Newbery Medal?

By Gavin Sonntag

What is the Newbery Medal?

The American Library Association (ALA) award I chose to research was the Newbery Medal. The Newbery Medal is awarded yearly by the ALA for the most distinguished American children's book published for the previous year (“The John Newbery Medal”). The main purpose of the Newbery Medal is to encourage original, creative, work in the field of books for children (“The John Newbery Medal”).

The Book I Chose to Evaluate...

While keeping these criteria in mind, the book I chose to evaluate was Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures was the 2014 Newbery Medal winner. If I was on the jury for this award, I would have selected this book for the Newbery Medal in 2014. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is something that many people can relate to. Flora is a ten-year-old girl who enjoys comic books. Her mother, Phyllis, thinks she is a bit strange and tries to encourage her to stop reading comic books. She wants her daughter to have more friends. Phyllis is a writer and she loves a shepherdess lamp almost more than she loves her own daughter. This shows the material possessions people are in love with and how they can sometimes mean more to them than real, living objects. Ultimately, Phyllis wants her daughter to be happy. Flora’s mom and dad, George, are divorced. George thought that Phyllis was too infatuated with writing to give him the love he needed. George was very sad after the divorce, and very lonely as well. It was not until Ulysses, a squirrel that got stuck in a vacuum cleaner and ended up getting superpowers, could make everyone happy and tie everyone back together again through the adventures he made, the ruckus he caused, and the emotions he made others feel. William Spiver, a friend Flora eventually makes that is by Flora’s side throughout the plot, was coping with his mom removing him from his home and he was forced to spend time with his Great Aunt Tootie. William Spiver has a new stepdad, Tyrone, since his dad died. Tyrone does not treat William Spiver as well as his real dad did. William Spiver became upset when Tyrone called him Billy instead of William Spiver, which is what he prefers to be called. William Spiver was so angered by this that he pushed his stepdad's truck into a lake. Also, Dr. Meescham, Flora’s dad’s neighbor, is coping with her husband’s loss and is the voice of reason in the story. She seems like she is stuck in the past.

Why Should This Book Win the Newbery Medal?

Many people can relate to this book on many different levels. It has people coping with loneliness, love, trying to spread happiness, and trying to figure out the complex world we live in. Therefore, since a variety of people can relate to this book, I would vote for it for the Newbery Medal. I believe it is one of the most distinguished American children’s books I have ever read. It is appealing because of the differences displayed in each character, how they are coping with different issues, and how their moods change throughout the story, all due to Ulysses.

Works Cited

The John Newbery Medal. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2016, from