Tomorrow I fly to Seattle; the Newbery committee is headed there right now, if they didn’t come in yesterday to get acclimated. They may be preparing for the opening of their discussion, Friday morning, by reviewing the titles they feel they can most strongly champion. At the same time that they articulate their defense of those titles, they may be grooming their minds open to other possibilities…for the chance to be surprised, or to have their minds changed.
Picturing myself in that frame of mind…we all know what titles Jonathan and I have felt strongly for or against this year. (And you can find many of them at the just unveiled BoB contenders list) But what titles might I be the least surprised to end up surprised about?
TWELVE KINDS OF ICE by Ellen Bryan Obed is one we didn’t give a lot of bandwith to here, at least in comparison to its buzz. We considered it for our shortlist, but a late pub date and unlikeliness to be in public library collections knocked it for us. From a marketing perspective, this is a Holiday Gift Book, and so easy to overlook, but Obed’s writing is clean, playful, rhythmic, understated, and clearly technically distinguished. My one question is whether the “interpretation of theme or concept” is as distinguished as others this year for a child audience. To me, the full emotional punch of the story resides in an adult nostalgia. Still: such strong writing, I like how it holds up against other fare this year.
SON by Lois Lowry. I haven’t said anything about this title this year because…I didn’t think it was very good. It felt thin to me, and–much more than TWELVE KINDS OF ICE–to depend on an adult sensibility (of parenthood) for full appreciation. Yet it made 3 “best” lists this year so clearly I’m not getting something. Could this be one that someone could totally turn my head around on?
THREE TIMES LUCKY by Shelia Turnage. I started re-reading this one recently and have to admit its quick charm, lively style and strength of story. It’s a book that respects its audience’s desires and delivers with enthusiasm. I didn’t finish my re-read because I got bored, but…while I still see many other stronger titles this year, I can see this one being a consensus builder.
I am still harboring my own fondness for MIGHTY MISS MALONE, both Horvaths, WONDER SHOW and FOURMILE, but walking into the discussion based on the discussion we’ve had here, I’d already be ready to start setting those aside. Even though the Newbery Criteria keep us from comparing our eligible titles to titles of previous years, I do hold in my mind my own favorite Newbery winners and honors of the past, and as I moved forward towards voting I would be holding my choices up against those to make sure I am voting from the most thoughtful, rather than wishful, place. Which ones this year will be the ones to stand up there with THE WESTING GAME, THE THIEF, MRS. FRISBY & THE RATS OF NIMH, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO….
“I don’t know what it is, but it is gonna be great“