Thursday, January 16, 2014

That's So Medal: Mock Newbery

As the Youth Media Awards are fast-approaching (yay!), the Internet is abuzz with lists and more lists of contenders (Mock and otherwise) for the winners. I recently posted about my library's Mock Caldecott passive program. Well, just recently a librarian from another library in my area decided to take the bull by the proverbial horns and get a bunch of us together for a Mock Newbery discussion. (There are several small libraries all in the near vicinity to each other in my area, so it's a wonderful opportunity for all of us to get together and work some library magic!)

We all chose about 3 title that we liked and met at my library this afternoon for a hearty discussion about each. Here is the list of the contenders (my picks are in bold):

After we discussed each title we took a short cookie and lemonade break to mull over our thoughts/notes and then voted. 

Our winner was (drum roll):

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

I was happy with this pick. I think that it's a great story about a boy going through the usual 2nd grade problems. Henkes' writing style has a lot of appeal for kids. At first, I thought this might a be a little long for a 2nd grader to want to read, but someone pointed out to me that I should think about it as a read aloud and I liked it a lot better. I do still slightly wish though that the book was either slightly shorter (it clocks in at 240 pages) or that Billy was written slightly older. Still, it's a wonderful story reminiscent of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Our Honor Books were:

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

I think that this one has great cover appeal for those middle grade readers. I also think that it's one of those rare books that will appeal to kids and adults alike. The interwoven stories between precocious raccoons, a determined boy, destructive hogs, and a very sleepy Sasquatch add enough complexity for older readers and the language, humor, and tone cater to younger ones. There's a touch of Appelt's award-winner The Underneath that makes the story feel familiar, but it definitely holds its own as well.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I was also happy with this pick. While I'm not completely sure about how much this one will appeal to kids, I think the writing style and subject matter alone make it a distinguished work of literature. Willow Chance feels like a real girl going through real life, because of and despite her mental and life challenges. I've seen this title get a lot of buzz on other Mock Newbery lists.

Do you have a Mock Newbery list? What's on yours?

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