Heavy Medal Finalist – Vincent and Theo
Short List Title: VINCENT AND THEO (Titles on our short list will be included in the live Mock Newbery in Oakland.)
Vincent and Theo is not a book that I would casually pick up or leisurely read as entertainment. It would have been the book that makes me slightly groan, “Oh, really? Now I MUST read it all the way through?” when someone else nominates it for Newbery Midwinter discussion. It would also, ultimately, be the title that makes me feel incredibly lucky to serve on the Newbery Committee — because it allows and compels me to reach beyond personal and limited leanings to read more broadly and variedly.
And what a compelling read this is!
Steven details much of Heiligman’s dexterity in shaping the tensely intimate and often melancholy tale of these two brothers in his first post for this year’s Heavy Medal. He cites the effective recurring motifs, carefully constructed present/past tense verb uses, effective imageries and short sketch-like chapters, among other positive qualities of this title.
I want to echo all of these and add that the length and details (even repetitive ones) are necessary for readers to live in the brothers’ skin and ultimately feel the profound impact of their joint fate.
This is the final page before the Epilogue:
VINCENT DIED in Theo’s arms.
Theo dies alone.
Any reader who has taken this long and volatile journey through the duo-biography would simply have to sit back in deep contemplation for quite a moment and process the two brothers’ influences on and devotion to each other.
I wonder how many Heavy Medal readers have read this title because it is on our short list. And how many would vote for Vincent and Theo as your top three?
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Roxanne Hsu Feldman is the Middle School (4th to 8th grade) Librarian at the Dalton School in New York City. She served on the 2002 and 2013 Newbery Committees. Roxanne was also a member of 2008-2009 Notable Books for Children, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and the 2017 Odyssey Award Committees. In 2016 Roxanne was one of the three judges for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. You can reach her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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