This time last year, I was starting the year of reading for Newbery with certain expectations.
As with everything in 2020, things didn't go exactly as planned. In-person meetings became Zoom meetings. Who knows what the planned celebration in June will look like?
But some things were exactly as planned: reading and rereading a ton of books. Rereading the rules and figuring out what "distinguished" means. Persuading, and being open to being persuaded. Becoming friends with the people on my committee.
And one big, unexpected bonus: being on the Newbery gave me a focus during this year. Now that it's over, I guess it's time to make a sourdough starter.
Oh, what did we pick?
2021 Medal Winner
When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller, published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House. "This masterpiece of magical realism is an evocative story of love, loss, and hope that brings Korean folklore to life. Through her halmoni’s tales, Lily learns that with stories we can share our past and shape our future."
“Keller’s riveting tale about the power of stories can help readers embrace the tiger within themselves—by displaying their strength and courage when necessary,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Dr. Jonda C. McNair.
2021 Honor Books
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
Soontornvat skillfully describes the dramatic real-life rescue of the Thai Boys’ soccer team in 2018 by highlighting the teamwork of the cave divers and the drilling and medical teams which were crucial for the survival of the coach and the twelve boys. All Thirteen exemplifies superb narrative nonfiction writing.
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood, and published by Candlewick Press.
Weatherford masterfully recounts the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, who shipped himself to freedom in a box. All 51 poems, with the exception of one, are sixains—representing the six sides of a box. The poems are filled with emotional intensity and have implications for the present day.
Fighting Words, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Della depends on her fierce older sister Suki, especially after escaping an abusive home. In foster care, though, Suki begins to unravel. Bradley creates a survival story that transcends—addressing the toughest of topics with honesty, hope, and humor. Della’s powerful voice lingers long after the last page is turned.
We Dream of Space, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien, and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
In the days before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Thomas siblings navigate the dangerous space of middle school and the fractured constellation of their family. With a deftly constructed 80’s backdrop, Kelly’s realistically imperfect characters struggle to connect, only finding success when they abandon their own lonely orbits.
A Wish in the Dark, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
Told in the alternating perspectives of two memorable characters, Pong and Nok, Soontornvat sets this story in the Thai-inspired world of Chattana, where light and dark symbolize contrasts between the rich and the poor. A timeless, yet timely, fantasy that highlights social disparities and the value of friendship and justice.
Link to the ALSC webpage with the announcements, where I got the descriptions from: Welcome to the Newbery Medal Home Page.
The ALA Press Release for the 2021 Youth Media Awards
Tae Keller, Michaela Goade win Newbery, Caldecott Medals Press Release from ALA
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy