Friday, November 11

Mock Newbery 2017

So maybe I'm calling it too early, but too bad. I want to share the books that I think should receive some Newbery attention.

Granted, with recent shake-ups in the norm (yes, I'm referring to the picture book that won last year, and the recent graphic novel honorees), it's pretty hard to get a good feel for what the committee might be eyeing. But I'm still going to take a stab at it. Or at least share some of my favorite middle-grade fiction from the last year, anyway.

And no, I know, I've never been spot on right, but I've gotten an honoree or two (see my mock 2015 and mock 2016). This year, there's a lot of good, but not one that just totally stands out to me like the last few years. It's a hard selection this year. I seriously spent a lot of time thinking about these.

But here are what I would call "the most distinguished contribution[s] to American literature for children"
(click on book cover for associate Amazon link for summaries, etc.)

Newbery Medal Winner

Jason Reynolds
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Ghost right now is my top choice (maybe because it's my most recent read?). Really, though, to me, it's definitely distinguished. I haven't read much in the way of track stories, which makes this pretty unique. But it's also so much deeper than just a sports story, what with different family issues, bullying, class, and race. What's most impressive to me, though, is the voice—very authentic and consistent (the character voice seems like a big theme among Newbery winners).  Also (a big also), is that it actually would appeal to its target audience. I think kids would enjoy it without much cajoling from adults. You can see my original review back here.

The Newbery Honors

Lauren Wolk
Dutton Books

Wolf Hollow is also a major contender because I am not sure I have read such amazing writing from any children's author ever. Seriously. But MAN, the topic is...rough. It's hard to say it's for children when there is so much evil, and heartbreak, and harsh reality in this book. I mean, it's not just bullying, it's sociopathic behavior. I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Really, the committee could go either way with this one. See my long-winded, original review here.

Leslie Connnor
Katherine Tegen Books

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook. This one is my personal favorite, but I'm not sure if it's quite distinguished enough for the committee. I, for one, loved that it wasn't another depressing novel as it dealt with serious issues--Perry faced his injustice with sadness, yes, but eventually conquered it. And plus the characters, the variety and such, were just so awesome. But, in the end, some gaps in the story might keep it from the gold. See my original review here.

Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray

Pax has been a popular Newbery pick for sure. It's on a lot of peoples' lists. Indeed, the whole half of the book that takes place from a fox's point of view is fascinating—so well done and (yes) distinguished. I honestly thought the writing in those parts were really quite amazing. And, the universality of the setting (by which I mean the author never really outlines a year or place) makes the underlying themes and messages (the horrors of war, family relationships, etc.) pretty poignant. But the other half of the book, from the boy's perspective, did not quite do as well. I would even say it was drab and boring. And then the fox theme kept coming up in other books this year, taking away from its uniqueness. I don't know that it will win the gold, but it definitely deserves recognition. Here's my original review.

Peter Brown
Little, Brown Books

Wild Robot was distinguished for its story. A robot crash landing on an island and befriending its animals? Yeah, funky. Great for kids (especially with the illustrations), and yet, he still manages to work in some heavy-handed topics as well, such as environmental issues and robot ethics. I liked it, I think the committee just might, too. See my original review for more thoughts.

Personal Favorite

Kate Beasley
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

The one I wish would get more recognition but I'm not sure that it Gertie's Leap to Greatness. I love the characters, especially Gertie. Her spunk and attitude are so awesome. And it does sort of deal with some heavier issues like bullying and environmental concerns. Somehow, though, I don't know that it will be distinguished enough for an award. But still read it, okay?? Here's my original review.

Other Contenders
(that I haven't read and can't really say much about but other people have and so it's on my to-read list)


Ah well. Speculation, speculation. We'll just have to wait until January to see! But hey. What about you? What book do you think should win the Newbery?

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