Read up - for the ORCA!

What is the ORCA? Well, it's a whale…but not in this case.

This ORCA is an award for youthful readers is intended to offer a fun and exciting way for Oregon students in grades 4 through 12 to become enthusiastic and discriminating readers. During the course of the school year, Oregon students choose their favorite book in a real-life democratic process.

These books must be nominated, in order to be included on the ORCA ballot. In order to be considered, the book needs to have a copyright date of two years prior to when the ballots are announced. This delay ensures that the title will be readily available in paperback during the voting year.

Oregon students, teachers, and librarians are all able to nominate books. The nominations are reviewed by a committee of librarians and educators. The committee creates the final ballots based upon a number of criteria - including literary quality, creativity, reading enjoyment, reading level and regional interest.

Who may vote? Oregon students in grades 4 through 12 - who must have read at least two books from the list. Ballots are usually available at Oregon schools, or may be printed out from the Oregon Library Association website in the spring.

Voting will be open March 1-31, 2012. See this website for details: .

Here are the nominees for the 2012 competition!

Starting with the Junior Division (upper elementary): 'The Day-Glo Brothers' by Chris Barton; 'N.E.R.D.S' by Michael Buckley; 'Magician's Elephant' by Kate DiCamillo; 'Odd and the Frost Giants' by Neil Gaiman; 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon' by Grace Lin; '11 Birthdays' by Wendy Mass; 'Heart of a Shepherd' by Rosanne Perry; and 'The Storm in the Barn' by Matt Phelan.

In the Intermediate Division (middle school): 'North of Beautiful' by Justina Chen Headley; 'Scat' by Carl Hiaasen; 'Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice' by Phillip Hoose; 'The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate' by Jacqueline Kelly; 'The Carbon Diaries, 2015' by Saci Lloyd; 'Notes from the Dog' by Gary Paulsen; 'When You Reach Me' by Rebecca Stead; and 'Leviathan' by Scott Westerfeld.

In the Senior Division (high school): 'Wintergirls' by Laurie Halse Anderson; 'Tales of the Madman Underground' by John Barnes; 'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner; 'If I Stay' by Gayle Forman; 'Love is the Higher Law' by David Levithan; 'Marcelo in the Real World' by Francisco X. Stork; 'Lips Touch: Three Times' by Laini Taylor; and 'The Monstrumologist' by Richard Yancey.

These are some of the most interesting books published in the last few years. Read up, and be ready to cast your vote this spring!

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