Monday, February 19, 2007

Newbery Awards

David Frum paints with a broad, inaccurate brush when hrumphing agianst the Newbery award winners:
I suppose as a parent I should express shock. But actually, I have found the Newberry award a very helpful guide. My kids learned long ago that any book bearing the Newberry gold star is to be avoided like the plague. If not perverse, it will be vapid; if not politically correct, then it will be grimly didactic. We own hundreds of children's book, many contemporary - but no Newberry winners of later vintage than Johnny Tremain (1942). That saves a lot of time!

Here are my favorites since 1942:

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton)

1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

Granted there are some lean years in there but I think it a fallacy to call the above titles vapid, perverse, politically correct; possibly didactic, but grimly so? Shouldn't we look to literature to teach us something? When did a book with a moral become something to be upset about? Frum needs to loosen his corset strings before he faints of the vapors.

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