Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Aw, yeah! Choose your own adventure, graphic novel style!  Both Jacob and I had a lot of fun reading this book. In it, you make choices for Jimmy.  The first choice: vanilla or chocolate?

Interesting tidbit: It's no surprise that the book is peppered with fantastic inventions; the author had to design a computer program in order to create the best layout for the book.

Jacob's 2 cents: 1. It was clever, 2. and kind of morbid, once you figure out what's going on.

To which I respond: What choose your own adventure isn't kind of morbid?

2010 Newbery & Other ALA Awards

So, you heard that the 2010 ALA Awards have been announced?

Newbery goes to Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool -- a title that was one of the nominees for Cybils Middle Grade Fiction, but sadly neither Ashley nor I could get a hold of it.  I bet it will be easier to find now!

Printz (a.k.a. the YA Newbery) goes to Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi -- I happened to have it checked out from the library when the announcement was made, so I jumped right on that.  I have to say it is not my favorite book of the year. It lends itself handily to comparison with The Hunger Games, but for me was not as enjoyable. And I don't really call the Hunger Games enjoyable. Ship Breaker had an engaging plot and provided lots of food for thought, but the violence in it was more personal than the Hunger Games violence (which was about my limit) and had the added disadvantage (in my opinion) of plenty of swearing. What is family? What would you do for freedom? What does killing a person do to you? How much does your heritage affect your ultimate self?  These are interesting questions, but I prefer to ponder them without graphic violence and crude language.


Holy cow. I just couldn't put this book down. And when I finished it last night, I was dying for more! I thought about it in my dreams and was even still thinking about it the next morning. I kept getting the urge to sit down and read, then had to keep reminding myself, "Dang it, I already finished the book!" I liked Behemoth even more than its predecessor, Leviathan, which is rare, at least for me, to like the second book in a trilogy best. I guess I can't say best, though, since I haven't read the third book, to be titled Goliath, which won't be published until October of this year. (Dang it!)

If you haven't read these books, or my review of the first, the genre is steam-punk WWI. Behemoth picks right up where the first book left off. Alek, an on-the-run heir to the Austrian throne, and Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy midshipman aboard the airship Leviathan, are on their way to Istanbul to deliver a gift from Darwinist England to the sultan in hopes of convincing him to stay out of the brewing war between England and Germany. An escape and a secret-mission-gone-awry later, Alek and Deryn find themselves on the run in the sprawling city and soon join up with a group of rebels plotting to dethrone the sultan.

Totally action-packed, with awesome illustrations, cool old/new/fantastical technology, and even a secret love story, Behemoth gets my two thumbs up. Can't wait for the last book!

Speaking of the shortlist...

My personal favorite of the books, Crunch by Leslie Connor, is on sale at Amazon right now! A mere $6.80 -- for the hardcover!  I reviewed the book back at the end of November. Let me know how you like it, if you read it!

The Shortlist!

Drum roll please .... (even though it's anticlimactic since the shortlist has been out for four days) ....

In no particular order, I give you the
Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Shortlist!

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze (hooray! I [Ashley] fought for this one!)
Betti on the High Wire (hooray #2!)
Crunch (hooray! Alysa was pullin' for this one!)
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (I'm smiling just thinking about this one.)
Belly Up (a mysteriously murdered hippo in a zoo ... need we say more?)
Because of Mr. Terupt
The Kneebone Boy

Awesome list, if we do say so ourselves. I can't imagine how those round-2 judges are going to choose.

And for the complete list of finalists in all categories, click here.

Hailey Twitch Saves the Play

Like the first Hailey Twitch book, Hailey Twitch Saves the Play is a totally cute and sometimes chucklingly funny story of a little girl with the best intentions, the worst luck, and a sometimes-unfortunate fairy friend named Maybelle. Hailey gets a new neighbor across the street, a single older gentleman named Mr. Frisk who used to be a famous actor. Meanwhile, Maybelle is told by the fairy council that she must make a new friend, or she won't be allowed to have her magic back. Maybelle decides that the dour Mr. Frisk will be her new friend, but one attempt after another to befriend him ends in disaster. And even worse, in school, Hailey has a substitute teacher who allows the mother of the meanest girl in Hailey's class to take over their school play. Horrors! Will the precocious and incorrigible Hailey make a friend of her new neighbor and simultaneously save the play? (Obviously, but it's still entertaining to read how she does it.)

Definitely a recommended read for 6-9-year-old girls. Boys would also be entertained by Hailey, I think, though they might not appreciate all of her longings for beautiful dresses and sparkly pencils. :)
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