Single Nomination Contenders: A look at potential Newbery titles with just one nomination so far
On Heavy Medal we use nominations from readers to help us identify the most likely Newbery contenders. We’ve completed two of our three nomination periods, with one more round to come (December nominations open on November 27th). In a couple of days, Emily and I will take a closer look at some of the books that have received the most support so far.
But what about the other side of the list? Of the 50 books that have been nominated, 32 of them have just a single vote. Some could be books that simply don’t resonate with enough readers. Or maybe it’s just that not enough people have read them yet. One reader might overlook the weaknesses that others find significant. Another reader may place high value on strengths that others don’t see.
Whatever the reason, I decided to look at a handful of books with one nomination. There are a few on the list I haven’t gotten to yet, so I’m limiting my list to the ones I have read. I’ll also skip over books that we’ve already featured on Heavy Medal in previous posts (so don’t worry, I’ll pass on GATHER. This time…)
DUST by Dusti Bowling
You can just feel and almost taste those dust storms, and also understand the panic that Avalyn experiences when they happen. I also like the way the supernatural element is woven so neatly into the key plot and theme elements, which include the abuse that Adam suffers and the developing friendship between the two main characters.
THE FIRE, THE WATER, AND MAUDIE MCGINN by Sally J. Pla
Maudie goes through a lot in this story, both in terms of events (forest fire, moving, learning to surf…) and personal growth (new friends, relationship with father…), but it’s all somehow tied to the central conflict of the stepfather’s abuse. The way the plot and characters work towards themes is very effective.
GONE WOLF by Amber McBride
Creative storytelling in this one. It starts with Inmate Eleven in the year 2111, as we gradually learn about the horrifying practices of the society that she’s trapped in. Then switches to 2022 and a world much closer to, but not exactly the same as our own. The connection between the two stories is highly creative so is the powerful way that they highlight themes of racism, history, and personal grief.
IT HAPPENED ON SATURDAY by Syndey Dunlap
This book does a great job of exploring the dangers of human trafficking, introducing Julia, who is very relatable and easy to like. Readers can easily put themselves in her shoes…which means that the dangerous decisions she makes, and her narrow escape, really hit home.
LEEVA AT LAST by Sara Pennypacker
This one starts as a whimsical, almost silly book about a girl with awful parents in a confusing town. By the end, though, the changes that Leeva experiences, her interactions with new friends, and her affect on her community are powerful and kind of inspiring. It’s also very different, in form and style, from most (or all?) of the books on our nomination list.
THE PUPPETS OF SPELHORST by Kate DiCamillo
Though it wasn’t published until Fall, this one is the most surprising single-nomination book for me. Partly because the author has a shelf full of Newbery stuff already, but I also think it’s a really strong book. The stories-within-stories plot fits together so neatly, and the author’s careful language is both inviting and wise.
REMEMBER US by Jacqueline Woodson
Another one that I thought might have more nominations by now. Sage is a fully developed character. The ominous, ever-present threat of fires stands as a physical danger to homes and people, but also works symbolically as a societal rejection of Sage and her family and friends. And sentence by sentence, the writing just flows so beautifully.
WHEN SEA BECOMES SKY by Gillian McDunn
One of many books from this year that pulls off a surprising and impactful plot twist [see also GONE WOLF above]. That part is handled expertly. You can tell a twist is done right when the clues are there all along, but you only spot them when you go back to re-read.
I think all of these books are strong, and I’ll be thinking about at least a couple of them as I consider my last two nominations. And I hope to get to a few more that I haven’t read yet. Take a look at the “1’s section” below let us know if you see any titles that really should be higher on our list.
BOOKS WITH ONE NOMINATION THROUGH NOVEMBER:
|AN AMERICAN STORY||Alexander||Picture books|
|ANIMALS IN PANTS||Levinson||Poetry|
|BEA WOLF||Weinersmith||Graphic Novels|
|FARTHER THAN THE MOON||Lackey|
|THE FIRE, THE WATER, AND MAUDIE MCGINN||Pla|
|THE FIREFLY SUMMER||Matson|
|GINNY OFF THE MAP||Hickey|
|HOW DO YOU SPELL UNFAIR?||Weatherford|
|IT HAPPENED ON SATURDAY||Dunlap|
|LEEVA AT LAST||Pennypacker|
|MIRROR TO MIRROR||LaRocca||Books in Verse|
|ONCE THERE WAS||Monsef|
|PARACHUTE KIDS||Tang||Graphic Novels|
|HOPE IN THE VALLEY||Perkins|
|THE PUPPETS OF SPELHORST||DiCamillo|
|A STONE IS A STORY||Booth|
|THE SUPERTEACHER PROJECT||Korman|
|A WALK IN THE WOODS||Grimes||Picture book|
|WHEN SEA BECOMES SKY||McDunn|
|A WORK IN PROGRESS||Lerner|
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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