Looking Backwards: Mock Newbery Historical Fiction Contenders
Usually I feel like half our contenders are historical fiction though this year it doesn’t seem like that. However my two front runners hit two very different historical time periods and I’m so excited to highlight them today!
We’ll start with a leader in nominations and suggestions: I MUST BETRAY YOU by Ruta Septys. I’ve highlighted this title for both plot development and delineation of character salready and I really think it excels in all the criteria groups. The themes of loyalty and family and the ever- changing definition of those themes is very well played out in a tangled web of confusion. It could be easy to get lost with the characters and who is “good” or “bad” but Septys really puts us in the main characters shoes. By following along with him I really feel like we are keeping pace with his understanding.
I also appreciated the delineation of setting. The time period and the reality of waiting in lines, slugging through school and crowding into an apartment are well developed so one can truly picture it. I feel like I could go on for pages about I MUST BETRAY YOU… what are everyone else’s thoughts?
Then there’s AFRICAN TOWN by Latham and Waters a novel in verse about the last illegal slave ship in 1860. I thought the verse writing really worked well and that seeing the various perspectives helped me understand the situation as a whole. I would say presentation of information and characters are the strongest parts of this title. I really appreciated hearing the ships perspective and thought it fit in well.
I know others have different feelings about AFRICAN TOWN and I’m ready for them! Let me know your thoughts on these two titles or any historical fiction in the comments.
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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