Don’t judge a book by its topic: An MCBA Post

January 2020 has arrived and I can’t wait to vote for my favorite MCBA book! For those who don’t live in Massachusetts, or who don’t know about MCBA, it stands for Massachusetts Children’s Book Award. Children around the state have the opportunity to vote for their nominated favorite book. It’s an award powered by kids’ choice!

As a teacher, I also read the books nominated. I loved every book, which means I need time to think long and hard before voting. Two middle grade (MG) books from this year’s list stand out to me for opposing reasons: I knew I would love the one about the dog, but I didn’t expect to like the “basketball” book.

I knew from the title that I would love Patricia MacLachlan’s The Poet’s Dog. The communication between Teddy (the dog) and the two children exceeded even my high expectations. I laughed at dog antics. I cried over Teddy’s loss. When I was done, I gave my own pups an extra squeeze.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander was a book I avoided as I made my way down the MCAD list. Maybe I didn’t want to read it because of my terrible experience during a fourth-grade P.E. basketball skills class (which is a story for another time). But the basketball-loving students in my current classroom devoured this book. They passed it to other kids. They held it high above their heads’ and claimed that I had to read it. So I did…and I was wrong. This book is about so much more than basketball. The father-son relationship and the use of verse to tell the story makes me want to read it again, and then pass it along to the next reader echoing my students’ insistence: “You have to read this.”

Voting hasn’t happened yet, and you only need to read 5 books from the MCBA list! For more information, check out this link:

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award

Happy reading, happy writing, happy sharing!


By Patricia MacLaughlan
Katherine Tegen Books, 2016


THE CROSSOVER (The Crossover Series)
By Kwame Alexander
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014
2015 Newbery Medal Winner


A version of this post also appears at Lexi Donahue’s blog, January 14, 2020


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