I’m scanning my shelves for books we’ve not done justice to this season. Has anyone mentioned FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE by Tim Federle, LORD AND LADY BUNNY by Polly Horvath, or THE UNSTOPPABLE OCTOBIA MAY by Sharon Flake? Barely a mention of Freedman’s ANGEL ISLAND, Nye’s THE TURTLE OF OMAN, Yelchin’s ARCADY’S GOAL or Pinkney’s THE RED PENCIL. And I’m surprised I didn’t hear from others more on NEST or GABRIEL FINLEY. But if I were hearing “last call” for books for Newbery discussion, and had time to re-read only three, I’d look again at:
UPSIDE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE by Julie Lamana. While I recognize some plotting flaws and side character manipulation, I’ve noted the same level of flaws in the books we’ve been championing; and from a distance the voice and clarity of prose just stands out so strongly. I’d want to line this up a few more times against likely contenders before letting it go.
CURIOSITY by Gary Blackwood. I read this once, and fast, but the plotting and prose seemed so seamless and solid, I’d want to give it a few more reads. This could be one of those sneaky books which doesn’t sing itself as something new and different, but whose craft reveals itself to those who look as above and beyond.
EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire. I don’t think this one is going unnoticed, but it remains one of the most unique in scope and tone among what I see as the field of contenders, and bears such interesting comparisons: to THE FAMILY ROMANOV, to WEST OF THE MOON, even to THE NIGHT GARDENER. I don’t think we see anything like Maguire’s writing being offered to a Newbery audience, and it reads with very little overt consciousness of audience, as seems to happen in others. The characters and story are strange and disturbing, struggling with who they are supposed to be, and therefore so very convincing. This comes along with plenty of flaws, but gives readers a lot along the way. It probably needs to be read three or four times to understand how it does what it does.
Which are your three?
Filed under: Uncategorized
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
SLJ Blog Network