Here’s why I think criticism of the Newbery is over-rated:
If I make a list of the GREAT books for Young Readers. And I mean the GREAT books. I find that the Newbery has picked a hefty portion of them. Thus I conclude that they must be doing something right and if they’re helping to keep these books in the libraries, then what’s the problem?
This is my personal list of the Great books, probably missing a couple…
Prydain series — High King won.
Prince Jem — author won (L. Alexander)
Tripod Trilogy/Sword of the Spirits — not eligible, British
Lizard Music- didn’t win
Secret Garden — not eligible
Ramona the Brave — didn’t win but author did. Also, Ramona and Her Father — another Great Book — was an honor winner.
The Westing Game — won
Bridge to T. — won
Mrs. Frisby – won
Mixed up Files../ — won [EDIT: For some reason, I thought this didn’t win. Thanks to Wendy for setting me straight.]
Holes — won.
The Great Brain series — didn’t win
Octavian Nothing — Didn’t win. I really think this book was for older kids than the Newbery anyway
Judy Blume – ASTONISHINGLY didn’t win. (Cece votes for Blubber.)
The Qwikpick Adventure Society – didn’t win!!!
Not counting that last book/masterpiece … of the eligible items on my list, six won and three others lost, but their authors won. Only three got shut out. The Great Brain is maybe understandable — as I mentioned in another post. But the lack of a Pinkwater or a Blume on this list is a major blow to my argument here.
However, the Newbery list offers up so many other great books:
Blue Dolphins / Onion John / The Giver / Wheel on the School / Sounder & I’ll admit Wrinkle in Time to this list by request of my 6th-grade self and over the objections of my present-day self.
So to my mind, the Newbery has only missed a few of the Great titles and has made sure that some of the best books and best authors will be long remembered. Yes, I disagree with some of their other picks, but overall they’ve done pretty well.
And if every library makes it a point to at least have the Newbery winners — and not discard them if they go a week without being checked out — then that’s a lot of good books that will be around for kids to read for a long, long time.
Although, if they pick a certain book this year, I may reconsider.
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