Newest Newbery etc.

So, this morning the newest Newbery Winner was announced! Along with all the rest of the ALA (American Library Association) awards.

Doesn't it look goooood?
The winner is Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo. I have not read this yet! But I will get on that because I loved The Tale of Desperaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Magician's Elephant, all by her.

This book is so awesome!

The winner of the Caldecott Medal is Locomotive by Brian Floca and we all know how much I loved that one! (Tons!)

Fascinating. Plus awesome cut-paper illustrations!

This year I had to peek at the Sibert winners, too, because those are the non-fiction ones and "Sibert" kept coming up in our Cybils panel discussions. It was Parrots Over Puerto Rico -- my boys will be pleased. Occasionally I catch them yelling "Iguaca! Iguaca!" at each other. :)  I was happy to see A Splash of Red on the list of Sibert Honorees as well, that is a favorite of mine and Benjamin's.

I would like to own this book.
Thinking about it makes me sentimental.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

So I have been meaning to read this book for some time now, and I finally did it! And it was great! I knew I would love it.

Paranormalcy. I mean, just look at that clever title. Plus there were all those good reviews I read about it being funny and swoony and suspenseful and clean. :)

The story centers on Evie, who is sort of like a secret agent for the government organization that tracks paranormals (vampires, werewolves, faeries, hags, etc.). Sounds awesome, right? Except that it is pretty much all she's ever known, so to her it is totally boring and she dreams of going to high school, having normal friends, a normal family . . . of normalcy.

This one was so much fun I read it superfast. So fast that I can't put a space between super and fast, because yeah. I just had loads of fun with it and couldn't put it down. The characters were wonderful! Nobody did anything that looked suspiciously like an author trying to move the plot forward - yay! By the end of the book I feel like I know them and what to expect from them in general, but not like they're 2D. Lucky for me books 2 and 3 are already out, but if I had to wait between books I think I would still remember people, you know?

The pacing was great and the action was all clear (you know how sometimes you get lost in a fight scene? Not here.). The romanctic engtanglements were just so perfectly done. The ending was even great, which is saying something for the first book in a trilogy. Instead of being like "and we're done. Now lets open up a whole new crazy can of worms!" it was more like, "ok that was crazy but I think we're good-ish now..." and the reader is like "oooh, no, I can tell there is something up that none of us really know about yet . . . must keep reading!" (I do not have the second book yet, or I'd probably be reading it instead of typing this.)

My personal most favoritest part: Evie's love of lockers. I was the exact same way. :)

So pick it up! It might be the perfect paranormal romance. The rest can just hand in their badges.

Cybils finalists announced!

The 2013 Cybils finalists have been announced!

I helped make the Elementary/Middle Grade Non-fiction list this year. These are some seriously good books, people. My two absolute favorites from the list are Locomotive by Brian Floca and The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman. I love the other ones, too though! Benjamin would also have me plug How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge.

Click here for the full list of Elementary/MG Non-fiction finalists (plus my mini-review of The Boy Who Loved Math)

Click here for the index of categories, so that you can see what else got a finalist spot. I will for sure be reading from these lists!

A person could get an excellent education in current children's literature by reading the books on these lists. They're the best of the year in terms of kid-appeal and literary merit (those are the Cybils criteria) as evaluated by book bloggers who read widely in their categories.

Doing non-fiction this year was awesome. I've long been a fan of juvenile non-fiction. Often I go to the children's non-fiction section first, when I want to learn about a topic. That's what I did when I thought my son Levi might have food allergies. Reading and skimming all the children's lit on the subject helped me get a handle on the basics and helped me figure out what I wanted to know. It brought my questions out.

I was gratified to hear from my fellow panelists that they were planning on loving not only the books that they were predisposed to love, but the books that brought their questions out -- that got them interested in topics they hadn't been interested in before.

Reading from the list of 95 nominees, knowing I'd have to read as many as I could and help narrow it down to only 7, it was super awesome to have Ellen, Carol, Mike, Amy, Franki and Alice telling me which ones they'd loved and pointing out the reasons why the books I didn't love intrinsically were actually worth loving.

I loved reading books like Locomotive and Look Up! and thinking, "This is children's non-fiction!? I have been missing out."  I read 64 of the nominees between mid October and late December and I tell you what -- that is education by immersion.

So, where to from here? Well I can tell you I'll be browsing the J Non-Fic section more! And I've just got to get my thoughts about some of these books written down and shared with you. Are there any you want to hear about first?

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