Each member of the Newbery committee will submit three nominations to the chair sometime during the month of October, probably on or around October 15. Each nomination is submitted with a brief written justification. My strategy at this point is quite simple: I’m going to nominate the three best titles. In no particular order.
ERUPTION! by Elizabeth Rusch . . . I’m also quite fond of IMPRISONED by Martin Sandler and ‘THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT!” by James Swanson, but this may be the best of the lot. It’s certainly the nonfiction book that I think would be the easiest to build consensus around. The text is clear, organized, accurate, but beyond that it evinces a curiosity and passion about its subject that is infectious.
THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadhohata . . . While I’m not sure that this is the absolute best middle grade title of the year, the characters here easily stand out to me as the most distinguished, so much that any deficiency in the plotting just melted away. If you can make me care about the world of harvesting wheat, then you have earned a nomination fair and square. Oh, and the book is funny. Bonus points for that.
WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by Joyce Sidman . . . We haven’t discussed this one yet because it just came out, but suffice it to say that Sidman is, once again at the top of her game. This is a longer collection of poems for a slightly older audience than her picture book collections. The introduction explores the power of words in ancient times, especially in the form of chants, charms, laments, spells, invocations, blessings, promises, and praise songs. More on this one later.
Think of these nominations as a snapshot in time. Give me your top three right now. Last year, I wouldn’t let you change them in subsequent rounds, but I have rethought that rule this year. So no holding back now. Let us have them–with a brief written justification, of course.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at email@example.com
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