The 2016 Newbery Award winners were announced while I was in Shanghai last month and that meant that I had some more reading to do on my stalled out Newbery Challenge when I got home.
This year there were three new Newbery Honor books to go along with the Newbery Medal book. I have not been able to find four of the older Newbery Runners-up so I have been stuck at 99.00% of my challenge. With the release of the new books and the fact that I have read them, I am now at 99.01%.
I am sure however that you are more curious as to my thoughts about the books for this year so here goes. I will start with the Newbery Medal winner.
This choice was a bit of a puzzle for me. There have been very few Newbery books that have been picture books or for very young audiences. Also the book has also won the Caldecott Medal for picture books. I picked up the book from the library this evening and quickly read it as it is a very short. It does have a good story of a child and his grandmother who ride the bus from her church to their soup kitchen. Not having seen any of the other Caldecott winners for this year or even paying much attention to them in the past, I can still see why it won the medal. It is beautifully illustrated and the pictures are needed to really tell the story. However, I find it hard to compare with the Newbery books that I have read.
Roller Girl is a graphic novel that was both written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. This was a wonderful book that told a great story of a young girl who deals with changing friendships in the summer between grade school and junior high. Set against a background of roller derby camp where Astrid deals with the challenges of competition we see her build new friendships and repair an old friendship. A great story that will inspire many kids who deal with the same types of problems. A book worthy of a Newbery Honor.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a wonderful book that weaves three stories together into a masterful conclusion. The thread that ties them all together is a harmonica that has special powers. The harmonica is passed to several characters and helps each of them through challenges in their lives.
As you start reading the book you are in a fairy tale, but it quickly transitions to historical fiction. We follow the harmonica from pre-WWII Germany with Hitler coming to power, to Pennsylvania where it is owned by a young orphan just before the start of WWII, and then to California where people are dealing with the entry of the US into WWII shortly after Pearl Harbor.
I would like to write more about the plot and the way that it all comes together, but I don’t want to ruin the story for those of you who want to read this book. This is definitely a book that I recommend and a great selection for a Newbery Honor book.
The War the Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is also set during WWII. The book tells the story of a young girl who was born with a club foot. Since she was born in poverty the foot was never operated on and she was confined to her apartment by her mother. Her big break comes when children are evacuated from London to protect them from potential bombing by the Germans. She sneaks away from her mother with her brother and they end up in the countryside under the care of a single woman.
The pairing ends up being beneficial for both the children and the woman over time. Set against the terror and privations of war and a time where people work together to help save their country we see Ada’s life saved as she becomes involved in the lives of others (both horse and human). A very moving story and again one that is definitely worthy of a Newbery Honor.
My favorite of the three Honor books is The War that Saved my Life. There are several other books by Bradley that are now on my list of books to read.
Now to give our new librarian a challenge to find the following four books through inter-library loan so that I can finish my Newbery Challenge:
The Boy Who Was by Grace T. Hallock (1929)
Queer Person by Ralph Hubbard (1931)
Ood-Le-Uk the Wanderer by Alice Lide (1931)
The Golden Basket by Ludwig Bemelmans (1937)