It seems that the award season is upon us, and I don’t mean the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards, of course I mean the coveted Newbery and Caldecott Medals given for outstanding books for kids! Last week it was announced that the Newbery Medal for 2012 was awarded to Jack Gantos for “Dead End in Norvelt”. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but the publisher says “In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.” Surely it is somewhat autobiographical if the character’s name is the same as the author.
The Newbery Honor books went to “Inside Out & Back Again” by Thanhha Lai. This story set in Viet Nam is written in free verse which I thought I wouldn’t like, but it is an amazingly rich story. The publisher says this about it “Inspired by the author's own childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam as a refugee and immigrating to Alabama, this tween novel told in verse is sure to capture young readers' hearts and open their eyes.”
The other Newbery Honor goes to “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” by Eugene Yelchin. The publisher notes say “In the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, ten-year-old Sasha idolizes his father, a devoted Communist, but when police take his father away and leave Sasha homeless, he is forced to examine his own perceptions, values, and beliefs.
What books would you have nominated for a Newbery Medal? Remember the award is given to books for excellence in interpreting a theme, presentation of information, development of plot/characters/setting, and appropriateness of style.
Next time…. The Caldecott Medal!