I know some of you just hate it when award talk starts too early. And certainly ten months before the awards in question. . . well that’s the very definition of early, is it not? But I’ve been doing these for three years now and I rather enjoy them. This is also the first year where I’ve been one-upped. Heavy Medal already came up with a pretty complete list of potential Newbery titles to keep an eye on.
With that in mind, I’ve little faith in my own prediction abilities. Note the following statistics (and read the comments on the posts for a lot of extra fun):
2011 spring predictions: ???
Folks, I need to level with you. I’m just not feeling the love this year. As far as I can determine, there are a lot of books out there that are perfectly good, but only a few have I been able to find that carry with them the whiff of potential awards. That’s okay. It’s just springtime. Things don’t perk up until at least halfway through. Still and all, this will be a relatively short prediction list this year. With the full knowledge that I haven’t read everything out there this season:
2012 Newbery Predictions
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall – I have a good feeling about this, folks. A good feeling. Sequels, you will find, often win Newbery Awards and Honors long after their preceding novels have earned nothing at all. With that in mind, and knowing as we do that Ms. Birdsall gets better with every subsequent Penderwick book, if there’s going to be a year to hand something to Ms. Birdsall why not make that year 2012? Sure the first Penderwick novel won a National Book Award, but come on! I want a different breed of shiny sticker on these here books. It will, of course, rely on a committee that is inclined to notice how difficult this seemingly simple novel was to write. But if any title is distinguished this year, this one is.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming – I’ve dipped into a couple nonfiction titles this year and enjoyed what I’ve found. However, far and away and above, this has been the best. It’s not enough merely to have great content and writing. What’s so strong about Fleming’s book is how beautifully it all ties together. The interstitial search for Amelia old between the history of her life sort of raises this above and beyond the rest.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai – This one has a slow burn. You put it down, then find yourself ruminating over it for long periods of time without quite realizing what you’re doing. And while the content almost feels like a How To in Newbery Award writing (verse, immigration, history, girl pushing against the boundaries and conventions of her time and place, etc.) there’s something noteworthy here. This book’s got it, babe. Moxie.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt – I don’t want to go pronouncing what my number one pick of the year is as early as all that, but if I were a betting woman I’d probably tell you straight out that this book is destined for at least an Honor. Of course Mr. Schmidt has had his fair share of Honors already (two, to be precise). With that in mind, this is by far my favorite of anything he’s written. More importantly, I’ve heard that sentiment shared amongst a LOT of people recently. If there is a book with buzz, it is this. Could it be the one that gets him the award proper?
2012 Caldecott Predictions:
The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon – We discussed the eligibility of this title back in January and the general consensus seemed to be that this book could indeed win a Caldecott if the committee felt so swayed. They may indeed be swayed too by this lush new take on an old Newbery Honor title. The Dillons haven’t won a Caldecott anything for a couple years now, so the time may be ripe to honor them yet again. We shall see.
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman – I was a one woman Scribble fanclub member back in 2007 when Freedman’s first picture book came out. Golly I loved that book. Now Freedman is finally FINALLY back, and I’ve already heard some buzz surrounding this, her latest. Consider this your early warning system then.
Perfect Square by Michael Hall – I like to think this has a chance. Any book that invokes this much nostalgia for Lionni has got to at least appear as more than a blip on the Caldecott committee’s radar. The use of color and story and inventiveness . . . well, I’m a fan.
Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg – Nonfiction almost never wins Caldecotts, but if one were to do so then it would have to be this. Van Allsburg is back, baby, and in the finest form we’ve seen in years. Not since 1992’s The Widow’s Broom have I been this excited about one of his books. It’s been a while for me, but this title more than makes up for the wait. Of every picture book I’ve listed, Van Allsburg may have the best chance.
All right! There are my thoughts then. Now I need to hear yours. What have you seen this year that you’re really really excited about? Give me some recommendations so that I know what to read next!