December 9, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Disastrous Journey, but the Book’s Sure Good

BOUND BY ICE  by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace has a lot of qualities that I look for in narrative nonfiction.  It’s a highly absorbing survival story with lots of suspense.  The historical figures have distinct and engaging personalities.  And it’s a piece of history that most readers won’t know about already.  With a compelling true […]

So Much Nonfiction, So Little Time

I’ve thought about doing separate posts for some of these titles, and still may, but my list of nonfiction-books-I’d-really-like-to-discuss keeps getting longer.  So here’s sort of a catch-up post of a half-dozen titles (in Dewey Decimal order) that could be worthy of Newbery consideration: FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION:  THE FRAMERS, THEIR FIGHTS, AND THE FLAWS […]

Language and Length in The Glass Town Game

In THE GLASS TOWN GAME, four Bronte siblings (yes, those Brontes) travel to a magical world filled with characters and settings from the their own imaginative games.  I went back and forth on this book several times while I read it, and it shows in my thoughts below: The language is eloquent, imaginative, clever, often […]

November Nominations: Only Two This Time!

The real Newbery Committee members will submit two more Nominations in November.  They each select three books in October, then two each in November and December for a total of seven.  We collected nominations from 22 people in October, and the results are here.  Now it’s time to think about two for November. We’re also working […]

Novels in Verse: Two Out of Three Isn’t Bad

This week Roxanne and Sharon both introduced books for older readers with thoughtful arguments for why they should be considered possible Newbery contenders.  I’ll start this post on novels in verse with a title that falls clearly on the other side of the line for me.  David Elliott’s BULL is one of my favorite books […]

The Message of Ms. Liberty’s Foot

My county library system catalog lists 34 nonfiction books about the Statue of Liberty.  I think I’ve actually only read one (Lynn Curlee’s, which was excellent), but I’m pretty confident that none of them resembles HER RIGHT FOOT in terms of style, presentation of information, or interpretation of theme.  It starts out light and conversational:   […]

Sequels, Prequels, and Companions

There’s plenty of precedent for sequels getting Newbery recognition.  DEAD END IN NORVELT and A YEAR DOWN YONDER are medal books from this century; earlier Dicey Tillerman, Will Stanton, and Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper, among others, all debuted in earlier books before winning the gold. The Terms and Criteria state that “The committee’s decision is […]

He’s Actually Really Good at Rhyming

Chris Harris’ I’M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING AND OTHER NONSENSE FOR MISCHIEVOUS KIDS AND IMMATURE GROWN-UPS is a strong collection of funny poems.  Which might not be enough for Newbery consideration, but there’s a little more here. For one thing, the poems work together to create a sort of unified world of wordplay that’s […]

A Top Three? Already?

Steven: Some time in October, Newbery Committee members will each submit three official Nominations.  They’ll do two more each in November and December, for a total of seven. Nominations are not ranked, just submitted as a group. Up until now, members have been submitting monthly Suggestions.  This is how they share titles of the books […]

Give Picture Book Non-fiction a Chance?

Non-fiction books in a picture book format  can be a hard sell in a Newbery discussion. The Terms and Criteria state that the “distinguished contribution to American literature” is “defined as text.” And in the best picture book non-fiction, like the best picture books and graphic novels, text and illustrations are usually dependent on one another. But […]

Rose Lee Carter and the Historical Fiction Advantage

Historical fiction has done well over the years in terms of Newbery recognition. In the past ten years, about 43% of the Medal and Honor books fit the category (18 of 42 if you count “When You Reach Me” and “Splendors and Glooms”), and all but one year included at least one historical fiction title. […]

No stars. None taken.

The category of Funny-Middle-School-First-Romance is always well represented on library shelves, but when it comes to Newbery recognition…well, ”none taken,” as Gracie from Well, That Was Awkward would say. It’s her response when someone has insulted her, but hasn’t said “no offense” (p. 7, 134-5, 250). Published reviews of Rachel Vail’s book are strongly positive, […]

2 Brothers, 6 Stars, and 454 pages

I’m Steven Engelfried, one of the new Heavy Medal bloggers. Besides being an avid reader of the blog since it started, I’ve served on the Newbery Committee a couple times. I was on the 2010 Committee (When You Reach Me) and was chair of the 2013 Committee (The One and Only Ivan). I’ll jump right […]