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December Nomination Time: Last Chance to Nominate

It’s time for our final round of nominations, a little early so we can make our Heavy Medal Book List. Select your next top two children’s books of the year by Saturday, December 4th and we’ll add them to our nominations list. We nominated three titles in October, and two in November and you can see the past results here.

cover of A SHOT IN THE ARM by Don Brown, a not-yet nominated title.
  • Nominate two titles in the comments below. (If you didn’t nominate your three in October or two in November, you can have extra).
  • Listing the two titles is fine, but if you would like to share a bit about why any of them made your list, or any strategic rationale, that’s fine.
  • Nominations will stay open through the end of Saturday, December 4th. We’ll post the totals on the 6th.
  • The nominations list helps Steven and I develop the Heavy Medal Book List. These are the titles we will feature, discuss, and vote on for our Heavy Medal Mock Newbery.
  • We already have six titles on our list: AMBER AND CLAY, FALLOUT, HARRY VS. THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF SCHOOL, JUST LIKE THAT, PITY PARTY, AND RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE. You don’t necessarily need to nominate these, because they are already on our list!
  • Now is the time to look at past nominations and strategize. If a title is already nominated, adding it can show additional support and make it more likely to be included on our booklist. However, if a title isn’t nominated at all it is super highly unlikely it will be included on our booklist.

Now, let’s own Monday and get nominating!

About Emily Mroczek-Bayci

Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at


  1. Matthew Bowers says

    The Genius Under the Table – Yelchin
    Watercress – Wang

  2. Julie Ann Corsaro says

    THE LAST CUENTISTA by Donna Higuera

    A page turner with substance. With Haley’s comet on course to destroy earth, Petra is one of the few earthlings to escape its path, along with her younger brother and scientist parents. This dystopia has strong characterizations, which includes a Latinx/a protagonist, which is distinctive for the genre. The writing is richly descriptive, including vivid imagery, which contrasts and brings to life both the rich earthbound Southwestern landscape of warm familial relationships and that of a sterile spaceship ruled by an authoritarian regime. It is also well-structured and suspenseful (again: a page-turner). The intertwined themes of memory and storytelling are well-realized as each sustains Petra as she works to save some of the children on board. (I do have a few questions regarding the world-building, which I can raise if this gets discussed).


    As with THE LAST CUENTISTA, this memoir by Russian-born, Jewish writer/illustrator Yelchin is about the sustaining power of the arts. Set during the Soviet era, it vividly tells of Yelchin’s childhood in a single room apartment with his extended family where there’s a requisite KGB agent close at hand. Well-structured with breezy chapters, it is darkly funny, covering not only the repression of communism, but that of anti-Semitism. With engaging dialogue, the characters are actual people and “real characters” with vivid quirks; particularly memorable is Yelchin’s mother who works at the Vaganova Ballet and fears the defection of her beloved Baryshnikov. The ending packs a poignant punch I didn’t see coming.

    These two stand-outs also have some of the best cover art of the year, with THE LAST CUENTISTA being especially beautiful.

  3. Amanda Bishop says

    One Jar of Magic
    The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

  4. So – this is my first time nominating, but I’ve been following along – trying to catch up on reading.

    Here’s my top two this year:

    Watercress – Wang
    Red, White, and Whole LaRocca

  5. Leonard Kim says

    AMOS MCGEE MISSES THE BUS by Stead – I agree “if a title isn’t nominated at all it is super highly unlikely it will be included on our booklist”, but if there’s an exception, it might be a picture book, as it’d only take a couple more nominations to vie with WATERCRESS and MILO.

    • Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

      yes, you’re right Leonard. and yes, steven and I take will take the number of nominations into account, but we’ll also have a conversation about balance and other factors… so in any category a book doesn’t necessarily need to have the most nominations… though it helps!

  6. Meredith Burton says

    THis task was very hard, but here are my final nominations:

    1. A Place to Hang the Moon, by Kate Albus. THis book has stayed with me ever since my first reading of it, and the omniscient narrative perspective, (with the wry humor and ability to portray each child’s perspective), stands out. Also, the linear plot structure is easy to follow, and the quest of finding a home is explored in a well-structured manner. While I do not know if the “old-fashioned” plot will stand against other titles, I definitely think A Place to Hang the Moon deserves consideration. ALso, the historical details are vivid and evocative.
    2. Starfish, by Lisa FIps. All right, I know some explanation is in order, as I have been one of this novel’s harshest critics on this site. HOwever, I cannot, in good conscience, neglect nominating this title, as I cannot stop thinking about it. THe subject matter hits very close, (amost too close), to home for me, and perhapse I am biased. HOwever, this books’ theme of finding a voice and of Ellie learning how she fits into a world of such narrow-minded assumptions and people is truly unforgettable. ALso, Fipps’s use of humor, and Ellie’s stand-out voice deserve consideration. I still have quibbles about certain aspects of characterization, but Starfish is a unique novel, and, after much reflection, I realized that I had to nominate it.

    (Please note that I have yet to read THe Genius Under the Table or Watercress, but both books have been on my to-read list. I also thought of nominating The Last CUetista, which was so beautiful, but I ultimately couldn’t ignore the ones I ultimately chose.

  7. 1. BEING CLEM with no reservations! I think it stands alone beautifully without its companion books. It really didn’t seem like part of a series, each of the three books focuses on a different protagonist. Read it if you haven’t yet!! Here’s what Horn Book had to say: “Cline-Ransome’s mastery of first-person narration and her gift for dialogue present a close-up look at Chicago’s African ­American community in the 1940s” Mastery indeed!

    2. THE GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE (though I think the ending was a trifle…. hasty?… would love to see what folks think in a discussion)

    I did not nominate in November so…
    The writing was gorgeous and I snuggled right into that book so quickly. Just wonderful.

    Sadly, I have nothing to offer for my other November nomination as my library has not yet received the others I was hoping to consider: (Playing the Cards… by Varian Johnson, The Shape of Thunder, The Last Cuentista, and The Legend of Auntie Po are the ones I’m most excited to get my hands on when the Olde Shipping Container Woes of 2021 abate.)

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      In our Mock Newbery world it can be frustrating when we aren’t able to get our hands on books in a timely manner. I’m actually holding off for a few more days on my Dec nominations in hopes that my copy of OUT OF MY HEART will arrive (and that I can read it quickly).
      Real Committee members should be getting copies of most of the needed books around their release date, but it can be tricky with November or early December releases. In my years at least, if a member identified a book that folks hadn’t received, the Chair could notify ALSC and efforts would be made to get copies sent out to everyone.

  8. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    A bit more about late publications: On the real Committee, the December nominations are the last opportunity for members to add titles to the final discussion list….almost. According to the Newbery Manual, there one last opportunity: “late suggestions…for books published in December prior to the Midwinter Meeting.” (p. 19) So if a book comes out after the December nominations and before the Midwinter discussions, a member could suggest it; this would not be an official nomination with a written justification. This would typically happen in early January.
    Because of confidentiality rules, we don’t get to know how often that happens, but it’s safe to assume that members would not take this lightly, and would only use the late suggestion option for a pretty strong contender. But it’s nice to know that a book wouldn’t miss a chance to contend just because of December pub date.

  9. Milo Imagines the World
    Pax Journey Home

  10. I’ve not nominated yet this year, but I have read every post on the blog! My two nominations that didn’t make the “Early Six” are:

    The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga
    The Genius Under the Table by Eugene Yelchin

    LOVED the “Early Six” picks. I made a top 3 for those!

    Red, White, and Whole
    Amber and Clay

    I can’t wait to see the final 9 titles on the list!

  11. Mary Lou White says

    Genius Under the Table

  12. Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing
    The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

  13. Frankie and Bug by Gayle Forman – it was one of those books where everything comes together in the end. To me, Bug was realistic in her feelings and frustrations, as she begins to learn about what a complex world she lives in.

    The Genius Under the Table by Eugene Yelchin – so interesting to learn about his life as a child in Russia, which is very different from mine and children today, and his parents’ desires for him to find success, which is nearly universal.

  14. Mary Lou White says

    I need to add one more I just read for the first time:
    The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi

  15. Murray Johnson says

    Starfish by Lisa Fipps and Pony by R.J. Palacio

  16. Since I somehow missed all the nominations posts, here are all my picks at once, in no particular order.

    1. Watercress by Andrea Wang
    2. Unspeakable by Carole Boston Weatherford
    3. Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
    4. Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson
    5. Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
    6. Black Boy Joy edited by Kwame Mbalia
    7. Delicates by Brenna Thummler

  17. Finally got around to THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY and man, did I love that weird little book. That’s my nomination.

  18. How to FInd What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani
    The Genius Under the Table by Eugene Yelchin

    • Julie Ann Corsaro says

      If I had a 9th nomination, Kate, it would have been for HOW TO FIND WHAT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR. I was glad to see it favorably reviewed in the New York Times this weekend as I don’t think it has gotten the attention it deserves. It’s unique with a second-person narration and the way it takes on interracial marriage based on the experiences of the author’s parents. I’m also a big fan of FRANKIE AND BUG, which also got a glowing review by no less than Jennifer Holms in the Times. I nominated it during the first round and was happy to see Dawn nominate it during this final round. I think they both are worthy of serious consideration.

  19. Windy Hunter says

    I missed the first two nominations, so here is a start to my 7:

    Two of my top seven are already on the list of 6, so I am going to read as much as I can over the next 4 days to see if I have 3 more to nominate.

  20. Frankie and Bug! As soon as I finished it I knew it was my #1 Newbery pick.

  21. Lion of Mars! Holm is an oft-honor, never-winner, and I was really impressed with Lion of Mars–how unique it felt, but also grounded in what kid lit is at this time.

  22. Sarah Traugott says

    Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

    A Shot in the Arm by Don Brown

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      Becoming Muhammad Ali came out last year, so not eligible this time. Good book, though!

  23. Rox Anne Close says

    WATERCRESS by Andrea Wang
    PONY by R. J. Palacio

    I have two books on my pile that I really wanted to read before the December deadline, but I did not get a chance to read them yet so I will not nominate them: OUT OF MY HEART by Sharon M. Draper (I love her writing, but I just got a copy of her latest book in the mail today). And the other book is THE LAST CUENTISTA by Donna Barba Higuera. That book looks intriguing to me! So I will go with my two nominees stated above, WATERCRESS and PONY, which I think are both Newbery worthy.

  24. Starfish
    Katie the Cat Sitter


  26. Courtney Hague says

    Ok. I missed the October nominations, so I’m going to do 5 here.

    1. BEATRYCE PROPHECY by Kate DiCamillo – I think this book has some great symbolism to talk about and also plays with some common tropes.

    2. WATERCRESS by Andrea Wang – I think, as a picture book option, there’s a lot to discuss with this one.

    3. LION OF MARS by Jennifer L Holm – once again it’s the use of common tropes but then also her descriptions that I think make this worthwhile for discussion.

    4. AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B.B. Alston – Honestly, I just really liked this one and want to talk about it

    5. THE ONE THING YOU’D SAVE by Linda Sue Park – The way that Park uses poetry to convey so much about this classroom of kids in such a short book is really amazing.

  27. Andrew Thomas says

    It is too bad that long-form nonfiction often seems to be overlooked.

    WE MUST NOT FORGET, Deborah Hopkinson. This book presents the Holocaust from the viewpoint of people who experienced it personally in a way that is engaging for those who are acquainted with the topic, as well as for young readers just learning about it. This one has a star from Kirkus and was an Orbis Pictus recommended title.

    THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY, Candy Fleming, also published by Scholastic Focus, a great source of nonfiction titles.

  28. Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

    OK I’ve been musing all day and have decided on my final two: LEGACY and THE PEOPLE REMEMBER. Both unique and excellent forms of nonfiction that deserve consideration.

  29. Ellen Peterson says

    1. Merci suárez can’t dance. Prbobly won’t win as it’s a sequel and hasn’t gotten a tun of buzz but I thuroly enjoyed it. One of my favorites of the year. 2. The shape of thunder.

    • Merci Suárez Can ‘t Dance was FANTASTIC! Also one of my faves of the year. I urge everyone to read it and recommend it. So much great stuff about the confusion a kid goes through during puberty!!

  30. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I never did get my copy of the new Sharon Draper, so decided to go back to two books I read a while ago, even though they already have nominations. They were almost-nominations for me earlier, and I haven’t read any new titles that surpass them:


  31. Melisa Bailey says

    Genius under the table was fabulous.

  32. Laura Harrison says

    1. The Beatryce Prophecy
    2. The Genius Under the Table
    3. The Elephant in the Room
    3. DaVinci’s Cat
    4. Amber & Clay

  33. Louie Lauer says

    Milo Imagines the World
    Pity Party

  34. Genius under the Table

  35. Windy Hunter says

    Ok, here are my last 3 nominations:
    I wanted to nominate something that wasn’t in the early six, but nothing else I read stood out to me, but I didn’t get to read Pony, Out of my Heart, or Once Upon a Camel yet. I was very excited to see someone else nominate The Elephant in the Room!!!!