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Thursday, January 10, 2013

WAW Award Nominees!

Hey, MG readers, it’s time again for the William Allen White Awards! For those of you who don’t know, this is the time of year when readers all across the great state of Kansas choose their favorite middle-grade books. I love this award because it’s all about what young readers love, not what teachers and parents and librarians say they should love (though the latter do pick the nominees). Because the nominating process takes some time, nominees for the 2013 prize were published in 2010. (See the complete rules here.)

Next week, we’ll look at the upper middle-grade hopefuls, but today I’m highlighting the nominees for the grades 3-5 category.  Descriptions come from each book’s Goodreads page unless otherwise noted. Kids, get ready to vote!

Prairie Peter Pan: The Story of Mary White by Beverley Olson Buller

Kansas City Star Books, 2010
nonfiction / bio, 48 pages

The story of William Allen White’s daughter, who died young in a tragic accident. Her famous father penned an essay about her, which forms the framework of this book. (description is mine)

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010
fiction / contemporary, 295 pages

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

Turtle in Paradise by Jenner L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010
fiction / historical, 208 pages

Life isn't like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she's never met.
Florida's like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It's hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.

Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings

Egmont USA, 2010
fiction / contemporary humor, 183 pages

Rufus has been dreaming of getting a dog. His best friend has one. His worst friend has one. But his dad has a few objections: They whine. They gnaw. They bark. They scratch. They beg. They drool.
Rufus pays no attention when his mom offers her think-outside-the-box suggestion, because she can't be serious. She can't be.

She can be. And she actually comes home with a guinea pig. And if Rufus's dad thinks dogs are a problem, he won't know what hit him when he meets the Guinea Pig that Thinks She's a Dog. She barks. She bites. She'll eat your homework.

Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010
fiction / historical adventure, 160 pages

From Newbery Award winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor comes a witty tale of the Wild West filled with comical cliffhangers and featuring a cast of plucky orphans and dastardly villains.
Emily Wiggins is poor and timid, without a drop of self-confidence. When she is unexpectedly orphaned, she is left all alone except for her turtle, Rufus.

Emily's neighbors, Mrs. Ready, Mrs. Aim, and Mrs. Fire, have the answer to her problems: Emily must travel by stagecoach to the home of her honorable aunt Hilda. But Miss Catchum of the Catchum Child-Catching Services will get a big bonus for delivering Emily to her next of kin, the vicious Uncle Victor.

It will take all the gumption and cunning of fellow orphan and traveler Jackson to help Emily find her confidence, her conniving spirit, and the true reason Uncle Victor wants to claim her.

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

Philomel, 2010
fiction / contemporary, 48 pages

When young Trisha finds out her class at the new school is known as “The Junkyard,” she is devastated. She moved from her old town so she wouldn’t be in a special class anymore! But then she meets her teacher, the quirky and invincible Mrs. Peterson, and her classmates, an oddly brilliant group of students, each with his or her own unique talent. And it is here in The Junkyard that Trisha learns the true meaning of genius, and that this group of misfits are, in fact, wonders, all of them. Based on a real-life event in Patricia Polacco’s childhood, this ode to teachers will inspire all readers to find their inner genius.

Star in the Forest by Laura Resau
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010
fiction / contemporary, 160 pages

Zitlally's family is undocumented, and her father has just been arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico. As her family waits for him to return—they’ve paid a coyote to guide him back across the border—they receive news that he and the coyote’s other charges have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom. Meanwhile, Zitlally and a new friend find a dog in the forest near their trailer park. They name it Star for the star-shaped patch over its eye. As time goes on, Zitlally starts to realize that Star is her father’s “spirit animal,” and that as long as Star is safe, her father will be also. But what will happen to Zitlally’s dad when Star disappears?

Stay tuned next week for the nominees for grades 6-8. How many of these have you read?

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