OK, people, it’s time to get serious. No more adult literary novels, romances, or light reading about how your brain or pancreas may work or go on strike. It’s fall, and that means buckling down with the contenders lists and plowing through everything that could possibly win the Newbery or Printz Awards in January. Although I read children’s and teens’ books all year long– I just finished a favorite trilogy– I tend to concentrate on the top titles in the fall, simply because I would be devastated if a book won an award and I had not read it. How else could I support my outrage when the official committees choose the totally wrong books?
First, the trilogy I just finished. I’ve reviewed the “Girl of Fire and Thorns” series by Rae Carson earlier in this blog, and I will just tell you that you will not be disappointed in this last volume, The Bitter Kingdom. At first, Elisa and her companions spend a bit too much time tromping around in the woods, but the action picks up and after many nerve-wracking decisions, action-packed battles, and romantic interludes, the series comes to a satisfying and just conclusion. Over the course of the three books, we see Elisa move from a confused and demoralized teenage girl to a confident and powerful queen. If you love a book with a strong heroine or want a great role model for your teenage daughter, you can’t do much better than Elisa.
Now on to the contender lists. I build up my lists from personal reading, reviews and purchases for the library system, our library system’s Mock Newbery and Printz Clubs, phenomenal friends, and the various blogs out there tracking the best of the best. So far, I’d say that I’ve read four titles this year that are contenders, probably for the Printz:
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys
All the Truth That’s in Me, by Julie Berry
Of these, my top pick might be Eleanor and Park, followed by Out of the Easy. Of course, that may change as I read along and follow blog discussions. I will also be visiting the Newbery and Printz clubs later this fall, and the teen readers there can be very persuasive—not to mention the brilliant club leaders, who have been doing this for years.
On my nighttable to read next are the following titles, all of which are considered worthy by one or more of the above sources:
Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Sin-Eater’s Confession, by Isa J. Bick
Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler
The Lord of Opium, by Nancy Farmer
All Our Pretty Songs, by Sarah McCarry
Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein
Also on hold for me at the library, but not yet published (and no advance reader copies!) are:
Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
Boxers & Saints (two graphic novels), by Gene Luen Yang
Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman
Zombie Baseball Beatdown, by Paolo Bacigalupi
I wish I could read them all at once! As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. Although I may sneak in a random adult title or non-literary teen novel at some point, these books will comprise most of my reading list for the next few months. Won’t you come read with me, so that we can cheer or razz together this January?
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of The Bitter Kingdom. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.