Well, you never know with the Newbery, but these are less likely contenders. Nevertheless, they were among my favorites in 2015.
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Nell was one of the feistier characters to grace the pages of 2015 books. Teaming up with her based-on-real-life Aunt Kate, a Pinkerton detective, the two of them solve murder mysteries and prevent an attempt on the life of newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln.
Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard. Published by Disney-Hyperion.
And here we have one of the year’s creepiest characters. Jory’s stepfather Caleb sees signs of end times everywhere. His solution? Put the whole family to work digging night and day to create a protective bunker and bury themselves before the world comes to an end.
Masterminds by Gordon Korman. Published by Balzer + Bray. Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aljgBApiwM
Serenity, New Mexico seems too good to be true. And you know what they say, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Five kids unravel the secrets of their perfect town and end up running for their lives.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Published by Scholastic Press.
During the few days Gerta’s father and brother are in West Berlin looking for jobs, the Berlin Wall goes up. Their family remains divided for years, until one day Gerta sees her father on top of the wall, pantomiming for her to dig. Now it’s up to her and her older brother to tunnel under the wall to freedom before neighbors and East German officials can catch on to what they’re doing and put a violent stop to their plan.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands. Published by Aladdin. Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InHiOzdWRD0
A story about 17th-century English apothecaries? Yeah, it didn’t really catch my eye at first either. Turns out it’s a mystery full of complex codes, secret societies, and a serial killer who is targeting…you guessed it, 17th-century English apothecaries. All told in apprentice Christopher’s lively and humorous voice.