Nina opened our running annual text vs. images conversation with THE MARVELS. Last year, EL DEAFO made history by being the first graphic novel recognized by the Newbery committee. Nina discussed it here and here, but my voice was noticeably absent as I was on the Caldecott committee; thus, we didn’t put it on our shortlist. Of course, I argued the merits of graphic novels several years ago both here and here so it probably wasn’t too hard to infer how I might have responded to EL DEAFO as a Newbery contender. Here is another strong pair for your consideration this year.
ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson
If you really want to know, it all began back in fifth grade, back when Nicole and I were still best friends.
“Okay, you two, in the car.”
“C’mon, mom can’t you tell us where we’re going?”
“Nope, it’s a surprise.”
Then mom uttered the words that never failed to strike fear and dread into my heart . . .
” . . . Tonight, we are having an evening of cultural enlightenment!
This did not bode well for our Friday night. We experienced one or two of Mom’s ECE’s before.
Poetry readings . . .
The opera . . .
And the modern art gallery to name a few. And those were the *good* trips.
A swirl of unremarkable wind leaves Africa and breezes toward the Americas. It draws energy from warm Atlantic water and grows in size.
From a smudge of foul weather it becomes a nasty tropical storm, and then erupts into a vicious hurricane with howling winds, pinwheeling counterclockwise. As it does with all big storms, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida assigns it a name: Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina slices across Florida. Although it is only a Category 1 hurricane–the least strong–Katrina kills six people, leaves a half million without power, and drenches its path with a foot and a half of water.
Katrina careens into the Gulf of Mexico, drawing up eighty-five-degree water that multiplies its strength. By August 26, it is the most catastrophic of hurricanes, a Category 5, with roaring 155-mph winds. And it is swirling directly at New Orleans, Louisiana.
Along with a major earthquake in San Francisco and a terrorist attack on New York City, disaster experts most fear a devastating hurricane striking the low-lying Louisiana city. It depends on levees and pumps to keep it dry even in the driest of times.
On the morning of August 28, the National Weather Service announces that Katrina will hit New Orleans in twenty-four hours.
Both of these books are visually striking, but their texts while perhaps not as flashy are no less distinguished for their part in the overall narrative. While I like ROLLER GIRL, I wonder if it doesn’t subconsciously suffer in comparison to all the Raina Telgemeier readalikes (including EL DEAFO) which of course is not a topic that is fair game for discussion around the Newbery table. Moreover, I suspect committee members will be able to parse out the contribution of Don Brown’s text a bit more easily.
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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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