Woo-hoo! The results are in for the 2010 Rocky Mountain Book Awards! For those of you who haven’t heard my spiel… the RMBA’s are an Alberta reader’s choice for grades four to seven. I’m on the committee that selects the shortlist, ten fiction and ten nonfiction Canadian books published in the last two(ish) years. Kids in grades four to seven whose schools or libraries (or other adult-lead reading group) have signed up get to vote on the winner if they read or have read to them at least five of the shortlisted books.
The top five are….
“Sharon McKay sets her new novel in Uganda, where Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has, since 1987, abducted up to 30,000 children from their villages and homes for use as soldiers and slaves. It is in these nightmarish times that the fates of 5 boys and a girl are entwined. Captured from their school by the LRA, the boys wait for rescue only to discover that if they are to survive they must rely on themselves. But friendship, courage, and resilience might not be enough to save them. Based in part upon interviews with child soldiers in Northern Uganda, War Brothers is a stunning depiction of the human cost of wars fought by children.”
(Also interesting: Lasting impressions: Children’s author Sharon McKay talks about being a Canadian war artist “Sharon McKay is a children’s writer who has tackled subjects such as child soldiers in Africa and the Holocaust. In addition to that, she’s a Canadian war artist, part of the long-standing tradition of citizens who are sent to watch Canadian troops in action. On a recent trip to Afghanistan, McKay also realized that she was, in her own words, a “stupid civilian.”)
4. Inside Hockey!The Legends, Facts, and Feats that Made the Game by Keltie Thomas
“This highly energetic book gives kids an inside look at the facts about male and female hockey superstars, inventions, rules that changed the game, and some of the dazzling science behind the sport. Perfect for diehard hockey fans and those new to the game, Inside Hockey has something for everyone. Readers of all ages will discover the stories behind the greatest goal scorers, crazy goalies, practical jokers and hijinks, superstitions, the most ferocious fights, players overcoming obstacles, and the obsession with that Cup called Stanley.
“In what other sport could you find a player who would rather fight than score, and one who used to sleep in his uniform so he wouldn’t miss a second of ice time in the morning? Or a goalie who sewed an elastic mesh net (like a spider web) between his legs to catch the puck, and one who talked to the goalposts like they were his old friends? With insider information about the game and behind the scenes profiles on players and their incredible experiences, Hockey Night will never look the same way again.”
3. Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee
“11-year-old Mackenzie has got one friend in the whole world: Cash, his brown-eyed pit bull. His dad won the runt after a long night of drinking and gambling–ever since Mac’s mom died, that’s all he seems to do, and soon he erupts in a rage at the innocent pup, takes her away in the trunk of his car, and dumps her in the middle of nowhere. Mac vows to find Cash and bring her back home–he has to: All strays are about to be outlawed! Little does he know that while he searches for Cash, she’s surviving her own adventures and proving in the process that all dogs–even pit bulls–are born good. ”
2. Swindle by Gordon Korman
“After a mean collector named Swindle cons him out of his most valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing must put together a band of misfits to break into Swindle’s compound and recapture the card. There are many things standing in their way — a menacing guard dog, a high-tech security system, a very secret hiding place, and their general inability to drive — but Griffin and his team are going to get back what’s rightfully his … even if hijinks ensue. ”
The sequel, Zoobreak came out this year, and it sounds like it’s going to be a series!
And the winner is….
1. Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen!
“Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.
Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to.”
My guess for winner would have been Dog Lost, which moved pretty quickly off the shelf at my library (and on the Bookmobile too!) and Feather Brain by Maureen Bush just narrowly missed the top five (coming it at number six). I also would have expected Jolted by Arthur Slade to come in higher (number eleven), and I was (pleasantly) surprised to see War Brothers so high on the list, just because it’s a tough, serious topic. And I am thrilled to see Word Nerd as the winner! Go, Ambrose!
And what will the 2011 shortlist bring? We’ll see pretty soon…