Dead End in Norvelt: 2012 Newbery Medal Winner!

January 26th, 2012 by

As you guys know, I’m a very impatient person. So even though it seems kind of backwards, I’m willing to go the extra mile in order to save time. If I want to see a TV show, I record it so I can fast-forward through the commercials. If I want to know what the President said in a speech, I’ll go online afterwards and skim the text transcript. If I know where I’m going to eat dinner, I’ll look at the restaurant’s website beforehand so that I’m already familiar with the menu when I get there. Like I said, I’m VERY impatient.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve watched three big-deal spectacles in real-time — which just goes to show you how super important they were. And the three events were: the Golden Globe Awards, the playoff game between the 49ers and the Giants, and the announcement of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

What? You don’t know that last one? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the ALAymas. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include completely-awesome-major-big-deal books like The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

And earlier this week, a new winner joined the ranks of this prestigious group:

dead-end-in-norvelt-by-jack-gantos

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

As you may recall from our book trailer for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Nancy and I have been fans of Jack Gantos for a while now. So we extend a hearty congratulations to the man of the hour! But we also have to give ourselves a disapproving shake of the head and a look of pure disdain because, well, we haven’t read this book yet!

But we definitely plan to read Dead End in Norvelt ASAP — not just because it won the Newbery, but also because it sounds totally awesome! Here’s part of the official description:

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore — typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels … and possibly murder.

Cookies and murder in one book?! Obviously, WE ARE IN!

And we’ll also be adding the 2012 Newbery Honor Books to our To Be Read list:

  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

So, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go out and obtain some books, like, right now. But if you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and us know!

— Karen

Karen used to get lots of nosebleeds when she was a kid. She did NOT enjoy putting tissue up her nose to stop the blood. But to be honest, she kinda liked the feeling of pulling it out once the bleeding had stopped. That’s not gross, right?

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And the Award Goes to…

January 13th, 2011 by

The American Library Association Youth Media Awards. Some call it the Academy Awards of books. Others call it… well, I guess that’s mostly what people call it. But that’s because it’s a pretty good description! Just like folks host Oscar parties and invite friends over to watch beautiful people on TV, those of us who obsess over children’s books watch the ALAyma webcast alone in front of our computers. It’s the same thing, right?

No, really, the ALAymas are a BIG deal in the kidlit world — and I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of one award in particular: the Newbery Medal. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” (That’s actually kind of curious because the award itself is named for 18th-century British bookseller John Newbery… But that’s beside the point.)

This year’s Newbery winner was announced earlier this week, and the award goes to…

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Now, I’m very happy for Clare Vanderpool, but I also I feel a little ashamed — because I haven’t read this book yet! And now I’m just going to seem like a follower when I go get it, and the librarian will look at me all knowingly, like: “You’re kind of late to the party, aren’t you?” Sigh.

But I swear I won’t be reading it just because it got the Newbery! It really does sound like an intriguing read. Here’s part of the official description:

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

For the inside scoop on the book, you can check out the author’s website; she offers a behind-the-scenes look at how she came up with the idea for the story. I’ll give you sneak peek: it all started with map thieves! Egads!

But wait — before you go rushing out to get Moon Over Manifest, don’t forget to add the 2011 Newbery Honor books to your list too (they’re kind of the runners-up in the competition):

  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Whoa, Nelly! That’s a lot of books to add to the To Be Read pile! Sigh again…

Of course, maybe you’ve already read Moon over Manifest and/or some of this year’s Honor books. If so, leave me a comment with your thoughts! Do you think these books deserve the award? And if you could pick the Newbery winner, which book would you choose?

— Karen

Karen hasn’t read all the Newbery Medal winners in history, but she’s read quite a few. Her favorite is Holes by Louis Sachar.

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