Here it is July 21st and I am finally getting around to blogging once again. I have been posting about some outstanding books on Facebook but, in the end, I think it is worthwhile opening this blog back up.
If not for anything else than to talk about my extraordinary experience on Newbery. I have posted the winner above followed by the three honors in no particular order. You should read or listen to each and every one of them right away! Interesting that I point out listening because two of the Newbery Honor winners walked away with Odyssey Awards as well! The War That Saved My Life, read by Jayne Entwistle (narrator extraordinaire), won the main award and the multi-voiced Echo won the Honor. Echo stands out for the harmonica music (see below) that flows in and out throughout the book as well as marvelous narrators. Both were absolutely extraordinary!
As you can see, our committee chose a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De la Pena, as the Newbery winner. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the book has spectacular art by Christian Robinson either. I have heard some chatter about the appropriateness of a picture book for the Newbery but I should point out that the age range for Newbery consideration is 0-14. That is quite an age span, isn’t it? In addition, picture books have won before. Does that surprise you? Two that come to mind are Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson in 2006 and Nancy Willard for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers in 1982.
And what about that crazy year when The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick won the 2008 Caldecott Award? I think looking outside the box is a good thing. Of course, I served on that committee as well.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is an astonishing read (there is no one I have given it to that hasn’t loved it, truth to tell) set during WWII in London during the Blitzkrieg. Ada has a club foot and is unable to leave her flat to go to school or see her little corner of the world up close. Her mother is a nightmare but it is actually the evacuation of children to the countryside that changes the course of Ada’s young life. The road is diffcult, to be sure, but the journey is so worth reading.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan was amazing as well. It’s also set during the WWII era and focuses on three different children whose lives are altered by the war. Believe it or not, the story connects these characters by a harmonica. Who would have thought it! The harmonica starts off in Germany at the factory where it is made and played by a young boy, Friedrich, living in fear of persecution. It next appears with two boys in an orphanage in Pennsylvania. Mike becomes entranced with the harmonica and hopes it will help him earn money to keep his brother safe. Ivy Lopez moves around a lot in California following the crops that need to be tended to. Ultimately they find themselves caring for a small farm whose owners are incarcerated at a Japanese Internment camp. The interconnectivity of the plot provides cliffhangers that will keep any young reader engaged.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is in a category all its own. It’s a coming of age story that follows Astrid as she realizes that she and her best friend are growing apart. Nicole loves ballet and Astrid follows her lead. But when Astrid’s mother takes them to a roller derby match, Astrid is hooked? What happens to the friendship? Can we change and still be friends? Astrid works her rear end off all summer learning roller derby and while she finds that it has its challenges, she loves it. Kudos to the author for not making her the best at it and tying it all up in a bow at the end. All this, by the way, in a graphic novel format. The cover alone sells this novel and the what’s in between the cover dazzles.
Now we are all on to reading the next great books and I already have some great ones to share with you. More soon!