Review of Dust Off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children's Literature at the Newbery Centennial

Dust Off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children’s Literature at the Newbery Centennial
edited by Sara L. Schwebel and Jocelyn Van Tuyl
Routledge    264 pp.    g
7/21    978-0-367-33721-6    $160.00
e-book ed.  978-1-000-41761-6    $48.95

The Newbery Medal was first awarded in 1922; as the award approaches its centennial, this volume looks at fourteen “understudied” Newbery winners, beginning with Charles Boardman Hawes’s “largely forgotten” The Dark Frigate (1924 Medal) and closing with Kwame Alexander’s not-so-forgotten The Crossover (2015 Medal). (One of the essays, by Kathleen T. Horning and Jocelyn Van Tuyl, is an expansion of Horning’s July/August 2015 Horn Book “Second Look” at the 1964 Newbery winner, Emily Neville’s It’s Like This, Cat.) The lens through which the books are viewed is a fresh one, with the essays “shedding light on both the hidden elements of diversity apparent in these texts and the way that the books respond — sometimes in quite subtle ways — to contemporaneous concerns around race, class, gender, disability, and nationalism.” In a cogent introduction, the editors provide a history of the founding of the Newbery Medal (addressing the relationship between the commercial interests of publishers and the gate-keeping fervor of the era’s children’s librarians); the elite nature of the award, at least through the end of the twentieth century; the ramifications of the secrecy surrounding committee deliberations; the role of “bookwomen” in the children’s literature field; and more.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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