Thursday, March 08, 2007

Newbery Winners/ The Higher Power of Lucky

You knew that eventually I would have to weigh in on The Higher Power of Lucky. In the end, I decided that it was too young for my audience.

It's almost worth buying just for the flurry of controversy it has caused over the first five pages and the use of the word scrotum so many times. (And it was a noticeable number of times.) I read a review somewhere that perhaps the author used the word to push the envelope, etc. Nonsense. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. It was what the story demanded. I don't believe there was some ulterior motive in using the word; however, anyone who has worked with ten-year-olds might guess that if they even knew what the word meant, they would giggle.

I'm not buying the book because it was, like sooooo many Newbery winners, a bildungsroman about a quirky/dysfunctional young person who blah blah blah. Like Criss Cross last year. Nothing happens. Just doesn't. It's about feelings and personal growth. Why, on earth, the people on the committe think this is something children would like, I don't know. I suspect they don't think of books as something to recommend to children. They think of them as literature.

And this, I think, is the source of my guilt. If I can't get a book into a child's hand and have that child like it, it is a useless book to me. Serves no purpose. If I recommend a book to a child and that child brings it back later in the day because it didn't draw their attention, they trust me just a little less. (Case in point-- my best friend's librarian in high school swore by I am the Cheese. My friend hated it, and didn't ask for many recommendations because of it. ) Yes, I would like children to make up their own minds, to discover books in the stacks, but the truth is, often they stare at the shelves and have no idea what they want. They look so relieved when I hand them something that sounds good. And then they read.

They won't be reading a bunch of the Newbery books. I refuse to buy them just because they won awards, and if the committee keeps going the way it has been, I will start to avoid medal winners. And really, any book that talks that much about a dog's scrotum. Just not that interesting.

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