Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD by Matt de la Peña
Introduction by Heavy Medal Award Committee member Megan Howes.
Newbery winner Matt de la Peña is back with the stunning picture book, MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD, with illustrations by Christian Robinson. Readers follow Milo as he goes on the city subway with his sister for a day out. While Milo rides the subway, he observes the strangers around him and draws what he thinks their lives are like. The strangers on the subway cars are depicted with having a large variety of skin tones, ages, and backgrounds. Along the way, Milo discovers that everything is not what it seems and that he should be careful to judge what another person’s life is like.
As the book concludes, Milo is surrounded by his family in a touching reunion with an incarcerated parent. The illustrations by Christian Robinson are beautiful in this book, and Milo’s drawings are detailed and vivid. The writing also excels with beautiful imagery, metaphors, and alliteration that make the text flow. I loved that Milo is described as a “shook-up soda” (p. 5), which highlights the mix of emotions he is feeling, and I loved the descriptions of the people around him, such as the lady who “has a face made out of light” (p. 4).
There is also only a very small amount of children’s literature that depicts a child’s parent in jail, and this book will reach young children who have an incarcerated parent. Peña and Robinson show that relationships with parents who are in jail can still be loving, fulfilling, and full of hope. Young readers will love Milo’s playful and colorful illustrations, and older readers will resonate with the concept of being nonjudgmental to the people around you. This picture book is a great contender for the Newbery because it reaches across many different age groups and walks of life to deliver a message we all need hear.
Heavy Medal Award Committee members and others are now invited to discuss this book further in the Comments section below. Please start with positive observations first; stick to positives until at least three comments have been posted or we reach 1:00 pm EST. Let the Mock Newbery discussion begin!
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SLJ Blog Network