Newbery Interview: Julie Falatko

Every Friday I interview a reader about the Newbery Medal. I ask them a series of questions around their thoughts of this amazing award.

Today’s featured guest is Julie Falatko. Be sure to check out her amazing blog by clicking on the image below.

What is your favorite Newbery Medal winning book?

Bridge to Terabithia

What do you love about Bridge to Terabithia?

Bridge to Terabithia is the first book that made me cry. At 10, I was already addicted to books when I picked up Bridge to Terabithia, but it’s the first book I remember fully transporting me to another place, and, at the end, the rug was so drastically and suddenly pulled out from under me, I sobbed and sobbed at the shock and sting of it. How dare Katherine Patterson make me love these characters so much, feel like I was going to Terabithia along with them, and then do THAT? I couldn’t believe it.

Every summer my family spent a month or two in the town where my grandparents lived, and the woods and stream made it perfect for Bridge-to-Terabithia-esque play. I slipped so easily into that world of Terabithia, but always with a vague sense of terror about what could happen to me, to real people, in the real world.

No book has ever gotten under my skin as much as this book. It’s probably because it was the first book that made me cry, but also definitely its blend of friendship, realism, and fantasy seemed tailor-made to 10-year-old me. And I have to say that I still think about Bridge to Terabithia ALL the time: anytime I’m in the woods, any time my own kids pretend they’re going to a secret land, and when I laugh to myself about the fact that my kids call me and my husband by our first names, just like Leslie did.

Years later, rereading it, I started crying almost from Jess and Leslie’s first meeting, and didn’t stop until the book was finished. My oldest kid is 9 right now, and loves reading even more than I did at that age. I think he’ll love Bridge to Terabithia, but I’m almost afraid to give it to him. Can I, as a parent, send him down that emotional road? Maybe it’s time.

What is your earliest memory of the Newbery Medal?

I read so voraciously when I was a girl, and I was happy to read just about anything, so I didn’t realize until I was 13 or 14 what that little medal was. I knew what it meant, but I also knew that Newberys weren’t the ONLY good books in the library.

The Newbery Medal is a great way to find new, great books. I’ve probably read only about 10 percent of the Newbery (and Newbery Honor) books. I’m always (sadly, always) surprised at the current winner, because I always feel like I’ve read some amazing books that year that are SURE to win. But then, hey, I know I’ve read some great books, and the Newbery list gives me another pile of great books to read. Someday.

Julie Falatko lives in Maine with her husband and four children. She blogs at http://worldofjulie.com, does picture book reviews for Katie Davis’s Brain Burps About Books podcast, and happily maintains a Little Free Library in her front yard.

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If you’d like to be featured in my Newbery Interview series please fill out the form in the link below.

https://sharpread.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/what-does-the-newbery-medal-mean-to-you/

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5 thoughts on “Newbery Interview: Julie Falatko

  1. What a terrific post; I totally get what you meant about Bridge getting under your skin. Even now, I get chills just thinking about the last 20 pages. Thanks for your thoughts about one of my top 3 Newbery faves!

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    1. It’s funny how writing this post has dredged up all kinds of reading-memory feelings. And yes: the last 20 pages. Oh boy. They are tough. (And yet, I kind of want to go reread them right now.))

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  2. When my son was around ten he watched the film version before reading the book, but then refused to let me watch it. “It’s very violent,” he told me. “It’s much more violent than Star Wars.”
    The funny thing is that he was right in the sense that the “violence” in the story is genuinely disturbing rather than being sheer spectacle.

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  3. This is my favorite Newbery, too, although I didn’t read it as a kid. I read it as college student in a children’s lit class. I understand your hesitation about putting your son through the emotional wringer, but it’s worth it! I remember sharing this book with a book group of 5th graders, and one of the girls said she had to go out to the driveway and sit in the car so no one would bother her while she cried. 😦 Another girl clung onto the theme of Leslie’s legacy continuing with Jess’s sister because her father had died the previous fall. He was an art teacher, and the student was an artist, and she felt like she was his legacy. Powerful stuff.

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