Early Favorites: the Mock Newbery contenders we’re most excited about
Emily and I touched base this week to compare thoughts about the current year’s Newbery contenders so far. Here’s our conversation, and we invite others to join in the comments section below.
STEVEN: Welcome to Heavy Medal, Emily! We’ve got about 60 suggestions so far. Only a few will earn Newbery recognition, though…and some might not even be published yet! From our large, but incomplete sample, do you see any that strike you as especially strong contenders?
EMILY: Hi Steven, I’m so happy to be here! The one that I’m seeing get so much love is definitely STARFISH. I mean I don’t think I’ve heard anything bad about it yet (anyone feel free to prove me wrong). Betsy Bird put it on her Spring Prediction list before she even read it!
I think I’m reading books really harshly this year- as you’ll see in my upcoming post, “Books I Haven’t Finished.” But I just haven’t been that excited about too many yet. Maybe this will be the year with one winner and no honor books. (I KID, I KID).
STEVEN: I guess I’m at an opposite point so far: lots of honor possibilities, but no clear favorite. I thought AMBER AND CLAY and THE RACONTEUR’S COMMONPLACE BOOK were highly accomplished, in very different ways, but still need to think about how they will resonate with child readers. Several books have done a great job of exploring powerful themes in new ways: GROUND ZERO, PITY PARTY, THE SOUND OF THUNDER, and of course STARFISH. But I’m struggling to identify which does that at the highest level. I’m looking forward to getting more viewpoints on all of these.
My list is light on nonfiction so far, but I have high hopes for Gail Jarrow’s AMBUSHED (due in October) and Steven Sheinkin’s just-released FALLOUT, which looks like kind of a sequel to BOMB (I was on that 2013 Committee that gave that one an Honor). Anything you’re especially looking forward to, Emily?
EMILY: A few titles you mentioned made my haven’t finished list RACONTEUR’S COMMONPLACE BOOK and THE SOUND OF THUNDER… so maybe they are worth revisiting. That was something fun about being on the committee, you didn’t need to FINISH all the books- but if someone suggested it you were pretty obligated to go back and read it all/ reread it. I feel like the second readings really push me to think more critically.
I’m pretty excited that all three of the 2019 Newbery winners have another title this year: MERCI SUAREZ CAN’T DANCE, DAVINCI’S CAT, and HOW TO FIND WHAT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR. Wouldn’t it be totally surreal if the exact same three authors won? Haha!
And speaking of past winners, we have a DiCamillo/Blackall collaboration coming up with THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY. I’d be remiss to not mention that one. Also, Betsy Bird (who I think I mention in every post) has her first chapter book coming out this fall, LONG ROAD TO THE CIRCUS!
OK, OK I’m getting more excited now and can’t wait to hear everyone else’s thoughts. LET’S TALK BOOKS!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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