Must Read in 2014 – Update #1

With April upon us, we are now 1/4 of the way through 2014 and it is the perfect opportunity to check in with where I am on my 2014 reading challenge, known fondly on Twitter as the #MustReadIn2014 Challenge. Below is the list of books I initially posted about in January that I wanted to read during 2014. It is mix of older titles, 2013 titles, and new 2014 titles. I’ve crossed out the books I have read to date. Ones that I especially adored are marked with **. Other than my Caldecott Challenge I feel like, due in part to a good reading month in January, I’m on track to get these titles read. If you’ve done an update for this challenge, please share the link in the comments. I’d love to come check out what you’ve enjoyed, too! Happy Reading and happy spring!

 

Must Read Books in 2014

Read to date 10/38

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Currently reading
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | Read January 2014 **
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013) Read January 2014

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012)
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)
 
oldermg2
 
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011) Read January 2014
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013) Read January 2014 **
 
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013) Read January 2014 **

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Read in February 2014 **
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle Read in February 2014 **
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner Read in March 2014 **
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
 

 

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Newbery Challenge Goal

Read to date: 2/12

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Medal 1949 Read in February 2014

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Medal 1950 Read in March 2014

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

 

 

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Caldecott Challenge Goal

Progress to date : Meh

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

 

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Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

01.27.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

My favorite picture book . . .

I read a bunch of picture books, many of them “meh”, but this was clear and away my favorite.

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Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I absolutely adored this. Even my 12-year old daughter, who rarely reads my recommendations, grabbed it and loved it. For the dreamers, theater lovers, and fans of big cities alike. There are mentions of his emerging sexuality (he’s “undecided”, which is just perfect), but aside from some homophobic insults, it is all broached in a non-outlandish and gentle manner. I’m so happy to have this title celebrated at the ALA Youth Media awards with honor nods for The Stonewall Award and The Odyessey (audiobook). Bravo!

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I know many who loved this, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for its bizareness?

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Finished this as a fun read aloud with my 12-year old daughter, Tall.

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Continuing

 

Last week I started these as read alouds with my kids. Penny is with the nine year old and The Running Dream is with the twelve year old.

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Wish I could drop everything to finish this. So different than Eleanor & Park, but so terrific.

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Next up . . .

1949 Newbery Medal Winner for my Newbery Challenge.

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.20.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

Last week’s picture books . . .

A nice message about taking risks. Would be great paired with Deborah Freeman’s Fish and Snail. Some young kids might become anxious in some of George’s precarious situations. (2011/Candlewick Press)

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Part multigenerational story telling, part civil rights mini lesson. All lovingly told and illustrated. Great for grades 1 and up. (2011/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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This cute book has a great message about being true to yourself and following your passions. I love Hector’s style and his animals are especially expressive. It would be great to pair with Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Great for Kindergarten and up. (2008/Hyperion)

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A good intro to Goodall and her work in Africa and her conservation efforts. I liked the artistic style and little hidden details Winters included in her illustrations. (2011/Schwartz and Wade)

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A Little Red Writing Hood fractured fairy tale with some writing tips creatively thrown in. I’m not sure I’d read this again after using it in a writing lesson, as the story didn’t wow me. As always, Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are terrific. Good for grades 2 and up. (2013/Chronicle Books)

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I adored Yoon’s other penguin books, but this one felt too forced to me. On a few page turns I even felt confused about the story line. But the penguins are so cute! (2013/Walker Children’s)

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I adored the art for this more than the story about team work. I want to frame some of these pages for my “someday” cabin! (2013/Kids Can Press)

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Finished Graphic Novels . . .

This is a well-researched telling of China’s Boxer Rebellion with amazing illustrations. I learned a lot about the time period in China and would certainly recommend it to those interested in the time or culture, but I just wasn’t in love with this one. The uprising was extremely violent and is portrayed as such in the books, so I’d recommend this for grades 7 and up. (2013/First Second)

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Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I finished this as a read aloud with Small, my fourth grader. She LOVED it. I enjoyed this interesting story about Dewey and her friend Suze who are both children of scientists working on the secretive Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM during World War II. I loved the portrayal of smart and creative girls and the challenges they needed to overcome to build and maintain their friendship. The only real complaint I had was on the amount of time it took for the girls’ paths to really cross in the story. Readers should have some background knowledge in the atomic bomb project before diving into this one. I’d recommend as a read aloud in grades 4 and up, or alone for fifth grade and up. (2006/Viking Juvenile)

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I am to blame for a not giving this more stars. I listened to it as an audiobook over many months rather than in concentrated blocks of time. As a result I had a hard time connecting with the story and it’s humor about life on Earth after it has been invaded by aliens. I must say, though, Bonnie Turpin is a fantastic audiobook narrator. (2007/Disney Hyperion)

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A fractured fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin filled with lots of magic and a likable main character. Fantasy fans will enjoy this story and the doses of middle grade humor laced throughout. While I read it alone, I’ve heard from many that it makes a great read aloud, and I can see why. Recommend for grades 3 – 7. (2013/Knopf Books for Young Readers)

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This week’s reading . . .

 

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.13.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

My Favorites from the last week . . .

Charming story about one young boy during the Depression as he struggles to reconcile how his father hides losing his job. Told against the backdrop of a baseball loving era. I loved the illustrations, which on some pages had a Hopper-esque feel to them. (1999/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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I thought this graphic novel was so well done and would make for a great addition to upper elementary and middle school libraries and classrooms.  I loved the “just right” background knowledge on all the key elements that set up the environmental catastrophe that became known as the Dust Bowl. The graphic novel is a great format to convey the imagery and intensity of this era. It’d be great to pair with other books and media on the event like Phelan’s Storm in the Barn and Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, The Dust Bowl. My youngest (grade 4) preferred Phelan’s story, I’m guessing because of its narrative elements versus the informational text format in this book. Recommend for ages 10 and up, including the adult history buffs in the room. (2013/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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I find myself avoiding poetry as I just find I get too restless reading it. I’m sure there’s more too it than that, but overall, poetry is not a category of literature that I enjoy. On that note, this was a collection of poems that I did enjoy far more than I suspected I would. This is recasting of any earlier poetry collection by Rylant. God is placed into a number of everyday, seemingly ordinary situations, but with his/her own distinct wisdom.  I suspect the messages might be lost on young kids, but middle school and up (adults, too!) will connect with the situations. Frazee’s illustrations are lovely. (2013/Beach Lane Books)

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This was fantastic narrative nonfiction about scientists’ efforts to predict the timing and direction of volcanic blast material in the Asian Pacific volcanic zone. Having been a Mt. St. Helens kid (ash fell in our town and school was let out three weeks early in 1980), it just fascinated me. Great use of interviews for the narrative commentary and enlightening photos. Best for upper grade and middle school. (2013/HMH Books for Young Readers)

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After the first 1/3 of this, clear your schedule because you won’t be able to put this down. Teens will enjoy this suspenseful thriller. (2013/Delacourte Press)

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Currently reading . . .

I will be delivering this to my daughter’s fourth grade classroom later as The Book Fairy. I suspect they will adore this spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin!

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Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.06.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

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Happy New Year! This is my first post in ages, so I will spare you the voluminous reading details and just concentrate on the last week or so! 

Other recent posts:

My 2013 Favorites

My reading goals for 2014

Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

Non-fiction picture books

Non-fiction about the research done to learn about this unique South American frog species as well as current efforts underway to protect this endangered species. I love the mix of illustrations and photographs, but at times the text bounced around in an awkward way. Why suddenly was it talking about conservation of a completely different species? Great idea, but editing and book organization left me wanting more. Recommend for grades 3-5. (2013/Boyds Mills Press)

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Terrific photos balanced with accessible facts on ocean animals, topography, and ocean health. Recommend for grades 3-6. (2013/Chronicle Books)

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Graphic Novel

A stark feeling graphic novel, with both the brooding dust and dark palate Phelan uses to share about the 1930s Dust Bowl era. The stress and weariness of the farmers and residents is very evident. Jack goes on a magic-laced quest to bring rain to the plains. Phelan tends to zoom in and out for perspective, which is great, but sometimes I have a hard time with his very loose, sketchy images at their closest, and I can’t make out anything. Recommend for those with some background on the time, in grades 4-6. (2009/Candlewick Press)

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An interesting and entertaining account of the Donner Dinner party told in a graphic novel format. I look forward to reading the other Nathan Hale books. With its rather grim details (to which readers are heavily warned “are coming up”) this is not for the sensitive readers in the bunch. I can’t help but think how much kids would have loved this when I taught California history to fourth graders. For readers with some background on Western Migration in grades 4-8. (2013/Amulet)

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Middle Grade Book

I liked this one more than I thought I might. As it opened, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, no, not another group of neglected kids trying to function on their own” book. I feel the situation the kids find themselves in requires readers to suspend a great deal of disbelief, much like seen in Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sarah Pennypacker. All in all, though I found the characters were well-developed, even if not necessarily likable and the situation one that would prompt some good discussion with readers or listeners if done as a read aloud. Recommend for grades 4-6. (2013/Candlewick Press)

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An amazingly poignant memoir of a young Polish boy who was on Oskar Schindler’s “list”. A stunning testament to the horrors of war, but also to those who survived it’s very darkest elements. So powerful. I highly recommend it. With the obvious dire situation and sometimes graphic details, I’d recommend this for kids with plenty of background knowledge in grades six and up. (2013/Atheneum Books)

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Currently reading . . . 

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Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

2014 Reading Intentions

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I am most eager to flip that calendar to a new year. 2013 was filled with a variety of hand-wringing health oddities within my family that sucked both time and energy. Fingers crossed, but hopefully we are now on right side of healthy. And I’m pretty sure anything mechanical in my life that can be broken, from cars to appliances, has done so and has since been repaired, so there really can be no more surprises there, right? The ringing in of the new year also seems a perfect time to reflect on some of my reading plans for 2014. For 2014, I will be reading books from my Must Read Books in 2014 list as well as continuing to make progress on my Newbery and Caldecott Challenges. This is meant to be a guide for my reading, but certainly not the final word in what I plan to read this year. I’m allowing lots of time to read picture books and new things that I discover during the course of 2014. For the year I have set my Goodreads Reading Goal at 350 books, which is what I did in 2013.

Must Read Books in 2014

As the year wrapped up, like me, many reading friends posted some of their favorites of the year. (Click the link for my  2013 reading highlights.) It’s always fun to see what others enjoyed, but it also makes you realize what you wanted to read, but just didn’t get to, or maybe some titles that hadn’t yet crossed your radar. Carrie, at There’s a Book for That created such a list last year and did so again this year. After reading her list, several other reader/bloggers, including myself, felt the idea was so great that we too joined in. Everyone’s list format will be a bit different, but titles can include 2013 titles we are eager to read, even older titles buried deep in our larger To Be Read (TBR) piles, and books with 2014 publication dates that we are most anticipating. We are using the hashtag #mustreadin2014 on Twitter. Join in, if you’d like! The more, the merrier!

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliet (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013)
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | 
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013)

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012)
Titantic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)
oldermg2
 
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011)
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013)
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013)

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Newbery Challenge Goal

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

Caldecott Challenge Goal

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

2013 Favorites File

In 2013, I read about 350 books! That count includes many picture books but also middle grade chapter books and even a handful of books for adults and young adults. I attempt here to highlight around 20 of my favorites published in 2013 (or 2012!), though I feel I left many excellent books behind. Click any of the images to head over to Goodreads for plot summaries. I also throw in a few other favorite reading moments from the year, including my favorite Newbery and Caldecott books. 

What were some of your favorite reads in 2013? Do share!

Favorite Picture Books

A sweet tale for lovers of big cities, dream followers and romantics at heart.

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I loved this animal reference book so much I gifted it twice this holiday season.

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A touching tale of family and memories.

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Inventive and just silly good fun.

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A kid-friendly Einstein biography which beautifully captures his spirit.

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Magical and imaginative.

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A testament to never ceasing wonder and collaboration.

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Creepy and delightful.

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Favorites for Middle Grades

Holly Goldberg Sloan reminds me of humanity’s capacity for goodness + resilience.

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An exciting kid-centered medical thriller.

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A magical story of good fighting evil, but it is Oscar you’ll remember.

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Wacky but in a delightful way.

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Smart and sassy girl detectives provide for a page turning read.

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One to make you think about how your actions affect others, but doused with lots of humor, too.

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A slightly creepy adventure and coming of age story.

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A Judy Blume-style story for today’s tweens.

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I loved it so much that I read it and then did it as a read aloud with my kids.

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Favorite Nonfiction for Middle School and up

A stunning testament to the horrors of war, but also to those who survived it’s very darkest elements. 

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Non-fiction that reads like a spy novel.

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Favorite Young Adult

An 1980s love story for those who think they couldn’t possibly like love stories.

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Other Favorites

Best “How’d I Miss That?” Book

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Sequels That Delivered

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Favorite Newbery I Read in 2013. Hard to pick as I read a lot of dud Newbery books, but this was the closest to a favorite.

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Favorite Caldecott I Read in 2013 — a 2013 Caldecott Honor.