Hi! We didn’t read a new Newbery winner this week. It was kind of a crazy week for Benji and Sara for different reasons, but we thought it would be fun to do a Newbery prediction post based on the 2015 books that we’ve read so far this year.  There are a lot of books that Sara and I both haven’t read yet, but we wanted to celebrate the books that we have loved, and maybe we’ll do another prediction post closer to ALA-Midwinter. So here it goes!

1. If you were a one person Newbery committee, based on what you’ve read so far, what book would be your winner?

Sara: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan


The writing is amazing, but I’ve felt that way about all of her novels. It also doesn’t read like a 550+ pp. book. I like that I have a strong emotional connection to the characters and the interconnections between them. And, it is time Pam Munoz Ryan got some Newbery love!


The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall


I know it’s the fourth book in a series and that might be a huge hurdle to clear with the Newbery committee, but if it was totally up to me, Penderwicks in Spring would take home the medal. No book this year has meant more to me or touched me more deeply than this one. I think it could stand alone without the other Penderwick books, and I think it’s the best of the series, and talk about needing some Newbery love! How has Birdsall not even gotten an honor, yet?

2. What books (if any) would be your honors?


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


Disclaimer time: Ivan is a special book; it ranks up there with my favorite book from childhood, Charlotte’s Web, except it actually won the medal. Crenshaw doesn’t compare, but honestly, no other book will. The Imaginary Friend character is big right now – Beekle from last year’s Caldecott winning book and Bing Bong from Pixar’s summer blockbuster Inside Out. Applegate adds another memorable one to the list with Crenshaw. Readers will either remember their imaginary friend with fondness or those who never had one will want Crenshaw to be theirs.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley –

circus m

Another book that made me cry. The setting of this book was so wonderful; I could truly envision myself as a child at a magical circus. The book also deals with a common childhood reality, a very sick grandparent.

Sunny Side Up written by Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm –


Go out and read this graphic novel, each and every one of you! The way Holm handles the complexities of this family, and the way the emotions of the main character range from scared to lonely to bored to sad to somewhat happy portrays a very real portrait of a family in crisis.


Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead


Before I read Penderwicks in Spring, this one was my favorite.  I know some people are saying it’s too old for the Newbery, but let’s not forget that the criteria say it can go all the way up to books appropriate for a 14 year old. This is an awesome story about love and relationships.  It’s about real relationships, fake relationships, being a sister, being a brother, being a lover, being a friend. It’s an ambitious novel, I think, but it accomplishes what it set out to do.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan


I also really loved this one. It’s really long, and I’ve gotten exactly one student to read it, but it really is spectacular.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


I agree with Sara about this one. It isn’t quite Ivan, but nothing else is, either. Ivan is a once in a lifetime kind of novel. To a kid, it may seem like the novel is about an imaginary friend, but Crenshaw kind of plays a minor part in the novel. It’s really about poverty, calamity and a family trying to keep its head above the water. I’m going to be reading it to my fifth graders (and possibly fourth) as soon as it’s published.

3. Are there any books that you’ve really loved this year, that you don’t think will be awarded anything?


Penderwicks In Spring by Jeanne Birdsall: Sequel Problem


Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia


(Cool fact: Gone Crazy in Alabama is set in Benji’s home town of Prattville, Alabama)


Sunny Side Up


This is where I’m going to get in trouble. I loved Sunny Side Up, and if it got Newbery recognition like El Deafo did, I would dance with joy. But……the El Deafo text could totally stand alone without the illustrations. I tried reading Sunny Side Up without the illustrations, and it doesn’t really work. Jenn and Matt work so well, so seamlessly together, that the text and the illustrations are dependent on each other.  That makes it a great graphic novel, but unfortunately, not a Newbery winner. I hope I’m wrong.

Circus Mirandus

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I loved this one as well, but kind of like a few years ago with Wonder, I’m just not feeling it for Newbery. Again, I would love to be wrong.

4. What are some books are receiving a lot of hype that you plan to read but haven’t yet?

Sara: The Hired Girl – Schlitz (Newbery Winner)

The Bamboo Sword – Preus (Newbery Honor Winner)

The Thing About Jellyfish – Benjamin (tons of buzz)

Orbiting Jupiter – Schmidt (Newbery Honor Winner)

Benji: pretty much all of those that Sara listed, plus Diva and Flea, ( a Mo Willems novel!!!) Moonpenny Island, and A Question of Miracles.

Bonus Question #1: 5. What book is your favorite for Caldecott at the moment?

Sara: You’re killing me, Benji. Can I plead the fifth? I can’t decide on just one, but I wouldn’t be sad if Yard Sale by Lauren Castillo won.

yard sale

Benji: Right now, I’m debating between three for the Caldecott. I think my favorite is Float by Miyares, (my review) but I also really like A Fine Desert and Swan is just beautiful. (and lyrical. I honestly wouldn’t be blown away if it won a Newbery honor) EDIT: I was just informed that Swan isn’t eligible for Caldecott or Newbery 😦 I didn’t do my research, but you should still go out and read it. It’s lovely)




Bonus Question #2: Geisel?

Sara: Ballet Cat by Bob Shea. All the way!


Benji: This award might as well be renamed the Theodore Geisel/ Mo Willems award. Mo could win this award writing a book in his sleep. Speaking of being asleep. The Geisel award this year, should totally go to I Will Take a Nap.


(I wish I had time to post my whole conversation with Sara about these two books. It was pretty entertaining. Maybe I’ll have to pit the books against each other for a Monday Book Battle, and have Sara over as a guest reviewer.)

We’ll that’s it. We’ll check back in in a few months and reevaluate our opinions and then again after the awards to see how wrong we were both times.

Next week, we’ll be back on the Newbery trail visiting It’s Like This Cat by Emily Cheney Neville.