Reward Piles: or, M&Ms in Book Form

Cindy and Lynn: Pavlov would have loved us. We’re behavior mod kind of gals. We’re assigned reading by Booklist and by each other for the blog and somehow, even if it’s a book you wanted to read, once someone assigns it to you a bit of the shine disappears. So, enter the beauty of the reward pile! We have stacks of books everywhere waiting to be read but our favorite pile is our own little reward pile. Meet a Booklist review deadline? We get to pick a book from the reward pile. Going on vacation? Take only reward pile books with you. Get ahead on the blog? Here’s an M&M–I mean, a reward pile book. Here’s how we define a reward book: It’s a book that we WANT to read. It’s a favorite author, favorite genre, or the premise has just sucked us in. No one is telling us to read it, we don’t HAVE to do anything with it when we’re done other than clutch it to our hearts, and we pretty much know ahead of time that we are going to love it. Oh, we’ll surely blog many of these, but at the moment they go on the reward pile we are only thinking of the pure pleasure they will bring us. Our piles often have similar titles in them, but Lynn’s will have more hard sf and Cindy’s more read-’em-and-weep titles. First up are the crossover titles that are found in both of our reward piles, then a few of our individual choices. We limited ourselves to 5 in each section–watch out for Lynn, she’s sneaky and always tries to wedge in an extra one. Books are alpha by title.

Cindy & Lynn’s Reward Pile

Beat the Band by Don Calame. Who couldn’t use a laugh in their reward pile? We’re sure this one will provide plenty if it is anything like its prequel, Swim the Fly. Bring it on.

Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancy. Galleys aren’t out yet, but consider this sequel to Printz Honor Monstrumologist in our virtual reward pile. We saw the gushing review over at Reading Rants and want this NOW.girl-parts

Girl Parts by John Cusick. The cover art of a girl nestled in polystyrene chips in a cardboard packing box with this title left us scratching our heads about what was going on at Candlewick, and then one of our bright, well-read seniors chimed in with her review and on the pile it went.

Grounded by Kate Klise. The blurb says, “Welcome to Digginsville, Missouri, where they’re putting the fun back in funeral. Need we say more?

kneebone-boyThe Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter. Lynn saw the cover art and Cindy saw the name of the author who wrote the quirky Olivia Kidney books and both were smitten by this “wickedly dark and unusual” novel of the Hardscrabble children.

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill. We loved Your Own, Sylvia, Hemphill’s Printz Honor winning verse novel about poet Sylvia Plath’s life. This new book is another verse novel about three girls during the Salem Witch Trials.

Cindy’s Reward Pile

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins. I’m an ardent fan of Newbery Medal winner Criss Cross. This one promises one comedic calamity after another for a teen boy as he “completely redefines summer vacation.” I’ve been saving this one for my own summer vacation.easy-as-falling

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett. This “gripping, disquieting, and beautifully observed coming-of-age” novel by Hartnett will certainly not be one of my fun beach reads, but I’m a sucker for her prose and I marvel at the way she writes. Reading and rereading her exquisite way with words is always a reward for me.

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford. Grandmother announces that someone in the family has wronged her and must confess for her to reinstate the family in her will…the secrets and the confessions begin to pour forth and I can’t wait to hear them.

A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy. Two friends attend a writing workshop in Prague and there’s an ice cream cone on the cover. Tracy had me at hello.

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi. A space age adventure about Eva Nine who has been raised by a robot, Muthr, (Multi Utility Task Help Robot) and featuring “augmented reality” that can be accessed by holding certain pages up to a web cam. I’m intrigued.

Lynn: Honestly – add one book here and there to a list and Cindy never lets you forget it! I’m quite capable of sticking to the five she is allowing me today even though my reward pile is growing exponentially.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway. I adored the voice in Benway’s first book, Audrey, Wait!, and now I can’t wait for this new story about three sisters who recover special powers from childhood to help cope with their parents’ divorce.

Memory Bank by Carolyn Coman & Rob Shepperson. The Memory Bank is a huge machine that takes in and stores all the memories being formed in the world but something is seriously wrong. Lollipops are found clogging the intakes and the Clean Slate Club has declared war. This illustrated book is nearly irresistible!

mermaids-mirrorMermaid’s Mirror by L. K. Madigan. Something is calling Lena to the sea although her father forbids her to learn to surf. Then on her 16th birthday she sees the woman with the silvery tail. Oooohh. Awesome cover too!

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve. Dragons and Philip Reeve, dragons and Philip Reeve. No other explanation is necessary!

Secret Life of Ms Finkleman by Ben H. Winters. An assignment to solve a mystery in your own life leads 7th grader Bethesda Fielding to uncover the secret she is convinced her teacher Ms. Finkleman is hiding. The truth is something NO one would have ever guessed. Let the fun begin!

See – I can stick to five! Just shows that Cindy was maligning me terribly to think that I couldn’t write this without mentioning all the other fabulous books like Sapphique and Pod in my stack.

And now we want to know what’s in YOUR reward pile…do tell.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

5 Comments on "Reward Piles: or, M&Ms in Book Form"

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  1.' Betsy says:

    M & M’s is a perfect way to describe a reward pile and I’ll put Beat the Band at the top of mine, right above Nancy Werlin’s Extraordinary. Others I was happy to bring back were Sugar Changed the World, and Sally Walker’s Frozen Secrets. I started reading NatGeoAmazing today and haven’t been able to put it down. Life Size Aquarium is at the top of my wish list (those guys at Seven Footer Press can be big teases.)

  2.' Liz B says:

    I thought you meant REAL M&Ms.

    Like the two packages of Gallagher Girl M&Ms I picked up at Ally Carter’s signing of her latest GG book.

    I can have my ARCs and my M&Ms.

  3.' Brittany says:

    My reward pile recently featured a lot of great books that I first read years ago, including ‘The Rover’ by Mel Odom (which I first read in BBYA!) and Patricia Wrede’s ‘Enchanted Forest Chronicles’, which includes ‘Calling on Dragons’ (which I *think* was also a BBYA title). All fantastic and Wrede’s books had me giggling so hard my boyfriend was concerned for my sanity.

    ‘Monsters of Men’ was my reward for finishing my first summer class and ‘Fevercrumb’ will be my reward for cleaning the living room. Really, BBYA and all of the books I brought home are one big reward for finishing another year of college!

  4.' Katie says:

    I love this idea! I was just moaning to some colleagues today about 10 books I am required to read and write questions about as part of a committee I’m on. Doesn’t matter how excited I was about those books before. Now that I HAVE to read them AND do work with them, I am so uninspired. Maybe this reward pile thing will be just the motivation I need!

  5.' Susan says:

    I have Beat the Band and Girl Parts and now I REALLY want Grounded…”they put the fun in funeral” One I heard about at ALA but didn’t get was Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill–he had me at assassin ballerina…

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