Five Favorite Newbery Contenders

Given every year for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”, the 2016 Newbery will remain anyone’s guess until January 11.  That doesn’t stop wild speculation from occurring all over the children’s literature world.  Here are five that I’d like to see get recognized:

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  Published by Dial Books.

Released on January 5, the first middle grade book I reviewed, this was my favorite novel of the year.  Ada’s story of escape from her abusive mother is also the story of redemption for not only Ada, but her brother, Jamie,  and their new “mother”, Susan, as well.


Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai.  Published by HarperCollins.

I waited almost ten months to finally get around to this book.  I didn’t expect it to be so funny, or to make me want to visit the fascinating country of Vietnam.


The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelly Pearsall.  Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Arthur, the Junk Man, Arthur’s mother, Squeak…I found them all kind of unappealing at the beginning of the story, but they gradually worked their way into my heart, until I was rooting for each one to play his or her part in bringing about the unveiling The Throne of the Third Heaven masterpiece.


Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.  Published by Scholastic

Otto’s magical fairy tale weaves its way through the three stories of Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy, each enduring difficult circumstances during the years of World War II.  An enchanted harmonica falls into each of their hands, its beautiful music bringing joy during dark times, until the music brings all three together in the end.


Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead.  Published by Wendy Lamb Books.

Seventh grade is the main character of this story about three friends finding their way through this exciting and difficult year, remaining loyal despite the increasingly different paths their lives take.  A mysterious second-person narrator’s story is interspersed with the chapters that make up the main narrative, until all the threads weave together at the end.

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