Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category
The announcement of the newest Scott O’Dell Award winner, Bo at Ballard Creek, was another reminder that I should really pick up the pace. I’ve read six O’Dell winners this year, and at this rate it’ll take me more than three years to finish the remaining 21 books.
So my goal this year is to read the next 10 books (I suppose this counts as my new year’s resolution?). That will take me past Bo and Chickadee (last year’s winner), and old favorites like Sarah, Plain and Tall and Out of the Dust.
To help push me along, maybe Jen could pledge to read 10 Newbery Challenge books too?
Five Ways to celebrate Kate DiCamillo’s appointment as the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:
1. Drink soup when she’s inaugurated on Jan 10th.
2. Vacuum up an errant squirrel and enjoy some holy unanticipated occurrences!
3. Throw a party with egg-salad sandwiches, Dump Punch, pickles, dog pictures, Littmus Lozenges, paper bag lanterns, and crepe paper in the trees.
4. Visit a carnival with your best friend, and don’t skip the fortune teller!
5. Go to the toy store and give an old china rabbit a new life.
Maybe because I’ve been in graph-making mode at work and because Thanksgiving was merely a week ago, but when I saw this year’s goodreads popular choice awards, I immediately thought: pie chart!
Granted, a pie chart is probably not the best format to represent the data because I have no way of knowing the total number of votes cast, but looking solely at the votes which went to the top 20 most popular children’s and middle grade titles, here is the breakdown:
By far and away, Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades blew everyone else out of the water, being 3x more popular than the runner-up. Also, if you tally up the fine print, you’ll see that 65% of the winners are sequels. It don’t take no pie chart to tell you that publishers love sequels.
Rather than exclaim, “but where’s this book” and “why isn’t that book on the list?”, I’m curious as to who actually votes in these things. Answer: at least 98,807 people, if your vote counts only once. (People’s Choice Awards, I’m looking at you.)
I was going to review the 1937 and 1938 Newbery award winners separately, but I was so unenthusiastic about these books that I can’t be bothered to write them individual posts.
1938: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
When Lucinda’s well-to-do parents travel to Europe for a healthful vacation, Lucinda enjoys her newly “orphaned” status–and the freedom that comes with boarding at the Misses Peters’ house–by befriending the less rarefied folks of New York City she wouldn’t otherwise meet. Naturally, her transportation of choice–roller skates. While Lucinda is spirited and kind and bubbly and resourceful as she skates through the city, there’s no clear direction to her story. (Spoilers: instead, there’s an incredibly ill-handled murder resulting from domestic violence that Lucinda is witnessed to. The hotel manager’s advice: just pretend the victim went on a very long trip abroad and isn’t coming back. And that’s exactly what Lucinda does. At least the other death in this story is well handled.)
1939: The White Stag by Kate Seredy
About the westward migration of a horde led by the forefathers of Attila the Hun, Seredy decided that a romanticized version of this people group’s history would be far more interesting than their actual story, so that’s exactly what she wrote. Like with The Story of Mankind, she was rewarded for her efforts. RUDE.
“Not so long ago I was leafing through a very modern book on Hungarian history. It was a typical twentieth-century book, its pages an unending chain of FACTS, FACTS, FACTS as irrefutable, logical, and as hard as the learned pens of learned historians could make them… Well, I closed the book and I closed my eyes….Those who want to hear the voice of pagan gods in wind and thunder, who want to see fairies dance in the moonlight, who can believe that faith can move mountains, can follow the thread on the pages of this book. It is a fragile thread; it cannot bear the weight of facts and dates.” –Kate Seredy in the foreward
I’m thrilled to be participating in this year’s YA non-fiction panel for Round Two of the Cybils! I’m especially looking forward to some great reads and stimulating discussions with fellow panelists Terry Doherty, Brenda Kahn, Teri Lesesne, and Susan Van Hecke, as well as YA non-fiction organizer Gina Ruiz.
Last year, the very worthy Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, was declared the winner. Who will take home the prize this year?
I have been looking forward to reading Caddie Woodlawn ever since I started the Newbery Challenge almost three years ago. It was a favorite of mine growing up, and I dangled Carol Ryrie Brink’s book in front of me like a carrot to motivate myself through some of the less than stellar Newbery winners of the twenties and thirties. But when I finally reached 1936 on the Newbery list, I found myself unwilling to start. What if I started reading only to find a cherished book of my childhood just doesn’t measure up anymore?
Fortunately, I enjoyed revisiting Caddie, albeit for different reasons than my childhood self. Caddie Woodlawn, sandwiched between two brothers in a family of seven children, is as spirited a tomboy as I remember. When her family moved from Boston to western Wisconsin, her father struck a bargain with her mother: Mom can have her way bringing up all the other kiddies, but let Caddie run free for the sake of her health. It works, and Caddie is spared from womanly duties to go on all sorts of adventures. Along the way and without shoving this theme down our throats, Caddie learns that people can be much more than they first appear, whether it’s the bully with no regard for education that saves the schoolhouse from a brush fire; supercilious cousin Annabelle (she of the eight and eighty buttons) who’s a lot more resilient to Caddie, Tom, and Warren’s merciless pranks than they’d imagined; delicate fainting Kate who’s bold enough to touch the gruesome scalps on Indian Joe’s belt; Caddie’s father, who may just be English nobility; even Caddie, a tomboy who has the makings of a real lady.
I haven’t exactly made a secret of how painful it’s been to read some of the early Newberys. So I must say how pleasantly surprised I was by Monica Shannon’s charming 1935 winner, Dobry. When young Dobry makes a stork kite for his dear friend Neda, he awakes his love for drawing and sculpting. Set in pastoral Bulgaria, this part Farmer Boy, part coming of age story–for Dobry wants to study art, to his mother’s consternation–masterfully avoids the pitfalls of earlier Newberys by not exoticising far away locations. Rather, Shannon bestows a lovely dignity to Dobry’s country life, folk customs, and cultural details. Here’s a sample:
“There is sense to your staring now,” Dobry told the moon. “Me–I should hate to just look on while somebody else at the first tomatoes of the year. Crisp, too, juicy and really cold. Perfect!” –Dobry, pg. 18
“When we eat the good bread we are eating months of sunlight, weeks of rain and snow from the sky, richness out of the earth. We eat everything now, clouds even. It all becomes a part of us, sun clouds, rain snow, and the rich earth. We should be great, each of us radiant, full of music and full of stories.” –Grandfather, pg. 46
[To Dobry’s mother, Roda] “But, Rhoda, people are not all the sdobryame, any more than the vegetables, fruits, trees and animals are all the same. A fox lives one way; the buck another way. Both have different needs. A pine tree will die where a poplar tree will grow. Grapes need sun; celery needs shad and more water. Some plants need to be moved; other plants die if you move them. There it is, Roda. To the devil with ‘easier’! What seems an easier life to you would be a harder one to Dobry. He needs to draw, to paint, and Dobry is going to be a great man just as his father said he would be.” –Grandfather, pg. 108
It’s supposedly John Newbery’s 300th birthday today! How better to celebrate than by reading a Newbery Award winner or honor book?
I’ve been slowly doing the Newbery challenge chronologically. For fun, I’m rating them from a scale of 1-10. As you can see, the early years were rather rough, but things are looking up; the 1934 winner (Invincible Louisa) holds the honor of being the highest rated so far.
2 – if it weren’t for the Newbery Challenge, I wouldn’t keep reading it
4 – bearable
6 – enjoyable
8 – so happy this won!
10 – timeless! future generations will love this for years to come
I chose this book for the 48HBC as part of my ongoing Newbery Challenge (I did this last year as well, but with Smoky the Cowhorse.) Invincible Louisa, by Cornelia Meigs, won the 1934 Newbery Medal. I was pleasantly surprised to find this biography an enjoyable read, and I’m sure fans of Little Women will get even more out of this book.
While Invincible Louisa is filed under biography and author Meigs did mention her source names and titles, unlike the non-fiction of today, Meigs does not include a bibliography or cite her quotes. Please take these fun Louisa facts with a grain of salt.
- even though Louisa May Alcott is associated with the towns of Concord and Harvard, she was actually born in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
- Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott, was an eccentric and principled man who believed in a model of simple living akin to the Shakers’, but without the separation of men and women, so the Alcotts never had much money and moved around a LOT
- young Louisa listed “love of cats” as her worst sin
- as a teenager, Louisa had a huge crush on family friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, and would leave little poems, wrapped around rocks, on his doorstep
- Louisa was a nurse in DC during the Civil War. She wrote about the patients she met, and unlike other war writers, she did not romanticize any of it
- as a nurse, Louisa caught typhoid fever and when she was ill, she had to cut off her floor length hair–her only vanity
- Mr. Niles, of Roberts Brothers publishing house, first gave Louisa the idea to write about girls. She replied that she could only write about boys.
- while most characters in Little Women are based on Louisa’s family and friends, Jo’s love interest, Mr. Bhaer, is based on……nobody.
- when Mr. Niles read Louisa’s manuscript, he wasn’t sold on Little Women, so he gave it to his neice for her opinion. The rest is history.
And my biggest takeaway: it’s still uncanny just how much Little Women is basically just Louisa’s entire life.