I took a few months off of my journey through the Newbery award winners in order to do a Harry Potter reread and then to catch up on some of my reading of the 2015 Newbery contenders. The ALA Youth Media Awards is one of my favorite days of the the year, (next Monday!!!) and the Newbery has always been my favorite award announced that day. I thought it might be fun to jump back into Newbery Pie with a discussion of the possible winners this year, and to lay out what I would like to see happen.
First of all, let me say that it has been an amazing year for middle grade nonfiction. Three of my top five books fall into this category. They are:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson.
The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
The Family Romanov by Candace Flemming.
I always kind of roll my eyes when reviewers say “THIS is the year that a nonfiction title wins the Newbery!” Nonfiction rarely wins, but it’s always predicted that it will. This year, I actually agree. One of these three books will probably take home some Newbery recognition. Brown Girl Dreaming has been the apparent front-runner for nearly a year. That doesn’t mean it will win, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if it did. The other two are both very good books as well and are both distinguished enough to take home a medal.
The other two books in my top five are:
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The writing in both of these books is superb. I’m a huge fan of Curtis’ Elijah of Buxton, so I was thrilled when I heard that he was revisiting Buxton, and I may have enjoyed this book even more. If you would have told me that Christopher Paul Curtis was going to slip a history of the Irish potato famine into his novel, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But there it is, and it’s captivating. The Night Gardener actually spooked me out. That part where she sees the mud prints by her bed and realizes that someone had been watching her sleep is just weird in the best way. I loved both of these books.
Other books that I think could get some Newbery recognition are:
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jenn Holm
Crossover by Kwane Alexander
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
These are books that I would love to see win, but I don’t honestly think they have much of a shot. Who knows?
They include El Deafo by Cece Bell, The Greenglass House by Kate Milford, Reign Rain by Ann Martin, The Riverman by Aaron Starmer,and Revolution by Deborah Wiles.
So…prediction time. If I was on the committee and had to get behind one book. This year, it would be …
Brown Girl Dreaming. I had been hearing about this book for months before it was actually published. I was never able to get my hands on a galley and by the time I got to read it, I was honestly sick of hearing about it. I was thinking, “No way this book is that much better than Revolution or The Riverman.” But it was. Despite my skepticism, this book blew me away with it’s beautiful language. I was kind of wondering whether I could get any students to read it, but so far I’ve had pretty good success with my fifth grade girls. They even started recommending it to each other. So yeah. Brown Girl Dreaming is the book I think will win, and also the book that I would like to win. What do you think? Are there any titles I left out?