Friday Mock-Newbery Exercise: Top settings of 2023
For today’s Friday Exercise, we’ll focus on one piece of the Newbery Terms and Criteria: These list six literary qualities that the Committee needs to consider as they try to identify “‘distinguished writing’ in a book for children.”
Today, we look at what I call the most underrated criteria: Delineation of Setting.
Setting includes time period, location, any world building and beyond. To me, setting is what really showcases an author’s writing skills and really transports a reader into a story.
Looking at all aspects of setting and how it impacts the more “exciting” parts of a book can be tough. Today we’ll take a look at exemplary setting in 2024 Newbery contenders.
For this exercise, look at a 2023 publication (or more) and think about what books showcase a strong delineation of setting, that really transports you somewhere. Tell us what about that setting is done well and makes it stand out.
The book that immediately come sot mind is one of the heavy medal favorites: THE LABORS OF HERCULES BEAL by Gary D. Schmidt. There are so many aspects of setting that are crucial to this books characters and theme. The central plotline of Cape Cod and it being home- Hercules’ brother’s complicated relationship with Cape cod, the school and its’ building, the Beals Brother nursery, the hill Hercules climbs every day, the fact that his best friend moves. Everything is described where you can imagine being there and you can see how integral all these places are to the story. Then of course there’s the scene where they paint the tree yellow to change colors. How well Schmidt describes all the onlookers and the beautiful tree.. I used to say characters was the strongest part of this book, but now I changed my mind.
I have a few more settings I’ll try to mention in the comments, but now let me here from you and what settings stick out to you from 2024 Newbery contenders.
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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