When you think of the Newbery Medal, you may not think about graphic novels. After all, when selecting potential books for the award, the committee can only consider illustrations as part of their criteria if the illustrations detract from the story. Otherwise, they must focus solely on the text. Seeing as graphic novels are stories that are told primarily through illustrations, you would think they would be more or less disqualified for this award.
However, Newbery committee members have been selecting graphic novels in recent years, looking past the illustrations and giving credit to the writing. Both Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and El Deafo by Cece Bell have gotten Newbery honor awards within the past few years.
Because of this, we have not just one, but two graphic novels on our current Mock Newbery list: Real Friends by Shannon Hale and All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson.
Real Friends tells the story of Shannon and Adrienne. The two have been inseparable since Kindergarten, but find themselves being torn apart in middle school due to cliques and popularity. While this is primarily Shannon’s story, readers also get to see what life is like for other characters as well, which does a wonderful job of illustrating the nuances of middle school life.
All’s Faire in Middle School also focuses on friendship and popularity, but it adds a Renaissance faire into the mix. In this graphic novel, the main character, Imogene, goes off to middle school and attempts to make new friends while keeping her side job as a performer in a Renaissance faire a secret. She also has to deal with the fact that her family isn’t as rich as some of her classmates, and her younger brother is a bit hyperactive.
Along with popularity and friendship, each of these stories deal with issues such as bullies, growing up, socio-economic class, and standing up for what you believe in despite what others may think. Those are all pretty serious themes. Will one of these two graphic novels win the coveted Newbery Award? I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.
I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below! We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.
Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)