2013 Awards Recap

Over the past week, we have rolled out the 2013 Frannies winners, culminating with last night’s Wyzbery announcement, and rolling into today’s ALA Youth Media Awards. A recap of it all is below (all award links go to their reveal post, and all book links go to Goodreads).

7A Class Book Award 
Honor: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin and Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Award: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

7B Class Book Award
Honor: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly
Award: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

8A Class Book Award
Honor: TeenBoat! by Dave Roman and John Green
Award: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen**

8B Class Book Award
Honor: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
Award: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*

Realistic Fiction Award
Honor: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*
Award: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Fantasy Award
Honor: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
Award: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Dystopian Award
Honor: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Award: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Wyzbery Award
Honor: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green* and Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Award: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen**

ALA Youth Media Awards
Click the link for the official ALA press release. I don’t want to steal their thunder by announcing their awards. Except for the two notes below, because WE TOTALLY PICKED THOSE BOOKS, TOO!

*Also won the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
**Also won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for Most Distinguished American Picture Book for Children


2013 Frannies: The Wyzbery Award

Well, my friends, we have made it to the last announcement of the 2013 Frannies. We have seen different groups of students award different books with their homeroom book awards. We have seen three different genre awards given out, highlighting what was the best in each given category. All in all, we have awarded and honored 12 different books in the past 7 days. And we still have our biggest award to give.

[Brian’s note: this post is a bit longer than most, but every word, image, and video (did I say video?), is worth it. So be sure to push through. Wyzlic out.]

For the Wyzbery, all books were considered. The students nominated titles of books from all different genres and types. Picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, YA novels, adult novels. Realistic fiction, fantasy, humor, science fiction, dystopian, mystery, non-fiction, biography. There were books nominated for each of these descriptors. 21 books in total received multiple nominations and made it to the final ballot. And then it was time to vote.

When it came time to vote, the students were instructed to select the one book they believed was the best book published in 2012. Not most popular. Not favorite. But also not most distinguished nor most excellent, nor most well-written. Best. Here are the results.

80 votes were cast for 20 different books (including one write-in because this student was adamant that her choice was the best book of 2012, even if nobody else agreed enough to put it on the ballot, bringing our total of nominated books up to 22). Five books received above the average of four votes. Of these, three books were heads above the others. These are the books that will receive Wyzbery Honors or the coveted Wyzbery Award.

Now, before the reveal, a bit of potential controversy. Because, come on, what’s an awards ceremony without some controversy, right? Of the 3 that will receive shiny stickers (maybe — we’re working on those back at headquarters), 2 of them were read aloud to all the students. So I wonder how much influence my choices had on their voting. I am gladdened, though, that there is one book that made it through despite not being pushed by me, but rather, by the students. One of our top five is even a book that I do not keep in our classroom library.

So despite my potential influence as the lead learner and lead book pusher in the room, it is clear to me that the students can also follow their own conscience with their book choices. They are passing books they love to each other, and they are finding and sharing similar tastes with each other. The students are becoming book pushers as well, and in some classes in particular, they have eclipsed my influence. They may see that as some sort of subverting the system. I see it as victory.

Anyway, on to the awards. As mentioned, there are two books that will be receiving Wyzbery Honor Status:

Wonder                            TFiOS

Wonder by R.J. Palacio                             and             The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

These are two of my favorite books of 2012, and I feel somewhat validated that my students think they are among the best. I chose Wonder as our first read-aloud this year, and I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. There are some students who flat-out do not like the book (and are very vocal about this). There are some students who beg me to read longer every day. But overall, I wasn’t sure what the temperature of the water was. Well, they like it. Enough to honor it, which I am grateful for.

The Fault in Our Stars was a book I was excited for the day it came out (actually, for months before it came out). And when it finally arrived at my doorstep, I couldn’t contain myself. This book has come with a word of caution to my students and to their parents (teaching at a Catholic school, there are some mature scenes in the book that are actually so well done that the students might misinterpret them, or be confused by the message they are giving, and I need to be cautious of that). However, that has not stopped my students from picking it up and falling in love, as I did. I’m glad they saw fit to honor this book as well.

But ultimately, there is another book that was considered an even better book by more students. That book is our 2013 Wyzbery Award Winner.

And it is. . .

With no further ado. . .

(okay, a little further ado). . .

[this is kind of fun]. . .

You guys are still here, right?

Is anybody reading these, or just scrolling down?

You should probably read them.

Maybe I’m hiding an easter egg-style surprise in them.

Or maybe not.

If you passed all this up, you will never know.

But you also won’t know you’ll never know.


This Is Not My HatThis Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen!

Klassen’s sequel (of sorts) to the 2012 Geisel Honor Book I Want My Hat Back was an instant favorite among my students. When it won the 8A Class Book Award, I started to worry a little. Could a picture book possibly win the Wyzbery? Then I realized: what do I have to worry about? Yes, a picture book could win — ANY book could win. That was the whole point. And, lo and behold, a picture book did win. Congratulations, Mr. Klassen. The students love your clever use of pictures to add a layer to the story. This Is Not My Hat is a mentor text in how pictures and words combine to tell the story, as opposed to one merely aiding the other.

Interesting note: this book may have been based on a true story (though the book came out before the story happened). See the tale:

What will happen to me? Will Mr. Sharp ever get his hat back? Read I Want My Hat Back and stay tuned to see!

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.
See the 8A Class Book Award.
See the 8B Class Book Award.
See the Realistic Fiction Award.
See the Fantasy Award.
See the Dystopian Award.

2013 Frannies: The Dystopian Award

Wow. Here we are. The eve of The Wyzbery announcement. I know; you’re all as excited as I am. But before we get to that, we have some dystopian business to take care of.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s Fantasy Award announcement, we have not yet awarded a dystopian novel in this year’s Frannies. This after Divergent won it all last year in the first-ever Wyzbery. So whoever is awarded today will be a first-time winner, after we saw repeat winners with both the Realistic Fiction Award and the Fantasy Award.

The students chose the following criteria for the Dystopian Award:

  • The book ties a corrupt government into the story
  • The book has quality characters/character depth
  • The book demonstrates quality writing
  • The book helps the reader relate to the world

I like these criteria because it has a bit of the fictional world (the corrupt government) with a little bit of the real world (helping the reader relate to the world). A good dystopian book does that. It allows for a bit of escape from the world, but it also makes us as readers think about our own world. I’m proud of my students for recognizing that.

67 votes were cast for the Dystopian Award, and like the other two genre awards, two books ran away with it. 44 of the votes were dividing among the top two vote-getters.

First, our Dystopian Honor Book:

PandemoniumPandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium has been a favorite of our 7th and 8th graders alike, aided by the buzz of having an ARC of Requiem making its way through our classroom.

So what could be even better than such a well-loved book? Our 2013 Dystopian Award Winner is. . .

InsurgentInsurgent by Veronica Roth!

Insurgent has been a hot commodity in room 8A, spending very little time on our bookshelves, until nearly everyone had had a chance to read it. Congratulations to Ms. Roth! You are welcome to pick up your award at any time.

Interesting note about the Dystopian Award: the top four vote-getters were all books from female authors. All the other awards were pretty split, with only the 8A award and honor going to authors of the same gender. Apparently I have my work cut out for me with that dystopian novel I’m working on, because a sex change is just not happening.

Be sure to come back tomorrow at 7 for THE WYZBERY ANNOUNCEMENT! And then stick around Twitter afterwards, because #titletalk is at 8. You don’t want to miss that.

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.
See the 8A Class Book Award.
See the 8B Class Book Award.
See the Realistic Fiction Award.
See the Fantasy Award.

2013 Frannies: The Fantasy Award

Can you believe we only have 3 awards left to hand out? This week has just been a blur of honoring fantastic book after fantastic book. This evening, we award the best fantasy book of 2012.

The criteria the students generated for the Fantasy Award are as follows:

  • The theme of the book has meaning in the real world
  • The book has quality characters/character depth
  • The book demonstrates quality writing
  • The description of the fantasy world is neither too confusing nor too shallow

Six quality books were nominated as meeting those criteria. 80 votes were cast. 48 of those votes went to just two books. Again, there were clear-cut winners here.

One book has been designated as a Fantasy Honor Book:

FinaleFinale by Becca Fitzpatrick

One eighth grader in particular loved this book, claiming it was the “best book [she’s] ever read” (and she is very well-read). Not bad praise.

No more delay. It’s Friday. We have bigger fish to fry (was that a Catholic Friday Fish Fry allusion? I’ll leave it up to you to decide. But Lent is coming). The 2013 Fantasy Award Winner is. . .

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan!

This is the second win for The Mark of Athena, putting it into rare territory. These students do love their Greek mythology, which is why I’m so excited to be discovering more and more well-written books in that vein. But for them, The Mark of Athena is the top dog for 2012.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what the students chose as their best dystopian book of 2012. We’re yet to award or honor a dystopian novel (after a dystopian book won it all last year), so it will be interesting to see what the students have chosen!

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.
See the 8A Class Book Award.
See the 8B Class Book Award.
See the Realistic Fiction Award.

2013 Frannies: The Realistic Fiction Award

Welcome back to the Frannies, everyone! Today after school, my students were sharing the existence of the Wyzbery and the Frannies with their forensics coach. That’s enough for me. We’re famous!

Today marks the beginning of the second wave of awards. The first four awards were voted on only by each homeroom. The next four were voted on by all students together. The first three of this second half are the genre awards. The genres were chosen by the students, and then they decided upon criteria for the awards, gave speeches, and voted. We begin with the Realistic Fiction Award.

For this award, 80 ballots were cast. The top two books received 54 of them. These kids weren’t messing around; they knew what they liked.

There is one Realistic Fiction Honor Book:

TFiOSThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This gives TFiOS one award and two honors this Frannies season, with one more award it is eligible for. Not too bad. However, not to be outdone, the Realistic Fiction Award Winner is. . .

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio!

This is the second win for Wonder, to go along with one honor this Frannies season, and, like TFiOS, it also has one more award for which it is eligible. I suggest that all those who would desire Frannies for their books make certain the cover is a blue field with black over white for the graphic. That appears to be the formula for success.

That and really good stuff between the covers, supposedly.

See you tomorrow, everyone!

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.
See the 8A Class Book Award.
See the 8B Class Book Award.

2013 Frannies: The 8B Class Award

I can’t believe we’ve reached the halfway point of the 2013 Frannies. It feels like we’ve only just begun. . .but anyway. There are awards to be handed out. Today, we look at the final homeroom award: the 8B Class Book Award.

8B is a group of 20 young ladies who, despite their occasional protests, love to read. In particular, they love contemporary realistic fiction. Some of them enjoy their fantasy and dystopian and the occasional novel-in-verse, but by and large, they’re pretty committed to the realistic stuff. They are also a very mature group of readers — both with their reading ability and their book choices. Their award winners reflect their tastes and their maturity.

There is one 8B Class Honor Book:

Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Miranda Kenneally has become a recent favorite of the students, with many of them passing around Catching Jordan. I’m pretty certain that at one point, we’ve had all the public library’s copies of her books in my classroom.

And now, the 8B Class Book Award Winner:


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!

There was no book more widely enjoyed by the 8B crowd than The Fault in Our Stars. Let’s see what they have to say:

“It made me think differently about the world and about people with cancer.”

“This book is a great realistic fiction book! I recommend everyone to read it.”

“I really like this book!”

Mr. Green, we are honored to grant you this award. We will keep it in our classroom for safekeeping until you are able to pick it up.

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.
See the 8A Class Book Award.

2013 Frannies: The 8A Class Award

Welcome back, everyone, to day three of the 2013 Frannies! We begin the 8th grade section of the awards this evening. The 8A class (my homeroom — YEAH!) is comprised of 12 boys and 5 girls, all of them made of awesome. Their reading tends to vary wildly, as some love graphic novels, others prefer dystopian, and several of the guys can’t stop reading modern historical fiction/war biographies. But when it came to this award, they were able to find some common ground.

To the awards! [Again, if you’re new here, it is imperative you read that with the same “TO THE BLUEBERRY!” voice used in the show Psych]

One book is named as an 8A Class Honor Book:

TeenBoat!TeenBoat! by Dave Roman and John Green

TeenBoat! was a recent find by my students, but an instant hit with them, as was the award winner. So, with no further ado, the 8A Class Book Award Winner is. . .

This Is Not My HatThis Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen!

This is one of those books that just couldn’t hide on my bookshelves. The love they had last year for I Want My Hat Back continued into this sequel of sorts. But enough from me; let’s hear what the voters have to say:

This Is Not My Hat is absolutely superb and great for all ages.”

“He’ll never catch me!”

Mr. Klassen, we are glad to grant this award to you. And personally, I’m excited to award it to a Canadian (as I have a not-so-secret crush on all of Canada. . .though it’s secret enough to be relegated to a parenthetical statement, apparently). Your award will be kept for safe keeping in our classroom until you can come pick it up.

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.
See the 7B Class Book Award.

2013 Frannies: The 7B Class Award

Frannies Reveal Day Two is here! Tonight, we look at the awards chosen by my other 7th grade class. This group of 26 7th graders reads like the publishing industry might go out of business tomorrow (I think we’ve got at least another 3-5 years [N.B.: that was sarcasm. It’s probably more like 2 (also sarcasm)]). They nominated 18 different titles for their choice of Best Book of 2012, and voted for 12 of them. Needless to say, it was a tight vote. Ultimately, though, they are happy with their decision.

Three books have been chosen as 7B Class Honor Books:




The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Lincoln's Last Days



Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly


Steve Jobs



Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson


Considering this is the class that is in love with the Origami Yoda series, I was surprised to see these three books earn honors. A heartbreaking novel about teenagers and cancer, an informational text about a 19th-Century President, and a biography. But they loved these books.

They also loved this next book, the winner of the 2013 7B Class Book Award:

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio!

Let’s see what the students have to say:

Wonder is a fantastically written book.  Every time I see it, I encourage someone to read it.”

“I think Wonder is fantastic it has great description and I love the way R.J. Palacio writes from the point of view of a child.”

“Don’t judge a boy by his face.”

Congratulations to Ms. Palacio! Your award will be kept for safekeeping in our classroom. You may come pick it up at any time.

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.
See the 7A Class Book Award.

2013 Frannies: The 7A Class Award

I am so pleased to begin this year’s Frannies tonight. There were so many great books published in 2012, and we only get to award a small handful of them. It’s like tasting water from springs all around the world and picking the best ones. The reality is, most of them are good, and many of them are really, really good. And almost all of them are good for you (though some may have 50 Shades of Pollutants). It’s tough to pick just one.


Pick one we must.

The 7A class is a group of ladies and gentlemen who have read quite a bit during the school year, and a wide variety. The 26 of them voted for 9 different titles for their class award, after nominating 17 books.

2 of the books received enough votes to be considered “Honor” books. They are:

Click for the Goodreads Page






Wonder by R.J. Palacio                                             and                                            Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

Look at those covers. Kind of cool how blue plays such a major role and we can only see the right eye of the face on the cover. . .yet they are still in stark contrast to each other.

Congratulations to our 7A Honor Books, but we have bigger fish to fry. The 2013 7A Class Book Award Winner is. . .

Mark of Athena

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan!

A 7A student writes:
The Mark of Athena was a superb book. It was full of surprises and cliffhangers, and is one of my favorite books.”

Mr. Riordan is unable to join us tonight, but I am sure he is grateful for this honor. Mr. Riordan, you may stop by at any time to pick up your award.

Go back to the 2013 Frannies Main Page.

Announcing the 2013 Frannies!

Welcome, everyone, to the best week of book awards all year! That’s right; I’m talking about the 2013 St. Francis Middle School Book Awards, or the Frannies! Each day, I will reveal an award winner, leading up to next Sunday’s reveal of the Wyzbery, and Monday’s unveiling of the 2013 ALA Book & Media Awards*

First, a word from our sponsors.


Ah, that’s a glorious word, isn’t it? All right, time to get down to brass tacks. The Frannies were first instituted in 2012, and one award was given: the Wyzbery. In 2013, we have expanded the awards to 8: one per homeroom (two 7th grade and two 8th grade), 3 genre awards, and, of course, the Wyzbery for Best Book of 2012.

The students have each read at least one book from 2012, ensuring that every voter has at least one dog in the race, so to speak. The students chose the genres we would be awarding this year, wrote the criteria for the awards, nominated titles, gave speeches explaining how their book met the criteria (and should therefore win the award), and, finally, voted. I have compiled the votes, and will be over here smirking like a jackal as I know the winners. And they’re goooooood.

The awards will be revealed according to the schedule below. All reveals will be posted at 7 PM EST, unless otherwise noted. When the posts are published, they will be linked here.

Sunday, January 20: 7A Book Award
Monday, January 21: 7B Book Award
Tuesday, January 22: 8A Book Award
Wednesday, January 23: 8B Book Award
Thursday, January 24: Realistic Fiction Award
Friday, January 25: Fantasy Award
Saturday, January 26: Dystopian Award
Sunday, January 27: The Wyzbery
Monday, January 28: ALA Book and Media Awards* (at 11 AM EST)

Good luck to all books published in 2012 and their authors!

*I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure the American Library Association desires no affiliation with the Frannies.