October 2, 2014

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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


“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.


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 [...]

Doll Bones

Poppy set down one mermaid doll close to the stretch of asphalt road that represented the Blackest Sea. They were old—bought from Goodwill—with big shiny heads, different colored tails and frizzy hair. Then the mermaids waited for the boat to get closer, their silly plastic smiles hiding their lethal intentions. They’d crash the ship against [...]

The Thing About Luck

Kouun  is “good luck” in Japanese, and one year my family had none of it.  We were cursed with bad luck.  Bad luck chased us around, pointing her bony finger.  We got seven flat tires in six weeks.  I got malaria, one of fifteen hundred cases in the United States that year.  And my grandmother’s [...]

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

When MOON OVER MANIFEST won the Newbery Medal a couple of years back it took us by surprise.  The book had three starred reviews, but it was a debut novel published in October.  It definitely flew under our radar.  I enjoyed the book very much and looked forward to Vanderpool’s sophomore effort to see whether [...]

The Tip of the Iceberg

The Tip of the Iceberg

At the end of the last Heavy Medal season, Wendy announced– I’m now retiring from Newbery fandom. This was my fifth year, and I read more widely than ever before thanks to the great Seattle Public Library system that I’m now privy to (72 books that I considered eligible for the Newbery, plus a number of [...]