Awards – 2001 through 2020

2001 A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

I found the story of Mary Alice and her grandmother delightful. I loved the way Mary Alice grew to appreciate her grandmother’s unconventional ways and the small town that she finds herself living in. I enjoyed watching Grandma Dowdel using her wits to keep people safe and to prick the hot air out of some of her neighbors. Very enjoyable!  (July 2011)

2002  A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

This was a beautiful book! I loved the relationships between Tree-Ear and Crane-Man. I thought Crane-Man was such a wonderful father – he shared wisdom with Tree-Ear and encouraged him to dream and encouraged him to be honorable. Those qualities gained Tree-Ear a great treasure in the end. I also fully enjoyed the setting of the novel – 12th century Korea.  (Mar 2010)

2003  Crispin : the Cross of Lead by Avi

It’s hard to imagine living in the conditions that are described in this novel – of being owned, body and soul, by the local lord. The idea of individual freedom that is part of the air we breathe in the United States, is certainly a modern idea, and one that isn’t even shared by most of the world today. The story of Crispin and how he comes to discover both his heritage and his identity is an exciting one and leaves me wondering where Crispin will land next.  (Mar 2010)

2004  The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

This was a fun adventure through the world of courtly honor and silly kings and romantic coincidences, all done at elementary school level. This is a great book for introducing more adult vocabulary – Ms. DiCamillo uses unfamiliar words, but gives lots of examples of what they mean. I also liked that forgiveness is a big part of the story.  (Mar 2010)

2005  Kira-Kira byCynthia Kadohata

I’m not sure what to think about this book.  There are hopeful messages in the book – the title itself is suggestive of the theme of finding the world glorious.  And yet there is something unremittingly depressing about many aspects of the story – the pervasive prejudice that Katie and her family endure – the grinding work conditions her parents experience – the hopelessness of Lynn’s illness.  But there is dignity too – Katie’s father doesn’t allow his grief to change his essential nature or to make him give up his integrity. (May 2010)

2006  Criss Cross byLynne Rae Perkins

I enjoyed the quirky nature of Ms. Perkins writing in this Newberry award winner.  Ms. Perkins intersperses pictures, drawings, poems, and unconventional page layout to tell this story of childhood friends exploring the world of growing up, of understanding life and love, and of making connections. (May 2010)

2007  The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Lucky is trying to make sense of the adult world around her. She listens to the addicts at the meetings she cleans up after, and tries to apply their lessons to her own life. But as a child, she doesn’t really understand what is happening around her – everything is colored by her own fears and the experience of abandonment she has already had. Fortunately, Lucky is loved, and she discovers that in the end.  (Mar 2010)

2008  Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! : voices from a medieval village by Laura Amy Schlitz

One thing I’ve enjoyed about reading Newberry Medal winners is the variety of the selections. This book of monologues, written to be performed by children, is an engaging look at life in the Middle Ages. Taken together they give the reader a glimpse of life in a world completely different from modern United States. There’s a fair dose of humor, which contrasts nicely with the realities of lice and fleas, hunger and oppression.  (Mar 2010)

2009  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is an interesting story because it exists on the border between life and death and the story explores the idea of life within the confines of this fantastical tale. Nobody Owens is a likable character, and the novelties of his living in the graveyard make for fun reading. Very satisfying conclusion.  (Feb 2010)

2010 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This reminded me of all the best books I read as a kid – there was a clever twist in the story, but mostly it was about a girl figuring out some things about herself and others.  Maybe one of the reasons it felt familiar was because it was set in 1979 – the time of my “figuring out” phase too.  Another thing I loved about this book was the prominent roll Ms. Lengle’s  “A Wrinkle in Time” played.  I loved that book as a kid (still do) and I understood Miranda’s feelings about the story.  I also enjoyed watching Miranda negotiate the tricky waters of friendship.  Great book.  (July 2011)

2011 Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool

Abilene becomes the catalyst for a renewal of hope and community during the difficult days of the Depression. It is also a story of how Abilene discovers the story of where she came from and where she belongs. Ms. Vanderpool’s juxtaposition of WWI and the Depression creates some interesting parallels.  (July 2011)

2012  Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

The writing was good, the characters were interesting and quirky, and the setting felt very real. But I got to the end of the story and thought, “And?” I’m not sure what the point was, other than maybe to just paint a picture of a time that is gone. Maybe a second reading would change my impressions. (Apr 2013)

2013  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I loved this story through Ivan’s eyes – he was certainly human-like, but also animal too. I liked the family that the animals created with each other and also with George and Julia – and it was wonderful that Ivan could be the silverback that he wanted to be. (Apr 2013)

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