Breaking News! ALSC Awards

Posted in Awards at 10:13 pm by Janet

The ALSC awards were announced in January. I know you have all been waiting impatiently to find out what the Tarts think of them! Well, today is your lucky day. You can stop holding your breath now. Really, don’t turn blue over this. Come on, breathe.

Moon Over Manifest
Lots of ink has been spilled over the Newbery winner, so I won’t add much. This historical novel flashes back and forth between the Depression and World War I. Abilene’s father sends her to live in Manifest, Kansas, for the summer. She discovers a lot about the town’s past, but what she really wants to know about is her father. Lots of appealing characters with cleverly intertwining threads between them. Did you notice it’s about an only child? (Oh no no no, I didn’t forget about my only-child rant.)

Ship Breaker

Yeah, the Printz winner was all right. I liked it, I didn’t love it. I think the premise–post-apocalyptic, post-mega-hurricane Gulf Coast and New Orleans–was more intriguing than the actual story. What happens after New Orleans, its successor city, and the Gulf Coast are destroyed by hurricanes? All hell breaks loose for the workers who are left clean up the mess of the giant corporations who helped wreck the environment. It seemed like the action took nearly half the book to rise. Are teens still paying attention at this point? Not sure. Again, the story of an only child. Best thing about this book? The author’s name, Paolo Bacigalupi, is really fun to say.

Almost Perfect
The Stonewall (GLBT award) winner was so refreshing to read. I can’t remember the last realistic fiction book I read. After reading (yet another) dystopia and a historical fiction book, it was such a relief to read a book about a kid (not a vampire!) living in modern, normal times. Oh yeah, and it was thought-provoking, too. Logan falls for the new girl…until he finds out that the new girl is actually a boy. Sage turns out to be transgender, fighting to transition from male to female. Logan struggles with his feelings for Sage and his feelings for himself about having feelings for Sage. Their relationship goes to extreme highs and lows as they wrestle with some big questions. How important is the gender of the person you love? How do you define someone’s true gender? And how do you reconcile those things with being a teenager in a small town? Lots to think about here and a good story to boot. (It was also nice that both Logan and Sage had siblings.)

What did YOU think?



Posted in Awards at 3:14 pm by Bridget

I finally finished Jellicoe Road. The guilt of having one of the library’s few copies which I know everyone wanted to get their hands on finally overwhelmed my resistance to reading it. This resistance had everything to do with the first few lines of the book and nothing to do with the overall content. This may or may not be a spoiler as it i so early in the book but there is DEATH on the first page. This is something that I suppose it has in common with the Graveyard Book although I didn’t seem to notice it as much there.

Once I got into the book, as Janet also mentioned, I got really involved in the relationships between all of the characters. I was more keen on the boarding school and war games elements of it than Janet was though. I kind of like scheming etc. Seems like a good time.


This is a great book for people who like a bit of grit with their read and don’t mind delving into tragiocity. I know many many people who go for this sort of thing in a big way. I was a bit overwhelmed, but I’m not a tragiocity seeking kind of girl. Schemes and war games I’m all over, pedophiles and gruesome deaths via decapitation not so much. There was so much tragedy. And TWO women presumably in their early thirties (the mom and Fitz’s wife) died of cancer. What are the statistical probabilities of this? I used to work in cancer research and I have to say that the probabilities are low. Yes, young people do sometimes get cancer, but it is not common like sneezing. 

What I really loved about this book were the relationships and the friendships — they are definitely worth wading through the horror for particularly if you are somewhat on the tough side already.


Awards, Schmwards

Posted in Awards, Favorite Books at 12:45 pm by Janet

Ahem. I’m ready to talk about the awards now. Finally. First of all, I have to hand it to Bridget for calling it. She wrote about the Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book, and one of the Printz honor books, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  

Belatedly, I would like to give a shout-out to two of my favorite teen books of the year, The Hunger Games and John Green’s Paper Towns, neither of which got awards. Oh, John Green, you can’t win every year, but you are still my favorite. Sigh.

On to the actual Printz winners…with venom and spoilers. I read Disreputable History and loved it. This great boarding school story raises some intriguing questions about class and gender and is a must-read for budding feminists. It put me in the mindset to enjoy the Printz winner, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road, which is also set at a boarding school. I liked Saving Francesca. I was ready to love Jellicoe Road!

Alas, I have to be a voice of dissent. In my opinion, this book does not deserve an entire Printz award. It was a great half of a book. If I could, I would give it the Ntz Award, for best last half of a young adult novel.  The first half was slow, with unappealing characters, creeping action, and borderline confusing alternating narrative threads. The kids at this boarding school are fighting this “war” against the Townies and the Cadets. The war seems to have no purpose or cause, but everyone is all worked up about it anyway. This part, centered on 17-year-old house leader Taylor, switches off with the story of five friends living near the same boarding school years earlier. Why should I care about any of this? If this hadn’t been an award book, I would have chucked it out the window after 100 pages. Luckily, I held on. Halfway through the book, things change. The characters get more compelling and the idiot war slows down–the focus changes to relationships and putting together the past, with the two narratives meshing. This part is great. I started to really care about Taylor and her bizarro past. It’s complex and totally worthwhile. But overall, this book was too uneven for me to love. The Ntz Award is the best it’ll get from me.  

What do you think?


Over and Over Again

Posted in Awards at 4:04 pm by Bridget

I have this huge stack of award winners I hadn’t read yet sitting on my desk — like Jellicoe Road and, I can’t remember, but other fairly serious-ish books that were top notch enough to win awards. 

Not so great for the ill and ick-ish as I was all last week. Stomach Flu. I will spare you details. There’s just something about feeling sick and trying to comprehend serious insightful books. Not so much.

So I re-read books I already knew I liked, but I uncovered a horrible thing — you can read a book TOO many times. These were all books that I knew would suck me away from things, but suddenly I was ACTUALLY SEEING THE WRITING! I try to read to enjoy a story first, writing second. If the story is good enough, any faulty writing will disappear. But there is a limit to how many times you can read the same thing and have this happen.

And last week I reached it. With every book that I picked up. All I could find were heriones “gulping” over and over again and heroes “raising one brow” like there was a John Black convention in town (see Days of Our Lives if this reference escapes you)


Has anyone else suffered from this horrible problem? Not the John Black eye brow thing, though that is a problem, but the re-reading until you start to see the words on the page thing?

Such a sad sad discovery. 

Not as sad as Judy Blume sending you a letter, Janet, and not really wanting to be your friend. I think you’ve got me beat. I’m sure she would want to be your friend if she found our blog!


p.s. We recently had some maintenance on this site and you might need to recopy and paste the RSS feed into your Reader, if that’s how you keep up with us. I noticed that mine didn’t pick up the last two posts, so I’m going to re-input the feed.


Award Madness

Posted in Awards at 12:50 pm by Bridget

There is much madnosity and excitement in the air around the upcoming ALA Awards. This coming Monday they are going to be announced — woo hoo! If you aren’t up on book award madness, the ALA Awards are some of the big ones for young adults and children’s books. Which is not to say that there are not other fine awards out there like the Cybils, Pen, and the National Book Awards (and much much more!), I wouldn’t want to piss off any of you other lovely judges out there, but the ALA awards are definitely right up there. 

The ALA Book Awards are very Academy Award-esque and there’s even a ceremony six month later with fancy dresses etc. — the speeches are way better too because six month is a good-ish amount of time to come up with something brilliant to say. Better than the five seconds that the Academy Award winners get (though they could come prepared, but then it would look like they were sure they were going to win so I guess we all have to put up with the incoherance and tears). 

The other exciting thing about these awards is that you too can find out about them AS THEY ARE ANNOUNCED! Either go to this website on Monday or sign up to follow ALAyma on twitter.

Just keep your fingers crossed that something absolutely fab wins the Printz Award and the Newbery and maybe we will discuss it right here!