While DEAD END IN NORVELT wasn’t on our shortlist, the book earned three starred reviews, made three best of the year lists, and won the Scott O’Dell Award. We had a running conversation about the book here and here and here. Similarly, we did not include INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN despite the fact that it earned four starred reviews, made four best of the year lists, and won the National Book Award. It was discussed here and here and here. Both of these books were always considered strong contenders for the Newbery and their announcements yesterday should not have surprised anyone. BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE, on the other hand, was a surprise. But we expect surprises. It wouldn’t be any fun if the Newbery committee simply validated hype, buzz, and popular opinion. We did give a brief shout-out to BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE here, courtesy of the Horn Book.
Clearly, our discussion here coalesced around OKAY FOR NOW, A MONSTER CALLS, and AMELIA LOST. The absence of these books–the absence of any particular book–does not necessarily say anything about what the committee thought about that particular book. Surely, the committee–or, perhaps more accurately, a subset of the committee–appreciated each of these books in the way that we did. It’s just that, collectively, they esteemed these three books to fit the criteria better. So, yes, some omissions may be disappointing, but we cannot view these choices as the committee slighting certain books (as tempting as that is). Rather, they simply chose to celebrate other worthy books. And so I congratulate the 2012 Newbery committee on a job well done! I look forward to reading BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE in the very near future, and we all look forward to what promises to be one of the more entertaining Newbery Medal speeches.