I was the lucky winner of this big box of Greenwillow books last December. Can you see what's in there? Everything from Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, winner of the 2005 Caldecott Medal, to The Thief by Meghan Whalen Turner, which won a Newbery Honor in 1997. I read Turner's Attolia books, of which The Thief is the first, for the first time last year (no, I have no idea why I waited so long), and it was definitely a Peak Reading Experience--sort of a combination of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo books and C.S. Lewis's Til We Have Faces. The latest, A Conspiracy of Kings (2010), is my favorite in the series.
But my very favorite Greenwillow book is this one: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. It was the first book I bought in hardcover, probably before it won the Newbery in 1985 (my copy, a first edition, doesn't have the gold sticker); and it still sets the standard against which I judge high fantasy for young readers. By now I've read it so many times that I can remember certain passages and fragments of dialogue almost word-for-word: Aerin's centuries-long climb up the spiral staircase to Agsded's chamber; Aerin and Luthe (their final scene together is Martha Mihalick's favorite, too); the lovely last lines. Thank you, Greenwillow!