Before anything else I must say — I will admire and honor and applaud the winners, whether they were my personal favorites or not. For all awards are given subjectively. That is, every group of people will have their own tastes and orientations that are bound to affect their decisions, however hard they try for impartiality. As a reminder, here is a post I wrote a few years ago for the Nerdy Book Club giving a sense of how things happen: Top Ten Things You May Not Know About the Newbery Award. Being on an award committee is exciting, but also challenging as anyone who has served on one well knows. So let’s celebrate the work of those doing their final preparations for ALA’s Youth Media Awards — they will be making their decisions this coming Friday – Sunday and these will be announced on Monday. (ETA I wrote this before the Heavy Medal 15, of which I was one, completed their work. Thrilled that I‘m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense was our winner. Congrats to all!)
The following are titles I’d personally be pleased to see honored this year:
- Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down. From my review: “I thought it magnificent.”
- Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello Universe. From my review: “It may be this is a book for introverts? I can’t say, but it provided all that I want in a book for children — an intriguing plot, beautifully articulated characters, tight and elegant sentences, wit, and opportunity for thought.”
- Chris Harris’s I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. From my goodreads review: “Chris Harris is a worthy heir to Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, A. A. Milne, Ogden Nash, and more I can’t think of right now.”
- Eucabeth A. Odhiambo’s Auma’s Long Run. From my review: “Odhiambo relates Auma’s story in clear and direct prose, as practical and realistic as her protagonist. Her descriptions of Auma’s life are vivid and authentic, her scenes raw and real. While there is indeed sorrow and sadness, there is also humor and joy.”
- Dave Eggers’ Her Right Foot. No review, but I thought this outstanding for the voice, the information, and the theme. So did my students when I read it aloud.
- Paul Mosier’s Train I Ride. From my review: “Best of all is the sentence level writing which is a delight.”
- Derrick Barnes’ Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. This is getting a lot of Caldecott buzz rightly for illustrator Gordon C. James, but I think the writing is superb too.
- Rita Williams-Garcia’s Clayton Byrd Goes Underground. I think the sensibility of this title is remarkable; what a feat to communicate the blues, musically, emotionally, and in prose no less.
- Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War I Finally Won. I’d enjoyed this, but it took my fellow Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Committee members (especially here) to convince me that this an elegant and beautifully constructed work worthy of the medal.
- Victoria Jamieson’s All’s Faire in Middle School. Just delightful.
- Shannon Hale’s Real Friends. In my review I wrote, “A piercingly honest view into the complicated social life of one young girl that is certain to resonate for all who have observed, participated, or otherwise experienced the difficult dynamics of school friendships.”
- Deborah Heiligman’s Vincent and Theo. In my Horn Book review I wrote, “The result is a unique and riveting exploration of art, artists, and brotherly love.”