Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mock Newbery discussions at Emerson: Final 2014 Results

Kids always amaze me. They come to discussions full of energy and enthusiasm, with fresh eyes. Our final Mock Newbery discussion was rich, thoughtful and passionate. I'll start with our process and discussion, and then move (quickly!) to our voting results.

Emerson 2014 Mock Newbery notes
One of the biggest challenges is comparing such different books--and books we've read over the span of 4+ months. We worked in pairs to fill out a simple chart that helped us focus on the essential literary qualities the Newbery Committee will be considering. Our goal was to think about which book exemplified a distinguished contribution to American children's literature for each quality.

We spoke about each element, citing specific ways we felt the different books were outstanding examples. For example, Ben felt that Swanson developed excellent characters in "The President Has Been Shot!" Ben said,
"I think Swanson really changed perspectives and you could feel like you were Lee Harvey Oswald, having a tough life and then switching to JFK and being the president." 
Bella held firm to her opinion that it was difficult to connect to the characters in this nonfiction book, instead putting forth the example of Serafina:
"The author helped us go inside of Serafina and understand her feelings and emotions."
Natalie agreed, especially noting that she could empathize with Serafina "because she had to go through a rough life, but she still tried to see the happy things in it, not just the miserable."

Julia felt that Kirby Larson kept the plot moving perfectly in Duke:
"I thought Duke was really well paced because it didn’t really drag on about anything, but kept your interest."
Our other Bella noted that Amy Timberlake used the plot and pacing to draw us into understanding the character in One Came Home: "It really laid out the plot so you got to understand the character and why she had to figure out this mystery, and then her personality made the things she did more realistic." Naomi liked the plot twists that kept readers engaged, especially the fiasco involving the counterfeit money.

Our discussion went on to cover setting, language and themes as well. We focused on positive examples, but also brought up examples where we felt the books were weak. This structure helped us talk about the literary qualities in each book, and not just our individual emotional reactions.

Drum roll please -- we all were eager to see how the votes came in --

Emerson School Mock Newbery Medal:

Emerson School Mock Newbery Honors:
Six of our ten members voted for Serafina's Promise as one of their top three books of the year. This title has certainly been recognized by library journals (it's one of Kirkus Review's best of the year), but hasn't made it to other Mock Newbery ballots. For a great round-up, check out Betsy Bird's post at Fuse #8.

So we're all now all-a-twitter over which books will be honored by the Newbery Committee. I'll certainly be watching the ALA Youth Media Awards live broadcast here:
DATE: January 27, 2014
TIME: 8 A.M. (EST)
WEBCAST: Click here
Many thanks to my terrific book club at Emerson, my intrepid partner Armin Arethna, and all the publishers who supported our endeavor. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. Hello! please thank your kids for their thoughtful reading of Serafina ~ and for their wonderful endorsement! I'm thrilled and honored!