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The uncorrected version of the 2012 Notables list is now up here

The Notables list is considered a gathering of “the best of the best” of the year:

“”notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.”

I always look to this list to gather books that we’ve recognized stand out …often on their OWN terms, rather than on any of set of particular award criteria. And here are some of our unmedaled favorites…that nonfiction triumvirate of AMELIA LOST, BLIZZARD and BOOTLEG…. My own fav in the “overlooked by medals” category: SWIRL BY SWIRL… and still others not there at all, perhaps because they don’t stand out enough. The Notables list is, still, done by committee. And I can be my own champion, in my own library, for MO WREN.

What are you delighted to see on this list? What do you miss?

Nina Lindsay About Nina Lindsay

Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at


  1. Glad to see JEFFERSON”S SONS get recognized on this list. It certainly generated lots of discussion within this group and had lots of ardent support for its ambitious effort to explore an interesting and difficult subject.

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Several points . . .

    1. ALSC awards automatically make the Notables list; non-ALSC awards such as CSK or Printz do not. So books like HEART AND SOUL and THE SCORPIO RACES make the list on their own merits and not by virtue of an automatic spot.

    2. Books have to go through a voting process to be on the Notables discussion list. Two titles that were curiously absent from the discussion list are A BALL FOR DAISY and BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE. Again, it’s not necessarily that these books were not read by the committee (or loved); they simply didn’t pick up enough votes to make it on the discussion list. The Notables committee does a different kind of reading than Newbery or Caldecott. They have to read widely in both of those fields and do not have the luxury of numerous rereadings. Anybody who sat in on the Notables discussion admired the intelligence and insight of the committee members. If something can slip under their radar . . . well, it’s one of the things that’s made me give up predictions.

    3. Notice all the “old” books that made the list, namely ANYA’S GHOST, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, THE SCORPIO RACES, and QUEEN OF HEARTS. Now ANYA’S GHOST is a graphic novel and Martha Brooks is Canadian, but if BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and THE SCORPIO RACES were not too old for Notables, they they also may not have been too old for the Newbery.

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m not at all surprised to see JEFFERSON’S SONS on the list, and I won’t be surprised to see it make Best Fiction For Young Adults either. I didn’t have a problem with the starred reviews or best of the year lists, but I did think it fell short of Newbery standards. I’ve been pairing it in my booktalks with THE FREEDOM MAZE, highlighting the unusual angle of “white” slaves in both, the particular paradox of how those children were both legally white and legally slaves.

  4. Elle Librarian says:

    I, too, was glad to see the love for JEFFERSON’S SONS. One title that I still wish had garnered a little more spotlight is WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE.

  5. I was disappointed that Breadcrumbs was missing, of course. I never thought it deserved the medal, but I thought it was at least notable.

    Interesting that no one, anywhere, honored The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I wish I knew whether it had to do with the merits of the book, eligibility, or just not knowing what to make of the thing. Anyway, I love it.

    And I’m with you, Nina, on Swirl by Swirl. A gorgeous book. Glad it’s Notable.

  6. Ouch! A lot of my favorite middle-grade novels are not on the list — MO WREN, but also BREADCRUMBS and THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE. Ah, well . . . I know I’ll still be recommending them for a long time, lists and awards or no.

  7. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Best Fiction for Young Adults is currently up–

    –but still waiting for the nominations for the Nonfiction Award.

  8. I was in the middle of compiling the thrills I found on the list when our computers went down for the day. For what its worth I was happy to see:

    DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONES WILL GROW? This filled a curriculum need for my Kindergartners, who study the difference between the things that are alive and things that are not.

    WHERE’S WALRUS – which won our school wide Mock Caldecott

    THE UNFORGOTTEN COAT & FLYAWAY & TALL TALES – loves from foreign lands

    And just because they are wonderful:


    And of course Heavy Medal’s own:


    Now I’m off to do some more ordering.

  9. SWIRL BY SWIRL is there — the very last book listed in the “All Ages” category.

  10. Oops. I see now you were both delighting that it WAS there. (You can delete my earlier comment and this one if you want!)

  11. Jonathan, you said A BALL FOR DAISY was absent from the list but I’m seeing it there on the list . . . am I missing something?

  12. I also see BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE . . . Am I not looking at the right list?

  13. Jonathan Hunt says:

    All ALSC award winners make the final list which is now posted. But those two titles were absent from the discussion list (which is generally posted before Midwinter and taken down just after). I don’t want to read too much into that fact except to point out that the only group of people who read as widely as the Newbery and Caldecott committees is the Notables committee (although even so Notables does not have the luxury of multiple reads). It just goes to prove how fruitless predictions really are–and one of the reasons our mock discussions focus on simulation rather than prediction.

  14. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m still not sure that I was clear. The discussion list is what the Notables committee discusses during their meetings. The final list is those which made the cut either because of a vote or because of winning an ALSC award.

  15. I gotcha now. Thanks. It is interesting that neither were there earlier, but like you said, not worth dwelling on.

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