"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mock Printz Awards...Compilation of lists

This past week the GKHS Mock Printz team selected their favorite book of the year during the Mock Printz Workshop. I instantly wanted to know what other teams have selected as their favorite titles of the past year. This is my effort to compile those list.  Check out the hyperlinks to read more about the selection process at each site.

1. SLJ Someday My Printz Will Come:
Winner: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Honors: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
              Scythe by Neal Shusterman
              We Are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson
              March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell

2. Eva Perry Regional Library Mock Printz Book Club
Winner: Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Honors: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne
              Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
3. WLA/WLS Mock Awards
Winner:  March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell
Honors: The Passion of Dolssa b Julie Berry
              The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

4. Goodreads Mock Printz 2017 (Voting open until Jan. 22, 2017) At current time the highest vote getters are:
              The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry (13)
              Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys (12)
              Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (12)
              We are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson (9)
              The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (8)

5. Public Library at Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Winner: The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
Honors: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys
              Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eagar
              True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
              The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

6. Mock Morning at Denver Public Library
Winner: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Honors: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
              The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

7. Mock Printz for staff at San Mateo Public Libraries
Winner: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Honors: Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
              March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell
              Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

8. Cuyahoga Public Mock Printz in-person and online voting results:
Winner: Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Honors: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
              We are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson
              The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter

9. Littleton, Colorado Mock Printz event (small group)
Winner: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Honors: Still Life with Tornadoes by A.S. King
              Merrow by Amanda Braxton-Smith

10. Bergan County Library System Mock Event
Winner: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson
Honors: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
              Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
              Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys

11. Milwaukee Federated Public Libraries Mock Printz Program
Winner: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Honors: We are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson
              The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
              The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
              Scythe by Neal Shusterman
12. Project Yawesome: Mock Printz Sulfolk County Library system
Winner: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Honors: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
              The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
              March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell

13. Anderson's Bookshops Mock Printz
Winner: Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonis Patel
Honors: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold
              Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys
              The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
              The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

14. Graham-Kapowsin HS Mock Printz Workshop (20+ teens)
Winner: The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Honors: Character Driven by David Lubar
              The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
              The Reader by Traci Chee
              The Rebel of the Sands by Alywyn Hamilton

This is what I have found so far.  Many public libraries advertised online they were hosting a Mock Printz event and then never published the results of their events, which is very frustrating to readers like me.

Looking over the fourteen lists I did find with results, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys has the most first place votes with four. It also showed up on eight of the lists. The next highest book found on the list is The Sun is Also a Star with seven mentions, though is was never selected as the winner. Several books showed up on four of the lists: March, Book Three; The Passion of Dolssa; We Are the Ants. Female of the Species and The Serpent King were listed three times though they both earned at least one first place spot. There are sixteen titles which are only listed once.

I recognize my school's list (GKHS in #14 slot) has the most outliers of the lot. But as I said in the blog post about the events and the titles that were selects, the teens on the committee truly voted for their favorites and paid no attention whatsoever to what was popular elsewhere. You gotta love them for that!

The actual Printz Committe announces its results on Monday morning. I know that they have a herculean task to thoughtfully consider all YA titles published in 2016. Though I haven't read all the books listed above, I think that this compilation hits on most of the highlights of the year. Only a few titles are missing, in my estimation, but I am sure the committee has surely taken a peek at them, too.

If you have a Mock Printz list not listed above, please provide me with a link and I will add it to this list.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

GKHS Mock Printz winners

GKHS Mock Printz team met this afternoon and after a very raucous discussion, which delighted me due to the enthusiasm these teens have for books and reading, they picked their favorite YA books to bestow the honor of Mock Printz Award and Honors. These titles aren't the titles that people "in the know" are buzzing about. The teens didn't care. They like what they like and they aren't willing to give an award to a book they don't. Here's the list:

Mock Printz Award
The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Mock Honors:
Character Driven by David Lubar
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
The Rebel of the Sands by Alywyn Hamilton
The Reader by Traci Chee

The Memory Book and Character Driven were virtually tied and the students had to debate and vote and re-vote until The Memory Book moved into a 51% majority. Students loved both books and finally decided that a book's cry-worthiness was the deciding factor. Ha!

As we discussed all the titles we read this year, no one wanted to talk about The Passion of Dolssa. When I told them it was my favorite book, the group started teasing me about it. No one in the room had finished it except me. I didn't even bother mentioning that this book has been getting lots of love on the blogosphere because, umm, clearly they didn't. They also weren't so sure if they liked We Are the Ants, which was the favorite book of my partner teacher. We both decided to keep our mouths shut because clearly we were not influential on the process. It became a joke as the afternoon wore on.

I was very impressed with the thoughtful comments that students made in defense of their favorite titles. Even if these titles don't win actual Printz Awards, the authors who penned these titles should feel proud of winning the GK-Mock Printz Award for 2017. You have written a book which teenagers actually love and they want others to know just how great they are.

Now we wait to see what the Real Printz committee thinks. I bet their discussion won't be nearly as spirited and enthusiastic.


The Edgar Award Finalists announced

The Edgar Award finalists (Best Mysteries)

Young Adult titles:

  • Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger (Simon & Schuster — Simon Pulse)
  • The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group — Henry Holt BFYR)
  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group — Little, Brown BFYR)
  • My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Press — Soho Teen)
  • Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor (Penguin Random House — Penguin Young Readers — Dial Books)
I am always looking for good mysteries to recommend to my readers. I have read the Girl in the Blue Coat. It is fabulous. I have lots of books by April Henry in the library, so I will be sure to get this new one. I have the book My Sister Rosa and think the plot sounds very intriguing.  Oh boy. I am excited about this list. Stay tuned for the winner which will be announced in April.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mock Printz tomorrow

The GKHS Mock Printz event is tomorrow after school.

What books will the teens choose as their favorite YA books of 2016? Tomorrow I will know. In the meantime what are my favorites going into the event? (I don't get to vote and I try really hard to not influence the voting, either.)

I read 50 YA books in 2016 that were published in 2016, making them qualified for Printz 2017 consideration. Of the 50 books I only gave out 5 stars to six of the books. Of those, one is clearly not a YA title, Jazz Day, though it is rated for grades 5-8. So I will toss it out and hope it earns a Caldecott or Newbery Award. Another book, though WONDERFUL, is the fourth book in a series, The Raven King, and I just don't think the committee will honor it with a Printz, For this reason, I also will take it off my list. And lastly, one book which is truly the funnest book I read all year, My Lady Jane, just wasn't that well-written to make the RealCommittee cut, so sadly, I will cut it, too.

That leaves three other titles I think deserve attention from the Printz Committee (and my Mock Committee): The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry; We Are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson; and Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung. I hope my teens will at least bring three titles forward for their discussion.

In addition, I looked over the titles of the 29 books I gave 4 stars. Obviously that is too large a number to digest comfortably. So I listed all of them and spent a bit of time thinking about each one. Did the book improve in my mind over time, stay the same, or diminish in my estimation of it as time has elapsed since reading it? The majority of them stayed the same, a few diminished, but eight improved in my mind. Of the two that increased the most, March, Book Three and Golden Boys, only the latter is on our Mock Printz list, Students who have read it acknowledge that the writing is excellent and the plot is quite atmospheric. Of the other six books, only two are on our list: Burn Baby Burn and The Lie Tree. Both of these books have been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere and I'll be interested to hear what the students think of them.

As in previous years several of the potential front-runners for potential Printz books aren't on our Mock Printz list. It is difficult to select a static list before the end of the year and catch all the good titles, some of which weren't even published before we created our list in September. One title which I read and liked, The Sun is Also a Star, is deserving of Printz attention. Two other titles which I haven't read, Scythe and The Female of the Species have also earned a lot of praise from other bloggers. Unfortunately my Mock Printz team won't be able to consider these titles tomorrow as they debate on and vote for their favorites.

If you could vote for your favorite YA books published in 2016, what titles would make your list?

I'll come back tomorrow and report on the results of the GK Mock Printz Workshop. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TTT: Books you might have missed (but shouldn't have) last year.

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books you might have missed (but shouldn't have) last year.

1. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter....a very weird but delightful retelling of the Vasilisa the Beautiful, a Russian folktale. It is very confusing in the beginning but then the story starts to reveal itself and it is fun and imaginative.
2. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty...This is the third book in the Colours of Madeleine series, a very creative and delightful series I highly recommend. The first book of this series is A Corner of White.
3. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore...part fairy tale, part magical realism. The story of two best friends, Miel and Samir, each with a secret, and The Bonner girls who threaten to reveal the secrets to everyone.
4. Railhead by Philip Reeve...so many YA readers forget to explore the Sci-Fi offerings each year. This one is creative with imaginative world-building.
5. Flannery by Lisa Moore...a YA offering from a small publisher in Canada. Flannery is a teenager who is trying to make her way through school when friends abandon her and her mother can't seem to make enough money for basic needs. Surprising upbeat.
6. The Memory Book by Lara Avery...If you have missed this book, you'll want to look around for it. Sammie is making plans for college and her future when she discovers her memory is slipping. She decides to make a book of her memories to refer to when her memory is gone. A tear-worthy book.
7. Unbecoming by Jenny Downham...a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter all have to find themselves to make peace with each other. The best LGBT book I've read which really isn't a LGBT book.
8. Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley...the first book in the Alternative Detectives series. Set in a analog of South Africa. A fabulous mystery. It feels a little steam-punk. A student told me today that this is the best book she's read all year.
9. The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan...set on a cocoa plantation in the Ivory Coast where the workers are essentially slaves. When two brothers and a girl attempt to escape the plantation it turns into an exciting adventure novel.
10. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry...you've probably already heard me gush about this novel, my favorite of the year. It is a not-to-be-missed book about the Inquisition in France and the church's relentless quest to catch a mystic and put her to death.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Salon, January 15, 2017

Mt. Rainier, photo by D. Bennett, Jan. 15, 2017

Clear and cold, below freezing.

Glass art in the Tacoma Art Museum, Jan. 8, 2017

Australian visitor: On Friday, Jan. 6th a group of Australian students and teachers arrived in Graham and our school for a ten-day home-stay visit and tour of our area. Don and I are hosting one of the teacher/chaperones, Lyn Wicks. She is from New South Wales, about three hours north of Sydney. We've had lots of fun getting to know each other.  Last weekend we went to the Tacoma Art Museum, but it was raining so we skipped the glass bridge. I hope to get back tomorrow before she leaves town. Yesterday we drove up to Everett and the Boeing Flight Museum. Lyn's dad used to work for an airline and he was assigned to Boeing for a short while in the 1960s. Lyn was keen to see the museum and we had a wonderful day. The Boeing plant is so interesting and vast! On our way home we stopped in Bellevue and drove past the address of the house where she lived with her family for a few months.
Anne and Lyn W. at the Boeing Museum, Jan. 14, 2017

Today: After church we put on our warm clothes to head out for a visit to Northwest Trek to take a look at the animals of the Northwest. A sign at the gate said the the park was closed due to bad weather. Undeterred we drove further south to go to Paradise on Mt. Rainier. When we got to the gate we were turned around because we didn't have any chains for our car. Zero for two. On our way back home we stopped in Eatonville for a pastry and hot chocolate at a bakery in that small town. We called our son-in-law to come and join us for a quick visit. The day wasn't a total bust but it was disappointing to do all that driving and not get to our destinations.

Weather (two): The weather has been unprecedentedly cold for weeks, but we have had very little snow.  Our neighbors to the south (Portland, Oregon) had horrendous weather this week with snow and ice. Our neighbors to the east (Boise, Idaho) had a blizzard with twenty inches of snow. We've just had freezing temperatures which makes the roads a bit slippery in the morning. One day this week we had a two-hour delay to the start of school. Every weather report predicting snow has been wrong or we just had a very small amount.
The North Cascades from Boeing Museum, Jan 14th

Weather (three): The good news about having cold temperatures we are also having clear skies so we can see the mountains of Washington. This has been a wonderful thing for our new Aussie friend. Mt. Rainier has been showing off her lovely winter coat. Yesterday when we were at Paine Field and the Boeing Museum we could see Mt. Baker and all the mountains of the North Cascades to the east and the Olympic Mountain range to the west. Gorgeous.

Books: It is the middle of the month and I have only read one book this year so far: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Gulp. I am in the middle of the never-ending book, The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner. I am not kidding I think this book may never come to an end. The other book I can't seem to make myself read is Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel. I think I may have reached maximum overload on YA books for a while. The usual cure for this is a good adult book or two. Unfortunately The Big Rock Candy Mountain is not fulfilling that need.
Don appeared to be stepping on a plane.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Magical Realism: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore is a luminous tale that reads a little like a favorite fairy tale yet explores a very modern dilemma.

Summary: Right from the first time they meet, Miel and Sam seem destined to be friends. When Miel suddenly appears in town one day when the old, rotten water tower falls down, Samir is the only one willing to come to her assistance while the rest of the townsfolk stand and gape. From that moment on the two become fast friends, friends who know each other's secrets and are willing to keep them. Their secrets could destroy both of them if others found out---Miel's has big secrets about her family and her past; Sam's secrets center around gender and his birth name. In addition, the two friends are bonded together in a love of light from the moon. Sam is known around the community for hanging up his painted moons all around town. Miel is comforted by their light and presence.

Around the time that the relationship of the two friends evolves into one filled with passion, readers are introduced to the Bonner girls, the queen bees of the town. These four sisters will do anything to maintain their power and control on the boys in their town, including stealing Miel's special and magical gifts, and dragging Sam through the mud.

Will the power of friendship save them or will their secrets tear them apart?

Review: I am a sucker for love stories and I've always had a penchant for tales which feel like they have emerged from the Brothers Grimm. When the Moon Was Ours fulfills those two requirements quite handily. Miel and Samir clearly love and accept each other yet neither is completely honest about the secrets that threaten to implode and destroy both of them. As with all good fairy tales there is a palpable and foreboding sense of evil due to the pervasive presence of the Bonner sisters. I found myself wanting to scream at Miel every time she fell into the trap of interacting with one or more of the sisters.

Now to be fair, I know that there were lots of elements in the story which are a bit odd, things like roses growing out of Miel's wrists and pumpkins turning into glass as the Bonner girls seemingly lose their magical stranglehold on the community. But I like magical realism. The magical elements often point to symbolism or to cultural folktales. I like discovering the magic and mythology behind the magic...if you know what I mean.

" Readers will be ensnared in this ethereal narrative long before they even realize the net has been cast" (Kirkus Reviews).

I was clearly caught by the net cast by the storyteller. I was enraptured by both the story and delighted by the symbolism and the few cultural gems I was able to glean. But the real frosting on the cake was when I learned about the author's own history and her own love story, revealed in the author's notes at the end of the book, which caused me to sigh appreciatively. It not only opened my eyes but also my heart.  I don't want to give away any big spoilers to take away from your own reading experience, But suffice it to say, it is a lovely, magical story.

Edition: print, checked out from my library. Copyright date, 2016.


Monday, January 9, 2017

TTT: Books published in 2016 I didn't get to but still intend to read

Top Ten Tuesday: Books published in 2016 I still intend to read:

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Perfect Horse: the Daring US Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

Caravaggio: Painter on the Run by Marissa Moss

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

High Dive by Jonathan Lee

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel

Music Monday...don't laugh at my choice.

Hosted at Always Me.

What music am I listening to lately which I really shouldn't like, but do? don't laugh at my days choice.

I woke up this morning with Trifecta (Ricky Baker) in my head. It is from the movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Both versions are from the movie, which is such a clever, funny show.