2016 & 2017 Newbery Thoughts

As longtime readers know, we have made it a hobby to read all the 90+ Newbery medal winners and give our unsolicited opinion.  Click here for our ranking.  The books keep coming, so we keep giving our thoughts.

2016:  January 2016, Last Stop on Market Street won the Newbery Medal.  It was a shock.  It's a read-aloud picture book, utterly unable to be compared to other books.  Sometimes, Newberys have been short (e.g. Sarah, Plain and Tall), but a total read-aloud is a new precedent.  As you can see on the cover here, it not only won the Newbery for best story, but also a honor for the Caldecott for its illustrations (which are fantastic).  Was it good enough for the Newbery?  It's good, but it's not great, and so it was a very confusing choice.
One reason for the confusing choice could have been a lack of competition.  We also happened upon one of the 2016 Newbery Honor books, The War That Saved My Life.  It's a World War II story about a young handicapped girl that is sent out of London during the blitz, and it's fantastic.  Absolutely on par with some of the better medal winners throughout the year.

Thus we have the Newbery motto for 2016:  "What in the world is going on?"


As an aside, roughly twice a decade, the Newbery medal departs from a standard novel to honor a book written in some other literary style, poetry, free verse, hip-hop rap, or the occasional non-fiction work.  Last Stop on Market Place seems to be one of these times.  Though we are generally fans of a fantastic tale more than anything else, these occasional departures have usually impressed us.  The Crossover, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, and Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices are some examples.


2017:  Because of our 2016 experience, we were eager to see the follow-up.  We procured a copy of the winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon as well as the most-appealing Honor book The Inquisitor's Tale.  

Verdict:  Both Awesome.  The Girl Who Drank the Moon is 100% fantasy with truly original characters and a compelling style.  The Inquisitor's Tale is an imaginative yarn out of the Middle Ages that is sometimes silly, sometimes serious, always fun and always wonderfully illustrated.  Very difficult to know which of these two deserved the Medal.  They are both Medal quality.

Newbery Motto for 2017:  Back on Track.


Cape Town Vacation!

The beach 3 houses down from where we stayed

Slangkop lighthouse


V&A waterfront

Table Rock

Hike up Table Mountain (Platteklip Gorge)

Made it to the top! (after only 3 hrs of hiking)

Spot the dassie

Took the cable car down

Long Beach

Cape Point (national park)

Whale rib cage

Spot the eland

Cape Point lighthouse



Tide pools in False Bay

Penguins at Boulders Beach

Boat trip to Duiker Island....

...home to a colony of fur seals!