Monday, January 22, 2007

Where's The Dead Dog?

As a general rule, I don't hop up and down over award announcements, but I must admit that this morning I did keep going to my listserv to see if anyone had heard anything.

Someone has. Everyone is going to be announcing the various winners, so I won't make you go through reading them again. As far as the Newberies go, I haven't read any of the books and hadn't even heard of a couple of them. (That's good. I like being surprised.)

But, you know, over the years the Newberies have developed a reputation for going to books about characters overcoming adversity. (I was going to say books of a depressing nature, but that's probably not at all accurate.) Not that there's anything wrong with that. Overcoming adversity is good. Very, very good.

Look at the situations for the honor books and winners, as described in reviews.

Honor books:

A dead dad

Dead parents

An autistic brother

The winner:

A dead mom (That's a classic. You can understand why it beat out the others.)

I know I'm sounding snarky, and I apologize for that. The Newberies are about the quality of the writing, and I'm guessing that it's very high for these books. I don't believe the committee members would go out of their way to select a book that wasn't well written.

But these books definitely sound like "Newbery books."

Nonetheless, there are a couple of titles among them that I am interested in reading. And one of them I wouldn't have heard of if not for this morning's announcement. So the award has done its job by bringing a title to my attention.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gail, I really enjoyed Penny From Heaven. It isn't all doom and gloom, and it isn't as overwhelmingly sad as Kira Kira. Penny is a very appealing character.

BTW-I'm reading Happy Kid and really enjoy it. I finally got my hands on it-it's on display at our library, and it's usually out!

gail said...

I do understand that a lot of these books have an uplifting aspect to them, and certainly a good character can give a definite twist to any situation. It was sort of eye-popping, though, to look each book up and get one dead parent after another in the descriptions.

I definitely liked Criss-Cross, last year's winner, which I don't think was in the Newbery mold at all. However, I got the impression that a lot of other readers weren't wild about it.

I'm delighted you're enjoying Happy Kid. And I'm particularly happy that it's usually out at your library.

Anonymous said...

(It's my fault-Readerville authors in the children's/YA section are prominently displayed. ;-))

I've tried booktalking Criss Cross, but I usually don't have a lot of success. I wasn't crazy about it, but wasn't terribly upset it won.

gail said...

I liked it a great deal, but it did seem adult to me. I don't recall a strong linear storyline, but a lot of wonderful episodes. I can understand why younger readers would have a hard time getting into it.

So Readerville got me some display space, huh? I haven't been there in a while. I spend my spare time blogging now.

Anonymous said...

And here's another thing, they're all girl books. Are there no books with boy protagonists that are worthy of the Newbery?

gail said...

Ah, well, I'm sure you've heard that whole thing about "girl books" being better appreciated within schools because girl issues and girl problems fit the school mold--thoughtful, interior types of books--while "boy books" tend to be action-oriented, which you don't want to encourage when you have large groups of kids to manage. I don't know if the ALA cares about that kind of thing, and I'm certainly not saying that that's what is happening here, especially since I haven't read the books inolved. I'm just throwing out that thought.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Gail!

I had to luagh out loud at your snarky post. I was on a state book award committeee for several years and did booktalks for all 20 nominees in scores of classrooms... after the first three or four titles, I'd invariably break into a wry smile and say something like "yep, lots of dead parents in these books, eh?"

gail said...

Yesterday I was reading an essay that used the expression "the poetry of the every day." I think the adult kidlit world is interested in the crisis moments of life--dead parents, heart- breaking medical conditions, divorce. Tragedy.

The poetry of the every day, the things that all kids confront every day of their lives, aren't as highly valued.

I think child readers, in particular, recognize the value of the every day event. Maybe because everything is still new to them or maybe because they haven't become numbed to the struggle it takes to get along with colleagues and superiors (other students and teachers) the way adults become numb to it.