Reading for Newbery

I mentioned a few days back that I was doing a large amount of reading in anticipation of the Kansas City Mock Newbery Awards.

I finished with my “required reading” as of last night.

And I read a book in between that wasn’t on the list.

So what?

And I skimmed a couple that I just couldn’t get through.

So what?

Life is too short. You have to read what you like.

Anyway… there were 12 titles on the list. These were my notables:

Okay for Now

by Gary D. Schmidt

I stayed up until 3am reading this book.

I haven’t done that since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007.

I really enjoyed Okay for Now. It was raw and real and funny and emotional and I couldn’t put it down. Gary D. Schmidt has devolved a truly original voice for middle-grade readers. Hands down exceptional, distinguished,  and kid-approachable writing.

Jefferson’s Sons

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This book goes down as one of the best historical fiction books for I’ve read in a long time. Adult or kid books. I feel as though Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s book has great historical value for people of all ages, but I feel the points she drives home, especially at the end, are relevant and topical for today as well. Her writing was approachable and eloquent, and still remains with me weeks after reading Jefferson’s Sons.

Sparrow Road

by Sheila O’Connor

I think I would have loved this book as a girl. Specifically, me at age 11 or 12. I bet if I read this book then, I would have wished I was the main character, Raine. I would have wanted to live in that old, broken down mansion, with all those interesting artists, and write, and dream, and write, and dream.

Hound Dog True

by Linda Urban

Hound Dog True was one of those books that as I’m reading it I’m thinking:



“this is good.”


“I could never in a million years write like this.”


“this is really good work.”

Before reading Hound Dog True, I wasn’t familiar with Linda Urban. Now, she’s kinda my author idol.

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Read this excerpt from the inside jacket cover about character Jack Gantos by author Jack Gantos and tell me this isn’t going to be a good story..

“Jack’s mother loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with an unusual chore– typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels… and possibly murder.”

Read it in two days.

Not on the Mock list but I read anyway…

The Aviary

by Kathleen O’Dell

No, The Aviary wasn’t on the mock list but it sounded intriguing, so here it is. A mixing of many of my favorite things… Victorian times, enchantment, mystery, old houses, friendship. A good book for a girl who likes Anne of Green Gables or The Secret Garden with a few supernatural twists.

Books Previously Read…


by Brian Selznick

Excellent! Another masterful, fun read by Selznick.

Full review from October here.

Inside Out and Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

Loved it. My guess is Inside Out and Back Again will be at least a Newbery Honor.

Winner of The National Book Award. Full review from November here.

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd

Heartbreaking and beautiful.

Full review from November here.


by Anne Ursa

A timeless story of friendship to be read on a cold winter day.

Full review here.

As a side note, the author of Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursa, and two other of the above authors, Gary D. Schmit (Okay for Now), Sheila O’Conner (Sparrow Road), are educators for Hamline University. What a draw for budding writers!

The Emerald Atlas

by John Stephens

…I was really surprised this title made the selection. I think it was an adventurous read, especially for Rick Riordan fans, but as far as Newbery criteria goes I don’t see how it stands out as being a“distinguished contribution to American literature”. Then again, I’m no expert. I’m merely a reader. And maybe I need to re-read it, because when I went back to see how I ranked with my other summer reading books, I didn’t even include it in my notables list.

If I could pick one book…

This would be it.

It was a tough call for me. Inside Out and Back Again and Jefferson’s Sons were also big contenders, but Okay for Now remains my champion.

The Mock Awards were all day today and Okay For Now was also voted the big winner among the attendees with Jefferson’s Sons coming in as the second place honor book.

What are your predictions?

More Newbery Info

If you’re looking for more Mock Newbery lists, I find that Heavy Medal has a good one as well as the Allen County Public Library.

Also, be sure to check out the Goodreads Newbery Poll to see how these books rank among other readers.

The Newbery Award winner for 2012 will be announced January 23rd!

You can go here for more details.

image sources: okay for now, jefferson’s sons, sparrow road, hound dog true, dead end in norvelt, aviary, wonderstruck, inside out, monster calls, breadcrumbs, emerald atlas


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  2. […] Upon finishing the book at four in the morning, as I did with the middle grade books Wonder and Okay for Now earlier this year, I was not tired.  Quite to the opposite. I was […]

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  4. […] Schmidt, one of my favorite middle grade fiction authors, was featured in February for his novel, Okay for Now. During his interview with Michele Norris, he talked about his favorite book from childhood, The […]

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