Too Many Books, Too Little Time
We’re quickly running out of time to discuss numerous other Newbery possibilities. Betsy mentioned the usual suspects in her last Newbery/Caldecott prediction post, opining that we may well have a wild card winner this year. So without further ado, some more wild card possibilities . . .
THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew Kirby . . . This one has been mentioned a couple of times in the comments. A solid debut with clever, inventive storytelling, but it lacked that extra something special.
FINDING FAMILY by Tonya Bolden . . . Another one that has been mentioned in the comments several times. I’m intrigued by how she’s used photographs, but I haven’t read it. Anyone care to argue its case here?
HEART OF A SAMURAI by Margi Preus . . . This one had four starred reviews, so it’s hard to call it a wild card, but we’ve barely mentioned it here. I liked it (love the cover!), but as historical fiction, I find it standing in line behind ONE CRAZY SUMMER and FORGE, as fictionalized biography, it’s behind THE DREAMER and WICKED GIRLS, and . . . I guess I just preferred Rhoda Blumberg’s nonfiction account, SHIPWRECKED!
KAKAPO RESCUE by Sy Montgomery . . . Montgomery is a two-time Sibert Honor author, and I’d love to see her graduate to Newbery Honor status. I think the series as a whole suffers from the same thing that may have hurt MARCHING FOR FREEDOM which is that the illustrations and book design are as prominent as the text. Never been an issue for me.
LING & TING by Grace Lin . . . This one has four best of the year lists, but I just don’t think it’s quite up to Newbery standards. I actually think BINK & GOLLIE and WE ARE IN A BOOK! are better books (although not nearly as well suited to be judged on text alone).
A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park . . . A short, powerful book about life in Sudan featuring contemporary and historical strands. Could be a Newbery Honor, but strikes me as more of a Notable book.
MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool . . . Three starred reviews. Another one for the historical fiction heap. Nina and I both tried this one as a potential shortlist book, but neither of us could make it past several chapters. Good, just not compelling–at least not for us. Maybe we didn’t read far enough in?
THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING by Maryrose Wood . . . The first book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place reads like Joan Aiken meets Lemony Snicket. Would probably also make for good comparison with A TALE DARK AND GRIMM and THE KNEEBONE BOY, at least in terms of “intrusive” narrators.
PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder . . . Another one I haven’t read, but it has been mentioned in the comments. Further arguments?
PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow . . . I haven’t been able to get back to this one, but I remain intrigued by the mystery of the shadow. It is lovely and atmospheric, but it just took too long revealing some of its secrets. Reminded me of Lyra and Pan among the Gyptians . . .
So please come forward with any comments on these books, other books we may have missed, or books we previously discussed that didn’t make our shortlist. What’s your best wild card?
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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