The genesis of this blog was as a discussion platform to build a shortlist for the Mock Newbery discussion I’ve held in Oakland CA for the past (gulp) 11 years.This year we will get together on Sunday January 11th, from 12:30-5pm. Email me if you’d like further details. (Jonathan will hold a Mock Discussion in San Diego as well, date TBA). On that afternoon, having read every book on the shortlist, we’ll replicate the process of the actual Newbery committee to determine our Mock Medalist and Honor books.
Jonathan and I assemble a list of eight titles that we assume are eligible, and which we feel are distinguished under the Newbery criteria. We limit ourselves to books published no later than October so that you can actually get your hands on them and read them in time. And we try to represent the diversity of types of books eligible for the award. There are a good handful of your Top 5 that you don’t see here, and that’s not the last we’ll hear of them…we just weren’t convinced. Those who’ve seen our lists before may be surprised this year not to see some of the less-expected formats that we often try to include, and more on that later. Meanwhile, here are our eight titles, all outstanding in some way, and certainly different in style, approach, and audience. Start reading.
BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander
This is a great example of a clearly distinguished book with flaws. No Newbery winner is perfect, the question is always whether on balance, and in comparison to others, it still rises to the top. The voice and form here are absolutely standout.
THE FAMILY ROMANOV by Candace Fleming
From the last post, we’ll clearly have plenty to talk about. This one tackles the audience age question, among others.
THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
Maybe you didn’t see that one coming? This is our “left field” candidate, the one that doesn’t sound like your “typical” Newbery, whatever that is. Give it a second go, and we think you’ll see what we do.
MADMAN OF THE PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis
The discussion on this title earlier barely got started; I know there are defenders out there. This title doesn’t work if you don’t care for a meandering narrator, so if that is you, “reader, know thyself.”
THE PORT CHICAGO 50 by Steve Sheinkin
The “Nina vs Jonathan Nonfiction Smackdown” or “Can Two Nonfiction Books Ever Place for Newbery in the Same Year?” candidate.
REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles
This is the one title on the list that neither Jonathan nor I are totally willing to champion yet. However, you’ve all convinced us that it at least belongs at this discussion.
WEST OF THE MOON by Margi Preus
There’s a myth out there that late fall books do better at the Newbery table because you don’t have time to grow disillusioned with them. The counter-argument is that strong spring books give you time to plum all their flaws and still find them distinguished.
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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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