Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos!
Last November our Mayfield Pics/Mock Newbery group reviewed books published in 2011 that we had read and that could possibly be chosen for the Newbery award. We decided that most of the books we had read were not contenders. Many were not appropriate for the age level of our group of 3rd through 5th graders.
The only book I confessed to reading was "Dead End in Norvelt". I was not sure how it would go over since the main character had dysfunctional feuding parents and the premise of the story revolved around a boy with nose bleeds avoiding being grounded by taking notes and typing for an old woman who prepares obituaries for the local newspaper. I thought it was a great book for guys who need a lot of twisted tails to keep one's attention.
I screamed when I found out that it won. First because I had read it and second because we have it at our library in the Youth Services department (it is currently check out). It also won the Scott O'Dell award for Historical Fiction . Last year we had read dozens of possible contenders and the winner, "Moon Over Manifest" written by Clare Vanderpool, was not even on our radar. It turned out to be a great book. How do they find these books and how do they get on all the Mock Newbery lists?
One of the Newbery Honor books was "Inside Out & Back Again" written by Thanhha Lai. I love this book. It was written in verse and very easy to read. It details the challenges of growing up both as a foreigner learning English and living in a culture difficult to understand. Many of the challenges with peers are universal regardless of culture. It would be and interesting book discussion. The other Honor book, "Breaking Stalin's Nose" written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin I have not read. All these books have something in common, history through the eyes of youth. Great choices.
Congrats to the Newbery winning author Jack Gantos!