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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Newbery Season

 The season of speculation for the major children's literature awards is upon us. Lots of places are holding Mock Newbery, Caldecott, or Printz discussions. While it's anyone's guess, really, what the winner will be, it's always fun to try to pick the winners.

Like everyone else, I have my favorites. And while I'm usually less disappointed in what the committee chooses, there are always a few that I truly wish hadn't been overlooked.

This year, instead of waiting for the committee to announce the winners and writing a blog about which ones I wished had won, I'm going to stick my neck and write about the ones I think deserve notice.
Okay for Now - Gary Schmidt
     It will be difficult for the committee to ignore this one. Schmidt, once again, writes a compelling story. This companion to Wednesday Wars has been getting buzz since it the advanced reading copy was released.
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (from an outline by Sioban Dowd)
     Once it was determined that it was actually eligible for the award, this one has been one everyone's list. This is a moving and poignant tale of dealing with illness and death.
With a Name Like Love - Tess Hilmo
     This one isn't getting as much attention as I'd hoped it would. I'm hoping the committee finds it and loves it as much as I do. The voice is amazing. The story is kid-friendly. This is a keeper.
Dead End in Norvelt - Jack Gantos
     I'm not as big of a fan of Jack as some people are, but this book is a gem. Funny. Surprising. Informative.
The Trouble with May Amelia - Jennifer Holm
     I was a huge fan of the original Newbery Honor book. I'm a bigger fan of this one (in spite of the historically inaccurate cover). Holm has shown she's a talented writer. This one once again proves it.
Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick
   Amazing! I was completely blown away by it. My concern is the criteria for the Newbery which must be based on the text. In this case, it means the committee must take into account only half the book.
Small Persons with Wings (They Hate to be Called Fairies)- Ellen Booraem
   An early "front runner" that still holds up. It has great magical elements. And not since Tinkerbell have there been fairies with such attitude.
Small as an Elephant - Jennifer Richard Jacobson
   A moving novel about a boy abandoned by his bipolar mother at a campground. Structure is similar to the Secret Life of Bees in that each chapter begins with some quote about elephants.
The Absolute Value of Mike- Kathy Erskine
   Another great novel from the National Book Award winner. This time, she adds some comical characters that will warm (and break) your heart.
Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai
   Wonder first novel in free verse about a young girl's experience as a refugee coming to America. Based on the author's personal experience, it is both informative and moving.
Amelia Lost - Candace Fleming
   Beautifully written and comprehensive account of the famous aviatrix. Reads more like a novel than non-fiction.
Bluefish - Pat Schmatz
  This one sits on the cusp of the Newbery/Printz awards. Only two books have been honored by both committees. Told in two voices (both of which are spot on), readers witness the destruction and reconstruction of two teenagers who find a way to help each other rebuild their shattered lives.
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Septys
   A masterful work depicting the real, but often overshadowed, plight of eastern block people at the hands of Stalin.  This time it's a girl whose family is labeled war criminals who are forced to travel (train and marching) to Siberia, stopping only to work along the way.

These are the books that seem to be showing up on lists with some consistancy. Of course, the committee may have discovered a hidden gem among the many books that have been published this year. We'll find out in January.

Keep reading.


  1. Thanks for sticking your neck out. More books for my Goodreads "to read" list.

  2. Great list! I like seeing some titles here I haven't seen in other Newbery prediction lists.

    I think I'm rooting for Okay for Now, but it's hard to say. I'm hoping Wonderstruck takes the Caldecott!