2010 Newbery and Caldecott Predictions: The Third of Four
If you’re anything like me you’ve been reading the Mock Newbery blog Heavy Medal with bated breath. Ever since bad boy Jonathan Hunt joined, the blog has been a riotous series of hard opinions. From Jonathan’s critique of When You Reach Me to Nina’s return volley at A Season of Gifts back to Jonathan’s take on Calpurnia Tate . . . foof! Exciting! Newbery/Caldecott geeks like myself are interested in seeing what they come to debate next. Certainly it has influenced this next round of crazed out-of-the-blue predictions on my part. Not entirely, but certainly a little . . .
Let’s do this thing!
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Jonathan’s concerns aside, no one is saying the book isn’t distinguished. That, to my mind, means it has a strong chance at garnering at least an Honor. The backlash hasn’t had a proper amount of oomph behind it and it continues to garner fans at every turn. Funny that everyone discusses the ending of the book, when the bulk of the text is fine and fancy in its own right. Still my number one pick.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Dunno, though. It’s a title librarians adore, sure. But I’ve been hearing quite a few concerns in the last few months. It may well be that Cally Vee hasn’t the legs we thought and that public opinion has cooled. We’ll see, but my suspicion is that it is no long the major antagonist When You Reach Me initially faced. That honor may now fall to . . .
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
But I doubt it. Insofar as I can tell, Peck does a perfectly serviceable job at writing a nice piece of historical fiction. The nostalgia crowd certainly rallies behind this title, but I suspect that if Peck were a first time writer and this was his first Grandma Dowdel title it would not be getting the same kind of love. It feels like a sequel, even if the plot stands on its own. What this really comes down to is how many die-hard Peck fans are on the committee. That and the awkward Indian princess subplot Nina pointed out. To be reviewed.
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne Lafleur
Call it the Newbery year of Wendy Lamb. What we have here is a weepy little quiet girl-novel with award potential. It is also remarkably well done with a opening that socks you in the jaw right from the start. Seems a little unfair to be including Lamb twice on this list, but it’s not my fault. She just happens to have exquisite taste. To be reviewed.
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle
I feel like this is the free verse novel that could easily take us all by surprise. Or go nowhere. No middle ground here on this one. Someone pointed out to me the other day that the title sounds like it’s a work of non-fiction. That may have hurt it.
Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
I should always include one book that I’ve heard buzz about that has a chance but that I haven’t read. It’s on the old To Be Read shelf. I hear good things.
Call it the year of the non-fiction picture book. More often than not I’ve been hearing people ooh and coo over stories with a bit of fact behind them. There is one notable exception . . .
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The clear cut frontrunner if ever there was one. It’s not as if Pinkney hasn’t earned it with this one too. What more can be said about it at this point? The only way it’s not winning is if someone comes up with a minor quibble. As far as I can tell, though, the book has remained remarkably quibble-free. Aw… just give him the friggin’ award, Caldecott committee! Please?
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Last year Eerdmans did double duty winning a Caldecott Honor as well as a Batchelder Award. This year, there’s a possibility that Peachtree Press will become the new spunky little publisher that could. Somebody carefully coordinated this particular item, putting this author and first-time picture book artist together. It could just as easily win nuthin’, nowhere, nohow, but I consider this my dark horse candidate. There’s room for love here.
Moonshot: Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
Any other year and I’d be saying that Floca was a shoo-in for the award proper. The mix and meld of text and image on this title is masterful. He’s always been a careful artist, but with this book we’ve seen Floca show us his chops. Show us what he’s capable of. Of all the astronaut books of this year, his is the title people return to over and over, above and beyond the immediate timeliness. There’s something awe inspiring about this book. And what could be more natural than to give an award to something with a bit o’ awe?
Robot Zot, by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon
Because the strongest Caldecott years are the ones where they have at least one funny book on the list. Last year it was A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. The year before that it was Knuffle Bunny Too. Shannon does a masterful job of showing not telling with this book anyway.
And now, just because I’m feeling antsy . . .
Sibert Predictions (non-fiction):
Moonshot: Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
Because if, by some ungodly stroke of bad luck he doesn’t get a Caldecott, he should at least sling another one of these under his belt.
Redwoods by Jason Chin
So charming. Who doesn’t love this? It’s a delight, and though the pictures veer into the fantastical, the text is all business. It doesn’t have a serious shot at a Caldecott for the same reasons We Are the Ship didn’t have a chance. Mainly, because the text and the images do not interact. But for a Sibert? I hope it’s a slam dunk.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Remember all those months ago when Elizabeth Bluemle compiled a list of the books that had gotten the most stars (as of August)? Well I’d read all the children’s titles on there (Moonshot, When You Reach Me, and Tales from Outer Suburbia) but not this biography. Having just finished it, it deserves all the respect you could possibly throw at it. A complex look at a life and a time that too often separates human beings into sinners and saints. Claudette is a real person here and her too little known story resonates like thunder. To be reviewed.
Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Dunno if it has a chance, but I feel like Ms. Corey and Mr. Fotheringham need a little proper award-based lovin’. I really thought it was a masterful mix of text and image anyway.
Batchelder Predictions (translation):
The Squirrel’s Birthday and Other Parties by Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
A sweet little Dutch collection of animal tales. However, there’s a possibility that it’s just too strange for the current Batchelder folks. Dunno.
Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser
When his Learning to Fly disappeared without a trace lo these many years ago (probably because, like Tellegen’s, the book’s a little kooky) I had hoped that Mr. Meschenmoser would bounce back bigger and stronger. This title is by far my front-runner pick for Batchelder goodness. If it could win a Caldecott I’d be toting it left and right. As it is, all I can do is pray that Mr. Meschenmoser move to America someday.
The Princess Plot by Kristin Boie
Well, why not? A fun German translation of mistaken identities, kidnapping, and attempted assassinations? Don’t let the pink cover fool you. This one’s a hoot.
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith
Last year the TOON Book of choice was Stinky. This year I thought it would be Luke on the Loose, but late in the game I realized that Jeff Smith is the one holding all the cards. Naturally there will be a Geisel going to a Mo Willems title (I’ll put down twenty on Elephants Cannot Dance) but in the meantime let’s see some Jeff Smith lovin’. Maybe it’ll convince him to write some longer stuff for the kidlets.
Schneider Family Book Award:
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
I’m whipping out the old because-everyone-loves-it excuse. Five stars! A great editor! Of course, it’s not a strictly defined disorder, and that may work against it in the end.
All right. I’ve read stuff you haven’t and you’ve read stuff I haven’t. So give it to me straight, doc. What’s actually going to win?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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