Saturday, January 11, 2020
The Newbery Challenge
Why is it that the first week back from a vacation always seems so long? A teacher said to me yesterday, "It's Friday -- finally!" As if we'd been working for weeks and weeks with no break, when in fact we just had almost three weeks off. But I agree -- it did seem like a very long week.
Olga's new collar arrived yesterday. I'll get a picture today when we're out walking. Her old one was actually coming apart -- but we've had it ever since we got her in 2013, so it's served us well. The replacement is the same make but a slightly different color.
This is how I spent much of my workday yesterday.
The Newbery Medal, as you may know, is given every year by the American Library Association for excellence in children's literature. Our library has almost every award winner, going all the way back to 1922. As far as I know, we're missing only one -- a biography of Daniel Boone from 1940 that's long out of print.
When I weed the shelves, I'm always afraid that I'm going to inadvertently discard a Newbery winner. Some of them are pretty obscure -- "Strawberry Girl" from 1946, or "Dobry" from 1935, for example -- and unless they have that big ol' Newbery medal reproduced on the cover it's hard to know what's won. So yesterday I put little spine labels on all the winning books.
This turned out to be a far bigger task than I thought, but by the end of the day I'd labeled almost everything.
(The red dots, by the way, are our system for designating fiction books that are suitable for fifth or sixth graders. Books for teens don't have the red dots.)
My project led to a conversation with one of my librarian co-workers who isn't a fan of the Newbery. She says it's awarded by adults who have no idea what kids want to read. That may be true, I told her, but when I was a kid, I relied on the Newbery to help me choose books and I never felt led astray.
In a burst of temporary insanity, she and I cooked up a plan in which I will read ALL of the Newbery winners. We'll put them on a special cart or display and I'll post one-paragraph reviews about each one. I'll want to read adult books too, so this will take a while -- I figure I'll be done right about the time the Newbery celebrates its 100th anniversary.
I'm sure some of them are going to be incredibly tedious -- especially the older ones. ("The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon, anyone?) But I'm ON it! This appeals to the part of my personality that loves to complete a difficult challenge. I've even ordered a used copy of that missing Daniel Boone biography from Amazon.
(Top photo: A stylish car in Chelsea. I have no idea what kind it is. Anyone know?)