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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery/Caldecott 2010!

Let me see… what were the exact words of a faithful reader when I did this about a year ago?  Ah yes, here we go.  One person said:

"Let’s stick with just enjoying the stories and pictures for a little while longer before beginning to polish the medals."

Well put.  Another lamented:

"Are you kidding me? Is this what it’s all about? Or is there some attempt here to start altering the river’s course? Let it flow a while. Let’s just enjoy the stories as Mole rows our boat down this lovely river, wherever it might lead us."

Ach, ye puir wee babes.  But since this reader invoked Wind in the Willows, let me follow this metaphor to its natural end.  You can be Ratty and Mole if you like.  I, on the other hand, will play the part of Toad with a boundless amount of ill-begotten enthusiasm.  The time has come, ladies and gents!!!   Last March I mentioned the books I had read that I thought were particularly good and I can see now that [takes a gander] NONE of them won a Newbery, award, honor, or otherwise.  I did a bit better in the Caldecott arena, predicting at least that How I Learned Geography might get something.

So if you hate the idea of predicting award winners a good 9 months ahead of time, consider this instead to be a list of books I just happen to think are really really remarkable, with definite award-winning potential.  For those of you who worry that I’m attempting to "alter the river’s course", so to speak, I think my lamentable track record speaks for itself.  And we’re off!

Newbery Predictions (Spring Edition!)

I am only including the books that I have read.  There are a couple non-fiction titles out there that I think have a strong shot, but until I read them I ain’t gonna mention them.  Which leaves:

  • The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick – I’m in the process of reviewing this one right now.  It’s just the right mix of exciting story, great characters, and an elaborate plot that ties everything together beautifully by its end.  I’m a fan.

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly – Finished reading this one yesterday.  Kelly’s working with a strong debut novel here, no question.  Of all the middle grade novels on this list, this is the one with the most buzz around it.  The book that I’ve been asked if I’ve read more than any other.  There’s one plot hole I’d need to discuss with someone before I gave it an unrestrained double thumbs up (can someone tell me why we don’t ever hear what the grandfather said to the odious young lady who made a play for Harry’s heart?).  Just the same, it’s beautifully honed.  A corker of a novel.

  • The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer – The most debatable of the titles I’ve listed here.  Initially I read about four chapters of it five months ago and then failed to get back to it.  When I returned recently I found it to be a pretty charming piece.  It’s not your usual fare, but it’s possible that the quirky writing is just exactly what this year’s Newbery committee is seeking.  Mightily recommended.

  • Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson – Let’s do the math.  If Jacqueline Woodson finally gets a Newbery Award proper and she gets it for this book, how many years in a row will she have won a shiny sticker from ALA?  Answer: Three.  And if it weren’t for the gap in 2007 she could have possibly have gotten it an unprecedented four or five years in a row.  As it stands, I think this book has some legs on it.  Let’s see how far it can run.

Caldecott Predictions (Spring Edition!)

I admittedly haven’t read all of these.  But Caldecott buzz is lots of fun and I’ve picked up on some real favorites amongst the general public.  To wit:

  • Chicken Little by Rebecca and Ed Emberley – Man oh man, I loved this book.  Mr. Emberley already has a lovely little golden beauty for Drummer Hoff (I’m surprised they haven’t done a big fancy reprint of that, what with our current overseas affairs).  This book is utterly wacked, in the best possible sense.  Crazed fowl and funny writing.


  • A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Michael Wertz -As you could probably tell from my review, this book kind of caught me off-guard.  I loved the integration of text and image, and the wild colors as well. 

  • Dinotrux by Chris Gall – Because this man needs to win an award at some point, consarn it.  I mean, the fact that it’s a really fun book helps and all, but that’s just an offshoot of his great pictures as well.  Gall gets a little goofy with this book and I think it suits him.

  • Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young – My Ed Young track record is off, but I thought this was a real stunner.  I’m still haunted by the wall of black water rising above the tiny helpless village.  *shudder*

  • One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Matthew Trueman – This is Trueman’s year!  I can smell it in the wind.  I mean, he’s got such a great style and presence that all he needs is a little push in the right direction with the right book.  And since Lasky’s title has been such a hit, I think we’ve got our match.

  • All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure – The web has been ooing, cooing, and gooing (so to speak) all over this book.  Like the 2009 Caldecott winner it evokes an old-timey classic feel.  But would the Caldecott committee this year also feel inclined to reward retrospective nostalgia?  Only time will tell.

Remember too that by the end of the year I’ll have edited and rejiggered this list to death.  But this is what I’ve enjoyed thus far, and I don’t mind saying so.  Now what have I left off the list that you think is particularly noteworthy?

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. John Rocco says

    Let the rejiggering begin!

  2. Boni Ashburn says

    A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis and Birds by Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek.

  3. Alas, A Penguin Story has a 2008 pub date. Consarn it.

  4. “Tsunami” definitely has a shot – it’s much more consistent and accessible than “Wabi Sabi”. I have to agree with Boni on “Birds”. I was NOT a fan of “Kitten’s First Full Moon” but I feel like Henkes got it right this time. It epitomizes the word “lovely”. I love “Dinotrux” but suspect it will ultimately be overlooked. Speaking of which, what kind of an awesome world would it be if something like “Rhyming Dust Bunnies” had a shot?

  5. Megan Germano says

    Finally something that lets me know you really did read Homer!!! I was started to doubt you.

  6. Doubt me not. The review’s in the can, just waiting to be published here. And Laura, I came THIS close to including Rhyming Dust Bunnies. Now you make me feel like I should have included it right from the start. Curse my cowardice!

  7. I believe Magic Box may be a British import. Alas, another favorite, The Snow Day, is from Japan.

  8. Zut! Why do I always do this?? I believe I included a Canadian this time last year too. *sigh* Magic Box will be removed. Pfui.

  9. I loved The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate! If it gets ignored for the ALA awards, I’m hoping it at least gets a shiny sticker as for the E.B. White read-aloud award.

  10. Jacqueline Kelly says

    Thank you so much for your kind words! I am thrilled to be mentioned in this blog. (And so is Calpurnia.)
    Jacqueline Kelly

  11. SkeeterVM says

    It’s thrilling to see ALL IN A DAY on this list, early days though it is. It might be interesting for readers to know that Nikki McClure’s pieces are meticulously cut with an X-Acto blade from a single piece of paper. If she makes a mistake, she just keeps cutting until she finds a solution. Her technique ties in rather beautifully to Cynthia Rylant’s theme of embracing a day with all its potential missteps and victories….Best, Susan (editor for ALL IN A DAY)

  12. GraceAnne_LadyHawk says

    Charles Vess/Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl is already my favorite picture book of the year.


    “Of all the middle grade novels on this list, this is the one with the most buzz around it.”

    Down here in semi-rural VA, I don’t hear a lot of buzz, other than what’s discussed at Capitol Choices meetings. I’m pleased to hear this about Calpurnia.

  14. Miriam Lang Budin says

    I love BIRDS also. And I note that Kevin Henkes’ wife is the illustrator so, even though it is patently unfair that so much talent is concentrated under one roof (who do they think they are–the Bach family?)the Caldecott would actually go to Dronzek.

  15. Boni Ashburn says

    I’ll start the Rhyming Dust Bunnies petition- just say when! Thomas really hit her stride with that one. LOVE it. I’m very sad for Penguin, though. I thought it came out in Jan.

  16. Magical thinking says

    “Last March I mentioned the books I had read that I thought were particularly good and I can see now that [takes a gander] NONE of them won a Newbery, award, honor, or otherwise.”

    Doesn’t this make you worry about JINXING?

  17. Nah. There’s a theory out there that states that a book that is released early in the year has less of a chance than one later in the year. I don’t personally believe it, but you could chalk up those books’ disappearance to that. Another explanation: I have lousy taste.

  18. Kimiko Kajikawa says

    Wow. Having Tsunami! even mentioned in your list is WONDERFUL. Thank you (and a huge thank you to Ed Young,too)!

  19. Hi Betsey – I have a couple of questions if you see a comment so late to this post:

    My family recently read A Penguin Story and noticed the copyright date listed was 2009 but you indicated it was released in 2008. How can you know what the real/official whatever date is?

    Also, is there way to tell if a picture book is fiction or non-fiction? We recently read Tsunami! and found the story very captivating (leaving near a coast it brought up all sorts of questions from my kids). My daughter asked if it was a true story, wanted it to be a true story but the only hint I could find was a reference to a book written in 1896 (I think) which my husband knew would have been shortly after a real tsunami hit Japan.

  20. In terms of Tsunami I believe that the story is actually based on an old folktale. There are plenty of real historical incidents to tie it into, though. As for A Penguin Story, the Amazon release date puts it at December 23, 2008. If the book says 2009 . . . that’s a good question. I may have to ask Harper Collins about this. Thanks for the heads up.

  21. a teacher says

    After your glowing review of When You Reach Me (which I’m now very excited for), where would that rank on your predictions?

  22. #1. No question. Of course it’ll have to topple The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, which is no small task. Those two are going to be neck and neck until the end. My half-a-year predictions coming soon.

  23. cynthiap_1228 says

    I hope all of you who love this book are voting for it in the Mock Caldecotts on goodreads dot com, acplmockcaldecott dot blogspot dot com, and all the other mock Caldecotts and Newberries listed on places like jocolibrary dot org ! This is a great book, and folk tales are SO important for kids: they teach them about the world, and human nature. We should really try to keep GREAT children’s books like this in print!

  24. cynthiap_1228 says

    I should have said above that I hope all of you who love “Tsunami!” are voting for it in the various Mock Caldecotts…

  25. I say Absolutely Maybe, I am doing a podcast on it for a school project-you guys should check it out! It’s under Coulee Kids.

  26. kayaklibrarian says

    I loved “When You Reach Me”, but “Brooklyn Nine” deserves a lot of attention as well.