Newbery Contender: “The Shape of Thunder” by Jasmine Warga

Book review: The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga (J fiction)

Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home received a Newbery Honor in 2020 for its honest, moving portrayal of the experiences of a young Syrian refugee whose outside perspective provides reflections of not just the Syrian civil war, but American culture. Warga’s latest, The Shape of Thunder, too, gives an honest, if painful, reflection of American culture that is deserving of 2021’s Newbery Award.

Cora misses her big sister Mabel terribly. Mabel was her best friend and the only other person in their small Ohio town who understood what it was like to be a child of the only Muslim immigrants around. Last November, though, Mabel was killed in a school shooting, and twelve-year-old Cora is still learning how to live with her grief and fear. As the one-year anniversary approaches, the pain only seems to get worse. Cora misses her former best friend, Quinn, too, but can’t admit it to herself. It was Quinn’s brother who killed Mabel.

Quinn misses Cora, and she misses her big brother, Parker. She misses who Parker was before he started isolating himself in his room, spending all of his time on his computer, and saying awful things about people like Cora’s family. She misses how things were before Parker did the worst thing a person can do. But Quinn believes she’s found a way that she can fix everything: she has reason to believe that time travel is possible. She needs the help of Cora’s scientific mind, though, for it to work.

The Shape of Thunder follows Cora and Quinn as they attempt go back to that fateful morning and repair what was destroyed. But, even more, this novel follows two families and their surrounding community as they continue to grapple in their own ways with the aftermath of a tragedy that has become all too familiar. Warga skillfully and delicately handles these heavy topics, demonstrating their immensity and complexity as experienced by two twelve-year-old girls.

The Shape of Thunder is the very definition of a Newbery Award-worthy book. Warga has developed an affecting portrait of modern American life that is not just a stunning contribution to children’s literature, but to American literature as a whole.

~ Ms. Louise

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

Newbery Contender: “Amber & Clay” by Laura Amy Schlitz

Book review: Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz (tween fiction)

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of numerous award-winning books, including the Newbery award-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, and the Newbery honor Splendors and Glooms. She also wrote the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a National Jewish Book Award Winner, The Hired Girl, and received a Cybils award for A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama. Her writing is broad in scope and captures many different points in history and styles of writing.

In Amber & Clay, the story follows Rhaskos and Melisto, unalike in many ways, with profoundly different lives, and never truly meeting within the narrative, but whose stories are entwined in many curious ways. Rhaskos is a Thracian slave who is torn from his mother and sold to a wealthy family who, after a series of miserable years, sells him to a Greek potter as a stable boy. Treated badly by those around him, Rhaskos becomes enamored with drawing horses, and strikes up a friend with the old philosopher, Socrates. Melisto is the daughter of an aristocrat, spoiled by her father but hated by her mother and ultimately sent off to serve Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, where she befriends a bear and a kindly monk, and her life takes an unexpected turn. Ghosts, gods, and a wily philosopher ultimately weave the two children’s stories together.

Written in both prose and verse, with the Greek god Hermes chiming in on occasion, Schlitz moves between writing styles with ease. Illustrations by Julia Iredale of imaginary artifacts included with each chapter help paint a vivid portrait of ancient Greek life and will be sure to capture the imagination of any reader who has read Percy Jackson but wants something slightly more grounded but with a definite historical backbone.

Let us know what you think of this one! How did you like the illustrations? Do you think they seemed like things that one might find if you were at an archeological dig in Greece? There’s a certain plot twist halfway through the book that certainly surprised me. Did it surprise you?

~ Ms. Emily

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

Hudson Library Mock Newbery: 100 Years of The John Newbery Medal

In 1922, the Children’s Librarians’ Section of the American Library Association created an award named for an eighteenth-century English bookseller, with the purpose of encouraging original creative work in books for children. It was the first, and is still the foremost, award of its kind.

Now overseen by ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the Newbery Award and Newbery Honor seals are sure signs of excellence in writing by an American author. From the first – The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon – to the most recent – When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller – the Newbery awards represent both the hard work and passion of the committee members who read hundreds of books to whittle the field down to a handful, and the distinctive connection between an author and their readers as they explore worlds both real and imagined, together.

On January 24, 2022, the current Newbery committee will announce their choices for the Newbery Medal and Honor books of 2021. Join us for the next few weeks as we discuss some of our favorite books of 2021, maybe throw in your own comments and suggestions, and then we can meet virtually for one last celebration of the year’s best books – let’s see if we can predict what the next Newbery winner will be!

Possible Newbery Contenders:

From November 22 to January 17, we will publish a new blog post every Monday that will talk about a book that the Hudson children’s librarians think has a chance at winning. Titles include:

Nov 22 – Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Nov 29 – The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

Dec 6 – The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm

Dec 13 – Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Dec 20 – Kaleidoscope by David Selznick

Dec 27 – Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Jan 3 – The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo

Jan 10 – Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Jan 17 – Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

More Important Dates:

January 21: Hudson Library’s Mock Newbery virtual discussion. Details forthcoming.

January 24: ALA announces the winner of the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Martin Luther King, Pura Belpre, and many more annual awards for children’s books.

February – December 2022: Watch for special events, challenges, and opportunities to celebrate the Newbery with your Hudson Library Youth Services librarians!

2021 ALA Youth Media Awards!

This week the American Library Association (ALA) revealed its much-anticipated 2021 Youth Media Award Winners! Each year, the ALA selects a winner for each of its many categories, as well as honorable mentions.

From the ALA blog: “Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by judging committees of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work.”

Here is the complete list of all 2021 winners and honor books, with links directly to each item in our online catalog. Click on the book title to access our online catalog and reserve a copy. Each catalog listing also includes suggested ages or reading levels, as well as a summary of the book.

The John Newbery Medal is awarded for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

2021 John Newbery Medal winner:

When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller

Five Newbery Honor Books:


The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

2021 Randolph Caldecott Medal winner:

We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade, written by Carole Lindstrom

Four Caldecott Honor Books:


The Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults.

Coretta Scott King Author Book Award winner:

Before the Ever After, written by Jacqueline Woodson

Three King Author Honor Books:

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award winner:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Three King Illustrator Honor Books:

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

Legendborn, written by Tracy Deonn


The Michael L. Printz Award is given for excellence in literature written for young adults.

Michael L. Printz Award winner:

Everything Sad Is Untrue (A True Story), by Daniel Nayeri

Four Printz Honor Books:


The Schneider Family Book Awards are given for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

Schneider Family Book Award winner for young children (ages 0-10):

I Talk Like a River, written by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Two Honor Books for young children:

Schneider Family Book Award winner for middle grades (ages 11–13):

Show Me a Sign, written by Ann Clare LeZotte

Two Honor Books for middle grades:

Schneider Family Book Award winner for teens (ages 13–18):

This Is My Brain in Love, written by I. W. Gregorio

(No honor book for teens.)


The Alex Awards are given for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. Here are this year’s ten winners:


The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is given for an outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner:

Telephone Tales, written by Gianni Rodari, illustrated by Valerio Vidali, translated by Antony Shugaar; originally published in Italian as Favole al telefono

One Honor Book:

  • Catherine’s War, written by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel, and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger

The Odyssey Award is given for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Odyssey Award winner:

Kent State, produced by Paul R. Gagne, written by Deborah Wiles, and narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries

Four Odyssey Honor Audiobooks:

  • Clap When You Land, produced by Caitlin Garing, written by Elizabeth Acevedo, and narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte
  • Fighting Words, produced by Karen Dziekonski, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and narrated by Bahni Turpin
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, produced by Robert Van Kolken, written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, and narrated by Jason Reynolds with an introduction by Ibram X. Kendi
  • When Stars Are Scattered, produced by Kelly Gildea and Julie Wilson, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi, and a full cast. (Item not yet owned in Clevnet … please check back later.)

The Pura Belpré Awards honor a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner:

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez

One Belpré Illustrator Honor Book:

Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award winner:

Efrén Divided, written by Ernesto Cisneros

Two Belpré Children’s Author Honor Books:

Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award winner:

Furia, written by Yamile Saied Méndez

Two Belpré Young Adult Author Honor Books:


The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is given for the most distinguished informational book for children.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award winner:

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Three Sibert Honor Books:


The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is given to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience.

Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award winner:

One honor title:


The Stonewall Book Award—Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is presented annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.

Stonewall Book Award—Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award winner:

We Are Little Feminists: Families, written by Archaa Shrivastav, designed by Lindsey Blakely. (Item not yet owned in Clevnet … please check back later.)

Four Honor Books:


The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is presented for the most distinguished beginning reader book.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner:

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Four Geisel Honor Books:


The William C. Morris Award is presented to a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens.

William C. Morris Award winner:

If These Wings Could Fly, written by Kyrie McCauley

Four other books were finalists:


YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, written by Candace Fleming

Four other books were finalists:


The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is given based on literary and artistic merit in three youth categories.

Picture Book winner:

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist, written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Picture Book Honor Book:

Danbi Leads the School Parade, written and illustrated by Anna Kim

Children’s Literature winner:

When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller

Children’s Literature Honor Book:

Prairie Lotus, written by Linda Sue Park

Youth Literature winner:

This Light Between Us, written by Andrew Fukuda

Youth Literature Honor Book:

Displacement, written by Kiku Hughes


The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medalists:

Picture Book category:

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal

Middle Grades category:

Turtle Boy, by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Young Adult category:

Dancing at the Pity Party, written and illustrated by Tyler Feder

Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalists:

Picture Book category:

  • I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book, by Mychal Copeland, illustrated by André Ceolin. (Item not yet owned in Clevnet … please check back later.)
  • Miriam at the River, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Khoa Le

Middle Grades category:

Young Adult category:


Lifetime Achievement Awards:

The Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. Dorothy L. Guthrie is the 2021 winner. She is an award-winning retired librarian, district administrator, author, and school board member.

The Children’s Literature Legacy Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences. The 2021 winner is Mildred D. Taylor. See here for books by Mildred D. Taylor in our catalog.

The Margaret A. Edwards Award is presented for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. The 2021 winner is Kekla Magoon. See here for books by Kekla Magoon in our catalog.

For more information on the ALA Youth Media Awards and notables, please visit their page at www.ala.org/yma.

For more information about checking out these books, or any other children’s or teen materials, contact our Children’s Desk at 330-653-6658, ext 1020.