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Author Archive | Janie

Reading Aloud to Teens, Part One

The last time I talked to my daughter on the phone, she said, “Guess what Adriel is doing now.” That’s my nine-year-old granddaughter, and of course I always want to know what she’s doing now. Since they live 800 miles away, I don’t get to see them very much, but it so happened that the […]

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*Retro Reads: North to Freedom by Anne Holm

North to Freedom (I Am David) by Anne Holm.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1963 (first edition), 256 pages. Reading Level: 10-12 Appropriate for: ages 12-up Bottom Line:  After escaping from the soviet prison camp that comprised his whole world, a 12-year-old boy must come to terms with who he is in relation to the world. The […]

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

In most science fiction, technological advances are not shown to advance humanity.   However, it would be tough to find a more negative view of a future world than The 5th Wave, which chronicles an alien attack on our weak and vulnerable planet.  Depressing as it is, the story raises some vital questions about humanity, […]

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The 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards–What happened??

As we were saying last Saturday . . . you just can’t predict what the Newbery committee is going to do. Trends have been toward diversity, disability, and difficulty; books that show children in adverse, even desperate circumstances often get Newbery nods. (That’s why I was so sure The Thing about Jellyfish would be on […]

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Prognosticating the Newberys

On Monday, the American Library Association will announce the winners of their annual Youth Media Awards.  The oldest and most prominent of these is the John Newbery medal, given “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”* I’m not sure why the ALA words it this way, since the award […]

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Newberry Buzz: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

Today wraps up our discussion of middle-grade novels being touted as possible contenders for the 2016 Newbery Award.  The awards will be announced early this year: January 11.  So on Saturday Betsy and Janie will post their highly-anticipated predictions.  Check back next week to see how we did! Betsy: Gary D. Schmidt is yet another […]

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Newbery Buzz: Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Continuing our series of discussions on contenders for the 2016 Newbery Award, Janie and Betsy turn their attention to a previous honor winner . . . Betsy: The Gaither sisters are back in a third installment: Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia took home a 2011 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award for […]

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Newbery Buzz: The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Betsy and Janie are continuing their discussion of possible 2016 Newbery Award winners.  On deck today is a novel  by a debut author which has already been honored as a National Book Award finalist. Janie: I heard someone mention lately that most of the children’s books getting the rave reviews this year seem to be […]

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Newbery Buzz: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Continuing our series of middle-grade fiction touted as possible Newbery winners: Janie: Kenneth Oppel is best known for light-hearted steampunk fantasy, like the Airborn series and The Boundless. He showed us a bit of his dark side with This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent, the first two volumes of a trilogy about young Victor […]

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Newbery Buzz: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

It’s that time again!  Less than a month before the American Library Association announces their Youth Media Awards, and chief among them is the coveted Newbery medal.  The speculation has begun, and for the next few weeks, Betsy and Janie are going to be talking about some of the leading contenders.  Please note: our discussion […]

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What Makes a GREAT Novel?

When was “The Novel” as a literary form invented? The answer is, it wasn’t. The type of long-form fiction we call a novel was not invented but developed over time with many steps along the way. Epic poetry like Homer’s, satires like Ovid’s, and royal romances like The Tale of Genji (from Japan) have been […]

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