Thursday, January 24, 2013

Newbery Award Hopefuls

Here's what I think *might* win the Newbery.

The Newbery is arguably the most famous of the ALA Youth Media Awards, and unarguably the award that has been around the longest (since 1922!) This award is given to the oustanding book for children up until the age of 14 and has been given to such classics as The Giver, The Westing Game, and Holes.
MANY children's books are written every year and many of those are good, but here are the 10 I think might be deemed the MOST DISTINGUSHED of them all:
  1. Chickadee by Louise Erdrich. This may be a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but I *really* want Erdrich to win the Newbery this year. She's been writing quality children's books for ages with nary a recognition. This year she's already won the National Book Award for her adult novel The Round House and she's won the Scott O'Dell Award for outstanding historical fiction novel for children for Chickadee; could this be the year she's FINALLY recognized by Newbery? This historical tale of the Ojibwa Indians is certainly deserving. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  2. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. When I was a child, I knew Applegate for nothing other than the Animorphs series (anybody else remember those? They have super weird covers). Well, her latest book could not be more different from that popular series. Telling the tale of a real-life gorilla who lived in a shopping mall, this tale is both adorable and harrowing. From my experience this year, this is the popular favorite to win (librarians and teachers on Twitter are CRAZY about this book!) Timely (the real Ivan passed away in the Atlanta Zoo in summer 2012) and heartfelt, this may be the one to beat. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  3. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. I love the way Laura Amy Schlitz writes. She never talks down to her readers and isn't afraid to fill her novels with complicated plotting, turns of phrase, and themes. Her latest is no exception. Splendors and Glooms recalls the best aspects of the Victorian novel while still remaining relevant today. (And reading about evil puppeteers is just awesome.) Schlitz is responsible for one of the more suprising Newbery wins for her book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies and could easily take the gold again this year (although some people acuse Splendors and Glooms of being the worst thing a children's book could be: BORING!) Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  4. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Lin won a Newbery honor a few years ago for the masterful Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and this sort of sequel is every bit as accomplished (perhaps even better!) Inspired by Chinese folklore, this tale is imaginative as all get out and just plain beautiful to boot. I have yet to hear anyone say a bad thing about this novel, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to hear Lin's name on announcement morning. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  5. Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead. Rebecca Stead wrote my favorite Newbery winner OF ALL TIME. A short little book called When you Reach Me. All her other books (including this one) pale in comparison to that masterwork, BUT that doesn't mean that Liar and Spy isn't still distinguished! Far from it! This book is fun and emotional, and has one of those suprise endings for which Stead is becoming famous. Also, it contains a kid who carries around coffee in a flask in his hip pocket which is maybe my favorite character detail in any novel EVER. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  6. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. This is another novel that suffers in comparison to the author's other Newbery winning and honored works. A companion book to the hilarious Bud, Not Buddy The Mighty Miss Malone might not quite be up to the quality of that former work, but it's still an outstanding read. It's come under fire for having a protagonist that's maybe a bit too passive and a plot that's awfully convenient, but it's hard to deny the genius of the characterization. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Do I really thing this first novel will win the Newbery? Not really, but I would be remiss to avoid mentioning it. One of the most popular middle grade novel of 2012, this is a book I recommend constantly. This, my friends, is a book that could change a child's life. The tale of Auggie, a young boy who suffers severe facial deformities, and his first encounter with public school is maybe a bit didactic and the ending much too good to be true, but that doesn't lessen any of the power of the story. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  8. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. This is the first book I read in 2012 and I still have very fond memories of the Civil Rights era story. The characterization is superb and the story is inspired by history that I never learned in school. Some people complain that the plot is too heavily manipulated by the author, but, honestly, I never noticed that at all. A delightful story of friendship and family, I'd be pleased as punch if this were recognized next Monday. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  9. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson. On to the non-fiction! I didn't think it was possible to write a unique book on the Titanic (one of the most popular subjects in kid's literature) but Hopkinson managed it. It's detailed, dramatic, and reads like a novel. Already recognized by the Young Adult Library Services Association in their Oustanding Non-Fiction Award, this could easily add a Newbery sticker to its gorgeous cover. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
  10. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose. Hoose is responsible for one of the most lauded juvenile non-fiction books of the last several years: the excellent Claudette Colvin:Twice Toward Justice. This time he's set his sights on the animal kingdom. He turns the Moonbird into a character as fascinating as those in any novel and tells an amazing story that just happens to be true. Also recognized on YALSA's nonfiction list, this well researched and well written book definitely deserves a place on the Newbery shortlist. Link to this book in JCPL online catalog:
Just want to mention the Steve Sheinkin book Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon here as well. I talked about it in detail in the Printz post, but I could just as easily see it winding up as a Newbery book.
So what do you think? What did I forget?

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