The Brother’s Story
I’ve been running (or getting someone else to run :), thanks Sharon ) a live Mock Newbery discussion in Oakland CA since 2003. Predicting the "winners" has never been the main point for me…it’s the experience of the process, and the sharing of that experience. But when our Mock winners correlate with the actual ones, I can’t pretend I’m not chuffed…and I’ll brag that this group does seem to have a pretty good track record.
That is, except for 2006. The Lucky Scrotum Year.
That was the first year I ran a blog alongside the live discussion, so you can browse Nina’s Newbery if you need a refresher on what were some of the strongest books (from my point of view) that year. Our winner? A Drowned Maiden’s Hair. Our Honor Books: Alabama Moon, The King of Attolia, and A True and Faithful Narrative.
I am a Katherine Sturtevant fan, and thought that A True and Faithful Narrative really had a chance that year. So when I recently saw her name on this otherwise awful cover:
I dove right in. Sure enough: nothing romantic about this story, as the cover wants to suggest. Just immediately gripping characters in a vividly real historical setting–and what a bleak beginning: frozen babies, a mother abandoning her older children and a brother turning to abandon his "simple" twin brother, in order to seek a different future in London Town.
I don’t think this is Sturtevant’s strongest work. There’s a few different competing arcs: the London plot arc within the "Brother’s Story" emotional arc…and the historical setting itself seems to be an arc, or even a character, and almost overtakes the others in places. However, Sturtevant is such a writer–of high and unique talent–that this still stands out among the strong contributions to children’s literature this year.
Anyone else read it?
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About Nina Lindsay
Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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