Except I would end up bruising my hand from all the B-slaps I'd have to deliver.
The results came in yesterday. There are a lot of issues swirling around out there with the Newbery award (also known as the award for "the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature").
Some committees feel like they need to be looking for more creative or literary books to receive the award, rather than just going for the book that is likely to be the most beloved by children. Also, each year the committee is allowed to determine what "distinguished" gets to mean.
Some want them to be more multi-cultural. Others think they're getting too multicultural.
Some argue that even though a book may send the committee into a swoon of book-geekery, it's stupid to pick something that children are never, ever, ever going to read. In life, ever.
Some people are librarians, and they don't love the part where parents or teachers will demand that kids go read "a Newbery winner" with the idea that any Newbery winner will automatically be good and interesting to their child. Gayneck: The Story of a Pigeon is not likely to do it for many elementary school kids. Plus just imagine what would happen if they were caught reading it by their peers.
Some parents are upset that they can't necessarily share each year's Newbery winners with their children because the award will at times go to books that are written for older children or even a young adult audience. I feel for those parents, but it's good that at least they know that "distinguished" does not necessarily mean "appropriate for your child." Or, sometimes, for any child. But I'm getting ahead of myself, here.
Anyway. Here are this year's literary awards.
John Newbery Medal
Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Have not read this one yet (it was not one of the ones we were buzzing about during our Mock Newbery). But I'm fine with it winning because it actually sounds like a sweet (if dark) story. Yes, the protagonists parents are killed by a knife-wielding psycho when he's a baby and then he is raised in a graveyard by a tight-knit family unit of ghosts. Some of your kids might be a bit sensitive about that.
Newbery Honor Books:
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. This book was very good, one of the ones I hoped would get something. But it's scary. There are mean people in it and mean things happen. The ending is lovely, though. So don't worry too much while you're reading.
Savvy by Ingrid Law. This is the only one of these that I could recommend without reservation to anyone. It is a sweet, funny, great book.
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle. Crack. Smokers. I didn't get to this one, but my very liberal coworker did. She said it was one of the most violent, disturbing things she'd read all year and she couldn't imagine handing it over to anyone under the age of 15. At one point someone gets hacked up and their body parts are scattered all over the place as a warning to others.
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson. Jacqueline Woodson is a great author, but this is most definitely a young adult novel, and deals with gangs, violence, prison, and mentiones homosexual prison affairs. So unless you want to be explaining that . . .But yeah, that's my beef. What's with the violent books that you can't even give to kids being called distinguished contribution to children's literature? I don't see why the Newbery medal gets into young adult literature when there already IS a prize for young adult literature. That's what the Printz award is for, even though this year the Printz people seem to be all about being as edgy as possible and also about completely shutting out Hunger Games, which is not okay. The rumor is that Octavian Nothing got an honor award instead because its author went all over the place on chat shows talking about how teens should be reading more elevated writing (read: his writing).
Also, don't read A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. Remember how I talked about some books not even belonging on the consideration list? Yeah. This was totally one of them. But please DO read Diamond Willow. I loved that one in all sorts of ways and wanted it to get a Newbery Honor award instead of that mass-killings-in-the-jungle book.
But enough of what I think. Does anyone else have any opinions? I'd love to hear which books you think should have won, or even if you're blissfully happy with the results. Feel free to disagree with me or each other on any of this as long as you don't talk smack about anybody's mom. Because that's the rule.