Last year I set a goal of reading all of the nominees for the Missouri Association of School Librarians' Reader Awards for grades 4 and up before the winners were announced. Well, the winners will be announced on Monday, and I am proud to say that I have read 38 of the 39 nominees. I have read the first 99 pages of the 39th book.
My predictions for what books will win are shown above: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Mark Twain 4-6), The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (Truman 6-8), and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Gateway 9-12).
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and Eleanor & Park are definitely my favorites of their categories. I found The Testing a little derivative, but it was by far the most popular of the nominees this year, and it appealed to kids of both genders. (Case in point: it is one of only 2 nominees that my seventh grader bothered to read. The second book he read was SYLO by D. J. MacHale, which I thought was such a BOY book. Ugh.) My favorite was either Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz or the little read Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachman, but I questioned whether Rogue was a good choice for this age group. Of the Twains, I also really enjoyed Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson, and Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko.
In the Gateway category, there are almost too many to name, but if I had to choose just 3, it would be Winger by Andrew Smith, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. The content in Out of the Easy and Winger are definitely more appropriate for older teens! My young teen has read Steelheart and its sequels. It is violent, but doesn't contain some of the more questionable behavior found in the other two.
Funny story: I have been trying to get my third grader to reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library since I read it last May. I even got him his very own copy to keep. My seventh grader read it and liked it, but apparently that wasn't enough for the younger one. Well, he finally read it last week and loved it! If you have an elementary-school kid, I definitely recommend it. It is a lot of fun!