January 23, 2012

Bizarro Newbery 2012

Last JanuaryI  awarded the very first Bizarro Newbery to the two books I felt deserved the 2011 Newbery Award. I wasn't thrilled with the books chosen by the committee- although I value and respect the work they do, I feel that I picked better books. 
Last year I awarded The Bizarro Newbery to 
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, honor to Out of My Mind. 
I am happy to announce the Bizarro Newbery Winners for 2011...  the books that I would pick if I was in charge! 
(And how did these books NOT win?) 

Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes (August 1, 2011)
Picture if you will a newborn baby boy placed in a basket and left to sail the ocean alone. When he is finally rescued by sailors his eyes have been pecked out by a raven. The sailors kill the raven and turn the baby over to the local authorities. The baby is given a name- Peter Nimble-and nothing else, and sent into the world to fend for himself. He lives for a time with a mama cat and her kittens, until they are discovered and thrown into the ocean in a burlap bag to drown. Peter manages to untie the bag and make it to safety. Having nobody to care for him, Peter learns to survive on his own. Although he is an infant- and a blind infant at that- he starts his career as a thief. By the age of 3, Peter had become a true menace to society. His talents were discovered by Mr. Seamus- a beggarmonger (a man who trains orphans to beg and steal and turn their booty over to him in exchange for "food" and "shelter"). Mr. Seamus always wanted to become a thief- but he was too clumsy to follow his dream. When he met Peter, he decided to sell off his other beggars and train Peter to become an expert thief.  In fact, Peter became an expert at picking locks because Mr. Seamus locked all of Peter's meals inside an old sea chest- if he wanted to eat, he had to pick the lock.
When a mysterious haberdasher (a man who sells men's hats and ties and such)  comes to town, Peter's skills as a thief are put to the test. The boy steals a box of magical eyes from the haberdasher. The first time he touches the eyes, he knows that he must try them. He puts in the eyes and is instantly transported to a mysterious land. As it turns out, Peter had been summoned to help save The Vanished Kingdom. Using the fantastic eyes, he must set out on a fantastical quest where he befriends a part man, part kitten part horse creature, meets a dogfish bigger than a whale and gets stranded in the desert. I can't give away much more, because it will ruin the story for you- and you know I won't do that! But, I will tell you that you will read about swashbuckling, sword fighting, evil Kings, talking ravens and killer apes.

Warp Speed by Lisa Yee (March 1, 2011)
My name is Marley Sandelski and pretty much get my butt kicked on a daily basis.  The kids at Rancho Rosetta Middle School are ruthless. I get punched, spit on shoved into my locker, chased and taunted and nobody does anything about it. If anyone stands up to the bullies, they will get killed. So, we just grimace and bear it.
I use to be best friends with Standford- until he became a star jock. He completely sold me out. He doesn't even look in my direction any more. I hate him. The only people I can count on are the other geeks in AV Club, I mean Technical Sciences Class. We pretty much run this school- without us, there would be no way teachers could plug in their own DVD players. I can't wait for 6th period because I know that for that short while, I won't get beat up. 

Teachers have asked if I'm ok- even my mom and dad have asked. But, I just smile and say that I'm fine. Heck, my mom is blind and she even knows something isn't right. You can't get anything past her. She can see my misery better than the stupid principal of Rosetta Middle School. He is such an idiot- he thinks that bracelets that say "Be a buddy not a bully" will keep kids like me from getting pulverized. Duh. Now when I get my butt handed to me, the bully says- "Wanna be my buddy?" 
My best friend is Ramen- yes, Ramen like the noodles. I am stuck with him because we are both geeks, I guess. He's ok, except he has this very unhealthy obsession with Star Wars. I HATE Star Wars. I'm what you call a Trekkie. I can name all of the characters, episodes and quote lines from every show from TOS (The Original Series). I guess I rely on Star Trek to help me through life. Like if I need good luck, I carry my Captain Kirk action figure with me. After school when I need to decompress, I put on my Spock ears. If I am in a sticky situation, I ask myself "WWSD?" (What would Spock do?)  Star Trek has gotten me through some rough times. I even keep my own Captain's Log where I record everything that occurred during the day.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse in my life, they do. My AV Club teacher, Mr. Jiang is out for 2 weeks and all the AV Club kids are stuck taking Home Science Class. (On the upside, I met the most beautiful girl in the world, and I may be in love).  The richest kid in town threatens to close down my family's theater, The Rialto if I don't do his homework. The Gorn have really stepped up their butt kicking and now chase me through town every day. And- the track coach has seen me run and wants me to join the track team. Did I mention that the new kid Max wants to narc out all the bullies on my behalf? I don't think I can take much more of this. What WOULD Spock do? I wish I knew.

Words in The Dust by Trent Reedy (January 1, 2011)
Wow.  Just... wow.  This book took me on an emotional roller coaster that didn't stop until the end.  I was happy, angry, curious, outraged, inspired and devastated.    Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft lip fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing. Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to the village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?
The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson (May 10, 2011) tells the story of one of these 58 dolls as she leaves Japan and arrives in America in 1927.  Ms. Larson tells us that this book is based on the real events that occurred, but the story she tells is fiction. 
Miss Kanagawa is a beautiful Japanese doll, crafted by Master Doll-Maker Tatsuhiko.  From the moment she is created, she knows that she is an ambassador, and will act as such.  Master Tatsuhiko tells her that he wishes for her to one day feel the love of a child, but Miss Kanagawa is above such foolishness.  She is not a play thing, not a baby doll to be held and cuddled, but a symbol of peace and friendship.  As she will soon learn, sometimes you can't ignore what your heart tells you. 
There is something very special about Miss Kanagawa.  Her eyes are piercing, and she seems to look right into your soul and read your thoughts.  She seems to "say" the exact right thing at the exact right time, even though she is only a doll and cannot speak the way you and I can.  She seems to come into your life right when you need her.  She seems to make you a better person than you were before you met her.  
Miss Kanagawa comes into the lives of 4 different girls during her travels as an Ambassador of Friendship.  Each of the 4 girls are struggling to be a good friend or a good daughter, and are at a crossroads in their lives.  After being with Miss Kanagawa, they learn what they must do to be a good person.  The girls are not the only ones that learn about love and friendship. Miss Kanagawa's heart opens a little more with each girl she meets and she knows why Master Tatsuhiko wished for her to find the love of a child.  She finds that opening her heart is painful, because along with hellos, there are goodbyes and some goodbyes can break your heart. 

 What is Bizarro?


  1. I adored PETER NIMBLE (more importantly, so did my kids!). I've heard great things about THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL and WORDS IN THE DUST.

  2. I would give Bizarros to Okay for Now and Amelia Lost. Thanks for sharing some great book suggestions.

  3. Words in the Dust and Friendship Doll on my tbr. And looooved Peter Nimble.

  4. Oh, and some shock over Okay for Now, eh?

  5. I am so flattered, but here's what's missing: Hound Dog True (Linda Urban) and The Trouble with May Amelia (Jennifer Holm). Both astonishingly brilliant.