reading for the Gryphon award

Here I am, posting in a potentially controversial matter, as I keep track of what I read and yet also take part in the Gryphon Award selection. So let me disclaim: I'll be writing about books that are some of the many, many contenders. I won't be writing about all the books I read. In other words, friends and publishers, I won't be giving away secrets here.

That said, I've enjoyed reading...
Becoming Teddy Roosevelt by Claudia Mills
The protagonist is a kid who has little money but big ambitions to play the saxophone. In 4th grade, the music instructor has given kids the option to buy or rent instruments, but our hero can afford neither. Meanwhile, he and his classmates are assigned "famous people in history" about whom they must complete a report and as whom they must dress up and attend a tea party. Surprisingly, after much complaining, the kids actually get into the idea.

The most poignant moments are when the main character notes all the videogames and other things his well-off best friend owns, because he does so without sentimentality or raging envy. The prose suggests that this is the way it is, he has less money than his friend, and that creates an obstacle for things like playing saxophone. All ends well, as it usually does with school-based middle-grade short novels.