And the Hugo Goes To…

Neil Gaiman! 

Winning for Best Novel – note: not best children’s or YA novel.  Best novel.  Period.

Hurrah!

Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

What a departure from her Gemma Doyle Trilogy!  And what an example of how a skilled author can write just about anything.  Bray displays her wacky sense of humor and love of smart-ass comments with nary a single ribbon, lace or corset in sight. 

The brightest moment in Cameron’s 16-year life was when he jumped off of the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World and almost drowned.  Now he finds out that he has mad cow disease and is going to die.  But perhaps salvation lies with an angel who has ever-changing wings and wants Cam to save the world and also himself, rather than lie in a hospital bed.  Of course, she just might be a figment of his disease-riddled mind.  But when the universe hands you mad-cow you may as well try to save it.  Cam is joined on his quest by Gonzo, a germ-phobic gaming dwarf, and Balder, a god trapped in the body of a lawn gnome.  If you are ready for a surreal, hysterically funny road trip, jump aboard!

This book had me reading passages aloud to share the source of my laughter.  You will not giggle discretely with this novel, instead you will guffaw uncontrollably.  It is truly funny on a gut-twisting level.  At the same time, Bray is not afraid of mixing tragedy and humor, innately understanding that the pairing leads to bigger laughs.  A dark comedy of epic road trip proportions, this is also a novel that is deep, offering insights into life while making you laugh.  Bray has created a truly great character in Cam, a boy who can do nothing right and suddenly has to save the world in order to save himself. 

A surreal rocketing ride of humor, this book is about as far as you can get from Victorian fantasy.  Bray lifts herself to another level of writing, showing that she is unfettered by genre.  Appropriate for 15-18 year olds and any adult who still bears scars from their teen years and needs to laugh about them.

Reviewed from Random House ARC gotten at ALA.

Also reviewed by A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy.

Sopa de Frijoles / Bean Soup

Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta and Rafael Yockteng

A winner of a bilingual book, this picture book is a poem about making bean soup.  Lovingly filled with great ingredients and metaphors, the poem works well.  It follows a young boy through the steps of making sopa de frijoles, from sorting the beans to chopping onions to peeling garlic, and adding salt.  An adult in near in the illustrations, but the boy does the work himself, adding to the joy of the book.

Without any overly-sweet taste, this book offers a poem for children that is respectful and delightful.  It is distinctly a poem rather than prose chopped into stanzas.  The language alone puts it into that category:

The water boils and sings.

The beans dance

together.

The water has turned brown

the color of Mother Earth.

Your house

smells wonderful

like the earth

after the first

winter rains.

That is just one of many passages that capture a sensory experience with tangible images that children can understand but that also ask children to imagine.

Highly recommended, this book would be ideal for a bilingual story time.  But it is also wonderful in a single language program as well.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by La Bloga and Poetry for Children.