THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill.
First, I was shocked. I was stunned. This book is straight up epic, magical fantasy, with a swamp (bog) monster and a mini dragon and witches and babies left for dead in a dark and mysterious forest. Fantasy is a genre that does not typically fair well in the Newbery but a genre that is a favorite of mine. Second, I was ecstatic because I had actually read it and loved it! Recently, where the Newbery Medal was concerned, this had not always been the case. And finally, I was elated. For Kelly Barnhill, who seems like a genuinely great person and is from Minnesota (my neighbor to the North).
In fact, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I had read, and could fully endorse all of the books the Newbery Committee awarded. Along with Barnhill's novel, the committee gave Honors to FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley Bryan, THE INQUISITOR'S TALE by Adam Gidwitz, and WOLF HOLLOW by Lauren Wolk. All three are fantastic!
What a morning!
A few other personal highlights from this morning were all the great Sibert picks (as I've recently taken an interest in nonfiction books for children), THEY ALL SAW A CAT by Brendan Wenzel winning a Caldecott Honor, and WE ARE GROWING winning the Geisel Award (one of my daughter Charly's current favorite read aloud titles)!
But back to the showstopper... I have read two of Barnhill's other titles, THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK and THE WITCH'S BOY. She's been an author I've kept my eye on and been interested in. While reading THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, I couldn't help but smile at random times throughout because I just had this feeling that I was reading something special. A work by an author who was coming into her own. A work by an author who had found her voice and knew she was creating something magical and rare. THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON was different from Barnhill's previous novels. It truly felt like this was the story she was meant to write. It felt as if all of her previous work was her playing around and tinkering with ideas, leading to the moment she would create her masterpiece.
A little dramatic of me, maybe. But THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON is a dramatic book! Congrats to Kelly Barnhill and all the other authors receiving accolades this morning.