Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: BERRY SONG by Michaela Goade
Introduction by Heavy Medal Award Committee Member Gabrielle Stoller
Close your eyes for a moment. Think about a time you have gone berry picking. Or a time you have eaten some form of the delicious fruit. What do you see? What can you smell? What can you remember of the touch, the way it felt to have the berries in your hand? As I read BERRY SONG, I am transported to memories of climbing the mountains in Idaho, seeking out the elusive huckleberry. Making my presence known to all, including bears, that I am present. It is a gift to take something delicious from the land and turn it into something delicious from my kitchen. By enabling the reader to think and imagine so vividly, BERRY SONG becomes a Newbery contender due to its presentation of theme and delineation of setting.
Michaela Goade has previously won a Caldecott Medal for WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS; this time, the writing is all her own. It would be remiss not to highlight the illustrations of watercolors and mixed media. The greens and blues and reds truly embody the Alaskan landscape of Goade’s ancestors. However, the reader is also taken along on a lyrical expedition of the land, from water to land to forest, to all of the berries found. BERRY SONG pays homage to her Tlingit heritage, using native words and expressions throughout the book and BERRY SONG’s back matter. Gunalchéesh, giving thanks—this is the end result. Being thankful for what we have been given, being mindful of what we take, resolving to be good stewards for future generations. “We are a part of the land…as the land is a part of us.”
BERRY SONG is a symphony of words. Newbery contenders often fall into this category which makes Michaela Goade’s offering a worthy option for recognition.
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.
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