Newbery Verdict: The Great Gilly Hopkins

IMG_0428Book: The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978)
Author: Katherine Paterson
Publisher: Harper & Row
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Newbery Honor Book (1979)

Opening Lines of the Book…

“Gilly,” said Miss Ellis with a shake of her long blonde hair toward the passenger in the back seat. “I need to feel that you are willing to make some effort.”

MY THOUGHTS…

Gilly is such a tough girl who’s been hurt by the system. She’s been in and out of foster care and really just wants to be with her mother. But she gets sent to Trotter instead. And what a character Trotter is! Not to mention the shy foster brother, William Ernest, and the neighbor Trotter treats like a member of the household, Mr. Randolph. Gilly has a hard time with all these “misfits.” But little by little, these people break their way into Gilly’s hardened heart.

There’s also the teacher. She tries to connect with Gilly over Gilly’s name: Galadriel. And finally, we meet the grandmother. This is Gilly’s key to her mom, the elusive Courtney. Gilly wants nothing more than to connect with Courtney, and suddenly there’s an opportunity to go to her grandmother’s. She has high hopes of a happily ever after. But … well, things don’t turn out quite as she expects. However, Trotter has some wonderful words for Gilly.

NEWBERY VERDICT…

This book truly is one of Katherine Paterson’s masterpieces. It only got the Newbery Honor. The Westing Game won for this year. Also a good book, but I (personally) like this one a tiny bit better. Yes, it’s that good. Gilly’s character arc in this story is stunning.

P.S. A side note: Gilly is NOT the kindest person in this book! I think that’s what makes this book seem so real. She’s had a tough life. She uses rough language (although, by today’s standards, it’s pretty tame); Paterson writes it like Gilly would say it. But I think it works to the credit of the book as we see the character growth beneath the words.

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up. (Note: This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Award!)

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Newbery Verdict: Hello, Universe

20220527ma_0718Book: Hello, Universe (2017)
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Newbery Winner (2018)

Opening Lines of the Book…

Eleven-year-old Virgil Salinas already regretted the rest of middle school, and he’d only just finished sixth grade. He imagined all those years stretching ahead of him like a long line of hurdles, each of them getting taller, thicker, and heavier, and him standing in front of them on his weak and skinny legs. He was no good at hurdles.

MY THOUGHTS…

This was an interesting story about two shy kids (Virgil and Valencia) and how they are brought together into a friendship, with the help of another friend (Kaori). And there’s the bully (Chet). Valencia is a character who can’t hear, something that fits in quite nicely into the plot. When the moment at the well came, I was like … Wow! This is genius.

I particularly liked the little sister (Gen) and her jump rope. I’m not sure why I was drawn to this character, but I was. I was a little surprised that the bully doesn’t get in trouble for his part in the story, but that’s sometimes how real life goes. (Kind of reminds me of old Mr. Potter in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. He never gets “punished” for the trouble he causes George Bailey. All except to see George succeed despite his meddling. Which is a punishment in its own way, isn’t it. And that’s how I see Chet.)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

I quite enjoyed this book. It won the Newbery in 2018. That was the same year that Long Way Down was also up for a Newbery. I would have had a hard time voting between these two books.

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up. (Note: This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Award!)

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

ARC Review: The Sound of Silence

sound-of-silenceThe Sound of Silence // by Myron Uhlberg
Release Date: May 1, 2019
Genre: MG, Memoir

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

My Thoughts: What an interesting read! I found this book fascinating. The subtitle is: Growing Up Hearing with Deaf Parents. And that’s pretty much the book in a nutshell. The story takes place in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s.

This is not your typical middle-grade read, however. The book is not plot-driven and is episodic in nature. Basically, it’s a slice of life. One of my favourite scenes was when he teaches his classmates how to sign.

I personally really enjoyed this book; not sure how kids will take it, though. I would probably recommend it for older kids who are interested in memoir, and also the subject of deafness and what it means to be deaf.

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5)

ARC Review: Squint

SquintSquint // by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: MG, Contemporary

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: Squint has problems with his eyesight… but he isn’t letting that stop him from creating a comic for a contest. Except then his former friend plants the seeds of doubt. When he meets McKell, he’s introduced to her brother’s challenges, which is something that just might give him that lift to finish what he started.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved Squint. I definitely felt for him and his insecurities as he navigated through the rough waters of middle school. I was rooting for him the entire book.

2) The Danny subplot was really good, and I liked how it merged with Squint’s story. The authors were able to capture the hurt and emotion necessary to make this work. And yes, I cried at several parts in the book! And there’s a twist with regards to Danny and Squint’s eyes that I didn’t see coming…

3) I loved all the discoveries and the twists. I saw some of them coming, but there were others that I didn’t anticipate. However, once I read those parts I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before!

4) I enjoyed how the comic (the story-within-a-story) worked with Squint’s real life. It was nice to see how Squint took the events of his world and worked them into his comic world.

5) The little “Rules” that Squint scattered throughout were a great addition to the story.

6) Also, what a roller coaster of emotions this book was! There’s a great scene with Squint and his grandfather. And then there’s McKell. There’s a stunning moment when Squint begins to wonder if he’s just an item for McKell to tick off her challenge-list. I liked how this book shows that friendship isn’t always easy.

7) And I liked how things don’t exactly work out in the most ideal way… that things aren’t perfect by the end of the book. And I think that is part of this book’s power. (Not that this story doesn’t have a satisfactory ending, but it’s more a realistic/happy ending.)

8) Love that book cover!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) While I liked the story-within-a-story, I did find was a skipping some of it a bit. I wonder if I would have liked it more IF it were actually the comic itself?

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 5 Stars (out of 5) – I don’t often give 5 starts. But this is probably one of the best MG reads I’ve read this year. Highly recommend it! 🙂