Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Guessing Game of 2011: Who Will Walk with Newbery Gold and other Pressing Questions

The time cannot be put off for my annual prediction of the hoopla that will be happening tomorrow, known as the ALA Youth Media Awards. I’ve been gratified to know that I am not the only loon in the coop for whom the announcement of the Newbery, and her sister awards, is the biggest day of the year. Jonathan over at Heavy Medal compares it to waiting for a visit from St. Nick and Peter over at Collecting Children’s books confessed to level of devotion and obsession that is either awe inspiring or commitment worthy. I particularly like the fake journalist ploy.

Back three years ago when I first heard the term Mock Newbery, I dismissed the fact that an entire committee should gather together and agree on a common title to crown with Mock Gold. I merely read a bunch of books, blogged what I thought and guessed at the winner. I have come to accept that is not really how a Mock should work. But who cares, I love the sense of power I get from embodying a committee of one.

I have been participating in a Mock Newbery with some of my students and I will post how that all rolled out soon.

I have to admit, with fake modesty, my committee has done quite well matching its choices with the legitimate committee. Let us take a look.

2008: 50% and I’d read and blogged all the books.

2009: What percentage is 3 out of 5? More than 50! Sadly I have yet to read the two that slipped in under my radar.

2010: 4 of 5, 80% (I’ve suddenly remembered how to do math). This is disputable because last year I attempted to award my own honors and then predict what the real committee would do. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg slipped in when I wasn’t looking. I had love for him early on, but it dimmed as the year went on and he got no love from others. I’m so sorry I doubted you Homer.

Now that the bragging is out of the way, let’s address this year’s awards. I will dispense with my predictions and just award what my committee will honor.


  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. I know I’m not original here, but really this seems to be the only choice.

  • The Clockwork Three by Matthew J Kirby. I will confess that this same Matthew J. Kirby ignited the fuse to my Newbery addiction, and in fact was part of the chilly group which watched last year’s awards with me. I’ve known Clockwork's story since it was a sonogram. I may not be terribly objective, but my justifying side claims that it is as strong a contender as many other 2010 books. It has already gotten some Mock love from a King County Library in Seattle.  My sister in Portland just informed me that that behemoth of bookstores, Powell’s, had it crowned with their Mock Medal. She didn’t have a camera on her, or I would offer proof.
  • Countdown by Deborah Wiles. This is here less because of it’s innovative format, and more because I adored every ounce of this story. I would break out words like delineation of character and setting and appropriateness of style, but really it has it all. A very deserving choice.
  • Keeper by Kathi Applet. At first I was grumpy because Keeper did not wear me out in the way that The Underneath did, but there is so much to love and admire in this sweet, heart-rending and sometimes delightfully silly story. There is nothing silly about the Kathi’s glorious writing.
(I usually stop with 3 honors, but as the past few years have given more - why shouldn’t I?

  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm. Look at that? I didn’t think I was going to type that, but there you go. This book was so yummy I’m going to appease my sweet tooth, sorry, How Sugar Changed the World.
(If Jonathan from Heavy Metal ever reads this his eyes will roll up so far into his brain, a surgeon will need to be called in.  Yep, Jonathan all middle-grade fiction.  That's the way we roll here at my committee.)

If, and when, The Dreamer, How Sugar Changed the World or They called themselves the KKK show up tomorrow I will be clapping and content.



  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead, Illustrated by Erin Stead. I go all soft and gooey when I speak of this book, so let’s move on before it becomes embarrassing.
  • Art and Max by David Wiesner. It was good enough for the Snowdecott, so why not?
  • City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, Illustrated by Jon Muth. There is not a thing that can be disparaged about this treat, unless you bemoan the short lives of amphibians.
  • Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCammilo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile. I look forward to filling my shelf with the sequels. If the three of you are listening, I am demanding many, many sequels!


  • How Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. If you have yet to read this, prepared to be astonished.
  • A Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, Illustrated by Brian Floca. Who knew words and ink could jump up off the page and swirl around the reader with a soundtrack no less.
  • They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group  by Susan Bartoletti. If you can get past the willies of looking into how terrorists justify themselves, this is worth the read.


  • Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCammilo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile.

  • Ling &Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin. This could easily switch places with Bink and Gollie.
  • We are in a Book by Mo Willems.  What's a Geisel without at least a little Mo.
That will about do it. Just a few hours to go until we get to dive under the tree and rip open the presents.

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