Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Newbery Hope #1--JEREMY FINK

A grand suggestion was made by Betsy at Fuse #8 that we write about why our Newbery Hopes-Predictions made the list. So, I'll start with this one.

I LOVED JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE by Wendy Mass. I would LOVE to see it win the Newbery. It is a great present-day story that made me feel the same way that I did when I read FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER as a child. Jeremy Fink is a character that is very real, one that sticks with you. I felt like this book had lots to offer kids in the upper elementary/early middle school grades. It was a great story with a great male and female character. There was lots of anticipation as you cheered for Jeremy to find the keys to the box left by his father.

I guess when I think about my favorite Newbery winners, BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, TALE OF DESPEREAUX, and WALK TWO MOONS come to mind. JEREMY FINK seems to be more in line with WINN-DIXIE and WALK TWO MOONS. They all three seem like great stories for kids. Stories about real, believable kids that stay with you long after you are finished reading them. When I read, I read for the characters. I look for characters like Claudia in FROM THE MIXED UP FILES because she has stayed with me through my adult life. I also think that these stories all have compelling plots--you want to see how things turn out for the characters. I am a true believer that you can make sense of the world best through great fiction. JEREMY FINK is a book that I think can do this for this generation of kids.

I have worried lately that many of the Newbery winners seem to be more Young Adultish to me. Several are books I would have difficulty sharing with my 10 and 11 year olds. The topics are sometimes too sophisticated and the themes would not mean much to them yet. I think BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE and WALK TWO MOONS were great examples of realistic fiction for kids--brilliantly written from an adult perspective AND very real for kids today. Each was a story with characters and a message that kids could relate to and could stay with them for a lifetime.

I am recommending it to everyone I know and I am having big trouble lending out my own copy:-) I think it is definitely a huge contribution the field of children's fiction.

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