-Fiction Picture Books. And, because I think that list are more useful when they're connected to book reviews, I'm adding links to new reviews by the Young Adult Fiction committee to the list at my site.
  • OK, one more best of 2006 list, this one with nice little capsule reviews, can be found at The Horn Book website. There are some great books on the list, and a key to when the full review was published in Horn Book Magazine. Thanks to Read Roger for the link. Also, if you read Horn Book Magazine, be sure to check out Roger's column on the last page, about how to select a good gift book for a child. He recommends not trying to select a book at all, but instead making an appointment with the child to go to the bookstore and choose a book together. "What you are giving," he says, "along with a book, is choice and independence, two of the finest things that reading has to offer."

I'll be back in a few days. Happy reading in the meantime!

The Edge of the Forest, November Issue

I've been a bit out of touch this week, because of work commitments, and I missed yesterday's launch of the latest issue of The Edge of the Forest. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Edge of the Forest is an online journal dedicated to children's literature. It's the brainchild of the tireless and talented Kelly Herold. This looks like another great issue! I especially enjoyed Allie's teen picks column, and Pam's Bring on the Funny III, also focused on teens. But head on over and check it out yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Author Day for Room 3T: Robin Pulver

Author Day for Room 3T is a picture book for early elementary school kids, written by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Chuck Richards. It's a bright, colorful book in which much of the story is told through the zany, over-the-top pictures. Kids will feel in on a private joke as the pictures accent the relatively restrained text.

The story begins as the kids from Room 3T of Lerner Elementary School prepare for a visit by a very special guest: Harry Bookman, "a real live author". The kids read all of Harry Bookman's books, decorate the library with a big banner, draw pictures from the books, and act out the stories as plays. They have a hard time picturing the author as a regular person, and wonder things like "Do authors get thirsty."

The fantasy sequences (where the kids imagine what the author will be like) are clearly set apart, each a monochrome image of a different base color, in pointillist style. There's one where the kids imagine the author arriving in a space suit, stepping out of a rocket ship. Because "If authors were ordinary, why all the fuss and bother about this one?"

The kids are surprised, but delighted, when the author arrives through the window, jumps up on the tables, and swings from the ceiling. He fulfills their every expectation that authors are NOT ordinary people at all. This is helped by the convenience of the teacher (Mr. Topple) falling, and having to go to the nurse's office before meeting Harry Bookman, and the librarian (Mrs. Storey) losing her glasses, and not being able to see him. But the kids see him for what he is.

There are many little jokes in the text and pictures, to reward reading and re-reading. I love the picture of one girl reading while standing on her head, blond braids strewn across the floor. There's also a place where Mr. Topple is lecturing, and we see one of the kids drawing a caricature of him as a monkey (before the author arrives). And, of course, the names of the school and the characters are all tongue-in-cheek.

The book ends with a page of "Harry Bookman's Tips for Hosting a Successful Author Visit." I can see this book encouraging kids to push for author visits at their own schools (though they are likely to be disappointed when regular people show up, and don't swing from the rooftops). Overall, I think that Author Day for Room 3T is a fun book that will get kids excited about author visits, and make them laugh. I think that authors who have made school visits will also enjoy it. 

Book: Author Day for Room 3T
Author: Robin Pulver, illustrated by Chuck Richards
Publisher: Clarion Books
Original Publication Date: May 2005
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8
Source of Book: Review copy from Clarion

Behind the Eyes: Francisco X. Stork

Behind the Eyes by Francisco X. Stork is a quick but thoughtful read, and a window into the difficulties that face adolescents, especially those living in housing projects. Behind the Eyes tells the story, in an flashback-filled fashion that builds suspense, of sixteen-year-old Hector Robles. Hector grew up in a housing project in El Paso, TX. He lives with his mother, older brother, and younger sister, his father having died a year earlier. Hector is a good student and even an altar boy, who has spent his years trying to stay out from under the radar of the local gang, the Discipulos. His older brother, Filiberto, is not so careful, however, and drags the family into trouble. The book begins in compelling fashion:

"Hector missed his brother's wake. He missed the funeral. Dr. Hernandez, the intern who treated him in the emergency room, had told him it would be at least a week before he could leave. The ear, the ribs, the spleen, all had to be evaluated. All needed stillness in order to begin to heal."

Though we don't know the details at first, it becomes clear that Hector has gotten himself into trouble over the matter of his brother's death. Both legal trouble and trouble with the Discipulos. A social worker offers him an out, one which he has little choice but to accept: admission/sentencing to Furman, a San Antonio school for troubled youths who are believed to have some chance of redemption.

Furman is a military school, one with locks and wire fences, filled with an array of juvenile delinquents. Hector has a rough start, but eventually finds himself learning from the teachers and the other students. He also encounters an unexpected enemy, and must use his new skills and friendships to save himself from disaster.

I liked Hector a lot. His reaction to his own intelligence is in some ways matter-of-fact - he just does better in school than other people. His family set him aside from an early age as the smart one, his parents learning English so that they could make sure he spoke English well, his father saving for him to go to college, working in a job that he didn't like to protect his younger son's future. And yet he has some ambivalence about the whole thing, too, about how differently things turned out for his brother, and about his responsibilities towards his mother and sister. And about fear and anger and courage.

Hector ends up learning his biggest lessons from a convicted murderer named Diaz, from whom he takes "Dumbells for the Mind" (an exercise and mediation class). Here is an excerpt, in which Diaz talks to Hector:

""For me, the way toward fearlessness was to go back over my life and look at the things I was afraid of. Not with blame or anger, but with the strength and calm concentration that the weight lifting had given me. The toughest part was facing the different ways I had been, was, and would always be a coward in one form or another."

Diaz's words shocked Hector at first. Then, after a moment, he felt the block of ice in his chest begin to melt."

Despite my different background from Hector's, Diaz's words gripped me, too. Struggling to figure out who you are and how best to use the resources that you are given are universal issues that face most adolescents (and adults, for that matter). 

Francisco Stork was a Mexican immigrant who lived with his mother in a housing project in El Paso during his teen years. He was awarded a scholarship to a local Jesuit High School, and eventually received a full scholarship to a college in Alabama. I think that what makes this book work is the authenticity of Hector's interactions with his family, his peers, and his enemies. This book could have come across as preachy. There is, for example, a scene where the Furman kids go to visit a local prison, to see what things will be like for them if they don't straighten themselves out. This scene could have been moralistic, but wasn't. While I was reading it, I was mostly just thinking about the characters, and how they were reacting to the situation, not at all about the situation being lesson-based. Hector's two friends, the loquacious X-Lax and the stalwart but academically struggling Sanson, both feel completely real, and like people that I would like to meet.

I think that Behind the Eyes will appeal to kids looking for edgier stories, and will especially appeal to kids from Chicano and other immigrant families. There are many Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout the book, with no translation, but they are mostly clear from content, and are essential to the realism of the dialogue. If I was a librarian working with kids at risk from gangs, I would definitely hand them this title. And if I was working with any set of kids who could benefit from seeing a different perspective, I'd hand them this title, too.

Book: Behind the Eyes
Author: Francisco X. Stork
Publisher: Dutton Books
Original Publication Date: June 2006
Pages: 256
Age Range: 12 and up
Source of Book: Review copy from Author Marketing Experts.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Saturday Afternoon Visits: November 25

It's a pretty quiet weekend out there in blog land, with many people taking time away from their computers. So here are some highlights from the kidlitosphere that I've been saving up over the past week or so:

  • MotherReader mocks the new U.S. Department of Agriculture decision to eliminate the term "hungry" in favor of the phrase "food insecure". She suggests also referring to poverty as poverté, to make it more trendy.
  • Over at Kids Lit, Tasha decries a Science Daily article that found that "children's ability to use contextual cues to determine whether the information is true develops significantly between the ages of 3 and 5." The idea behind the study was that if information is put into scientific terms, rather than fantasy-related terms, kids are more likely to take the information as real. Tasha's point, which I agree with, is that there's nothing wrong with young kids believing in fairies and dragons anyway.
  • This is a bit late, but a regular reader of this blog was kind enough to point out a special children's book section in last Sunday's Columbus Dispatch (Ohio). There are mini-reviews of lots of great titles, all carefully categorized.
  • Tanya Lee Stone addresses a humorous piece to librarians about the fact that people are writing in library copies of A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl. "Bad Boy's once-empty bits are now filled with girls expressing themselves with writing implements. Telling it like it is. Sticking it to the man. (Okay, that's too dated, but you get the idea and I can't bring myself to delete it.)" A Bad Boy... is on the Cybils Young Adult Fiction nominee list.
  • Mitali Perkins makes peace with the onset of her seventh winter in Massachusetts. As someone who fled the Massachusetts winters at the earliest possible opportunity, I was especially amused by her article. She also links to the How Massachusetts Are You quiz, on which I scored a 91%. I did get 100% on the Are You a True Dedicated Red Sox Fan quiz.
  • Reading Matters writes about "The pitfalls of receiving free books, or how not to risk your book blogging credibility". Apparently there was a marketing effort centered around The Thirteen Tale (which I did not know about or profit from) by which bloggers could quietly get cash by promoting the book. There is a huge discussion in the comments at Reading Matters about it. Personally, I always indicate the source of a book when I review it, and I try to steer away from requests to promote things on my blog in which the request feels especially commercial to me.
  • PJ Librarian from The Magic of Books links to two Multnomah County Library booklists for middle grade kids with reading difficulties. She also recommends books by Jerry Spinelli, though he doesn't appear on either of the lists.
  • OK, this one is wrenching, but a Colorado father who lost his wife and two young children in a hit-and-run accident asked that people bring children's books to the funeral, so that he could donate them to a school. Read more at
  • The Blue Rose Girls take the direct approach, and ask their readers who they are and why they visit blogs in general, and this blog in particular. There are a surprising number of responses, and the post offers a nice glimpse into the make-up of the kidlitosphere.
  • Inspired by her son, currently lost in the book Danger Boy: Ancient Fire, Lisa Yee asks readers "what book(s) do you remember grabbing you and not letting go?" Her example is The Secret Garden, and there are many other excellent responses in the comments. For me, I'd have to cite the Green Sky trilogy, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, though of course I could name many others.
  • Over at Finding Wonderland, TadMack rediscovers the compelling truth that: "I cannot make everyone happy with my writing. I can't make anybody like what I've done, or what I do. I have to be true to my of whatever. And go with it." Personally, I think this truth applies to blogging as well as fiction writing, and to other life choices, too.
  • Linda Sue Park has an excellent post about her stint as a member of the panel for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. While she doesn't go into details about specific books, she does discuss the criteria that she used for winnowing the list. Useful reading, for all of you Cybils committee members out there.
  • Here in San Jose, the Mercury News is in high gear soliciting donations for their Gift of Reading program (in which people donate like-new books, and the books are distributed to Bay Area children who need them). I enjoyed Mike Cassidy's column yesterday about how a local high school book club (Bookzilla) is gathering books, and discussing books passionately. Says Mike "Bookzilla was a force field, a ball of energy, a conversation so animated that I certainly couldn't keep up." Personally, I'm thinking that the Gift of Reading program will be a good home for some of the reviewed books currently stacking up around my house.

Happy reading, and a peaceful post-Thanksgiving weekend!

Reading Like a Teenage Girl

Colleen at Chasing Ray muses about whether or not adult reviewers can fully enjoy the specific sub-genre of teen books that revolve around sex (rather than having sex be part of a more complex storyline). She cites reviews by two of members of the Cybils YA Fiction team (TadMack and Sara) of the book Angel's Choice, and notes in the comments that "this specific genre of YA titles that seems to test the limits of adult reviewers the most, I think. It's easy to escape into an adventure and mystery regardless of the age of your protagonist, but to crawl inside the head of a pregnant teenager? Not so easy." Colleen's point is that there are going to be books that teens love where adult reviewers "aren't going to get nearly as much out of them as teen readers will."

I think that this is a balance that all of the Cybils committee members will be working on. We do want the winners to be books that kids will enjoy, but we aren't kids ourselves, and we come at our reviews from the perspective of adults. Of course there are books that pull us in regardless of our age, too, but this won't be true for every book. It's an interesting situation, and I appreciate Colleen for highlighting it.

I should also add that the reviews posted by the Cybils committee members on their blogs are not necessarily indicative of how they are going to vote as they narrow down the Cybils nominations - they do have criteria that they are using to evaluate the books.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Sold: Patricia McCormick

Sold, by Patricia McCormick, was released just two and a half months ago, and yet it seems almost redundant to review it now, because it has already garnered so many laurels. Sold was shortlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and was a Publisher's Weekly best book of the year. It was also nominated for the Cybils Award for Young Adult Fiction. But I'm going to review it anyway, because I simply couldn't put it down.

Sold is verse novel told from the perspective of Lakshmi, a thirteen year old girl born in a small mountain village in Nepal. In a series of poems, ranging from a few lines to several pages each, Lakshmi shows us what her world is like. The early part of the book is about Lakshmi's life in the village, with her hard-working mother, Ama, her sickly baby brother, and her worthless (but pampered) stepfather. Despite grinding poverty, and various setbacks, Lakshmi is basically happy. Her greatest goal is to somehow work enough to provide her mother with a tin roof for their home. She is betrothed to a boy named Krishna, but both are to shy to even look openly at one another. Lakshmi is open and hopeful and innocent about the ways of the world. She is also taught by her mother's daily example that women should subjugate themselves to men, that women are less important, and there to serve. Here is an excerpt, in which Lakshmi's Ama gives her advice about growing up:

If your husband asks you to wash his feet, you must do as he says, then put a bit of the water in your mouth.

I ask Ama why. "Why," I say, "must women suffer so?"

"This has been our fate," she says.
"Simply to endure," she says, "is to triumph."

And Lakshmi, it turns out, will have much to endure. After a combination of lost crops due to flooding, and lost savings due to gambling, Lakshimi's stepfather sells her to a new "Auntie" for four hundred rupees, with the promise of more money for her family in the future if she is hardworking and obedient. They tell her that she is going to the city to work as a maid for a wealthy family. Lakshmi's mother gives her advice for her life as a maid, and both hope that she'll be able to return home during the national holiday.

To the reader, however, it's clear from the beginning that this innocent 13-year-old girl is not being sent to the city to be a maid. There are comments about her age and her appearance, and her lack of hips. But Lakshmi believes that if she works hard, she will be able to provide her mother with a tin roof, and she goes away willingly.

After a long and difficult journey, Lakshmi crosses into India, and finds herself in an unsympathetic city, sold again into the hands of the plump and perpetually angry Mumtaz, a brothel owner. There she endures suffering almost beyond what she can bear. Tiny kindnesses from the other girls, from a young boy living in the house, from a single client, are all that she has to hold onto. She is a child longing to be in school, learning, and playing, but she is also a jaded old woman before her time. She learns the brutal arithmetic of the brothel, by which she has to "work" to pay off the debt for what Mumtaz paid for her, while simultaneously having her debt added to for her room and board and medicines. It reminded me of the old song "I sold my soul to the company store."

The book does end on a note of hope for Lakshmi. But it's a disturbing and painful read along the way. What makes the book stand out is that despite the intensity of the subject matter, Patricia McCormick makes Sold enjoyable to read, too. I think that the verse format is key. Instead of reading a narrative about an exploited young girl in horrific circumstances, we learn Lakshmi's fate by reading a series of poems. Each poem offers a snapshot of some aspect of Lakshmi's life, but at just enough of a remove to make it bearable to read about. The truth is revealed gradually, as the young girl in the story comes to accept it herself, giving readers time to adjust.

It's also not all bleak. There are heroes in the story, though quiet ones. The son of one of the other women of the house befriends Lakshmi, teaching her to read English and Hindi. One days he brings her a gift of a yellow pencil. "It is shiny yellow and it smells of lead and rubber. And possibility." Lakshmi cries, for the first time, and muses:

"I have been beaten here,
locked away,
violated a hundred times
and a hundred times more.
I have been starved
and cheated,
and disgraced.

How odd it is that I am undone by the simple kindness
of a small boy with a yellow pencil."

I was undone by it, too, as I was by the whole story. It provided quite a contrast to my cozy Thanksgiving dinner, and the complaints that I make when my work causes me stress because I have to travel too much. In an author's note, Patricia McCormick says that "Each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families, intentionally or unwittingly, into a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India." Ms. McCormick interviewed some of the survivors of this life, and notes how they are speaking out, "with great dignity", and working to help keep other girls from meeting the same fate. She wrote the book in their honor. I highly recommend it, for the lean yet heartbreaking prose, for the brave example of Lakshmi, and for the window into practices that people have to know about, if they are to be stopped.

Book: Sold
Author: Patricia McCormick
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Original Publication Date: September 2006
Pages: 272
Age Range: 14 and up
Source of Book: Review copy from Hyperion
Other Blog Reviews: ReadingYA: Readers' Rants, Kids Lit,

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Carnival of Children's Literature: Thanksgiving Edition

Anne-Marie Nichols has posted the latest Carnival of Children's Literature: Thanksgiving Edition over at A Readable Feast. She asked people to post about what they are thankful for in children's literature, making it particularly appropriate reading for Thanksgiving day. So, if you have some time to spare from food, football, and family, and you want to get an even more warm and fuzzy feeling about children's literature than you already have, check out the new Carnival. And have a great day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there in the kidlitosphere (American friends, anyway, who actually celebrate Thanksgiving), and to all of you who are kind enough to read this blog! Mheir and I will be spending a rare Thanksgiving at home (he's on call this weekend). It will be our first time cooking our own turkey (we are brining it right now, and I've already made pies). While we're sad not to be with the friends in San Luis Obispo who we usually spend Thanksgiving with, and not to be with family, we're kind of looking forward to having a quiet weekend to ourselves (as the call requirements allow). We'll be together, and that's what really counts. Plus we plan to drink a very nice bottle of wine, and talk on the phone a lot.

I also have hopes of getting some reading done this weekend, after weeks of having travel, work, and Cybils-related tasks eating into my reading time. I'm halfway through the very impressive Sold, and have several other excellent choices in my "to read" stack.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend! And, for those of you on the Cybils YA fiction nominating committee, I hope for your sake that you'll find time to read - because you have a lot of books on your list...

I'm particularly thankful this year that my brother Dana is safely back from his National Guard year in Kuwait. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Cybils Young Adult Fiction Nominations

These are the books that were nominated in the Young Adult Fiction category for the 2006 Cybils Awards. Note that some suggested books have been moved to other categories, at the discretion of the committees. We have also removed any titles not published in 2006, and titles that were not published for young adults. These are the nominations that remain. If you don't see a book that you nominated, check the Middle Grade or Fantasy/Science Fiction lists at the Cybils site, or feel free to email me if you have a question. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this list!

I have also included links to recent reviews (written since the Cybils process started) by the young adult committee members. Their names are listed at the end of this post.

Note that clicking through Amazon links on the titles below and making a purchase will cause a slight commission to be paid to the Cybils organization (not to me personally). Thanks for your support!

Young Adult Fiction Nominees

  1. Abundance of Katherines, An by John Green. Dutton Juvenile. Reviews by Sara and Jackie.
  2. Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson. Henry Holt. Review by TadMack.
  3. Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer. MTV Press. Reviews by TadMack and Mindy.
  4. After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates. HarperTeen.
  5. Alice in the Know by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Atheneum. Review by Jackie.
  6. Angel's Choice by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Simon Pulse. Reviews by TadMack and Sara.
  7. Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett. Candlewick. Review by Mindy.
  8. Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, The by Barry Lyga. Houghton Mifflin.
  9. Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Candlewick. Reviews by Jackie and TadMack.
  10. Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, A by Tanya Lee Stone. Wendy Lamb Books. Reviews by Mindy and Jackie.
  11. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe. HarperCollins.
  12. Beast by Ally Kennen. Push (Scholastic).
  13. Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Knopf.
  14. Between Mom and Jo by Julie Ann Peters. Little, Brown Young Readers.
  15. Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger. Simon & Schuster.
  16. Book Thief, The by Markus Zusak. Knopf. Review by Liz.
  17. Born to Rock by Gordan Korman. Hyperion. Review by Tasha.
  18. Boy Book, The: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Reviews by TadMack, Sara, and Jackie.
  19. Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The by John Boyne. David Fickling Books.
  20. Braid, The by Helen Frost. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  21. Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, A by Dana Reinhardt. Wendy Lamb Books. Reviews by Little Willow and Mindy.
  22. Christopher Killer, The by Alane Ferguson. Viking Juvenile.
  23. Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock. Houghton Mifflin. Reviews by Tasha, Jackie and Sara.
  24. Dirty Liar by Brian James. Push (Scholastic). Review by TadMack.
  25. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman. Putnam Juvenile. Reviews by TadMack and Jackie.
  26. Estrella's Quinceanera by Malin Alegria. Simon & Schuster.
  27. Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall. Harcourt. Reviews by Mindy and Jackie.
  28. Extraordinary Adventures of Horatio Lyle, The by Catherine Webb. ATOM.
  29. Fringe Girl by Valerie Frankel. NAL Trade. Reviews by TadMack and Mindy.
  30. Going Under by Kathe Koje. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  31. Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr. Hyperion.
  32. Grist by Heather Waldorf. Red Deer Press.
  33. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Reviews by TadMack, Leila, Mindy, and Jen.
  34. Hollywood Sisters: Backstage Pass by Mary Wilcox. Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
  35. How It's Done by Christine Kole MacLean. Flux. Reviews by Little Willow and Leila.
  36. How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot. HarperTeen. Review by Jackie.
  37. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. Hyperion. Reviews by TadMack, Jackie and Sara.
  38. Incantation by Alice Hoffman. Little, Brown Young Readers. Reviews by TadMack, Sara and Tasha.
  39. In the Garage by Alma Fullerton. Red Deer Press.
  40. It's Kind of a Funny Story: A Novel by Ned Vizzini. Miramax. Review by Tasha.
  41. Just In Case by Meg Rosoff. Wendy Lamb Books. Reviews by TadMack and Jackie.
  42. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Viking Juvenile.
  43. King Dork by Frank Portman. Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
  44. Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth. Hyperion.
  45. Lorenzo and the Turncoat by Lila Guzman and Rick Guzman. Arte Público Press (Piñata Books).
  46. Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, The by Jack Gantos. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Review by Liz.
  47. Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer. Harcourt Children's Books. Review by TadMack, Jackie, and Mindy.
  48. More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas. Razorbill.
  49. Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie, The by Jaclyn Moriarty. Arthur A. Levine Books. Reviews by Mindy and Jackie.
  50. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Knopf. Review by Sara.
  51. Notes From The Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick. Scholastic. Review by TadMack.
  52. Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley. Little, Brown Young Readers. Review by Mindy and Jackie.
  53. Ophelia by Lisa Klein. Bloomsbury.
  54. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen. Carolrhoda Books.
  55. Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson. Viking Juvenile. Review by Mindy.
  56. Plenty Porter by Brandon Noonan. Amulet.
  57. Private by Kate Brian. Simon Pulse.
  58. Pursuit of Happiness, The by Tara Altebrando. MTV Press. Review by TadMack
  59. Queen of Cool, The by Cecil Castellucci. Candlewick. Review by Jackie.
  60. Rash by Pete Hautman. Simon & Schuster.
  61. Real Question, The by Adrian Fogelin. Peachtree.
  62. Returnable Girl by Pamela Lowell. Marshall Cavendish Children's Books. Review by Mindy.
  63. Rules of Survival, The by Nancy Werlin. Dial. Reviews by Tasha, Leila, Jackie, and Mindy.
  64. Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
  65. Samurai Shortstop by Alan M. Gratz. Dial.
  66. Simply Divine by Jacquelin Thomas. Pocket Books.
  67. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos. Margaret K. McElderry. Review by Tasha.
  68. Sold by Patricia McCormick. Hyperion. Reviews by TadMack, Tasha, and Jen.
  69. Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr. Houghton Mifflin. Review by TadMack.
  70. Tallulah Falls by Christine Fletcher. Bloomsbury.
  71. This Is All by Aidan Chambers. Amulet. Review by Sara.
  72. This Time, Last Year by Kitt Raser Kelleher. Authorhouse.
  73. Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang. Carolrhoda Books.
  74. Trigger by Susan Vaught. Bloomsbury.
  75. True and Faithful Narrative, A by Katherine Sturtevant. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  76. TTFN by Lauren Myracle. Amulet. Review by Mindy.
  77. Unresolved, The by T. K. Welsh. Dutton Children's Books. Review by Patty.
  78. Viking Warrior by Judson Roberts. HarperCollins
  79. Waiting for Eugene by Sallie Lowenstein. Lion Stone Books.
  80. Wish House, The by Celia Rees. Candlewick. Review by TadMack.

My profound thanks to the publishers listed above, most of whom have generously donated review copies to our committee, and thus helped the Cybils to get off the ground and move forward. One of the commitee members, TadMack, has labeled the days that review copies arrive "St. Cybils Days".

Listed below are the brave committee members who will be first whittling this list down the FIVE (the nominating committee's job) and then selecting a winner (the judging committee's job). Many thanks for all of their work so far, and all of their work to come!

Nominating Committee:

Judging Committee: