Friday Mock-Newbery Exercise: Battle of the Books
For today’s Friday Exercise, we get to do something that is in the bones of the Newbery Medal- comparing similar (and not-so-similar) books and how they stand against one another. You need to see how each title stands against everything else (and the criteria of course, always the criteria). And that’s how we determine the best book of the year.
- Pick a potential 2024 Newbery contender. It can be one from our nomination list, but doesn’t have to be.
- Look at the Newbery Terms and Criteria and compare the two titles. You don’t have to discuss every category but at least one .
- Explain what one book does better than the other and why that book stands out.
The purpose of this exercise is to see how closely we need to evaluate the books and to look at how they compare against each other. It’s important to remember that all these books are being discussed because they redeeming qualities, now we’re seeing what stands out as the best of the best.
You could choose books in many ways: two books that are the same genre (like SIMON SORT OF SAYS and THE LABORS OF HERCULES BEAL), or books with similar themes (MY HEAD HAS A BELLYACHE and THE RED EAR BLOWS ITS NOSE), or two picture books (A STONE IS A STORY, MERMAID DAY), or two books that are both books (lol)….
I’ll start with two graphic novels that also both have KID in the title. MEXIKID and PARACHUTE KIDS. Both graphic novels depict family relationships (diving deep into sibling relationships), adjusting to a new place, and growing up. I think MEXIKID excels most in presentation, Pedro Martin really tackles intense writing by conveying Pedro’s perspective in the moment and the slightly older kid retelling it. This could get confusing but Martin balances it really well that it adds a depth to Pedro and the story. For PARACHUTE KIDS, character development is what really sticks out to me. All three children are thrust into a new situation and forced to grow individually and as a team.
Looking at these two books next to each other, I’m going to give PARACHUTE KIDS the win.
Now I’ll go with two poetry titles, with three nominations each: THE RED EAR BLOWS ITS NOSE AND MY HEAD HAS A BELLYACHE. Each one is a compilation of poetry for children, something that is difficult to take a Newbery win (I think because it’s difficult to apply Newbery crtieria to poetry). We haven’t had a funny poetry book win the Newbery (usually more serious stuff), but both these books have strong child appeal that carries throughout ther book. However, I think MY HEAD HAS A BELLYACHE excels more over all, specifically in presentation of information and appropriateness of style.
Please share your own thoughts and compare two books. Do one pair, or a bunch, or even go for a trio. And comment on the comments of others of course…
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 email@example.com.
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