Friday, December 26, 2008

Looking for Newbery - Day 1

Well, today is the first day of about 30 days that Bill and I will be "looking for Newbery".

One of the books that made Fuse #8's tally roundup of books mentioned for a possible Newbery or Caldecott was Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt -- it was mentioned in at least 2 places for a mock Newbery Award. I had read this book way back in the winter as an ARC, so this was a reread for me.

I was amazed by Schmidt's use of language, and the way he so intricately intertwines his characters' lives. The words that kept coming back again and again in the story, and just couldn't be overlooked were: "trouble", "fine", "indeterminate", and eventually, the best word of all -- "GRACE". Each of these words had multi-layered meaning within the story. Schmidt's descriptions of the sea and the mountain, Katahdin, are realistic, as well as breathtaking. The way he feeds us different plot lines until they come together to form a whole is masterful. The main character (Henry), and supporting characters, are all well-developed. For a book that is mostly a drama/adventure, I really enjoyed the levity that Black Dog and Henry's best friend, Sanborn, brought to the story.

The only thing I wondered during my reread is if this book was appropriate for my 5th graders. It would be a great book to put into a middle schooler's hands; they have a little more sophisticated thinking for some of the subject matter. Just a wonder on my part; not a criticism. Regardless of its target audience, it was a great read for me! I found myself as spellbound reading Trouble the second time as I was the first -- a true sign of a great book. I can see why Trouble made two of the mock Newbery Award lists. I'm just surprised it wasn't mentioned on more lists.

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