Michelle Isenhoff

brown girl dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

Today the 2015 Newbery Award is scheduled to be announced. I’ve heard on good authority, from a fellow in tight with the School Library Journal, that brown girl dreaming is high on the list. In his opinion, it is the most deserving book of the year. I have not read all the entries, but I have […]

The Midwife's Apprentice, by Karen Cushman

I’d read this book many years ago. I happened across it in the library and picked it up for some Christmas break reading. Winner of the 1996 Newberry, it is a story of failure, courage, and finding that everybody is somebody, no matter how low their beginnings. Brat had no name. Cold and hungry, she […]

Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz

I liked this book far more than the cover and title made me think I would. (The title comes from an old Percy Shelley poem, which is not my forte, and the cover is downright creepy.) I grabbed it simply because it took Newbery honors last year, and when it comes to the Newbery award, […]

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin

This was a sweet little story that took Newbery honors a few years ago. Minli lives in a small, poor village in ancient Asia with her Ma, who has become bitter at their poverty, and Ba (father), who tells stories to lighten it. After a visit by a traveling peddler, Minli sets out to change […]

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo

This is not my favorite work by DiCamillo. It often seemed silly and repetitive, annoying even. I certainly would not have awarded it a Newbery. But by the end, it had a sweetness to it, a completeness. A feel-good-ness. Ulysses is a squirrel that was accidently vacuumed up by Mrs. Tootie Tickham. After receiving CPR, […]

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

This is an ebook I borrowed from the library over spring break. I only grabbed it because I figured the eight I packed wouldn’t be enough and I knew it had won the Newbery (2004). It happened to pop up when I was randomly browsing the library website. I wasn’t searching for it. It didn’t […]

Rules, by Cynthia Lord, 2006, Book Review

This was part of my goal to read every Newbery book (this one took honors), and I finished it in one sitting. I started it the last evening of 2012 and enjoyed it enough to forego watching the ball drop. I turned the last page in the earliest hours of 2013. I knew this book […]

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg, 1967

Can you believe I’ve never read this book before? This Newbery winner is a heavy hitter, well-known and well-loved by the generation that grew up with it. Except me. But now I see why it has such a reputation. Claudia Kincade is a sixth grader who is so unhappy with the routine of her life […]

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, 2012

Ivan has lived at the Exit 8 Big Top Circus Mall since he was a juvenile gorilla, just off I-95 and under the billboard lauding “The One and Only Ivan.”  His best friends include Stella, the aging elephant, Bob the stray dog, and Julia, the daughter of the janitor.  But the Big Top isn’t faring […]

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