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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery/Caldecott 2011 Halfway Mark

Yep!  I’ve determined that midway through June is the perfect time to start toting various Newbery/Caldecott predictions.  This time last year I listed When You Reach Me, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate amongst my winners.  Let us all hope I’ve such good luck this year as well.

Newbery Predictions (Summer Edition!):

My Top Newbery Award Pick:

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia –
No real surprise there.  I’ve been toting this book since I read it back in February.  The title has absolutely everything going for it. A strong family story, an unconventional setting, and a historical topic that hasn’t really been covered much at all in children’s literature. Williams-Garcia has always been a top notch writer, but with this book she has finally produced something young enough to grab the attention of a Newbery committee. As far as I can tell, this book should at least be able to nab an Honor.  I hope for more, but Newbery committees do love to break my heart.

My Top Newbery Honor Picks:

Keeper by Kathi Appelt – It’s a strong choice and is considered widely to be more accessible than her previous novel The Underneath.  And even with all the debate surrounding it that book still won a Newbery Honor!  Again, this is a story about family (a popular theme this year) and mothers. It has a great deal of heart too, which may push it over the edge.  I wouldn’t mind seeing it do very well indeed.

The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt – Entirely based on heresay and conjecture.  I haven’t read it myself.  I simply hear good things.  Consider it to be on my To Be Read list.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz – It was pointed out to me after the last set of predictions that fairy books don’t win big medals.  They might be right.  We’ve already a serious mermaid title going for the gold this year.  Can we handle both fairies and mermaids in a single category?  I’d like to think so since Schlitz’s book takes a topic that is usually brushed over by lesser authors and makes it into something wild and classic.  But I can also see the Newbery committee dismissing it as . . well . . as too much fun.  It happens.

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford – In any given year you’ll usually find a debut author/wild card.  This book has both.  I consider it a serious Honor contender.  The shades of Ray Bradbury in it don’t overwhelm the text.  It’s creepy and delightful and the writing itself is superb.  I am much taken with this book.

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan – A Hispanic-American has never won a Newbery Award proper, you know.  Could this be the first time it happens?  Maybe so.  I liked the book, though I know folks who found it too “writerly” to sink their teeth into entirely.  Still, with its Peter Sis illustrations and poetic text (on top of a very real story any child could relate to) consider Ryan the author to watch this year.  Remember: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman was also illustrated by Peter Sis and that won Newbery gold!

Caldecott Predictions (Summer Edition!)

My Top Caldecott Award Pick:

Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio –
I am unapologetic in my unconventional choice.  And if ever there was a year that this book could have a serious shot, it’s 2010. The story is fantastic in and of itself, of course.  I mean, come on!  A garbage barge that can’t find a port?  It practically writes itself (I kid . . . Jonah Winter is the only man who could have recognized this diamond in the rough).  But the art . . . the art, man, the art! Absolutely breathtaking in an utterly stinky way. I fell head over heels in love with this book. If it wins I will ask for nothing else in this world.  At this moment in time, this is my number one choice.

My Top Caldecott Honor Picks:

I wish I could be more unpredictable about this.  However, most of my choices consist of artist winners from previous years (with two very notable exceptions).

Moon Bear by Brenda Guiberson, illustrated by Ed Young – I’ve heard rumbles about Caldecott possibilities with this book and it is rather beautiful. I will need to give it a thorough once over to determine if Mr. Young’s work here surpasses all other picture books this year, but it’s at least nice to have a semi-nonfiction picture book title in the running (besides my beloved Garbage Barge).

My Garden by Kevin Henkes – It’s Henkes, so right there it has a leg up.  And there’s a sweet internal logic to it that works.  Henkes is moving distinctly away from the style that sustained him during his Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse days.  Now his books are all slow and thoughtful.  They’re younger and have big images and colors that veer more towards a gentle lavender-based palette than the previous bright reds and yellows and blues.  Mind you, Kitten’s First Full Moon was the last time he won something from an award committee.  Will they consider him again (and so soon)?

What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – She is a genius.  Her books are some of the most consistently straightforward and smart titles of their kind.  Will she charm the committee with this alternative ending tale?  Only if they’re feeling expansive and creative this year.

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky – There is a bit of a consensus amongst a certain kind of reader that Swamp Angel (the previous Isaacs/Zelinsky combo) wuz ROBBED when it only won a Caldecott Honor and not the award proper during its year.  Maybe its sequel will be able to right a great wrong.  Hey, man.  Anything’s possible.

Cat’s Night Out by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by J. Klassen – I’m just thinking aloud at this point, but has a former animator ever won a Caldecott before?  Marla Frazee did some brief work for Disney and won a Caldecott Honor for A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever.  Mary Blair did some work on Disney’s Cinderella and Peter Pan . . . but somehow never managed to catch the eye of the Caldecott committees.  Now we’ve a whole crop of folks coming out of the Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks studios. Klassen’s just one of many.  How long before they start snapping up some serious awards, I wonder.  How long?

The Boys by Jeff Newman – Because I feel a sincere and distinct love for this book that cannot be denied. I’d love it if other folks felt the same way.

What Did I Miss?

When I posted my hopes earlier this year, folks wrote in with their own predictions.  Some that might have a chance include:

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan – Haven’t seen it yet.  I can just imagine his Caldecott acceptance speech, though.  It would be one for the ages.

Where Is Catkin? by Janet Lord, illustrated by Julie Paschkis – I think it’s just a matter of time before Paschkis wins something.  I’d love it if she won for this book.  It’s from a small press, which would make such a win even sweeter.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner – Admittedly I’m reluctant to read this since I find her books to be distinctly YA.  Also, the last one didn’t stand on its own.  If I hadn’t read any of the other titles in this series, would this book stand alone?  Would it make sense?  I may have to buckle under pressure and find out for myself.

The year is half over, people!  What have you loved that I’ve left off?

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. I love THE BONESHAKER so I’m right there with you on that one. Is MY HAVANA by Rosemary Wells & Secundino Fernandez considered NF? It’s got to be a contender if not (I’m confused because it is Fernandez’s story but written by Wells and I’m not sure if it’s 100% true.) Either way you need to read this one, Betsy. You’ll like it a lot. (Plus he’s an architect in NYC!) (It’s not out until Aug but I’ve already read it.)

    I adored RAGTAG and YEAR OF THE BOMB but those were both last summer releases and missed the awards for ’09. I’m so bummed about that – I think they were seriously overlooked.

    I’ve somehow read a lot less MG then I thought I had. How did that happen?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thanks for the skinny on MY HAVANA, Colleen! I hadn’t heard anything about it yet. I’m curious about its politics. Cuba is such a tricky issue to cover in a children’s novel. We’ve seen a couple titles try to explain it over the years, but none have really stuck. At a slim 72 pages I’ll be intrigued to see what Wells does to explain the situation. Thanks for this!

  2. I was really impressed with Sophie Blackall’s illustrations for Big Red Lollipop . Could she be a contender for the Caldecott?

  3. Just read and loved WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET, by Springstubb. It’s got the feel to it. THE WATER SEEKER is outstanding, but I wonder about audience. HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE is my top contender for Caldecott as well. Should be interesting.

  4. The Night Fairy is such a perfectly crafted little book, it definitely has my vote for a Newbery Honor at least. The Dreamer is also on my list, and I’m happy to see The Boneshaker on yours! Still need to read One Crazy Summer–thanks for the nudge.

    I’m actually not in love with any of the picture books so far, but we’ll see what the next 6 months brings.

  5. Linda Urban says:

    Not COUNTDOWN? Not MOCKINGBIRD? Those are two of my favs from this year (along with KEEPER and ONE CRAZY SUMMER). And I’m waiting for TOUCH BLUE.

    And in the category of books I wish qualified for a Newbery: COSMIC. Dang that is a fine, funny book.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Linda, after much consideration I can’t imagine they’ll give “Countdown” the honor it deserves. It’s just too reliant on extraneous media. That’s the sort of thing that sinks a book during Newbery discussions. It’s fantastic, but it’s a book without an award category. As for “Mockingbird”, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I agree about “Cosmic” though. If only, if only we could honor it in some way.

  6. I couldn’t get into “The Boneshaker”. I had to walk away from it for a little while, but I will give it a second chance.

    “One Crazy Summer” is my favorite novel I’ve read so far this year, but I also loved “The Incorrigble Children of Ashton Place”, “The Books of Umber: Dragon Games” and “A Nest for Celeste” (which strikes me as very Newbery-y). Aside from these, my love and devotion work of the year is Raina Telgemeier’s “Smile”. I don’t know what chance it has, being a graphic novel, of getting a shiny medal, but I think it is remarkable, and will have a long-lasting impact.

    On the Caldecott front, I can’t get over “City Dog, Country Frog”. Who doesn’t love Jon J Muth? I could go swimming in his books, they’re so gorgeous.

  7. I great, succinct list, but I still got me some reading to do!

  8. Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm is one of my favorites this year.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Bill Peet, a Disney animator, won a Caldecott Honor for his illustrated autobiography….

  10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is my favorite so far…

  11. Future Caldecott co-winner Martin Provensen was a Disney character designer in the late thirties. Mary Blair was a dominant force in the design department at Disney for more than a decade but her lack of award recognition in illustration might be due to the fact that she illustrated Golden Books. Disney in the late thirties also hired golden age illustrator genius Kay Nielsen when he was down and out. The result was the Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia.

  12. Totally with you on One Crazy Summer as the should-be winner, what a fantastic book. And oh, COSMIC! Frank Cottrell Boyce’s work is really something special.

  13. Genevieve says:

    Loved “One Crazy Summer” and would be thrilled for it to get the Newbery. For others, how about “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper, which I know you thought was fantastic? It was rather mind-blowing, and beautifully written.

  14. My vote so far is for Garbage Barge as well. It would be lovely for a picture book with a fantastic TEXT that goes so perfectly with the illustrations to win- especially since so many people in the general public (however erroneously) believe the award is for “best picture book” overall. This one would fit that bill, though- Winter’s writing is sublime, Red Nose Studio’s art is outstanding and innovative, the topic is important, and it’s a fantastic read-aloud.

    Of your Newbery picks, the only one I’ve read is The Night Fairy- which is wonderful- loved it. Would be happy to see it win, but must get those others out of my to-read pile…

  15. Very much rooting for The Night Fairy, partly for selfish reasons. I want Laura Amy Schlitz to become so celebrated that she retires from her job as school librarian at the Park School – I have my eye on that job! 🙂

    Much as I appreciate the work of Red Nose Studio, I think it’s Ed Young’s year this year for the Caldecott, as he didn’t get it for Wabi Sabi or for Tsunami!, the latter of which still gives me chills at that one double page illustration.

  16. I have to agree with Linda…My first thought when I saw you had a list was, “Oh, I hope MOCKINGBIRD is on it!” Everything else looks good though…one book, so many to choose from!

  17. Santiago says:

    I loved Smile. It really put the “graphic” in graphic novel and was a great piece of storytelling. I’ve read the beginning of The Water Seeker and found the lanbguage beautiful, but agree that the audience seems not right. Perhaps as the characters develop…I’m loking forward to reading more. Any votes for the new Twain bio? Is it in too many pieces? Can’t wait to see the new Muth book…

  18. And to make the win even sweeter if Julie Paschkis won for WHERE IS CATKIN?–I believe Janet Lord is her sister!

  19. David Ziegler says:

    Sadly, my library has few of these Newbery/Caldecott contenders currently available. I’ve also been sidetracked reading books from a certain top 100 list … 95 down so far!

    I will give a shout out for Conspiracy of Kings. Yes, it’s YA-ish, but it is descended from the Newbery honor book Thief, on a certain list… It’s also beautifully written and both fun and exciting to read, with lots of intrigue and adventure. So far it’s the best thing I’ve read this year.

  20. I’m completely with you on One Crazy Summer. It’s a wonderful book. When I read it, I, too, immediately hoped this will be the next Newbery winner. And I’m usually pushing fantasy titles.

  21. I agree with One Crazy Summer and The Dreamer. What about AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH for a possible Newbery Honor

  22. Hit the enter button before I could mention SIT-IN for a Caldecott Honor as well.

  23. Huh, I seem to remember that in your very first post mentioning Mama Miti, you predicted it as the 2011 Caldecott winner… it got bumped? I’d love to hear why, since you were so gung-ho at first.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Hi, Miriam! Well, that was a toughie. I still think the art is amazing. Just the most beautiful thing ere seen. But then I read the text and it just doesn’t integrate with the art as well as it could. Maybe it was the fact that the storytelling wasn’t quite strong enough to pair adequately with Mr. Nelson’s images. I dunno. It could still get something, but I’m not seeing it.

  24. Another vote here for Mockingbird and for Touch Blue.

  25. I seem to be outnumbered on ONE CRAZY SUMMER, which I admired but didn’t love. I’m glad to see MOCKINGBIRD getting some love from your readers.

    I might vote for TOUCH BLUE if I had READ IT YET! How long do we have to wait? August? Grrrr. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      *sigh* I may have to write a “Mockingbird” review at some point here, which I really do not want to do. I’m happy to see someone mentioned the Perkins book, which I read specifically for Newbery consideration. It is good. I hope it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle as the year goes on. Next round-up, perhaps.

  26. I think A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS really can’t stand on its own and won’t be a strong Newbery contender.

    However, I think Polly Horvath’s NORTHWARD TO THE MOON might be a dark horse. It works fairly well as a stand-alone and golly . . . that shocker of an ending . . . curse you, Horvath.

    But are we forgetting outstanding nonfiction? Let’s not forget that Susan Campbell Bartoletti has a book about the KKK coming out. If anybody can make a book about the KKK be Newbery material, she can.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I’ve heard excellent things about the Bartoletti book. Unfortunately, what I’ve heard makes me think that it’s even more YA than her previous Newbery Honor title “Hitler Youth”. It may be out of range. Now the new WWI book by Russell Freedman? That’s got a definite shot. What are some of the other non-fiction books you’ve heard of? I feel as if I haven’t seen enough yet.

  27. i posted about the same thing just last week! i always say i won’t make predictions, but find myself making them anyway. ‘one crazy summer,’ has been my favorite, and is definitely the stand-out… but it’s also the most obvious, the most newberry-ish. (if that makes sense.) i too would LOVE to see ‘boneshaker’ nominated (or even win), as well as ‘the night fairy,’ ‘keeper,’ or ‘the dreamer,’ but i wouldn’t be surprised if something totally unexpected came along for the win. always a possibility. as for caldecott i am 100% with you on ‘the boys.’ i fell so hard for that book i darned near broke my nose. i do worry that it won’t make the cut based on the fact that a wordless book won last year. i’m also happy that someone mentioned ‘city dog, country frog,’ because even though willems and muth don’t need any more accolades, i think it is a truly deserving, poetic book, chock-full of magic. i might have blogged something to the likes of ‘if this one isn’t nominated, i’ll eat my hat.’ i may have to invest in an edible hat, but my vote still stands.

  28. Oh – I just read HIVE DETECTIVES by Loree Griffin Burns and think it’s fabulous. It’s another in the Scientist in the Field series from HM and she does such a good job of showing how a group of scientists tracked down the mystery behind Colony Collapse Disorder (no definitive answer yet, but the gathering of clues and what they think caused it is all very CSI). I’d love to see a book like this (nature/science) get in there just once. (Not that I don’t love history but still….)

    I’m also looking forward to Freedman’s WWI book – there is so little written on that war for kids and I’m sure he’s done a wonderful job.

  29. I was thinking about THE HIVE DETECTIVES as soon as the topic of new nonfiction came up, but being one of Loree’s critique partners, I was hesitating to bring it up first. Now that Colleen has, though, I’ll add my voice to the chorus. If you haven’t read this one, you really should – it’s amazing… an example of the kind of exceptional storytelling that makes narrative nonfiction really, really shine.

    I read an ARC of TOUCH BLUE, and it’s wonderful. Also loved COUNTDOWN, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, and a couple that haven’t been mentioned yet… Bonnie Shimko’s THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE and Laurel Snyder’s PENNY DREADFUL. Whether or not they get Newbery recognition, I think they’re both special books.

  30. Award: “One Crazy Summer”

    Honor: “The Dreamer” and “The Night Fairy”

    Though I am way behind on my reading this year and could change my mind. I have been right in the past though, so there’s that.

  31. I pick One Crazy Summer as the top pick, and I think The Night Fairy has a honor waiting for it. I also think Alchemy and Meggy Swan has a good chance of getting Ms. Cushman another honor. I haven’t read the other books. I loved Countdown, but I agree it’s too dependent on other media to the story and I’m not sure how well today’s students will understand the pictures and quotes without context. It is a fine story though!

  32. My Newbery pick (so far, since I have yet to read One Crazy Summer and I’m waiting for our copy of Keeper to arrive) is for OUT OF MY MIND. I feel in love with the voice of Melody and the harsh reality of the ending brought me to tears.

    I have to disagree with you a bit about Moon Bear, however. On the positive side, I loved Young’s combination of photography and cut paper. I thought his use of photo-collaged natural elements (the grass, the trees- even a mix of the two for some of the animals) was clever and appropriate to the subject.

    However, there were a few instances when I felt myself wishing that the illustrations flowed a little more in sync with the story. I know the Caldecott is concerned primarily with illustration- but there is that section of the criteria that talks about considering “other components” of the picture book as a whole- such as design, text, etc. At times, I felt Young’s interpretation (while beautiful) deviated from the author’s vision in a way that detracted from the overall experience. For example, there is a part when the author describes Moon Bear “munching near the red panda.” The illustration does not include the red panda. Also, because of some of the perspectives chosen, it can be hard to decipher exactly what action Moon Bear is taking (is he bending over or is he eating something?).

    I’m totally in agreement with you on THE BOYS. I love the retro look and the jaunty expressions of the old men when they let loose. Another one I’d love to see get Caldecott recognition: OUR FARM: BY THE ANIMALS OF FARM SANCTUARY by Robert Rahway Zakanitch. Absolutley stunning watercolors and playful pencils drawings that make these remarkable animals really come alive on the pages.

  33. My copy of One Crazy Summer was just delivered….so many oohs and ahhs for it I couldn’t resist!

    Re Countdown….I don’t know, the Newbery Committee might surprise…who saw a Caldecott for Hugo Cabret or a Printz for American Born Chinese coming?

  34. Melissa says:

    No Caldecott love for SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE? Every time I look through it, I see another perfect detail that I missed on the previous reading – Amos and the animals are so expressive, I just love it!

  35. Amy Sears says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned The Waterseeker. I feel it should be on any Newbery short list. I read it awhile ago and it has stayed with me. It is a sweeping story wonderfully written with fascinating characters and a strong sense of time and place.

  36. I’m almost finished with One Crazy Summer, and I agree, it’s a great book, but my favorite to date is The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean (Harper Collins). It’s a quirky read that manages to be profound, philosophical, prophetic and downright funny at the same time (perhaps it’s the Pippi-Longsticking-esque cover that has kept more people from reading it)

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I’ve always considered “Pepper Roux” to be “Candide” for kids. It is indeed quirky. Alas, I believe Ms. McCaughrean is British and therefore not eligible for the Newbery.

  37. (sigh)

  38. I would love to see EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO get some love from the Newbery committee. A wonderful, wonderful book – it and THE BONESHAKER are my two favorite MG reads of 2010 thus far.

  39. carolyn says:

    City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by John Muth

  40. carolyn says:

    Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

  41. KHazelrigg says:

    I LOVE The Boys!!!

  42. Oh No! by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat is one of my favorites… They’re digital illustrations though – does that disqualify books from Caldecott consideration or does it just make it very unlikely that they could win? (I’m new to this).

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Not at all! While I’ll admit that a fully digitally illustrated book has yet to win a Caldecott (somebody correct me if I’m wrong on this) there’s nothing to say that it can’t win. And I, for one, would love to see Santat win something someday. For that matter, William Low is the master of the digital illustrated form and he also deserves to win one of these days. I think it’ll happen. It’s just a matter of time.

  43. sam leopold says:

    I am a 6th grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio. For the last 21 years, I have done mock Caldecott/Newbery discussions with my students. They have consistently predicted at least one book that has won an award. Your website has been THE most informative site we have found. Thank you for your hard work. We will write in September to let you know what some of our favorites are. Right now, my personal favorites are Keeper, One crazy Summer and Turtle in paradise. Are there any books coming out in the fall that we should be paying attention to? And what do you think about the book called CHALK as a possible Caldecott contender?

    Thank you

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Aw, thanks! Chalk would be one heckuva interesting winner if it got that far. When I read it it felt a little like David Wiesner lite, but that’s not a bad thing. However, there IS a Fall 2011 new David Wiesner picture book coming out, and I suspect it’ll smash the competition into the ground quite thoroughly.

      Just finished Turtle in Paradise myself, which I adored. I don’t know that it’ll win a Newbery if only because the ending wraps up at a rapid fire pace that can make your head spin. Still, I love it so. In terms of Fall 2011 fiction releases, I hear good things about Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb and What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb, though I’ve not read either book myself yet. We shall see if they live up to the hype.

  44. Here Comes the Garbage Barge also got a top review on Vegbooks — we love the eco-theme. Here’s hoping it wins the Caldecott!

  45. Alyson Whatcott says:

    Thanks for this great list! I am a 6th grade teacher and we are going to launch our first Mock Newbery this year. You’ve given me some great titles to put in our Newbery 2011 corner. I’ll keep watching this fall!

  46. take a look at “dark emperor” by joyce Sidman and rick Allen. if that doesn’t win the caledecott, i’ll eat my hat.

  47. How about some great new multicultural books? Red Umbrella is awesome, so is Leaving Gees Bend and Shooting Kabul.

  48. What about City Dog, Country Frog?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:


      I’ve been a little silent on that one, eh? Well . . . I’m not a fan. Hate to say it since I’m a big time Mo Willems advocate, but this book just isn’t doing it for me. I don’t much care for the writing and pictures are fine, but Muth has done better. I dunno. It has the pedigree, but not the chops.


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