Although Jonathan was looking specifically at “science” nonfiction books when he posted recently about BLACK HOLE and MOONBIRD, I can’t compare those two as Newbery possibilities unless I throw this one into the mix.
Technically a biography, Sy Montgomery’s TEMPLE GRANDIN: HOW THE GIRL WHO LOVED COWS EMBRACED AUTISM AND CHANGED THE WORLD is really about the nature of Grandin’s work, involving agriculture, engineering, economics and animal rights. Though I always point out that “no book is flawless,” I’ve been hard pressed to find the flaws in this seamless and engaging read. Montgomery creates a “you are there” feeling both without intruding as author, but also while being totally transparent as author. It is clear, from the way she constructs her sentences and from her backmatter explanations, how she has put together each piece of her vivid narrative from interviews and other sources. This is not flashy writing, and the emotional punch always comes from the story itself, not from the heavy hand of an author driving it home. “Heart-warming-ness” of the story aside (which is where the Newbery committee will have to put it), this is a wonderfully constructed piece of nonfiction, tuned perfectly to its audience in every respect. It jockeys equally for my attention with BLACK HOLE and MOONBIRD.