A Surprise and a Front Runner!

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Forget the Academy Awards and the Grammys – the Newbery and Caldecott Awards were announced yesterday.  The January announcement by the American Library Association is, for me, the highlight of the award calendar. I’m not a betting person, but if I placed wagers on the award recipients, I would have won one and lost one…

The winner of the Caldecott Award is A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin Stead and written by Philip Stead. This was the winner of many “mock” Caldecotts for good reason – it received rave reviews and was included on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year list.  I reviewed it in July, and have listed it as a favorite several times since then.  A simple and gentle tale of kindness.

The surprise was the winner of the Newbery – Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  Reading the announcement was the first time I’d ever heard of this one, but I can’t wait to read it and have already bought a copy for Inly and downloaded it onto my Nook. I read many predictions for this year’s Newbery, but unless I missed it, I never saw this novel listed.  That makes it more fun. It’s like going into a book store where you think there will be nothing new to discover and finding a gem on display – as no doubt, Moon Over Manifest will now be.

Here’s the starred review of Vanderpool’s novel from Booklist: “After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.”

We’re going to get a foot of snow tomorrow so Moon Over Manifest will be glowing from my Nook screen…

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