ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via French from Italian gazzetta, originally gazeta de la novità (because the news-sheet sold for a gazeta, a Venetian coin of small value)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Newbery Medal

Neil Gaiman's novel "The Graveyard Book" has won this year's Newbery Medal, the American Library Association's highest honor for children's literature.  Complaints were voiced last year that "Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From A Medieval Village" by L.A. Schiltz was unreadable, and that children wouldn't like it.  It hasn't sold particulary well.  There were those who thought that previous year's recipient, Susan Patron's "The Higher Power of Lucky" was both unduly harsh and unpalatably saccharine (I personally loved Patron's book) and that her main character, Lucky, came off as under-developed and without much consistency.  When compared another to Newbery winner written 40 years ago, "Up A Road Slowly" by Irene Hunt, whose main character is complex, not easily pegged, and who matures through both difficult and joyful challenges, Patron's character Lucky might indeed seem as wispy and thin as a sheet of paper.  But perhaps that's just the difference 40 years make.  I have yet to read Mr. Gaiman's honored work, so until I do, I will reserve judgement.  It promises to be interesting:  it is, after all, the story of a boy raised by ghosts (!) after his family is killed.  What I do know is that "The Graveyard Book" has been on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks, that the author himself doesn't consider it to be a "children's" book, and that he found inspiration for the work in Kipling's "The Jungle Book" and was encouraged by his son's interest and hunger to know the end of the story.  
More later, once I've read the book.  I wonder if it will be appropriate for my fourth grade students?  The boys will probably love it.


  1. I read the WPost article, but was put off by the idea of ghosts. Maybe I am older than my years, maybe I am too French... Ghosts is not our forte... I will certainly look forward to reading what YOU think of the book.

  2. i read about the Newbery Prize on another blog about Children's and YOung Adult literature:

    "Erica S. Perl, a children's book author and guest columnist for Slate argues that the Newbery Medal inspires authors of children's literature: "literary awards should do more than simply affirm books that are easy to love and would likely find fans regardless of a medal. They also serve as inspiration for authors to take creative risks, push boundaries, and even reinvent the form."

    Ms Perl is referring to "Good Masters! Sweet LAdies! Voices from a Medieval Village." Personally i think it is a good point - reward writers who push the envelope, not those whose books are the most popular with children. Currently, my favorite children's book is THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, because i read it for the FIRST time recently. how is it that i never read it, (or had it read to me) as a child? its characters are animals with human traits, including questionable ones, such as materialism, and wanderlust. the decription of lives intimately connected with nature, was especially resonant with me as an adult trying my best to de-clutter and simplify mine.
    in fourth grade, the school counselor come to our class twice a week and read aloud "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" which i enjoyed immensely, but perhaps it was because i had a crush on the young couselor, Mr. ?, who looked like Napoleon Solo.

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