Award season is approaching for the Newbery and I have been reading possible winners this year. Elizabeth Bird in her School Library Journal blog offered her thoughts on this year’s frontrunners. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is not thought to be a clear winner, but it is clearly a wonderful novel. Set in Vietnam and Alabama, it tells the story of Ha, a ten year old girl from Vietnam. As Saigon falls, her family flees Vietnam for the United States. Ha’s tale is told in verse and is a wonderful story of finding a place in an adult’s world.
The Newbery Medal is one that I usually revere. I enjoy my yearly readings of both the Newbery winner as well as the honor books. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick was an honor book in 2009, but due to the cover art I found myself not so interested. Thankfully, a student had been reading it and was connecting with the story of young Homer and his quest to find his brother during the time of the Civil War.
Within 24 hours, I had read the story and loved it. The relationship between Homer and his brother Harold is heartwarming and the historical reprentation of the Civil War is appropriate for upper elementary aged students. Homer is a fun character to follow as he struggles with the truth and justice.
To find additional information on the Newbery award, please visit the Association for School Library Service to Children Newbery medal home page.
A wise man once told me that book awards many times reward the second best book (a theory based in voting procedures.) That aside, I truly enjoyed reading this year’s Newbery award winner Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool. A historical fiction set in the time of the Depression, young 12 year old Abilene finds herself in a new town without her dad. Some reviewers have felt that the book has a slow start, but I rather enjoyed the pace since it seemed to match the small town life during Abilene’s first summer in Manifest. The last moments of the book left me with bittersweet emotions and a true love of the characters I met along the way.