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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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2020 Newbery Predictions

I will say that this is the most challenging post I’ve had to write. It’s not as easy as it looks. I must say that my predictions might be way off, but it is a hoot to get one or two predictions right. This time around, who knows what will take the prize.

Although all the books are good contenders, I wanted to have a discussion and understand what the prognostications of our wonderful HMC 2020 predict will get the Medal and Honor.

I know that my predictions may be far-reaching. But isn’t that what makes this HMC fun?

Join in, make your Newbery Medal and Honor predictions. Please share why you selected your prediction.
Was there a book that was off the radar that could have been a contender? Let us know.

Here are my predictions for Newbery 2020:

Medal Prediction: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
When I read this in early 2019, I had no doubt that there would be talk of the top Newbery Medal for this novel. It has lively, quirky characters, on the road adventures and our leading role, Coyote Sunrise, who is a
remarkable, (ha!) solid book. Is it perfect? No. Does it tug at the reader’s heartstrings a little too much? Perhaps. I don’t care, it is an unforgettable book.

Honor Prediction: Queen of the Sea/New Kid. Oh crystal ball, I see a tie in the future for these fabulous, innovative graphic novels. Both have a distinct style.

Honor Prediction: Other Words for Home. Received so much recognition than I foresaw on Heavy Medal, it is such a gem and I predict it will not go unnoticed.

Honor Prediction: Genesis Begins Again is my medal winner. Is it wishful thinking? Maybe not. This debut novel stood out and met the criteria as a complete package.

Annisha Jeffries About Annisha Jeffries

Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award.
She can be reached at


  1. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I’m predicting New Kid as the Medal Winner. Maybe it just seems like it’s time for a graphic novel to win, but regardless of that, it’s just so strong in many of the literary elements And I was impressed with how well it stood up in discussion here on Heavy Medal.

    For Honor books I’m guessing Torpedoed. I actually think it would be an awesome Medal winner, and may get my first place vote (I haven’t decided yet) but fear it may not get enough broad support from all 15 members. My other Honor pick is The Line Tender. Not a perfect book, but just has that Newbery feel to me, with excellent writing and powerful themes. Maybe similar in voter appeal to Piecing Me Together or Wolf Hollow.

  2. samuel leopold says

    We still have three books to discuss next week, including my top choice……..

    But a couple wild cards that could surprise are


  3. Leonard Kim says

    In the discussion of QUEEN OF THE SEA, concerns were raised about its approach to history, but both The Book of Boy and The Inquisitor’s Tale took Honors recently, and I view them as rather similar in approach, so perhaps QUEEN can be similarly successful. I sort of doubt it though, with so many other strong graphic novels this year.

    I think the 2019 Committee arguably was a year too early — SAL & GABI and THE BRIDGE HOME have similarities to and the strengths of the books they did choose and perhaps more.

    I agree NEW KID’s chances look good. It might do less well if something like STARGAZING were also nominated by someone on the committee, as I’m not sure it could be demonstrated it’s actually better in a head-to-head with a similar book. (Another comparable might be MEG, JO, BETH, and AMY, but I doubt that’d get nominated as its main weakness is a little more obvious.)

    This hasn’t come up in discussion, but I don’t see how OTHER WORDS FOR HOME could be shown to be more distinguished than THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE. My basic argument is that in apples-to-apples elements, PROMISE appears to stronger (use of poetry/verse; characterization/plotting/themes facing challenges, racial and otherwise, at a new school, etc.) and PROMISE also has a lot of other strong elements. I think PROMISE would be unsurprising and inarguable if chosen.

    My prediction will be PROMISE for the Medal and NEW KID for one of the Honors. I think many other books could Honor (GENESIS, BRIDGE HOME, BEVERLY, NIGHT OWL, COYOTE, SAL & GABI) that I won’t predict among them, but wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them.

    How about PENNY AND HER SLED for a long shot Honor?

    • Molly Sloan says

      This Promise of Change was harder for me than Other Words for Home precisely because of the various forms of poetry included. I was distracted by the various forms and kept trying to figure out if there was a meaning for the switches. Because it was primarily free verse with other forms sprinkled in, I thought there was some intention when a formal form was used. For a while I was trying to figure out if there were different voices telling the story–if there was someone besides Boyce’s point of view represented. I know that This Promise of Change will be an important book in my library and in my school. I’m already working with Middle School Humanities teachers to include this in the curriculum in a few different places. However in terms of literary qualities, I found the variance in form to be a hinderance to my overall understanding and appreciation of an otherwise important, own-voice story.

  4. samuel leopold says

    I really liked Penny and her sled……good pick, Leonard.

  5. I see NEW KID and THE BRIDGE HOME taking away some hardware. Nothing more than a gut feeling on both.

  6. Molly Sloan says

    I, too, feel that New Kid will be recognized this year–perhaps for the gold. This is an important and engaging graphic novel that deserves recognition. My heart’s favorite is Other Words For Home. I found it to be an authentic voice in poetic verse. I found the narrative to be compelling and rich. I loved the characters and felt they were distinguished–even the ones we only met for a few pages. I thought the way Warga included the Syrian proverbs and interpreted in the context of Jude’s American life was a powerful blend of cultures. And I thought the use of verse as the vehicle for the story was necessary and beautiful. It conveyed the acquisition of a new language as well as the partial understanding and the incomplete expression that happens when you are immersed in a new language and culture.

    My other favorites that I would be delighted to see recognized by the committee are Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart and Pay Attention Carter Jones by Gary Schmidt.

    My dark horse book is Let ‘er Buck by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

    We’ll see what we shall see on Monday!

  7. I just finished COYOTE SUNRISE last night, and I think it’s got a great chance for the Medal. But the one I’d push for if I were on the committee this year: WE’RE NOT FROM HERE, by Geoff Rodkey. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have science fiction show up? This one does it so well, and applies so well to earthly situations — like prejudice or being the new kid.

    I think it’s a great year for graphic novels — there are more that I think are serious contenders than is usual. I hope at least one shows up as an Honor. I won’t even guess which one. 🙂 (And NO, the committee isn’t confined to just one. But is there something subconscious that only one ever seems to show up? Now that would be something if that trend were broken.)

    • Mary Zdrojewski says

      I was just thinking today as I tried to put my own list together that I would put WE’RE NOT FROM HERE on my list, at least for an honor.

  8. Too bad The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods came out so early in 2019. I think it was one of the best books I read in 2019.

  9. What I want to win:
    Medal: Other Words for Home
    Queen of the Sea
    Scary Stories for Young Foxes
    Extremely long shot but I wish it would get something: Changeling (The Oddmire #1) by William Ritter

    What I think will win: No idea! But probably New Kid will be in there somewhere.

  10. Tamiko Brown says

    Coyote Sunrise is a strong contender it has everything that makes a good children’s book. But, it seems like books that get a lot of publicity prior to the award like Coyote don’t win. I can see Genesis Begins Again and New Kid receiving something they are universal stories told from a diverse perspective. Bridge Home is another strong contender. It has an interesting the theme of helping a sibling. This is seen in several books this year such as Caterpillar Summer and Bridge Home. I can see Big Ideas That Changed The World a graphic non-fiction winning something Monday too. I predict the Newbery winner will be unexpected.

  11. Mary Clare says

    I have been thinking the same thing about Coyote Sunrise that Tamiko just expressed. Why is it that the most widely loved books miss the medal so often? I did a quick re-read of Coyote today, and it is even better to me than I remembered. I gave it 4.5 stars on Goodreads, deducting a half-star because the “diversity checklist” of the supporting characters bugged me, but the terrific and consistent narrative voice really is distinguished, in my opinion. To respond to someone else’s observation (on one HM post or another) that it isn’t the voice of a 12-year-old, I would concede it’s not the voice of a typical 12-year-old but certainly is that of a 12-year-old who has spent the past five years in the almost exclusive company of a philosophical old soul of an adult.
    I finished The Line Tender yesterday, a book that shares plot elements with Coyote Sunrise. For me, it didn’t have nearly the emotional impact and wasn’t half as fun. So look for it to receive Newbery recognition on Monday.

    Having said all this, I voted in the poll for New Kid, the best graphic novel I’ve ever read, and the one I predict will be awarded the Newbery Medal. I am predicting Other Words for Home and maybe The Line Tender or The Bridge Home for honors, though I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for Coyote Sunrise.

    This has been a lot of fun to follow. I retire at the end of this school year and already looking forward to following Heavy Medal 2021 to keep myself up with kidlit!

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