Thursday, 2 February 2012

Reviews: Award-Winning Books in February

If you read my Library Quine blog post on venturing into YA Literature, you'll know I'm attempting to read more widely and deeply into YA lit this year. Here is my first award-winning Young Adult book of 2012.

Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)en, england, english, great britain icon Blood Red Road by Moira Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

** CYBILS AWARD 2011 for Fantasy & Science Fiction **

Saba is a strong, stubborn and determined girl. She survives a tough childhood in a harsh and barren land. When her twin brother is kidnapped she is determined to rescue him. She survives captivity by becoming a successful cage fighter, but has still many more challenges to overcome. This post-apocalyptic debut novel will appeal to lovers of the Hunger Games
The style of speech is unusual and takes some getting used to. This appears to have deterred some reviewers, but I found it enhanced the story.
As the authour has moved to the UK from her native Ireland, this can also be considered to be a British book.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book due out in September 2012.

I also loved this award-winning early reader:

Are You Ready to Play Outside?america, american, flag, united states of america, us icon Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winner of the 2009 Theodor Suess Geisel Medal.
Elephant and Piggie are ready to play, but when they go outside it has started to rain. The friends are disappointed, until they see some worms enjoying the rain and they try playing in the rain themselves. The friends start to enjoy the rain and are sad when it ceases. Elephant knows how to make his friend happy again, and all ends well. This is a sensitive book, with the friends acknowledging each other's feelings and emotions.

I'll keep adding reviews here throughout the month, so do check back now and again.

And that other (possibly more famous) title by this author:

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!america, american, flag, united states of america, us icon Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An amusing story to read aloud, although I feel a bit of extra explanation to the kids is needed as I read it.
The pigeon is desperate to drive the bus, and tries to persuade us that he should. Despite his best efforts at persuasion, even a hissy fit doesn't get him behind the wheel of that bus, and after the driver leaves (in the bus), the pigeon's attention is soon drawn to a big red truck. The tale very much reflects the changing obsessions of it's young listeners.

And it's won ALL these awards!
Caldecott Honor (2004),
Kentucky Bluegrass Award for K-2 (2005),
Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title (2004), Vermont's Picture Book Awards: Red Clover (2005),
An ALA Notable Children's Book for Younger Readers (2004)
An ALA Notable Children's Book for Younger Readers (2004),
South Carolina Book Award for Picture Book Award (2006),
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award (2005),
Golden Archer Award for Primary (2005),
Buckaroo Book Award (2004),
Indies Choice Book Award for Picture Book Hall of Fame (2009)

My Heart Is Like a Zooamerica, american, flag, united states of america, us icon My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book doesn't have great text, but has outstanding pictures.
There is so much to spot, count and talk about, and so many follow-on activities are possible. I love it!
Links to activities

So far it has won the
Minnesota Book Award for Children’s Literature (2011), I wonder if it will win more before the end of 2012?


  1. Blood Red Road does sound like an interesting read. Will check it out. Thanks for the heads up.
    Mo Willems is a fairly recent discovery for me - I feel bad that I didn't know about the author when my daughter was several years younger - she's ten now. :(

  2. I really enjoyed them. Nice to read such good books.

  3. I've heard someone else talk about Blood Red Road. I like these kinds of books, so will try to find it. You've intrigued me about the different approach to speech. I know the Mo Willems book, which is wonderful. I didn't know about the award; he is so creative! Thanks for sharing two books!

    1. Thanks for commenting. The 'speech' could be described as a rough dialect. To me it sounds English, and I'd be interested to know how it 'sounds' if you come from somewhere else.


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