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The Living by Matt de Lana Pena (reviewed in VOYA December 2013)

I have been reviewing for VOYA since 2001.  This year, something really exciting happened.  On page 55 of the December 2013 issue of VOYA, I reviewed THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena.  Just yesterday, at the ALA Youth Media Awards, it was announced that this title won a Pura Belpre Honor Award. 

“The Pura Belpré Award is a recognition presented to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth. It was established in 1996. It has been given every other year since 1996. Beginning with the 2009 award, it will be given annually.” (from ALA)

Here’s an excerpt of my review in VOYA:

de la Pena manages to pack a lot into THE LIVING: there is an examination of social class, a pandemic (already in existence and effecting Shy’s life); the adventure saga at sea, and a conspiracy plot all of which take the reader on a whiplash of adventure.  In less deft hands, the pieces could fall apart, but de la Pena manages to make it all work.  There are a few convenient coincidences that come into play but in the end, readers just will not care because this is an excellent, enthralling ride.  Shy is an interesting main character with an authentic voice . . .

In the end, I gave THE LIVING a 4Q and 5P rating.  Watching a book I love win an award was very affirming.

Congratulations Matt on this well deserved honor!

90-Second Newbery Film Festival

The Newbery Medal presented by ALA
Next Monday, the 27th of January, the Youth Media Awards will be presented.  These awards highlight the best literature of 2013 as chosen by various committees of librarians. Among those awards presented will be the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature.  The Newbery Medal is awarded to books that go through age 14 and can cover just about anything. I was ecstatic last year when Katherine Applegate won the Newbery for The One and Only Ivan.  Below is information about the upcoming 90-Second Newbery Film Festival.  Here, kids and teens make movies that tell the stories of Newbery winning books in – you guessed it – 90 seconds or less.  Very cool.
With Newbery season upon us, it’s also time for the 3rd annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. It’s a video contest in which kid filmmakers create movies that tell the stories of Newbery award-winning books in 90 seconds or less. These movies are funny, ingenious, and impressive!

(Curious? We’ve gathered 25 of some of the best entries here, from a shadow-puppet version of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to a full-scale musical of William Pene du Bois’ The Twenty-One Balloons.)

The film festival has had sold-out shows from the start, with crowds of hundreds, including the young filmmakers themselves — who often get to meet the author whose book they filmed! These FREE screenings are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, and Tacoma, co-hosted by festival founder and author James Kennedy (The Order of Odd-Fish) and superstar children’s authors such as Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, Rebecca Stead, Blue Balliett, and more.

This year James is honored to have as co-hosts authors Libba Bray, Katherine Applegate, Jenni Holm, Keir Graff, and others.

Below are the screening dates, co-hosts, and links to reserve your seat (since this free event is popular, it often “sells out”).

February 1, 2014 Screening in CHICAGO at the Vittum Theatre (1012 N. Noble, Chicago). With co-host Keir Graff. 3-5 pm. Reserve a seat.

February 8, 2014 Screening in OAKLAND, CA at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Ave, Oakland). With co-host triple Newbery Honor winner Jenni Holm. 12 pm – 1:15 pm.

February 8, 2014 Screening in SAN FRANCISCO at the San Francisco Public Library main branch (100 Larkin St.). With co-host Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate. 4-5:30 pm. Reserve a seat.

March 1, 2014 Screening in TACOMA, WA at the Tacoma Library Main Branch (1102 Tacoma Avenue South). 3-5 pm.

March 2, 2014 Screening in PORTLAND, OR at da Vinci Arts Middle School (2508 NE Everett Street, Portland). 3-5 pm. Reserve a seat.

March 22, 2014 Screening in NEW YORK CITY at the New York Public Library main branch (476 5th Ave, New York, NY) in the Bartos Forum. With co-host Printz Medal winner Libba Bray. 3-5 pm. Reserve a seat.

If you want to see what previous screenings have been like, here are write-ups of previous shows at the New York Public Library (with co-host Jon Scieszka and special guest Rebecca Stead), Chicago Public Library, and Multnomah County Public Library (with Laini Taylor) in Portland, OR.

It’s never too early to get started on your 90-Second Newbery for next year! All the details about the film festival, including details of the screenings, rules, and a few of the best videos I’ve received, can be found here: http://www.90secondnewbery.com

Thanks! Hope to see you at the movies!

2013 Youth Media Awards: Christie’s Predictions

I’m horrible with predictions.  I’ve never predicted any of the media winners correctly, although I’m pretty good with Super Bowl teams once they’re down to the final two. And I can tell which teens are going to act up, and which tweens need to talk before they come to me door.  But I’ve never gotten any of the youth media award winners correct.  EVER.  So, with that warning, I give to you my predictions for the 2013 Youth Media Awards.  Share your thoughts and your predictions in the comments!


For The Morris Award:

For the YALSA Award in Excellence in NonFiction:

For the John Newbery Award:

For the Randolff Caldecott Medal:

For the Coretta Scott King Award:

For the Michael L. Printz Award:

For the Stonewall Book Award (Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children & YA):