Past Newbery Winners: Can They do It Again?
Winning a Newbery Medal or Honor is a lifetime achievement and gives you instant notoriety in the children’s literature world. Past winners typically receive an extra look at their books, and they deserve it. However in all honesty- winning twice is no common feat.
There have been five dual medal winners: Joseph Krumgold (1954, 1960) Katherine Paterson (1978, 1981 and an honor in 1979) Lois Lowry (1990, 1994) Kate DiCamillo (2004, 2014 and an honor in 2001) E.L. Konigsburg (1968, 1997 with an honor ALSO in 1968) Elizabeth George Speare (1959, 1962 with an honor in 1984). It’s more common to win multiple honors, but a huge accomplishment nonetheless.
Could Kate DiCamillo be the first author to achieve the Newbery trifecta? Could my wildest dreams come true and we have a Newbery repeat of 2019 (Meg Medina, Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Veera Hiranandani). Could Gary Paulsen post-humously win his first Newbery medal? (Rest in peace). These are all possible, but unlikely outcomes.
That being said obviously I need to highlight THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY in this post. To have seven nominations after only being published in September is pretty amazing. I say that DiCamillo’s biggest strength is her storytelling ability and she weaves a big one in Beatryce. The overarching theme of love and good versus evil weaves everything together while the imagery, setting, plot and characterization keep the reader enthralled to the end. Once I started reading this one, I could not put it down.
I was particularly drawn to the secondary characters and what a crucial role they all played in the story– the mother, the tutor, Jack Dory of course ANSWELICA THE GOAT, Brother Edik and the mysterious former king. I thought they all had strong development and explanation, even those that weren’t present much (the tutor and the mother).
I’ll just leave you here with the characterizations of the goat. Because, goat.
“Answelica was a goat with teeth that were the mirror of her soul — large, sharp, and uncompromising.”
The goat’s head is, “as solid and warm as a stone on a summer afternoon.”
I think what else I was most impressed with was pacing. DiCamillo puts a medieval epic story in less than 250 pages, with short chapters and takes you from a monastery to a tavern to the woods to the palace without anyone getting lost along the way.
I think I could go on and on about THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY, but want to hear everyone else’s thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses!
Another title that’s been receiving a lot of buzz and five Heavy Medal Nominations is LION OF MARS. Jennifer Holm has won three Newbery honors. Could she finally break her drought with Lion?
Taking the popular outer space setting, but putting life and characterization on Planet Mars, Holms presents an endearing story showing that conflict, emotions and disease can happen anywhere. Bell is likable and relatable and all of the dialogue seems very realistic.
I was most impressed by the setting. I’m no expert, but the descriptions of Mars seemed very plausible along with issues the characters dealt with in the environment.
I enjoyed this title, but not sure if it rises to winner status, I thought the pacing was a little flat and the secondary characters were not all believable. I would love to hear from the nominators or other fans!
Past medal winners with books this year are Linda Sue Park THE ONE THING YOU WOULD SAVE, Karen Cushman, WAR AND MILIE MCGONGLE and Laura Amy Schiltz AMBER AND CLAY and Meg Medina MERCI SUAREZ CAN’T DANCE.
Books with authors that won honors include: BILLY MILLER MAKES A WISH, DA VINCI’S CAT, HOW TO FIND WHAT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR, JUST LIKE THAT, LION OF MARS, DEAR TREEFROG, THE SHAPE OF THUNDER, GONE TO THE WOODS.
Will Newbery history be made this year with repeat authors? We shall see.
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Emily Mroczek-Bayci
Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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