Jessica Day George

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Newberys I Have Known and Loved. . . .

It's awards season all over the place! Avatar just got a Golden Globe for Best Movie Drama, Oscar nominations are imminent, and the American Library Association just announced the winners of the Newbery and Printz awards, among others. So exciting! The winner of the Newbery Award this year was Rebecca Stead's book, When You Reach Me, and the winner of the Printz was Libba Bray's Going Bovine. For a complete list of the award-winning books for this year and years past, go to

Now, I know that some of you are thinking, Oh, no! I hate those books! *whine whine* I recently had a friend say that her sons call the Newbery sticker the "Death Mark", and I will be the first to admit that some of these books are not my favorite. In particular, there seem to be books that were picked because they would be good for the children, morally improving and all that. Also, some of the older books have titles like Queer Person and The Old Tobacco Shop, and there seems to be a strange fondness for goats. . . .

But let's not talk about those! Let's talk about the good ones.

Like The Hero and the Crown.

Many of you know my relationship with this book, and are rolling your eyes, saying, Yes, Jessica, we know about you and that book. We get it, she's a redhead, too! But I just have to say it one. More. Time.

I love this book, which won the Newbery in 1985, and inspired me to become a writer myself. It and its companion book, The Blue Sword, which was an honor book in 1983, were my comfort books from the time I was eleven on. I would read them, or parts of them, whenever I was sad or sick. I recently had a friend read Hero for the first time, and he said, Yeah, it was fine. I told him we were no longer on speaking terms. (I have since recanted, but honestly, he has no taste.)

Some of the books are for very young children, like the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. And you can pretty much bet that if there was a horse in it, I loved it. (Marguerite Henry, I adore thee!) But there are a few books on this list that I think have not only stood the test of time, but are great for any age of reader. Some of them are being forgotten, like Jane Langton's heartbreaking and wondrous The Fledgling, while others remain constant classics, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

So, since this post has taken three days to write because of my children and the general busyness of life in general, I will finally post this list of my favorite Newbery books, from oldest to newest. I would like to mention the Printz Awards as well . . . but in the interest of time, let me just say: Skellig. How I Live Now. Read them or we are not on speaking terms.

And now, the Newberys!

The Cat Who Went to Heaven
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
The Wheel on the School
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
A Wrinkle in Time
The Black Cauldron
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The High King
The Tombs of Atuan
The Headless Cupid
Figgs and Phantoms
Abel's Island
Bridge to Terabithia
Ramona and her Father
The Westing Game
The Fledgeling
A Ring of Endless Light
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Dear Mr. Henshaw
The Wish Giver
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Whipping Boy
Joyful Noise
Maniac Magee
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Nothing But the Truth
The Giver
Catherine, Called Birdy
The View From Saturday
The Thief
Out of the Dust
Ella Enchanted
A Long Way From Chicago
A Year Down Yonder
Because of Winn-Dixie
The House of the Scorpion
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Princess Academy
Hattie Big Sky
The Graveyard Book

I'd like to discuss each one, but sadly, I must pick up Boy from preschool right now.

Go forth, and read! Post your favorite Newbery in the comments!


Catherine Denton said...

You listed many of my favorites. But here are a few more Newbery and Newbery Honor books: Crispin by Avi, Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, and Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.
Winged Writer

Kellee said...

First, I want to thank you for the list. The Newbery list is overwhelming, because I didn't know where to start.

I agree with Catherine that Olive's Oceans was worthy of being on the list :)
I also love Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Rules by Cynthia Lord, Al Capone does my Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, Hope was Here by Joan Bauer, and both of Jim Murphy's non-fiction books on the list: American Plague and The Great Fire.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read Olive's Ocean yet, but it's on my "To Read" list. I originally had a list that was forever, ever long, but I decided to pare it down to the ones that I've either read two or more times, or think haven't gotten enough attention.

Kellee said...

I truly recommend Olive's Ocean. It is very enjoyable.
Can you make a list of your LEAST favorite Newbery awards? Then we'll know what to avoid as well :)

Taletha, etc. said...

This comment is a little late, but I just have to say that I am right there with you regarding the "Hero" books. LOVE THEM! I have found that there is a small window for them to be life-changing comfort books. My friends that have read them when they were older haven't loved them as much. Too bad for them!

Thanks for the list!

Anonymous said...

What about Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, hm?


Cara said...

I didn't realize this but I guess I am a fan of Newbery Medal books because I've read most of them on the list and enjoyed them. My favorite is Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voight which I didn't see on the list(raised eyebrows).

Anonymous said...

Bizarrely, the only Cynthia Voigt books I've read are the Jackaroo books and The Callendar Papers, all of which I love. I'm almost afraid to read Dicey's Song, because it looks so serious. . . . Newberys I've hated, though? Er. I hate to talk smack about other authors, or their books. Oh, what the heck: William Blake's Inn. BLEAH!

Anonymous said...

Horay! We're on speaking terms now!
I haven't read The Giver, but I read her other book, Number the Stars.
I didn't really like the Graveyard Book that much. It seems like everbody likes it but me. I think Savvy should of won the Newbery last year, but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Ella Enchanted :check
The Westing Game: Check
Princess Acadamy: Check
Ramona Quimby, Age 8,: Checks,cayon scribbles, and sparkly smiley face stickers
Bridge to Terabithia: Oh heck no. Killing the girl was completely pointless. tear jerking, but pointless

Shiralea said...

Love several of these, especially Witch of Blackbird Pond and Holes. I Have to say, I just read the new one, When You Reach Me and loved it too. It was way fun to figure out!

Julie Wright said...

I loved Crispin by Avi. My favorite life changing book was Witch of Blackbird pond. seriously--9th grade--changed my life. And I loved the true confessions of Charlotte Doyle, ella enchanted and the graveyard book

Melissa said...

I love basically ALL of these books, especially Princess Academy but one book that I think is missing is Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, this book is very touching and powerful, but every time I read it I start to cry....