Wednesday, December 20, 2006

MockNomination for The King of Attolia

“Delineation of plot” and “Development of characters.” What other book this year could I hold up as a “truly distinguished” example of these qualities but The King of Attloia? Here is narrative that is vivid, suspenseful, and funny. The story is told as much in gesture as in action or emotion, so that the reader can picture the motions and facial expressions as if in a movie. And as in a movie, what is not said as is important as what is, as the development often occurs just below the surface. Political intrigue, treachery, and triumphant trickery that is engaging and appealing to a young audience is delivered up with complexity that doesn’t patronize.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tenth good thing about GOSSAMER: no Author's Note at the end to break the spell and spoil the afterglow a reader feels, sitting quietly with a closed book.
I object to the justifying and explaining voices of authors stepping onto the stage at the ends of books, as if to say fiction is not enough, it cannot stand alone, now let me tell you something REAL. I know authors often do this because editors pressure them. Still, I wish they would resist. . .

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE KING OF ATTOLIA is YA at my library, and now I've read it, I think it is too old to be a Newbery candidate. . .

12:06 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Anonymous, can you be more specific about why you think it's too old to be a Newbery candidate? The Newbery covers readers through age 14. I've gone back and forth on this one, and it merits discussion. I know there's a readership for this one that starts as early as age 10. The question is, as in the criteria, does the book "display respect for children's understanding, abilities, and appreciations"? I still think it does--

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd been waiting for you to post about this book. When you added it to your list, you mentioned that you hoped it would provoke a discussion about the eligibility of sequels.

I'd like to ask about its age range as well.

How do you assign an age range to a book like this? I know from reading the comments on fuse#8's review (before it was pulled) that librarians are pitching it successfully in middle school libraries. But many of its readers are over the upper age limit of the Newbery Award. The King of Attolia seems to have such a wide age range in its audience--what percentage of a book's audience has to be under fourteen for it to be considered for the award? If people read it for the first time when they are twelve and miss a lot, then read it again every year until they are twenty-two, do you go by the age they were when they first enjoyed the book, or the age they are when they have finally grasped every last innuendo? (Or you could average it and get a reading age of 18.7?)


With Criss Cross, or Octavian Nothing, one might ask, "How wide is the audience for this book?" But the age of the reader doesn't enter so much into the question. Octavian is a book for older adolescents, Criss Cross seems pitched at younger YA's, even if only a narrow slice of the age group will ever appreciate them.

Or is the entire idea of placing an age on its audience irrelevant? Because the sixteen year old who only reads contemporary fiction probably wouldn't have like The KIng of Attolia at twelve, either, and the twelve year old who loves all things fantasy will enjoy it now, and four years from now, too. What matters isn't what age they are, but what kind of reader they are.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

You've captured my point of view exactly at the end: it depends what kind of reader they are.

For Newbery, it doesn't matter that it has a readership over 14...and it doesn't matter how wide a readership under 14 it has either. What matters is something along the lines of: has the author presented her story in a way that "children" (as defined by the criteria, which includes any person 14 and under) can appreciate? Not that EVERY child can appreciate ... but is there an under-14 audience that "gets" this book with a "child's" sensibilities?

Frankly, I think a lot of teens will miss "every last innuendo"... It's the attentive reader of any age who will get it. But other minds disagree...

4:32 PM  

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