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2020 Newbery Books

Not a disappointment in the bunch! Overall, a big thumbs up for the 2020 Newbery Books. In some ways, it seems like the #weneeddiversebooks call from a few years ago is finally coming of age and being answered in this year’s class. In addition to a wide variety of protagonists and issues, the formats are all over the map: graphic novel, picture book in verse, novel in verse, short stories grouped into an over-arching story. There is really only one “conventional” novel format among the group. Most are set in a contemporary setting. The outlier of the group is Scary Stories for Seven Foxes which is anthropomorphic in nature.

Didn’t really have a favorite among the group, but definitely no complaints. The chronic challenge of the Newbery awards remains: they generally are great reads, but are they reads that a middle grade reader would pull off of the shelf of their own volition?–Because there are no mysteries, no adventures, and no fantasy to be found (which are all popular genres with young readers). The most fantastical or adventurous in the lot is probably Scary Stories for Seven Foxes.

Click on book cover or title to see full book review.

New Kid, Book Cover

2020 Newbery Winner

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Format: Graphic Novel

New Kid is the 2020 Winner of the Newbery Medal–and a whole other slew of awards.  Definitely a book worthy of the accolades it has received.  It combines the hot format of graphic novel with timely issues and perspective. 

The Undefeated, Book Cover

Newbery Honor Book

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson

Format: Picture book in verse

Cue inspirational music and begin reading. This is a celebration of resilience and highlights heroes to be proud of.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes, Book Cover

Newbery Honor Book

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

Format: Related short stories in a single novel

Scary is accurate–so this book is not for the faint of heart. Really quite brilliant prose and writing. Two thumbs up.

Other Words for Home, Book Cover

Newbery Honor Book

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Format: Verse

This book, too, has first-rate writing and the pages fly by. An intimate look at the experience of a refugee.

Newbery Honor Book

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Format: Contemporary novel

Complex themes in here, but themes that are quite relatable for many, many young readers. Learning to love yourself is a challenge for most.

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!

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