Torn with book decisions involving too many books and too little time, I often get help with my choices from the American Library Association lists. ALA does not resolve all dilemmas. More than once, I have personally liked an honor book better than the winner for the Newbery or Caldecott Awards.
This year I had read Brown Girl Dreaming (honor book) by Jacqueline Woodson before the Newbery awards and could not imagine how another book could come in ahead of it. I have just finished The Crossover (Newbery winner) by Kwame Alexander and am still in a quandary about “best” that leaves me grateful that I was not on the committee. I would still be debating with myself while the other members restlessly urged me to make a choice. (Just for the record, I do not qualify so you need not worry that I will ever be making this decision.) Evidently, ALA committees share my love for both books. The Coretta Scott King Award Committee made Brown Girl Dreaming the winner with The Crossover receiving an honor award.
What I found in both books:
• Beautiful easily read verse
• An engaging story
• A family laced with tension, conflict, and love
What I found in Brown Girl Dreaming:
• A literary style
• A memoir that feels like fiction
What I found in The Crossover:
• A basketball writing style (really – the poetry often bounces and sometimes slam dunks)
• A novel that feels like reality
So, which is better? It probably depends on whether the reader is a classic bookworm or a sports fan. In any case, I’m leaving this decision alone while I read the third book in the Newbery triumvirate, El Deafo by Cece Bell, a memoir in graphic novel style. Very different from the other two, I’ll let you know if it lives up to its Newbery companions.