Here are a few more award nominated books.
I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson, Carolrhoda Books, 2010. Emma is an unusual 11 year old, taller than most with fiery red hair. Her family lives up to their "freaky" name. Donatella, her mom, acts more like an older sister, which leaves poor Emma in charge of their store and living arrangements. Her dad is MIA and until now she only has one friend.
Emma has never felt like she belonged but all that changes when she finds out that there is a whole side of her family she never knew. When she meets the other Freke at their annual Family Reunion she starts to see that there is a lot more to her than just her odd name. I loved Emma's transformation throughout the book from self-doubting to self-confident. This book will be a great read for both boys and girls dealing with change and acceptance.
Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz, Wendy Lamb Books, 2011. Another book about an 11 year old girl dealing with a family situation. I wasn't hook onto this book right away with the story dragging on until the last chapters when you can see the Gold's transformation. The best way to describe Calli's family is to say they are overachievers. Their goal is to excel at everything they try. They reach for the gold just like their last name. The family calendar is crowded with post it notes for all of Calli's siblings extra curricular activities...except for Calli, she hasn't found her passion yet and not for lack of trying. She hates the family competition but doesn't know how to make them stop. Truth be told all of them are tired but can't imagine giving up or admitting that they would rather do something else. What would it take for this family to change? I enjoyed the ending of this book when we are all given permission to just be who we are.
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer, Viking Children Books, 2011. This is a sweet story about struggling dreams and how to make them come true. Foster McFee's dreams of becoming a chef and she has the goods- cupcakes- for it to be a reality. Her mom dreams of being the lead singer instead of back-up. Her friend Macon wants to be a documentary filmmaker once he gets his first camera. And Miss Charlenna just needs to believe she can be the actress she once was. Their little town is full of dreams and they will all have a chance to make them come true when the town is put on the map big time.