2017 Newbery Reading List
The 2016 winners have been announced. Hope you had time to catch your breath. Let’s start reading again!
FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford . . . Fresh on the heels of the first Newbery Medal picture book, I offer you this one to consider. It’s got three starred reviews so far, and could likely add to that total in the coming weeks. Weatherford could go the Joyce Sidman route. She gets on our radar by authoring a couple of Caldecott Honor texts and–boom!–she’s a Newbery winner in her own right before you know it.
MAKOONS by Louise Erdrich . . . To me, this is the most anticipated read of the year. If you’ve ever heard me whine about the first three books in the series–something about the literary equivalent of watching paint dry on the wall–that will probably shock you, but CHICKADEE won me over with its brevity and humor in a way that the other books didn’t. I’m hoping for big things from this one. Don’t let me down, Erdrich!
PAX by Sara Pennypacker . . . Now that the CLEMENTINE series has wrapped up, it will be interesting to see what direction Pennypacker’s career takes. We got a glimpse of it, I think, with SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS, a book that sharply divided us here. I think PAX, which I’ve already read, will probably have a unifying effect on us. That is, I think we’ll all find it distinguished; it’s just a question of to what degree. And illustrations by Jon Klassen . . . that doesn’t hurt, does it?
RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo . . . A new novel from DiCamillo is always cause for celebration, and almost always cause for Newbery speculation. I kind of put my foot in my mouth last time around when I opined that FLORA & ULYSSES was my least favorite of her novels. But that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for this one at all. Appears to be autobiographical, too. Could DiCamillo become the first three-time Newbery Medalist? I’m betting on her, if not for this book, then perhaps another one.
SAMURAI RISING by Pamela Turner . . . With three starred reviews this one seems like the leading nonfiction candidate at this point in the year. I’ve enjoyed Turner’s work on the Scientists in the Field series, but this one represents a bit of a change of pace for her–and what a welcome one it is! I can’t wait to read this one either. And illustrations by Gareth Hinds–notice the recurring theme here.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and if you’ve read something that you think deserves our attention, please add it below in the comments.
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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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