Thursday, January 2, 2020

#MockNewbery: Beverly, Right Here (spoilers)

For the month of January, I will be participating in Heavy Medal's Mock Newbery Award discussion and voting. You can follow along with the whole process here. I hosted a Mock Newbery Club at school this past semester, and my students and I are eager to see which books come out on top. The Heavy Medal team has chosen a slate of 15 contenders that we will be discussing this month. I will be sharing my thoughts here as well as on their site.

* Spoiler Alert *

All Mock Newbery posts assume you have read the book.

Beverly, Right Here

Beverly, Right Here is the third book in the series that began with Raymie Nightingale and was followed up with Louisiana's Way Home last year. This book follows Beverly, the last of the three rancheros, as she decides to make her own way into the world by running away from home. She meets an assorted cast of well-drawn characters that help her figure out more about who she is and who she wants to be.


Kate DiCamillo has a way with words. If you have never had the pleasure of hearing her speak, you should. The way she crafts phrases and sentences makes you want to give up everything just to keep listening/reading. In her books, she uses that gift to craft fascinating sentences and unique, quirky characters.


I will admit the the Raymie trilogy have been my least favorite of DiCamillo's books. Raymie felt like a re-tread of Because of Winn-Dixie, and Louisiana felt like a white-wash of child neglect and abandonment.

Beverly, while set in 1979, feels like it is set on another planet entirely. Maybe I had just read a few too many MG/YA contemporary realistic fiction books, but it feels like writers are doing so much more now to open kids' eyes to the realities (and real dangers) of the world around them. In that sense, Beverly, Right Here seems like escapist fantasy.

We are meant to believe that a 14-year-old girl with no plans can run away from home and find herself encountering only helpful, well-intentioned (even if cranky) people? That there are no real dangers and everything will be just fine? Personally I found this aspect of the book rather troubling, and my inability to suspend disbelief made it hard for me to commit to caring about the story and the characters.

I will also just note that as a teacher of both fifth and seventh grade during the publication of the trilogy, I have yet to come across a student who was drawn to these books, so I do wonder about their overall reception with the intended audience.

What do you think about the book? Do you have a top contender (or several) for this year's Newbery? (Click here for all my Mock Newbery posts.)

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