2019 Newbery Possibilities through February Stars

Another year, another crop of Newbery contenders to consider! The Newbery Award is given by the Association for Library Service to Children to

“the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year.” – Newbery Medal Terms and Criteria

That’s a pretty broad charge for the committee, so here’s a few more details:

  • 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.

The Newbery committee over the last few years has been making a lot of really exciting choices outside middle grade novels which for a long time were the typical Newbery fodder. The 2018 honors alone included a picture book (Crown) and two titles at the upper end of the age range (Long Way Down and Piecing Me Together). Every year I tweak how I put my lists of Newbery contenders together. Given the continued stretching of the Newbery boundaries, this year I considered just listing titles by the number of starred reviews and pulling out the ineligible titles, but in the end I decided to go with breaking things down by format. The lists will be (at least to start with – we’ll see how this works): Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels/Comics, Non-Fiction, Picture Books (Fiction and Non-Fiction), and Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books.

The final list will be books that I think are ineligible – usually it’s because the author isn’t a U.S. citizen or resident, but wordless picture books and titles with previously published content could appear here as well. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the Newbery committee and I have no knowledge of their official rulings on eligibility – I’m making my best guesses based on the terms and criteria and internet searches regarding citizenship/residency.

Overall, I cast a pretty wide net here – I’m just looking at books with three or more starred reviews and whether they are eligible. For a more directed list of titles to consider, check in with Heavy Medal. They are running a new feature this year where readers can nominate titles to consider each month. You can see the March list and the April nominations opened up this week. You’ll note that there are several titles on the March list that don’t appear here – a good reminder that as wide a net as I cast? It’s likely the Newbery committee members themselves are looking even further afield and have probably read and put aside some of the titles I’m listing.

As of the end of February there were 44 titles with three or more starred reviews. Let’s take a look at how they break down after the jump.

Middle Grade Fiction:  7 books

betty before x book coverghost boys book coverhurricane child book coverivy aberdeen's letter to the world book coverthe journey of little charlie book coverthe night diary book coverthe truth as told by mason buttle book cover

Betty Before X. Ilyasah Shabazz with Renée Watson. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 9780374306106. (3 stars)
Ghost Boys. Jewell Parker Rhodes. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316262286. (3 stars)
Hurricane Child. Kheryn Callender. Scholastic. 9781338129304. (3 stars)
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World. Ashley Herring Blake. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316515467. (3 stars)
The Journey of Little Charlie. Christopher Paul Curtis. Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 9780545156660. (4 stars)
The Night Diary. Veera Hiranandani. Penguin Random House/Dial. 9780735228511. (3 stars)
The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle. Leslie Connor. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 9780062491435. (3 stars)

Young Adult Fiction:  11 books

after the shot drops book coveramerican panda book coverthe apocalypse of elena mendoza book coverchildren of blood and bone book coverthe cruel prince book coverdread nation book coverthe hazel wood book covera land of permanent goodbyes book coverlove hate and other filters book coverthunderhead book coverwhat the night sings book cover

After the Shot Drops. Randy Ribay. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 9781328702272. (3 stars)
American Panda.
Gloria Chao. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 9781481499101. (3 stars)
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza.
Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 9781481498548. (3 stars)
Children of Blood and Bone.
Tomi Adeyemi. Macmillan/Henry Holt. 9781250170972. (3 stars)
The Cruel Prince.
Holly Black. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316310277. (3 stars)
Dread Nation.
Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 9780062570604. (4 stars)
The Hazel Wood.
Melissa Albert, illus. Jim Tierney. Macmillan/Flatiron. 9781250147905. (5 stars)
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. Atia Abawi. Penguin Random House/Philomel. 9780399546839. (3 stars)
Love, Hate, and Other Filters. Samira Ahmed. Soho/Soho Teen. 9781616958473. (3 stars)
Thunderhead. Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster. 9781442472457. (5 stars)
What the Night Sings. Vesper Stamper. Penguin Random House/Knopf. 9781524700386. (3 stars)

Graphic Novels/Comics:  1 book

the prince and the dressmaker book cover

The Prince and the Dressmaker. Jen Wang. Macmillan/First Second. 9781626723634. (3 stars)

Non-Fiction:  6 books

americanized book coverchasing king's killer book coverfacing frederick book coverthe girl who drew butterflies book coverlife inside my mind book covermartin rising book cover

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card. Sara Saedi. Penguin Random House/Knopf. 9781524717797. (4 stars)
Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin. James L. Swanson. Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 9780545723336. (4 stars)
Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man. Tonya Bolden. Abrams/Amulet. 9781419725463. (3 stars)
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science. Joyce Sidman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 9780544717138. (5 stars)
Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles. Jessica Burkhart, ed. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 9781481494649. (3 stars)
Martin Rising: Requiem for a King. Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney. Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 9780545702539. (4 stars)

Picture Books: 12 books

between the lines book covergrace for gus book coverthe great dictionary caper book coverhello lighthouse book coveri got it book coverislandborn book coverjoan procter, dragon doctor book covera lady has the floor book coverlibba: the magnificent life of elizabeth cotten book coverlove book coverrodent rascals book coverthey say blue book cover

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery. Sandra Neil Wallace, illus. by Bryan Collier. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman. 9781481443876. (4 stars)
Grace for Gus. Harry Bliss. Harpercollins/Katherine Tegen. 9780062644107. (3 stars)
The Great Dictionary Caper. Judy Sierra, illus. by Eric Comstock. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman. 9781481480048. (3 stars)
Hello Lighthouse. Sophie Blackall. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316362382. (4 stars)
I Got It! David Wiesner. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion. 9780544309029. (4 stars)
Islandborn. Junot Díaz, illus. by Leo Espinosa. Penguin Random House/Dial. 9780735229860. (3 stars)
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles. Patricia Valdez, illus. by Felicita Sala. Penguin Random House/Knopf. 9780399557255. (3 stars)
A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights. Kate Hannigan, illus. by Alison Jay. Boyds Mill/Calkins Creek. 9781629794532. (3 stars)
Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten. Laura Veirs, illus. by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Chronicle. 9781452148571. (3 stars)
Love. Matt de la Peña, illus. by Loren Long. Penguin Random House/Putnam. 9781524740917. (3 stars)
Rodent Rascals. Roxie Munro. Holiday House. 9780823438600. (3 stars)
They Say Blue. Jillian Tamaki. Abrams. 9781419728518. (3 stars)

Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books:  1 book

baby monkey private eye book cover

Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Brian Selznick and David Serlin, illus. by Brian Selznick. Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 9781338180619. (4 stars)

Ineligible:  6 books
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. Pénélope Bagieu. Macmillan/First Second. 9781626728691. – French author
The Funeral. Matt James. Groundwood. 9781554989089.  – Canadian author
I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness. Kerascoët. Penguin Random House/Schwartz & Wade. 9781524769550. – French author
On the Other Side of the Garden. Jairo Buitrago, illus. by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood. 9781554989836. – Colombian author
Petra. Marianna Coppo. Penguin Random House Canada/Tundra. 9780735262676.  – Italian author
Speak: The Graphic Novel. Laurie Halse Anderson, illus. by Emily Carroll. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 9780374300289. – per the Newbery Definitions #5 regarding original work

A couple eligibility notes – I did not have time to thoroughly investigate Life Inside My Mind. If any of those essays have been previously published or any authors aren’t U.S. citizens/residents it will be ineligible, but until I’m able to check or told otherwise, I will keep it on the non-fiction list. Also, I know Jillian Tamaki (author of They Say Blue) is living in Canada now.  Wikipedia says Tamaki is Canadian American, but I haven’t been able to turn up any other sources confirming dual citizenship. If anyone out there has any eligibility info on either of these two, or any other titles, I would be glad to hear it!

Happy reading!


9 thoughts on “2019 Newbery Possibilities through February Stars

  1. Your lists have always been so very useful….and this new format is even better! Thanks for all the work you put into this every year!


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