Thursday, January 31, 2008

Newbery Honor Books

The second tier of books or honor books, are usually wonderful books that just didn’t make it into the top spot. Reading this year’s honor books I can see wonderful stories. I am pleased by these choices, proud of the committee work, and happy to recommend all three titles without reservation.

In Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis, Elijah is the first free-born child in Buxton, a Canadian community of escaped slaves, in 1860. With grand storytelling, humor, and poignant insight into the realities of slavery and the meaning of freedom, Curtis takes readers on a journey that transforms an 11-year-old boy into a courageous hero.

In The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, seventh-grader, Holling is convinced his teacher hates him. Through their Wednesday afternoon Shakespeare sessions she helps him cope with events both wildly funny and deadly serious. “To thine own self be true” is just one of the life lessons he learns. This, too, is historical fiction that takes place in 1968 on Long Island.

Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson, tells the story of how a new boy's arrival in a sixth-grade classroom helps Frannie recognize the barriers that separate people, and the importance of hope as a bridge. Transcendent imagery and lyrical prose deftly capture a girl learning to navigate the world through words.

Each one of these authors has won Newbery Honors before, as well as the Newbery Medal for Curtis. They write characters that stay with the reader long after the book is finished. Check out Jacqueline Woodson’s web site to learn more about this author and her other books. It’s a great site!

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