Newbery Possibilities Updated for August Stars

I’m back! It’s been awhile – between family things and preparing for and attending the Illinois Library Association’s annual conference (where I was on a panel discussion for the first time – slightly terrifying, but mostly fun!), my nerdy book stat stuff had to take a back seat.

I didn’t have a chance to update my list of possible Newbery contenders over the summer at all which means this is four months of added titles. Unfortunately, since that meant adding over 70 books it took me so long that the data is immediately out of date because it does not account for any September or October starred reviews (entering September reviews is next on my blog/spreadsheet list of to-dos). I will try to post another update once the September data is in since hopefully that will be a smaller task.

Please note that I have no official connection to the Newbery Award or Committee – nothing I say here has any bearing on the Committee’s deliberations. I’m merely an avid fan and data nerd. For people with far more experience who have actually served on the Newbery Committee I encourage you to check out SLJ’s Heavy Medal blog.

Also, welcome to my new readers; I’ve been seeing a significant increase in views this fall which is great! I would encourage you to read the Starred Reviews page for a list of which journals I track (there are many entities that give starred reviews out and I do not follow all of them) and an explanation of my notation system.

Brief reminder of the basic Newbery qualifications:

  • Children are defined as being up to and including the age of 14.
  • Books must be published in the U.S. first; titles originally published elsewhere are not eligible.
  • The author must be a U.S. citizen or resident.

Here’s how the four lists break down:

  • List one: Novels solidly in the age range
  • List two: Everything else solidly in the age range: graphic novels, non-fiction, picture books, poetry collections, etc.
  • List three: YA titles that technically hit the age range, but are probably too old.
  • List four: What I think are ineligible titles – mostly due to nationality of the author, but there’s a few listed there for other reasons.

DIsclaimer: My eligibility rulings are far from final – I’m making my best guesses based on the terms and criteria and internet searches regarding citizenship/residency.

Also – please remember starred reviews do not have the same criteria as the Newbery. There are plenty of titles not on this list that the committee will likely be looking at for a variety of reasons.  This list is just one way to focus your reading, I encourage you to seek out excellent children’s literature in other places as well!

As of the end of August there were 161 titles with three or more starred reviews. New titles are marked in bold.

List one: Novels (24 books)


Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (3 stars)
Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley (3 stars)
Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo (3 stars)
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (5 stars)
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia (5 stars) – National Book Award Finalist
The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget (3 stars)
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (3 stars)
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (3 stars)
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (3 stars)

Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter (3 stars)
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente, illus. by Rebecca Green (3 stars)
Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (4 stars)
It All Comes Down to This by Karen English (4 stars) – Kirkus Prize Finalist
Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley (3 stars)
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (3 stars)
Posted by John David Anderson (3 stars)
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Brian Floca (3 stars)
Slider by Pete Hautman (3 stars)
Speed of Life by Carol Weston (4 stars)
Train I Ride by Paul Mosier (3 stars)
Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley (4 stars)
The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of My Follies, Fortune, and Fate by Avi (3 stars)
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)
York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (4 stars)

List two: Picture Books, Non-Fiction etc. (63 books)


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives. by Dashka Slater (3 stars) – non-fiction
Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights
 by Deborah Kops (3 stars) – non-fiction
All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson, illus. by Katherine Tillotson (4 stars) – picture book
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illus. by Mike Curato (4 stars) – picture book
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illus. by Eric & Terry Fan (3 stars) – picture book

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson (3 stars) – picture book
Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel, illus. by Nancy Carpenter (3 stars) – picture book biography
Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins (3 stars) – picture book
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper (5 stars) – picture book
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illus. by Kadir Nelson (4 stars) – picture book
Bob, Not Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illus. by Matthew Cordell (3 stars) – picture book
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (4 stars) – picture book
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illus. by Emily Hughes (3 stars) – easy reader
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Peter Brown (3 stars) – picture book
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illus. by Thi Bui (4 stars) – picture book
A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg (3 stars) – non-fiction

Egg by Kevin Henkes (4 stars) – picture book
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos (3 stars) – non-fiction
Flora and the Chicks by Molly Idle (3 stars) – board book

Flying Lessons and Other Stories ed. by Ellen Oh (5 stars) – short stories
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Floyd Cooper (3 stars) – picture book biography
Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre (3 stars) – picture book
Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Lisa Brown (3 stars) – picture book

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (5 stars) – non-fiction
A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Chris Appelhans (4 stars) – picture book
How to Be An Elephant: Growing Up In the African Wild by Katherine Roy (3 stars) – non-fiction
I’m Just No Good At Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, illus. by Lane Smith (3 stars) – poetry
In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek (3 stars) – picture book

In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Brian Pinkney (4 stars) – picture book
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d by Mary Losure (3 stars) – biography
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Adam Rex (5 stars) – picture book
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Elizabeth Zunon (3 stars) – picture book biography
Lexie the Word Wrangler by Rebecca Van Slyke, illus. by Jessie Hartland (3 stars) – picture book
Life on Mars by Jon Agee (3 stars) – picture book
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell – (4 stars) – picture book
Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illus. by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee (3 stars) – picture book
Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J. Muth (4 stars) – picture book
The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum (3 stars) – non-fiction
Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí Y Sus Versos Por La Libertad by Emma Otheguy, illus. by Beatriz Vidal (4 stars) – picture book biography
The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano by Elizabeth Rusch, illus. by Marjorie Priceman (3 stars) – picture book biography
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith (3 stars) – poetry collection
Now by Antoinette Portis (4 stars) – picture book
The Only Fish in the Sea
by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Matthew Cordell (4 stars) – picture book
Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden (3 stars) – non-fiction
A Perfect Day by Lane Smith (3 stars) – picture book
Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner, illus. by Michael Emberley (3 stars) – picture book
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin Stead (3 stars) – illustrated book
The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Susan Goldman Rubin (3 stars) – non-fiction

Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illus. by LeUyen Pham (3 stars) – graphic memoir
Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illus. by Molly Bang (5 stars) – non-fiction
Robinson by Peter Sís (3 stars) – picture book
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy, illus. by Eugene Yelchin (3 stars) – picture book

Round by Joyce Sidman, illus. by Taeeun Yoo (4 stars) – picture book/science
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Eric Velasquez (4 stars) – picture book/biography
The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illus. by Jeanette Winter (5 stars) – picture book
This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illus. by Suzy Lee (3 stars) – picture book
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman (3 stars) – picture book
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney (5 stars) – picture book
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin (4 stars) – non-fiction
The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering (3 stars) – picture book
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Christian Robinson (4 stars) – picture book
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt, illus. by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (3 stars) – picture book
The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid byJeanette Winter (3 stars) – picture book biography

List three: Young Adult books that are probably too old (41 books)
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (4 stars)
American Street by Ibi Zoboi (5 stars) – National Book Award Finalist
The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller (3 stars)

Bang by Barry Lyga (3 stars)
The Black Witch by Laurie Forest (3 stars)
Bull by David Elliott (5 stars)
City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson (4 stars)
Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (4 stars)
Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork (4 stars)
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (3 stars)
Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens (3 stars)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (4 stars)
Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (3 stars)
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (4 stars)
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (4 stars)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (6 stars) – National Book Award Longlist, Kirkus Prize Finalist
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (4 stars)
Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (3 stars)
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (3 stars)
Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson (4 stars)
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (4 stars)
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (3 stars)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (5 stars) – National Book Award Longlist
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (5 stars)
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (5 stars)
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (4 stars)
Release by Patrick Ness (3 stars)
Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Parks (3 stars) – graphic
Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton (3 stars)
Spinning by Tillie Walden (3 stars) – graphic

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (4 stars)
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (3 stars)
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (4 stars)
Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (4 stars)
Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi (3 stars)
An Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder (3 stars)

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman (6 stars) – non-fiction
Warcross by Marie Lu (3 stars)
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (4 stars)
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (3 stars)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (3 stars) – National Book Award Longlist

List four: Ineligible Titles (33 books)
Away Emil Sher, illus. by Qin Leng.  – Canadian
Beck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff  – UK
Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan – Chinese – Kirkus Prize Finalist
Deep in the Woods by Christopher Corr – UK
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge  – UK
The Fashion Committee: A Novel of Art, Crime, and Applied Design by Susan Juby – Canadian
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illus. by Helen Oxenbury – UK
Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond, illus. by Salvatore Rubbino – UK
Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman – UK
Here We Are: 44 Voices, Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen – contains previously published essays
Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood ed. by Patricia C. McKissack, illus. by Brian Pinkney – compilation; includes previously published materials
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin – nearly wordless picture book
Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault – Canadian
The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius – Swedish
My Pictures After the Storm by Éric Veillé – French
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez – Colombian
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna – Italian
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes – contains previously published poems
Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen – Canadian
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, illus. by Ekua Holmes – Chris Colderley Canadian
Pandora by Victoria Turnbull – UK
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Canadian
The Song From Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold, illus. by Levi Pinfold – UK
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illus. by Alex Puvilland – previously published on the web

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce – UK
Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illus. by Eleanor Shakespeare – Canadian
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston – Canadian
Thornhill by Pam Smy – UK

Town Is By the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illus. by Sydney Smith – Canadian
Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago, illus. by Rafael Yockteng – Colombian – Kirkus Prize Finalist
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell – nearly wordless picture book
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – Australian
Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illus. by Jun Takabatake – Japanese

Happy reading!



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