Hey, Old Friends: Part 2
When I started my list of sequels this year, it grew so rapidly that I decided to focus on sequels of Newbery-winning books, but there are some other high profile sequels as well, and a couple of them have already creeped into our discussion.
COMPLETELY CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker . . . This is the seventh and final Clementine book and fans of the series have been a small, but vocal presence on this blog over the life of the series. Admittedly, I’ve only read one book in full (not the first one, unfortunately) and have read bits and pieces of a couple of others, and I’m still in the middle of this one so I’m not the best advocate. I will say that I do like this one better than fellow transitional chapter book contender DORY AND THE REAL TRUE FRIEND, but I also have my eye on THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY.
THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING by Jeanne Birdsall . . . I’m a fan of this series (and have to work really hard not to allow my natural affinity for these characters to cloud my judgement). The big jump in time from the first three books effectively serves as a reboot and allows new-to-the-series readers to jump into this series midstream. I find all the literary elements here distinguished; I’m just not sure that they’re most distinguished. Like THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE and GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA, this is a book that I would consider for a nomination, but that I’m not quite sure it makes it onto my ballot without some rereading, reflection, and persuasive discussion.
THE TROUBLE IN ME by Jack Gantos . . . Gantos describes this autobiographical novel as a prequel to HOLE IN MY LIFE which won both a Printz Honor and a Sibert Honor. Since the Norvelt books–DEAD END IN NORVELT and FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE–and the Jack Henry books–both middle grade–are also semi-autobiographical, it’s hard not to see this as a sequel in spirit to those books as well. We’ve come to expect quite a bit from Gantos, and I think this one delivers for the most part, but I’m not sure that it sets the bar high enough to be a Newbery book.
The final Clementine book, the penultimate Penderwick, and Jack Gantos–who knows if we’ve seen the last of him? Do any of these deserve a closer look?
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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 email@example.com
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