At this time of year, children's literature lovers play a guessing game as to which books will win the coveted Caldecott and Newbery Medals. The winners will be announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter conference in early January; until then, lots of guessing will take place.
Here's my Scripps Howard News Service column on the potential winners for these major children's literature awards:
It's time for the annual guessing game played by children's literature lovers: Which books will win the coveted Caldecott and Newbery Medals?
Librarians, teachers, parents and other children's book fans try to divine which children's book will be chosen in January as the best-illustrated (Caldecott) or the best-written (Newbery). It's a big deal: Winning the Caldecott or Newbery Medal brings instant fame and fortune.
Suspense will continue to build until the actual award winners are announced Jan. 10 at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. But lots of people are making guesses, often in mock Caldecott and Newbery contests organized by libraries across the country, including the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library System.
In the popular blog called Heavy Medal, the moderators -- California librarians/children's book experts Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt -- annually lead a five-month online discussion of potential Newbery Medal winners. (Find their blog at: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/heavymedal/2010/09/13/welcome-back/)
Some years, there are obvious winners. This year, however, there are really no sure bets for either medal.
<">The more I read, and the more I listen to others, I think there could be a lot of surprises this year,"> said children's book expert Anita Silvey, whose latest project is the online Children's Book-A-Day Almanac (http://childrensbookalmanac.com/).
<">We have for each category, many fine books, but everyone in their best of the year lists seems to disagree about the most outstanding books.">
Here -- drawn from various sources -- are some of the best bets for the 2011 Caldecott and Newbery Medal:
Amy Kellman, a Pittsburgh-based children's literature consultant, believes that
In fact, City Dog, Country Frog appears to be one of the top contenders for the 2011 Caldecott. Art & Max, written and illustrated by David Wiesner, is another likely possibility; if Art & Max is chosen, Wiesner would win an unprecedented fourth Caldecott.
Other potential Caldecott winners include:
- Ballet For Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan and illustrated by Brian Floca.
- A Pocketful of Posies, written and illustrated by Sally Mavor.
- Mama Miti, written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
- Snook Alone, written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering.
- Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange.
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead.
- Chalk, written and illustrated by Bill Thomson.
- Here Comes the Garbage Barge, written by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Red Nose Studio.
Perhaps the most often-mentioned 2011 Newbery possibility is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Other Newbery contenders include a mix of fiction and, in an unusual twist, non-fiction. Although there have been nonfiction Newbery winners, they still are rare.
Even more unusual is the fact that a picture book, City Dog, Country Frog has been touted as a possible Newbery winner (as well as a potential Caldecott winner).
<">It is possible for a picture book to be honored for its text -- it just hasn't happened very frequently,"> Silvey said.
Interestingly, a book of poetry, Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen, won the mock Newbery contest of the Heavy Medal blog this year.
Another poetry book, Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse, also has attracted attention as a potential Newbery winner.
While poetry books have captured the Newbery in the past - examples include Good Masters, Sweet Ladies in 2008 and Joyful Noise in 1989 - poetry winners remain atypical, however.
Here's a rundown of other potential 2011 Newbery winners:
- The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.
- Keeper by Kathi Appelt.
- They Called Themselves the K.K.K., by Susan Bartoletti.
- Sir Charlie by Sid Fleischman.
- A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz.
- The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter.
- Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
- The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, with illustrations by Peter Sis.
- Countdown by Deborah Wiles