Newbery Medal Winners for 2017

By Miss Charlou - Johnson County Library February 9, 2017

It’s award season. Did your favorite movie get nominated for an Academy Award? In the children’s book world, we have our own awards we look forward to every year.  The Newbery Medal is given to the author for distinguished contribution to American literature for children up to and including age 14.  In other words, it’s the award for “chapter books.”

The winner this year is The Girl Who Drank the Moon  by Kelly Barnhill. Barnhill’s language has been described as lyrical, lush, enchanting, and never childish. It has a fairy tale story with the depth of an epic fantasy. A baby left to die in the forest by the villagers is saved by a witch who makes a mistake and feeds her moonlight giving her magical powers which must be hidden.  The girl, Luna, grows up with the witch and a giant swamp monster and a teeny tiny dragon.  Barnhill said the inspiration for the book came during a run. She had a vision of a swamp monster with four arms and a big tail holding a baby and reciting a poem.   I was surprised but happy when this book was announced; it was one of my favorite reads this year.

Three Honor Books were also chosen this year. One I’ve read and the other two are now on my must-read list.

When I read Lauren Wolk’s  Wolf Hollow,  I knew it had award potential.  This is a story about bullying, war veterans, social status, that is often compared to To Kill A Mockingbird. The historical setting, just after World War I, allows the reader to find connections to the present in a thoughtful way.  Annabelle, 12, learns that secrets, even well intended, may have wide ranging consequences. As the story builds, you won’t be able to put it down.

I have enjoyed other books by Adam Gidwitz so I’m looking forward to reading The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. In a French inn in 1242, the inquisitor is seeking information about three children and each traveler has a different story to tell. Are the children saints or heretics? I actually will be listening to this book. The audio book with a cast of nine narrators, Gidwitz reads the inquisitor, and thirteenth-century music has good reviews.

Ashley Bryan uses an estate appraisal document dated July 5, 1828 as the background for Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.  He then painted portraits of the 11 slaves listed a property and with poetry shares what might have been the lives and dreams of these men, women and children. The humanity of these people in contrast with the collage of slavery related documents is striking.

Most of these titles are available in several formats - books, CD audio, eBook or downloadable audiobook. Request your favorite format at