2016 Newbery Watchlist
By this time of year, the YMAs have usually been announced and we’re signing off with some suggestions of what to read in the coming year. So consider this an early version of that post (if you’re attending ALA make sure you grab these galleys), and then we’ll culminate with some responses to real Newbery choices.
KIRKUS: A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music’s healing power. Sweeping across years and place, Ryan’s full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California and finally New York City.
BOOKLIST: Twelve-year-old Vietnamese American Mai is a Laguna Beach girl who can’t wait to spend her summer at the beach getting to know HIM, the boy on whom she has a major crush. Imagine her horror, then, when her parents announce that she must, instead, travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who will search for clues to the fate of her husband, who disappeared during what Mai thinks of as “THE WAR.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: Stella’s desire to become a writer parallels her father’s determination to vote. In a powerful scene, the entire black community accompanies three registered black voters to the polling location and waits silently, “Ten. Fifteen. Twenty-five minutes,” until the sheriff steps aside. This compelling story brims with courage, compassion, creativity, and resilience.
The plot at times stretches credulity — spunky Ada nabs a Nazi spy — but the emotional content feels completely true, especially in the recognition of how deeply Ada has been damaged and just how far her journey will be to both physical and mental health. This is a feel-good story, but an earned one; and though there are echoes of such classics as Magorian’s Goodnight, Mr. Tom and Bauden’s Carrie’s War, this is distinct and powerful in its own right.
These four books appear at the top of my starred review list, but if there are other books you have read or are anticipating then please bring those to our attention, too.
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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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