What Would YOU Pick?

Cindy: As I write this, Lynn is winging her way to The American Library Association Midwinter Meetings in Dallas…propelled as much by excitement and nerves as she is by Delta Airlines. Her 2012 Newbery Award deliberations start tomorrow and I am left behind to work for two more days before I can leave town and be ready to cheer for all of the award winners early Monday morning. I’ve had a little taste of some of the fun to come, though, as we completed our Mock Newbery at one of my middle schools this week.

We had a small group of avid 6th grade readers who worked the last couple of months to read as many titles as they could in a short list that we compiled from starred reviews and late year buzz. Their winner was Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar). They cited the characterization and humor as strengths. They selected just one honor book, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick). They admired the plot and the imbedded stories that helped Conor process what was going on in his life. They also think the Caldecott committee should be considering the illustrations. I like the way these young teens think.

Lynn also worked with another group, 5th graders at Waukazoo Elementary with their librarian, Lori Marco. They read from a slightly different short list of books with some overlap and they don’t want the book club to end with next week’s announcement. They selected a winner and four honor books. Their top choice was Masterwork of a Painting Elephant by Michelle Cuevas (Farrar). When we blogged this book in September I wondered “WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR?” Famous last words…of course a group of bright, well-read 10-year-olds would appreciate its magical realism even if they are unfamiliar with the literary term! Their four honor books were The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (Knopf), Toys Come Home by Emily Jenkins (Schwartz & Wade), Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan (Atheneum), and…drum roll please…The Other Felix by Booklist‘s own Keir Graff (Roaring Brook). We hope Keir has his Mock Newbery Honor acceptance speech written!

Lynn and I love making Best of the Year lists, as long-time Bookends readers know, but we have given that up this year while we are both serving on major award committees. Please comment here and let us know what YOU would choose for the Newbery before the announcements are made on Monday morning. And then you have another week or so to let me know what your favorite YA titles are before my deadline to select the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for YA Literature. The shortlist for that will be announced later in February. Stay tuned.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "What Would YOU Pick?"

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  1. kgraff@ala.org' Keir says:

    Cindy, your sixth-graders were prescient! (And I heard a lot of people saying how sad they were that A Monster Calls was shut out.)

  2. katecoombs13@gmail.com' Kate Coombs says:

    Go, sixth graders! Way to pick the winner!

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