Award Winners

  •  middle grade historical fiction 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM - 1963

    CODE WORD COURAGE

    MOON OVER MANIFEST

  • kids being kids

     Is there anything better than a story about a child who saves the world from evil? Who doesn’t love reading about a 12-year-old Percy Jackson fighting off the minotaur with no training, or an 11-year-old Hermione Granger being the brains behind a death-defying magical operation during her first year of wizarding life?

    But I will admit that sometimes I get a little tired when yet another character just happens to have memorized the entire internet by age 10, or becomes the best marksman in the kingdom after only a few weeks of practice with a bow.  

    So here’s to all the kids that act like kids and to the authors that know the difference between precocious and PhD. Here’s to characters that have to wait for their muscles to develop before becoming a knight or who care more about their sibling rivalries than the fate of the world. And here are just a few of my favorite characters who are happy being young:   

    11.21 Three Times LuckyMo and Dale from THREE TIMES LUCKY
    By Sheila Turnage
    (2012)

    Mo, orphaned by hurricane Katrina, lives in an eclectic adopted family in Tupelo Landing, NC. She and her bumbling best friend Dale open a “detective agency” when Dale’s no-good father starts causing trouble. Mo’s hilarious southern metaphors, combined with Dale’s constant misunderstanding of sarcasm make them a delightful team. This series is a tribute to small town troubles and the joys of childhood capers. I’d recommend listening to the first book in this series to enjoy a fun rendition of Mo’s southern drawl. (The narrator changes for book two, so read that one.)  

     

    11.21 CoralineCoraline from CORALINE
    By Neil Gaiman
    (2002)

    Coraline is a bored 11-year-old who feels a little neglected by her work-from-home parents. Since they’ve recently moved to a new house, she puts on her explorer’s cap (literally) and tries to whittle away the hours. It’s not too long before Coraline discovers a little door in the living room that sometimes appears bricked up, but sometimes is a portal to the “other” world. One of the reasons I love this spooky read so much is that Coraline approaches everything with a very childlike perspective. She takes what she can see at face value and, at the end of the day, wants what every kid wants: her mom and dad’s love and attention. This book is also a great listen and quite short.  

     

    11.21 The War That Saved My LifeAda from THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE 
    By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    (2015)

    Nine-year-old Ada has been a cripple since birth and is abused by her mother because of it. During World War 2 when many children were shipped out of London, Ada sneaks out of her house against her mother’s wishes and joins her little brother to travel to the countryside. I think Bradley did a wonderful job of showing the fixed determination of a child who’s had very little going for her in life. With the necessary love of the new adult in her life, Ada learns to walk, ride a horse, and deal with the consequences of abuse.

     

  •  oldies

    "New Release!"

    "Add this new book to your list!"

    "Don't miss these books in 2019!"

    "This year is already turning out to be a great year for books so don’t delay, read today!"

    Have you ever been caught in that trap? I have. In fact as a librarian I often feel like I should only read books that are new and current that way I stay on top of what is new. As a result I neglect to read books that have been around for a while and I know that I miss out on some really amazing books.

    I decided that I needed to broaden my reading realm and add some of the classic older books to my long reading list along with new and current titles. I started thinking about authors who have been writing for a number of years and who have won awards in the past, and one day as I was going through a section in the library I happened to come across a section of books written by the Newbery author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

    As I stopped to look at the shelves of books that she has written, I was surprised. I had not realized she had written so many books. She has written over 135 childrens books as well as Young Adult books.  Her books range from historical fiction to fantasy to humor and everything in between. I decided I needed to read one of her books so I checked out one that I had never read before called BLIZZARD'S WAKE. I loved it. She is such a great storyteller and I found myself drawn into the story very quickly. It wasn’t a long book but it was excellent and I found myself devouring it. I knew Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was a renowned author but it was good to be reminded again that her books shouldn’t be discounted or forgotten just because they were not written in the past year.

    There are many authors like Naylor who have written award winning books but because it has been a few years since they have written a book we tend to forget about them. There are so many great books out there to read so don’t be like me and forget about some of the oldies but goodies. Go and find a book that may have been written a decade ago, or find one that you have been meaning to ready for years and get swept away in a wonderful story. Here are a few of my favorite books written by some time honored authors

    2.4 The WitchesTHE WITCHES
    By Roald Dahl
    (1983)

    This is one of my all-time favorite read-alouds. “This is not a fairytale. This is about REAL WITCHES.” Grandmamma loves to tell stories about witches and shares her knowledge with her grandson. When he comes face to face with the grand high witch herself he learns just how dangerous she can be, but he is clever and plots against the witches. Fun read for all ages.

     

    2.4 The Magicians NephewTHE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW 
    By CS Lewis
    (1955)

    I loved reading all seven volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia but my favorite was The Magician's Nephew. The creation of the world of Narnia was monumental and I loved the message in the book. The explanation of how the world of Narnia came to be and the role Aslan played in the creation was captivating to me. I have to admit that the explanation of how the wardrobe became tied to Narnia and became a portal to return one to this magical land helped me understand the rest of the stories better.

     

    2.4 The Witch of Blackbird PondTHE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND
    By Elizabeth George Speare
    (1958)

    I have read this book many times, and I’ll admit that I don’t do that very often. I still think my experience reading this book for the first time as a fifth grader was magical. I had just started reading books for pleasure instead of for school work when I read this story. It made the witch trials come alive for me in a very real way. Puritan life in colonial times was difficult, but when Kit befriended the local witch, Hannah, she was able to find a friend to confide in and to help her through the difficult times.

     

    2.4 Where the Red Fern GrowsWHERE THE RED FERN GROWS
    By Wilson Rawls
    (1961)

    Read this book with a box of tissues (I still can’t read it without crying). The author, Wilson Rawls, had a way of creating a world that was so real to me as a young reader. I sat at night listening to this story as my dad read it to me and I was transported into the Ozark mountains. I ran alongside Billy as he taught his dogs how to chase coons and hunt and become some of the finest hunting dogs around. 

     

    2.4 Tale of a Fourth Grade NothingTALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING
    By Judy Blume
    (1972)

    How many of us have experienced the trials of a younger sibling! This humorous book about Peter and his little brother Fudge is a book that many of us can relate to. I remember laughing out loud at some of the funny things Fudge did and said in the book, from throwing mashed potatoes to dumping his food on his head. A quick fun read.

     
  • Movie Theater Chairs

    At this point, it’s hardly a surprise that some of the Greatest Films of All Time have been based on books. The Oscars even gives an award to the Best Adapted Screenplay every year—because movies based on books are awesome. This year I was surprised that more of the Oscar nominations for Best Picture aren’t based on books. It’s easy to guess that as long as movies are being made and books are being written, we’ll see book adaptions winning Best Picture. As we approach the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4th, here is a look back at some of the great books that have gone on to become Oscars’ Best Picture winners. 

    2.28 Oliver TwistOLIVER TWIST
    Charles Dickens
    (1837)

    It’s not surprising that one of the greatest novels of all time would be adapted into a Best Picture winner, it’s more surprising that that film is OLIVER! – a larger than life, musical retelling of the classic Victorian novel featuring songs such as “Food, Glorious Food.” 

     

    2.28 Out of AfricaOUT OF AFRICA
    Isak Dinesen
    (1937)

    Often counted as one of the greatest nonfiction books of all time, OUT OF AFRICA tells the true story of Karen Chistentze Dinesen and her life on a Kenyan coffee plantation. The film adaptation, also called OUT OF AFRICA, stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in a sweeping romance filmed on location outside Nairobi. 

     

    2.28 Million Dollar BabyMILLION DOLLAR BABY: STORIES FROM THE CORNER
    F.X. Toole
    (2005)

    This collection of short stories, originally published as ROPE BURNS, is based on the real-life experiences of boxing trainer Jerry Boyd (using the pen name F.X. Toole), and was adapted into the Best Picture winner MILLION DOLLAR BABY. The film, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, is an emotional story about a female boxer and the bond she forms with her coach. 

     

    2.28 The Return of the KingTHE RETURN OF THE KING: BEING THE THIRD PART OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS
    J.R.R. Tolkein
    (1965)

    This beloved and larger-than-life epic fantasy series was given the Hollywood treatment in the early 2000s with films that have become legendary in their own right. Though the first and second installments in the series were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, only the third – LORD OF THE RINGS, THE RETURN OF THE KING clinched the win. 

     

    2.28 Forrest GumpFORREST GUMP: THE NOVEL
    Winston Groom
    (1986)

    Maybe this is more common knowledge than I thought, but I was surprised to learn that FORREST GUMP was a book before it became a Best Picture winner. The fictional story of a kind man with a low IQ who happens to be present for the most significant moments in 1960s, 70s, and 80s without realizing the significance of his actions. FORREST GUMP is a heartwarming look at modern American History. Oh, and the movie stars Tom Hanks.

     
  •  Mock combined

    Every year the Provo Library gets together to try to guess what books will become the winners of the coveted Caldecott Award and the Newbery Award both given by the American Library Association’s ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) division. The Caldecott Award is given for the best illustrations in a children’s book for the year. The Newbery is given for the best writing in a children’s book for the year. There was a lot of discussion (and passion) for different books; however, these are the books that rose to the top. What are your picks for the best children’s book or children’s book illustrations? 

    2.12 Blue Sky White StarsMock Caldecott Winner: BLUE SKY WHITE STARS
    By Sarvinder Naberhaus
    Illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

    In this patriotic book Naberhaus compares the United States flag to the country—both the people and the land. The blue sky and white stars could be a part of the flag—or it could be the blue sky full of white stars above the Statue of Liberty. There are “sea waves” that lap against our shores or we can “see waves” of the flag as it flutters in the breeze. Each page depicts a different part of patriotic zeal associated both with the symbols of the United States and with the parts and people of the country. And of course we have to talk about the illustrations! These illustrations are quite stunning. Nelson has managed to depict scenes that one Mock Caldecott attendee described as a “modern day Norman Rockwell type of illustrations.” Needless to say many in our group were quite enamored with the details and expressions in the pictures. 

     

    2.12 Grand CanyonMock Caldecott Honor: GRAND CANYON
    By Jason Chin 

    This is one of my favorite books of the year. In it Chin talks about the different parts of the Grand Canyon—one of the most iconic landscapes in North America. Not only does it tell about how the canyon was formed, but it also goes into detail about the geological layers, the flora within the different regions of the canyon, and what fauna can be found there. Also, this information all comes about through the well-written text. But the true star of the book is in the illustrations. The main illustrations depict a story all on their own of a girl and her father as they camp and hike through the Grand Canyon. Plus those illustrations look like they are placed on top of animal or nature field guides that showcase the various wildlife and plant life and habitats within the area. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrations also have some cut outs—which help to show readers the past life of fossils or rocks that the characters see while on their trip. The illustrations give a life and purpose to knowing all the facts and details listed in the text—and it increases a reader’s desire to visit that great National Park! 

     

    2.12 TriangleMock Caldecott Honor: TRIANGLE
    By Mac Barnett
    Illustrated by Jon Klassen 

    This is a tale of two shapes that are friends. Triangle lives in a triangle house among shapes that are triangles for a landscape. Square lives in a square house in a place with square shapes all around. One day Triangle goes out on a quest to play a “sneaky trick” on Square. And he succeeds in scaring Square—which in turn causes Square to want to retaliate by playing a trick on Triangle. The beauty of the illustrations of this book are most prominent in the shapes themselves—specifically the expressiveness in their eyes. These little oval spheres with black dots convey such emotion! How in the world Klassen can indicate what each shape is thinking just through the eyes is remarkable. And one of the main reasons as to why this was one of our Mock Caldecott Honor picks.  

     

    2.12 UndefeatedMock Newbery Winner: UNDEFEATED: JIM THORPE AND THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM
    By Steve Sheinkin 

    Sheinkin tells the story of how Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner, and many others changed the way football is played today. Most people know about Jim Thorpe as a football player, but the background of where he came from, the atrocities that he and his classmates endured, and those other teammates that shaped the game of football are less known. The beauty of this book is that even though this is a book full of facts and bits of history it doesn’t read like a boring textbook. In fact, many of the Mock Newbery participates don’t even like football—yet they really liked this book! With phenomenal writing and a good story it isn’t a surprise that this book was a strong contender.  

     

    2.12 Tumble and BlueMock Newbery Honor: TUMBLE & BLUE
    By Cassie Beasley 

    This is the story of Blue (who no matter what loses at anything he tries) and Tumble (a girl who more than anything wants to be a hero to save the day). When Blue is dropped off at his grandmother’s house just before a magical chance to change their fates—if they figure out how to meet a crocodile with magical abilities—he is hopeful that this will be the beginning of good things. Tumble does not believe in all the fate/destiny talk that Blue’s family is certain of, yet she does believe in helping Blue navigate his bad luck. This magical realism story is well-written for the intended audience. The discussion, comments, and love that we had for this book made it quite a strong contender. Some of the strengths that we especially liked were: the characters, the setting, the pace, the dialog—well, just about everything! It was refreshing to see not only the main characters grow throughout the story, but the minor characters seemed well-developed as well.  

     

    2.12 Beyond the Bright SeaMock Newbery Honor: BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA
    By Lauren Wolk 

    Crow is uncertain where she comes from. She knows that Osh rescued and has raised her—and she loves him. Only, she can’t stop wondering about her past. When Crow starts looking into the history of an island that housed a leper colony she finds more mysteries and danger than answers. We not only knew Crow and Osh and Miss Maggie, but we knew the Elizabeth Islands and the historical setting when the story takes place.  Along with the characters and the story, particular phrases and sentences stuck with us long after we read the book. Wolk is a master wordsmith. And this book received quite a bit of love at our Mock Newbery event.

     
  • Chains

    One of the hallmarks of African-American literature in the “slave narrative.” These are true biographical accounts of slaves who lived in the American South. Mostly they are written by the slaves themselves (such as NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS or INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL) giving a personal touch to each story. This, along with their experiences, make the storytelling distinctive and recognizable. Following the abolition of slavery, many African Americans have continued to write in this genre, calling it the “neo-slave narrative.” Mostly these new stories are fictional novels, but they take inspiration from real slave accounts, exploring the racial tensions and anxieties of this time period. Here are a few of the best in the genre: 

    3.25 KindredKINDRED 
    By Octavia Butler
    (1979)

    A black woman spontaneously travels back in forth in time: from her apartment in 1970’s Los Angeles to a slave-holding plantation in the early 1800’s. Things do not go well. Despite its fantastic premise, Butler did extensive research to prepare for this novel. From reading personal accounts, to actually visiting the plantations, her writing is based as much as possible on the historical experience of slaves. 

     

    3.25 BelovedBELOVED 
    By Toni Morrison
    (1987)

    This story was initially inspired by an article printed in a 1865, titled "A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child.” Half-poem, half ghost-story, Morrison’s novel includes the hardest-hitting parts of slavery. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was even made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey. 

     

    3.25 Underground RailroadTHE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD 
    By Colson Whitehead
    (2016)

    One of the oddest takes on “historical fiction” that I’ve ever read. In this story, the “Underground Railroad” is just that, literally an underground train riding through the Antebellum South. Another Pulitzer Prize winner, this novel purposefully drifts away from reality, mixing facts with fantastical reimagings. Despite the intentional inaccuracies, the work still rings true, highlighting the terrible atrocities that did occur.