Ye Olde Annual Newbery Prediction Post

(...You know, the one I don't actually write every year but always intend to. ;)

The ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Newbery medal, will be awarded this coming Monday, February 12. I've got a pretty decent track record of prognosticating at least one of the winners/honorees--last year was particularly satisfying, as 3 out of my 4 choices were 3 of the 4 Newbery books. (Also, my husband has good taste. The book he gave me for my birthday won an honor. The book he gave me for Christmas won the medal. Oh, and the book I gave him for Christmas won an honor.)

So, obviously I need to make some bold predictions now so I can fall flat on my face when I'm totally wrong. More than a need to predict the future, however, I just hope I can bring some excellent books to the attention of a wider audience, whether or not they get any stickers this upcoming Monday.

My first pick is Beyond the Bright Sea, by Lauren Wolk. Gosh, I loved this book. It's full-bodied, with a strong flavor of pirate treasure, top notes of child-seeking-information-about-her-past, and a satisfying finish of what family is all about. You can taste the salt air from the New England island town setting. (Also, a little Newbery trivia for you: books that mention rivers or seas in their titles are statistically more likely to win a Newbery. Though not quite as likely as books with the word "moon.")

Next, and I realize this is a bold move: Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz. It's a rule-breaker, being something of a cross between a picture book and an early reader. Personally, I find it the perfect book to read with my six-year-old, cuddled up together, giggling and sounding out words she might not know together. I may have something of a six-year-old sense of humor, because I find the bits about the crocodile chewing on bottoms like bubblegum hilarious. At the same time, it gets more poignant every time I read it...perhaps because I realize its theme is one I need continual reminders of.

Personally, I'd love a nod to Karina Yan Glaser's The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. I know, I know, the Newbery committee has never been really big on classic-feeling large family stories (that's more of a National Book Award thing, I guess, judging by The Penderwicks), but I thought this was excellent.

One I do think has a great chance is Real Friends, by Shannon Hale. I never expected to be so blown away be a graphic novel concerning childhood school friendships. I really didn't expect my husband to pick up the book, stay up late reading it, and announce, "All our kids are going to be required to read this." He saw so much of his own school experience in Shannon's masterfully-crafted story, and I think a lot of Newbery judges will feel the same.

Finally, I wouldn't normally predict a book I haven't finished yet, but I'm midway through Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder, and it has Newbery written all over its beautiful and bold and thought-provoking pages. I'll share more thoughts when I've finished.

What books do you think deserve a Newbery gold this year? What should I frantically run to library to read before everyone starts taking it out on Monday afternoon? :)


  1. Maybe After the Fall by Dan Santat? I'm not good at predicting these things! I haven't read any of the books on your list, but I have a library copy of Orphan Island which I plan to read soon.

    1. I haven't read that one yet! Thanks for the recommendation. Whether or not it wins a medal, I'm always happy to hear about books other readers think deserve more recognition.

  2. Oh my! Your library is way better stocked than ours--I'm still waiting for several titles. I love everything Laura Amy Schlitz has written and I'm sure I will love the crocodile tale too. I loved Beyond the Bright Sea. I hope your predictions come true (and interesting trivia about Sea). I appreciate the book reviews too. And yes to Dan Santat's PB. I heard him speak many years ago in WA and that's when I became a fan.

  3. Loved this post! And it's time for a trip to the library now ... :)


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