Hey everyone, it is Sarah!
Here is my pick for this month’s consideration for the Newbery Award. In case you’re not familiar with the award it is an award given out annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished contribution for children’s literature. Book considered for this award must be aimed at an audience from birth to 14 years of age.
Title: Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood
Author: Gary Paulsen
This autobiographical account of Paulsen’s life shows his childhood journey to becoming a writer. Paulsen had a tumultuous childhood, with brief periods of peace. While his father was off at war, his mother paraded him around bars and had him entertain “uncles.” The boy was briefly sent to live with his aunt and uncle, where he had his own space and learned about the outdoors. He was then taken by his parents to Manila, where he lived most of his life on the streets to get away from his drunken violent parents. The violence continued throughout his childhood and he ran away many times. Paulsen found reprieve in the library, with the librarian, and writing for her.
This gritty realistic account of Paulsen’s life will appeal to a very small section of readers, though that is totally in line with the qualifications for this award. The writing is stellar and vomit inducing for me. You actually feel like you are there slopping fish guts and seeing dead things with the boy. This dense novel will be difficult for young readers and content is more appropriate for older readers, but the age of the main character may be off-putting for older readers. Your advanced young readers, who are not sensitive, will be perfect for this book. The main character is strong and the world he lives in is described in detail.