26 January 2009

Fantastic Newberys

It was a good year for fantasy novels at the Newbery awards. The gold medal went to The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman.

In addition, Newbery Honors went to The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, and Savvy by Ingrid Law. (As well as to two historical novels with political overtones: The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, and After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson.)

Two of those three fantasy novels were illustrated: The Graveyard Book by Dave McKean, decades after he started collaborating with Gaiman on the Sandman comics, and The Underneath by David Small. One of the happy results of the stunning success of the Harry Potter novels, I think, is the return of illustration to children's novels, particularly fantasies.

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