This year's Newbery Medal went to Merci Suarez Changes Gears, a snappy and emotional novel about a middle school, family, and how little life changes add up fast. Sixth grade is not off to a great start for Merci-- things she's always loved to do are no long "cool", friendships seem to suddenly come with all these unwritten rules, and her beloved grandfather is acting more and more confused. Full of heart, humor, and satisfying emotional depth, this slice of life story has wide appeal.
In addition to the Medal title, both Newbery Honors books are well worth checking out as well for their unique storytelling, beautiful prose, and transporting descriptions of vastly different times and places in history:
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani is a deeply felt novel of a young girls' internal journey during the very real, traumatic, and harrowing forced migration her family must undertake during the Partition of India in 1947. NIsha has always turned to her diary as a way to stay connected to her mother that passed away when she was younger, and as she, her father and her brother set off on a dangerous journey by foot, it becomes a place she finds strength, and her own voice.
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the epic tale of Boy, a 14th century goat herder with a disfigurement, a secret, and a bright, shining heart. Drafted by a mysterious pilgrim to help him collect relics of St Peter, Boy sets off on a mystical adventure that will challenge his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil, and lead to some other-worldly self discovery. Witty, charming, heartfelt, exciting... this book is a true joy.