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October 21, 2014

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Can Mythology or Folklore Win the Newbery Medal?

Can Mythology or Folklore Win the Newbery Medal?

Every once in a blue moon the Newbery committee recognizes a work of mythology or folklore.  Don’t hold your breath, though, as the last book recognized was IN THE BEGINNING by Virginia Hamilton (1989), and before that WHEN SHLEMIEL WENT TO WARSAW (1969) and ZLATEH THE GOAT (1967), both by Isaac Bashevis Singer.  THE WHITE [...]

If You Say It Right, It Helps the Heart to Bear It

If You Say It Right, It Helps the Heart to Bear It

After a series of wonderful poetry collections about sundry animals in their natural habitats, Joyce Sidman turns her prodigious talents to the most fascinating one of all: the human animal and its singular talent for language. BLESSING ON THE CURL OF CAT As cat curls in a circle of sun– sleek and round,  snug and [...]

P.S. Be Eleven

P.S. Be Eleven

There’s no doubt that P.S. BE ELEVEN is one of the best books of the year, and most of the criticisms that I’ve seen about this book (including one of my own) fall on the peccadillo side of the fence rather than the fatal flaw side of the fence.  Let’s consider a few of them [...]

The Animal Book

The Animal Book

Can a reference book win the Newbery? Yes, it can, according to Jonathan Hunt of the blog Heavy Medal.

San Diego Mock Newbery

Some of you may have noticed a new change in my bio statement recently, but if not then I’ll take this opportunity to mention that I took a new job at the beginning of October as the County Schools Librarian at the San Diego County Office of Education.  Which means that I will, unfortunately, not [...]

Can Randolph Caldecott Win the Newbery Medal?

Can Randolph Caldecott Win the Newbery Medal?

If I’ve heard this once this year, I’ve heard it a dozen times: It’s a weak year for nonfiction.  Actually, this isn’t really true.  It’s an average year for nonfiction, but it seems weaker because (a) last year was so unbelievably awesome and (b) the strong nonfiction this year isn’t the kind that tends to [...]

National Book Award

National Book Award

Tonight, the winner of the National Book Award will be announced.  While I was disappointed that the longlist did not include more genre/audience diversity–Are 9 of the top 10 books for children in any given year really prose novels?–I must say this is one of the best shortlists in recent memory.  There really isn’t a head-scratcher [...]

November Nominations

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“Okay, it’s time for us (and the real Newbery committee) to submit two more nominations for the month of November,” writes Jonathan Hunt, on the blog Heavy Medal.

Jinx

gold letters, figure to left, lots of green

JINX by Sage Blackwood is another January publication that has waited patiently for some discussion.  This one scores high for me in all the criteria, and yet I find myself sort of lukewarm about it as a Newbery hopeful, and I’m not exactly sure why.  It does have a Lloyd Alexander/Diana Wynne Jones vibe to it–which [...]

One Came Home

One Came Home

ONE CAME HOME by Amy Timberlake came out way back in January and has waited patiently for some attention on this blog.  It falls into a subgenre that I think on the whole is overrated and overrepresented: Spunky/Feisty/Quirky Girl with a Southern/Country/Folksy Voice and a Dead/Missing/Absent Mother (or in this case Sister).  When it’s done [...]

Counting By 7s

green fish left and right of red one; white background

I’LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan was always on my list of books to read because of the interesting plot summary and the appealing cover art but I never got around to it, so I had to change that this time around when her second book, COUNTING BY 7s, racked up even more starred [...]

What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?

What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?

A couple years ago, Neil Gaiman delivered the Zena Sutherland Lecture which was reprinted in the Horn Book with this title.  Gaiman examined this question by considering his three works in progress.  Incidentally, they were all published this year: CHU’S DAY (a picture book), FORTUNATELY, THE MILK (a beginning chapter book), and THE OCEAN AT [...]

Revisiting Sequels: Larson, Farmer, Gantos

Revisiting Sequels: Hattie, Opium, Norvelt

We’ve already discussed P.S. BE ELEVEN and AL CAPONE DOES MY HOMEWORK, but there is also a further trio of Newbery sequels to consider this year: HATTIE EVER AFTER, THE LORD OF OPIUM, and FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE. I never read HATTIE BIG SKY because it didn’t have much buzz going into the YMAs and [...]

Getting Real

Getting Real

I’m as happy as the next person to enthusiastically recommend THE REAL BOY to adults and children for pleasure reading, but like Nina I have grave reservations about it as a Newbery book.  I’m hesitant to follow her mixed review with one of my own, especially because not many people have spoken up in favor [...]

Looking Back: 2005

Mark Flowers has an interesting series on his blog, Crossreferencing, in which he revisits the Printz choices from previous years to see whether he agrees with them or not.  He’s done 2000-2003 so far.  It’s a fun exercise, and while I don’t have the stamina to start the same thing here, I’m going to revisit [...]

Ghost Hawk

At last!  It’s time to talk about GHOST HAWK, arguably Susan Cooper’s best book since The Dark Is Rising Sequence.  (I say arguably because I think the other book you can make a case for is KING OF SHADOWS.)  That’s not really part of the Newbery criteria, however, but the book does well in that [...]

October Nominations

October Nominations

Each member of the Newbery committee will submit three nominations to the chair sometime during the month of October, probably on or around October 15.  Each nomination is submitted with a brief written justification.  My strategy at this point is quite simple: I’m going to nominate the three best titles.  In no particular order. ERUPTION! by [...]

Scientists in the Field

As you well know, last year was an amazing year for nonfiction.  We had an unprecedented amount of depth and quality in the field, and while only one nonfiction book–BOMB–cracked the Newbery roster, I felt that several additional titles, namely MOONBIRD and TITANIC, were similarly worthy.  While the nonfiction field is much thinner this year, there are still [...]

The Year of Billy Miller (and Other Beginning Chapter Books)

It was the first day of second grade and Billy Miller was worried.  He was worried he wouldn’t be smart enough for the school year. There was a reason Billy was worried.  Two weeks earlier on their drive home from visiting Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota . . . While I [...]

Penny and Her Marble (and Other Easy Readers)

Aside from the comparative simplicity of the text and the interdependence of text and illustrations, the biggest problem the committee faces in evaluating easy readers for Newbery recognition is that most publishers simply do not submit them, leaving committee members to find–and champion–them on their own.  That’s easy to do when you have big names [...]