Looking Back: 2007
Last year, we began a retrospective series where we revisited the 2005 Newbery crop. This year, we’re going to turn our attention to the 2007 Newbery picks.
Susan Patron won for THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY. You’ll remember there was a big fuss made in some quarters about the use of the word “scrotum” which unfortunately detracted from the celebration of these titles. Patron has since written two sequels, LUCKY BREAKS and LUCKY FOR GOOD, but I think I’m not alone in wanting to see what her first non-Lucky book will look like, since sequels have such a hard time of it during Newbery discussions.
Jennifer Holm picked up the second of her three Newbery honors for PENNY FROM HEAVEN. Of course, she would score again several years later with TURTLE IN PARADISE, and this year she is once again in the thick of the conversation with THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. Cynthia Lord won a Schneider Family Book Award at the beginning of the YMAs, and then scored again with a Newbery Honor for RULES at the end. She’s written HALF A CHANCE this year, but despite its three starred reviews, it didn’t generate much discussion here. Kirby Larson’s HATTIE BIG SKY took the remaining Honor book. Larson wrote a sequel, HATTIE EVER AFTER, last year that got some discussion. These are both kind of middle school books, but DUKE and, this year, DASH plant her firmly in juvenile territory. We haven’t given either book much discussion, although I think they are well written and fairly popular with children.
K.T. Horning recently wrote a series for the Horn Book on various Caldecott books through the decades, and one of those articles was about HEY, AL! which she dubbed “the quirky choice.” Since THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY seemed to come out of left field (and with little fanfare), I think it’s fair to dub this one a quirky choice, too. Morever, the honor books were similarly unheralded, compounding the perception that the choices were “quirky.” In retrospect, I don’t have a problem with any of the books recognized in this particular year; what is more problematic, I think, is that they are all idiosyncratic choices. Does it reflect poorly on the committee when they ignore all the popular favorites in favor of an entire slate of obscure titles?
WHAT COULD HAVE WON
Since I had just come off Newbery and was slated to go on Printz the following year, I was taking a bit of a breather and had not read any of the aforementioned books prior to the announcement (and I still haven’t read the honor books). I also had only read these first two here.
I did read THE KING OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whalen Turner, and that would have been my choice for the Medal from what I did read. We sing Turner’s praises on this blog every time she comes out with a new book–and with good reason. Still, I suspect the sequel issue and the age issue must have hampered the book in discussion and made it difficult to build consensus around. We had another love fest when A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS was published several years ago, and from what I understand there will be two more books in this series, so there’s yet hope.
Many people bet that Kate DiCamillo would pick up her second Medal for THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE which had already scored the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. Was it the crucified bunny or the precious tone that doomed the book. No matter. DiCamillo won her second Medal last year for FLORA & ULYSSES.
I’m always intrigued when Horn Book and Bulletin–the two stingiest review journals–are the only ones to star a particular book, yet that’s what happened when Laura Amy Schlitz published her debut, A DROWNED MAIDEN’S HAIR. Of course, Schlitz would later win the Medal for GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! and an Honor for SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS.
Speaking of debut novels, what about the beginning of that wonderful chapter book series: CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker. We’ve discussed later books in the series, but we can never seem to escape that freshness of meeting this character for the first time. Been there, done that. Or so it would seem.
If none of the previous books have lacked for an audience despite a lack of Newbery recognition, the same cannot be said for this final book: A TRUE AND FAITHFUL NARRATIVE by Katherine Sturtevant. This is a companion to an earlier book, AT THE SIGN OF THE STARS, but it stands alone. I have it on good authority that this was one of the very best books of the year–and now it is virtually unknown. Of course, the same could be said of so many books published in any given year. If only.
Filed under: Uncategorized
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
SLJ Blog Network