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What to Watch for in 2018….Plus a Reader’s Poll

For this last reboundpost of the season, we’re looking ahead to next year’s Heavy Medal.  Some book possibilities are listed below, but we’re also interested in getting some feedback about this blog.  If you have a few minutes to share what you think, it will help us plan for next year.   We have a quick poll here and would love your suggestions and comments.

Heavy Medal won’t return until September 2018, but the books will keep coming.  Between now and then we plan to do a monthly Title Update post…no discussion, just a chance for you readers to let us know what’s on your radar and what you hope will be considered for discussion later in the fall.  Look for those around the first of each month, starting in March.

For now, here’s a handful of titles that look like they should be worth keeping an eye out for.  I’ve only read a few of the books  below so far, but the rest are ones that I’m especially eager to read.  What else should we all be on the lookout for?  

THE HAZEL WOOD  by Melissa Albert  (January)
Multiple starred reviews already, plus a bunch of holds at my library  PW calls it “a tantalizing tale of secret histories and magic.” I liked it less than others, and it could be too old for Newbery,  but I can see its strengths and appeal.

THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE  by Christopher Paul Curtis (January)
The Newbery Medal and two-time Honor winner’s latest involves the pursuit of a runaway slave.  A thought-provoking book from a master storyteller” according to SLJ.  

LOVE  by Matt de la Pena & Loren Long  (January)
A new picture book by the last author to win a Newbery for a picture book.  Kirkus says:  “Timely, timeless, and utterly necessary.”

A SKY FULL OF STARS by Linda Williams Jackson (January)
Sequel to Midnight without a Moon, her debut novel that we discussed on Heavy Medal.  Horn Book: “ an insightful historical novel.”

CHASING KING’S KILLER  by James L. Swanson  (January)
Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (2009) was excellent, but ineligible for Newbery because it was adapted from an adult book.  This one’s all new, though.  Kirkus calls it:  “page-turning nonfiction that captures the tenor of the times with meticulous research and a trove of photographs.”  I just finished this one and liked it a lot. 

THE BOOK OF BOY  by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (February)
A medieval adventure with a pilgrim, a hunchback boy, and some very cool plot twists.  Kirkus says:  “filled with charismatic characters, daring deeds, and more sinister duplicity than a certain serpent in the Garden of Eden.”  I just finished it and it’s my early favorite.

BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE  by Brian Selznick & David Serlin  (February)
PW describes it as “A nearly 200-page chapter book for emerging readers.”  Kirkus says the authors “reinvent” the early reader.  And it’s Brian Selznick.  So yes, we need to see this.

The Newbery Honor winning poet presents a biography of a 17th century German naturalist.  Booklist: “A vibrant, wonderfully rounded biography.”

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES  by Peter Brown  (March)
Sequel to an excellent and popular 2016 novel.  Booklist calls it a  “stellar sequel.”

Elliott’s Bull was one of my 2017 favorites, but too mature for Newbery according to most.  This one’s has poetry about prehistoric life in picture book format, so we should be okay with age level (but could still face a words/pictures debate).  Kirkus:  “infused with humor and wonder.”

THE PARKER INHERITANCE  by Varian Johnson  (March)
Historical fiction mixed with mystery and modern times, by the author of The Great Greene Heist.  SLJ:  “Part historical fiction, part critical problem-solving exercise, part suspenseful mystery.”

REBOUND  by Kwame Alexander  (April)
A prequel about the father of the twins from The Crossover, which won the 2015 Newbery Medal.

YOU GO FIRST  by Erin Entrada Kelly  (April)
Friendship, problems, and online Scrabble, by the Newbery winning author of Hello, Universe SLJ calls this one: “Heartfelt and hopeful.”

SUNNY  by Jason Reynolds  (April)
The third book in the “Track” series.  The author just won a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Long Way Down.  Patina was a long list finalist in last year’s Heavy Medal.

THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST  by Jeanne Birdsall  (May)
The fifth, and it sounds like the last, book in a consistently excellent series.

ON THE COME UP  by Angie Thomas  (June)
The Hate U Give was a short list finalist on Heavy Medal, and just won several awards:  William Morris Award, Odyssey Award (audiobook), Printz Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor.  This isn’t a sequel, but takes place in the same neighborhood.

ECHO’S SISTER by Paul Mosier (August)
Mosier’s debut novel Train I Ride had some strong support on Heavy Medal, so his second book should be worth looking at.

THE DREAM OF AMERICA  by Jacqueline Woodson (August)
The first middle grade novel in six years by four time Newbery Honor winner and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Plus she just won the Wilder Award!

Have you read any of these?  What else are you looking forward to?

Steven Engelfried About Steven Engelfried

Steven Engelfried is the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at


  1. Great titles. I also like Betty Before X and The true story of Mason Buttle.

  2. And Martin Rising by A. Pinkney.

  3. I picked up INK by Alice Broadway based purely on the beautiful cover. It immediately sucked me in. I didn’t buy it that day so I haven’t read it yet and I have no idea if it’s even Newbury appropriate, but I have a feeling about this one.

  4. I think this is Jason Reynolds’ first Honor…

  5. JUST LIKE JACKIE by Lindsey Stoddard is getting some buzz on Goodreads. I’m personally curious about BOB since its written by two powerhouses (Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass).

  6. Glad the blog is continuing. Was worried after the Someday My Printz Will Come announcement.

  7. Karyn Silverman says:

    I LOVED The Hazel Wood. I have some minor quibbles about the resolution, but it builds beautifully. However, it’s high YA — I would put it at 14 & up if I were reviewing it formally. It should be on any Printz speculation list but I’d say not Newbery.

  8. Cory Eckert says:

    Just a note that Varian Johnson’s (truly wonderful) book is The Great Greene HEIST, not Conspiracy.

  9. I just finished THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER. Super fun, it made me want to read the Prydrain Chronicles again, although it is historical adventure not fantasy, but it is a fun road trip book.

  10. I’m about to start Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai. I have heard some buzz about it!

  11. Just want to pop back on here and wave goodbye to a wonderful Heavy Medal season! Thank you all who have commented, voted, followed and read the posts and comments. This has been an enriching experience. I look forward to continue engaging with everyone! (And right now, I am reading/listening to books not eligible for the 2019 Newbery as guilty pleasures!) What are you reading that is NOT a 2018 Children’s Book?

    I’m listening (and reading simultaneously) to Words of Radiance, the 2nd Stormlight Archive installment by Sanderson. I also just started The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan. It’s probably too upper YA for 2019 Newbery.

    • I have access to a slew of new 2018 books currently so I’m going to read those first but then, I’m taking a break and reading THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE, SPLENDORS AND GLOOM, and some Newbery Medal winners from the 1930s.

    • Oh, and I’m going to read CODE NAME VERITY at some point this year. After reading THE PEARL THIEF this year, I decided I must read VERITY.

      • I’m jealous you get to read Verity for the first time. Of course, you will immediately reread it after you finish, so allow time.

      • I agree with DaNae. Get ready to feel the cold hard slap of surprise with this book. It’s ingeniously constructed.

    • I’m going to finish the last two in THE LOCKHART & CO. series, In the midst of the fourth one now and I forgot how much I love this cast. I want to reread all the PENDERWICKS in anticipation of the final book, I reread them last year to fight off depression after the election, and I will return every-time I need light in my life. And I’m super ready to reread all of PRYDAIN and THE DARK IS RISING series.

      • Steven Engelfried says:

        DaNae, I reread PRYDAIN about every five years or so….unfortunately I just did it last year, listening this time. The audiobooks are excellent (mostly: I just can’t stand Glew’s voice….I know he’s supposed to be irritating, but it’s just too much to listen to). But it”s been a long time since I read THE DARK IS RISING….

      • As often as I do audios, I’ve never listened to Prydain. My problem is I have my own way of pronouncing the names. My dyslexia does not make me good at phonics, when I discovered the pronunciation guide in the newer versions of the books, I was sure they’d gotten Gurgi’s name wrong. I always gave the second G the ‘gee’ sound. Also Taran just has the wrong accent, somewhere in those vowels. I don’t like being told I’ve been addressing my own son, the pig-keeper namesake, incorrectly his whole life.

        Joe as never read either series, so I’m going to stalk him on Goodreads when he begins so I have someone to gloat with.

    • Eric Carpenter says:

      I am hoping to take some time this spring (after finishing THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE, and the final Penderwicks book) to reread Stroud’s Bartimaeus Sequence before getting fully invested 2019 contenders.

  12. I started Octavian Butler’s Kindred as an audio book and now am going to continue it with the graphic novel.

  13. Thanks for including A Sky Full of Stars on your list. So far, I’ve read this book, Mason Buttle, Just Like Jackie and Little Charlie and this is my favorite so far.

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