Thoughts on Newbery: This Monday’s Announcements

I was delighted to be in the room where it happened (well, where it was announced) this year in Seattle. I was 2nd in line due to the energy of my roommate, the irrepressible Susannah Richards, who — as she does — helped the ALSC and convention center staff — manage the line. Meanwhile, I ate donuts offered by another front-liner, agent Barry Greenblatt, and had some fantastic conversations with members of this year’s Notables committee and others.

Oh, and also was talked into this photo. Why this guy was there, I’m not really sure.

Anyway, the real point was the announcements. Sitting directly behind the committee members (due to my hardworking roommate) was great fun. Having been in their seats, I know how incredibly exciting and moving it is to have your selections announced.

Now as to those selections — a reminder: every committee is made up of a group of individuals. A different group of individuals would probably make a different selection. This year’s committee members worked hard all year and then really hard last weekend to make their decisions. Having been there I know how difficult it is to reach consensus. You have to give up beloved titles to get to those that you all can agree on. So while we observers may be surprised and perhaps disappointed in the results, I urge that we respect those who made them. (A few years ago I wrote a post for the Nerdy Book Club that is still relevant: “Top Ten Things You May Not Know About the Newbery Award.”)

While the Newbery winner, Meg Medina’s Merci Suárez Changes Gears, was not among my personal top choices, I had read it with pleasure and think it a terrific choice, one I’d easily have gotten behind if I’d been on the committee. Here’s what I wrote on goodreads last April after reading it:

Lovely spot-on middle grade featuring a close extended Cuban-American family, a realistic middle school, and a warm story. Merci is a delightful character to spend time with along with her friends and family.

Also had read and liked the honors, Veera Hiranandani’s The Night Diary and Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s The Book of Boy.

I was glad some of my personal favorites were recognized in other awards.

  • Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X received the Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Author Award, and an  Odyssey Honor (which is how I experienced the book).
  • Kekla Magoon’s The Season of Styx Malone received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award
  • Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster received a Sydney Taylor Book Award
  • Varian Johnson’s The Parker Inheritance received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award and an  Odyssey Honor (narrated by Cherise Booth).

But it was the Children’s Literature Legacy Award that meant the most to me. It was posthumously given to Walter Dean Myers, one of the great men of this tiny word of books for children.

 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Thoughts on Newbery: This Monday’s Announcements

  1. I’m always on the lookout for you at ALA conferences, and am bummed that I didn’t get to meet you and shake your hand. I share your joy of Sweep, Styx Malone, and Poet X getting some love. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. chrishrv

    I enjoy your thoughts as it helps me re-frame what I consider a disappointing year. I feel the Caldecott might be more difficult. Do you think the awards will ever add an aspect that respects students’ ideas? I know it is a slippery slope yet as librarians suggesting materials, I feel we could have a decent take on the pulse of the population we serve.

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    • I do think the awards consider child audience, but separate that from popularity which is what you may be thinking about. When I was on the committee I definitely ran contenders by my students. I’m sure other committee members do the same. That is why there is such a variety of individuals on the committees, some of whom have direct daily contact with young readers, others who may not but are skilled in other ways.

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