Newbery Possibilities Wrap-Up

Mock Award groups all over the country are reading their final books and preparing for their decisions; Heavy Medal is getting ready to vote online and the Oakland results are in! The actual ALA Youth Media Awards ceremony will be on Monday, February 12 beginning at 8 a.m. MT (woohoo! I can actually get up at a normal time this year!) and can be viewed here. Here’s my last round-up of titles that meet the Newbery criteria.

One note: some people clearly feel that One Last Word by Nikki Grimes could indeed be eligible. I still lean on the ineligible side due to the inclusion of previously published poems, but would be happy to be incorrect and wanted to recognize the varied opinions out there. Final decisions on eligibility are made by the Newbery Committee Chair and the Priority Group Consultant.

The usual disclaimer: 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.

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.

Of course, this list is just considering titles via the lens of starred reviews. There are many more ways to find worthy titles and I encourage you all to explore them as much as possible. Some years are like last year and The Girl Who Drank the Moon (5 starred reviews) takes home the medal, but you never know when it’s going to be a Moon Over Manifest year (2 starred reviews) or a Last Stop on Market Street (3 starred reviews and a picture book to boot) year!

As of the end of December there were 214 titles with three or more starred reviews. New titles are marked in bold.

List one: Novels (33 books)


Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (3 stars)
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)
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)
Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley (3 stars)
Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl (3 stars)
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (3 stars)
Patina by Jason Reynolds (4 stars)
Posted by John David Anderson (3 stars)
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Brian Floca (3 stars)
The Real McCoys by Matthew Swanson, illus. by Robbi Behr (3 stars)
Slider by Pete Hautman (3 stars)
Speed of Life by Carol Weston (4 stars)
 The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore (4 stars)
Threads of Blue by Suzanne LaFleur (3 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)
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (4 stars)
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (3 stars)

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)
The Wonderling by Mira Bartók (3 stars)
York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (4 stars)

List two: Picture Books, Non-Fiction etc. (90 books)


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives. by Dashka Slater (3 stars) – non-fiction
Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi (3 stars) – picture book
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat (5 stars) – picture book
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
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (3 stars) – graphic novel
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
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jafar and Raymond Obstfeld (3 stars) – non-fiction
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome (4 stars) – picture book biography
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
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illus. by Gordon C. James (4 stars) – picture book
Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (3 stars) – picture book biography

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illus. by Thi Bui (5 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
Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson (4 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
Garbage Night by Jen Lee (3 stars) – graphic novel
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
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illus. by Shawn Harris (5 stars) – non-fiction/picture book
Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illus. by Bryan Collier (3 stars) – picture book

How to Be An Elephant: Growing Up In the African Wild by Katherine Roy (4 stars) – non-fiction
I Want That Nut! by Madeline Valentine (3 stars) – picture book
I’m Just No Good At Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, illus. by Lane Smith (5 stars) – poetry
In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek (5 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
Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island by Loree Griffin Burns (3 stars) – non-fiction
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 Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope With Her Song by Kathryn Erskine, illus. by Charly Palmer (3 stars) – picture book biography
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
Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon by Jan Greenburg and Sandra Jordan (5 stars) – non-fiction
Mighty Moby by Barbara DaCosta, illus. by Ed Young (4 stars)
Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote by Margarita Engle, illus. by Raúl Colón (3 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
Pup and Bear by Kate Banks, illus. by Naoko Stoop (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
Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender by S.D. Nelson (3 stars) – non-fiction
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 (4 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
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illus. by Stacy Innerst (3 stars) – picture book biography
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
Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say (5 stars) – picture book memoir
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
The Watcher by Nikki Grimes, illus. by Bryan Collier (3 stars) – picture book/poetry
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Christian Robinson (6 stars) – picture book
Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim (4 stars) – graphic novel/picture book
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt, illus. by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (3 stars) – picture book
Windows by Julia Denos, illus. by E.B. Goodale (5 stars) – picture book
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, illus. by Richard Jones (3 stars) – picture book

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (5 stars) – picture book
The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid byJeanette Winter (3 stars) – picture book biography
Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos (3 stars) – non-fiction

List three: Young Adult books that are probably too old (49 books)
All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry (3 stars)
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (4 stars)
American Street by Ibi Zoboi (5 stars)
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 (5 stars)
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (3 stars)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (6 stars)
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 (5 stars)
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo, illus. by Sara Kipin (3 stars)
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (4 stars)
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (4 stars)
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (4 stars)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (6 stars)
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (5 stars)
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed (3 stars)
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (5 stars)
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (4 stars)
Release by Patrick Ness (4 stars)
Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Parks (4 stars) – graphic
Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older (3 stars)
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)
Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister (3 stars)
Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi (3 stars)
Turtles All the Way Down byJohn Green (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 (4 stars)

List four: Ineligible Titles (42 books)
Away Emil Sher, illus. by Qin Leng  – Canadian
Beck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff  – UK
Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan – Chinese
Deep in the Woods by Christopher Corr – UK
Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller, illus. by Yelena Bryksenkova – Germany
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge  – UK
The Fashion Committee: A Novel of Art, Crime, and Applied Design by Susan Juby – Canadian
Feather by Cao Wenxuan, illus. by Roger Mello – Chinese
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illus. by Helen Oxenbury – UK
Good Night, Planet by Liniers – Argentinian
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
La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, Vol. 1) by Philip Pullman – UK
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
Lines by Suzy Lee – Korean
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
Red Again by Barbara Lehman – wordless picture book
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Canadian
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – UK
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge – UK
The Song From Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold, illus. by Levi Pinfold – UK
Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith – Canadian
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
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!



2 thoughts on “Newbery Possibilities Wrap-Up

    1. You know, as I was finishing up this list for the year, I looked back at how I sorted some things and was like – huh. Wonder what my thought process was there? The 57 Bus was one and The Hate U Give was another. It’s that age 12-14 range that is so tricky!

      And yes, the Newbery is only for American citizens or residents – the author must be one or the other!


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