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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 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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Septimus Heap

Originally published a couple years ago, this post explores one fantasy series for middle grade readers.    You know you have a good book . . . . . . when you love it so much that as soon as you finish it, you read it aloud to your younger siblings, and they love it. […]

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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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The Nutcracker: This is That Time of Year

The Nutcracker ballet is part of many Americans’ yearly cultural celebration of Christmas. The music plays everywhere, and even young children often recognize the strains of the “Waltz of the Flowers” or the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.” If this rings true for your household, check out one of the books below to further your […]

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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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Happy 100th Birthday, Jean Fritz!

Prolific author Jean Fritz turns 100 today! During her long life, she has written numerous books–mostly biographies–for children. Before picture book biographies were so prevalent, elementary school children had few solid sources for biographies…except for Fritz’s works. Even with the advent of such young reader-friendly series as the “Who Was…?” series by Scholastic, Fritz’s works […]

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