Five books I’d like to see get a Newbery–and why I am probably wrong about just about all of them.

After my crushing defeat predicting the Newbery last year (0 out of 5), I have become a bit more philosophical (jaded?) about what I think deserves a Newbery versus what actually wins.  Well, the medal says it’s for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”, and here’s what I thought met that criteria.

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

Published by Little, Brown

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I know, it’s a sequel, but I can dream, can’t I?  Roz is so loved at my school, and many readers (including me) liked the second book even better than the first.  Charlotte’s Web for the 21st century.


The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

Published by Harry N. Abrams

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This one’s a little old for the Newbery (in my opinion), but I loved it so much and would be thrilled to see it get some recognition.  It would also make an interesting Caldecott choice.


The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books

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This may have been my favorite middle grade novel of the year, and I think it’s the most likely to get any kind of Newbery recognition.  I loved the flashbacks to the past that informed the story from the present, and the way it all came together in the end.  The mystery was fun, too, even if it figuring out the key clue seemed a little improbable.  It’s been a surprisingly tough sell at my schools, though.


Lu by Jason Reynolds

Published by Atheneum

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Two years ago, I was rooting for Ghost.  Last year, it was Patina.  It’s probably a waste of space to put this on the list, but I loved the whole Track series and thought Lu was one of the best.  At least Jason Reynolds got his Newbery last year.


Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books

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The somewhat improbable (but feel-good) ending is a slight flaw in the writing, but the story has so much heart and so many memorable characters, I can forgive that.  It’s probably not quite Newbery caliber, but should it win, it would be an easy one to promote to the elementary school crowd.  Plus, it’s based on the author’s life, which is cool, and it speaks to the immigrant experience.

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