Tag Archives: award winners:Newbery Medal

Moon Over Manifest Review

PDF Creation in Quark 7Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010. 978-0385738835

Winner of the 2011 John Newbery Award

Synopsis: Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has sent her to live with an old friend for the summer while he works on a railroad job. But when Abilene arrives in Manifest and finds a mysterious box of mementos, she begins to discover that there is more to the worn-out town than meets the eye. Through the stories of diviner Miss Sadie, and immigrant from Hungary, Abilene learns more about the townspeople all while looking for the mark her father left on Manifest.

Why I picked it up: The title caught my eye and I love a good historical fiction novel.

Why I finished it: Vanderpool’s debut is a story filled with mystery and heart  that tells the reader about looking into the past to understand the present. Abilene wants to be able to understand her father, but she’s unable to do so from just the stories he has told her. She regards her father as a sort of mysterious person that for reasons unknown to Abilene, seems to want to keep her at arm’s length. A chance meeting provides her with an opportunity to learn more about her father and provides her with a way to not only finish a summer assignment, but become more involved with the townspeople. In many ways, we are like Abilene, searching for answers about why and how we have ended up where we are. We want to know where we came from, we want to know how the past has shaped the future, we want to be able to better understand ourselves and where we fit into the larger picture. Weaving between 1918 and 1936, Vanderpool takes us on a journey and tells us story about survival and the power of love to overcome our hurts.

Other related materials: Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America  by Martin W. Sandler; Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool; Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse; A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck; A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck; Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm; The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron; A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff; Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt; The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos; From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos; Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai


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When You Reach Me Review

when you reach meWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. 978-0385737425

Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Award

Synopsis: Sixth grade is turning out to be a confusing time for Miranda: her best friend Sal suddenly won’t talk to her after he gets punched, someone stole the hidden key to the apartment she shares with her mother, and she’s been receiving mysterious notes from a person that seems to know about things before they happen. Will she ever talk to Sal again? Will she figure out who is sending the notes? More importantly, should she write the letter requested by the mysterious sender or will she be too late to save her friend’s life?

Why I picked it up: It’s another one of those books that has been sitting on my reading list for a while and it’s heavily circulated at my local library.

Why I finished it: Stead’s writing is a delightful mix of science fiction, mystery, and adventure that bears a strong resemblance to Miranda’s favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, which was also one of my favorites when I was in elementary school. She takes us into Miranda’s life and into her head as she navigates the minefield that is her life without Sal. Miranda struggles with the notion of time travel (even though it is repeatedly explained to her by two different people over the course of the novel), but she slowly begins to realize that it is the only explanation for the mysterious notes and how the sender knows about things that have yet to happen and even knows some things that no one should know. She’s also struggling with losing her friend Sal and trying to make friends with the girls in her class, some of whom she thinks are rather petty. Plus, she’s been helping her mom practice for The $20,000 Pyramid, which is a challenge in and of itself. But through all of these experiences, Miranda is learning that sometimes the things we don’t seem to understand are the most plausible explanations, if only we are willing to let go of our pre-conceived notions about the world.

Other related materials: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle; First Light by Rebecca Stead; Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin; Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata; Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm; Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm; Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; Rules by Cynthia Lord; The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech; Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

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Dear Mr. Henshaw Review

dear_mister_henshawDear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky

HarperCollins, 2000. 978-0380709588

Winner of the 1984 John Newbery Medal

Synopsis: Leigh Botts is a HUGE fan of Boyd Henshaw. Ever since second grade, when his teacher read the class Ways to Amuse a Dog, Leigh has been writing letters to his favorite author. And now that he is in sixth grade, he gets to do a project on an author – asking them questions about their work, why they write, where they get their ideas, and how they became a writer. But the correspondence that is supposed to cheer Leigh up only makes him more angry and frustrated. Plus, he has to deal with the fact that his parents are divorced, he’s the new kid at school, and someone keeps taking all of the good food out of his lunch! Will he ever fit in? Will his favorite author actually be the inspiration he needs to become a writer himself?

Why I picked it up: I love Beverly Cleary and I have always been a huge fan of her Ramona books…but not enough to write to her.

Why I finished it: Being the new kid at a new school in a new town and dealing with your parent’s divorce can put any kid in a tough situation – there’s so many different emotions to sort through that can make it seem as if nothing will ever turn out right. I’ve been through a similar scenario, and if you can learn to roll with the punches, you can learn things about yourself that can make you into a stronger person. Leigh is struggling in more ways than one – missing his dad, worrying about catching the lunch thief, not being able to make friends – and even though the answers he receives in return from his favorite author seem rude and mean (we never actually get to see the other half of the correspondence), Leigh is learning things about himself and his life that are making a bigger impact on him than even he knows. Cleary’s first-person diary helps the reader get inside Leigh’s head and we share his victories and his stumbles right along with him. It makes one feel like they are reading letters from a friend, even if we don’t know what the other half of the conversation is. Zelinsky’s drawings add to the emotion of the story and add another dimension to Cleary’s writing. It’s a sweet, funny, and heartbreaking coming-of-age story that shows us that we have the power to believe in ourselves, even if we don’t know how.

Other related materials: Strider by Beverly Cleary; Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary; Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary; Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary; Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary; Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt; Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt, illustrated by Louise Yates; Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff; Pie by Sarah Weeks; Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrations by Amy June Bates; Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olson


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The Higher Power of Lucky Review

higher_power_of_luckyThe Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illustrations by Matt Phelan

Atheneum Books for Young Readers,  2008. 978-1416975571

Winner of the 1997 John Newbery Medal

Synopsis: Ten-year-old Lucky wishes she could find her Higher Power, like the people in the twelve-step program meetings on which she eavesdrops. But when you live in the small desert town of Hard Pan, CA, Pop. 43, there’s not much of a chance of finding your Higher Power…unless you hit rock-bottom. As Lucky reaches rock-bottom and begins plans to run away from Hard Pan, she starts to understand that rock-bottom might just be another way to start over fresh.

Why I picked it up: It popped up in the Amazon Recommendations and I was intrigued by Lucky’s desire to hit rock-bottom.

Why I finished it: Lucky is a remarkable character because of her belief that she has to go down to go up. While this might not be true for most everyone, Lucky shows us that there is hope to be found even when your situation seems to be getting more and more dire…well, dire by ten-year-old standards. Haunted by the threatened departure of her Guardian and the fear of losing her dog HMS Beagle, Lucky’s carefully constructed life slowly begins to crumble and not even her friends Miles and Lincoln can convince her to stay in Hard Pan. But if it means that she can find her Higher Power, it will all be worth it…won’t it? It’s hard not to admire Lucky’s pluck, love, and determination to reach a place in which she feels like she has some control over her destiny and has a feeling of what it is she is meant to do. Phelan’s black-and-white sketches add another layer of realism to the story and aid the reader in visualizing the setting and the characters. There’s something to be said for their simplicity as well; it beautifully compliments Lucky’s struggles to get back on top and back in control of her life and get answers to the questions tucked deep in the crevices of her brain glands. A sweet and touching beginning to a deeply moving trilogy that makes us remember the hardships of growing up.

Other related materials: Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron, illustrations by Matt Phelan; Lucky for Good by Susan Patron, illustrations by Erin McGuire; Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse; The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly; Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpoool; A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck; A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck; Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos; Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath; Missing May by  Cynthia Rylant; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins; All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins; Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson; Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

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Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village Review

untitledGood Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrations by Robert Byrd

Candlewick Press, 2011. 978-0763650940

Winner of the 2008 John Newbery Medal

Synopsis: Ever wondered about life in a Medieval village? Ever wanted to meet varlets, vermin, simpletons, and saints? You will meet many of these characters and more in these twenty-two monologues that tell the reader about what it takes to survive in the Middle Ages and give insight about the people and places of Medieval England.

Why I picked it up: I loved Splendors and Glooms and was eager to read some of Schlitz’s other works.

Why I finished it: This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that is designed to be performed, read aloud, or read alone. It gives each of the persons who would have lived in a Medieval village a unique voice and a unique story that doesn’t come across in a lot of the nonfiction books written on the same subject. Schlitz creates parts for everyone: the shepherdess, the beggar, the tanner, the lords, the millers, the moneylenders, and everyone in between.  It gives insight into each of the relationships between the different professions and class statuses during the Middle Ages and the difficulties each of them encounters in their day-to-day life. There are even some little asides that give greater insight into life in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the professions, and the popular sports of the day. Byrd’s illustrations harken back to the woodcuttings so prevalent in illuminated manuscripts of the day, and each of the pictures come alive with vibrant colors to highlight the actions of the persons frozen in time. It is a charming collection that’s a fast but intriguing read for all ages.

Other related materials: The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages: The Disgusting Details About Life During Medieval Times by Kathy Allen; The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman; Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess by Richard Platt, illustrated by Chris Riddell; Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction by David Macaulay; Castle by David Macaulay; Mill by David Macaulay; You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Night!: Armor You’d Rather Not Wear by Fiona Macdonald, illustrated by David Antram; You’d Wouldn’t Want to Be a Crusader!: A War You’d Rather Not Fight by Fiona Macdonald; illustrated by Mark Bergin; You Wouldn’t Want to Be Joan of Arc!: A Mission You Might Want to Miss by Fiona Macdonald, illustrated by David Antram; The Making of a Knight by Patrick O’Brien; Re-Discovering Medieval Realms: Britain 1066-1500 by Barbera Brown, edited by Colin Shephard; The Knight’s Tales series by Gerald Morris, illustrated by Aaron Renier; The Apprentice by Pilar Molina Llorente, illustrated by Juan Ramon Alonso

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The Midwife’s Apprentice Review

midwifes_apprenticeThe Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2012. 978-0547722177

Winner of the 1996 John Newbery Medal

Synopsis: The girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat–who renames herself Alyce–gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something from life: “A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.” Medieval village life makes a lively backdrop for the funny, poignant story of how Alyce gets what she wants. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: Well, I actually started reading this years ago when I was in grade school and never finished it, so I thought I owed it to the book to go back and finish it.

Why I finished it: This book is a charming portrait of life in the Middle Ages and about one of the most important professions of the time, midwifery. And even if you don’t get more of an appreciation for the Middle Ages out of this book, you will certainly be able to appreciate that we have it so much easier in modern times. Brat/Alyce is a highly amusing heroine with no real people skills and a strong determination to be more than her station dictates. There’s a rather humorous scene at the beginning of the book where Brat/Alyce is attempting to revive a cat and because she does not know any words of comfort, she swears at it; it was a scene often recited among my friends even after we finished the book. Brat/Alyce isn’t encouraged, isn’t particularly loved, and doesn’t have a particularly discernible skill set before she meets Jane the Midwife, but it is under Jane’s tutorage and because of Jane’s willingness to take her in that shapes Brat/Alyce into a girl with a sense of self and a sense of purpose. Smart and funny with a dash of educational material, Cushman’s novel about an orphan searching for a place in the world encourages the reader to keep fighting for what they believe in and to never give up no matter what life throws in their way.

Other related materials: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman; Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman; Good Masters! Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz; The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman; The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages: The Disgusting Details About Life During Medieval Times by Kathy Allen; Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages by Vicki Leòn; The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli; The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood; Midnight Magic by Avi; Murder at Midnight by Avi

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The Whipping Boy Review

the-whipping-boyThe Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman, illustrated by Peter Sis

Greenwillow Books, 2003. 978-0060521226

Winner of the 1987 John Newbery Medal

Synopsis: Because it is against the law to whip the heir to the throne, Jemmy, a young rat catcher from the streets, is chosen to be the prince’s whipping boy. But when Prince Brat (so he is called by Jemmy) becomes bored with causing trouble in the castle, he talks Jemmy into running away with him and begins for them a high stakes adventure that might make them learn to appreciate each other.

Why I picked it up: The book seems to pop up on shelves where I am browsing for my next great read, and when my local bookstore had a going out of business sale, I snapped up a copy.

Why I finished it: It’s not a very long book, but Fleischman has the gift of being able to draw the reader in and get them engaged in the story. Jemmy and Prince Brat are likable characters, even though they aren’t quite as three-dimensional as the heroes of a more modern novel. The details describing the setting are a little sparse, but the reader has a clear idea of the times in which the story has been set. Sis’s illustrations are a cross between woodblocks and Renaissance sketches, giving us a window into the life and times in which Jemmy and Prince Brat live and adding life to the characters. It’s a charming and highly imaginative tale full of high adventure with twists and turns and a darkly comic edge that will keep the reader turning pages until the end.

Other related materials: Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy (movie); The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman; The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli; Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd; The Tale of Desperaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering; The Apprentice by Pilar Molina Llorente, illustrated by Juan Ramon Alonso; The Great and Terrible Quest by Margaret Lovett, illustrated by Joyce M. Turley; The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff; The Medieval World by Philip Steele; The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Bruce Bowles; Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess by Richard Platt, illustrated by Chris Riddell

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