Friday, February 24, 2017
Inch One Hundred Fifty-Nine: Friday Morning Thoughts About the Newest Newberry
It is Friday morning and I am sitting at the kitchen table, the sun bright on the table, on the floor, and on me. The sheets are in the washer downstairs while I sit here and pen my thoughts.
For anyone who knows me and my work well, you know that a Friday morning at home this time of year is unheard of. We are in the throes of attendance season when I am scheduling and attending multiple mediations at multiple schools all over Delaware County. (Indeed, I had three scheduled today. Thanks to a coworker taking over for me, I am home.) This is not the time of year that I lollygag at home.
I'm home because I'm sick. I'm home because in February alone I have been exposed, sometimes repeatedly, to pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, the flu, and every garden variety illness every school building harbors. I'm home because my body finally caved.
I think I have just a bad cold. Given my battered immune system, if that's all it is—a cold—I will be thrilled. I would love it if more serious possibilities glanced off me.
My being sick with a cold is not unlike my being sick with cancer, at least as far as my evenings go. Granted, it is a lot messier, what with the nose blowing, but otherwise I spent last evening as I spend most evening, curled up under a blanket reading.
Last night's reading was extra special because I held in my hands the brand new 2017 Newberry Award book. Once again, as they do more often than not, the committee members picked a wonderfully inventive, beautifully written work, The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon is a fantasy novel, aimed at middle schoolers. It is light-filled, not dark. Yes, there are two villains; they are vanquished without gore or violence. Luna, the girl of the title, is smart and funny and heartbreaking. She grows from infancy to age 13 over the course of the book, and Barnhill nails age-appropriate behavior and language at every stage. While the book is about growing up and coming of age, it is about love and family (and its many configurations) and loss and hope and love in the face of loss. Indeed, it is that hope and overpowering love that save everyone and lift the book to its glowing end.
As a further bonus, The Girl Who Drank The Moon has the most intriguing use of paper folding I have ever read, causing me to say out loud the ultimate compliment to a writer: "I wish I had written that."
So last night, as I sneezed and blew my nose and ran a small temperature, I disappeared deep into the Forest with Xan and Luna and the wise Swamp Monster (Gherk) and the Perfectly Tiny Dragon Fyrian who in the end grows and makes a Simply Enormous Decision. I loved every minute of it.