Mock Newbery 2023 discussion

Counting by 7s
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Book of the Month - 2014 > September Read - Counting by 7s

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message 1: by Kristen (last edited Aug 31, 2013 07:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 590 comments Mod
In our other discussions many are announcing that Counting by 7s is their favorite Newbery contender so far. What did you think of it?


Marcie (marcieloveskidslit) | 70 comments "WOW! I can see why some librarians are saying this is the next Wonder and I see many of the comparisons. Most significant for me was that this is one of the most optimistic books I have read. This book has the power, as I said for Wonder, to change behavior and that's all I ever can hope for in a book. It will change my behavior and in a very good way, I'm confident. Lots to enjoy, lots to talk about. I love a book with lists, math, and I hope it leads us all to write the lists of 7 that are important in our lives. If not the Newbery perhaps the Scneider Family book award. Not sure there's been one about a gifted person before. Read richie's review for a much more thorough discussion od the book.


Kristine (kristine_a) | 71 comments I loved this despite its weaker ending that was tied up very (too much so for me) neatly. I really loved the characters and Willow's voice was so strong and consistent. I didn't feel like it was being preachy or trying too hard. Thats a hard place to land as an author. It was funny, I laughed out loud several times at willow's observations.

As a former foster parent I appreciated the more realistic portrayal of the system, esp an older child.

I'm not sure of its newbery chances because I think the ending might make it hard to draw a wide consensus of support. I think it's strength in tone, voice, and Characterization are distinguished.

I had much more to say in my review.


Jenni | 77 comments Boo! My library doesn't have it yet. It's not even On Order.


Steffaney Smith | 4 comments Wow..just read Richie's review and am anxious to get my hands on Counting by Sevens now. woe is me; I will have to buy my own copy: did not include this title in my book order (sigh). Library gets another free book from the children's librarian, once again! (Maybe I need to take on the IRS to give librarians the same tax break teachers get for spending their own money on supplies...!)


Annette | 20 comments This book was released until Aug 29. In the future we could be choose books that have been out a little longer so it's easier for us all to get copies?


Josephine Sorrell (jothebookgirl) | 261 comments I apologize if I am posting in the wrong thread because my comment is about One Came Home. I know it was on the list for a few months back but I just got the book. They're hard to come by at a small library.
I had an hour so I was reading chapter after chapter totally into the story. I was reading the part where Billy is tied to the tree and she has the gun aimed at the counterfeiters. I found myself turning pages very quietly like I was in the story. That's some GOOD writing! Now I don't want to read on because I'm afraid Billy's going to die and Georgie is the only one to come home.
Trying to find Counting by 7's. may have to break down and buy this one.


message 9: by Destinee (last edited Sep 15, 2013 12:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Destinee | 5 comments We don't have COUNTING BY 7S yet at my library either, but I was able to locate an ARC. I really liked this, but I don't think it has strong Newbery potential. Just like with OKAY FOR NOW and WONDER, I think careful readers will have a hard time with the unrealistically happy ending. As I read in another review (SPOILER), it's very hard to believe that Pattie was letting her own kids live in a shack for so long while she secretly hoarded a boatload of cash. It's also very hard to believe that someone as incompetent as Dell could acquire and hold down a job as a school counselor. Also, quirky geniuses and orphans are both tired tropes.

None of this is to say COUNTING BY 7S isn't a good book, though. I anticipate it will be very popular with kids. It's easy to read and will tug hard on their heartstrings.


message 10: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Lay | 4 comments I just started last night. I had to borrow a copy from another library. I am about 75 pages in and I loved it from the beginning. I think it is going to get even better.


Josephine Sorrell (jothebookgirl) | 261 comments Lining in a small town with a small library, these 2013 books are hard to come by. It was suggested to check eBay, and half. So I bud 1.000 on Counting by 7's and got it! Of course there is shipping, but I'm getting a brand new hardcover for 4.00.


message 12: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 4 comments I agree with other comments in that the ending was a little too tidy but overall a great book. I loved Willows voice.


message 13: by Claudia (new)

Claudia | 3 comments By far, my favorite of the contenders I've read so far! Unique story, great characters, good writing, but yes, pat ending...Finishing up Water Castle now and am enjoying it very much but not in same league as Counting by 7s


message 14: by Mari Anne (last edited Sep 18, 2013 07:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mari Anne | 25 comments Not my favorite for the Newberry but a book I liked. I do believe it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief for some of the crazy things that seemed to go one. Overall I thought it touched my heart and was a lovely story. On the other hand, I am not sure of its wider appeal with its intended audience. While Wonder has been hugely popular with kids I think its appeal comes from it being more believable and accessible to kids. A lot of kids can relate to not feeling like they fit in at school. With "Counting by 7's" I am wondering if the relatability factor may come into play and kids may have a harder time with it.

Thoughts anyone?


message 15: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill | 7 comments I just joined this group so this is the first book I've read as a possible 2014 award winner. I'm guessing there could be better books this year but I did enjoy this book. I liked the characters and thought they were well developed. The storyline was interesting (buy perhaps a bit long).


Josephine Sorrell (jothebookgirl) | 261 comments Welcome


message 17: by Nan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nan | 6 comments Obviously, I'm really late for the party. I just started the book last night but already I love Willow. What a great kid. If I didn't need to put this in my library, I would be highlighting all the great lines I've read so far -"It has been my experience that rewarding and heartbreaking often go hand in hand." or "But what I learned and what was being taught had no intersection." Hope to finish it by Monday so I can share with one student in particular.


Kristine (kristine_a) | 71 comments This book had so many well crafted sentences that took me by surprise.


Richie Partington (richiespicks) | 56 comments Kristine wrote: "This book had so many well crafted sentences that took me by surprise."

I totally agree, Kristine. While reading it for the second time, I was more focused on this aspect and found there was one passage after another after another that caused me to pause and look back because of the quality of the writing.


Becky (harperreads) | 26 comments I really enjoyed this book! I couldn't put it down - I finished it in one day. I see the issues that some people have with the tidy ending (and a few other coincidences), but I was able to suspend my disbelief and really enjoyed the story. I have a feeling that will cause some problems around the Newbery table. I loved Willow and her voice. I think my students will enjoy this one.


Holly Mueller (hollymueller) | 25 comments I just finished Counting By 7s and LOVED it! This one and Every Day After by Laura Golden are now my favorite Newbery contenders. Here is my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 22: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim McGee (kimsbookstack) | 76 comments I started this late in the month but was really interested after reading all the comments. I was torn between joy from the wonderful wit of Willow and ripped in two from the sadness of her situation. It reminded me of Wonder and I think Counting by 7s will be this year's most talked about book for kids. Will it win the Newbery? Jury is still out on that one but it is in the running in my book.


message 23: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam | 3 comments Absolutely loved Counting by 7s. Willow was amazing and has a wonderful voice. So many good childrens books right now. Wish I could read all day. This will be a read aloud in my classroom.


Martha I do like the language and writing in this book. It is in our Favorites List as a group:
http://evaperrymocknewbery.wordpress....


message 25: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana Duffy Backs | 45 comments I agree. I think this is the best book I've read this year. It is certainly more for the upper age range of the newbery, but for kids who can comprehend the language and subtle changes in the characters it's a great fit.


Emily Scheinman | 2 comments Counting by 7's is definitely one of my favorite books released this year. The story is so beautifully told with a host of rich characters that feel so real.


Peggy | 22 comments Just finished Counting by 7s and read it in one sitting. Loved the voice of Willow - there's a strong heroine! And all the other quirky characters that rang so true. Not sure it's Newbery worthy. I also think it may be one of those that appeals more to girls and perhaps unfortunately more to adults than kids. I will booktalk this to the kids but I think the tragic premise will make it a hard sell.


message 28: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Ferry (librarygarden) | 86 comments What a story...I felt the author did a wonderful job portraying a strong female adolescent character that experiences loss. The major/minor characters were developed as well. I could picture the nail salon, the garage, the apartment, and the transformation of the courtyard into the garden. The ending was realistic for me, knowing that Willow could not end up with either of the other parties. Although not may favorite of the year, it's a strong contender. I vote for Beholding Bee as my top pick for Newbery.


Sheila Welch (sheilakellywelch) | 28 comments I really liked this one while I was reading it but am not sure it stands out enough for me as a Newbery book. Willow is appealing as a character but there seemed to be too many other quirky characters for it to be realistic. The story does have a certain sweetness to it that I appreciated.


Jenna (jenna_marie58) | 17 comments I agree with the others who said they really liked this book, but don't see it as Newbery potential. Willow was great. As was Mai and the rest of her family. However, I thought there was too much focus on Dell. And I never really understood how I was meant to feel about him? I thought he was a pretty terrible person but then it seemed like by the end I was supposed to like him.. that he had redeemed himself. Eh. That was a bit much. As others have stated, the ending as a whole was just too neatly wrapped up. It was an enjoyable read and I think it will get a lot of attention, but it's not on my Newbery radar.


Kristine (kristine_a) | 71 comments I do agree that it's weaknesses make it a long shot, but what it did well, I thought was distinguished. I also know this is more my "type" of book. So I'm biased. Likewise navigating Early was less my type of a book so I wrote it off for the Newbery much more quickly, even though I agree some parts were distinguished.


message 32: by Mary HD (last edited Sep 29, 2013 06:31PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mary HD (marymaclan) | 97 comments The protagonist faces adversity with a positive attitude and brings out the best in everyone around her....now where have I read this before? Yes, Counting by 7’s is a charming book, but it's such a standard plot that the setting or the characters or the writing really have to stand out to be prize-worthy, and I don't think they do. I thought the parents were removed from the narrative rather antiseptically, I'm getting a little bored with twisted bureaucrats going straight, the conclusion was rather incredible (if satisfying), and I felt Willow as a character was a bit of a cheat: she psychoanalyzed the grownups around her with pinpoint accuracy but did not apply that level of sophistication to her own situation. (OK, so she’s only 12 - but still a genius!)

This is the second book by Holly Sloan I've read, and I think she’s a great storyteller. (I couldn't finish her first book I'll Be There fast enough – a real page-turner) but I don’t find her writing particularly distinguished.

One thing I did like, which helped pull me into the book quickly, was the cadence of the writing . The many short sentences (along with Willow’s deadpan delivery) established a rhythm that built momentum and sped the reader along.


Richie Partington (richiespicks) | 56 comments I've read and considered all of the comments posted over the course of this month. And I've re-read Counting by 7s. And my love just keeps growing for this one.


Library Maven (libmaven) | 17 comments This was terrific!


Josephine Sorrell (jothebookgirl) | 261 comments Counting by 7's is my favorite so far, by far.


message 36: by Laura (new)

Laura Harrison | 11 comments I work in a busy NY bookstore. This title is doing very well with parents and teacher's. I have yet to see any interest at all by a child. I think the cover (which I think is pretty interesting) is turning them off. I am doing my best to promote it to the kids since it is such a great book but it has proven to be a pretty hard children's sell for me.


Cynthia | 20 comments I think Counting by 7s is a very noteworthy book because of the storytelling and the unique main character. It is an unforgettably good book. Even though I finished it months ago, I'm still not ready to go back to it and look at it from all sides. I'm just appreciating it for now. Loved it!


Mary HD (marymaclan) | 97 comments Laura wrote: "I work in a busy NY bookstore. This title is doing very well with parents and teacher's. I have yet to see any interest at all by a child. I think the cover (which I think is pretty interesting) is..."


I agree...especially since my three-year-old grandson commented on the cover while I was reading it and he's certainly not the target audience! Covers count, in bookstores and in libraries.


message 39: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisa3moon) | 51 comments I finally had a chance to finish "Counting by 7's today." I liked Willow from the beginning, but the story wasn't one that I accepted easily. It just seemed improbable and I wasn't sure how children would relate to it or why they would want to read it. Now that I've finished it's one of my favorites from this year. It still seems to be a tough sell for my elementary students. Here is a link to my Goodreads review:

Counting by 7s Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I usually love books with weird, quirky characters. This book has characters with quirks but they aren't weird. These are true individuals and Holly Sloan has written a story to highlight their individuality while demonstrating their need for inter-dependence. We need one another, and this story proves it.

Willow is lost when her parents die, but she expects that she will find her way through this difficult time in her life. She certainly never expected any of these things to happen. In the end she discovers that she can create meaning in her own life, she can build relationships and friendships, too.

I told several people "I'm reading the strangest book" as I was reading this book. Many of the plot twists seemed improbable, but still I believed in the storyline. I've known inept counselors like Dell, fixated, hard-workers like Pattie, and families who are "not normal." I felt like the circumstances were just too strange, but also noted the ring of truth in this story. The fact is that we are individuals, and we make our own way just like Willow. However, we do it within a community of people. We connect even when we don't feel like connecting, don't know how to connect, or feel too lost to connect. We just do it.

I finished this book with tears and laughter, and certainly love it! I'm not sure just yet what type of student-reader might enjoy this book. However, I know I will find readers for this book because it will be getting more notice in the future.



View all my reviews


Sheila Welch (sheilakellywelch) | 28 comments Just one quick observation: Here's a book that a lot of people like/love with a mixed race main character. Why isn't there a child of color on the cover?


message 41: by Jenni (last edited Nov 06, 2013 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenni | 77 comments Dave wrote: "Boo! My library doesn't have it yet. It's not even On Order."

Picked up my copy from the Holds shelf this week and read it in less than 24 hours. I really like the development of the characters and their voices. My only criticisms are that Willow seems a little too self aware of her neurodiversity, and the very end was pretty unbelievable, though inevitable. Nevertheless, I think this is a very strong contender for the Newbery.


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