Friday, May 28, 2010

SSYRA Novels Announced for 2010/2011!

I've been reading the middle grade novels on the Sunshine State Young Reader's Award list for the past two years, and I have yet to read a bad book. The librarians who work to select these novels do a fantastic job!

I will be reading and blogging about the following novels beginning late summer:

1. The Seer of Shadows by Avi
2. The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
3. Taken by Edward Bloor
4. Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney
5. Football Hero by Tim Green
6. The Great Wide Sea by M. L. Herlong
7. Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill
8. Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
9. Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter
10. Lost Time by Susan Mauphin Schmid
11. The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer
12. Changeling by Delia Sherman
13. I. Q. Independence Hall by Roland Smith
14. Mercy on These Teenage Chimps by Gary Soto
15. Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli

Have you read any of the books on the list already? If so I'd love to hear your opinion.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Florida Kids Vote For Their Favorite MG Novel SSYRA Program!

And the winner is RUNAWAY by Wendelin Van Draanen!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Analyzing The Sunshine State Young Readers' Award Books

I recently read and blogged about all 15 middle grade novels on The Sunshine State Young Readers' Award List. I grouped the novels into categories to see what they have in common.

1. Contemporary or Historical? - Eleven books on the list have a contemporary setting and four are historical fiction.

2. Humorous? Three of the books are humorous: THE MISADVENTURES OF MAUDE MARCH, AIRBALL MY LIFE IN BRIEFS, and SCHOOLED.

3. Multicultural? Four books deal with different cultures: LA LINEA, HOT, SOUR, SALTY, SWEET, THE ENTERTAINER AND THE DYBBUK, and GABRIEL'S HORSES.

4. Elements of Fantasy? Though it varies widely, seven of the books fit this category. ALL THE LOVELY BAD ONES and THE ENTERTAINER AND THE DYBBUK are ghost stories. FIRST LIGHT and GO BIG OR GO HOME are science fiction. DRAGON SLIPPERS and INTO THE WILD are more like fairytales, while FOUND is action/adventure.

5. Problem Novels? Three of the books fit this description: WING NUT, LA LINEA, and RUNAWAY. These are the books that I will long remember because they caused me to think about hard issues and see the world outside my own experiences.

All of the books have great writing in common. Though I enjoyed each and every one, my three favorities are THE MISADVENTURES OF MAUDE MARCH, LA LINEA, and RUNAWAY.

Congratulations to the authors who have a book on the list!

Friday, May 14, 2010


The cover art of this middle grade novel first caught my eye. We have three boys with oversized feet, skinny legs, and all wearing funky boxer shorts. I immediately knew this book would make me laugh!

I read an interview with L.D. Harkrader in which she said the inspiration for this story came from The Emperor's New Clothes. How cool is that.

Our protagonist is seventh-grader, Kirby Nickel. Kirby has very little natural athletic ability, but in a small Kansas town, he makes the basketball team anyway. Everyone does.

Coach is determined to turn this no-talent team into champions. He gives them STEALTH SPORTSWEAR, which in reality means the boys are playing in their underwear. But then a strange thing happens: the boys actually play better in their underwear.

This book is humorous and it has heart. Kirby learns a lot about himself as he becomes a decent basketball player. In the end, Kirby finds what he wants most in the world, and most importantly it wants him too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

FIRST LIGHT by Rebecca Stead

FIRST LIGHT is the debut novel of Newberry Award winning author, Rebecca Stead. The book has elements of fantasy, science fiction, adventure and mystery.

Peter joins his parents on an expedition to Greenland, where his father will study global warming. The trip should be an adventure, but on the ice cap, Peter is troubled with headaches and visions.

Meanwhile Thea has never seen the sun. Her people live deep inside the arctic ice. When Peter and Thea's lives collide, they discover a secret connection between their families. Time is running out for Thea's homeland. The teens need a plan to save the people of Gracehope.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Author Steve Weber gives lots of tips for online marketing in PLUG YOUR BOOK. Some that I found particularly helpful include:
1. Find readers in your target audience and give them your book. Ask them to post an honest critique on Amazon.
2. Correspond with readers who enjoyed your book, and ask if they could spare the time to write a review on Amazon.
3. Target specialized magazines and trade publications.
5. Go on a blog tour.
6. Add your book title to your Amazon pen name so that it's displayed when you post reviews.
7. Offer book excerpts or sample chapters PDF download from your website.
8. Use these pointers for writing an effective press release.
9. Auction a single copy of your book on eBay in one or more subject categories.
10. Pursue affiliate sales on websites that specialize in material related to your book.

Monday, May 3, 2010

RUNAWAY by Wendelin Van Draanen

Twelve-year-old Holly runs away from an abusive foster home and makes her way cross country to California. Her life is a continual struggle to find food and shelter. Holly's story unfolds as she writes in a journal given to her by her teacher. The journal becomes Holly's lifeline - her most precious possession.
Author Wendelin Van Draanen researched this book by sneaking into the cargo hold of a bus, staying in a homeless shelter, and camping in the wilderness without supplies.
This book made me stop and think about the problems faced by runaway teens. Is there a significant homeless population in the place where you live? Have you taken the time to REALLY notice?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

HOT, SOUR, SALTY, SWEET by Sherri L. Smith

The novel HOT, SOUR, SALTY, SWEET all takes place in one day - Ana Shen's eight grade graduation day. Ana is salutatorian of her class and just as she starts her graduation speech, something very unexpected happens and the rest of the ceremoney is canceled. But Ana's problems are just beginning.

Ana's father is Chinese American and her mother is African American. The two sets of grandparents don't get along very well and always compete for Ana's attention. When the whole family takes over the kitchen to cook for Ana's graduation party, it's a recipe for disaster. Especially since her arch rival shows up unexpectedly, the boy she's crushing on comes with his bigoted father, and her grandmothers are ready to slug it out. Still the hot, sour, salty, and sweet meal shows Ana that different flavors and different heritages can blend together perfectly.