Summary: Fourteen-year-old Sherman Thuff, a student at the tomato-obsessed Del Heiny Junior High, has his hopes set on being a competitive eater, but when his training regimen begins to seriously interfere with his enjoyment of life and he even starts losing his friends, he decides he should rearrange his priorities. 342 p., Delacorte Press.
Summary: Eight powerful short stories and six moving personal essays sound off on body image, self-esteem, diets, eating disorders, fashion magazines, and more, written by some of the most popular teen writers today, including Carolyn Mackler, Daniel Pinkwater, Megan McCafferty, Eireann Corrigan, and others. 224 p., Clarion Books.
Summary: In 1862 Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Rosemary Elizabeth strives to fit in with the Shaker sisters of this “Heaven on Earth,” but yearns to be reunited with her mother and siblings from whom she was separated when they sought refuge from her abusive father. Includes facts about Shakers and Morgan’s Raiders. 176 p., Clarion Books.
Summary: A girl finds herself running through the forest at the edge of a village with no memory of anything, even her own name, and later learns that she might be twelve-year-old Isabelle, believed to be stolen by a witch six years before. 158 p., Marshall Cavendish.
Summary: Strange things begin happening at Elijah’s New England home just before his twelfth birthday in 1927, especially after two aunts he had never met whisk him away to Moaning Marsh, where he realizes that they are witches who need something from him in order to remove a curse. 264 p., Marshall Cavendish Children.
One of the unique features of our club is that we try to mimic the actual Newbery Committee process as closely as we can, so when we made our latest short list we did it the way the committee does. We each voted for our top three favorite titles so far this year, listing the reasons why we thought they were Newbery worthy. You can see the resulting list below along with some of the comments our readers made about the books. We will be having another top three vote in December, just like the official committee, that might add some titles to this list.
Our Third Short List
- Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkowski
“Unique fantasy plot…” – J.
- Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
“This story is interesting… the challenges the main character had to face were very difficult..” L.
- Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson
“Fun, fast-paced, always keeps you interested. Funny writing style. You learn to love the characters.” – B.
- The Dead & the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
“This is the 1st book in a long time where I felt the characters were so real…” – L.
“Very distinguished style of writing and an excellent plot sequence..” – T.
“It made you feel like you were there...” – J.
“Very unique story written for this audience…” – A.
“It could happen at any time…” – A.
“Being an older brother, I can imagine myself in the main character’s shoes, doing what he did. It made a powerful impression on me.” – E.
- Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
“I was truly amazed at the depth of feelings of the characters in this book… the true story of the dog was surprising. I almost cried when I read this book.” – B.
“I like that you can get so much of the character’s feelings in the slight verse...” – R.
“This story continues to make me think more about it...” – A.
“I really like the writing style – sparse, but still descriptive and not choppy. I love how the words in bold cut down to Willow’s rawest emotions...” – M.
“I just loved the story and how so many things linked together in surprising ways.” – L.
- The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
“It is very fun, had great characters, and the plot is awesome with an unexpected twist.” – J.
“A great adventure story that displays creativity on every page. The amount of limitless imagination kept me interested.” – E.
“Combination of strong plot line and good descriptive writing kept the story moving...” – A.
“Sort of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with a good twist.” – A.
“I think the different writing style had a huge impact. It has many twists in the plot. The descriptions in this book were spectacular and I almost caved into the feeling that Thorn was really not cheating.” – J.
“Kept me interested. Love the descriptions.” – A.
- A Horse of Her Own by Annie Wedekind
“This is a story about finding out who you are and accepting that...” – Z.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
“It is original...” – J.
“I felt that I was inside the book.” – B.
“Very intriguing plot and very good writing. It was very difficult to stop reading it...” – R.
“Very well thought out plot, great realistic characters…” – E.
- In Mozart’s Shadow by Carolyn Meyer
“Very original and unique perspective…” – L.
- Jimmy’s Stars by Mary Ann Rodman
“I could relate to the characters. I could feel what they felt…” – C.
“The time period was described very well through the music, slang, games, events, etc., there was a whole cast of well developed characters, and the book had a very satisfying resolution for one of this type.” – L.
- Masterpiece by Elise Broach
“The family of beetles characters made it work! They are uniquely charming.” – A.
- Otherworldlies by Jennifer Kogler
“Very different vampire book… this would be my #1 pick so far this year.” – Z.
- Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
“This makes you think about it after you finish reading it…” – A.
- The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
“This impacted me greatly.” – E.
- Savvy by Ingrid Law
“I can relate to the characters emotionally…” – M.
- Seer of Shadows by Avi
“Very interesting subject and fast-paced plot… very descriptive and pictured the setting well.” – B.
“I remember it after half a year...” – L.
- Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell
“This book has all year remained at the top of my list, and the details have are still freshly in my mind.” – B.
- Sky Village by Monk & Nigel Ashland
“Well-formed writing style that impeccably blended two plot sequences… and it had demons fighting!” – T.
“I experienced sensations that at times made me feel like saying ‘Don’t do that or you will get hurt!‘” – J.
- Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli
“What’s on the outside of a person is not what’s really on the inside. I was very nice to my sister after I read this book – it inspired me!” – B.
“Has a mixture of sappy, kinda dumb romance, humor, and seriousness.” – T.
- Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li
“Left a huge impact on me...” – C.
- Tennyson by Leslie M. M. Blume
“The writing is beautifully done, with descriptions that are great and great plot ideas.” – M.
“A quality story that blends history with fiction… the way that dreams and poetry are combined keeps my interest throughout every page.” – E.
“I really like the dreams. The ending is fitting and seems realistic…” – L.
“Very surprising...” – A.
- Trouble by Gary Schmidt
“I can picture it perfectly. It is almost poetic the way it is written.” – M.
“Very thought-provoking book. I felt as if I could have no idea how the characters felt, but was in their shoes at the same time… a really stunning book.” – M.
“The writing style was beautiful and the themes were very well developed.” – L.
- The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
“The overall way of telling the story is beautiful and poetic. Definitely unforgettable.” – L.
“It made me cry. This story is told in a unique, almost poetic way.” – B.
“It made me feel as if I were there, very emotional about the characters, and the two intertwined stories came together well.” – B.
“The writing hooked me from the very first page…” – C.
“There is still hope even when it seems like all is lost. It had a lasting impact on me. The characters were so loving and hopeful and they were strong. I also loved the ending…” – Z.
“The writing style was really casual, but very moving. I really enjoyed the two separate plot lines and how they were so very different from each other but interwoven...” – M.
- Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
“The way the main character finds beauty in ordinary people really struck me…This book talks about real life, not a sugar-coated version of it. I was enthralled by this story and the ending made me cry.” – E.
“I could sympathize with the main character.” – L.
“Great story about friendship…” – A.
- Where the Steps Were by Andrea Cheng
“Very heartfelt plot… interesting how it incorporated all the different characters’ points of view. I think you can really understand emotions better in verse.” – R.
Since we started reading for our 2009 mock Newbery awards back in April, we’ve read 233 different books! We’ve passed about half of them on into Nice But Not Newbery status, but still have 117 titles on our big-cart-o’-books, where we keep the titles we are currently reading.
Some other interesting stats: Our blog has had 20,711 hits as of Sunday, October 26 at about 3pm. On our biggest day we had 412 hits. Our members and other interested folk have posted 458 comments on the blog so far, and twelve authors have commented, too.
Summary: While fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes endeavors to save her friend Lady Cecily Alistair from an unwelcome arranged marriage, she meets with some assistance from her older brother, Sherlock, and interference by the eldest, Mycroft. 183p., Philomel Books.
Summary: A young girl who serves as letter writer for her blind stepmother is haunted by her unwitting role in Nat Turner’s Rebellion, one of the bloodiest slave uprisings in the history of America. 224 p., Harcourt Children’s Books.
Summary: In 1788, thirteen years after English convicts are shipwrecked on the magical islands of Tathenland, two twelve-year-old girls, one a native Colay, the other the child-governor of the English, set out on a journey to stop the treachery from which both peoples are suffering. 270 p., Marshall Cavendish Children.
Summary: Cass and Max-Ernest discover the Museum of Magic, unscramble more coded messages, and solve new mysteries in their attempt to thwart the Terces Society’s ambitions of discovering immortality. 385 p., Little, Brown and Co.
Summary: Watercolor illustrations and lyrical prose combine to tell the true story of Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, who changed the fate of her village in the highlands of Kenya by teaching her people how to care for it. 32 p., Farrar, Straus & Giroux.