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Newbery Home Stretch: Pre-Announcement Predictions!

YMAsNewbery season is in its final week! On Heavy Medal, we’ll continue discussion of the Heavy Medal Finalists through Wednesday. Then the Heavy Medal Award Committee will submit ballots and the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Winner will be announced towards the end of the week.  Heavy Medal readers will also have a chance to vote for your top choices from our 18 finalists in a separate general poll.

Meanwhile, the real Newbery Committee meets this Friday and Saturday, and, depending on how their ballots go, possibly past midnight and into Sunday morning. Once their vote is final, they will keep absolutely silent about the results, which will not be announced until Monday morning. The only people who learn the result outside the committee of 15 are selected ALA staff, who need to produce the press packet and slide show  for the big Monday morning announcement. During my year as Chair, I vividly remember walking several blocks from my hotel on Sunday to the ALA office carrying a copy of each of the honored books in a nondescript bag, knowing that the seals we had placed on those four books were about to have huge impacts on the lives of their creators and on countless readers once the secret was revealed. And only the 15 of us knew…at least for a while.

The winning authors are notified early Monday morning. Here’s a video of last year’s committee notifying Erin Entrada Kelly that she won the 2018 Newbery Medal.  The public announcement of the Youth Media Awards begins at 8:00 am PST. Many ALA awards are announced at this time, in a convention center filled with thousands of people. You can watch the ceremonies live via webcast. I haven’t been since the announcement of my last committee (The One and Only Ivan in 2013), so I’m excited to be attending this year. The Newbery is typically the last award announced.

With eight days to go, it’s a good time for speculation. Betsy Bird’s annual predictions, which she updates quarterly, are always fun. She recently revealed her final predictions for Newbery and Caldecott on Fuse #8. Our Heavy Medal Mock Election is all about what we think should win. But what do you think will win?

I’ll start:  My prediction (and keep in mind, I’m almost always wrong) is SWEEP:  history, mythology, social issues, and a really engaging protagonist.  Not quite at the top of my personal list, but I would have no problem an all with that choice.   Please share your own predictions in the comments below:



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. Ha. Just published a blog post on my druthers. ( Those aren’t the same as predictions though — just what I’d like to see honored. That said, I agree with you about SWEEP. I also would not be surprised to see THE POET X honored. I see it as completely within the Newbery age range as does, of all sites, Common Sense media — indicating it as 13+, so there you are:)

  2. The two that struck me the most as having Newbery vibes when I read them were GHOST BOYS and BOOK OF BOY.

    I can’t wait until we talk about SWEEP – I don’t read a lot of fantasy/magical realism but it was charming and I could see it rising to the top, Steven.

  3. samuel leopold says:

    Well, since you asked…..and this could change with the ongoing discussions we are having…

    1. The Book of Boy
    2. The Faithful Spy
    3. The Mad Wolf’s Daughter——–and am I the only one who loves this title?

    • I did love Mad Wolf’s Daughter, but I think it’s too much of a “first in a series” book to take home the award. There was a lot of setup and a lot of loose ends – which makes sense in the context of the series, but will be a hard sell for the Newbery. I’m looking forward to the next book.

      • samuel leopold says:

        thanks for the reply

      • I loved it, too! As did several of my students, and one of my coworkers. I agree, I can see it being a hard sell for the Newbery, but I’ll keep on dreaming.

    • samuel leopold says:

      FYI……my three listed were the ones I would like to see win……..

      With our HMNC discussions I am beginning to formulate an opinion on which 3 books should/will win.
      None of the three on that list are on my list above. I will wait until we vote as a committee next week to express that viewpoint.

    • I also loved Mad Wolf’s Daughter.

    • I loved it too!

  4. I am really unsure what would win. I think Sweep is strong. Louisiana’s Way Home could sustain really close look — the language alone is rich enough, and the symbolism, and the style, and the underlying themes. I’d love to see Poet X at least garner an honor and also perhaps Journey of Little Charlie: still think Curtis’ writing is skillfully intentional.

  5. Kate Todd says:

    Mad Dog’s Daughter was one of my top 5 favorites this year. But I would be very surprised if it won the Newbery.
    There are so many wonderful books and I am a little sad that they can’t all win.
    My prediction is slightly off-radar: MARCUS VEGA DOESN’T SPEAK SPANISH by Pablo Cartaya.

  6. I’ll be disappointed if The Journey of Little Charlie doesn’t get at least an honor–for me, that was the top writing of the year (but I haven’t yet read all of the ones you all are discussing here).
    I’d also like to see Hey Kiddo recognized.

    I liked Mad Wolf’s Daughter quite a bit, but not at the award level. And I can’t get kids to check it out because of the cover.

    • That’s so interesting about mad wolf and the cover—do you know why it turns them off?

      • I can’t speak for the kids, but I think it’s a young-looking cover (my kids are 5th and 6th grade) and also I think a huge face is just not appealing to them. The cover doesn’t really convey the tone of the actual book, in my opinion. It’s an amazing adventure story, and a huge face doesn’t say “amazing adventure story” to me.

      • Have you seen the original cover? ( I think it gives the feel better. Here’s the explanation of the change: Maybe this is one of those times when the marketing people out-thought themselves!

      • You are so right about the first cover being better. I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes the new one unappealing, but it really does not do the book justice. I adored this book. It hit all the right notes for me, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, but I just don’t see it for Newbery.

  7. Since you asked: SWEEP

    And let me tell you why, I’ve read it three times, each time it gets stronger. For me, as harsh as some of the moments are to experience, it is imbued with so much passion for the characters acting out its story. I have a Harry Potter level of love for these people. Did I mention that I’m attempting to get all one hundred Newbery winners read by 2022, (27 to go). Some of them are a punishment to get through, some are glorious. In another hundred years, should Sweep be honored this year, a reader slogging through the 200 previous winners, will sing the praises of the committee who honored SWEEP. Like THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, THE MIXED UP FILES, MANIAC MAGEE, ROLL OF THUNDER and CHARLOTTE’S WEB (oops, see what I did there?) Sweep’s themes will resonate over the decades.

    I feel a little like I’m cheating talking before the title drops, but we vote the same day Sweep is open for discussion, so I’m sending out a trailer.

    • I counted how many Newbery winners I’ve read and I’ve also read 73. I keep putting off reading THE STORY OF MANKIND because even the size of the text in my copy is daunting. It is so small.

      • Sue, Joe and I have plans to read in tandem. If you want commiseration company feel free to join us. I think I will put it off for at least one more year.

    • DaNae, I would like to join you and Joe when you read in tandem. Please let me know when you decide to begin. Meanwhile I’ll work on the other books on my TBR list. Thank you!

  8. samuel leopold says:

    I have about 8 titles that are on my “to vote for” list….and the order of them keeps changing every time I sit down to consider my top three.

    Usually I have my top three chosen by now—but, in my opinion, this has been a very strong year!

  9. So… I totally think a “novel” will win because this feels like such a strong year. LITTLE CHARLIE jumps to mind. LOUISIANA does too. Perennial Newbery authors at the top of their game. I could see consensus build around those two titles easily.

    The last few years have produced some diverse titles (authors, cast of characters, and genres) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that continued in the Honors (a graphic novel, a picture book, etc.). Maybe GHOST BOYS, FRONT DESK, HEY KIDDO, CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR, STYX MALONE, and MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS.


    • Deborah Ford says:

      Mason Buttle. Loved it so much. Maybe it could also get a Schneider?? I also loved Just Like Jackie and Granted. And Bob.

  10. Sweep, The Book of Boy, and Mason Buttle. Not all my favorites, but I think they’re strong contenders.

  11. Leonard Kim says:

    I can’t even predict out what the Mock Committee is going to do, let alone the Real Committee.

    But I agree with what most people have been predicting and wouldn’t be surprised by them, even POET X.

    But since this is only fun if you’re going to be spectacularly wrong, I will predict that heavy-hitters LOUISIANA and LITTLE CHARLIE will *not* win anything (though obviously it will be unsurprising if they do) and as far as non-frontrunner books that haven’t been mentioned yet, my predictions are DAY YOU BEGIN and FINDING LANGSTON (which won the Scott O’Dell.)

    A book that hasn’t been predicted that I would personally love to see and isn’t completely impossible (wishful thinking?) is CARDBOARD KINGDOM.

    • I’d love to see Cardboard Kingdom get something on the Caldecott side since I loved it but it’s so visual.

    • Cardboard Kingdom wins the prize for “book I gave as a gift most often this holiday season.” I just kept thinking of kids who would love it!

  12. I’m with Betsy. STYX MALONE for the win!

    I’ll guess that HEY KIDDO, SWEEP, and LITTLE CHARLIE will get honors.

  13. I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know (ad nauseam)

    I don’t even know how we HMACers are going to narrow it down.

    I’m angsting this year. So many amazing books. So. Many.

  14. I’m going to go with the heavy hitters. I would like SWEEP to win and honors to LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME and LITTLE CHARLIE. I don’t think SMALL SPACES will receive an honor, but I would love it if it did. It was delightfully creepy. My students agree.

  15. Molly Sloan says:

    I facilitate a Newbery Club at my school with 5th and 6th graders as well as an adult version with teachers and administrators in my school.
    Portland Jewish Academy kids chose: The Season of Styx Malone for our winner and Rebound as our honor.
    The Portland Jewish Academy Adults chose: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge as our winner with The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle as our honor.
    My personal predictions are: The Assasination of Brangwain Spurge, Sweep, Mason Buttle and Journey of Little Charlie.

  16. Kate McCue-Day says:

    I’m sticking with Front Desk for the win! I really want it to win, but I am almost always wrong. I hope I didn’t just jinx it. It’s also a book every student that has read it loves, that doesn’t happen ofter. However, what I think will win gold usually gets a silver.

  17. Jenn Hartley says:

    The teens in my library’s Mock Newbery picked GHOST BOYS for the win. Their honor books were BABY MONKEY PRIVATE EYE, BLENDED, FRONT DESK, and THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL.

    I would like to see THE PARKER INHERITANCE, FRONT DESK, GHOST BOYS, and/or POET X win or honor.

  18. sarahbtlibrarian says:

    I’m personally pulling for SWEEP. It is so incredibly well written, has lines I want to pull out and remember and quote and it’s just overall beautiful. When I was on Caldecott, our chair told us at the start to think of the books that haunted us. I think SWEEP fits in that category for me as I keep thinking of it and parts of that story have stuck with me.

    I also would love to see HEY KIDDO get some love as well.

    I feel like this is yet another one of those years where there are so many books that could rise to the top I will be surprised by whatever wins!

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