Mock Newbery 2022 discussion

Book of the Month 2011 > September Read - Countdown

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 562 comments Mod
Countdown is another historical fiction book that is receiving a lot of attention. Do you think it is "distinguished?"

message 2: by June (new)

June Morgan | 29 comments Absolutely! Another one is THE WATER SEEKERS. It is great. It is also historical fiction. Another: AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

message 3: by June (new)

June Morgan | 29 comments Here is the newest YALSA recommendations.


message 4: by David (last edited Sep 02, 2010 01:17AM) (new)

David | 26 comments I really like Countdown & think it's a great addition to historical fiction & a potential breakthough format for historical novels, as a documentary novel that's part scrapbook (of the early Sixties), part historical background, & part a growing up novel.

Discussion to more fully understand the context of events, and the pervasive fear of the era, would be useful for juvenile readers.

The writing is strong. There are great descriptions and the characters are well drawn. I look forward to more in this Sixties series. This IS a contender for Newbery honors. Should be a Notable too.

I can also see it as a YA selection, as noted above, but think it's also appropriate as older juvenile fiction.

message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Wilsman | 35 comments I really liked it and agree that it is more a Newbery than a Printz....

message 6: by Christina (new)

Christina | 10 comments I really liked Wiles's novel Each Little Bird That Sings, but I didn't find Countdown's characters to be as compelling as those in the earlier book. Although Countdown's documentary-style format with over 100 pages of photos may make the Cuban Missile Crisis more accessible to middle-school readers, I'm not sure that the story or characters are strong enough to fully engage my sixth-grade students. Maybe it will interest slightly older readers more? This book would not be my vote for a Newbery.

message 7: by Pam (new)

Pam | 22 comments I found the book riveting and engrossing with so many interesting layers to this book! Deborah Wiles has characters that so represent the the times, but she did such a good job that I empathized with them instead of seeing them as stereotypes. The little touches were interesting and must have been deliberate like a Norman Rockwell painting capturing the look and feel of a time. My favorite ones were her mom's bridge-playing luncheons and gold-painted decks of cards and Franny's older sister's hope chest filled with tablecloths, napkins, etc. (yep a trousseau for some time in the future when she gets married even though she has no boyfriend in the story).

The setting is quintessential, homogeneous American suburbia - they all walk to the neighborhood school, their friends are those that live in the subdivision, they ride bikes, they love McDonald's (it is brand new), watch The Wonderful World of Disney, listen to 45s on record players, and want penny loafers instead of Buster Browns. Add to this backdrop the Cuban Missile Crisis and how it impacted kids and you have a wonderful story.

Wiles does so much more though by interspersing historical notes and snip its into the story. I loved the opening with its black and white pictures of a mushroom cloud, civil defense posters, the moon, and Koufax, as well as quotes by Kennedy and Khrushchev, James Meredith, Koufax, and the moon. The book is a wonderful history lesson about a incredible turbulent time in our social history.

Wiles writes engaging prose and these historical notes seem more like hypertext links than excerpts from social studies texts, and will appeal to young readers who are use to blended information resources.

Wiles manages to capture the uncertainty of the times and paces it well with the uncertainty that Franny faces in her life as she tries to navigate the social strata of 5th grade. It was a very interesting and fascinating read. Can't wait to hear what kids think of this book.

message 8: by Dana (new)

Dana Duffy Backs | 45 comments I think this book is a definite contender. It is something that works well for today's environment. We may not be at the duck and cover phase, but we've done things to protect ourselves against terrorism that have certainly made an impact on our children's lives. I think this book does a great job of making the fear and hysteria understandable, without portraying it as campy or retro-hip, which I think mars a lot of our thinking about the 1950s and early 60s.
The format of the book is similar to Hugo Cabret, in that the pictures actually tell a story, and not just compliment the one being told in the text.
So far, I've liked this one and One Crazy Summer the best.
I loved As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth too, but I think it's more of YA book.

message 9: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Davis | 5 comments Dana, I like the way you think. I loved those three books! I think both Countdown and One Crazy Summer are distinguished and should be considered for the Newbery. There is still a quarter of the year for more books to be published, though. I can't wait to see what comes next!

message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (miss_jenlv) | 10 comments I really enjoyed this book, but I have to admit that I didn't like the pictures as much as I thought I would. I think that some of them were a little confusing, since many of them had snippets from newspapers or quotes, while others had just a few words from song lyrics and it wasn't always immediately apparent which was which. I only knew half of the lyrics and I was born in the 70's with parents who listened to music from the 60's, so I would imagine that kids today would recognize even less than I did, which makes me question if they would get anything from their inclusion or just be confused. I often had to page back and forth through those pages until I could piece together what was being said, which I felt distracted me from the story rather than enhanced it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's a great concept but I'm not sure if it was executed as well as it could have been. It might have worked better if it wasn't as "artsy"?

message 11: by Library (new)

Library Maven (libmaven) | 17 comments I was very impressed with COUNTDOWN and think it is a definite Newbery contender.

message 12: by Jennifer (last edited Sep 09, 2010 08:39AM) (new)

Jennifer (yarnteller) | 5 comments Countdown is certainly in the running! It's innovative in it's inclusion of graphic background material, captures the fears of the Cuban Missile Crisis, yet does all this without compromising a good plot, characters with familiar concerns and even an action packed conclusion.

message 13: by Benji (new)

Benji Martin | 52 comments I loved it! It is a contender for sure!

message 14: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 562 comments Mod
I finally finished Countdown, and I must say that I think it is distinguished. I really liked all of your thoughts about the book. Jennifer, I do agree about the song lyrics, I was wishing that it would differentiate between a song lyric and a newspaper headline or a pamphlet cover. I don't think it would have stolen from the mood of the book.

I think the book adequately captures the fears of the time. People were afraid, and I think looking back it's hard for kids to understand exactly how afraid they were. This book is perfect for them to get that feel of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I think it's a pretty strong contender.

message 15: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jennmonk) | 40 comments Just finished Countdown. Only one day late...

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I know some people didn't like it, but I really enjoyed the non-fiction bits interspersed with the fiction. They were all the kind of things I would have likely looked up while reading it anyway. And it really added to the setting and atmosphere.

It definitely seems like a contender to me. It will be interesting to see what the committee thinks.

Must go recommend it to everyone now...

message 16: by Becky (new)

Becky (becky_nelson) | 21 comments I'm a member group of librarians in Frankfort, KY who have 5th grade distinguished readers in a Mock Newbery Club this year. Our group has presented "Our Newbery Nominees...So Far" to our state library organization so we've been reading conscienciously. SO FAR, Countdown is our hands down Medal winner for both its engaging, suspenseful plots and subplots, it characters (Wiles is one of the BEST in creating memorable characters), and especially for its unique format adding the primary information needed for 21st century children to understand the times. We're anxious to see what our students think. So far, one very mature 5th grade boy has read it, and it's on his short list. I must say that the novel my students are most excited about is Draper's Out of My Mind.

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