More BookPeople Favorites From the ALA Awards

~post by Children’s Book Buyer Meghan G.

I recently posted about how much I liked this year’s Caldecott selections, but there were a lot more honors announced this week, including the prestigious Newbery, Printz, and Coretta Scott King awards. There are a ton of great books on these lists, but I wanted to highlight just a few of my personal favorites along with some quotes from other booksellers about the ones they loved the most.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal winner
My Take: Within this poignant story about a long-imprisoned circus gorilla trying to save a baby elephant from the harsh realities of life in a cage, Katherine Applegate has given us both a heartbreaking look at the dark side of animal captivity and a moving testament to the miraculous power of true friendship. This beautiful story absolutely made me cry, but I loved every page of it.

Kathleen says:The One and Only Ivan is the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla, who lived his life caged in a rundown mall. Told through Ivan’s voice, I really felt his pain and his longing for a better life. This is a book I won’t forget”

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, Newbery Honor recipient
My Take: Mysteries abound in sleepy Tupelo Landing, and Mo LoBeau and her best friend Dale determine to solve them all–including an honest-to-goodness murder–in this radiantly colorful story of friendship, family, and good old-fashioned gumption. This was one of my hands-down favorite new books to put in readers’ hands last year, and I was really hoping it would be on this list.

Wil says: “Here is a book whose main character, Miss Moses “Mo” LoBeau, is headstrong and willful enough to cope with her extraordinary circumstances (abandoned during a flood as an infant and adopted by two quirky café owners) and to solve a murder. Mo’s outlook makes this a delightful and playful (and sometimes poignant) read that totally deserves the “honor.”

In Darkness by Nick Lake, Michael L. Printz Award
My Take: While the harsh brutality of this challenging novel may not appeal to every reader, Nick Lake’s complex and powerful story is worth reading nonetheless. Taking us on a grim journey that ricochets between the dangerous struggles of Haiti’s past and the bleak realities of its earthquake-ravaged present, Lake’s story manages to celebrate the glimmers of hope and humanity that can be found even within the greatest darkness.

Consuelo says:In Darkness is sublime. I learned so many things that I never expected to learn from a YA novel — about Haiti, love, loss, family. The historical and modern duality in this book sets it apart. It has a lot of soul.”

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Michael L. Printz Honor Book
My Take: This superb World War II novel will keep readers on the edges of their seats from the first page to the last with a harrowing and intricately plotted tale of espionage, captivity, and survival that takes two girls behind enemy lines and tests the capacity of their courage and the power of their friendship. I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish this incredible story, and stayed up even later, bowled over by the weight of its heart-wrenching conclusion.

Merrilee says: “I’m really glad Code Name Verity received a Printz Honor because I thought it was too good not to. It’s about two girls (one a pilot, one a spy) who become best friends during World War II, and it centers around the sacrifices they each have to make. So moving I once got teary-eyed describing it to a customer.”

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney, Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award
My Take: By exploring the profound impact these particular African American men have each had within ten different eras of American life (from the 18th century through the present), Andrea Pinkney provides young readers with a fascinating perspective on the broader topic of America as a country. Visually enlivened by Brian Pinkney’s dynamic portraits, this impressive volume makes great reading for the historically minded.

We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson, Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

My Take: Local author Cynthia Levinson’s well-crafted historical narrative not only provides an important history lesson about the Civil Rights Movement, but also presents kids with a wonderful example of how real children managed to make their voices part of the national dialogue in a meaningful way. Following each child’s story step by step, Levinson pushes modern readers to reflect on how they themselves might respond in similar situations and how much courage that would take.

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