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My favorites among the runners-up-- Midgrade edition

My favorites among the runners-up-- Midgrade edition

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I thought I'd do a bit here on some of my favorite titles that didn't make the cut-- it's always so difficult to choose, and I know each of us had at least a few that we'd have included if we could!   Today, I'm doing titles from the midgrade list.

Sequels are often a pale disappointment after a dazzling first book, but Calamity Jack, the follow up to Shannon and Dean Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge really delivers on the action and intrigue. Jack's backstory is a compelling combination of fairytale, nursery rhyme and history with a sturdy emotional core. Steampunk scenery seamlessly incorporates Jack's American Indian heritage and the cannibalistic giant of Jack and the beanstalk, and provides an exciting setting for the budding romance between Jack and Rapunzel. Wonderful stuff!

Kazu Kibiushi's Copper is a comic in the serial style-- you can open it at random and enjoy a complete story in a page or two, but as with comics like Calvin and Hobbes or Bloom County, there are themes and stories that run through the book if you read it from cover to cover. Copper and his talking dog Fred inhabit a gentle, contemplative space. The book's beautiful art and wry observations delighted all members of our family, ages 9 to 52.

During the day, I work as a therapist for families who have a child diagnosed with mental illness. It's probably no surprise that we spend a lot of time helping families redefine themselves after divorce or re-marriage-- blending families can be a stressful time, even without mental illness added into the equation. So when I read Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox :The Meeting, by Brigitte Luciani, I knew I'd found something wonderful that I could bring to the families I work with. This is a lovely way to help kids navigate the confusing feelings that arise when families combine, and to help the adults understand their children's distress during an occasion which seems wholly happy to them.

I've added this one to the list only because I loved the first one so much, and was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, like most of the panelists, I was never able to locate a copy either in bookstores or libraries near me (our area is a graphic novel desert). The two people who*were* able to locate copies on the panel loved the story and added it to their shortlists... others were still waiting for library holds to read it by the time we were voting... and some of us couldn't find it at all. Since we already had such wonderful books on our list that most of us were able to read, we didn't feel that we could include it on the final list. But I really wish we'd had the opportunity to give it a fair shake, as a group.

So I guess this last could be a cautionary tale to publishers, even large ones with wide distribution of their titles--books may not be available in a particular panelist's area, so review copies are always welcome. I was able to read a few titles on this year's list thanks to review copies sent by publishers earlier in the year, yet the publishers did not send copies to the panelists when the book was nominated.  I'm very happy with our group of panelists this year-- they are a thoughtful group with diverse literary tastes. But that diversity of taste means that it's difficult to have a critical discussion about a book when half of us haven't been able to read it.

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  • I think there are some here for my library especially Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox and the princess one. This post gives me an idea for next week's NF Monday. Thanks.
  • Lizjonesbooks - Post a comment

    Your writing made great impression on me, forced to think differently. Continue their creative pursuits, and I'll follow you!
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