At the end of this week the committees will start their discussions. What haven’t we covered enough yet?
I want to highlight one other Best Books Outlier, Tim Tingle’s HOW I BECAME A GHOST: A CHOCTAW TRAILS OF TEARS STORY, which showed up on Kirkus’ Best list, and also got a strong review from Horn Book. It bears an uncanny resemblance in concept to GHOST HAWK, as the Native American protagonist is killed at some point in the book and becomes a ghost. However, in Tingle’s book the reader knows this from the outset; the narrator is similar in structure to that in FAR FAR AWAY…he tells us he’s a ghost, tells us on page one that he becomes a ghost at some point in the story; and once he becomes a ghost, has agency in the outcome of events (and will continue to, as this is the first of a trilogy). The story is well plotted, well paced, with great historical content and character development. I wouldn’t call it “distinguished” in these regards, and the prose is somewhat stilted, but it presents such a dramatically different perspective than Cooper’s work that I highly recommend you read it. Tingle is a Choctaw storyteller, and readers get a vivid sense of being told a story that has been faithfully passed through generations.
Meanwhile, as the votes pour in at the Virtual Mock Supercommittee, I see some titles cropping up repeatedly that we’ve covered here already, although some of you’ve expressed the desire to return to them. Care to make your pitches?
DOLL BONES, THE REAL BOY, and COUNTING BY 7S are not surprising, though I personally still have a hard time getting behind them for Newbery. I actually just finally finished COUNTING by 7s and was very much disappointed, for similar reasons as other commenters in the post…mostly found the plot manipulative and unbelievable. While the “vague person of color” didn’t bother me too much, it did when combined with what I saw as very obvious other people-of-color stereotypes. Mai is “exotic,” Year of the Dragon, with a temper/mouth, her mom runs a nail salon. Come on. Lots of inconsistencies in Willow’s character, for plot conveniences, as well.
Also showing well in the voting are some that got light coverage here and which I’d be more hopeful about (and considered for our shortlist), YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, FLORA & ULYSSES and BETTER NATE THAN EVER. All I think show much more believable character development, tightness of plotting, and vividness/believability of voice and setting than the titles above.
How about some of the titles that got early appreciation and contention, and then we seem to have dropped? I see rare votes out there for NAVIGATING EARLY, CENTER OF EVERYTHING, and HOKEY POKEY.
Back here I asked you to share which books, which we hadn’t touched on yet at all, that you’d like us to. ZEBRA FOREST was actually already covered, but maybe needs a revisit? I haven’t read WHAT WE FOUND IN THE SOFA AND HOW IT SAVED THE WORLD or THE PAPERBOY. Who has?
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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 email@example.com
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