Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Savvy In Context


Savvy by Ingrid Law received a Newbery Honor this year. Chances are, you can name the Newbery winner already. (Cough, cough: Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.) But can you name the other books sharing the honor with Savvy? I thought I'd write up a little introduction to some of this year's best books.

Kathi Appelt's The Underneath.

There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road. A small calico cat. Her family, the one she lived with, has left her in this old and forgotten forest, this forest where the rain is soaking into her soft fur. (1)

The Underneath is about friendship, about love, about hate, about sacrifice, about revenge, about death, about life in all its shades and colors. It's bittersweet but beautiful. It's sorrows and joys are pure and heartfelt.

My interview in two parts: day 1, day 2

Margarita Engle's The Surrender Tree.

The Surrender Tree is well-written, powerful, and bold. Set in the last half of the nineteenth century (1850-1900), The Surrender Tree traces the struggle of Cuba's freedom and independence movements. Told through multiple narrators (Rosa, Silvia, Jose, etc.), the poems are strong, vivid, and powerful. They capture the gritty hardships of a life lived on the run, in hiding.

If you haven't read Margarita Engle before, you really don't know what you're missing! Highly recommended.

Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac & D Foster.

Some books leave me a bit speechless. This is one of them. This is one of those strange books that is both about nothing and about everything. The book chronicles the friendship of three girls: the nameless narrator, Neeka, and D Foster over the course of a few years--around three years I think. These years--the middle years between eleven and thirteen--are difficult for most, but the friendship the girls share makes it bearable somehow despite their own individual problems--personal and family.

This one is all about friendship, family, and the meaning of life. It's a bittersweet book in some ways. But always well done.



Have YOU read any of these books? (The Graveyard Book, Savvy, After Tupac & D Foster, The Underneath, The Surrender Tree)

What did YOU think?

Do YOU have a favorite among them?

Where there any books YOU would have rather seen get awarded/honored?


Usually I am contrary. I think to myself, that won, really? (I'm almost always always of the opinion that the honor books are better than the winner itself.) But this year there is not a book there that I didn't feel deserved it. True, I would have loved to have Shooting the Moon get some love. But overall, I was really pleased with how everything turned out.


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1 comments:

sally apokedak 9:09 AM  

I confess, I've not read these books. I got to page 78 of The Graveyard Book before I finally decided I didn't have to read it just because everyone else liked it. I simply did not care about Bod enough to spend any more time with him.

I have The Underneath but haven't started it because the blurb doesn't grab me.

Surrender Tree and After Tupac and D Foster, again, do not grab me. I'm just so not into gritty. I may hvae to stretch my horizons a bit. I don't know. I'm into escapist literature, not into slamming into the harsh realities of life in novels.

I mean, I like conflict, but I really like hope and just rewards.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
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  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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