As many of you may know, the 2009 Newbery Medal will be announced this month. For those of you newbies to the Newbery, the Medal is awarded each year for the most distinguished children’s book published the previous year. The American Library Association awards the Medal. However, I have been doing some of my own research to see which books our fellow kid lit lovers are pushing for. I looked all over the web, and here are the most talked about books:
1. The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
In the tradition of great animal books (Sounder, The Yearling), The Underneath gets inside the head of its animal main characters so that you really think they’re human. This is a totally emotional, dark, thought-provoking story about an abandoned cat who is about to have kittens and who befriends a hound dog. It’s about happiness, friendship, and making good on promises, and isn’t for the skittish when it comes to survival. (Put away your notions of happily ever after!)
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ages 12 and up)
Who says a sci-fi book couldn’t win a Newbery? Well, it’s only happened a few times (think A Wrinkle in Time), but a lot of people are rooting for it this year. And this is why: in the future, 16-year-old Katniss lives in the remains of what was once the U.S. And every year the government holds a televised reality contest where teenagers chosen by lottery have to kill each other until only one remains standing. When Katniss’ younger sister is chosen to compete, she steps in to take her place. A frightening look at morality, and definitely a read you can’t put down.
3. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
A realistic girl book for realistic girls that doesn’t sugar-coat life when things go wrong . . . but still leaves you with hope. If kids had Oscars, this book would get an Oscar. Basically, Addie is a 12-year-old girl whose mom and stepdad get divorced. Since she is her mom’s only biological child, she has to go live with her in a trailer, where life is difficult with a dysfunctional and selfish mom. Her sisters are raised in a nicer home with the stepdad (who also gets remarried), and they seem to have happy, privileged lives. If this sounds soap-opera-y, well, it is and isn’t. The book is written so well and the things that happen are so relatable, you won’t feel like it’s overly dramatic at all. Because I think all of us at one time in our lives have been “waiting for normal.” (I think I still am!)
4. Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Rourke Dowell
This book is already being recognized as a “must read” by many teachers — which sometimes make me skeptical — but on closer inspection, I can maybe see what everyone is talking about. The main character, Jamie, is an army brat whose family is gung-ho military. When her brother enlists for Vietnam (this is in the late 1960s), he sends her pictures to develop instead of mailing her letters. Each roll has a picture of the moon, hence the title. Anyways — Jamie has a complexity of thoughts that drive an interesting and well-written story.
5. Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild Wild West by Sid Fleischman
This biography of Mark Twain (real name: Samuel Clemens) traces his life from boyhood, growing up and heading West. Whether it’s Tom’s days on a steamboat, digging for gold, or dueling with pistols, it’s a colorful read. It’s relatable as a coming-of-age story, and the writing style is pretty wise-cracking and funny. I’d say this one has a shot, especially because it’s about one of America’s most famous literary figures.
So there you have it. This is what various kid bloggers are predicting. How about YOU?? Do you have any faves you think deserve to win? Let us know!
— Ratha, STACKS Writer