Every year in January, the American Library Association gives the Newbery Award to the author of the “most distinguished” American children’s book published in the previous year.
I’ve been reading books that others believe are Newbery contenders, and in this blog (and my next blog), I will review those books and give my own thoughts. I am not a member of the selection committee and my thoughts on these books are my personal opinion only.
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
This is my top pick. I read it early in the year and wrote a review of it for Historical Society Reviews. You can read my summary and opinion there. It’s a great book, better (in my opinion) than Wolk’s Wolf Hollow, which won a Newbery Honor last year. If Beyond the Bright Sea doesn’t win the Newbery Award, I expect it to be an honor book.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Amina is the shy daughter of Pakistani immigrants whose best friend is Soojin, a Korean immigrant. They live in Milwaukee where they feel welcome and safe, until an act of terrorism changes Amina’s world. This is a good, solid book, handling important contemporary issues in an appropriate way for middle grade readers. I liked it, but it didn’t have the power or poetry I expect of Newbery winners.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Clayton Byrd plays the blues harp in Washington Square Park with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the Bluesmen, hoping for the day he’ll be good enough to have his own solo. But Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother, who has a grudge against her father, sells nearly everything of his. Angry, Clayton runs away to find and tour with the Bluesmen. I enjoyed this book but found the ending abrupt and too easy. The writing is good and Clayton is a great character, as is his grandfather. It will win some awards, but I’d be surprised to see it capture a Newbery.
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Follows Ghost (2016 ) in Reynold’s Track series. Patina “Patty” Jones is an elite runner who expects to win every race. She lives with her little sister, uncle and white aunt because her father died years ago and her mother lost both legs to diabetes. Patina is one of the only black girls at her private school, she loves/hates her little sister, worries about her mother, and now that she’s moved up an age-level, isn’t winning all her races. Great writing; Patina’s voice is amazing. It’s a “sports” book and the second in a series, so I’d be surprised but not disappointed to see it catch a Newbery.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
The story of three refugee families from three time periods whose stories inter-twine in surprising ways. Exciting, powerful, timely and terrible, this book has a chance. Read my summary and review at Historical Novels Review.
The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
This was suggested to me as a Newbery contender. I’m a fan of Spinelli, but this didn’t live up to my expectations. I’d be surprised to see it winning any ALA awards–but, my opinions are not always the opinions of those who matter. Read my summary and review at HNR.
My Newbery contenders TBR list (in no particular order) include:
The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Someday Birds by Sally J.Pla
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz
As you can see, I’ve got a lot of reading to do before January!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books and my contenders list. Did you hate a book I loved? Love a book I didn’t love? Am I missing a book you think could win the Newbery? Let me know in the comments below.