And the Award Goes to…

January 13th, 2011 by

The American Library Association Youth Media Awards. Some call it the Academy Awards of books. Others call it… well, I guess that’s mostly what people call it. But that’s because it’s a pretty good description! Just like folks host Oscar parties and invite friends over to watch beautiful people on TV, those of us who obsess over children’s books watch the ALAyma webcast alone in front of our computers. It’s the same thing, right?

No, really, the ALAymas are a BIG deal in the kidlit world — and I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of one award in particular: the Newbery Medal. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” (That’s actually kind of curious because the award itself is named for 18th-century British bookseller John Newbery… But that’s beside the point.)

This year’s Newbery winner was announced earlier this week, and the award goes to…

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Now, I’m very happy for Clare Vanderpool, but I also I feel a little ashamed — because I haven’t read this book yet! And now I’m just going to seem like a follower when I go get it, and the librarian will look at me all knowingly, like: “You’re kind of late to the party, aren’t you?” Sigh.

But I swear I won’t be reading it just because it got the Newbery! It really does sound like an intriguing read. Here’s part of the official description:

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

For the inside scoop on the book, you can check out the author’s website; she offers a behind-the-scenes look at how she came up with the idea for the story. I’ll give you sneak peek: it all started with map thieves! Egads!

But wait — before you go rushing out to get Moon Over Manifest, don’t forget to add the 2011 Newbery Honor books to your list too (they’re kind of the runners-up in the competition):

  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Whoa, Nelly! That’s a lot of books to add to the To Be Read pile! Sigh again…

Of course, maybe you’ve already read Moon over Manifest and/or some of this year’s Honor books. If so, leave me a comment with your thoughts! Do you think these books deserve the award? And if you could pick the Newbery winner, which book would you choose?

— Karen

Karen hasn’t read all the Newbery Medal winners in history, but she’s read quite a few. Her favorite is Holes by Louis Sachar.

More about Karen »

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