Newbery / Caldecott 2016: Final Prediction Edition
See this money? It’s time to put it where my mouth is. OPEN UP, MOUTH!
So if you’re playing along at home you might have noticed that I’m a bit . . . ah . . . last minute-ish with my final predictions this year. Considering that today is Thursday and the Newbery/Caldecott Awards (amongst other Youth Media Awards) will be announced this Monday at 8 a.m. EST (and viewable here), I’m positively late.
Ah well. Life, it has a way of interrupting your best laid plans. In any case, I’m ready now. And before I forget, I should mention that if you’ve any interest in killing time before the ALA Awards on Monday, why not tune in for my Pre-Game Show beforehand? I’ll be livestreaming my thoughts on the possible winners. Then you can come back for the Post-Game Show where I kvetch, cheer, and generally make a fool of myself while my 19-month-old son wails outside my office door, wondering why his mommy isn’t sticking to her usual routine that morning. Or I may pull him into the room to meet you. I’m not above bribing you to watch. Alas, my delightful co-host Lori will not be joining me this year, so it’s just l’il ole me. And maybe a baby.
And for those of you interested in what other people around the country are interested in winning, be sure to check out ALSC’s collection of Mock Elections here.
All right. Enough of that. Here are my final predictions. As ever, I’d like to point out that with the possible exception of 2008, I almost never get these predictions right. I go with my gut but my guts are fickle and can be bribed with donuts.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Illustrated by Christian Robinson
If there’s any theme behind my choices this year, it’s that they’re not very original. Every other Mock Caldecott in the country has been talking about this book, and well that they should. To my mind, this book has a very good chance if only because the time is right for it. Look at the Caldecott Award winners of the past. Books that speak to the times in which we live win the awards. Whether intentional or not, the Caldecott committee is going to say something with their choice about what “distinguished” means. In my recent article about the trends of 2015 and 2016 I mentioned that you cannot look at the debates sweeping the children’s literature landscape without considering the greater picture. And the greater picture, as I see it, dictates that we need more diversity not just in the racial make-up of our authors, illustrators, and subject matter, but also in economic realities. This book is beautiful, well-written, and does something I haven’t seen since Ezra Jack Keats: It makes the urban landscape beautiful. The time for this book is now. It’s my pick as winner.
Honors: In a Village By the Sea by Muon Van. Illustrated by April Chu
The Beach Boys song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is playing in my head right now. Because it would be nice if this book got an Honor. Nice for the author and illustrator. Nice for the small publisher from which it hails. It’s a dark horse contender, I think, but I wouldn’t count it out.
Honors: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Rafael Lopez is long overdue for a Caldecott in some kind of form. This isn’t to say that he’ll necessarily get the Honor he deserves (and heck, he might get an Award proper!) but it makes me think that there’s a chance that someone on the committee will harbor affections for this book in the secret recesses of their heart.
Since last year the Caldecott had a ton of Honors, I’d like to think that with the strong contenders of written works in 2016, there might be room for a plethora of these instead.
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Though it was considered contentious earlier this year, one cannot help but notice that things are different for The Hired Girl these days. People came to it in the midst of the debate and discovered that it was beautifully written. Other folks who might not have picked it up did so and found that they loved it. Support swelled, it appeared on the New York Times YA bestseller list a week or two ago, and everything culminated in yesterday’s Scott O’Dell Award announcement. I’ve been watching all of this, and just as I feel that Last Stop on Market Street speaks to our current time and place, so too does The Hired Girl, only it represents a novel’s ability to become a focal point for a debate that extends far beyond itself. At its heart, The Hired Girl is distinguished. It could easily take away the award by itself.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The year’s most surprising popular favorite. Not that I was particularly surprised myself. I’d been plugging away for Jefferson’s Sons, Ms. Bradley’s previous book, to take away the prize years ago. This may get bupkiss too (popularity by no means assures success in the award field) but at least a LOT of people read it that might not have otherwise.
Honors: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin
Surprise!! First time this one has made any of my prediction lists. Why the switcheroo? Um . . . well, I actually sat down and read it. Boy howdy, is it good. Tackling, in some ways, a subject far more complex than BOMB (his previous award winner) I could easily see this carrying a bunch of different awards from a bunch of different categories. And, as with many books mentioned today, it’s hugely timely.
Honors: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
I’ve gone back and forth on this one for a while. On the one hand, there’s something about this book that sears into your brain and takes up residency in your frontal lobe. On the other hand, the connecting fantasy element is entirely superfluous. At the end of the day, I think the distinguished merit (which it exudes from every pore) outweighs any concerns I might have. It’s not a given, but it’s a strong contender.
Honors: Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
As I mentioned in a previous prediction post, this book took a while to percolate in my brain. It was only after I talked it over with folks and thought long and hard about it that I realized it had a very strong shot at an award of some sort. It could easily take home the gold medal proper, by the way. We shall see what we shall see.
Phew! That’s all from me. Now go and catch your flights to Boston and tell me how everything is while you’re there.
Filed under: Reviews
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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