Prior to this year, the MLA had one award for the best teen book (the Thumb's Up) and one award for the best children's book (the Mitten). This year the mitten has been divided into two awards: The Mitten and the YouPer, which stands for young person, but also is a pun on UP (Hooray for puns!). The author of the year's best picture book will be awarded the Mitten and the Youper will go to the author of the best book for kids aged 7-12. For a more detailed explanation of the awards you can look at the MLA website here.
The selection committees for each award are made of up Michigan youth librarians, and I am very excited to be on the committee choosing the very first YouPer! The YouPer committee is actually meeting next week for our final voting, but I thought that I would give you a rundown of the five books that are topping my list. This award will be given out this year to best book published last year in 2013 (is that too confusing).
Anyway here are my top 5 favorite books from 2013:
1. Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
2. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...On Schindler's List by Leon Leyson
Since this is an autobiographical account of the Holocaust, I would recommend that his book be reserved for the more mature reader.
Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only a ten year old boy when the Nazis invaded Poland. Forced into the Krakow ghetto and eventually the Plaszow work camp, young Leon was subjected to terror, torture, and soul-wrenching despair. Fortuitously he became the youngest person saved by Oskar Schindler and his famed list.
|Schindler's List--Leon is listed as number 289.|
|Leon in Schindler's factory.|
Although, Leon Leyson died this past January at the age of 83 his story will live on forever. Watch a video of him telling his story here.
3. Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Most of us think of Rumpelstiltskin as a conniving, baby-stealing villain, but Shurtliff turns the classic fairy tale totally upside down . In a magical land where your name is your destiny, poor Rump was only given half a name before his mother died. Twelve years later Rump is unlucky, small for his age, and due to his unfortunate name the frequent "butt" of jokes (ha, ha, ha). Life seems to be looking up for Rump when he discovers that he has the magical ability to spin straw into gold. Magic can have dire consequences, though, and Rump embarks on a quest to escape his past and find a new destiny.
4.Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
This is an interesting and unique take on the Robin Hood legend and I loved every action-packed page. As the young son and heir of a lord, Will Shackley has led a privileged and protected life. With King Richard and many of England's lords (Including Will's father) fighting in the Crusades, England is awash with power-hungry traitors intent on stealing the crown. When violence erupts in his ancestral home, Will is forced to flee to Sherwood forest. Half dead Will is discovered by a band of thieves who nurse him back to health. However, these are not the Merry Men portrayed by Disney and Cody's Robin Hood is definitely not Errol Flynn or even Kevin Costner.
It may not be the legend you are familiar with but, Matthew Cody tells an amazing story about incredibly likeable and intriguing characters. You will find it difficult to put down this swashbuckling adventure.
5.The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
Deborah Hopkinson is really a master of historical fiction for kids. She can recreate history and make it entertaining and relevant to her young readers. In The Great Trouble Hopkinson accurately depicts the crowded streets and filthy conditions in London during the 1854 Cholera outbreak. Eel is a 12 year old orphan desperately trying to survive on the streets of London by working odd jobs and scavenging in the Thames for scraps to sell (mudlarking). When his friends and neighbors begin to get sick, Eel runs to Dr. John Snow for help. Deftly mixing fictional characters with historical ones, Dr. John Snow, who is known as the father of modern epidemiology was pivotal in proving that Cholera was spread through contaminated water rather than bad air or "miasma". The history is interesting, well-told, and Eel is a character that the reader wants to have a happy ending.
So there they are. My top five kid's chapter books published in 2013. Looking at the list, I am instantly thinking of all the other books that I enjoyed reading. Although, any book can be recommended for the YouPer, ones that received starred reviews in major literary publications like Kirkus or School Library Journal are automatically put on the list for the committee to read. There are so many other books that the major reviewers didn't give stars to and, unfortunately, the committee cannot read every book published in a year. Maybe, I am just too indecisive because I have about ten books that I would like to see win. I will let you know the committee's decision next week after the big vote.