Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

And As We Reach the Halfway Mark…

Here’s something to chew on in your spare time.  It has occurred to me that now that the year is half over, we should step back and take a look at the books we’ve seen thus far.  This is the perfect time to find out what everyone else is reading so that you can hone your To Be Read shelf accordingly.  Predicting the Newbery and Caldecott Awards is an impossible affair.  Once in a while you get lucky, but there’s a reason bookies don’t take odds on children’s literary winners.  Still, I think I have some thoughts as to who I would like the front runners to be.  Feel free to throw in your own opinions as well.  I’d love to hear what you guys think of as serious contenders.  Without any inside knowledge, voila.


The only book that’s raised enough buzz thus far has got to be the Peter Sis title The Wall.  I’ve got it at home right now, ripe for review.  Other than that, though, I’m a little stumped.  What else is out there?  The only thing that comes to mind is the Alice Walker book Why War is Never a Good Idea, which I haven’t had a chance to go over here yet.  A little help?  I’ve many more suggestions in terms of the Newbery.


1.  The Baptism by Shelia P. Moses – You needn’t read the two books that preceed this book in the series by Moses.  Just know that the author’s writing is crisp, her characters clear, and the story engaging.

2.  The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt – Funny.  Really funny and fun and smart.  Some are questioning the child-appeal of this title, but I think it has a real shot at the Newbery gold.  At the very least it may get an honor.

3.  Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis – A magnificent debut novel.  Don’t let the awful cover fool you.  This book is winning fans left and right and may sweep the Newberys this year.

4.  Eggs by Jerry Spinelli – It’s the ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ for kids.  Is that a compliment?  Dunno.  A memorable book just the same.

5.  Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor – Okay.  Fine.  It doesn’t have a chance.  What fantasy with fairies would ever win the Newbery?  But if one DID win, it would have to be this one.  Best.  Book.  Ever.

6.  Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson – Yeah.  There’s a reason I haven’t reviewed this yet.  I have no friggin’ idea what to do with it.  Seriously, I’m stumped.  No opinion whatsoever here.  Which, come to think of it, is what makes it a prime Newbery candidate.

7.  On The Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck – Peck dips deeply into the realm of nostalgia yet again. Some people think he’s phoning this one in, but I disagree.  It’s nostalgia of the best possible kind and a fun read (after the slow start).  Definitely has legs on it.

8.  The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies – More than just a business model for kiddies.  This book has blood, sweat, and tears in it. It’s not just a fun read, but an emotional roller coaster as well.  Could well be my top pick for 2007.

9.  Elijah Of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis – I’m not joshing you when I say that this is Curtis’s best work so far. And yeah, he’s already won himself a Newbery before, but doggone it if this isn’t one heckuva book.  Funny with a historical setting that I, for one, have never seen in a children’s novel before.

10.  No Castles Here by A.C.E. Bauer – Bauer’s a first time author, but you’d never know it from reading this book.  This story is the perfect balance of magic and realism.  The characters stick with you, the message isn’t messagey (a good thing, in my eyes), and the first page is suitably gripping.  A book kids would actually enjoy reading.

11.  No Talking by Andrew Clements – Well why not? It’s not like Clements has ever won before, and I personally think this book is much better than "Frindle" anyway.  It seems to supremely simple, but there’s an undercurrent of rebellion to it that comes across beautifully.  Quite frankly, I think that this is a great example of what makes a children’s book good.

12. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz – I’ve saved the best for last.  This book doesn’t fall neatly into any one category.  It straddles non-fiction and fiction so perfectly that it would be hard to group it.  Fortunately, the Newbery Award can go to a work of fiction AND non-fiction.  Perfect, no?

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Sarah Miller says:

    My Newbery hopefuls:
    Aurora County All-Stars, by Deborah Wiles

    Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale

    Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

    Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt

    Anyone gonna take a shot at the Printz awards? My favorite YA of the year so far is Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, by Robin Brande

  2. Sarah Miller says:

    Um…anyone care to tell me how to insert a line break into my future comments…? 😉

  3. I think “Good Master, Sweet Ladies” is a long shot, though you know I have an affection for it as well. And your description of “Feathers” is spot-on. What about “The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World”?

    We’re doing a Mock Caldecott this year, and we’re having the same problem: there’s nothing we’re overwhelmingly fond of. “Old Penn Station” has come up, and there has been some love for “Wicked Big Toddlah.” There’s also the predictable love for “Knuffle Bunny Too” and “Baby Bear, Baby Bear…” And one of my colleagues gave an intriguing argument in favor of “Fred Stays with Me”. But, um, yeah…no standouts.

  4. Elizabeth Fama says:

    So both No Castles Here and Emma Jean Lazarus are debut novels, which gets me to wondering: over the years, how many Newberys (um, Newberies?) have been awarded to first-time authors? Betsy, I’m sure your readership will know the answer! [Sarah Miller, I haven’t been able to insert break lines either since the blog moved.]

  5. Well I don’t have the stats on how many debut authors…but one of those most memorable ones is EL Konigsburg. Her first two novels were published in the same year…one got the Newbery, the other a Newbery Honor.

  6. How about Ashley Bryan’s stunning “Let it Shine” for a Caldecott possiblity? I read the book back in January, and my eyes are still twirling around in their sockets from the beauty of it all.

  7. Sarah Miller says:

    I just wanna say “heck yeah” for LET IT SHINE!

  8. I’d put ‘The Apple Pie That Papa Baked’ (by Laura Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean) up for Caldecott – it’s like nothing else I’ve seen this year. The style is influenced by Wanda G’ag, and Virginia Lee Burton, yet I think it’s rather refreshing and original. There’s something exciting and satisfying about seeing a book with classic three color illustrations. (Which feels like a bold move in the current picture book landscape.) I don’t know if it’s got a shot, but I’m rootin’ for it!

  9. The art in Jeremy Tankard’s Grumpy Bird is like none I’ve seen this year. — Jules, 7-Imp

  10. Oh, but I should add:

    Yes, Sis’ The Wall is pretty flippin’ amazing.

    — Jules

  11. Ooooh, I’m so happy to hear other people talking about “Let It Shine”!!! I was beginning to think I was the only one out there! The spread with the hands held out is transcendent.

  12. Let It Shine is, indeed, beautiful. I’ll be covering it soon at 7Imp.


  13. I can’t even tell you how useful this is. “Let It Shine” completely fell under my radar. I never would have forgiven myself if it won an award and came out oh so long ago in JANUARY. Must go review it now.

    Why would “Good Masters” be a long shot? It doesn’t fall neatly into a category, but I think that just aids it in terms of the Newbery where, in other awards, it would be a problem. And you have to admit, everyone who reads it LOVES it. “Mysterious Edge” is fine reading but, as a fellow librarian told me the other day “it’s not a children’s book”. That puppy was written with adults in mind and that is it. By the way, if “Fred Stays With Me” won a Caldecott I could die a happy woman. I adored that book (and made the mistake of reviewing it LAST year).

  14. I know there’s been lots of fuss over “Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County” – that could be a possibility. And I will readily admit everyone who reads “Good Master” loves it, but I also fear that it may be a bit highbrow and lack wide appeal…which would probably make it the perfect award recipient. I love “Fred Stays With Me” but I’m not optimistic about its chances – it would be very easy for it to fly under the radar and be vastly underrated. Everyone keeps mentioning “Hugo Cabret” but I don’t think it can win. It doesn’t stand alone on its text and it doesn’t stand alone on its illustrations. But I would still be ecstatic to see it win something – it’s brilliant.

  15. There is no award currently in existence that can go to “Hugo Cabret”. The Horn Book-Globe Award was probably the closest it could get, but that’s it. For a while I thought maybe it would have a chance at the Caldecott, but I’ve since been informed that this cannot be the case. Ah well. I’m ashamed to have forgotten “Chicken-Chasing Queen” since that was one of my favorite books at the beginning of the year. By all means that should win!

  16. caldecott; wait till you see Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose, the Dillons

  17. BRIAN FAHEY says:

    I just finished “Feathers” and I think it’s outstanding. Jacqueline Woodson weaves together the stories and perspectives of several characters, and they all come to life brilliantly. It’s a fine study in relationships, prejudice, faith, and love. An unusual and original story that’s definitely worthy of Newbery consideration.