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Newbery Predictions:

Newbery Predictions: #11 and #12!

We’ve made it to our final 2 selections for CPI Medal Mania! Our clue last week was that our last two remaining titles were both novels in verse! Did you guess correctly?

Newbery Prediction #11: Before the Ever After by Jaqueline Woodson

Publication Date: 09/01/2020

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary from the Publisher:
For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that—but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Why have we chosen this title?

It is no surprise to see a Jacqueline Woodson title on this list. What a remarkable writer she truly is and the power she has to lift characters and their stories off of the pages before you are truly amazing. We loved this book so much because it looks at such an emotional issue. Readers will immediately love ZJ and his heroic admiration and love for his giant of a father. This book is special because you see the aftermath, the fallout of a hero, that is going through so much brain trauma, so much aching to relive his glory days and so much confusion. It also stands out as a sports book but not focused on this love of the game and how amazing it is, rather it looks at the aftermath and outcome of what football players are constantly going through when it comes to traumatic brain injuries. Written in verse, this one is a must read.

Newbery Prediction #12: The Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Publication Date: 09/15/2020

Publisher: Scholastic


Summary from the Publisher:
Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.

Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?

Why have we chosen this title?

Aida Salazar is quickly becoming one of my most favorite writers for young voices today. She, like Woodson, has a truly remarkable gift of expressing so much emotion and weight with their words in such an incredible format with verse. This is a title I read not once, but twice, in a single sitting each time and then went back and listened to the audiobook. It is truly incredible and an absolute must read for every child and adult everywhere. Betita is this beautiful soul with such a big heart and she goes through such a real and terrifying experience that thousands of children and families are going through to this day. Salazar does a beautiful job of delicately weaving Aztec mythology into Betita’s story to help understand such a complex and emotional topic. It is an incredibly emotional look at the human condition but particularly that of a child, who just wants to be home, with friends and family, drawing and going to school and being a child. As a reader it makes you think and question and hopefully encourages you to speak up, speak out and do as much good as you can.