The Madman of Piney Woods
Our final book to reconsider is THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS. The first time around Nina rightly noted that despite a leisurely pace, the storytelling elements–plot, character, setting–make this a worthy book to discuss. We only had three comments, but they were all packed with good insights.
- Is this book too heavy-handed or didactic?
- Are the voices distinct and individual?
- How well are the tragedy and humor balanced?
- Does the ending rely too heavily on knowledge of the previous book?
Since historical fiction has historically been a Newbery favorite, it’s always interesting to see whether the Scott O’Dell Award (which is typically announced in mid-January–will be a predictor of Newbery recognition. REVOLUTION and THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS seem like the most likely suspects here. I always find that it’s good to start comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges before comparing apples to oranges. Thus, I always find genre comparisons a good warm-up exercise. How do you think these two compare? And how does MADMAN compare to the field at large?
As I’ve gone back through our shortlist looking for a third place vote, I’ve been impressed by every single book, even those that aren’t my particular taste, and I think I’d have to listen really carefully to what was said at the table to choose among so many fine candidates!
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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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