Let’s Get This Party Started: Think about early favorites and take our “Beginning of the Year Check-In” Survey
To start off our Heavy Medal Mock Newbery season, Steven and I wrote back and forth about the books we’ve read and the books we’re looking forward to reading. Please join us with your own thoughts in the comment section below, and also be sure to take our Beginning of the Year Check-In survey as well, where you can vote for your own early favorites by genre.
EMILY: We have 86 titles suggested so far and I have to say I’m not sure if I’m in love with anything yet though I do have one favorite (cough HERCULES cough). Steven, I know you’ve been up on your reading this year. Any frontrunners?
STEVEN: I don’t have a clear frontrunner yet, and my favorites are a pretty mixed group: a poetry collection (MY HEAD HAS A BELLYACHE), a graphic novel (just finished and loved MEXIKID), a nonfiction (IMPOSSIBLE ESCAPE), and a historical fiction that might be just a little too old (BUFFALO FLATS). And many others are close…
EMILY: There’s a few I still need to get to and I know more will come. I don’t know why I haven’t read BUFFALO FLATS and THE SONG OF US YET. And of course there’s more coming this fall (like a new Jacqueline Woodson). What are you still looking forward to Steven?
STEVEN: Though it’s the third in the series, I’m eager to get my hands on THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS, due later this month. The first two were really strong. Kate DiCamillo has THE PUPPETS OF SPELHORST coming out in October. I like her and I like puppets (though not always stories about puppets). And I’m excited about THE MONA LISA VANISHES, a nonfiction book that I first heard about from Betsy Bird’s Newbery Predictions on her excellent Fuse 8 blog. That one comes out this very week.
EMILY: We have a suggestion list of 86 titles but I’m always paranoid about missing something (and we always do and you always assure me it’s normal). Anderson’s just released their Mock Newbery list and there’s a BUNCH I haven’t read.
STEVEN: I’ve missed a bunch too, I’m sure. Fortunately, it’s not just us, and we can count on the rest of the Heavy Medal community to let us know about any under-the-radar gems…
EMILY: I’ve been waiting for a good mystery book and I thought CARREFOUR was going to be it for me, but I don’t think it meets all the Newbery criteria. I also am just not feeling the MANY ASSASSINATIONS OF SAMIR vibes. I guess I need to hear more about those titles.
STEVEN: I liked SAMIR a lot, but it took me a minute to get a feel for the writing, and I wonder if kids will stick with it. As for mysteries, I thought WHAT HAPPENED TO RACHEL RILEY? had a clever plot and appealing style, and you could call it a mystery. Not a lot of fantasy showing up on our list so far, especially compared to last year.
EMILY: We had a lot of pandemic books last year and this year I may be seeing a rise in poetry (BELLYACHE, RED EAR…) Have you noticed any other particular trends from this year’s books?
STEVEN: Lots of novels in verse this year, for sure. What used to seem like an unusual narrative choice is now pretty standard. WHEN CLOUDS TOUCH US and THE SONG OF US are the standouts in that category for me, maybe with EB & FLO. A second trend has nothing to do with Newbery, but doesn’t it seem like there’s an increasing number of books with the main character’s full name in the title? ANIANA DEL MAR, ELLIE ENGEL, RACHEL RILEY…I think that’s been happening for a while. I blame the MERCI SUAREZ Committee.
EMILY: Wow that committee is really a TRENDSETTER!
We’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts in the comments below and in our Beginning of The Year Check-In Survey which will help us see what titles to highlight as we begin book discussions. Please fill out the survey by Friday (we’ll share results next Monday) and get ready for our more discussions to come! Let’s do this!
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 email@example.com.
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