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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery/Caldecott 2011

After much consideration and contemplation, I have decided to deal with this year’s final predictions of the Newbery/Caldecott in a cynical manner that’s not too far off from how I chose my Oscar winners.  Which is to say, rather than tote the names I want to win the big ALA Media Awards, I’m going to predict the books that probably will win the big awards.  There’s a difference to be had there.  I may love a book with all my heart, but unless I think it has a shootin’ chance at the award, no go.  Of course, there’s a lot of crossover between books that I both like and think should win, but it’s not always a given.

I should mention, however, that more than any previous year when I’ve made these predictions, I could well be 100% wrong about every last one of these choices.  Recently the New Jersey Association of School Librarians hosted me as one of their speakers at their annual conference.  To them, I proposed the following theory about the last few award years.  As I see it, Newbery/Caldecott winners sometimes are indicative of strange little internal trends.  For example:

Newbery/Caldecott 2008: The Year of Breaking Barriers.  That’s when Hugo Cabret and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! won and expanded our notions of what winners could truly be.

Newbery/Caldecott 2009: The Year of Playing It Safe.  As if to scale back from the previous year’s strides, the Caldecott winner was the very classic looking The House of the Night (Wanda Gag tribute) and Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.  Which is a great title, but it didn’t cover any new ground or challenge us in much of any way.

Newbery/Caldecott 2010: The Year of the Givens.  Had Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse or Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me NOT won the major awards, I think it is safe to say that blood would have been spilt on the carpeted floors of the Boston convention center.

Which, naturally brings us to the swing of the pendulum the other way . . .

Newbery/Caldecott 2011: The Year of the Wild Cards.  I really do believe that our winners this year could be entirely out of the blue.  100% unknown, unpredicted, unforeseen.  We’ve already gotten a hint of this when the Oakland Public Library Mock Newbery produced their own Newbery pick, Dark Emperor by Joyce Sidman.  No coincidence that.  There are a lot of great books out there, and a lot of differing opinions on which ones are the best.

So with that little caveat in my back pocket, here’s at least a tentative grasp on what I think has a shot at the big time.

Caldecott Award 2011:

City Dog / Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth – And may God have mercy on our souls.  Can I confess something to you?  I don’t actually want this to win, but as time has gone on I see that it may be inevitable.  This is strange to me since I feel like both Mr. Mo and Mr. Muth are stronger individually than together.  That, however, is a personal opinion.  The masses, as it seems, have spoken and this book carries all the marks of a potential Award winner.  There are silent two-page spreads.  There’s “meaning”.  There’s a dead frog.  How could it not win?

Caldecott Honors 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – Because I think it would be awesome if each year someone with the last name “Stead” wins a major children’s literary award.  I kid.  Amos McGee is one of those special little books that grow on a soul.  It’s a debut, so I don’t think they’d give Ms. Stead a proper award outright, but the buzz grew so carefully around this little title that I keep hearing its name called out as a Mock Caldecott winner.  People really love what it has to offer, so while it may be a long shot, I think the Steads have a real crack at getting something shiny this year.

Bink and Gollie by Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Tony Fucile – Another bit of a wild card.  The trick here is to determine whether or not the Caldecott committee curries the proper amount of respect for an artist that can capture great body language.  If they write Mr. Fucile off as a mere animator-turned-illustrator then poor B&G is doomed.  If, however, they recognize how difficult this book would have been for any other illustrator and how magnificently he’s turned this into a three-dimensional story with odd little elements here and there, it’ll get there.  Somehow.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio – Though I do wonder if my own personal love of this book is blinding me to its chances.  Could it really get an Honor?  For a while there I was hoping it would get the gold proper, but time hasn’t been kind to the old Garbage Barge.  Folks are forgetting about it.  I fear its moment has passed, but even as I say that I BELIEVE in it.  I think there’s something here worth noting and praising.  By the way, for those of you concerned about the artist, Red Nose Studio is a single dude.  Not an actual studio full of folks.

Wait.  Why didn’t you include . . . ?

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska – Because it can’t win, my sweets.  The illustrator is Canadian.  I know.  I was mad too.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse : See – The Quiet Book.

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs – Well, Zelinsky’s a mad genius and remember that its predecessor (Swamp Angel) got itself a pretty little Caldecott Honor.  That said, this book is going to suffer from being a sequel (See: Forge by Laurie Halse Andersen below for an explanation of why sequels are easy for award committees to disregard).  It’s gorgeous, but I don’t think that this is its year.

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat – Because if Adam Rex has taught me anything it’s that technical proficiency and amazing artwork will never get you the big awards if you put in some really funny postmodern humor as well.  *sigh*  I’d give my right incisor for this book to win something (it’s a very pretty incisor too) but the committees’ continual disregard of Rex has broken my spirit.

The Boys by Jeff Newman – Sadly, none of you guys fell for one this as hard and as fast as I did.  I still maintain that this is one of the best little picture books of the year.  Visual storytelling at its best.  Alas, no one else is buzzing it, so I must give it up for lost.  *sniffle*

Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Matt Phelan – I wish!  Mr. Phelan earned himself a pretty little Scott O’Dell Award last year (check out my prediction for this year’s, below) but he’s never gotten a Caldecott.  Without a doubt this is his best chance yet, but unless we’ve a very special committee on our hands, I don’t think it’ll quite make it.

Art and Max by David Wiesner – There’s a first time for everything.  In this case, I suspect this will be one of those rare instances where Mr. Wiesner doesn’t just write a book and a committee hands him a shiny award.  I was really fond of it, but have you noticed that it’s gotten the cold shoulder in other quarters?  Folks aren’t loving this the same way they’ve loved books like Tuesday or Flotsam.  I can’t account for it.  I can only report what I’ve seen.  Pity.

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca – As the founding member of the Bloody, Give Brian Floca a Caldecott Already! fan club, nothing would give me more pleasure than to see this book get a Caldecott of some sort.  Unfortunately, if they didn’t give Moonshot an award, what hope has a story about dance?  Not that I think it’ll go home empty handed (See: Sibert Award below).  I’d just like to see Floca’s nonfiction work appreciated a bit.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Brian Collier – Where the heck is the buzz for this book?  I dare say that this is Mr. Collier’s best work since Uptown, and yet it is faded into the mist.  I’d wager that there are a fair number of folks who still don’t know what it is, in spite of its New York Times review.  Very depressing.  I would have loved to see this one get some real appreciation.  Ah well.

Newbery Award 2011

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – One of those lovely moments when the book I want to win and the book that I think will win are one and the same.  It’s definitely got at least an Honor in the bag (knock on wood, knock on wood) but I think it has all the elements to go all the way to the gold.  I’ve seen some really beautiful books this year, but none of them have ousted this one from my #1 slot.  Let’s just hope I’m right about it.

Newbery Honors 2011

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sis – I call this book the Feathers of 2010.  And like Jacqueline Woodson’s Feathers, it’s difficult to lob a real complaint at The Dreamer.  The most folks have been able to come up with is that the book may or may not be child-friendly.  And since child-friendliness is not a real consideration when choosing your novel, the point is moot.  The Dreamer is one of those sneaky books that stay in the running a long long time.  Committee members will be able to drum up new arguments in its favor, merely by reading passages aloud.  However, for all of that I believe it can only really get as high as “Honor”.  Folks will really like it, but it won’t have the deep and abiding love that something like One Crazy Summer has to carry it onwards and upwards to victory.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz – This is a tricky one.  It’s by a debut author and it has managed to corral some pretty fabulous buzz.  One would think an Honor would be in order.  Mind you, if Heavy Medal’s argument that it might hit trouble if someone decides that the Grimm tales incorporated into the text don’t constitute original writing is correct then that might be enough to sink it early.  I have faith that the committee will disregard these arguments and honor Gidwitz’s wordplay.  Unless they dislike intrusive narrators, of course.  Then he’s up a creek.

Keeper by Kathi Appelt – It’s gotten nice subdued buzz, just the right kind a book needs to get it some Honor status.  Folks that were disturbed by The Underneath will find this book contains the same lovely language without the darker elements.  The writing and storytelling are superb.  I think it’s got a real shot, maybe even as a surprise Award winner proper.  We’ll just have to see.

Wait.  Why didn’t you include . . . ?

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson – A book I adore and due to the fact that Chains was robbed, ROBBED I SEZ, of its own Newbery you’d think I’d be certain that Forge would make up for past sins.  Alas, while sequels have definitely been known to earn the awards their predecessors missed receiving, it’s much more difficult for them.  Particularly if they are historical fiction.  I’d love to have Peter over at Collecting Children’s Books tell me (as he is the only person I know who could say for certain) how many Newbery Award and Honor books have gone to historical fiction sequels.  And no, Criss Cross doesn’t count (I’m picky like that).  In any case, I would love for this to win, but I have no faith in the committee.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine – The question here really is whether a divisive book can garner a major award.  Mockingbird already has, thanks to the National Book Award, but that doesn’t affect the Newbery’s judgment.  Consider too that The Underneath could also be called divisive a couple years ago, yet got both a National Book Award nomination and a Newbery Honor.  That said, unless the vast majority of Newbery committee members have strong positive feelings towards this book, I could see it making the last rounds of consideration without actually getting an Honor.  I may be wrong, but the quality of the writing here is very subjective and that may not work in Mockingbird‘s favor.

The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman – You’ll notice that I didn’t include much of any nonfiction in my predictions.  If I did include one, it would be this book.  The content and the author combine to make it the best chance nonfiction work for kids going this year Newberywise.  That said, I’ve grown bitter in my old age.  Nonfiction fares so terribly year after year.  So while I hope that it gets an Honor, I’m afraid it may end up relegated to the Sibert pile (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz – I really thought this one had a serious chance earlier in the year, and I would still not be surprised if it garnered some love from the committee.  If I had my way, every book Ms. Schlitz writes would have accolades lobbed at it regularly.  In the case of this title, I think the committee will relegate it to the Light & Fluffy category and disregard it accordingly.  Could a fairy book ever win a Newbery?  Haven’t a clue.  But if this one doesn’t win anything, then the answer is no.

The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt – Just a lovely book through and through.  Great writing, great characters, great everything.  The catch?  It’s just not for kids.  Teens, if anything.  Adults, certainly.  There are a fair number of books that are just too mature for the Newbery (A Conspiracy of Kings, The Cardturner, As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth, etc.).  Great books, each and every one, but titles that will probably get disregarded when considering the mean age of their ideal readership.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles – Ah.  That sweet book.  I really did enjoy it.  Sadly I think the format sunk it early on.  It relies on media, and the Newbery isn’t particularly keen on media sometimes.  Their loss.

And now some other random awards that are fun to predict, just for the heckuvit.

Sibert Medal

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca – Though if it doesn’t you’ll hear my shriek of pain echo from New York across the nation.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Syd Montgomery – But that’s a big old “maybe”.  I mean, it’s delightful.  It even got the almost-impossible-to-attain six starred reviews.  But will the committee think the subject matter is too fluffy?  Hope not.  I adore that book.

The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman – This one seems far more of a Sibert given.  Deep subject matter.  Great established author.  Has a good chance, this one.

Geisel Award

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin – Because once in a while they have to give it to someone other than Mo Willems just to keep things fair (We Are In a Book is a shoo-in, I think).  Plus this was a really fun book.  Great words, great art, great everything.  My pick.

Batchelder Award

Departure Time by Truus Matti – I wish.  I hope.  I pray.  I adore this book.  And I worry that it just won’t get noticed at all.

Scott O’Dell Award

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus – Heck, ALA doesn’t even give out this one, but I have an inkling here.  I’ve never been able to successfully predict an O’Dell, but they all have a certain kind of quality to them and by gum Preus fits the bill.  I read this book and it screamed “O’DELL!!” to me.  It could easily go to the aforementioned Water Seeker or something like The Dreamer, but I have hopes.  The O’Dell sometimes likes to reward titles that haven’t gotten enough attention elsewhere.  We’ll see.  This would be my pick.

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. Jonathan Hunt says:

    1. I brought A TALE DARK AND GRIMM into the conversation at Heavy Medal to make a couple points about A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS and THE ODYSSEY. I was playing devil’s advocate a bit, and I really can’t see the committee thinking of the the material as either unoriginal or dependent on the material. That said, I think it’s more of a darkhorse than you do.

    2. I believe the O’Dell has to be set in the New World, which would probably eliminate HEART OF A SAMURAI. I’m thinking FORGE takes it again, if not ONE CRAZY SUMMER. I don’t think the O’Dell has gone to historical fiction later than WWII. Does the committee make a distinction between whether it’s historical fiction for the author or not? Meaning that both Williams-Garcia and Wiles both loved through the 60s. Undoubtedly, they both did research, but they also drew on personal knowledge.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      We really should be allowed to edit the comments we make on one another’s blogs, agreed. Now lemme see here . . .

      Jonathan: Actually, most of Heart of a Samurai is set in the New World. There are some moments in Japan at the beginning and the end, but the bulk is in Connecticut. I think it still stands, though I love the idea of One Crazy Summer nabbing an O’Dell as well. The 60s, by this point, should count.

      Peter: You’re brilliant. That’s a great list. Was Rufus M historical, or am I just thinking it was contemporary at the time? In any case, that pounds my theory into a light fine dust. Fabulous. And yes, I’m pretty much talking about the same books everyone else is. I can’t predict Wild Cards any better than anyone else, I’m afraid.

      Chris: Fear not. The committee has seen everything in 2010, including those books published with December dates. So they will have seen Joyce Hansen’s newest, Home Is With Our Family (which I’d love to review if I could bloody find my review copy). The committee for 2011 will only look at 2011 titles, alas. But fear not. The committees are very good at seeing everything early. And yes, anyone can submit a book to the committee, but usually the publishers will do that for you.

      Monica: Oh, I’m sure they could win. I’m placing my money on the assumption that folks will skew younger this year, though. It entirely depends on the committee, of course, but some years you see a whole crop of books best suited for the 13-14 set and some years it lingers in the 9-10 range. I’m betting 2010 is a 9-10 range year, but we shall see.

      Nancy: I am a doofus. Thank you.

  2. I agree that this might be The Year of the Wild Cards: “100% unknown, unpredicted, unforeseen.” However, all of your Newbery picks are actually books that everyone is talking about for the award already. What about something COMPLETELY off the wall for the Newbery…like BINK & GOLLIE? Possible? Though it would seem that all the Mock Newberys and internet discussions would prevent the Newbery announcement from surprising us, it’s happened SEVERAL times in the past decade alone:

    2001 : A YEAR DOWN YONDER by Richard Peck. Yeah, everyone says today that it was a foregone winner, but I honestly don’t think it was considered a contender by anyone before it actually won the prize.

    2002 : A SINGLE SHARD by Linda Sue Park. I think it won a single Mock Newbery in the weeks before the award, but this pretty-much-under-the-radar-novel surprised most of us when it won the prize.

    2003 : CRISPIN : THE CROSS OF LEAD by Avi. Did ANYONE predict this one?

    2005 : KIRA-KIRA by Cynthia Kadohata. Completely unexpected.

    2007 : THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY by Susan Patron. Most heard comment on the day the award was announced: “The Higher Power of What? By Who?” Definitely a surprise winner.

    Oh, and I agree that Laurie Halse Anderson’s CHAINS was ROBBED. In answer to your query (“I’d love to have Peter over at Collecting Children’s Books tell me…how many Newbery Award and Honor books have gone to historical fiction sequels”), here is the list I came up with:

    1938 Honor : ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    1940 Honor: THE SINGING TREE by Kate Seredy

    1940 Honor : BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    1941 Honor : THE LONG WINTER by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    1942 Honor : LITTLE TOWN ON THE PRAIRIE by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    1943 Honor : THE MIDDLE MOFFAT by Eleanor Estes (published during WWII, the book is actually set during WWI – a fact that some young readers probably don’t grasp at this point in time)

    1944 Honor : THESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    1944 Honor : RUFUS M. by Eleanor Estes

    1977 Winner : ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred Taylor

    2001 Winner : A YEAR DOWN YONDER by Richard Peck

    2006 Winner : CRISS CROSS by Lynne Rae Perkins (I know you say it doesn’t count, but I think it does)

    I hope I didn’t leave anything off the list!


  3. Nice — now to see how it plays out. I agree that anything could happen this year!

    But I have to disagree with you about the Committee disregarding A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, THE CARDTURNER, and AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH “when considering the mean age of their ideal readership.” As you know the criteria states that they must consider books for children “up to and including fourteen.” That is, it doesn’t matter if there is a 14-16 audience range say. If the mean readership is fifteen, but kids who are almost fourteen are within that demographic then the book is absolutely something that will be seriously considered. At least I can say that I spent a lot of time on this the year I was on the Committee so I’d surely hope and expect the members of this year’s committee are too. Given the wild card situation (and I totally agree with you about this) I think these books are as possible as any of the others.

  4. Oops. I meant “If the mean readership is fifteen, but kids who are ALMOST FIFTEEN are within that demographic then the book is absolutely something that will be seriously considered.”

  5. L. Williams says:

    Doing a Mock Caldecott at our elementary school and just discovered Betsy Bird and her witty comments and picks for Caldecott/Newbery 2011. So I’m hoping someone who reads this far can also help us. Our school is doing a One School, One Read of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Just about every bio. source of Richard Atwater lists him as dying in 1948, but I’m just SURE it was 1938 since his wife finished the book for him and it won the Caldecott Honor in 1939.

  6. Nancy Werlin says:

    Typo correction: the author of COUNTDOWN is Deborah Wiles, not Deborah Hopkinson.

  7. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Ack! You mean I can’t edit and correct my own comments on *your* blog . . .

    1. I meant that A TALE DARK AND GRIMM is not dependent on a prior knowledge of the Grimm stories.

    2. Rita Williams-Garcia and Deborah Wiles may have “loved through the 60s,” but I meant “lived through the 60s.”

  8. Here are a few more Wildcards…

    MindBlind … I’ve been describing this book as “It’s Like This Cat” with an Aspie narrator. By putting her character through fairly ordinary teen ordeals, she gives us a great portrait of what normal non-normal life is like.

  9. Personality Papers. I guess there’s too many drawings for a Newbery, so how about a Caldecott?

    Millennium Falcon 3-D Owners guide. Non-fiction fiction. Rich, detailed, intensely researched illustrations.

    Also, I’m ready to award the NEXT Newbery, too….. SHINE!

  10. I’m so glad to see you give some love to KEEPER. There was a lot of division in my Mock Newbery/Caldecott group over this book. It’s a beautifully written book that took a lot of patience to read but definitely award-worthy.

  11. Peter, FWIW, I can’t find a thing missing from your list, and you know I tried. Betsy, as Peter notes regarding The Middle Moffat, Rufus M. is also set during WWI.

    I’d like to see some out-of-the-blue titles on the podium, though it’s hard to believe there might be any Newbery-eligible fiction that hasn’t been discussed, re-discussed, and discussed again at this point, that’s Newbery quality without anyone noticing. More of a chance in the non-fiction and poetry and such, I think–The Surrender Tree wasn’t a discussed book that year (and it is marvelous). A Conspiracy of Kings has never felt particularly old to me–it doesn’t have the stuff that freaks parents/teachers/librarians out, and I think it’ll be enjoyed on different levels by ten-year-olds and fourteen-year-olds and adults.

    There are numerous books that have been tossed around but not really discussed that much that probably have a shot at the Newbery Honor–there’s almost always a title or two that makes me want to give the committee a skeptical look and say “really?” Not that the books aren’t good, but I’m not sure exactly what made them outstanding to the committee, or why the committee was able to overlook weaknesses in those books but not others, or… whatever happened to make those books the Chosen Ones. I’d put The Boneshaker, The Clockwork Three, and a few others as possibilities there.

  12. I love your Caldecott assessment. I agree just about word-for-word (except I’m in the other camp on THE BOYS- just okay for me) and am equally disappointed with the fade of GARBAGE BARGE (which I thought was a slam-dunk six months ago). And since it’s a Wild Card Year, I’ll still hold out hope for some recognition for FARM by Elisha Cooper and IN THE WILD by David Elliott and Holly Meade.

  13. Mark Flowers says:

    Gotta say I agree with you about Country Frog. I found myself holding it in my hands yesterday with my daughter sitting in front of me and saying “eh, I don’t really feel like reading this to her.” Possibly Mo’s greatest strength is in the way his own illustrations work with his words.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I really really don’t want War to End All Wars (aka “Russell Freedman Phones One In”) to win anything. But I agree that it has a strong, if not inevitable, chance.

  14. I’m still eagerly awaiting the day when *all* of the awards recognize the best book published in the year (and looking forward to Renata Liwska’s next book, too.)

  15. Mr. Angleberger if it were up to my students you would be getting all kinds of shiny awards. YODA is the first book to shove Greg and Percy out of the top checkout spot in our library.

  16. @L. Williams
    According to information found in Gale Biography in Context, Richard Atwater wrote the book and submitted it to two publishers, who both turned it down, before he suffered a stroke in 1934 that left him unable to write. His wife then rewrote the beginning and end of the book, and it was published in 1938. He died in 1948.

  17. I am so behind A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE for some Caldecott-love. But you say no one was tooting the horn for THE BOYS? Not true! I seriously hearted that book (evidence here: I agree 100% about the cleverness and beauty of its visual narrative. Such an incredibly smart piece of art.

    I love that you picked ONE CRAZY SUMMER, THE DREAMER and KEEPER. All strong choices and I’d be pleased to see any of them nab the medal. I just finished A LONG WALK TO WATER and HEART OF A SAMURAI and I have to say that I’d love to see these books get recognized. Both are amazing, inspiring, and original. But of course, if this really is a “wild card” year and the committee is willing to go out on a limb, I don’t see why COUNTDOWN couldn’t make 2010 a barrier-breaking year like 2008!

    Excellent list, Betsy! I am giddy with excitement for the announcements. My library’s kids Mock Newbery group is voting next Wednesday night. Our contenders are: The Kneebone Boy, Heart of a Samurai, The Dreamer, The Boneshaker, What Happened on Fox Street, Mockingbird, Out of My Mind, To Come and Go Like Magic, Best Friends Forever, One Crazy Summer, Keeper, Countdown, Sir Charlie, Woods Runner, Jake, The Extraordinary Mark Twain, and Sit-In. We threw some unlikely contenders into the mix this year to challenge the kids to really think about and discuss the criteria and whether or not they fit. It’s been a very interesting few months of discussion so far. I can’t wait to see what our kids pick. 🙂

  18. Traci Palmore says:

    We are conducting a mock Newbery in my 4th and 5th grade class – our convention is Tues. so I’m not quite sure at this point what my students will choose but they were not impressed with One Crazy Summer at all – I know, I know…not the point, right? They are up in arms about the fact that what children like is not given more consideration. In fact, they want to know why there are no children on the selection committee. They have expressed tendencies toward Out of My Mind, though. I did not even include The Dreamer on our reading list because I think it is so unappealing to kids. We will read all the comments on this page on Monday so thank you to everyone who just gave us more titles for our reading lists!

  19. If you really want wild card, show me a humorous book winning the Newbery! I suppose it’s happened with the honor books here and there… But the Newbery awards remind me of the Oscars; heavy-duty takes it almost every time! And if it’s historical, so much the better. This year in film The King’s Speech fits the bill, for example, although crazy-dark Black Swan is a contender for similar reasons. (I believe you commented on the humor issue last year, Betsy.) Anyway, not much funny this year, unless you count Bink and Gollie or the dire tongue-in-cheekiness of A Tale Dark and Grimm.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Ah, but last year’s committee surprised me by actually picking a funny Newbery Honor title. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg was a title I’d mentioned early in the year, but dropped later on because I didn’t think it had a shot. Oh me of little faith!

      This year there wasn’t much I found downright funny anyway. Unless you count the aforementioned Popularity Papers or The Strange Case of Origami Yoda or Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze. And they wouldn’t be able to win anyway (in theory) because they involve pictures. I think you’re right on about Bink & Gollie and A Tale Dark & Grimm, and I do find them good funny contenders. Absolutely.

  20. The Kneebone Boy is pretty funny, too, and I thought As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth had its moments, but this just doesn’t seem to be a great year for funny.

    Just read Heart of a Samurai thanks to the mentions here (I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise) and think it’d be a classic Newbery pick and a great choice for the O’Dell. I considered the “New World” issue while I was reading it, and I think–even though not much of the book actually takes place on American soil–the culture of the ships is decidedly American and it should certainly qualify. Actually, I think this is almost too much of a classic Newbery, to the point that its choice would be something of a cliche (though the book really isn’t–I found the writing fresh and interesting). Historical fiction, check. Exotic culture, check. White female author, check. Boy protagonist, check. It could hardly hit more of the Newbery Norms if it tried. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great book.

  21. Betsy, I’m so glad you like The Night Fairy. I think it’s excellent and actually not at all fluffy. Great character development, great setting, and of course, LAS’s style – lyrical, wry, and down-to-earth all at once.

    I didn’t put it on my Mock Newbery reading list either because I also suspect that it’s not seriously in the running. It will warm my little heart if the committee shows it some love, though.

    Maybe I’ll start clapping my hands…

  22. So glad to see another fan of “Departure Time!” And how about “Elsie’s Bird” as a Caldecott contender?

  23. I’d wouldn’t be surprised to see THE KNEEBONE BOY receive an honor. THE BONESHAKER is a slight miss, but it would be a fun dark horse to see emerge. FORGE, for sure, is sure to receive something. I don’t think series books impact the ability to win an award (didn’t the second book of OCTAVIAN NOTHING win a Printz Honor last spring?)–it’s a brilliantly written story. I can see either ONE CRAZY SUMMER or FORGE taking the prize.

    I agree about THE QUIET BOOK. A cryin’ shame it can’t win.

  24. A light-hearted book I’d love to see get some love is PENNY DREADFUL, by Laurel Snyder. One thing it might have going for it is that it’s a book for children’s librarians to love, since Penny loves classic children’s books and goes to them for advice.

    But mainly, I’m in agreement with you about what will win the Newbery. My picks are ONE CRAZY SUMMER, with THE DREAMER and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS as Honor books. But I haven’t yet read FORGE or KEEPER. If it’s Wild Card year, maybe CONSPIRACY OF KINGS will win the medal. I would so love for that to happen.

  25. David Ziegler says:

    Some solid predictions. I certainly am rooting for A Sick Day for Amos McGee and Chalk, and wouldn’t be surprised to see Art & Max get an Honor. I really love and respect A Conspiracy of Kings, and think One Crazy Summer, Countdown, & The Dreamer have a real shot for Newbery recognition. My outside shots include Woods Runner and Boneshaker.

  26. I thought that John Burningham could be eligible for the Caldecott for his There’s Going to Be A Baby. Even posted it someplace and then realized he is not eligible. Dang. Good book.

    Please notice DEPARTURE TIME (even though it is not eligible). It is a brilliant book that, unfortunately, will not make the Notables list.

    A Caldecott could go to Ubiquitous (even though Dark Emperor is getting the more serious consideration, perhaps rightly). A Newbery could go to Mirror Mirror. Also in that dark horse range, I would not be sorry to see Ninth Ward or Zora and Me sneak into the mix. I would love it if the AMAZING Scientists in the Field books got some serious award love (Kakapo Rescue being, perhaps, the best of this year’s bunch). I am solidly with you on One Crazy Summer. That is the horse I am betting on. I am also with you on Keeper and The Dreamer. So if I had to pick, I am selecting One Crazy Summer as the winner; honors going to The Dreamer, Keeper, Countdown, and Zora and Me. Last year my picks were: When You Reach Me, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, and The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. I am not expecting to match last year’s success this year. In fact, I think it is entirely possible to be shut out. We shall see!

  27. OOOH!

    So excited…

    My School Staff’s mock Newbery has three of your four our top five.

    Thanks, again, Betsy!

  28. You have the best posts on potential winners! Thank you!

  29. sam leopold says:

    My 6th graders have looked at several Contender blogs and voted your blog the best. Thanks!!!