le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Monday, January 18, 2010


The awards and honors for children's/YA books were announced today, and I am very pleased to have read the Newbery winner this past weekend: Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME.

To be fair, and honest, I only acquired a copy of it because last week, the Newbery buzz surrounding it was deafening, and I wanted to read it before it became an unobtainable award-winner. BUT I am glad I read it - it was quite, quite a good book, and deserves the recognition it's getting. I've had, for quite awhile now, a half-formed syllabus of intertextual children's books for some future imaginary class, and WHEN YOU REACH ME is an excellent fit (with A WRINKLE IN TIME).

My only bafflement with the book is its temporal setting - why 1979? why not set the book now, or even in a less specific semi-contemporary year? I suppose a book has to be set sometime and 1979 is as good a year as any (better than most, actually, since it's the year of my birth) -- but it didn't feel as central to the plot as it is prominently noted in the book.

The Printz award winner, for best YA novel, is for Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, a book which I am not entirely sure I've heard of, though once I saw its cover on amazon, it looked very familiar. The synopses online make it sound pretty intriguing and compelling - the tone is compared to Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, both of whom I like quite a lot. I'm a bit prejudiced against Bray because of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, which I thought was a great and terrible book, but it looks like she has more in her brain than pseudo-Victorian quasi-erotic gothic meanderings.

The Caldecott goes to a Jerry Pinkney book, THE LION AND THE MOUSE, which again is familiar to me by its cover but not by its content. Pinkney's a brilliant artist, and I've no doubt he deserves the Caldecott. He could be a semi-permanent winner of the medal, and I'd feel okay with it.

There are a host of other awards for various qualities - nonfiction, translations, the Coretta Scott King, and so on, none of which I have much to say about. The full list is on ALSC's website.

I think I will need to add WHEN YOU REACH ME to me personal collection; I finished it on Saturday, but it's still very, very strongly present in my mind, in a sad but satisfied kind of way. The book isn't sentimental or gushy at all, but somehow managed to produce a very strong affective response from me. And the writing - the structure, the tone, the narrator's voice - are all wonderfully done.

Nicely done, Awards Committees!


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Becker said...

When You Reach Me is on my list to listen to--a colleague told me that the audio was great, and I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid, so I'm looking forward to it. Going Bovine is definitely a departure for Libba Bray (well, from what I hear from folks who've read her other books & this one!)--I had no interest in even picking up her other books, but Going Bovine was weird & wonderful, I thought!