Early Chapter Books: Short, Sweet, but Enough for Newbery 2023?
It’s not often that a beginning chapter book wins the Newbery (or even the Geisel award for that matter), but they deserve the spotlight too! Today we take a look at four books that have been receiving a mild amount of buzz this year and see if they can stand up against the Newbery criteria. Let us know your thoughts on these titles (or any other early chapter books) in the comments!
Cress, Watercress by Gregory Maguire
- Two nominations
- Deep yet natural themes of growing up, grief, and the fluid definition of family through relatable animal characters.
- Some plot moments may be deemed inappropriate: cigar smoking, bullying, and attempted kidnapping.
Violet and Jobie In the Wild by Lynne Rae Perkins
- One nomination, zero suggestions Another animal title, mice this time.
- Features excellent writing and quotable moments from the first sentence “The SNAP! of the cheese game was frightening if you weren’t expecting it. Or even if you were.” This book really makes you think about relocating mice, without forcing the topic.
- The ending came a little quickly for me, but this is a title I keep coming back to.
The Sheep, The Rooster, and The Duck by Matt Phelan
- Zero nominations, one suggestion.
- A fast paced book with a lot of action, excitement and lesser known history. The characters are funny and endearing.
- A lot of details and historical information could be more fleshed out but it does inspire the reader to learn more. I also feel like it may be hard to determine the ideal audience for this one.
Oh Sal by Kevin Henkes
- One nomination, zero suggestions. A stand alone companion to THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER and BILLY MILLER MAKES A WISH- featuring Billy’s younger sister Sal and the newest baby.
- I’m really impressed with the character development of Sal and how Henkes offers the insight into a four-year-olds brain. I tried to see if my almost four-year-old agreed with me on this, but that was difficult.
- However with such a young narrator, I’m really struggling to see what age group is best for this title too.
I would love to hear more thoughts on any of these titles and other early chapter books.
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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