A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery/Caldecott 2011 Halfway Mark
Yep! I’ve determined that midway through June is the perfect time to start toting various Newbery/Caldecott predictions. This time last year I listed When You Reach Me, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate amongst my winners. Let us all hope I’ve such good luck this year as well.
Newbery Predictions (Summer Edition!):
My Top Newbery Award Pick:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia –
No real surprise there. I’ve been toting this book since I read it back in February. The title has absolutely everything going for it. A strong family story, an unconventional setting, and a historical topic that hasn’t really been covered much at all in children’s literature. Williams-Garcia has always been a top notch writer, but with this book she has finally produced something young enough to grab the attention of a Newbery committee. As far as I can tell, this book should at least be able to nab an Honor. I hope for more, but Newbery committees do love to break my heart.
My Top Newbery Honor Picks:
Keeper by Kathi Appelt – It’s a strong choice and is considered widely to be more accessible than her previous novel The Underneath. And even with all the debate surrounding it that book still won a Newbery Honor! Again, this is a story about family (a popular theme this year) and mothers. It has a great deal of heart too, which may push it over the edge. I wouldn’t mind seeing it do very well indeed.
The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt – Entirely based on heresay and conjecture. I haven’t read it myself. I simply hear good things. Consider it to be on my To Be Read list.
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz – It was pointed out to me after the last set of predictions that fairy books don’t win big medals. They might be right. We’ve already a serious mermaid title going for the gold this year. Can we handle both fairies and mermaids in a single category? I’d like to think so since Schlitz’s book takes a topic that is usually brushed over by lesser authors and makes it into something wild and classic. But I can also see the Newbery committee dismissing it as . . well . . as too much fun. It happens.
The Boneshaker by Kate Milford – In any given year you’ll usually find a debut author/wild card. This book has both. I consider it a serious Honor contender. The shades of Ray Bradbury in it don’t overwhelm the text. It’s creepy and delightful and the writing itself is superb. I am much taken with this book.
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan – A Hispanic-American has never won a Newbery Award proper, you know. Could this be the first time it happens? Maybe so. I liked the book, though I know folks who found it too “writerly” to sink their teeth into entirely. Still, with its Peter Sis illustrations and poetic text (on top of a very real story any child could relate to) consider Ryan the author to watch this year. Remember: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman was also illustrated by Peter Sis and that won Newbery gold!
Caldecott Predictions (Summer Edition!)
My Top Caldecott Award Pick:
Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio –
I am unapologetic in my unconventional choice. And if ever there was a year that this book could have a serious shot, it’s 2010. The story is fantastic in and of itself, of course. I mean, come on! A garbage barge that can’t find a port? It practically writes itself (I kid . . . Jonah Winter is the only man who could have recognized this diamond in the rough). But the art . . . the art, man, the art! Absolutely breathtaking in an utterly stinky way. I fell head over heels in love with this book. If it wins I will ask for nothing else in this world. At this moment in time, this is my number one choice.
My Top Caldecott Honor Picks:
I wish I could be more unpredictable about this. However, most of my choices consist of artist winners from previous years (with two very notable exceptions).
Moon Bear by Brenda Guiberson, illustrated by Ed Young – I’ve heard rumbles about Caldecott possibilities with this book and it is rather beautiful. I will need to give it a thorough once over to determine if Mr. Young’s work here surpasses all other picture books this year, but it’s at least nice to have a semi-nonfiction picture book title in the running (besides my beloved Garbage Barge).
My Garden by Kevin Henkes – It’s Henkes, so right there it has a leg up. And there’s a sweet internal logic to it that works. Henkes is moving distinctly away from the style that sustained him during his Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse days. Now his books are all slow and thoughtful. They’re younger and have big images and colors that veer more towards a gentle lavender-based palette than the previous bright reds and yellows and blues. Mind you, Kitten’s First Full Moon was the last time he won something from an award committee. Will they consider him again (and so soon)?
What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – She is a genius. Her books are some of the most consistently straightforward and smart titles of their kind. Will she charm the committee with this alternative ending tale? Only if they’re feeling expansive and creative this year.
Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky – There is a bit of a consensus amongst a certain kind of reader that Swamp Angel (the previous Isaacs/Zelinsky combo) wuz ROBBED when it only won a Caldecott Honor and not the award proper during its year. Maybe its sequel will be able to right a great wrong. Hey, man. Anything’s possible.
Cat’s Night Out by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by J. Klassen – I’m just thinking aloud at this point, but has a former animator ever won a Caldecott before? Marla Frazee did some brief work for Disney and won a Caldecott Honor for A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. Mary Blair did some work on Disney’s Cinderella and Peter Pan . . . but somehow never managed to catch the eye of the Caldecott committees. Now we’ve a whole crop of folks coming out of the Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks studios. Klassen’s just one of many. How long before they start snapping up some serious awards, I wonder. How long?
The Boys by Jeff Newman – Because I feel a sincere and distinct love for this book that cannot be denied. I’d love it if other folks felt the same way.
What Did I Miss?
When I posted my hopes earlier this year, folks wrote in with their own predictions. Some that might have a chance include:
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan – Haven’t seen it yet. I can just imagine his Caldecott acceptance speech, though. It would be one for the ages.
Where Is Catkin? by Janet Lord, illustrated by Julie Paschkis – I think it’s just a matter of time before Paschkis wins something. I’d love it if she won for this book. It’s from a small press, which would make such a win even sweeter.
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner – Admittedly I’m reluctant to read this since I find her books to be distinctly YA. Also, the last one didn’t stand on its own. If I hadn’t read any of the other titles in this series, would this book stand alone? Would it make sense? I may have to buckle under pressure and find out for myself.
The year is half over, people! What have you loved that I’ve left off?
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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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