22 January 2007

The Diversity of the 2007 Newbery Honorees

This year's Newbery Medal recipient and Honor Books were announced this morning. And as usual (though not always), they're very serious books.

The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron: dead mother.

Penny from Heaven, by Jennifer Holm: dead father.

Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson: dead mother and father.

Rules, by Cynthia Lord: autistic brother.

This year, the honored books are also all about girls. And I'm betting that each and every one ends up offering a “sense of hope.”


fusenumber8 said...

Well, Hattie fails. Take that as you may. Penny gets her arm mangled but ends up not minding that her mom's dating the milkman. And in Rules the main character doesn't find hope so much as not mind so much that she has to constantly deal with her difficult little brother. I think the only "sense of hope" book you can name is the big winner. An interesting thought.

J. L. Bell said...

As a critic I like to read sometimes says, "Really, really, really?"

'Cause all I got to go on (until I finish my Cybils homework) is what Amazon tells me, and it says...

Hattie Blue Sky is an "authentic first-person narrative, full of hope and anxiety," according to Booklist.

Lauren O. on Rules, "I found that it was emotional story but Cynthia Lord was able to tie in humorous events and life lessons to make the situations less intense and to not seem so hopeless."

And Penny from Heaven adapts its title from a song about seeing the rain as a good fortune. Not that the book necessarily has to follow the same lines, or make that a central theme, but we're clearly in a culture that wants even the most difficult family situations "to not seem so hopeless."

Monica Edinger said...

But, Fuse, all the books still end with readers feeling hopeful about the protagonists' futures whatever their trials. Hattie fails in one way, but not in so many others --- isn't that the point?

We've gone around this before (here perhaps or on child_lit?), but I DO think that child readers want their books to give them a feeling of optimism about the future, they want to come out of their reading with that trite expression --- "a feeling of hope". Books for children can and are sad, dire, and grim, but even Edward Tulane ends with a sense of hope! Certainly, Hattie, Lucky, Penny, and Catherine all are feeling very hopeful by the end of their stories.

I do agree with you, JL, about the similarity in these books. Noticed it as well, but am much more humble about this now that I'm about to serve myself on a Newbery committee. 15 people and that weighted ballot (which I still don't quite get being dreadful with math) can create all sorts of situations. In fact, I was horrified to meet a someone who served on the Newbery long ago who told me she hated the book they chose. That scared the dickens out of me. So now, my only hope [sic] is we chose a book I at least like!

Fuse, did you come out of your committee work with a sense of hope?:)

fusenumber8 said...

Guilty as charged. And frankly, I'm not going to get very far if I try to make a case that these books fill children with a sense of inevitable ennui. They've got hope flowing out of their gills, it's true.

Is it any comfort then that I adored all the books we chose? I can think of no more nightmarish a situation than the one you just described, Monica.