Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heavy Medal Shortlist

Last week, Jonathan and Nina at Heavy Medal finalized their shortlist. Of their ten titles, I have currently read six, with my hands on the other four. My initial thoughts and reactions are listed below, as well as a few "snubs" I would've loved to see people discuss and argue over. I've ranked them as well . . .

1. OKAY FOR NOW: Read it and loved it. Hands down favorite. Nothing even compares.

2. THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA: Read it and loved it. I am a little biased because for some reason or other, I love Jenni Holm. Any other year, I'd champion hard for this book to win the gold. But my heart just can't rank it above OKAY FOR NOW. I just can't.

3. AMELIA LOST: Read it and liked it. I don't read a ton of nonfiction but Flemming did such an incredible job crafting this story, that it doesn't read like your traditional nonfiction book. I like how she balances the factual information she uncovered about Amelia with exciting stories of the rescue attempt when her plane went missing. It creates for an exciting read, even though we all know the outcome.

4. A MONSTER CALLS: Read it and liked it. Patrick Ness's book is brilliant, without a doubt. My only question is whether or not it's style is appropriate for children. My gut reaction is, it isn't. I definitely could not recommend this book to all children. Plus, there's an interesting debate about whether or not, due to publishing dates, this book is even eligible.

5. I BROKE MY TRUNK: Read it and loved it. However . . . I'm not sure I can be convinced that the text of this title alone is "distinguished" enough for Newbery consideration. If the Newbery Medal criteria would eliminate the gray area surrounding a book's illustration, and let entire packages of work be considered and discussed, then I'd be sold on this one. But as the criteria is laid out, I'm not seeing it.

6. SIR GAWAIN THE TRUE: Read it and liked it. Not sure if I can be sold that this particular brand of slapstick humor is Newbery worthy though. If the goal was to get an early chapter book on the table to see what kind of discussion it generates, I personally feel that THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS or TOYS COME HOME would've made better choices.

*7. WONDERSTRUCK: Not read yet, but I own it! I'm a little nervous because I feel as if I was the only person in the world who didn't love HUGO CABRET. The medium Selznick has invented is remarkable, I just didn't really care for the Hugo "story". The illustrations, the format, sure. The story, not so much. However, I've heard that WONDERSTRUCK is even better than HUGO CABRET, so my hopes are up.

*8. THE MONEY WE'LL SAVE: A picture book. Not read. Currently have it in my possession though.

*9. PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE: Not read. School library has it. Have not read any of the other Penderwick books. Actually started the first one a few years ago, and abandoned it.

*10. HEART AND SOUL: Another nonfiction book. Not read. Currently have it in my possession though.

There are only three books I would've liked to see on the shortlist that didn't make it. PIE by Sarah Weeks, HIDDEN by Helen Frost, and ICEFALL by Matthew Kirby. HIDDEN was a much more meaningful, and powerful verse novel than INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN. PIE was great, and I'll post my feelings on it soon. ICEFALL, I admit, I haven't quite finished yet, but I love it enough already to wish it it's day on the Newbery table.

It's exciting for once, to know that I will have read all the books on their shortlist. I look forward to the discussion each will generate.