Newbery Contender Update graphic

2021 Newbery Possibilities through January Stars

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

Some additional parameters that the committee must consider:

  • 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.

You can read the full criteria here.

I collate a list of titles that have three or more starred reviews (4 of the titles honored this January met this criteria – only Scary Stories for Young Foxes had fewer than 3 starred reviews) and break them down into these categories: Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Comics, Non-Fiction, Picture Books (Fiction and Non-Fiction), Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books, and Ineligibles. This year, to save some time, I’m not including the publication date here and just copying the citation from the January Starred Reviews post. You can, of course, still find the publication date on the Starred Reviews spreadsheet.

Standard 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 or content (wordless picture books or reprinted material). For a prime example of this – I wasn’t sure if The Undefeated would be eligible and clearly it was!

Heavy Medal, SLJ’s Mock Newbery blog, is soliciting mock field nominations monthly and you can check out their first list.

As of the end of January there were 26 titles with three or more starred reviews. I haven’t had a chance to review any of these yet, but I was able to grab copies of several before my library closed and am hoping to get to them over the next couple of weeks.

Middle Grade Fiction: 5 books

From the Desk of Zoe Washington book coverKing and the Dragonflies book coverMañanaland book coverThe Thief Knot book coverWhen You Trap a Tiger book cover

From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Janae Marks. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 9780062875853. B, K, PW.
King and the Dragonflies.
Kacen Callender. Scholastic Press. 9781338129335. B, HB, PW, SLJ.
Mañanaland. Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic Press. 9781338157864. B, K, PW.
The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story. Kate Milford, illus. by Jaime Zollars. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion. 9781328466891. B, K, SLJ.
When You Trap a Tiger. Tae Keller. Penguin Random House. 9781524715700. B, BCCB, K, PW, SLJ.

Young Adult Fiction:  3 books

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come book coverNot So Pure and Simple book coverRed Hood book cover

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come. Mildred D. Taylor. Penguin Random House/Viking. 9780399257308. B, K, PW.
Not So Pure and Simple. Lamar Giles. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 9780062349194. B, K, PW, SLJ.
Red Hood. Elana K. Arnold. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 9780062742353. B, PW, SLJ.

Graphic Novels/Comics: 3 books

Almost American Girl book coverAstronauts book coverConsent (For Kids!) book cover

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. Robin Ha. HaperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 9780062685100. B, K, PW, SLJ.
Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier. Jim Ottaviani, illus. by Maris Wicks. Macmillan/First Second. 9781626728776. B, K, PW.
Consent (For Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You. Rachel Brian. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316457736. B, K, SLJ.

Non-Fiction:  2 books

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh book coverThis Book Is Anti-Racist book cover

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. Candace Fleming. Penguin Random House/Schwartz & Wade. 9780525646549. B, BCCB, HB, K, PW, SLJ.
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How To Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work. Tiffany Jewell, illus. by Aurélia Durand. Quarto Knows/Frances Lincoln. 9780711245211. K, PW, SLJ.

Picture Books: 10 books

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures book coverBeing Frog book coverHoneybee book coverIn a Jar book coverLizzie Demands a Seat book coverMagnificent Homespun Brown book coverMy Best Friend book coverNesting book coverThe Old Truck book coverThe Oldest Student book cover

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. Nikki Grimes, illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. 9781492638322. B, K, PW, SLJ.
Being Frog. April Pulley Sayre. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane. 9781534428812. BCCB, K, PW.
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann. Holiday House/Neal Porter. 9780823442850. K, PW, SLJ.
In a Jar. Deborah Marcero. Penguin Random House/Putnam. 9780525514596. B, K, SLJ.
Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights. Beth Anderson, illus. by E.B. Lewis. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. 9781629799391. B, K, PW.
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration. Samara Cole Doyon, illus. by Kaylani Juanita. Tilbury House. 9780884487975. K, PW, SLJ.
My Best Friend. Julie Fogliano, illus. by Jillian Tamaki. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 9781534427228. B, PW, SLJ.
Nesting. Henry Cole. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 9780062885920. B, K, PW, SLJ.
The Old Truck. Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey. W.W. Norton and Company/Norton Young Readers. 9781324005193. B, K, PW, SLJ.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read. Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illus. by Oge Mora. Penguin Random House/Schwartz & Wade. 9781524768287. B, K, PW, SLJ.

Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books:  0 books

Question mark drawn in chalk on a blackboard

None yet – easy readers and early chapter books still aren’t reviewed at the same rate as some other formats. Hopefully something will show up later this year.

Ineligible: 3 books
Banned Book Club. Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, illus. by Ko Hyung-Ju. Iron Circus. 9781945820427. B, PW, SLJ. – The authors live in South Korea and I think Kim Hyun Sook is not an American citizen – if anyone has better info on this, let me know.
Dandelion’s Dream. Yoko Tanaka. Candlewick. 9781536204537. BCCB, K, SLJ. – wordless picture book
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped From the Beginning. Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Hachette/Little, Brown. 9780316453691. B, K, PW, SLJ. – I think this will be ineligible because of being adapted – if anyone else knows differently, let me know!

Happy reading!

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