Seleca's Harp (selecasharp) wrote,
Seleca's Harp

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Neil Gaiman won the Newbery award for The Graveyard Book.

I'm ... surprised, to say the least. The last few years, I've rather disliked the Newbery winners, mostly because they were almost all Serious Realistic Fiction about some kid (usually a girl) who has some sort of family issue and comes to some sort of Realization about life, and often they were set in the past. Last year's winner was not this, but it was a terribly obscure book that no kid would ever pick up just to read, because the book itself wasn't meant for that. (It was a collection of dramatic monologues about medieval characters; it's meant to be performed, in other words.) But recently all the winners have been, to put it bluntly, boring, and almost none of them had any actual kid appeal. Now, the award is supposed to be just for literary merit and therefore is not supposed to take appeal or popularity into account, but at the same time, ignoring that entirely diminishes the meaning of the award itself if no one actually LIKES the winners, no matter how well-written they were. There was recently an article to that effect in "The Washington Post" (I think).

My personal opinion of the winners was boring, HATED OMG (Criss-Cross), boring, Fun but who would read this?, etc. I've generally thought the honors (or at least one of them) were better than the winner by far (Princess Academy should have won, dammit), and I'm sick of Realistic Fiction seeming to have the edge recently. The last time something that wasn't realistic won was 2004 (Kate diCamillo's The Tale of Desperaux). Generally I like the winners before then.

This is why this year's winners are a surprise to me. None of them are Realistic Fiction, for one, or at least not following the recent Newbery Model. The Graveyard Book is about a boy who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard. The Underneath by Kathi Appelt is about a cat and a dog who become friends, but the cat and her kittens must live in the Underneath (underneath a house) lest the man there feed them to alligators. Apparently a lamia is involved somehow. Margarita Engle's The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom's title says it all. Savvy by Ingrid Law is about a family who each develop a savvy - or special power - at age 13. The last honor will amuse joellehart - it's Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac and D Foster. This one is more or less realistic, but it's hardly about a plucky young heroine who Realizes Something after a big Family Tragedy of some sort. Unless you count Tupac dying as a family tragedy.

Anyway. I'm excited. And so is Neil Gaiman.

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