Mock Newbery 2022 discussion

See You in the Cosmos
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Newbery 2018 > June Read - See You in the Cosmos

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message 1: by Kristen (last edited Jun 02, 2017 06:48AM) (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 564 comments Mod
Who wouldn't love a book with a dog named Carl Sagan? Jack Cheng's second book is about a young boy recording his journey on an IPod. Could See You in the Cosmos earn Jack Cheng a Newbery?


message 2: by Tamsyn (last edited Jun 02, 2017 10:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tamsyn | 79 comments A plug for the audio version of this book: since it is meant to be a series of recordings, listen if you can! The sound effects and the readers add a lot to this story.


Josie Stewart | 18 comments Couldn't agree more the Audio version is fabulous!


Sarah Nimeskern | 1 comments Definitely the audio version is the way to read this book! I listened to it back in April and recommended to. Student in my third grade class. He chose to read the print copy and loved it still, but the sounds add EVERYTHING to the story!


Josie Stewart | 18 comments Sarah wrote: "Definitely the audio version is the way to read this book! I listened to it back in April and recommended to. Student in my third grade class. He chose to read the print copy and loved it still, bu..."

I can still hear the main character's voice in my head... just reading the name Carl Sagan brings back the voice and the story!


message 6: by Candice (new)

Candice Lucas | 37 comments See You in the Cosmos
I'm lukewarm on this one. I had trouble getting past the telling of the story through audio transcripts. (I read the print version) While the treatment of mental illness was presented with much compassion, I found Alex's autism (my word based on how he spoke and acted) was not. He was generally adrift and the general lack of supervision and his trusting of whatever adult paid attention made it hard for me to get lost in this one. I appreciated the character development and novel way of presenting the story, but it didn't carry me away like some of the other hopefuls have.


Cheryl | 12 comments I enjoyed this one. I thought the idea of audio transcripts of a golden IPod was a really unique story concept. My problem was the realism of a child traveling across country and meeting people from the Internet who were so kind to a strange kid. They did not take advantage, hurt him, or in concern let the authorities know that he was neglected.

I do have a question for those who have been on an ALA committee. Can an audio version be listened to instead of reading the book?


message 8: by Kate (new)

Kate | 177 comments Cheryl wrote: Can an audio version be listened to instead of reading the book?

I also wondered whether audio book augmentation, such as sound effects or music, can be considered when selecting a Newbery winner. I know we had discussions about text being able to stand alone in graphic novels.

ALSC sponsors the Odyssey award for best audiobook. Does that mean Newbery committee members should only consider a text version for their award?


message 9: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen (mexicanjen) | 2 comments I have not been on an ALA committee, but it's my understanding that you shouldn't/cannot listen instead of read. You might end up judging it on the strength/weakness of the interpretation by the reader.


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

Alyx Campbell | 12 comments Agreed on the awesomeness of the audiobook! I'm not sure it would be the same experience reading it. The way this book is written is perfect for this format. Jen's point is good though, about judging requirements for Newberry.


Czechgirl | 214 comments First of all, I wanted to mention that I read the book--I didn't listen to the audio, which seems to be the popular form of "reading" this book.

It was a good story. I liked the point-of-view of Alex, the main character, who seems to have some sort of autism. I liked reading Alex's thoughts on the way he viewed the world, parents, siblings, his love for astronomy, his dog, etc. To me, the story started off very entertaining reading Alex's adventure to the homemade rocket launch gathering in New Mexico. However, for the middle 1/3 of the book, the story sort of dulled for me. Once Alex and his half-sister made it back home to Colorado, the story picked up again. I had a problem with the two adult men he met at the rocket launch agreeing to take this 11-year old boy to Las Vegas to meet his real dad. Some scenes in the story that were included were not necessary for me--the argument between Nathan and Steve in LA and the "relationship" between Steve and Terra. Although it is understandable that Terra and Ronnie would be concerned over the well-being of Alex at the end of the story, I found it weird that the two adult men (Steve and Zed) would stop what they were doing in the real world and go to Alex's house to take care of his well-being. The two adult men (Steve and Zed)--that all seemed creepy to me. The story was a nice read. I can see many students liking it, but not a Newbery contender to me.


message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate | 177 comments I liked the unique format of recording transcripts in SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS. But the novelty wore off as the story developed. I agree the best part of the book is the beginning when Alex is going to SHARF.
I did think the recordings became very personal when the purpose is to welcome space aliens.
I thought it was heartbreaking that Alex had a childhood disrupted by irresponsible and dysfunctional adults.
The ending did provide me with a fear that Alex could easily be exploited in the future.


Brenda (brendabertino) I have to agree with the two male adults (Steve and Zed) were just a bit creepy.
Here's the top 3 reasons the story fell apart for me:

1. no one really seemed to notice the fact an eleven year old on his own was traveling across the country.

2. Some "kid" helps him get on a train and then goes off in an ambulance with no apparent explanation.

3. Two men become his guardian and are willing with no question to take a minor across multiple state lines to find a person who may or not exist simply because he read it on the internet.

I guess the best thing Alex had going for him was his dysfunctional family. Which is just sad to me.


Christine | 9 comments I agree. I'm only 54 pages in and am getting seriously creeped out by Steve and Zed. It makes me wonder, would 5th - 7th graders pick up on the creepiness factor?


Julie | 27 comments I am on page 81 & may abandon this one (just arrived in Vegas) It's ok. I do like the main character. Alex's voice is adorable without being sticky-sweet or unbelievable. He seems naive and energetic, but I haven't the background or inclination to "diagnose" him as others have. (Maybe that is brought up later in the text.) I also don't find the adults "creepy". They are kind and trusting and a bit immature. They made him call his Mom & get permission to go with them. In their minds I think that was enough. They seem to view Alex as a little brother, neighbor, or cousin and they are helping him on his quest. But although I like the characters, the book is just dragging for me. I think I would enjoy the 2 hour movie version better!


Josephine Sorrell (jothebookgirl) | 255 comments Thanks for another opinion. I didn't see them as creepy, but just different.


message 17: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Tuori | 7 comments I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in my district it would not go over well with 6 th grade parents


Czechgirl | 214 comments Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in my district it would not go over we..."

Margaret, which books are your school considering for Mock Newbery? I wondered about Orphan Island because of the mention of the protagonist on her period. I also wondered about Midnight Without a Moon because of the murder description. That is two excellent choices that have questionable content. I am just curious.


message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate | 177 comments I really wasn't sure why some readers thought Alex was on the autism spectrum. Although he seems like a geeky 11-year old, he was quite capable of social interaction. He gets upset (for example, when his dog is lost or he cannot visit his mother) but this seems like an appropriate reaction, not an uncontrollable tantrum. As others have said, the character of Alex is the strongest element in the book.


message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I'm thinking of reading it and I might, from what people are saying.


message 21: by LS (new) - added it

LS Johnson | 86 comments Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in my district it wou..."

Czechgirl - I would highly recommend Midnight Without a Moon. There is a description of a murdered child in the story. But considering that portion of the book is based in fact, I think it takes it out of the "graphic" category and puts it into the "thoughtful reflection" category. If the book is being used with a group, where a guided discussion will take place, I think this is the perfect book for that. Happy reading!


Czechgirl | 214 comments LSJohnson wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in ..."

Thanks for saying this. Midnight Without a Moon is my favorite so far this year.


message 23: by LS (new) - added it

LS Johnson | 86 comments Czechgirl wrote: "LSJohnson wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our librar..."

Me too!


message 24: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Tuori | 7 comments Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in my district it wou..."
Right now our list is:
Flying lessons and other stories
One Amazing Elephant
Me and Marvin Gardens
Short
Scar Island
The Someday Birds
Lucky Broken Girl
The War I finally won ( comes out Oct 3rd sequel to the War that Saved my live)
Wishtree ( Comes out in Sept)
Train I ride
Hello Universie
Issac the Alchemist


Walking with Miss Millie comes out in a few weeks and that looks great too!


Czechgirl | 214 comments Margaret wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in ..."

Love this list. Thanks for responding Margaret.


message 26: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Harrison | 393 comments Margaret wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in ..."

I can't wait to read Walking With Miss Millie! It looks wonderful!


message 27: by Ana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments Finished the book just now. There are so many parts of it I loved. I loved Alex and Carl Sagan and Terra... but Steve and Zed and their relationship to Alex was weird. Am I too much of a cynic to feel it strange 2 older guys would go out of their way to help an 11-year-old they don't know? Why does that bother me?
I think Alex's self reflections towards the end were precious. I love this kid!!!!!
The Audible version was so awesome! They are really working on these productions nowadays... with different voices and sounds affects.
Finally: Newbery worthy or not? My answer is... maybe! Sorry to be on the fence... I can't really say. The older guys' relationship with Alex might have taken the book off the Newbery list.


message 28: by LS (last edited Jun 22, 2017 03:32PM) (new) - added it

LS Johnson | 86 comments I just finished listening to the audio version of this book as well. I want to hug and squeeze Alex and go back to being an innocent, intelligent, flexible, problem-solving 11-year old. Throughout the story he acted more mature and responsible than any of the adults in the story. I also really enjoyed Alex's interactions with Tearra and Carl Sagan. But the rest of the book went off on too many tangents for me....rocket launches, treks across country, unknown step-sisters, abusive fathers, schizophrenic mothers, impalings, child protective services, lost dogs...the list goes on and on and detracted from the story. I thought the book was good to listen to in my 6 hour car ride, but I'm not going to recommend it to my students. I can't see it being nominated for a Newbery Award.


message 29: by LS (new) - added it

LS Johnson | 86 comments Margaret wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I liked the book a lot, but I work in a very conservative district, so we decided to not use it as a Mock newbery book. It will be in our library, but I think in ..."

Awesome list! We have similar reading tastes. I have read, or requested, all the same books!


Julie | 27 comments So I did finish this one & here's my 3 star review: The strongest element was the main character, Alex. He is awesome. The plot is ok. A few elements kinda stuck out as unnecessary/implausible in a middle grade novel. Like did Terra have to bring up having her period with her newly found 11-year-old half-brother?? Seems a bit unrealistic, though it certainly lent to the theme that all the adults in the book are, in many ways, less mature than Alex. I also have a gripe with the fight between Steve & Nathan. Also I feel like giving the Mom a diagnosed mental health condition tied things up too neatly at the end. Some Moms are just unreliable and moody and never get professional help. Actually, I thought having the older no-name guy at the beginning get hauled off by ambulance was going to be foreboding that Alex's life would not have a happy, neat ending. But I was wrong. Not a Newbery contender in my opinion.


message 31: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna | 27 comments I found this a powerful book, even though the depth of the issues in it was surprising. I was expecting something lighter. But it was well done. A little torn on whether it's Newbery quality or not since it sounds as if the story stands stronger in audio format. (I read it)
I think it might stand a higher chance of an Odyssey award, but the book itself still deserves recognition.


message 32: by LS (new) - added it

LS Johnson | 86 comments Julie wrote: "So I did finish this one & here's my 3 star review: The strongest element was the main character, Alex. He is awesome. The plot is ok. A few elements kinda stuck out as unnecessary/implausible in a..."

Julie - I totally agree with you on your entire review. Not a contender in my book either. I can't imagine recommending this book.


Serenity (serenity123) | 13 comments I absolutely loved this book while I was reading it, and could easily have read this in one day if I didn't have other obligations. Alex was such a fabulous character and his descriptions of his feelings and experiences were so touching.

That said, after reflection I am a little unsure of Steve and Zed. In today's world, no adult in their right mind would take a kid cross country without explicit permission from a guardian, and probably a health history and insurance card. So I'm just a bit unsure about how much of a contender it will be.


Travis (wmtravis) | 19 comments I adored this book. I get where everyone is coming from on the creepiness/unlikelihood of Zed's and Steve's behavior, but I am here for the honest look at mental health, individuals with disabilities, and family and romantic relationships. This message of hunting for the truth (I'm also all about the Carl Sagan influences!) and being upfront with kids is particularly powerful one, and I do think that would resonate with young readers.

Is it a contender? Probably not. I'd be excited if it got some love from the committee, though!


message 35: by Erin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Erin (erinelyse) | 60 comments I am so back and forth on this book. I recognize issues with the premise and found several plot scenarios slightly unbelievable; however I am also so impressed with the originality of the story and format, and I found Alex's voice compelling. It's one of those books that changes what you think kid's lit can be, and for that I hope it is at least at the table for consideration.


Aimee | 15 comments Erin, I agree with you completely! Well said!


Becky | 8 comments I completely enjoyed this book. Alex is such a charming character, I was truly invested in him and his story. The format is unique, the plot is interesting and heartbreaking and hopeful, the cast of characters is lovable. This is my top choice so far.


Suzanne | 14 comments I really loved this book. I loved the full cast of three-dimensional characters. So often adults are either absent, incompetent, or part of the problem in junior novels. I loved that here was a full cast of characters who helped Alex in stages along the way.

I know that several people thought the guys who gave Alex a ride were creepy, but they really worked for me. I pictured a couple of guys in their 20s (Zed maybe in his late 20s) who just work to get by, but have lots of free time... road tripping to special interest conventions. I've never been to a rocket festival, but I've been to a few huge star parties... and these are definitely some of the friendly quirky characters you'd meet there. Good guys... up for an adventure... who'd help another person out. Should they have demanded to talk to Alex's parent before taking him to Vegas? Well, in our totally adult 9-5 world, probably. However, as 20-something guys who meet a kid who travels via train to rocket launch all on his own, it probably just seemed like the kid was really capable... they did ask him to call his mom AND his brother. Besides, the story couldn't have happened if this road trip didn't happen. I don't think anyone would question the adult/child friendship in a fantasy novel, but realistic fiction makes the immediate friendship and accompanying quest uncomfortable.

I loved Terra and how quickly she took up on Alex's side. They had wonderful conversations.

I loved the Taos couple who let Alex and Terra crash at their house. I loved that this slice of the real world got some exposure. Many of us have met people once and then given them a call for a place to crash. I've let cyclists traveling through my town camp in my yard because people have let me camp in their yard when I'm on a several hundred mile bicycle trip.

The world is filled with good adults, and we see so little of that in junior fiction. All of these great adults made the ending of the story possible. They called Ronnie back from L.A. They came up with a plan for Alex's mother. This was a great book!


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