Newbery Musings

Does the medal really mean that much? It's easy to assume "winner = novel every child should read," but how much truth is there in such thinking?

It depends.

It depends on the quality of writing that's produced from year to year, on the tastes of judges from year to year, on current politically-correct trends, on many, many variables. Which is the same as saying, no, winner does not equal classic. There are several warts. However, in the course of eighty-six years, this shiny gold sticker couldn't help but land on some real gems. For that, I'm grateful. And impatiently awaiting tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's my version of the good, the bad, and the outrages.

Some Good
2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Some Bad
(Okay, I confess, all the middle titles are just guesses. But I mean, Gay Neck? Young Fu? I leave my readers to make their own deductions.)
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska
1964: It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji
1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon
Some Outrages: Books That Totally Deserved the Medal
1975: Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit
2004: The Star of Kazan, by Eva Ibbotson
2008: My Fingers are Crossed for
Leepike Ridge, by N.D. Wilson
At least an Honor. I mean, look at some of the great Honor recipients out there. A Ring of Endless Light, The Golden Goblet, Ella Enchanted, Lily's Crossing, Hope Was Here. But then there's the not-so-great Honors, too ... 1931's "Queer Person," for example. Hmm.
Curious about the award's history? You're in luck.


Erin said...

Penny From Heaven is another wonderful Honor book.

I haven't read any of your 'bad' titles. I've read a handful of your 'good' ones; I'll have to check out more.

Janet Rubin said...

Thanks for being such a great source for me. I really trust your judgement and am adding books to my list left and right!

Young Fu and Juan De whatever I happen to own because they were part of a home school curriculumn, but never got around to reading them...

Noel De Vries said...

I still haven't read Penny. Need to, though.

Well, Janet, don't trust my judgement as far as books I haven't read :) ... I just avoid reading books that I've heard/think will be dry, so my list of "bad" Newberys was slim. Maybe it should have been my "dubious" list!

Did you ever get that O'Brien stuff I sent you about L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time? I'll always love that book because I read it at a tough age, but now I'm cautious about who I hand it to, because of the Neopaganism...