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Newbery/Caldecott 2013: The Spring Prediction Edition

For the final prediction edition of the 2013 Newbery/Caldecott Awards be sure to see my latest post here.

By my reckoning the minute Daylight Savings occurs it is high time to start throwing out some of the old predictions for a healthy, happy new year.  By now we’ve all processed the shock of the previous season and we may even have read all the Newbery winners (my children’s bookgroup is doing Breaking Stalin’s Nose at the moment and they’re a bit baffled by the illustrations).

As per usual if early award speak gives you a case of the hives you are free to go.  Now let’s go phone up The Ghost of Predictions Past and see what he can tell us about this unusual rite of spring.  According to him my track record is spotty at best:

2008 spring predictions: I get one Caldecott right (How I Learned Geography)

2009 spring predictions: I get two Newberys right (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The (Mostly) True Adventures of Homer P Figg)

2010 spring predictions: I get one Newbery right (One Crazy Summer)

2011 spring predictions: I get one Newbery right (Inside Out and Back Again)

As you can see I’m better at Newberys than Caldecotts.  Still, I’m a hearty soul with plenty of bombast to hand out and about.  Plus this year I feel like my new job with the library is giving me a leg up.  Combine that with some of the buzz I’ve heard from folks I trust and you’ve got yourself a new reading list for the coming year.  Here’s how I see it (here’s how it is):

2013 Newbery Predictions

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao – They say that kid-appeal isn’t necessarily a Newbery Award requirement, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.  This isn’t Applegate’s first book to garner Newbery buzz, but to my mind it’s the book that has the best chance in the running.  Verse with purpose is how I’m labeling this one.  It balances the ability to make readers cry with a surprisingly light touch.  It’s a downer without being a downer (if that makes any sense at all).  Expect to hear a lot of Ivan debates in the coming year.

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin – I have sneaky friends in important places who get to read all the good stuff before anyone else.  That’s how I heard about Lin’s follow up to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  It’s not a sequel but rather another fable-based tale set in the same world (or so I hear).  I also have it on good authority that it is awesome.  Readers can keep an eye peeled for this one around October 2nd.

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Obed, illustrated by Barbara McClintock – Truth be told, if it wins a Caldecott instead I’ll be perfectly content with that too.  Perfectly.  I was inclined to read the book because it sported a Laura Amy Schlitz blurb.  Now there are some authors out there who blurb twenty books in a given season, leaving librarians like myself skeptical.  Other authors don’t blurb anyone unless the book is going to be mighty special.  Ms. Schlitz is in the latter category so I was unsurprised to find that when I read the little lovely thing (it’s only 64 pages) it blew me away.  Neither fish nor fowl, this early chapter book beauty (it’s hard to label but that’s what I’ll call it for now) recounts the different kinds of ice a family encounters when the winter season hits.  Get out your ticket stubs now, ladies and gentlemen.  This is one title that’s going to be a heavy contender in the 2013 award betting pools.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it isn’t out until November 6th.  Sorry, folks.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – The one to beat.  I wouldn’t necessarily call it the Okay for Now of 2012 (for one thing, I don’t want to jinx it) but Palacio already has an edge in this game by having managed to grace the innards of such publications as Entertainment Weekly and such.  Not too shabby for a tale of a boy born with severe facial abnormalities.  I confess to you that when I initially bought it for my library system I simply got the standard rudimentary amount of copies.  After demand spiked, however, I purchased quite a lot more.  I am surprised that they released it this early in the year, of course.  Still, I suspect it will gather its legions of fans about it and make a serious dive for January 2013 consideration.  Count on it.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz – Lo, I have seen the cover of this book and yea verily it is AMAZING.  However, I suspect Candlewick will be revealing the book all in their own good time so I won’t spoil it.  Suffice to say, if I were a kid I’d grab it right quick.  Those of you who have been patiently waiting for the next full novel from Ms. Schlitz (A Drowned Maiden’s Hair is one of the greatest novels for children written in the past ten years, after all) the wait will soon be over.  I have not read this one but due to the fact that anything the woman writes is outright genius, I’m going out on a limb here and calling this as a book with buzz before the buzz before the buzz.  Expect this one on August 28th.

2013 Caldecott Predictions

Here I’m far more shaky.  I know we’ve a roster of great books out this season but sorting through them is going to take some serious work.  At the very least, here are the three that I know will have the best shot at the debates:

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – Stead won so recently that some might deem it unfair to peg her again quite so soon.  All I can say is that when you’ve a raw bit of talent like her on your hands then you’re inclined to think she should be rewarded for it as often as possible.  This book is a sheer delight from start to finish, no question.  The writing is exquisite, the pictures sublime.  A very big contender thus far.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – Yeah, I know it looks like I’m just handing Neal Porter a Caldecott, no questions asked, but is it my fault the man’s taste is so impeccable?  Seeger’s books are usually touch and go for me.  Sometimes I dig them, sometimes not so much.  This book?  Dude, I dig it.  I dig it big time.  Her best work in years and years and years.  If I were a betting woman I’d say this might be her ticket to the Gold.  This here’s the one to watch.

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff – Utterly gorgeous as well with a very child-centric story.  I’ll be reviewing this one soon but take a gander at it if you have a chance.  It has elements of everything from Blueberries for Sal to Old Bear.  Which is to say, it feels like a classic.

And yourselves?  What have you spotted that’s worth eyeing?  Be sure to check out Jonathan Hunt’s 2013 Newbery Reading List for other ideas.

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 second And Then It’s Spring!

  2. Have you seen More by Brian Lies? That will be a contender too, I’ll bet.

  3. I may be a tad biased, but I really love Ted Kooser / Jon Klassen’s HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES. It’s gorgeous.

  4. Rita Painter says:

    I just read The One and Only Ivan in one sitting yesterday… I LOVED it!!

  5. Oh, gosh, I love Laura Amy Schlitz’s A DROWNED MAIDEN’S HAIR. I didn’t know she had another novel coming out. Looking forward to that one, thanks!

  6. Oooh, goodie. Well, let’s see. I just started (this morning while drying my hair) The One and Only Ivan, and it’s quite remarkable. I think Wonder is absolutely fantastic–and I don’t know anything about the others! I thought May B and The Lions of Little Rock were terrific, but I would like to buck the historical fiction “trend.” (Even though Kristin Levine lives in northern VA, and it would be awesome to have a Virginian win!)

    As for Caldecott, gee, I don’t know. Our February books are still coming in, and I just placed our March order, which does include Green. I ordered Baby Bear Sees Blue, but all copies are checked out. I’m pleased that you mentioned it–when I ordered it,I thought it sounded like a sure-fire hit for our families–so I’m definitely going to place a hold request for it.

  7. Oh, yes–I AM looking forward to And Then It’s Spring. Naturally, all copies are checked out. I think this is going to be a good year.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just to whet a few more appetites, Adam Gidwitz has a new book coming out this fall. According to Amazon, it’s called THROUGH A GLASS GRIMMLY–I don’t know whether it’s a sequel or a companion book to A TALE DARK AND GRIMM, but if Mr. Gidwitz writes it, I’m aching to read it.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Gidwitz does indeed have a new book coming out but it’s about Jack and Jill rather than Hansel and Gretel this time. Good point, though. It may be one to watch for.

  9. Wonder is the one to beat for me so far, and I’m about to read The One and Only Ivan.

    I’m all squee about the new Laura Amy Schlitz, and I hadn’t heard about that Grace Lin title yet, but if it’s anything like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (or Dragon and Min-Li, as my kid calls it), it shall be full of win.

    I’m surprised people aren’t talking more about The Lions of Little Rock.

  10. I LOVED And Then It’s Spring. I read it and then e-mailed my staff saying this was an early Caldecott contender and they needed to get their hands on it ASAP. It’s a lovely book and the illustrations capture the changing seasons so perfectly. I also think it’s different enough from Amos McGee to stand out.

  11. I almost choked on my coffee when I read your post mentioning my book. After nearly 30 years at this, I have pretty much given up ideas of winning a prize and I just try to make books that kids will love. I thank you for the appreciation of Baby Bear Sees Blue.

  12. Baby Bear Sees Blue is glorious. It’s my number one choice for Caldecott. Ashley has such an impressive body of work behind her. She really brings her mastery to this book.

  13. Kay Maclear’s Virginia Wolf will take your breath away, but the talented Isabelle Arsenault is not eligible, I assume.

    I’m fond of the books mentioned here, but I must say that Matthew Cordell’s Another Brother is a little bit of genius, too. So is Kate Coombs’ Water Sings Blue (Meilo So).

  14. What about LIAR & SPY? Not sure I can wait till August to read it . . .

  15. Sharon Touchton says:

    I am almost through The One and Only Ivan with a third grade class. They are loving it as much as I am. Applegate’s The Underneath was superb, but I think this new one has a better chance. I had it pegged even before I read the blog.

  16. I just finished WONDER about ten minutes ago. I found it to be marvelous. It’s already a given for the Schneider Award (I suppose, although Auggie didn’t really seem “disabled” to me), but it would be stupendous to see it win the Newbery. It’s the only one of the contenders I’ve read so far, but it really moved me like few other books have.


  1. […] compiling a list of books that these gurus are predicting and trying to read them all before January when the awards are announced. This list […]