Mock Newbery 2023 discussion

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1)
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Newbery 2019 > May Read - The Hazel Wood

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 590 comments Mod
The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1) by Melissa Albert The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert has gotten some good reviews and has been likened to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. What did you think of it?


Laura Harrison | 422 comments Just started it. Ppl seem to be very passionate about The Hazelwood. Whether it is negative or positive.


Katrina Tangen | 17 comments I liked it, although I had some issues with it. But I think it's *way* too old and dark for Newbery.


Isaac Reuben (isaacthebookkeeper) | 32 comments Honestly, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert did not thrill me. Actually, I thought the beginning was kind of slow and boring. I kept thinking, “Now, it will start getting better”, but it kept taking its precious time. When Alice’s mother, Ella, was finally kidnapped, it started getting more interesting. However, later in the book, events occurred almost too quickly, in my opinion.

Also, I didn’t find Alice’s character very likeable or relatable. She had anger-management problems and swore too much for my taste. (view spoiler) Thankfully, there were other characters I liked better than Alice, notably Ellery Finch. Even though he had his faults, I liked him much more than Alice. (view spoiler)

Personally, I do not think The Hazel Wood is a Newbery contender. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but this story seemed too dark and “young adult” to be a winner. However, I wondered, “What important lesson(s) is Melissa Albert trying to present here?” After much pondering, I concluded this story has themes about identity and relationships. Alice’s (Our) life is constantly manipulated and negatively impacted by the Hinterland (outside influences), but both she and her mother (we) try to create a fresh, new start (identity) apart from the Hinterland (outside influences). Unfortunately, Alice (we) cannot achieve this by herself (ourselves); only loving and caring people (relationships) can help set Alice (us) free.


Mary | 28 comments Good points, Isaac.
I'm at the point where Alice and Finch are drawing near to the wood. Due to the ages of characters and their language, I'd place this more in the YA category. There is a creepiness to this that many kids crave. I think quite a bit creepier than most middle grade reads.
It appears that moving around a lot with a mother who was not forthcoming about this danger, has handicapped Alice in her ability to relate to others.


Isaac Reuben (isaacthebookkeeper) | 32 comments Mary wrote: "Good points, Isaac.
I'm at the point where Alice and Finch are drawing near to the wood. Due to the ages of characters and their language, I'd place this more in the YA category. There is a creepi..."


Hello, Mary!

Thank you for your positive comment! Like you, I categorized The Hazel Wood as YA. I like how you pointed out how many kids like/want creepy books. However, I think other books, like Doll Bones by Holly Black or Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, would be better for middle grade children.

Although this was not my favorite book, I’m still glad I read it!! I’m curious to see what you and others think about it!

Isaac (isaacthebookkeeper)


Mary | 28 comments Well, finished it.
Entering the Hinterland was the most dangerous part. The author kept me guessing at everything, not following the usual routes that help me deduce where the story is going. Alice gradually, with help, discovers her origin and what drives her. The resolution may feel quick, yet she was taking time to form her own story, which she didn't really have, only memories of the stories she'd read along the way. During her time of reflection, she remembers Finch, "I didn't know you couldn't care for Ellery Finch." I think she was truly horrified by what happened to him, later missing him. But there was so much happening at that one particular time in the story, there wasn't much time for any sort of mourning.
Not my favorite book either, yet a unique world created here.


Czechgirl | 214 comments I enjoyed the creative plot in this book. It was beautifully written. The setting of the Hinterland was also written well. However, like a poster mentioned above, I also did not care for the protagonist, Alice. Therefore, that part made me not care about the book so much. Therefore, I do not think it is a Newbery contender.


message 9: by Kate (new)

Kate | 187 comments When Ella finds Alice reading Tales of the Hinterland, she says “This book isn’t for children” (page 18). It seems that this is an embedded message from Melissa Albert about THE HAZEL WOOD: children are not the intended audience.
The language, relationships, violence and horror all confirm this view. There is a bit of irony that a book about a cult author is written for a cult audience. Weeks on the New York Times YA bestseller list would indicate that the readers have been found. But I do not feel it falls within the criteria for a Newbery.


message 10: by Ana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ana Marlatt | 72 comments Well, I definitely do not see this as a Newbery. It was dark, complex and hard to connect to any one character. The language and adult subject matter makes me wonder about the age group. It read like a bad nightmare, and if you’re into that, then that’s the book for you. Not for me! This book had one great thing going for it: amazing writing. It is the only thing that kept me from abandoning it. Great writer, weird story. If this ends up being next year’s Newbery, I must adjust my Newbery radar!


Linda | 23 comments When I came to the first f*bomb, I double checked if it was teen. I somehow had the impression is was j fiction. I'm really just getting into it and liking it, but I agree with other opinions posted here: aimed at an older audience (beyond 14, at least).


Laura Harrison | 422 comments Linda wrote: "When I came to the first f*bomb, I double checked if it was teen. I somehow had the impression is was j fiction. I'm really just getting into it and liking it, but I agree with other opinions poste..."

It is definitely a young adult book.


message 13: by Jenn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn (jennmonk) | 41 comments I just have to ask, did none of you read the original Grimm's fairy tales as a child? Not the sanitized, Disney versions but the dark and bloody originals. To me, that is where this book fits.

The writing is excellent and the audience is mostly 12 and up but I know of at least 3 or 4 kids younger than that who would love it. I'll be discussing it with my teen Mock Newbery group in a couple weeks, and I look forward to seeing what they think (btw, a couple of them are 11-12).


message 14: by Barb (new)

Barb | 35 comments I only read the first two chapters of this book and stopped. My thoughts seem aligned with other readers.... based on comments above. While an engaging beginning, I must say that the language is not acceptable for me to see in youth literature. This is clearly YA title - and I’m bummed to see the f-word dropped so really into kids’ literature lately.


Katrina Tangen | 17 comments Jennifer, I didn't read the original Grimms until I was an adult. I definitely would have been traumatized by them as a kid! And they weren't really intended for kids originally even back when they didn't care about traumatizing kids. :) Although I'm sure lots of kids do read them and handle them fine. But we do generally tolerate a lot of things in classics that we don't in contemporary writing for kids.


Laura Harrison | 422 comments Jennifer wrote: "I just have to ask, did none of you read the original Grimm's fairy tales as a child? Not the sanitized, Disney versions but the dark and bloody originals. To me, that is where this book fits.

Th..."


I believe most ppl in this group and on Goodreads in general, have read the original Grimm's stories. We are a pretty awesome well read bunch. The first collections of Grimm stories were not for children. Among other things they contained many scholarly and sexual references. For a collection entitled Children's and Household Tales, this did not sit well with parents etc. The
books were revised (extensively throughout the years) to make the stories more suitable. In 1825 the Grimm's brothers published a selection of 50 tales designed for children. I highly recommend The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm that was translated by Jack Zipes in 2014. Zipes maintains the original voice and oral history tradition of the earliest Grimm's collections. It is fantastic and incredibly well done.


message 17: by Jenn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn (jennmonk) | 41 comments Laura wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "I just have to ask, did none of you read the original Grimm's fairy tales as a child? Not the sanitized, Disney versions but the dark and bloody originals. To me, that is where thi..."

I'll have to look into that. I guess I had an unusual childhood, then. Because I read them and loved them.

I'll get back to you all on what my Mock Newbery teens thought of it soon.


message 18: by Laura (last edited May 23, 2018 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura Harrison | 422 comments Jennifer wrote: "Laura wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "I just have to ask, did none of you read the original Grimm's fairy tales as a child? Not the sanitized, Disney versions but the dark and bloody originals. To me, tha..."

It sounds like a cool childhood. I loved those tales as a kid, too. Adored Aesop's Fables as well.


Christina (christinalucia) | 1 comments I do not think The Hazel Wood is a viable Newbery contender.

Honestly, I think having Alice dismiss Fitch's concerns about the police was completely inappropriate. It also reads as a YA book to me.


message 20: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 3 comments In general I don't care for fantasy; however urban fantasy is one of a couple types that I enjoy. I really enjoyed The Hazel Wood, and I've recommended it to several people... all adults, though. This is definitely a YA title. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone in elementary school. That doesn't mean that a couple wouldn't enjoy it, but I do think the intended audience of 12 and up is the appropriate audience.


message 21: by Monica (last edited Jun 02, 2018 07:18AM) (new) - added it

Monica Edinger | 64 comments Katrina wrote: "Jennifer, I didn't read the original Grimms until I was an adult. I definitely would have been traumatized by them as a kid! And they weren't really intended for kids originally even back when they..."

I read the originals as a kid and loved them. I do a Cinderella unit with my 4th graders and they relish the Grimm version. So I wouldn't underestimate how young people engage with fairy tale grimness. That said, for other reasons, this did feel YA to me --- still Newbery goes up to almost 15 so it seems completely viable as a contender.


Jessica Zannini | 4 comments This was definitely not my book. I thought I had this title down for the mock Printz. Definitely not what I think of as Newbery.


message 23: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth | 9 comments I really enjoyed this book a great deal. I loved the suspense and actually really liked Alice as a character.

This is definitely a YA level novel and I don't think it would be appropriate as a Newbery contender.


Stephanie Sapp | 58 comments Finally got the chance to read this one. Not a Newbery contender for me. Glad I read it and enjoyed the beautiful writing and setting descriptions. Reminds me of Inkheart, in a way. Could see this as a movie one day.


Reving | 106 comments I really didn't like this. I can see that some might, but for me it was really hard to get through. So sorry! https://revingsblog.blogspot.com/2018...


Laura Harrison | 422 comments Reving wrote: "I really didn't like this. I can see that some might, but for me it was really hard to get through. So sorry! https://revingsblog.blogspot.com/2018..."

Never feel sorry for your opinions on Goodreads!


Maria | 2 comments I agree this story had a slow beginning but I was glad I stuck with it. I really loved how it developed. It reminded me of the Sci-fi show “The Magicians” and the book series “Story Thieves.” If you enjoy creative fantasy “ The Hazel Wood” will be a good read.
I do also agree that it is not a Newberry contender.


Katrina Tangen | 17 comments It reminded me a lot of The Magicians too (more the book than the show though). And that bleakness (The Magicians is one depressing book!) is I think the main thing that made it feel very YA (even upper YA) to me.


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