Every year, children from across Kansas choose books from a list recommended by the William Allen White Children’s Book Award committee composed of Kansas teachers and librarians. Each the spring, children vote for their favorite book for grades 3-5 and grades 6-8. These award winning books and authors are then recognized at the William Allen White Award festivities at Emporia State University, to be held this year on October 5 and 6, 2012.

“11 Birthdays” by Wendy Mass, Scholastic, 2009, 267 pages, ages 9 and up.

Amanda suffers through what turns out to be a terrible eleventh birthday. She forgets her lunch, does not make the gymnastic team, and people leave her birthday party early to go to her former best friend’s party, whose birthday is on the same day. Amanda just wants the day to end, but when she wakes up the next morning, it’s time to start her birthday all over again. The award winning author, Wendy Mass puts a new twist on the idea of rewinding time and getting a daily do-over to learn from our mistakes. She creates characters that are both interesting and realistic as readers watch them struggle with who they are and what they want to be.

Other titles by Mass include: “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life” (also a movie), “The Candy Makers”, “13 Gifts”, and the “Twice Upon a Time” series.

“Confetti Girl” by Diana Lopez, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 198 pages, ages 10 and up.

Seeped in the Hispanic culture traditions, this heartfelt story describes the feelings of loneliness and isolation a young girl experiences after her mother’s death and the happiness and hope brought to her by friends and caring adults. Lina’s mother left her bits of wisdom, or dichos, which are sprinkled throughout the book in both English and Spanish. Lina comes to rely on these words as connections to her mother and ways to understand her friendship with Vanessa, her feelings about having her first boyfriend, and her father’s choice of books over spending time with his daughter.

Diana Lopez, a former middle school teacher, has written novels for adults and young adults, and middle grade readers. Watch for her new novel in 2013, “Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel”.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

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