Grade Level Test Preparation
    Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grade 7
    Grade 8

Educational
    Test Preparation

   Reading
    English
    Math

   Science 
   VA History
   World History

Scholarships

Children's Classics

Newbery Awards
Caldecott Awards
Printz Awards

Teacher's Corner

Kid's Craft Corner

Just for Fun

VirginiaSOL Home Page and Free Practice Tests



Amazon.com

 


Michael L. Printz Award

 
 

2003 Winners and Honors

Postcards from No Man's Land

Buy New: $13.99

Postcards from No Man's Land

Sophisticated teenage readers yearning for a wider view of life may find themselves intoxicated by this Carnegie Medal¤winning novel from Chambers (The Toll Bridge; Dance on My Grave), recent recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Author Award. Jam-packed with ideas and filled with passionate characters, the story is made up of two narratives, one set in the mid-1990s and the other in 1944. The inevitable but surprising ways in which these two tales connect form the novel¡s backbone. Bookish, intense and self-conscious, Jacob Todd, 17, has left his English home to spend a few days in the Netherlands paying homage to the soldier grandfather he never knew, and visiting Geertrui, the Dutch woman who took care of his grandfather after he was wounded in battle. Shortly after meeting a beguiling stranger, a mugging leaves Jacob stranded in Amsterdam, forcing him into the initially awkward role of houseguest to Geertrui¡s forceful and freethinking grandson, Daan. The second story, set in occupied Holland at the time of the battle to liberate Oosterbeck, and narrated by Geertrui, chronicles her long-ago relationship with Jacob¡s grandfather. As each narrative unwinds, parallels and differences between the two eras emerge. Along with literature, art and love, topics dealt with here include euthanasia, adultery and bisexuality. These issues never become problems to be solved; rather, they are part of the story's texture, neither more nor less significant than the precarious joy of investigating a new city and a foreign culture. No tidy endings here - the concluding scenes present Jacob with a complicated moral dilemma that remains unresolved. The implied challenges of the future make the final pages all the more satisfying: it's clear that Jacob can not only cope with ambiguity but can employ it to enlarge himself on the voyage of self-discovery he has so auspiciously begun. Ages 14-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

2003 Winners and Honors

The House of the Scorpion

Buy New: $12.57

The House of the Scorpion

Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by "eejits," humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran's doubles, has been spared because he belongs to El Patron. He grows up in the family's mansion, alternately caged and despised as an animal and pampered and educated as El Patron's favorite. Gradually he realizes the fate that is in store for him, and with the help of Tam Lin, his bluff and kind Scottish bodyguard, he escapes to Aztlan. There he and other "lost children" are trapped in a more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his country.
Nancy Farmer, a two-time Newbery honoree, surpasses even her marvelous novel, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm in the breathless action and fascinating characters of The House of the Scorpion. Readers will be reminded of Orson Scott Card's Ender in Matt's persistence and courage in the face of a world that intends to use him for its own purposes, and of Louis Sachar's Holes in the camaraderie of imprisoned boys and the layers of meaning embedded in this irresistibly compelling story. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

2003 Winners and Honors

My Heartbeat

Buy New: $13.99

My Heartbeat

Narrator Ellen learns about love, family and "society's unwritten rules" in this sophisticated but gentle novel set in Manhattan. Ellen adores her older brother, Link, and has had a crush on Link's best friend, James, since seventh grade. But at 14, when she starts high school, popular classmate Adena, who really likes Link, mentions to Ellen: "They're like a couple, aren't they?" Freymann-Weyr (When I Was Older) subtly and authentically follows Ellen's thought process as the question triggers a series of responses: "I resolve never to ask them. Ever. I resolve to put it out of my mind. There is no reason for me to know." Yet Ellen reviews their past behavior for clues. When Ellen finally frames the question to Link and James ("I spear a cherry with an unused fork... and ask if they are a couple"), Link denies it, avoids James and gets a girlfriend. Ellen and James, meanwhile, grow closer. As their relationship becomes physical, some inconsistencies surface (e.g., why, if Ellen is so loyal to her brother, would she "date" James?). But the sensitivity with which the author handles the issues of whom one loves and complexities more far-reaching than sexual concerns outweigh these minor matters. Ellen relates telling details about herself and those around her with humor and compassion, exposing the many dimensions of her parents as well as the three featured teens. A thoughtful approach to the many confusing signals that accompany awakening sexuality. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

2003 Winners and Honors

Hole in My Life

Buy New: $11.20

Hole in My Life

"I find myself moving like a knife, carving my way around people, cutting myself out of their picture and leaving nothing of myself behind but a hole." A gaping hole of misery is what popular young adult author Jack Gantos remembers when he thinks back to 1972, "the bleakest year of my life." Just 20 years old, Gantos was in a medium security prison for his participation in a get-rich-quick drug scam. Scared silly by the violence he saw around him daily, Gantos's only lifeline was a battered copy of The Brothers Karamazov, which he painstakingly turned into an impromptu journal by scratching his own thoughts into the tiny spaces between the lines. There, he recorded both his fears and his dream of someday writing a book of his own. Before prison, Gantos had penned a scattered myriad of journals, but had never been able to pull them together into a cohesive narrative. It was during his time behind bars that he found himself growing into a focused, diligent writer who eschewed drugs for the bigger high of watching his words fill the hole once and for all.

Gantos, best known for his award-winning Joey Pigza titles, mines darker material here that is as deeply compelling as his lighter fare. Using short, meaty sentences, Gantos manages to write in a way that dismisses the dubious "romance" of prison, drugs, and "life on the edge" without ever sounding didactic or heavy-handed. Older teens will appreciate his candor and sheer willingness to give them the straight story. Vigorously recommended. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

 

2002 Winners and Honors

2002 Winners and Honors

A Step from Heaven

Buy New: $11.17

A Step from Heaven

In her mesmerizing first novel, Na traces the life of Korean-born Young Ju from the age of four through her teenage years, wrapping up her story just a few weeks before she leaves for college. The journey Na chronicles, in Young's graceful and resonant voice, is an acculturation process that is at times wrenching, at times triumphant and consistently absorbing. Told almost like a memoir, the narrative unfolds through jewel-like moments carefully strung together.As the book opens, Young's parents are preparing to move from Korea to "Mi Gook," America, where the residents all "live in big houses." Soaring through the sky on her first airplane ride, the child believes she is on her way to heaven, where she hopes to meet up with her deceased grandfather and eventually be reunited with her beloved grandmother, who has stayed behind. After the family's arrival, Young's American uncle dispels the notion that the United States is heaven, yet adds, "Let us say it is a step from heaven." It doesn't take the girl or her parents very long to realize how steep this step is.From her first sip of Coca-Cola, which "bites the inside of my mouth and throat like swallowing tiny fish bones," Young's new life catches her in a tug-of-war between two distinct cultures. When her brother is born, her father announces "Someday my son will make me proud," then disdainfully dismisses Young's assertion that she might grow up to be president ("You are a girl"). Although she learns English in school, Young must speak only Korean at home and is discouraged from spending time with the classmate who is her sole friend. Her father, a disillusioned, broken man, becomes increasingly physically and emotionally abusive to his children and wife as he descends further into alcoholism. In fluid, lyrical language, Na convincingly conveys the growing maturity of her perceptive narrator who initially (and seamlessly) laces her tale with Korean words, their meaning evident from the context. And by its conclusion, readers can see a strong, admirable young woman with a future full of hope. Equally bright are the prospects of this author; readers will eagerly await her next step. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

2002 Winners and Honors

The Ropemaker

Buy New: $11.17

The Ropemaker

Like his stellar novels Shadow of a Hero and Bone from a Dry Sea, Dickinson's latest offering moves from the mythic to the particular and back again, making clear the ways in which an individual's extraordinary experience could metamorphose into an entire culture's legend. Readers who are willing and able to fall into step with its majestic pace will be rewarded by a thought-provoking trek through a fairy tale world that is as breathtakingly fresh as it is archetypal. For 19 generations, the comfortably prosperous Valley has been tucked away from the outside world kept safe by powerful enchantments. When these powers begin to weaken, however, it's up to Tilja and her grandmother Meena, along with their companions, Tahl and his grandfather Alnor, to journey forth in search of a magician powerful enough to protect their home once again. In the course of this pilgrimage, Tilja who has recently and heartbreakingly learned that she possesses not a jot of the hereditary magic that would entitle her to inherit her beloved family homestead comes to understand more about the unique and valuable gift she does possess. Eerily, the novel is sprinkled with images that take on an unforeseen resonance: a rebel magician be-turbaned and lanky and collapsing towers that crush their proud builders. A challenging magical adventure for the thinking reader. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

2002 Winners and Honors

Heart to Heart : New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art

Buy New: $13.97

Heart to Heart : New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art

Lee Upton on Louise Bourgeois's Defiance, William Jay Smith on Ellie Nadelman's Woman at a Piano and Naomi Shihab Nye on Florine Stettheimer's The Cathedrals of Broadway are just a few entries in Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art. Coupling large-type poems with full-page reproductions 47 out of 48 in full color editor Jan Greenberg puts ekphrasor and ekphrasee in happy proximity.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


From School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up-Greenberg invited 43 poets to choose a piece of modern art and to write a poetic response to it. The result is a gorgeous, thoughtful, stimulating collection of art and poetry that turns the standard poetry/art book on its head. "How would you paint a poem?" Bobbi Katz asks in her response to a Mark Rothko painting. "Prepare the canvas carefully/With shallow pools of color/Stacked secrets waiting to be told-." Greenberg's book might best be seen as an embodiment of that poem.

2002 Winners and Honors

Freewill

Buy New: $11.17

Freewill

Chris Lynch has long been one of the most stylistically daring of teen novelists, and in Freewill, his innovative use of language redefines the possibilities of the genre. Strikingly, the story is told in second person. The voice is in the mind of Will, a boy who is moving in stunned bewilderment through a life leeched of meaning by the death of his father and stepmother in what may have been a suicide and murder. This speaker (who is not Will) constantly admonishes, challenges, and questions reality in clipped, enigmatic sentence fragments, and Will only occasionally answers back. The events of the story are dimly seen through this distorting haze of interior dialogue (as the events of Lynch's Gold Dust were seen through the protagonist's obsession with baseball).
Will, in a therapeutic woodworking class at "Hopeless High," has moved beyond furniture and garden gnomes to strange pole sculptures. There he is disconnected from reality and other people, except for occasional brief encounters with a tall black runner named Angela, who remains sarcastic and deliberately distant. When a girl from the school drowns in what is perhaps a suicide, a floral tribute accumulates around the death spot, with one of Will's sculptures as the centerpiece. A second possible suicide, and then two more are all marked with the strange poles, and a cult begins to grow around Will as the "carrier pigeon of death." A reporter forces him to see the connection between the sculptures and his father's ambivalent end, and Will begins to sink into total oblivion, saved, finally, when Angela and his grandparents reach out in "freewill," in this very dark, very odd, but riveting novel. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell

2002 Winners and Honors

True Believer

Buy New: $11.90

True Believer

At 15, LaVaughn already knows that life is hard and that getting ahead takes a strong mind and an even stronger will. Surrounded by poverty and violence, she strives every day not to be just another inner-city statistic: "My hope is strong like an athlete. Every morning when we walk through the metal detectors to get into school ... it is an important day of dues-paying so I can go to college and be out of here." Last year when she babysat for Jolly, a young unwed mother, she saw firsthand how an unplanned pregnancy can diminish options. So she ignores the boys, studies hard, and hopes it will all be enough to get her into college. Then Jody moves back into the neighborhood. Once LaVaughn's childhood friend, Jody is now "suddenly beautiful... He could be in movies the way the parts of his face go together." If LaVaughn's choices were difficult before Jody, now they're almost impossible. What LaVaughn doesn't know is that Jody has difficult decisions of his own to make--decisions that could turn her carefully ordered world upside down.