The Newbery Medal

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In the same month I read the 2017 Newbery Medal recipient: The Girl Who Drank the Moon along with the 2013 Newbery Medal winner: The One and Only Ivan. And I couldn’t wait to share these great books.  

Newbery Medal winners are considered the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. That means that kids have to actually enjoy these books and they do. I was a fourth grader who fell in love with Katherine Patterson’s The Bridge to Terabithia.  I believe young readers enjoy them because the powerful messages these books have are not preached. The authors tend to present difficult issues, but never talk down (The Bridge to Terabithia deals with death). Readers are allowed to think their own big questions as they escape into the words of the pages.

Katherine Applegate captures her readers’ imaginations with Ivan’s unique gorilla voice.  She shows differences in the way he thinks and how humans think. His thoughts come at their own pace. She uses appropriate descriptions and verse to allow the reader to imagine a gorilla’s world view. This allows kids a chance to think about the way they look at animals and reflect inward. It gives them experience in a world unfamiliar to them.

As for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, readers are drawn in by the magic, the promise of story, and a dragon that fits inside a pocket. Barnhill said she wrote the story for herself and didn’t expect many to like it because she thought it was a bit weird. Instead, she found that kids related deeply to the themes. The idea that even when we are genuine and true, sometimes we still make mistakes. And the notions of rumors and getting the wrong idea about a person are issues kids deal with.

The seeds of wonder are planted on the back covers in simple phrases. “I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks…” And, “There is magic in starlight, of course. This is well known. Moonlight, however. That is a different story. Moonlight is magic. Ask anyone you like.” But the stories themselves are not simple and are filled with thought-provoking insight. Both novels are quite different, yet both include similar themes of sorrow, hope, humor, and friendship.

I have fallen for many Newberry Medals and honors. Kelly Barnhill’s is definitely my newest favorite. If I hadn’t read it, I would’ve said The Graveyard Book. Tell me some of your favs and if you’re feeling daring, why. Happy Wednesday!

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2 Responses to “The Newbery Medal”

  1. Victoria Williams says:

    Amy Krause Rosenthal ” I Wish You More”, really spoke to the child in me.

    • Jessica Toman Jessica Toman says:

      I haven’t read it. I looked it up. It looks great. I’ll have to find that one for my little ones.

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