What Have We Missed?: “Best Books of the Year” lists
The year-long question for every award committee member is: What did I miss? December offers a good checkpoint as the major children’s literature review journals announce their “Best Books of the Year” lists. The amazing Jen J. compiles these every year on her awesome Jen J.’s Booksheets page, making it easy for us to see the titles that are making multiple lists. So far, her list includes School Library Journal, Horn Book, and Publisher’s Weekly. Kirkus, Booklist, and the Bulletin (BCCB) will be added eventually (not all are released yet), but for now let’s look at the partial list.
As expected: Here are some titles that have made at least 2 of the 3 lists and have also been discussed to some degree on Heavy Medal:
- THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN by Barnett (2 lists)
- LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA by Kelly (2)
- THE LINE TENDER by Allen (2)
- LOOK BOTH WAYS by Reynolds (3)
- NEW KID by Craft (2)
- OTHER WORDS FOR HOME by Warga (2)
- PET by Emezi (2)
- QUEEN OF THE SEA by Meconis (2)
- UNDEFEATED by Alexander (3)
Some surprises: Three books that have received fairly strong support on Heavy Medal (three or more Nominations through November), but did not appear on any of the first three Best Of lists:
- EVENTOWN by Haydu
- PLANET EARTH IS BLUE by Panteleakos
- SWEEPING UP THE HEART by Henkes
Did we miss these?: Here are a few that are getting recognition on the Best Of lists (named on two of the three so far), but have not been featured on Heavy Medal…but maybe they should have?
- BIRDSONG by Flett (3 Best Of lists)
I haven’t read this yet, but both writing and art get high praise from reviewers. We haven’t looked at a lot of picture books on HM this year…is this one a possibility?
- GUTS by Telegemeier (2)
We’ve discussed several graphic novels, but not this one. It’s one of the most popular books of the year.
- JUANA & LUCAS: BIG PROBLEMAS by Medina (2)
The second book in the series; the first won a Pura Belpre Medal. Another category we haven’t highlighted much on HM.
- RIVER by Elisha Cooper (2)
Beautifully written longer picture book about a solo canoe trip down the Hudson River. Illustrations do a lot, working with text to help set pace and tone; but the words are just what they should be.
- THIS WAS OUR PACT by Andrews (2)
Another excellent graphic novel. This one is a highly original adventure, with strengths in plot, characterization, and theme.
- WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Acevedo (3)
Reviews put this at 13-14 and up, so it may just fall within Newbery range. Acevedo’s THE POET X was a big winner last year (Printz, Belpre, and NBA) and was one of our finalists on Heavy Medal.
There are more than 100 more books listed that made just one list so far, including several we’ve discussed on HM. Do you see standout titles on the list that we should be paying attention to? Possible longs-shots, late-entries, or surprises? If so, please share in the comments below…
Filed under: Book Discussion
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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