Top Ten Schneider Award Favorites of the 2014 Schneider Award Jury by Peg Glisson
The Schneider Award Jury celebrated the Award’s 10th Anniversary at a festive luncheon during the recent American Library Association’s Annual Conference. Distinguished guests included this year’s honorees (Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet, Merilee Haskell, and Elizabeth Wein) and their publishers, representatives from ALA, and the 2014 and 2015 Schneider Jury members. Not surprising, there was lots of talk about books, including favorites of those in attendance. When asked about favorite Schneider winners, everyone had one! Replies spanned books selected over all ten years of the Award, all three age groups, and several genres! Here are their Top Ten.
#10. Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick
2012 Middle Grade Honoree
Ben and Rose each narrate their stories, happening over 50 years apart; Ben’s is in prose while Rose’s is told through Selznick’s drawings that capture her silent world. Both are deaf and have run away to New York City to escape their unhappy home lives and to search for family. Themes of belonging, loneliness and loss are explored as they each seek to connect with the world around them. Readers will have much to think about after reading this “mystery.”
#9. Back to Front and Upside Down! by Claire Alexander
2013 Young Child Honoree
Stan is excited about making a birthday card for his principal, Mr. Slippers, until he discovers that he must use words, not just draw a picture. Letters come out back to front and upside down when he writes. Stan asks for help, and with coaching and practice, produces a card he’s proud of. This light-hearted look at a learning disability is just right for Pre-K and early primary children.
#8. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
2009 Middle Grade Honoree
How long can you wait for things to be normal? Twelve-year-old Addie has been waiting for most of her life, hoping for a stable family and a real home. Often left alone for days by her moody and unpredictable mother, she stays optimistic as she begins sixth grade. Driven by her love of learning and music and aided by caring neighbors and teachers, she learns to compensate for her dyslexia. Written with honesty and humor, readers will root for this resilient heroine who discovers how strong she really is. This works well as a read aloud or for a small group discussion—or just as a good read!
#7. The Pirate of Kindergarten, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Lynne Avril
2011 Young Child Honoree
Ginny sees double, making reading, math and most of kindergarten difficult. Classmates make fun of her academic struggles and clumsiness. Wearing a temporary eye patch earns her the nickname “Pirate of Kindergarten.” Finally a pair of glasses brings things into focus and allows Ginny to relax and enjoy school and her new friends. Whimsical mixed media illustrations help to cleverly convey Ginny’s struggles
#6. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
2010 Young Adult Honoree
Marcelo Sandoval, who has Asperger Syndrome, takes a summer job in his father’s high-powered law firm and finds himself way out of his comfort zone. Away from his sheltered private school and in the “real world,” he encounters corruption, sexuality, office politics, and ethical dilemmas. Marcelo tells his story with a flat inflection and in the third voice; this allows the reader into his head and to often know more than Marcelo himself about what is going on. This teen read is insightful and thought-provoking.
#5. Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
2012 Middle Grade Honoree
Twelve-year-old Foster dreams of growing up to become a famous celebrity chef despite her reading disability. When she and her mother flee from an abusive relationship, the quirky townsfolk of tiny Culpepper embrace them both. Bauer has written a story of race, violence, illiteracy, and poverty, using spunky characters and a great setting to lighten the tale. Can cupcakes make the world a better place?
#4. Rules by Cynthia Lord
2007 Middle Grade Honoree
Twelve-year-old Catherine’s needs come second to those of her brother David, who has autism. She copes by developing rules to ease the way for both of them. New friendships with her new next-door neighbor and teenaged non-verbal paraplegic Jason make her feel like she’s caught between a rock and a hard place—her rules aren’t working! Realistic, believable, and appealing, this will interest most middle school youth since it deals with acceptance, embarrassment, family, and friendship.
#3. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
2010 Middle Grade Honoree
‘Tween Jason Blake is a whiz at writing, but not so great with people and situations due to his autism. An online Storyboard leads to a crush on Rebecca, another writer in the room. Given a chance to attend a Storyboard convention, he dreads meeting her there; online, his odd mannerisms can’t be observed. The first-person narration brings readers right inside Jason’s head, where they see how typical a seventh grader he really is in terms of insecurities and desires. Powerfully perceptive, this book is inspiring in many ways.
#2. A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
2014 Young Child Honoree
Injured in World War I, self-taught African American folk artist Horace Pippin thought his painting days were over. However, his love and need of painting fueled a dogged determination to paint again, which he eventually did by supporting the injured arm with his other hand. Beautifully illustrated in folk art style, readers will come to understand that perseverance and courage are part of living with a disability and essential in realizing any and all dreams.
#1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
2014 Young Adult Honoree
A daring flight maneuver leads to the capture of young pilot Rose Justice and her imprisonment at Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Several of the Rabbits, Polish political prisoners subjected to Nazi medical experimentation, look out for her in return for her sharing her writing with them. Loyalty, bravery, and friendship combine to help them bear the Nazi’s torture, proving humanity can survive under terrible circumstances. This searing historical fiction novel pulls no punches, but leaves the reader with hope.
The Schneider Family Book Award 10th Anniversary celebration continues all July! A feature article Ten Things to Know About the Schneider Family Book Award will available in the CLCD July Newsletter on or about July 7; Kid Lit Frenzy has all the information about the Schneider 10th Anniversary Blog Tour and Giveaway—so be sure to visit both sites!
Peg Glisson was Children’s Librarian at the Penfield Public Library and a School Library Media Specialist in the Pittsford Central Schools, Pittsford, NY. She served as a Director of the Youth Services Section of NYLA, on the 2004 Sibert Informational Book Award Committee, and on the 2013 and 2014 Schneider Family Book Award jury. She has reviewed for School Library Journal and Children’s Literature, been Editor of the CLCD Newsletter and of Choices: A Core Collection for Young Reluctant Readers.
BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY!
One person will win a set of all 3 Schneider Family Book Award Winners from 2014. Participants must be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.
Note: This is one winner total, but readers can enter from any blog participating in the tour.
To enter for your chance to win, go to http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/646e9a57/