2 Newbery Award Winners

Newbery Medal“The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” From the ALA website

the giver 2

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Delacourte Press, 1993. 179 pages. $13.51. FollettBound ISBN-13: 978-1-41565-110-0

Living in a small, sheltered community, Jonas begins to understand the secrets of the protection and rules upon his twelvth birthday when he becomes apprentice to The Giver.

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Age Range: 11-16

Rating: 4 out of 5 for quality, 5 out of 5 for popularity.

Newbery Award, 1994

When Jonas reaches age 12, he and all the other 12 year old’s are assigned their career aprentiships, but Jonas is assigned an unusual position as apprentice to the Giver, the man who carries the memories of the community. In order to protect themselves from unpleasantness, the community is strictly organized, but the more Jonas learns about the past, the more unsettled he becomes with the present. This book is well known for exploring the confusing coming of age of a 12 year old, faced with the rules of a society that are confusing and mysterious.

This book has long been recommended to me by friends and young adults, and was well worth the read. It plays into all the strangeness of our society, questions our choices and looks at possible futures, just like good science fiction should. The characters are interesting and believable, and the mystery unfolds beautifully.


The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does the community define family? How is that different from how we define families?
  2. What is Jonas’ last straw for being able to live happily in his community?

Book Talking

What would you give up for a world that was perfect and smooth and orderly? What if someone else decided who your parents are, what your job would be, who you are going to marry? Would that make your life easier? But at what cost?



School Library Journal Interview

New York Times Interview




out of the dust

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. Scholastic Press, 1997. 227 pages. $15.99 ISBN-13: 978-1439526866

Billie Jo lives in Oklahoma when the dust storms and depression hit and tells of her daily life in a series of poems.

Genre: Fiction, Poetry

Age Range 11-17

Rating: 4 out of 5 for quality, 4 out of 5 for popularity.

Newbery Award, 1998

Scott O’Dell Award, 1998

Living in the dust bowl of depression era Oklahoma, Billie Jo tries to live up to her mother’s expectations. She plays the piano and helps out on her family’s farm, but as the years continue to fail to bring rain enough to water the crops, the family is finding it harder and harder to have hope. Billie Jo loses her mother to fire and has to find a way to continue on with just her quiet, withdrawn father, and without the music that used to comfort her, since her hands are horribly scarred and damaged. The emotional heaviness of the story is balanced by the poems that give little glimpses and small stories. The poems also give the experience of living through the dryness and horror of the dust storms that ravaged the Midwest in the 1930’s.

This book is a popular title among adults, and was a very sad, intense read. Many websites list its lower age range to be 9, but I think some of the events and themes are clearly for older youth. It is clear why it is an award winner, the poems are well written, the story within them compelling and well constructed.


Missing May by Cynthia Rylant

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why doesn’t Billie Jo go see a doctor about her hands once they start healing? How does that relate to the way she feels about her father failing to go to the doctor?
  2. Why does Billie Jo come home?



What does it feel like to live during a dust storm? Billie Jo can tell you. She finds solace in family and music, but what will happen if that is all taken away?


Author Website http://karenhesseblog.wordpress.com/

Author Biography http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/aifolder/aipages/ai_h/hesse.php

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