Best Books of the Year Lists
As we continue to get December nominations from Heavy Medal readers, it’s also the time of year when we see Best of the Year lists coming out from journals. So far we’ve seen lists from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus, as well as the New York Public Library. Horn Book and Booklist should be out soon (if we’ve missed them let us know).
The Newbery Committee has a very different task than the creators of these lists, of course. The Terms and Criteria strictly determine what constitutes “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” though as we see every year on this blog, and in the Committee choices, those criteria are certainly open to some interpretation. The journals, on the other hand, are compiling large lists, usually unranked, representing a broad spectrum of books. It’s very possible that a book could appear on several “Best of” lists, by landing in everyone’s top 15 or 20, but at the same time not stand out enough to make anyone’s top 5.
So the “Best Books of the Year” lists don’t necessarily provide insight into a process devoted to finding the single best book of the year. Still, it’s always interesting to look at what shows up on the lists, and maybe even a little more interesting to see what doesn’t. We’re still waiting for more Best of the Year lists and our HM December Nominations are still in progress, but here are a few notable results seen when comparing the two:
5 books that have a high number of nominations here and also showed up on at least 3 of the 4 lists:
Journey of Little Charlie
Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Of these five, Front Desk and Parker Inheritance made all four Best of the Year lists.
5 books with lots of Heavy Medal nominations did not show up on any of the 4 lists so far:
Just Like Jackie
Louisiana’s Way Home
Kind of surprising to see two past Medal winners (Kwame Alexander and Kate DiCamillo) in this bunch.
5 books that have received no Heavy Medal nominations and appeared on at least two Best of the Year lists:
Dactyl Hill Squad by Older
Facing Frederick by Bolden
Jabberwalking by Herrera
Love Sugar Magic by Meriano
Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow by Thornhill
Of these, I’ve only read Facing Frederick, which was very good, and Jabberwalking, which was unique and creative but I’m still not sure what to make of it.
Feel free to share any thoughts about the Best of the Year lists below. And we’ll post links when we learn about more lists being released.
A note from Roxanne — some of the accounting might not be entirely accurate. Please comment if you see errors!
Filed under: Process
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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