Last week, we had our 2nd MOCK NEWBERY CLUB Meeting during lunch. This is a group of 14 fourth graders who have committed to reading new 2011 novels during the year. At this point in the year, we are merely reading lots of the new books as they are coming out. I have 1-2 copies of several titles and ARCs. Single readers are reading the books and then recommending them (or not) via meetings and an in district wiki that we have set up.
It is a fun time of year because there are lots of new, good books being released. Below is a list of the 2011 novels that I've read so far this year that are well worth reading.
NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT by Gennifer Choldenko is a great science fiction/fantasy writer. The story is different from Choldenko's other books (which I have also loved). Three children find out that their mother has lost their home and are sent to live with an uncle until their mother can join them. This story is of their journey. In the process, they learn about family, and home and what is important. I don't want to give too much away about this book, but the ending makes me want to go back and reread. You can hear Gennifer Choldenko talk about her writing and this new book in this video.
I am hoping that CLARA LEE AND THE APPLE PIE DREAM by Jenny Han is the first in a series. I haven't heard whether or not it is, but it would be nice. Clara Lee is a great character and this is the story of her dream to become queen at the local Apple Blossom Festival. However, she is made to feel that she cannot win because she is Koren-American. But Clara Lee is feeling lucky and has her hopes up. This is a great story and a great transitional chapter book--a great length and a great story for 2-4th graders.
The new series, The Incorrigible Children by Maryrose Wood, is a new favorite for me. I loved the 2nd book in the series, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE: THE HIDDEN GALLERY. This is the story of 3 children who were found in the woods, presumably raised by wolves. It is the story of their nanny, Miss Lumley, (who definitely deserves a spot on our 100+ Cool Teachers list) and their adventures. If you have read the first book, you will love this one too. If you haven't read either, make time to read them both soon! My thinking is that they will be great read alouds for early in the school year.
I reviewed OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt last month. This is a GREAT read that I highly recommend. You can read my review here.
BLESS THIS MOUSE is a new book by one of my favorite authors, Lois Lowry. This is a different kind of book for her. It is an early chapter book about a community of mice that lives in a church. There are dangers in the church. This is a nice, quiet story. Love Lois Lowry's letter to readers on the Amazon page about her idea for this book.
My favorite new dog story is A DOG'S WAY HOME by Bonnie Pyron. Abby and Tam are inseparable. But then tragedy strikes and they are separated and they have trouble moving on without each other. This story is told in two parts--Abby's and Tam's. As much as this book is like other dog stories, the dog's perspective makes it unique. I loved both Abby and Tam within the first few pages because I understood them both so well, and so quickly. I don't want to give away a lot before you read it, but although it is a quick read, it is hard at points because Abby and Tam are both in such pain. A great read, especially for dog lovers.
Right now, I am reading SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS by Ellen Booraem. I am not very far along but am loving it. I picked it up after Betsy Bird's review. So far, I am loving it. The character's voice and the writing is quite fun, as is the whole premise of the book. Can't wait to finish it.
There are also several other 2011 books on my to-be-read list. Most have been picked up by one of the members of the Newbery Club but all of them look great:
ROMEO AND JULIET CODE by Phoebe Stone
YOUNG FREDLE by Cynthia Voigt
THE REINVENTION OF BESSICA LEFTER by Kristen Tracy
I do so love this time of year when there are so many great books of the new year!