Category Archives: Award Winners

Reading Challenge: My Life in Newbery

Children’s literature is really important to me not only as a children’s librarian but also as a reader and a parent. There is something about the books that we read as children that shape the readers we become later in life. They can often sometimes even depict or affect whether we will become readers at all. The John Newbery medal is an award given by the American Library Association to an author for their contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. It is named for John Newbery, an 18th century English publisher of juvenile books.

 I recently saw a friend and former library colleague at Learning to Play the Bassoon create a sort of reading challenge by looking up the Newbery winners at certain points in her life and I wanted to take it and make it my own by doing something similar. Below I have created a list of books that have won the Newbery Medal during my lifetime. I thought it would be fun to read each of these books this year. I really don’t read as much children’s literature as I should anymore now that I am at home with Little Man and this seems like a fun way to incorporate some into my current reading.

I would love for others to undertake this challenge with me or even just commit to reading one Newbery winner this year such as the book that won for the year you were born. You can easily look the winning and honor books for each year here. Just for the fun of it….I would love for everyone to share what book won the year you were born and whether or not you have read it?

My Life in Newbery

The year I was born: 1981

Newbery Medal Winner: Jacob Have I Loved  by Katherine Paterson

The year I started kindergarten: 1986

Newbery Medal Winner: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The year I turned 10: 1991

Newbery Medal Winner: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The year I started high school: 1996

Newbery Medal Winner: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The year I graduated from high school: 2000

Newbery Medal Winner: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The year I graduated from college: 2005

Newbery Medal Winner: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

The year I received my Master’s Degree: 2006

Newbery Medal Winner: Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins

The year Little Man was born: 2009

Newbery Medal Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This year’s Winner for 2012

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos


Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Classic Literature, Middle Grade, Reading Challenge

Review & Giveaway: 10th Anniversary of Cut by Patricia McCormick

  “A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.

 Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak. But Callie can only stay silent for so long…”

 The 10th Anniversary edition of Cut includes a brand-new afterword from author Patricia McCormick, an author Q&A, and added resources. Patricia McCormick spent three years researching and writing her first novel, Cut. She is also the author of the National Book Award finalist Sold, as well as Purple Heart and My Brother’s Keeper. She lives in Manhattan.”

In 2002 it was believed that approximately 1 in 200 teens cut regularly (Safe Self). However in March 2011 a new research showed that as much as 25% of all teens inflict self harm through cutting or burning. (Cutting Statistics). That’s roughly one in four teens. More than likely if you know a number of teens…you might know a cutter and never know it.

Cut is an honest and frank look into the world of one girl and a whole world. Callie is at Sea Pines or as her and the other guests affectionately think of it “Sick Minds”. I say “think” because as our story begins Callie doesn’t talk..she cuts to express her feelings- for release. In fact most the “guests’ at Sea Pines express their feelings in non-traditional and dangerous ways such as not eating or over-eating, drug use and other mental illness behaviors. This first person account of a girl with a secret, a girl who desperately needs help and might actually want it- is timeless both and yet modernly relevant. In many ways it reminds me of the classic I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

  Book Giveaway

It is an honor to be able to give away a book so well written and written for such a purpose as Cut….especially on its 10th Anniversary. Thanks to the fantastic folks at Big Honcho Media…I have two copies of Cut to give away to two very lucky Stiletto Storytime readers.

Giveaway ends midnight EST June 5, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

“Like” Scholastic’s ThisIsTeen on Facebook


Filed under Award Winners, Contests, Young Adult Books

Review: Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson The year is 1777. The setting is the infamous camp of Valley Forge. The boy is Curzon, a slave and veteran soldier of the Continental Army. Growing up in slavery, Curzon has endured years of beatings and humiliation, now an escaped slave he has become a soldier and is one of the over 11,000 trapped for the winter at Valley Forge, starving and freezing from the harsh weather and lack of supplies. However the sufferings of a soldier are nothing to one who knows the agony of being a slave and even worse the endless pain of loving one.  His once companion Isabel has left him in search of her younger sister who was sold in South Carolina and he worries daily about her welfare as he himself struggles to survive. He wonders whether he will ever lay eyes on Isabel again but most importantly he wonders if she is free.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s sequel to her National Book Award finalist Chains, Forge takes readers into the world of the Curzon, companion to Isabel. Illuminating the plight of slaves during this time in history, Forge also brings to life the struggles and world of the American Revolution.  With incredibly detailed descriptions of the conditions of slavery along with historically accurate depictions of the battle for independence and richly drawn characters, Laurie Halse Anderson has proven why she is a recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

As the second book in the trilogy, Forge makes this period in time and the horrendous conditions of Valley Forge not only accessible but also understandable for young readers. Containing an appendix of historical data and vocabulary words, the book is a not only a insightful read but also an informational teaching tool. The tale of Curzon and Isabel is also further enhanced by quotes and references to documents from that period in time from notable figures such as John Adams and former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano. Readers will hold their breath at it’s suspenseful ending which will only leave them wanting more and eagerly anticipating the final installment in this moving historical saga.

Forge will be released on October 19th 2010.


Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, historical fiction, Middle Grade, New Books, Young Adult Books

50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird I was in elementary school the first time I read To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child so enamored of reading that I took a list of books considered to be classics and began reading and never quite stopped. I had a reading level higher than my maturity at the time but I didn’t much care. I was hungry for words and that list was my menu. As I re-read many of those books later in school or in my own personal reading, I often picked up on things, imagery, symbolism or nuances I was way too young to understand the first time around.
However that was not the case in most ways for To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee wrote from a child’s point of view, one of innocence, truth and honest questioning. A viewpoint that a child could follow, especially a child of the South. Her book affected me the first time I read it as well as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This last re-read made me realize more than ever that part of the book’s allure is that it was truthful about things often not discussed such as race and class. However what I think made it even more attractive is that is was from a child’s point of view. A child that had to be told why things were the way they were. Doesn’t it all sounds so silly when it has to be explained….doesn’t it make us see how these rules and ideas we held dear were wrong…and really didn’t make any sense at all. Isn’t it amazing how the innocence of children so often makes us see the truth just like that moment outside the jail when Scout makes a connection that makes everyone  human once again and breaks up the mob.
It reminds me not to dismiss what comes from the mouths of babes…for it is so often true and wise, much more so than anything we adults have sat and mulled over for hours. Lee knew that I think, that’s why she let that little tomboy girl do the talking. She knew Scout was the voice that could deliver the story with nothing but honesty and innocence and truth. That is what made it a classic and why it is so impacting to so many…we were all children. We all asked why things were the way they were. We all wondered….questioned….decided.  And made our own estimations of why life works the way it does. We can only hope Scout helped some out in their outlooks and that people were changed as a result. I have now doubt some were and still are. Bravo Ms. Lee….and Happy 50th! For lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird, I recommend Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. A great book of essays and reflections from prominent figures, authors and even relatives of Lee herself about the book. It’s a great way to visit the book through other eyes or as Atticus would say “in their shoes”.


Filed under Adult Books, Award Winners, Classic Literature, Events

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Imagine a place where children grow up together without parents but instead guardians. They are encouraged to be healthy, well behaved and as creative as possible. Their days are filled with arts, academic lessons, time with friends and sports. They are nurtured in many ways by not only those who care for them but by each other as well. Imagine these children of every age and appearance from the infants to the gangly teenagers, growing together in a beautiful private school in the English countryside. This is Hailsham. The children of Hailsham are told they are special. They are important to the world beyond.  However they never see this world beyond until adulthood when they will transition and then make their contribution to society.  No one questions from where they came but only from hence they will go.  Until that time they can only guess and wonder at what is beyond their school grounds, rumor often becomes truth in their minds.  Never Let Me Go is a novel that I went into knowing nothing about and I have to say I am thankful for it. It was book that led me slowly into another world. Written so simplistically it is beautiful in its emotionally evoking tale but also heartbreaking at times. It is a book to become absorbed into, to lose yourself in, then to contemplate long after. Kazuo Ishiguro is an amazing writer who creates words made into art that you can find yourself lost in for hours. While I did not know it at the time of picking up this novel, a movie is being made of Never Let Me Go. I am so glad to have had the experience of reading the book before viewing the movie. I encourage anyone who truly wants to connect with this book to do the same. However here is the trailer for those who are interested. I must say that I am very excited to see what will be done with this book on film. It could truly be amazing if done correctly. The film will be released on October 1, 2010 in the United States.


Filed under Adult Books, Award Winners, Movies

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

It’s almost that time again folks! Book Blogger Appreciation Week is coming up in September. September 13-17 to be exact. Every year I follow the awards and often do a write up on my blog of all the action that takes place but this year is going to be my first to actually enter the contest for an award. Since my blog is so prolific: I blog about everything from board books to adult literary fiction and everything in between. It’s hard to really classify my interested because they are so varied. And so I am entering for:

Best Eclectic Book Blog—This blog doesn’t specialize in any one book genre. It is known for consistently excellent reviews, recommendations, analysis, and other content in a variety of genres

And so now I must choose five posts for which my blog to be graded and voted on. In doing this I hope to show the diversity that the category warrants. It is also a nice way to go back to past posts that I and my readers enjoyed. So enjoy some post from the past and make sure to vote for your favorite book blogger for Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010. And make sure to follow the event on Twitter as well!

1.) Review for Columbine by Dave Cullen (True Crime Non-Fiction Novel)

2.)Review for How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (Young Adult Novel)

3.) Blog Tour: Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs

4.) National Library Week Post with Additional Guest Blogs by Stiletto Storytime

5.) A personally created “Meme’ called “Snippets on a Sunday” used for weekly blog wrap ups

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Filed under Award Winners, Book Blogs, Contests, Events

Review: A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker

A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker: Book Cover “Joseph can hardly believe what he has been asked to do. His Aunt Kate, a wildlife biologist, is waiting for him at a research station and needs his help taking care of an orphaned polar bear cub only a few months old. He will leave his friends and family and venture to the farthest northern town in the United States. As the adventure unfolds, Joseph and his newfound Eskimo friend Ada find mysteries wherever they look. The bear cub, Delta, remains in danger. Who would want a polar bear dead? Joseph will have to look to the North Georgia woods to save Delta. When his parents were kids, they too embarked on an excursion into the unknown. Their encounters with the wilderness beyond their backyard have shaped the future for Joseph and Delta. A Place for Delta is about one family’s journey—a passage born in the Appalachian Mountains and leading to the Arctic seas.” -Synopsis from Publisher
The Old House at Paradise Delta Eating Whale

A Place for Delta is a very simplistic story really. One you might overlook on the shelf at the bookstore in passing… but don’t because it is destined to become a classic. It is a book that returns us to a time when children’s books were really about something and made you feel things as a child and question the world around you. So simplistic in its plot and wording it still manages to become a work of literary art. A young boy on a journey far from home to help save something so precious and yet something we so often forget to treasure- the natural world that surrounds us. A story of the appreciation for the wild no matter the location and the fight to save its creatures. Friendship, love, bravery and even some sneaky detective work make for an exciting read with an essential message woven within. A Place for Delta is a a must read for children interested in the environment, animals and the preservation efforts of both.  Walker has found the perfect balance of traditional storytelling and modern elements to keep kids and adults reading until the last page. The illustrator Richard Walker has also contributed the perfect art for the writing which plays out in simplistic and beautifully rendered sketches throughout the book.
While generally my reviews tend to be more abstract, A Place for Delta connected with me as a reader on a very personal level which prompted a more personal review. For example an advantage I had when reading this work particularly was that I am a Southerner who has lived in Alaska. My parents called Fairbanks home for two years and so I know the landscape and culture that Walker portrayed and I must say she was spot on as she was with her descriptions of the southern wilderness as well.  This authenticity only makes the book more real and meaningful for readers.
Personally as a young child I felt drawn to books like My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I think I was drawn to that wilderness element, where you connected with the wild on a level where civilization got left behind. It was a kind of paradise to me. I immediately felt that same kinship when I began reading A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker. It is that simplistic view of nature as what guides us that seems to draw me into these types of books. While A Place for Delta s not a true survivalist story like the ones I have mentioned, in a way it is. It is the fight for survival not for humans but for the wild and the animals who live there. I was very impressed with this book and would recommend it  to boys and girls alike. I think it will resonate for many ages as well even as a read-a loud or book club pick. The book also comes with additional notes in the back such as a glossary, sources and other fun informational links to facts about locations and animals present in the book. Parents will also be happy to find a higher level reading book that is both education and a good clean read. No worries about content or language. The books is said to be the first in a series and I for one cannot wait for the next book. A Place for Delta has also become the recipient of the 2010 international book award winner for best children’s fiction. Quite an accomplishment for a book published by a small press that is committed to bringing out books with a strong focus on the natural world and the people and wildlife living within it. Way to go Whale Tale Press!
*And if you don’t want to take my (adult) word for it check out this review at ten year old Melina’s Reading Vacation Book Blog*


Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, New Books

Snippets on a Sunday

A lot of reading done this week….two books of which were two of the best books I have read in a very long time. I am only sorry that I may not have time to give them the full attention they deserve but I do hope that you will be reading them because I recommend them will all my heart. The first was The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey which I must say was one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in years. That’s saying a lot since historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I read quite a bit of it and I can easily spot run of the mill vs. the magic that can be created when a writer can transport you to another place in time. I simply could not pull myself away from this book. It took me back to classics such as Gaskell’s  North and South and the heroine Eileen had so many of the qualities that I have always loved in dear Tess of Hardy’s Tess f the D’Ubervilles. When one book can bring me back to two of my favorite books of all time that are both absolute classics, I am in awe.  This book kept me emotionally invested until the very end. In Owen Sheridan I saw a hint of John Thornton, in Eileen a touch of Tess, I often wonder if authors find inspiration in classical characters or if it is just my reader’s mind making the connections.  Whether that is the case or not, The Yellow House is a new classic. Wonderfully written, magically created, it could only come from a true Irish lass and to be her debut novel….amazing. I loved it…every page.

Brief Description of The Yellow House:

Glenlea, County Armagh, Ireland 1905. When her family is torn aaprt by religious intolerance, personal tragedy, and explosive secrets, young Eileen O’Neill is determined to reclaim the Yellow House where her family had been happy and bring her broken family back home.As war is declared on a local and global scale, Eileen cannot separate the politics from the personal impact of the conflict. Her choice is complicated by the influence of two men. James Conlon, a charismatic and passionate politcal activit is determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, appeals to her warrior’s soul.   But Eileen also finds herself drawn to Owen Sheridan, the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family who owns the milll where she works, and who believes that peace can never be achieved through violence. The choice that Eileen makes will change the course of all their lives and give her a true understanding of herself. Set in Ulster in the early 20th century, this novel brings to life the conflicts leading up to the birth of the border that divided the island of Ireland, and still exists today.

My next book to rave about has received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, so I know I am not it’s only admirer. Olive Kitteridge is everything I should not have liked but did. I have a confession to make…I do not particularly care for short stories…I always want more. I don’t like that about myself, makes me seem a greedy reader unable to appreciate a “slice of life” as they may say. But it’s what I am pure and simple. I’ve never told anyone but you can probably look at my reading lists and posts and determine there are no short stories or collections there of mentioned.  However I loved this book and that’s exactly what it is…a book of short stories…”slices of people’s lives”.  Not terribly exciting lives either but the average, normal, almost mundane details of life.  Olive for instance is simply an aging woman, one who speaks her mind, loves her husband but might not even know it herself, often thinks badly of people and on occasion has been known to steal but only in order to set someone straight. She’s frightfully normal…I feel like I might pass her daily at the grocery or post office. And yet Strout makes her fascinating. She makes ever character fascinating in their own way by showing them as people. Their behavior, their quirks, their down right faults…she shows it all and you cannot help but want more. Strout is a creature of detail and she shows how those tiny details make up who we are and how our lives are played out. She is a master of characterization and a true artist of words.

Brief Description of Olive Kitteridge:

“In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.  At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama–desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.  At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.  As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.”

*I truly hope you will chose to put these two works on your to be read lists….and now I will share a little of what My dream day at the beach….. might look like. Thanks to IKEA for putting the image in my head although after only a moment of excited joy…now my poor librarian self can only think of the water damage! Happy Sunday all and enjoy your reading!


Filed under Adult Books, Award Winners, Classic Literature, historical fiction, New Books

Hunger Games Trilogy: Final Book Revealed

[Mockingjay.JPG]For all those out there who have patiently been waiting for the next installment (and sadly the last) of the Hunger Games series. Scholastic has revealed the title and cover and lots of other tidbits! I personally love it….I think the three books have very cohesive covers and I cannot wait until August 24th to dive back in! Marking my calendar as we speak!

Other News:

*Libba Bray has just signed on to do a new series called The Diviners, which is so exciting to me since she is one of my favorite YA authors….this is following her big Printz win for Going Bovine which is sitting on my side table waiting to be read as we speak….I will always love her very first series though. Gemma Doyle has a place in my heart….I tried to convince my husband to name our child Pippa if she was a girl…didn’t go over so well. But I loved that series and characters, I fell in love from the start! I am sure her next will be spectacular!

*Harper Teen is giving away a book a day in their 28 Day Giveaway! Some great stuff is up for grabs so make sure to check it out! Just answer the poll to be entered.


*And……A New Jane Austen Challenge has just come to my attention from Fly High! The challenge is hosted by The Life and Lies of Inanimate Flying Object. Of course I will be signing up…and keeping up with my progress on my blog! I will be signing up for Fanatic of course. I was planning to re-read all my Austen’s this year for research purposes for some future possible writing projects so this challenge is perfect for me or any Austen lover out there! Won’t you please join us?
Newbie 2 books by J. Austen & 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
Lover 4 books by J. Austen & 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen & 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
-Challenge books can overlap with other challenges.

-Any format counts: bound book, e-book (check online for free downloads of J.A’s copyright-free books), audio book, or any other thing you can think of.

-You can change which level you read!

-Challenge runs January 1st 2010—December 31 2010.

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Filed under Award Winners, Challenges, Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Jane Austen, New Books, Young Adult Books

The Lion and the Mouse

The 2010 Caldecott Award Winner: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

One of my favorite stories as a child was the Aesop Fable of The Lion and the Mouse. I had a collection of stories in one book and I remember it was always my favorite. Pinkney’s picture book version would have been my favorite had it been around when I was a child. While my version had words and some scantily drawn illustrations, Pinkney proves you do not need words to tell a captivating and beautiful story. This illustrative version is classic and yet unique all in one. I loved the juxtaposition of the two animals on the two sides of the cover but more than anything I loved how Pinkney made them both providers for their families which showed it yet another way how in helping each other…they helped more than just themselves. It’s amazing what he has accomplished with a palette of such select colors, the expressions and depth are just amazing. If you have not seen it yet, you must pick it up! A simple story now set to some amazing illustrations…not to be missed and truly deserving of this year’s Caldecott!

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Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books