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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fake Newbery Winners: Create Your Own Title

WalkTwoMoons2So I’m reading through the latest issue of School Library Journal, checking out which books got some stars in the back, and I notice something in the middle grade novel section.  Three titles in particular catch my eye:

  • A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder
  • Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu
  • The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

All starred books with great authors. I’ve not read any of them yet, but I’m looking forward to doing so. Yet as I’m looking at their names, it occurs to me that when it comes to naming books, certain titles sound more, how shall I put it, Newbery worthy.  Consider the following titles:

The Higher Power of Lucky
One Came Home
Inside Out and Back Again
When You Reach Me
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Walk Two Moons

If you knew nothing about these books, their titles would strike you as particularly esoteric.  There’s a certain style to them that repeats.  The logical conclusion to reach then is that there must be an art to writing titles that sound Newbery-ish.  So, for fun, I tried coming up with a couple of my own.  Fake Newbery titles!  And while I was at it, I came up with fake descriptions of what the books would be about.  Here’s what I conjured up:

  • Swimming Against the Dreams – Probably would involve a young woman who decides that her childhood pet wasn’t put down like her parents told her, but is currently the star of a reality show where it competes against other dogs to rescue the most people.  She feels she has to reunite with it because she’s convinced that if she brings it home she’ll be able to cure her little brother’s dire disease.
  • Twenty Things to do When You Sleep – Hm. This one sounds like a more fantastical story about a boy who discovers that when he dreams he sees the day that just happened through the eyes of one of his classmates. And the bully who torments him may be dealing with more than he ever realized.
  • Forgetting the Final Thing – We haven’t done one about moving yet.  So this one would be about a girl who has just moved to the big city from the country and is worried that the more time she spends surrounded by concrete, the more things she forgets about nature.  She’s convinced that she forgets one thing about nature a day, and the only way to stop it is to run away to the local park and to live there.
  • The Art of Making Lightning – Historical fiction.  A boy lives next to the Carlisle Indian School but doesn’t think much about it until he hears about their fantastic football team.  He sneaks away to watch them play whenever he can.
  • Under the Willow Tree – Written in verse, this one’s about a girl dealing with the divorce of her parents against the backdrop of the hottest day of the year.  Oh, and it all takes place in 24 hours.

I could do these forever.  We should make a game out of it.  Like the Dictionary Game or Balderdash, except that you’re supposed to come up with plots for obscure Newbery Award winners.

What are some of your own fake Newbery titles?  Don’t pick one that already exists, mind you.

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.



    The Only Way Out Is Through
    A Short Walk to the Ends of the Earth
    A Fingernail Moon
    The Reasons for Weather
    Things To Do In Sheboygan

  2. These are brilliant, as is your explanation about what each one is about. And Marjorie’s above are great too. Let’s see what I can add…

    Count Down from a Million
    Lightning Bug Promise
    I’ll Forget You, Rafael Oliveira

    (I had the experience of inventing a couple of titles and then finding out they were real. Oops. I replaced those with truly nonexistent titles)

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I love these so much (the Rafael Oliveira is particularly inspired). And I too was worried that my own might actually exist.

  3. Ha!

    My Tiny Slice of Tomorrow
    The Path to Everywhere
    The Summer of Frogs and Fig Jam
    Tea Kettle Island

  4. Shelley Diaz says

    This is fun!

    Three Steps Forward
    Leaving Rosa Lee
    Where Hope Rekindles

  5. Joseph Miller says

    The Forgettable Life of Finnegan Fife.

    *drops mic*

  6. As Long as a Piece of String

  7. Denis Markell says

    This is by far my favorite post ever. At least four of these will be at BEA within a year. Sadly, this should have been posted seriously on April 1st. No one would have doubted them. I like to think I’m a pretty fair satirist, but I don’t think I can beat what’s already here. But I’ll try to add to the bookshelf:

    Peanut Butter and Jenny
    The Twelfth of Wonderful
    What I Meant To Tell You
    In The Winter We’ll Bake Bread
    All The Winds Are Laughing

    I do think next we need cover reveals for “Twenty Things to do When You Sleep” and “I’ll Forget You, Rafael Oliveira”

    • I would read The Twelfth of Wonderful. It sounds like what would happen if Dr. Seuss wrote a middle-grade novel.

    • Laura Morand Bailey says

      Oh my god….Peanut Butter and Jenny is the WINNER!!!! Go write that shit now. LOL

  8. Count Till You Hear Thunder

    The Difference Between a Duck

    What Color Was the Bear?

    • Here are the plot descriptions for the books. You can match any description to any title and it will make just as much sense.

      (1.) Maya discovers that she can earn money by selling MASH notes to her classmates, because they’re convinced her fortunes always come true. But Maya’s own future is harder to predict, and it may not be a happy one.

      (2.) Two parallel stories, set 150 years apart, about a house on the Underground Railroad and the troubled girl who moves in generations later.

      (3.) Lucas finds out that his little brother has never had an imaginary friend, so he invents one on his behalf. He’s decided to make up 100 stories about the imaginary friend, so his brother can read them when Lucas isn’t around. Because, you see, Lucas is dying.

    • (Also, I like “Count Till You Hear Thunder” as a title)

  9. Kristine A says

    The Many Curses of Ariella Cline
    When No One Comes Home For Dinner
    Bronze Stars, Blue Cars
    But I Need You Now
    Wheat Bread and Other Awful Things
    When Shorty Came Home

  10. Just do a bunch of “Hope Is” or “Fields Of”titles, and you’ll be Newbery ready.

    Hope is a Hot Air Balloon
    Fields of Hot Air Balloons

    Hope is a Pink Eraser
    Fields of Pink Erasers

    Hope is a Four Leaf Clover
    Fields of Four Leaf Clovers

    Hope is a Melting Ice Cream Cone
    Fields of Melting Ice Cream Cones

    You can also do “Beyond the” titles. Works just as well.

    Beyond the Hot Air Balloon
    Beyond the Pink Eraser
    Beyond the Four Leaf Clover
    Beyond the Melting Ice Cream Cone

  11. On second thought….change “Hope Is” to “Hope Like”.

    Hope Like a Hot Air Balloon
    Hope Like a Pink Eraser
    Hope Like a Melting Ice Cream Cone.
    Hope Like a Four Leaf Clover

  12. Elizabeth Bird says

    Was cleaning out my desk and found a new one in a drawer that I’d scribbled down years ago.

    The Blueberry Heir

  13. These are sooooooo funny! And they’re all such good titles! You all need to start writing these books right away. Daniel, the Lucas story must happen. Automatic movie option.

  14. Marybeth Kozikowski says

    Maybe I Won’t
    12 year-old Tenney must decide whether to move back in with her mother, newly released from a rehab facility, or remain with her loving Grandpa who lives in the tiny seaside town of Limpet. However, there is something Tenney doesn’t know about Grandpa… (he’s terminally ill, naturally)

    These posts are hilarious and inspired, just what I need to make me laugh during SRC madness.

  15. Laura Morand Bailey says

    From the European collection…..

    Mao and the Magpies – a dog owned by a working class family in Dublin, Ireland looks back sadly on the days his owner took him hunting. Now even more depressed than is culturally expected of an Irish animal, he seeks the companionship of couple of new age magpies.

    Gob and Bones – two brainy and plain sisters solve crimes in a small Scottish village while encouraging each other’s eating disorders.

    London Bridge is Falling Down – Tommy gets separated from his parents during a vacation to London and becomes dependent on Garret, a gay street teen who is addicted to drugs. Is Tommy gay – or just displaying the appropriate upper middle class amount of understanding and compassion?

  16. Re: Daniel’s #2 – I just finished reading THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN, an adult novel by Sarah McCoy, with a similar plot description, alternating chapters/viewpoints between John Brown’s daughter in the 1860’s and a troubled woman who moves into an Underground RR house 150 years later. Great idea though!!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Pity it’s for adults. THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN would also make a good Newbery Award title.

  17. Best. Comment. Thread. Ever.

    Also, I’m feeling like the The Twelfth of Wonderful would work as Middle Grade, YA OR terrible rom-com starring Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs. Or Katherine Heigl and Vince Vaughn. Or Jennifer Lopez and Gerard Butler. Or Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. I COULD DO THIS ALL DAY.


  1. […] a post right up my alley over at A Fuse #8 Production today. It’s about how certain book titles sound more Newbery-ish than others. Betsy puts forth a […]