Young Reader’s Choice Award 2020

Many states run their own children’s choice awards for books. This one is one of the oldest, having been started in 1940 here in Seattle. It is different from other awards in that it includes five states (Washington, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Oregon) and two Provinces from Canada, (Alberta and British Colombia.) It is run by the Pacific Northwest Library Association and you can find out more about them and the Award here.

They always have great lists and cover middle grades up to high school. This year, my district gave me a choice as to which award I wanted to promote at my school and this is the one I decided on. It has some great books and it only has eight. (Our state Award, The Sasquatch, always has 12 which in my opinion is 4 too many.)

Three of the books on this year’s nominee list I have already read and reviewed. You can find my reviews by clicking on the titles below.

Nevermoore: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

The rest were all new reads for me, although I had heard of some of them. Here are my mini-reviews of the rest of them. The titles all link to their GoodReads summaries.

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

Publication Date: March 2017

I didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did. Middle-grade contemporary often falls flat for me. But this one was very well done. I really liked Liv and his story is told with just the right touch of humor. He is brave and kind and pretty smart. Some of the ways that he came up with to protest the dress code at his school were clever and just shy of getting him into really big trouble. The last one was perfect and a bit of a hoot. This is a great book that explores the idea that everyone needs to be able to express who they are on the inside, not just the outside.

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey.

Publication Date: June 2017

This is a very sweet story of a mighty bug who saves the school library. I really enjoyed it and I think a lot of kids will too, especially if they like books. Lots of references to classics and newer books that will make kids say I know that book. The way Eddie goes about saving the library was great. He is a pretty brave bug who has many close calls while having some great adventures. I loved the slight dig at testing taking over schools and the horrible ‘librarian’ that is trying to get rid of the books was perfectly awful. A fun read that I think the kids will enjoy!

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

A great story about family, culture and saving your community. From the start you feel Arturo’s love for his family and his community. You also get a solid sense of how important his family’s restaurant is to the community. The developer who wants to change the community is a bit on the cartoonish side, but no less dangerous because of it. There were times when I was worried that the restaurant wouldn’t survive. I also like the side story of Arturo’s crush on Carmen. It was very sweet and well done. A wonderful story about love, family and grief, as well as fighting for what you believe to be right.

Restart by Gordon Korman

You can never go wrong with recommending a Gordon Korman book. They are always well done with great characters and riveting plots. The premise of this book was an interesting one. The school bully looses his memory and has the chance to remake his life. Will he make the better choice? Will the kids he has bullied for years let him? As always this was a hard one to put down. I really liked the fact that it was told from multiple points of view, so we had a chance to see all sides of the story. I really liked the ending, it felt believable and wasn’t quite what I was expecting either.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

This was an amazing book. I was a little dubious about it at first, because the narration changed every chapter to one of the three stories, but it ended up working very well. The three stories appear to be random and unconnected, but eventually you start to see how the stories and the people in them intertwine. It is a realistic portrayal of refugees across the decades, and it is sometimes harsh in its brutality and violence. But all of these stories are important for kids to hear. I also found the author’s notes at the back of the book to be very informative and will be pushing students to read it as well. I will be cautioning my more sensitive students to maybe try the book, but if it is too much, offer an alternative for them to read that also deals with refugees and immigration. A very well done story that I think everyone should read.

So we will see how this goes, as I said it will be the first year that I will be promoting this Award. I think I made a good choice and I hope the kids will think do too.

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