Newbery Favorites

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1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg; Won the Newbery in 1968

 

Book summary: “When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would live in comfort-at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She invited her brother Jamie to go, too, mostly because he was a miser and would have money The two took up residence in the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled even the experts. The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and without her help Claudia might never have found a way to go home.”

 

I read this book over and over as a youngster and have re-read it a number of times as an adult.  It absolutely stands the test of time.  The writing is stellar; the adventure unforgettable.  Did you know that E.L. Konigsburg wrote another Newbery winner entitled The View from Saturday, which won in 1997?

2. New Kid by Jerry Craft; Won the Newbery in 2020

 

Book summary: “Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.   As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?”

 

This graphic novel surprised me!  Many graphic novels have weak story lines, lack believable emotion and experiences, and have poorly done, often cranked out digital illustrations.  The of New Kid plot sucked me in, but it was the story (emotional journey) that kept me reading, so much so that I read it in one sitting!

3. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos; Won the Newbery in 2012

Book summary: “In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.”

This book was a riot!  While it was a little slow to start, once it got going, it was delight!ful  The characters are all completely and endearingly odd. and totally eccentric.  Dead End in Norvelt is a story about people who are wholly embedded, for better or worse, in their hometown.  

4. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink; Won the Newbery in 1936 

 

Book summary: “The adventures of an eleven-year-old tomboy growing up on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-nineteenth century.” 

 

This book takes place in Wisconsin and has often been compared to the Little House on the Prairie series.  I found this book, both the characters and the story, more realistic and much more relatable.  I thought the book would feel dated, many books from this era do, but the writing is timeless and I really enjoyed the book.

 

5. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; Won the Newbery in 2014

Book summary: “A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo.  It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry - and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.”

 

I LOVED this quirky book!  Implausible IMPOSSIBLE situations are made throughly believable due to Kate DiCamillo's skill in both story and plot. She is a writer's writer; her storytelling skills are all but unmatched.  DiCamillo was awarded a Newbery in 2001 for Because of Winn Dixie and another in 2004 for The Tale of Desperaux.  Both of these books are also amazing stories and worth picking up!