Each Year The Maine Student Award Committee selects a list of books meant for grades 4-8 published during the previous year. Students then vote for a winner in March.
My friend Cathy Potter, Children's librarian and Falmouth Elemenary, has organized a collection of book trailers for each book. You can visit it here.
While I have not read all of the 41 titles (and I won't get to them all), I have read several from this year's list. There are some gems and some I personally did not love. Over the next few weeks I hope to share my thoughts about some of the MSBA 14-15 books I have read.
Instead of giving a complete summary, I will mostly give my thoughts, please click on the titles to read a summary of the book. Here are the first 7 in the order in which I read them.
This Journal Belongs to Ratchet
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
I read this book back in March of 2013 and just loved it. I am so glad that Ratchet made it on to the MSBA list this year! One of the things I like about it is the different forms of writing in which Ratchet shares her story. I also love how she is not a "girly" girl, but loves fixing cars and skateboarding.
This one would make a good choice for grades 5-8 and would be an excellent book club book. However, I feel it is better to be enjoyed by individuals and small groups than as a read aloud.
The Water Castle
by Megan Frazer Blakemore
This book is written by a wonderful Maine author! It is a beautifully written story with a complex plot. If you are looking for a book for your advanced readers, this one would be great. The cover is deceiving. it seems to suggest that the story takes place in medieval times. It is a fantasy, but it takes place in present day. It would also make a good read aloud. There is much to delve into here.
The Real Boy
by Anne Ursu
As an adult reader, I enjoyed this book very much. It is a complicated fantasy that I would suggest for grades 7-8. It has some confusing parts in my opinion and I just don't see many younger readers sticking with it on their own.
Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse
by Tamera Will Wissinger
Illustrations by Matthew Cordell
This is one to add to your poetry collection. It is a novel written in many different forms of poetry. It would make a wonderful mentor text during a poetry unit. Most 4th graders could read it by themselves.
The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 1-The Sasquatch Escape
Kids love fantastical creatures. This series is based on a veterinary clinic that takes care of such creatures. While it was not a big favorite for me, fourth graders will like it for its fast paced action. I would recommend it for grades 4-5.
by Holly Black
This book was a Newbery Honor book this year and for good reason. It is beautifully written with rich language. I really enjoyed reading it. However, the plot is a bit complicated for younger readers to enjoy independently. I read it aloud to my class last year and they did not love it. I would recommend it for grades 6-8.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
by Kathy Appelt
This book was entertaining, but a little difficult to follow. It is mostly fantasy where two raccoons, who live in an abandoned Desoto, try to save Sugar Man Swamp from development. The Sugar Man is an ornery "Bigfoot" type character who is said to protect the swamp. There is also a realistic plot line where a family may lose their land and livelihood to developers. The writing is creative and rich, but I have not found a student who has enjoyed it very much.