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Predict-o-rama Revisited


So many possibilities.  Who would you want to hear?  I think the appeal of an author or illustrator is really sexy, but oftentimes I think the editors give even better speeches, and librarians . . . If K.T. Horning’s speech was anything like her CLNE lectures!

It seems obligatory that if you’ve won two Newbery Medals then you give the Arbuthnot so it’s somewhat surprising that Lois Lowry has not been selected before.  But what’s this?  Katherine Paterson has given the lecture, but not E.L. Konigsburg–and she’s a great speaker!  Oh, wow.  There’s my Arbuthnot prediction for next year!  Anyway, Lowry is a great choice.  What are the odds we can get her to come to *ahem* Modesto? 

I’d sure love to see STITCHES by David Small here.  Ditto for THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman. 

Yay, STITCHES!  THE MAGICIANS did make the list.  And a friend of a friend wrote SOULLESS, a steampunky, Victorianish book with vampires and werewolves.  So, yay genre fiction!

I’m guessing A FARAWAY ISLAND takes the Award with HEARTSINGER as an Honor book.

I hadn’t read either of these, but when I read somewhere that A FARAWAY ISLAND is like ANNE OF GREEN GABLES meets NUMBER THE STARS . . . well, it’s sort of a no-brainer, isn’t it?  And it made Horn Book Fanfare.  I think HEARTSINGER was probably too YA.

What’s the pattern?  THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA, THE SURRENDER TREE, and  . . . TROPICAL SECRETS?   I don’t think so.  I think the pattern is that this committee reaches to the very top of its range to find the best book, and this year that is MARCELO AND THE REAL WORLD.   If they don’t reach that high then I think it goes to LEAVING GLORYTOWN.  But you can have TROPICAL SECRETS as an Honor book, okay?

I just completely missed the boat on these.  First, by neglecting to mention the Illustrator Award, and then by guessing nearly everything wrong.  On further reflection, I should have guessed DIEGO because I reviewed it for Horn Book, and I should have known better about MARCELO.  Not only is it old, but I’m not sure it illuminates the Latino cultural experience as well as other books might have.  

More than any other award, the Caldecott always seems like a complete crapshoot.  That said, I think THE LION & THE MOUSE takes the Medal with ALL THE WORLD as an Honor book.  I also think MOONSHOT, HIGHER! HIGHER!, and RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS stand excellent chances as Honor books.  And dare I hope for a trio of personal favorites–THE DUNDERHEADS, ONCE UPON A TWICE, and HOOK?

We’re all patting ourselves on the back for calling THE LION & THE MOUSE and ALL THE WORLD, but I got RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS, too!

Does anybody care about this award?  Something produced by Weston Woods . . . When I was on this committee we gave it to KNUFFLE BUNNY which was co-produced by Mo Willems.

DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS is an awesome choice and I’m going to bestow my imaginary Carnegie Honor on KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO.

I think THE ROCK AND THE RIVER takes the Author Award with SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM and BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS as honor books.  I’m also fond of RIOT, DOPE SICK, JUMPED, MOTHER POEMS, and PEACE, LOCOMOTION and some of those could honor.  As for the Illustrator award, I’m going with THE NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS with honor citations for MY PEOPLE, BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS, and LOOKING LIKE ME.

I got many of the books right, just in the wrong places.  THE ROCK AND THE RIVER takes the Steptoe.  And my Illustrator picks are flipped with MY PEOPLE taking the Award and THE NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS taking the Honor.  It’s a Langston Hughes sweep!

Mo Willems has owned this category for the past two years and while I expect to see an Elephant & Piggie book (WATCH ME THROW THE BALL, PIGS MAKE ME SNEEZE, ELEPHANTS CANNOT DANCE) among the Honor books.  I think something else takes the Medal.  For me, that something would be YUMMY by Lucy Cousins; even though it exceeds the page counts specified for this award, I think it completely fits the spirit of the award.  I’m also quite fond of BIRDS, MILLY & BILLY: SHORT AND SILLY, and RHYMING DUST BUNNIES.  While I like the TOON books, I don’t think LITTLE MOUSE GETS READY or LUKE ON THE LOOSE make the grade this year.  But what about THE DUNDERHEADS?  Or MOONSHOT?  Not what you typically think of when you think Geisel, but maybe, please . . . 

I did sort of want this to be a safety net for THE DUNDERHEADS and MOONSHOT, but I knew in my heart that it wouldn’t happen.  My picks were all way off here.  I notice, in retrospect, that I gravitated toward easy reader picture books while the committee favored easy reader chapter books.  The absence of Mo Willems is puzzling, but I think having three books may have split the Mo Willems supporters, but have no fear: a new easy reader series debuts this year and Willems will sit on the Geisel throne in the near future.

It’s hard to go wrong with this award because there are so many deserving possibilities. 

Woo-hoo!  Awesome choice in Jim Murphy.

I’ll go out on a limb with a prediction of HOLD STILL, but I don’t feel very confident with that pick as I also liked ASH, too.  I love the shortlist format employed by the Morris and YALSA Nonfiction Awards.  Nice contrast to all the other ALA Awards.

I’ve got three of these books, but only read the two I mentioned.  The third is–you guessed it–FLASH BURNOUT.  It’s been moved to the top of the pile.

I think WHEN YOU REACH ME takes the Medal, but CLAUDETTE COLVIN would be my pick.  THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, and WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON are good bets for Honor books.  It’s interesting to note that the latter titles got three starred reviews, but didn’t make any best of the year lists, yet has been showing up repeatedly in mock Newbery results.  My darkhorse picks would be HEART OF A SHEPHERD, THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM, and . . . THE DUNDERHEADS!

Another one we’re all patting ourselves on the back for guessing right, but I got three of the honor books, too!  HOMER FIGG is the idiosyncratic choice here.  It got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, I think, but nothing more.  I’ve tried it several times, but just have never been that into it, and when Nina pooh-poohed it, I took it out of the to-be-read pile.  I can see that the voice is a strength of the book, and I did have several students that really enjoyed it, however.  It’s out with one now, so I’m going to have to wait my turn.

With my teacher/librarian hat on, I really appreciate that all of these books are going to find a readership among young people and that, moreover, they all have a genuine juvenile sensibility with MOUNTAIN skewing on the young side of juvenile and CLAUDETTE on the old side.  I think these choices are going to be really popular with the general reading public.  With my critic hat on, I don’t believe that four of the five best books for children are middle grade novels.  Nope.

MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD was the Booklist Top of the List, but I’ve only listened to Brilliance audio titles, and think several of them stand a good chance.  I was pleased to see they did audiobooks for ALMOST ASTRONAUTS and CLAUDETTE COLVIN.  Did anybody do one for CHARLES AND EMMA?  I think that would make a killer audiobook!

Well, I knew Brilliance would be there, and I suspected nonfiction would be in the mix, and I was right on both counts, even if I didn’t get the exact books right.

I think MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD takes the Printz, but CHARLES AND EMMA would be my pick.  I’d like to see some fantasy among the honor books: FIRE, LIPS TOUCH, and THE LOST CONSPIRACY.  While I dearly love the latter title, I think it comes off as too juvenile for the Printz, but I’d love to be surprised.  So another prediction: Americans sweep the Printz.  

MARCELO was the frontrunner, but for the past several years the frontrunner has been passed over (although some did get Printz Honors), so it’s not as shocking as if, say, WHEN YOU REACH ME or THE LION & THE MOUSE had not won.  I asked for fantasy and I got it.  Of course, GOING BOVINE isn’t a fantasy proper, but it has fantasy elements.  THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST is a genre book through and through.  I haven’t read it yet, but THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALRED KROPP and its sequels are great read-alikes for your Rick Riordan fans, and if this is anything like those, then it should have enormous teen appeal.  I’m a big fan of TALES OF THE MADMAN UNDERGROUND, but like GOING BOVINE, it seems to inspire a love-hate reaction.  

I have no idea.  Too many good books.  Such a competitive field.  I will say that I hope the winner is not a picture book even though I would like to see several recognized as honor books and I will also say that I would prefer to see more honor books rather than fewer, but I’m not holding my breath.  Remember the last truly great nonfiction year was 2006 when SECRETS OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE won with HITLER YOUTH as the lone honor book . . .

I could have seen a dozen books winning outright which is why I refused to make a prediction here.  ALMOST ASTRONAUTS has taken a beating on this blog in recent weeks, so this is something of a surprise.  I also predicted a mix of picture books and longer books.  I do miss MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, TRUCE, and THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM here, but I do know the Sibert can’t have eight honor books.

I would also like to point out that the Sibert committee has no problem routinely including picture books among the winners.  So when we discuss picture books and fiction in Newbery terms and we say that picture books just can’t compete, then why do they do so well in the Sibert field?

Does anybody care about this one?  Okay, maybe some of you do.  I’m going to guess MARCELO for the teen category, ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS for the middle grade category, and I’m completely clueless about the picture book category.  Suggestions?

I bestow imaginary Schneider Honors on THE BROTHERS STORY, ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS, and AL CAPONE SHINES MY SHOES.  Liz Burns has started a discussion on this award with future posts planned as well.

The child in me is screaming for Susan Cooper, the adult, Mildred Taylor.

Oops.  I jumped the gun as this one is handed out next year.  But it’s never too early to start lobbying, right?

While I think any of these would make a fine winner, I think it probably comes down to either CHARLES AND EMMA and CLAUDETTE COLVIN.  I’m currently leaning toward CHARLES AND EMMA, but only just.

Awesome.  I’m just pleased to see so much CHARLES and CLAUDETTE love from so many committees.  Here is the full list of nominees for this award.

Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at


  1. Jonathan Hunt says:

    FYI, Notables have now been posted to the ALSC website.

  2. OK: there’s MARCHING FOR FREEDOM. But still no DUNDERHEADS! Ack. (Was it even on the discussion list? Now I realize I didn’t check….)

  3. Re: Wilder Awards. Can these be awarded posthumously? If so other than being a white male, is there any reason William Steig hasn’t received this award?

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Nina, I don’t think THE DUNDERHEADS was on the discussion list, but I could be wrong.

    Eric, yes, the Wilder can be awarded posthumously and, in fact, James Marshal, the most recent Wiler Medalist, was awarded the Medal posthumously.

  5. Interesting that MOMMY, MAMA, AND ME made the list but DADDY, PAPA, AND ME didn’t.

    And in “books we talked about somewhere on this blog,” I’m glad to see A BOOK and LOST CONSPIRACY.

  6. Also interesting is that the Best Books for Young Adults top 10 list has absolutely no overlap with the Printz winner/honors.

  7. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Both MOMMY, MAMA, AND ME and DADDY, PAPA, AND ME made the Rainbow Project list, however.

    Nice to see THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM, TRUCE, and WRITTEN IN BONE make both Notables and BBYA with the latter being a BBYA Top Ten.

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:

    More observations about Notables and/or BBYA.

    Personal favorites, not Newbery contenders–


    Newbery books that made BBYA–


    Books mentioned here as Newbery that made both Notables and BBYA–


    Books that only made Notables–


    Books that only made BBYA–

    LIPS TOUCH (Top Ten)

  9. Jonathan’s comment about the Sibert (“So when we discuss picture books and fiction in Newbery terms and we say that picture books just can’t compete, then why do they do so well in the Sibert field?) goes back to criteria. Newbery is primarily for text. Sibert goes to author and illustrator and considers visual presentation. Easy to see how Moonshot and The Day-Glo Brothers would do better in Sibert discussions.

  10. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well, it’s easy to see that MOONSHOT and THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS do better in Sibert discussions than in Newbery discussions because of the visual elements, but I don’t think that’s really my question.

    I want to know why MOONSHOT and THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS do better than MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM, TRUCE, and WRITTEN IN BONE–all of which also have striking visual elements, not to mention longer, more complex texts–in the Sibert field. How is is that MOONSHOT and THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS can beat these books?

    And, then, too how is it that BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS, another nonfiction picture book, can beat out MARE’S WAR, a young adult novel, for the Coretta Scott King Author Award. I’m not really criticizing the Sibert or CSK committees, I’m simply wondering how is it that these committees can wrestle with the apples vs. oranges conundrum of comparing short texts and long texts and find them worthy of recognition, while the Newbery committee fails to do so. Don’t you find that odd?

  11. I still think it’s criteria when it comes to Sibert/Newbery. Sibert looks at 100% of Moonshot and 100% of Written in Bone; Newbery looks at 100% of When You Reach Me but only 50% of Moonshot. Like comparing a whole apple to half an orange. The CSK point is good. It’s a writer’s award and they did decide that the shorter text was better. Personally I thought Mare’s War was average writing though, compared to this year’s Newbery novels, so more beatable by a top notch picturebook text like Bad News.

  12. Jonathan Hunt says:

    You seem to be implying that it’s the pictures that hold the picture books back, that if we could publish the text of THE DUNDERHEADS or MOONSHOT, for example, so that they were 100% of the book, then they would fare better against the novels for Newbery consideration, and I do not think that is true.

    But, for the sake of discussion, let us abandon the Newbery side of the equation for the moment, and focus on the Sibert. How is it that THE DAY GLO-BROTHERS and MOONSHOT can beat WRITTEN IN BONE, THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM, MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, and TRUCE? How!

  13. Jonathan Hunt says:

    As for the CSK, would you consider THE ROCK AND THE RIVER inferior to BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS? The committee could have chosen THE ROCK AND THE RIVER as the winning book with BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS as the honor and MARE’S WAR as the new talent award (as I think the John Steptoe can go to an author for their first or second book–not sure, but I’d have to check).

  14. Johnathan — Any thoughts on WHY only 2 honors in the Caldecott category? There seemed (to me) to be a wealth of Honor contenders this year — so why actually honor so few?

  15. Jonathan Hunt says:

    It all depends on the way the votes shake out. This is a completely fictitious scenario, but let’s say here’s how the other books stand for the Honor books.

    ALL THE WORLD (28 points)
    MOONSHOT (16 points)
    HIGHER! HIGHER! (15 points)
    THE DUNDERHEADS (14 points)
    THE CURIOUS GARDEN (14 points)

    You’ve got a choice between two honor books or six honor books. Most committees are going to go with two. It all depends on point spreads and the number of books involved.


  1. […] Hunt, Jonathan. “Predict-o-rama Revisited.” Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog. School Library Journal, January 20, 2010. […]

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