2020 Newbery Award Winners

February 3rd, 2020 by

The Super Bowl was last night, and apparently that’s exciting for some people… Not us! The only recent competition that we care about actually happened last week: the Newbery Awards!

Last Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2020 Newbery Medal Winner and 2020 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” So if you’re not familiar with these awards, just think of them as the Super Bowl — plus children’s books, minus the nachos. We know, we know — nachos are delicious. But even without the cheesy chips and guacamole, the Newbery Awards are still really exciting.

And this year’s announcement was particularly exciting because a graphic novel won the Newbery Medal for the very first time: New Kid by Jerry Craft. Here’s what Karen had to say about it in her review: “I’d recommend this book to literally everyone. Okay, maybe not to little kids who can’t read yet. But everyone else should check out New Kid. Students, adults, everyone.”

So if you were wondering what to read next, check out New Kid or any of the Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2020 Newbery Medal Winner:

New Kid by Jerry Craft
new-kid-jerry-craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds — and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

2020 Newbery Honor Books:

undefeatedThe Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

scary-stories-for-young-foxesScary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood.

No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow… and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and 16 hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R.L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

other-words-for-homeOther Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US — and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.

But this life also brings unexpected surprises — there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.

genesis-begins-againGenesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

There are 96 things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant — even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight — Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Dead End in Norvelt: 2012 Newbery Medal Winner!

January 26th, 2012 by

As you guys know, I’m a very impatient person. So even though it seems kind of backwards, I’m willing to go the extra mile in order to save time. If I want to see a TV show, I record it so I can fast-forward through the commercials. If I want to know what the President said in a speech, I’ll go online afterwards and skim the text transcript. If I know where I’m going to eat dinner, I’ll look at the restaurant’s website beforehand so that I’m already familiar with the menu when I get there. Like I said, I’m VERY impatient.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve watched three big-deal spectacles in real-time — which just goes to show you how super important they were. And the three events were: the Golden Globe Awards, the playoff game between the 49ers and the Giants, and the announcement of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

What? You don’t know that last one? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the ALAymas. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include completely-awesome-major-big-deal books like The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

And earlier this week, a new winner joined the ranks of this prestigious group:

dead-end-in-norvelt-by-jack-gantos

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

As you may recall from our book trailer for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Nancy and I have been fans of Jack Gantos for a while now. So we extend a hearty congratulations to the man of the hour! But we also have to give ourselves a disapproving shake of the head and a look of pure disdain because, well, we haven’t read this book yet!

But we definitely plan to read Dead End in Norvelt ASAP — not just because it won the Newbery, but also because it sounds totally awesome! Here’s part of the official description:

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore — typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels … and possibly murder.

Cookies and murder in one book?! Obviously, WE ARE IN!

And we’ll also be adding the 2012 Newbery Honor Books to our To Be Read list:

  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

So, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go out and obtain some books, like, right now. But if you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and us know!

— Karen

Karen used to get lots of nosebleeds when she was a kid. She did NOT enjoy putting tissue up her nose to stop the blood. But to be honest, she kinda liked the feeling of pulling it out once the bleeding had stopped. That’s not gross, right?

More about Karen »

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 »

Breaking Book News: And the Award Goes To…

January 20th, 2010 by

Yes, the Golden Globes were on Sunday, but who cares about the glitz and glamor of Hollywood? I’m talking about the American Library Association’s annual awards that went out on Monday — including the Newbery Medal.

The Newbery Medal is like the holy grail for children’s book writers. Or if you’re not an Indiana Jones fan, then think of it like the MVP award for the best kids’ book author of the year. Or if you’re not into sports, you can consider it like the Blue Ribbon for, well, for anything that’s super competitive. In other words, the Newbery Medal is a really, really cool thing to get.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

And this year, the Newbery went to… [drumroll, please]… When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead! If you missed my previous blog post about the book, then you missed out on an excellent piece of writing. Whoops, I should probably be celebrating Rebecca Stead, not congratulating myself. So here’s a little rundown of When You Reach Me:

Imagine you’re just going about your life — going to school, hanging out with your best friend, spending time with your mom and her boyfriend — and then all of a sudden you get a message from the future. WHA?! Personally, I’d freak out and hide under my bed covers for a while. But not Miranda, the protagonist in When You Reach Me. And that’s good, because it makes for a much more interesting book!

So if you want to see who won the kidlit world’s version of the Heisman Trophy, check out When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

And then try out this year’s Newbery Honor books (aka, the runners-up):

Oh, man, I’m never going to make a dent in my To Be Read list, am I?!

— Karen


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