Category Archives: Newbery

Banned Newbery Winners

The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to the books that are considered the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.  I choose to focus on Newbery award books that had also created controversies within schools and libraries, and explore the titles, the controversies, and my reactions to these books. Continue reading


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Newbery Awards

I’ve read a few Newbery honor books as well. To mix up the type of books I will be reading I picked out two books of poems to read.


The first book, The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle. This book is about Cuba’s struggle for freedom through the eyes of Rosa, a “witch-doctor” who knows the powers of healing hidden among the flowers and plants of the land. We first meet Rosa as a child, coping with slavery and we follow her into adulthood and through three wars for independence against Spain. We get a glimpse of her mind and of those closes to her through poetry. The reader also gets a glimpse of her enemy, Lieutenant Death. We see her compassion, faith, fear, pride and love and we see her teaching her powers to another young girl who has lost her family to the wars of independence.

I think children would really enjoy this book. It is very beautifully written and allows the child to play around with their imagination. Poetry, I think, is a very good vehicle for sparking the imagination. I also think that The Surrender Tree would be a good introduction to some darker themes, such as death, slavery, war, etc. Through the use poetry and imagery Engle provides a screen against which children can encounter these issues.

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When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead won the John Newbery Medal in 2010. It is about a young girl living in New York City who has just been broken up with by her best friend Sal. Miranda doesn’t have much time to dwell though because mysterious notes soon begin arriving. The author seems to know Miranda and her immediate future very well, and asks Miranda for herhelp in saving the life of her friend.

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