I don’t know about you but I’ve participated in a few Mock Newbery Discussion Programs and each time, I’m just sure I know who will win the real one. But then, January rolls around and I hear the announcements and I am almost always surprised. Not so much by which books won but more so by which wonderful books didn’t win. I want to tell people about these books – these wonderful gems that somehow escaped the fame and fortune I feel they deserve!!! And lucky me, it’s my turn to blog. So, here you go – past books that, IMHO, deserve(d) something gold and shiny on their covers:
“When she reluctantly places a For Sale ad in the newspaper, Aggie doesn’t know that Kirby and his mom will need a room when their car breaks down on the way to Kirby’s new reform school. Or that Loretta and her parents will arrive in her dad’s plumbing company van on a trip meant to honor the memory of Loretta’s birth mother. Or that Clyde Dover will answer the For Sale ad in such a hurry and move in with his daughter, Willow, looking for a brand-new life to replace the one that was fractured when Willow’s mom left. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that Aggie and her guests find just the friends they need at the shabby motel in the middle of nowhere…”
I am still scratching my head over how Ms. O’Connor, using such clean and simple prose, was able to make me feel and care so deeply about these characters. I don’t usually find myself in tears while reading a MG book, but this was an exception. Touching and true without being maudlin or dramatic.
“This fictionalized account of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctic expedition follows steward Perce Blackborow from the time he stows away on the Endurance through his harrowing experiences in the Antarctic (including the amputation of his toes). Sprinkled throughout the narrative are selections from Blackborow’s pseudo-journal record that chronicles ongoing shipboard routines and the camaraderie among crew, in spite of fractious personalities and grim conditions…” Booklist
People, people! Where were your heads when you were handing out awards in 2006?I have never read a more gripping, unbelievable tale and it is based on a true story! This book should be a requirement in every Social Studies Explorer unit as well as on every Free reading list (especially for boys) in the U.S. I am not kidding. Masterfully written and incredibly researched. This coming from a person who HATED history class, so you know it’s gotta be good.
“A young father tells his five-year-old son humorous variations on the theme of a hen escaping the clutches of a wily wolf.”
That’s all I’m gonna say.
Oh, except that, DARN, it’s out of print. But available online, used, or in fabulous, hilarious audio format.
“…as soon as Nick arrives, trouble erupts in this remote Burmese elephant village. Japanese soldiers invade, and Nick’s father is taken prisoner. Nick is stranded on the plantation, forced to work as a servant to the new rulers. As life in the village grows more dangerous for Nick and his young friend, Mya, they plan their daring escape. Setting off on elephant back, they will risk their lives to save Nick’s father and Mya’s brother from a Japanese POW camp…”
Okay, another historical fiction book, I know – and I don’t even consider myself a HF fan (except for the crazy fact that I’ve written two, but, whatever) – this book had it all. Cool setting, gripping tale, great kid-animal relationship, a missing father, war and hostages and characters that leap off the page. Again, where are the award-givers when you need ‘em?
One book that writer friend, Esther Hershenhorn felt was worthy of something shiny:
“Based on incidents from her own life and told in the voice of her older sister, Audrey, White offers a heartfelt story of what it’s like to be poor, hungry, and sometimes happy. It’s 1948, and Audrey lives in a Virginia coal-mining camp with her father, who drinks; her mother, who drifts away, if not physically, emotionally; and her sisters, “the three little pigs…” Booklist, starred review
Esther calls it simply “a gem.”
And believe me, Esther knows children’s books.
Finally, a super MG recommended by agent Michael Stearns in this post:
Michael Stearns says, “Though it brims over with heart and serious concerns, Jennifer Murdley’s Toad is a comedy—the kind of book that actually could be described as “madcap,” if that word hadn’t been hollowed out and made hokey through overuse by bad Hollywood copywriters.”
Mr. Stearns, being hilarious himself, can spot good comedy faster than you can kiss a frog and turn into a frog…which is just one of the funny twists that occur in JENNIFER MURDLEY’S TOAD. If I were you, I’d take his word for it.
So there you are – a start to what I’m hoping will be a long list of Should-a-Could-a-Won-an-Award books.
Nominate your own! Vote early and vote often! (Hey, I’m from Chicago, whaddya expect?)
Beverly Patt’s recent MG release, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A WWII SCRAPBOOK is actually on this year’s Allen County Mock Newbery AND Mock Sibert Awards lists. She is hoping that her 2009 novel, HAVEN, will one day be considered for a Should-a-Could-a Award. Learn more about Bev and her books at www.beverlypatt.com