Friday, June 10, 2011

Newbery 2012 Watch

Two more books to add to my Newbery 2012 watch:

The Friendship Doll

I read The Friendship Doll in one sitting. Of course, I was sitting at my car repair shop, but details, details! I'm decidedly not a fan of talking doll/toy books, so I was a bit apprehensive. However, I can't very well pass up a book by the marvelous Kirby Larson. In 1927, Japan sent 57 dolls to the US as a token of friendship. Miss Kanagawa (one of the dolls) travels across the country during the Depression; throughout her journeys, she touches the lives of the people and children she meets. I'm cringing right now because that sounds so treacly and sentimental, but I have to tell you that it's not over the top. It's an excellent read, and a unique historical fiction book, too.

The Trouble With May Amelia

Oh, Jennifer Holm. What does she have to do to get the shiny gold medal? She has three (despite what this cover picture says) of the silver kind (Newbery Honor), including one for her very first published book, Our Only May Amelia. She's also the co-creator (with brother Matthew) of the hugely popular graphic novel series, Babymouse. So, you know, don't cry for her, Argentina. But, STILL. Unfortunately, Newbery committees traditionally shy away from sequels, and there's already one book that seems to be The One That Everyone Is Predicting Will Win. Of course, you only need to think back one year to remember that The One That Everyone Is Predicting Will Win is sometimes passed over for The One That Catches Us By Surprise. You never know.

The Trouble With May Amelia continues the story of May Amelia, the only daughter in a family of seven sons. Pappa (the family is Finnish) doesn't think girls amount to much, but as the best English speaker in her family, May Amelia earns her father's admiration when she translates for a man who offers her father a land deal too good to be true. Of course, it does end up being too good to be true, for Pappa is swindled out of his money, as are the neighbors that he convinced to get in on the deal. Pappa blames May Amelia and the situation threatens their family's stability; will they ever recover?

Although Pappa is not a sympathetic character, this is a warmly rich and deeply felt novel. The Finnish immigrant community of rural Washington sparks with humor and pride. It's not necessary to read Our Only May Amelia before reading The Trouble With May Amelia, but I recommend doing so.

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