Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 Newbery Announcements, My Thoughts

I have now read the 2018 Newbery winner, Hello Universe, and all three Newbery Honor books: Crown, Piecing Me Together, and Long Way Down.

Of the four books by far my favorite is Piecing Me Together. I read it in March of 2017. It stayed with me and was my first choice when it came to nominating books in the Young Adult category of the Cybils. (It won in its category.) In addition to the Newbery Honor and the Cybils win, it also won the Coretta Scott King Author Winner. 

I did love the book. If you'd ask me if it was Newbery material, I wouldn't have made that connection--not on my own. I think of it as a young adult novel. And I don't think of the Newbery as being for young adults. The Printz is for young adults. The Newbery is for elementary and middle grades. That's my admitted bias.

Crown was an enjoyable enough read. It also was a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. It is a picture book. But it is a picture book for older readers. And perhaps it will prove appealing to those reluctant readers who "have" to read a Newbery book. But again, this isn't a connection I would have ever made on my own. I don't think of picture books as contenders.

Long Way Down. I grew up watching The Twilight Zone. I could easily have seen on the title page: The Twilight Zone presents Jason Reynolds' Long Way Down. There was something compelling about this dark, disturbing read. The images created in verse of that elevator ride are haunting. This book also was a Printz Honor and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. I would definitely classify Long Way Down as a young adult book, a book for older more mature readers. I wouldn't see Long Way Down as being a right-fit for (most) elementary libraries. So I never saw it as a contender for the Newbery award. But clearly, this year was not about obvious choices.

The three Honor books I can honestly say I enjoyed. The Newbery winner....not so much. I reviewed this one yesterday. Reading is subjective. I want to state the obvious that one person's "disliking" of a book is no reason to keep it from being part of a library's ever-expanding collection. No person--no librarian, no teacher, no parent, no author--will ever like or love every single book currently on the shelves.

When a book you dislike wins a Newbery it is disappointing. It is disappointing because you start thinking of all the dozens--if not hundreds--of books that you read and actually LOVED that, in your opinion, "deserved" it more in a given year. That's not fair to the author, of course. But I think it is typical. It happens every single year. It has probably been happening since the very first awards were announced decades ago.

Do you have thoughts on this year's winner and honor books?

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

No comments: