Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spotlight On... Grand Canyon Reader Nominees (Part 2)

--by Hanje Richards

The Grand Canyon Reader Award (GCRA) is a reader award program for students in Arizona. Students vote annually on their favorite book in the following categories: Picture, Non-Fiction, Intermediate, ‘Tween, and Teen. This blog post features the Intermediate and ‘Tween Fiction Nominees for the 2011 GCRA that are available at the Copper Queen Library.

The blog post last week featured “Easy Fiction” and “Easy Nonfiction” nominees available at the Copper Queen Library Next week, we’ll feature Teen title nominees available at CQL.

Intermediate Nominees

Chicken Feathers (Joy Crowly) - A talking chicken! Josh knows it sounds ridiculous, but that’s just what Semolina is. And she’s not just a talking chicken… she’s a spirited, sarcastic, sassy talking chicken. And with Josh’s mom in the hospital about to give birth to his sister, Josh needs Semolina more than ever, even if she will only talk in front of him. But when Semolina tells him that a fox is sneaking into the hen house at night, can Josh get his dad to believe in Semolina before it’s too late?

Dragonfly Pool (Eva Ibbotson) - At first, Tally doesn’t want to go to the boarding school called Delderton. But soon, she discovers that it’s a wonderful place, where freedom and self-expression are valued. Enamored of Bergania, a serene and peaceful country led by a noble king, Tally organizes a dance troupe to attend the international folk dancing festival there. There, she meets Karil, the crown prince, who wants nothing more than ordinary friends. But, when Karil’s father is assassinated, it’s up to Tally and her friends to help Karil escape the Nazis and the bleak future he’s inherited.

Drita, My Homegirl (Jenny Lombard) - Fleeing war-torn Kosovo, ten-year-old Drita and her family move to America with the dream of living a typical American life. But with this hope comes the struggle to adapt and fit in. How can Drita find her place at school and in her new neighborhood when she doesn’t speak any English? Meanwhile, Maxie and her group of fourth-grade friends are popular in their class, and make an effort to ignore Drita. So, when their teacher puts Maxie and Drita together for a class project, things get off to a rocky start. But sometimes, when you least expect it, friendship can bloom and overcome even a vast cultural divide.
Eleven (Patricia Reilly Giff) - Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble reading. He’s desperate to find out who he is, and if his beloved Mack is really his grandfather. At night, he’s haunted by dreams of a big castle and a terrifying escape on a boat. Who can he trust to help him read the documents that could unravel the mystery? Then he and the new girl, Caroline, are paired up to work on a school project, building a castle in Mack’s woodworking shop. Caroline loves to read, and she can help. But she’s moving soon, and the two must hurry to discover the truth about Sam.

The Gollywhopper Games (Jody Felman) - Gil Goodson's future happiness depends on winning the Golly Toy & Game Company's ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised that the family can move away from all the gossip, false friends, and bad press that have plagued them ever since The Incident. Inside the toy company's fantastic headquarters, Gil will have to master trivia, solve puzzles, and complete physical stunts – and he'll have to do it better than all of the other kids competing. Gil's every step – and every mistake – will be broadcast on national television? Hold on tight, because the ride of his life is about to begin!

Highway Cats (Janet Taylor Lisle) - When three kittens are thrown off the back of a truck, none of the highway cats knows what to make of them. They seem to have an appeal – an energy, even – that Khalia Koo, Jolly Roger, and the rest of the mangy, feral cats don’t understand. But there are bigger issues to figure out when the bulldozers start coming, threatening to demolish their homes as well as several historical landmarks. Can three little kittens be the answer to saving the town?

The Leanin’ Dog (K.A. Nuzu) - Eleven-year-old Dessa Dean lives with her father, a hunter and trapper, in a remote wilderness area. So traumatized by witnessing her mother’s death that she cannot bear to leave the cabin even to use the outhouse, she is plagued by nightmares and tormented by waking “daymares.” She lives a lonely life until a lame, half-starved dog comes to the door. In reaching out to befriend the skittish dog, she begins to think beyond her limitations and takes the first step toward healing.

Little Audrey (Ruth White) - In 1948, award-winning author Ruth White lived in Jewell Valley, a coal camp nestled between the hills of southwestern Virginia, with her mother, still mourning for a baby who died four years earlier; her father, who spent the weekends and most of his pay out drinking; and her three older sisters, Audrey, Yvonne, and Eleanor. Told in Audrey’s voice, this is how the author imagines Audrey’s experiences during a time of great trauma for the White family – and what happened before they were able to live a better life.

Seer of Shadows (Avi Horace) - Carpetine does not believe in ghosts. Raised to believe in science and reason, Horace Carpetine passes off spirits as superstition. Then, he becomes an apprentice photographer and discovers an eerie – and even dangerous – supernatural power in his very own photographs.

When a wealthy lady orders a portrait to place by her daughter's gravesite, Horace's employer, Enoch Middleditch, schemes to sell her more pictures – by convincing her that her daughter's ghost has appeared in the ones he's already taken. It's Horace's job to create images of the girl. Yet, Horace somehow captures the girl's spirit along with her likeness. And when the spirit escapes the photographs, Horace discovers he's released a ghost bent on a deadly revenge…

The Sky Inside (Clare Dunkle) - Every year, a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every Spring, the residents of his town take down the snow they've stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning, his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It's business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.

And it's all about to come crashing down – because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin's sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land Outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.

‘Tween Nominees


The Brooklyn Nine (Alan Gratz) - In nine innings, this novel tells the stories of nine successive Schneider kids and their connection to Brooklyn and baseball. As in all family histories and all baseball games, there is glory and heartache, triumph and sacrifice. And it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Chains (Laurie Halse Anderson) - As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight... for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

Crooked Kind of Perfect (Linda Urban) - Ten-year-old Zoe Elias dreams of playing a baby grand piano at Carnegie Hall. But, when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And, the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet, when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises – and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature (Robin Brande) - Your best friend hates you. The guy you liked hates you. Your entire group of friends hates you. All because you did the right thing… Welcome to life for Mena, whose year is starting off in the worst way possible. She's been kicked out of her church group and no one will talk to her – not even her own parents. No one except for Casey, her supersmart lab partner in science class, who's pretty funny for the most brilliant guy on Earth. And, when Ms. Shepherd begins the unit on evolution, school becomes more dramatic than Mena could ever imagine… and her own life is about to evolve in some amazing and unexpected ways.
Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) - Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs neither to the world of the living nor of the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy – an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack – who has already killed Bod's family.
H.I.V.E.: The Higher Institute of Villainous Education (Mark Walden) - Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old but, so far, he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world's next super villain.

That is why he ends up at H.I.V.E., handpicked to become a member of the incoming class. The students have been kidnapped and brought to a secluded island inside a seemingly active volcano, where the school has resided for decades. All the kids are elite; they are the most athletic, the most technically advanced, and the smartest in the country. Inside the cavernous marble rooms, floodlit hangars, and steel doors, the students are enrolled in Villainy Studies and Stealth and Evasion 101. But what Otto soon comes to realize is that this is a six-year program, and leaving is not an option.

With the help of his new friends – an athletic martial-arts expert; a world-famous, beautiful diamond thief; and a spunky computer genius (the only other people who seem to want to leave) – can Otto achieve what has never been done before and break out of H.I.V.E.?

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she takes her sister’s place to represent her district in the Games. But, Katniss has also resolved to outwit the creators of the Games. To do that, she will have to be the last person standing at the end of the deadly ordeal, and that will take every ounce of strength and cunning she has.
London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd) - Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour, it landed and everyone trooped off – except Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.

My Fair Godmother (Janette Rallison) - After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair – because she’s not a very good fairy student – Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally, she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight.

Palace of Mirrors (Margaret Peterson Haddix) - Cecelia looks like a peasant girl and lives in a village so small that it's not even on the map. But, she knows that secretly, she is the true princess, hidden away as a baby to be kept safe from the enemies of the kingdom. A commoner named Desmia was placed on the throne as a decoy. Cecelia has always known that when it was safe, she would be taken out of hiding and returned to her rightful place on the throne.

Then, danger finds her in her village, and Cecelia has to act. With the help of her best friend Harper, she decides to take matters into her own hands, relieve Desmia of the crown, and take up her own rule. But, when they venture from their small village to the capital city and into the famed Palace of Mirrors, Harper and Cecelia discover that all is not as it seems, and that they have placed themselves in more danger than ever before.