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The lists that I posted on Friday were for the mock awards that I’m actually attending in the Portland area.  But why limit yourself to those?  Lots of libraries put out mock lists and hold workshops for both kids and adults.

My favorite to follow online is Heavy Medal at SLJ.  They do host an in-person Mock Newbery in Oakland, with their own list of eight titles, but the online discussion is also very…robust.  There are plenty of people with strong feelings about the books, and Nina and Jonathan do a great job of keeping the discussion relevant to the criteria.  The discussion certainly isn’t limited to their shortlist, which is also great – it gets me limbered up to discuss the books on the OLA/WLA list, and it gets me thinking more broadly about the criteria.

I also follow a Mock Newbery on Goodreads, a group that votes each month on one book to read and discuss.  The discussion isn’t nearly as thorough as at Heavy Medal, but it’s interesting to see which titles are chosen (and so far I’ve managed to keep up – The Kneebone Boy, Scumble, Countdown, The Red Umbrella, Out of My Mind, and Mockingbird.)

Are there any others I should be following?  Or any good Mock Caldecott and Mock Printz discussions?

I’m not quite sure how the last two weeks slipped by without a post, but it’s sure not for lack of things to write about.  I spent a few days in California visiting Bronwen and Kate, and came back with lots of pictures of Linnea and some of the grown-ups in the kitchen, which is where we quite happily spent a lot of our time.  (I still need to go through the pictures and upload the best of the bunch.)  Bronwen and I caught up on some Long Distance Kitchen recipes that we’d both neglected and we shopped for unusual grains, and at Kate’s we were treated to tuna that Keith caught, fresh chanterelles and enormous oysters, and of course some extremely local bacon (as in, from their pigs).

I’ve also neglected to talk about all the mock awards I’m going to this year – I’ve done one or two each year for the past few years, but this year I’m doing the triumvirate of mock awards: Mock Newbery, Mock Caldecott, and Mock Printz.  Hooray!  I love mock awards.  The tricky part is making sure you squeeze in all the books around the rest of your reading.  Fortunately the Mock Printz isn’t until January, and the Mock Caldecott books are short.  Here are the lists for anyone who’s curious or wants to follow along at home:

Mock Newbery

  • The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Peter Sis. Scholastic, 2010.
  • Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. Dutton, 2010
  • The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Balzer & Bray, 2010.
  • The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Angela Barrett. Candlewick, 2010.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. HarperCollins, 2010.
  • They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
  • Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. Wendy Lamb, 2010.

I’ve read them all except They Called Themselves the KKK (which is also on the Mock Printz list), but so far I’ve only written about the ones I linked above.  My favorite so far is still One Crazy Summer (and I recently finished listening to the audio version and thought it was even better on rereading).  I’m also partial to The Night Fairy and I’d vote for The Dreamer, too.

Mock Printz

  • They Called Themselves The K.K.K.: The Birth Of An American Terrorist Group. Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.
  • Spies Of Mississippi: The True Story Of The Spy Network That Tried To Destroy The Civil Rights Movement. Bowers, Rick
  • Incarceron. Fisher, Catherine
  • Finnikin Of The Rock. Marchetta, Melina
  • As Easy As Falling Off the Face Of The Earth. Perkins, Lynne Rae
  • Fever Crumb. Reeve, Philip.
  • Revolver. Sedgwick, Marcus.
  • The Last Summer Of The Death Warriors. Stork, Francisco X.
  • Nothing. Teller, Janne
  • A Conspiracy Of Kings. Turner, Megan Whalen. (I actually never wrote about this book – WHAT? – but what I said about the rest of the series holds true for this one.)

I still need to read Nothing, Revolver, As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth, Spies of Mississisppi, and They Called Themselves the KKK. In an ideal world, I would also reread A Conspiracy of Kings and Finnikin of the Rock, although not back-to-back like I did initially (Finnikin suffered).  While it would take a miracle for anything to supplant COK in my affections, I do owe Finnikin a fair shot.  I also just got Incarceron on audio – I don’t know if I’ll listen to the whole thing, but I wanted to have it a little fresher in my mind before the discussion and before Sapphique comes out at the end of December.  In a flash of brilliance, I just put the audio version of Finnikin on hold, and hopefully I can squeeze that in.

Mock Caldecott (I left this list at work, but let me see if I can remember it)

  • City Dog, Country Frog
  • Mama Miti
  • Dave the Potter
  • Paris in the Spring with Picasso
  • Henry in Love
  • Dust Devil
  • Art & Max
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain
  • The Boss Baby

I’m sure I’m forgetting one, but my mind is blank.  Right now my favorite is City Dog, Country Frog – not only because I just plain love it, but also because I it’s most effective at being a picture book.  I mean, I can pore over the illustrations in Mama Miti or admire the genius of Art & Max, but neither of these has that seemingly effortless combination of pictures, text and story.  The award is for “the most distinguished American picture book” and to me, this one fits the bill.  Some of the others might have more extraordinary illustrations, but this is a picture book that really has “a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.”  And yes, I don’t think it’s in the criteria but I’ll admit a preference for books that make good read-alouds.

The Magician's Elephant The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Oh boy, I wanted to like this one. I adored The Tale of Despereaux Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, I enjoyed Because of Winn-Dixie, I was fascinated with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (and loved the illustrations), but this left me a little cold. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it, since this is on this year’s OLA Mock Newbery list and I’ll have to back up my opinion. I didn’t feel that it went deep enough – it stayed on the surface of a potentially interesting story, and that simplicity, which felt intentional, ended up feeling too much like a fable for me. I detest novel-length fables. I want characters, not archetypes. I just skimmed across the surface and thought, “pretty sentence” and waited to be caught up in the story. There were too many characters introduced too quickly and too briefly. This is, perhaps, a matter of taste. I’ll have to work on my argument before the discussion rolls around in January.

View all my reviews >>

In addition to the Mock Printz this January, I’m also going to a Mock Newbery workshop.  For some reason, I’m not as fired up about these titles, but it’s been a few years since I went to one (the infamous year of Criss Cross, which I couldn’t even bring myself to finish for the workshop), so I’m looking forward to it.  This is a longer, full-day workshop, so hopefully that will mean more time to discuss each title.  Here’s the list:

  • Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick, 2009.
  • Heart of a Shepherd by Roseanne Parry.  Random House Books for Young Readers, 2009.
  • How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.
  • The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick, 2009.
  • Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman.  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009.
  • A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck.  Dial, 2009.
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  Wendy Lamb Books, 2009.
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

So far I’ve read When You Reach Me and A Season of Gifts, and out of the two my choice would be When You Reach Me.  I like that they’ve thrown some non-fiction and poetry into the mix, and all in all they’re fairly short books, which works in my favor when I’ve got two lists to read through.  I am disappointed that my personal favorite, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, didn’t make the list, but such is life.  I’ll update as I work through the list and add more reviews.

Also, for anyone who enjoys the whole Mock Newbery thing, the SLJ blog Heavy Medal is a must read.  They’ve discussed A Season of Gifts and When You Reach Me at length, and there are some interesting conversations going on about plot, style, nonfiction, age level, and where picture book texts fit into things.  Always thoughtful and occasionally riling – and definitely look at the comments.

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