I was tempted to write a library blog about beach reads, or at least books that featured spring. Not Boston spring, mind you, but real spring where flowers bloom, trees bud jewel-bright leaves, and the warm breeze tickles your face. However, whenever I set upon a course to list even one book that might fit the bill, I fell into deep existential despair.
“Be hearty,” whispered Boston spring. “This is the weather that forged a nation.” I ignored it and continued to weep bitterly. I tried to dry my dampened cheeks with the soft, inviting pages of summer reads, but the tears had already frozen to my face.
To cheer myself, I instead turned to the 2015 American Library Association youth media award winners. (To check out the entire impressive list, go here.) This year, the winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature was “The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander. A beautiful song of a book, Alexander juxtaposes brotherhood, growing up, life, death, and basketball with a meter that ranges from lyrical to frenetic. Two Newbery Honor Books also were named: “El Deafo” by Cece Bell, and “Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson. Don’t feel badly for the two runners-up, particularly Woodson’s book. It has already won so many awards that you won’t be able to see the cover through the stickers that will cover it.
The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults went to “I’ll Give You the Sun,” written by Jandy Nelson. The year 2015 was a good one for books about twins, as both books feature them as protagonists. Told by two narrators in two different time frames, Nelson’s novel also shows the delicate strands that knit family’s together may be repaired no matter how frayed they become. Four Printz Honor Books also were named: “And We Stay,” by Jenny Hubbard, “The Carnival at Bray,” by Jessie Ann Foley, “This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki, and “Grasshopper Jungle,” by Andrew Smith.
I admit that I had picked “Grasshopper Jungle” as my bet for the Printz winner. I loved it because it is so deliciously twisted. Though maybe it now appeals to me because it shows that the human will is pretty weak compared with the raw power of the environment; a feeling with which I am currently well-acquainted.
“See,” whispered Boston spring anew. “Are you sure you want the natural world to wake from its frozen sleep?”
Touché, Boston spring. Touché.