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Newbery or Not: Final Roundup

The results are in for the 2014 ALA Youth Media Awards! Let’s see how the selections I looked at came out in the mix.

In the Newbery category, One Came Home and The Year of Billy Miller both took home a silver. I’m surprised to see that Holly Black’s Doll Bones, which I read when it came out but didn’t review here, also got an Honor nod. Heavy reader favorites Counting by 7s and True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp got completely shut out, as did National Book Award winner The Thing About Luck.

Other favorites didn’t get the Newbery but did get recognition. Better Nate Than Ever was a Stonewall (exceptional books relating to LGBT topics) honor book. PS Be Eleven joined its predecessor One Crazy Summer in winning a Coretta Scott King Award. Most surprisingly, Navigating Early didn’t hit the Newbery list but did score as a Printz honor title, a list that doesn’t often include middle grade titles. I’ve already seen online discussion about where different libraries shelve Navigating Early, as Printz books generally live in YA areas and Navigating Early is shelved in juvenile collections in many libraries.

Finally, though, the shiny gold Newbery Medal went to Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. I’m stunned! Although it’s my favorite book of the year for elementary and middle school, I never thought Flora and Ulysses would win out over the competition. Kate Dicamillo is now the 6th author to win the Newbery twice. Since her other winner was Tale of Despereaux, I guess the lesson here is that heroic rodents really work for her! I’m thrilled to see Flora and Ulysses win because I think it may help in the struggle to get parents and some teachers and librarians to understand that comics and graphic novels are not candy or trash. Besides, it’s just nice to see a funny book about love and friendship and discovery and squirrels who become heroes in vacuum cleaner accidents win a prestigious award.

I think I learned something from my quickie children’s fiction binge: I do really love children’s books, but for some reason, I forget that I love them. I spend most of my free-reading time on YA books, and of course I read all of the picture books I order for the library in case they might be good for storytime. Heck, I had read all the YA and picture books that received awards or honors this year. For some reason, elementary and middle grade books just seem to fall through the cracks, and then when I catch up, I think, “Wow, these are so amazing! What took me so long?” In the coming year, I am going to try much harder to stay on top of offerings for this age group.

Weigh In: How do you feel about the award lineups this year?

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