It’s Top Two Time!: Share a pair of books you think have the best chance to win a Newbery so far
It’s time for our first Friday Feedback exercise! Every week this year our Friday post will feature some kind of a prompt where we invite you to weigh in on a particular question related to the 2024 Newbery Medal. Today it’s all about the top two:
Have you picked your Newbery winner yet? Of course not. It’s way too early. We still have fall releases to deal with. And we’ll want to re-read the top contenders eventually if we want to really evaluate literary quality and all that.
But still…why not take stock here in mid-September and put forward our top two contenders so far? Picking two takes the pressure off a bit: we’re not making a grand prediction or going all in on a single title. But limiting it to two is still challenging; there’s a good chance that we’ll have to leave out a book (or books) that really could be great enough to win a Medal.
We tried this last year and learned that this exercise does not work as a predictor. A dozen people offered their top two at the time, and none of us named the eventual winner, FREEWATER, though it had been out since the previous February. We did see three votes for THE LAST MAPMAKER and one for MAIZY CHEN’S LAST CHANCE, though, and both of those ended up as Honor books. My own top two last year not only weren’t Newbery books, they had also fallen out of my own top two by the end of the year (though both HOW TO BUILD A HUMAN and BIG AND SMALL AND IN-BETWEEN are excellent).
I thought I’d have an easy time picking mine this time around, since I had just listed my top four in a post from a few days ago, and I haven’t read anything great this week (yet), but it still took some thinking. I finally settled on my two:
MY HEAD HAS A BELLYACHE by Chris Harris
A very funny collection of verse, with some slightly more serious and thought-provoking content woven in. The individual poems are excellent and the collection as a whole fits together to form a very satisfying package.
MEXIKID by Pedro Martin
The family dynamics, the humor, and the fun twists and turns of the family’s road trip make this a completely absorbing graphic novel. It also explores deeper themes of culture and identity, but with a light touch.
At this point, both of these seem like serious Newbery candidates to me. But things can change a lot in the next few months. Please share your own Top Two in the comments below. You can just list titles if you want, but we’d also love to know a bit about what makes them your current front-runners:
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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