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

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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