The End of the Newbery Medal Winners

As you may have noticed, Sally and I have made it to the end of the Newbery Medal Winners. While we intend to continue reading and blogging about the Newbery Honor books, our post frequency is likely to drop.

After reading all of the Newbery Medal winners through the years, some of the titles were clear winners, while others left us wondering why they were selected. In general, our ratings improved over time; this was not unexpected, as many of the themes and social conventions backing the older titles have shifted considerably, leading to narratives which now read as glaringly racist or otherwise inappropriate. Below are some of our favorites.

Laurinda’s Top Picks (those titles earning a 4.5 or 5 out of 5):

1936 – Caddie Woodlawn
1959 – The Witch of Blackbird Pond
1963 – A Wrinkle in Time
1976 – The Grey King
1977 – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
1978 – The Bridge to Terabithia
1994 – The Giver
1998 – Out of the Dust
2001 – A Year Down Yonder
2004 – The Tale of Despereaux
2010 – When You Reach Me

Sally’s Favorites (books in my top 10):

1959 – The Witch of Blackbird Pond
1961 – Island of the Blue Dolphins
1976 – The Grey King
1979 – The Westing Game
1985 – The Hero and the Crown
1994 – The Giver
1995 – Walk Two Moons
1998 – Out of the Dust
2001 – A Year Down Yonder
2013 – The One and Only Ivan


1990’s Recap

Overall, the Newbery Medal Winners from the 1990’s were decent. As with all the previous decades, there were a mix of boring, average, and excellent titles.

Run Away!
Maniac Magee
Missing May
The View from Saturday

Number the Stars
The Midwife’s Apprentice

Read These!
The Giver
Walk Two Moons
Out of the Dust

Laurinda’s Favorite: Out of the Dust

Sally’s Top Pick: Walk Two Moons



1960s Newbery Medal Recap

The 1960s Newbery Medal winners can be described in one word – mediocre. Historical fiction and coming of age stories dominated this era, but we also got some samplings of adventure stories that represented both science fiction and fantasy genres. It’s not that this decade was awful; it’s just that the stories were boring and forgettable. And we had such high hopes for the ‘60s.

Our combined ratings were the highest yet for this decade, coming in at 3.18 out of 5. No rating went below a 2 and one novel achieved a 5 star rating. Sally’s average rating was 3.15, and Laurinda’s was 3.2.

Well, at least Laurinda and I are through with the worst (we hope) as we have now officially read 48 out of 93 Newbery winners – just over halfway done. The ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s are filled with the stories we had to read in grade school so we are optimistically, yet cautiously, looking forward to the next few decades.

And here is our list of where the best of ‘60s kid lit fall on our Trash or Treasure barometer. Yeah, the ‘60s kind of stunk.

Treasures: Instant Classics
Island of the Blue Dolphins
A Wrinkle in Time

Toss-Ups: Mediocrity is Thy Name
The Bronze Bow
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Shadow of a Bull
I, Juan de Pareja
It’s Like This, Cat

Trash: Best Left Forgotten
Up a Road Slowly
The High King
Onion John

1950’s Wrap-Up

We have finally made it to the end of the 1950’s. Due to life events (a move for Sally, a change in job duties for Laurinda) and the size of many of these books, it’s been a long slog. In previous decades, the majority of books got a “meh” rating, with many receiving 2.5 or 3s because the reviewers had no strong feelings about them either way. The 1950’s ratings were more polarized. We had 6 titles in the 1-2.5 range and 4 in the 3.5-5 range, with titles receiving an average rating of 2.5. Historical fiction was the dominant genre, with half the titles falling into that category.

Undisputed Worst of the 1950’s:
…And Now Miguel: Sheep put me to sleep, at least in this poorly realized novelization of a documentary

Honorable Mention in the Trash Category:
The Door in the Wall: Harping, in every sense of the word
Amos Fortune, Free Man: Emotionless narration. ‘Nuff said

Undisputed Winner of the 1950’s:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond: Love follows hardship

Honorable Mentions in the Treasure Category:
The Wheel on the School: Kids take the initiative on the stork project
Carry on, Mr. Bowditch: Brains trump brawn

Go forth and read!