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2014 Mock Newbery

The Newbery Medal was named for 18th-century British bookseller, John Newbery. It is awarded annually by ALA's Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." This is a board where ACPL staff and patrons may comment about new children's books and vote on what they think should win! To register for our "in-person" discussion on January 11, 2014, call Children's Services at 260.421.1220

On January 11th, after a great discussion of many of the year's books, we arrived at our Mock winners. The 2014 ACPL Mock Newbery Winner is Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz. We selected three Honor books in our Mock Election: The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt, and Far Far Away by Tom McNeal.

  • Mary Voors

    It was a fun afternoon discussing books! Can't wait to hear what wins the REAL Newbery Award!

  • Teresa Walls

    A great time! I am still unconvinced that Far Far Away is distinguished. :) I'm excited to see what the actual committee selects.

  • Katy Southern

    Thanks for hosting the discussion!

Here's information from the ACPL Kids Blog with our FINAL Discussion List for Saturday, January 11th.

What a great infograph! Have you read the "top five"?

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu. SUMMARY: "A shy boy named Oscar who works as the hand to a powerful magic worker becomes the only person who can save his village from an evil monster"-- Provided by publisher.

  • Teresa Walls

    Darn it. I didn't get this one in time for the discussion. I look forward to what others have to say about it.

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore. SUMMARY: Moving into an inherited mansion in Maine with their mother and stroke-afflicted father, three siblings uncover a mystery involving hidden passageways, family rivalries, and healing waters.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    There are some fun things about this one - the mixture of present-day and historical plot-lines, the mystery, the castle itself. I did NOT like that the ending is not wrapped up. I don't need a summary and "those crazy kids" speech a la Scooby Doo, but I would've liked some more concrete answers. I felt like too many things were left undone.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    Also, I was distracted by grammatical errors like this: "He extended his hand to Ephraim, which Ephraim took and squeezed." (38) You shouldn't win a Newbery if the book has multiple errors like that.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. SUMMARY: While picking up milk for his children's cereal, a father is abducted by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space.

  • Allen County Public Library

    This title was suggested as an addition to our Mock Newbery board by a colleague. Do YOU have suggestions of additional 2013 titles to add? Let me know by emailing mvoors@acpl.info. (Please put Newbery Pinterest Board suggestion in the subject line.)

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    I thought this one was magical. Like Hitchhiker's Guide magical. Wonderful, crazy plot enhanced by the repetition involving the milk and the illustrations. I love this one. It's one of my strongest contenders.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    I noticed this one is not on a lot of the mock lists online. It *is* eligible, right? Is it because it's silly? Am I alone in thinking it's a contender?

  • Teresa Walls

    I didn't care for it, but that doesn't mean it's not a contender. :)

  • Mary Voors

    This book would be a great read-aloud! I loved some of the phrases and descriptive sentences. For example, on page 78: "The particularly drippy alien pressed the black button on the metal wall with something that might have been a finger and might just have been a long strand of snot." Doesn't THAT paint a picture???

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes. SUMMARY: Gabby daydreams to tune out her parents' arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble.This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver.

  • Mary Voors

    This is a title that has stuck with me. I love the poems and I love the support offered to daydreamers. I re-read Words with Wings again last night and was again struck by its power. It's simple without being simplistic.

  • Teresa Walls

    A lot is conveyed in few words. I think I pictured Gabby older than what she is, but that is part of the book's beauty, reaching out to day dreamers of all ages.

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck. SUMMARY: A very small mouse of unknown origins runs away from school in the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace shortly before the celebration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, celebrating her sixty years on the British throne.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's library by Chris Grabenstein. SUMMARY: "Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape"-- Provided by publisher.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    This is kinda fun, but I don't see it as an award winner. Just too .... ordinary, I guess.

Paperboy by Vince Vawter. SUMMARY: When an eleven-year-old boy takes over a friend's newspaper route in July, 1959, in Memphis, his debilitating stutter makes for a memorable month.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff. SUMMARY: "Destiny leads 11-year-old Cady to a peanut butter factory, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever"--Provided by publisher. Includes cake recipes.

  • Teresa Walls

    I enjoyed this book. The point was to tie everything together, and the author does a fun job doing just that. The knot character ( role of fate) was intriguing. It isn't as strong as the True Blue Scouts or The Thing about Luck or a few others, though.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    I felt like the man in the gray suit wasn't really explained. Is it just that I missed the point?

  • Teresa Walls

    I thought the man in the gray suit was Fate with the talent of tying knots.

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban. SUMMARY: For Ruby Pepperdine, the center of everything is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi's hug. That's how everything is supposed to be--until it goes spinning out of control.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    This is another quiet story. I like the central message, as expressed by Ruby's thoughts: "What if Lucy and Aunt Rachel and everybody else found out she had an Inner Ruby who had totally messed up? Then what would they think of her?" I love the way we see into Ruby's guilt and regret. She bottles it all up, like many people do, even when it alienates her best friend. It's a very realistic look inside the mind of a young person.

  • Erin Warzala

    It's been a couple of months since I read this one, but I do remember that I did like the central message and the execution of that message. However, I think this book was a bit too quiet a story for me, because it didn't really capture my attention.

Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker. SUMMARY: Third-grader Clementine's school field trip to Plimoth Plantation leads to all kind of discoveries, from fourth grade eating rules to the source of the stink on the bus.

  • Teresa Walls

    I think this one will stay in my memory better than the plot of The Year of Billy Miller. Clementine has a strong voice.

Ghost Hawk by Susan cooper. SUMMARY: At the end of a winter-long journey into manhood, Little Hawk returns to find his village decimated by a white man's plague and soon, despite a fresh start, Little Hawk dies violently but his spirit remains trapped, seeing how his world changes.

  • Mary Watring

    I had high hopes for this one but it just didn't have the magic for me. It felt like the beginning portion of the story should have been longer--all of a sudden the story that we were aware of just ended. Yes, a new part began, but I was looking forward to more of the survival part and was disappointed.

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos. SUMMARY: After an explosion, a new crime by an old murderer, and the sad passing of the founder of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack accompanies his slightly mental elderly mentor, Miss Volker, on a cross-country run as she pursues the oddest of outlaws.

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. SUMMARY: A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him.

  • Teresa Walls

    I meant "must not"

  • Teresa Walls

    I will go back to it since Deb wants to discuss it.

  • Dawn Stoops

    There's a great (long) interview with Kate about this book at http://www.mprnews.org/stor...

  • Teresa Walls

    I'm glad I went back to it. After Dr. M is introduced, I liked it. I think it might rely too much on the illustrations to tell the story, but I look forward to the discussion.

  • Angela Fox

    I wasn't entirely sold on the book as a children's story; the deliberate quirkiness almost felt like it was catering to an adult audience, and the vocab and cadences made me wonder what grade level DiCamillo was trying to reach. Than a co-worker suggested I consider it as a read-aloud - and I was sold. What seemed to me to be stilted on paper seemed perfect for a listening audience.

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The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. SUMMARY: Things to know about Billy Miller: He's worried about 2nd grade He thinks bats are cool His little sister is annoying He had a spectacular accident this summer He doesn't like poetry much His dad makes really good cookies Ned is his best friend His mom likes rainy days He thinks Emma Sparks is a pain He can run really fast This is his year

  • Teresa Walls

    I liked how Henkes organized this story. It's a quiet story with lots of real world situations of a second grader and his family. I liked it a great deal, but I haven't read enough of the books on the list to adequately compare it to anything else.

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    It's definitely quiet. Very realistic portrait of the worries of a second grader.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. SUMMARY: "When Jeremy Johnson Johnson's strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate, Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown"-- Provided by publisher.

  • Katy Southern

    This is one of my favorites so far. I do have one quibble in terms of its internal logic. Having read many fairy tales multiple times over the years, I could see what was coming (which is fine - it doesn't affect my enjoyment of it), so I couldn't quite understand how the ghost of Jacob Grimm wouldn't also recognize these signs since he collected and studies these stories while he was alive. But, I still love it.

  • Marra Honeywell

    That's an interesting point, Katy. Maybe Jacob Grimm didn't recognize it because he was, afterall, a collector of tales. And (trying to think of a way to say this, spoiler-free is hard!) there was no real "magic" in the bad events. Just bad.

  • Katy Southern

    True. It really didn't bother me very much. I just found it somewhat interesting.

  • Mary Voors

    The first part of this title was slow-going for me, but I loved all the references to the Brothers Grimm and their stories. The last part was masterfully creepy. Love this book; hope many will read it before our discussion.

  • Teresa Walls

    It was slow-going for me. I wanted more fairy tale details. I'm trying to figure out the thematic point of this story. It was creepy at the end, but the build - up was so pointed. I wanted more background about the Finder of Occasions. And the unexplained human voice during the quiz show bugs me.

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Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty by Tonya Bolden. SUMMARY: A commemorative introduction to the Emancipation Proclamation provides excerpts from historical sources, reproductions of archival images, and lesser-known facts that challenge popular beliefs. Includes bibliographical references (p. 110-111) and index.

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes. SUMMARY: Penny feels guilty after taking a beautiful blue marble that she sees in Mrs. Goodwin's grass, but gets a pleasant surprise when she goes to return it the next day.

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz. SUMMARY: In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves.

  • Mary Voors

    Very strong character development in this title. (And a GREAT cover!)

  • Rebecca Wolfe

    This feels like an award-winner. It's serious but not maudlin. It's got an interesting story line. Very interesting characters. It takes a spare, matter-of-fact approach to a serious, unusual situation.

  • Teresa Walls

    I really like this one, too. I liked the writing style. The discussion this year will be very interesting. I have several favorites.

The Boy on the Wooden Box - How the Impossible Became Possible... on Schindler's List. A Memoir by Leon Leyson. SUMMARY: The biography of Leon Leyson, the only memoir published by a former Schindler's List child.

  • Mary Voors

    I'm not sure that this fits all the criteria for the Newbery -- maybe Sibert? -- but it ABSOLUTELY is powerful. And important!

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. SUMMARY: In 1871 Wisconsin, thirteen-year-old Georgia sets out to find her sister Agatha, presumed dead when remains are found wearing the dress she was last seen in, and before the end of the year gains fame as a sharpshooter and foiler of counterfeiters.

  • Teresa Walls

    I'm so disappointed I didn't get a copy of this book in time for the discussion. I saw where it was selected in another mock Newbery.

Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass. SUMMARY: Joss, the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe, must team up with a human girl to re-create Earth, when the planet is accidentally erased from existence.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech. SUMMARY: "One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of people would leave their child with strangers? All John and Marta know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. As their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, but how long can their happiness last?"-- dust jacket flap.

  • Mary Voors

    This is an incredibly quick and interesting read. I think tweens would like it too and that it would offer a great deal of fodder for discussion, but I wonder if it's more a book for adults than for kids.

  • Teresa Walls

    I, too, was wondering who was the audience for this book. I'm still not sure what I think of it.