Early Newbery Medal Predictions

It’s only October, but Susan over at Wizards Wireless inspired me with her own predictions.  The season isn’t over yet and I haven’t read all of the 2008 books on my TBR pile,but the following books are my personal picks for a Newbery this year.

  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt-  If this book doesn’t begin 2009 with a shiny sticker on its cover, I will be shocked.  The Underneath is poetic, haunting, complicated, realistic, fantastic, simple, and some much more.  Appelt has woven a deep tale that isn’t afraid to let children know that there is evil in the world.  But she also reminds us of the love and beauty in the world.  While not a story for the younger spectrum of the award (despite the cute and cuddly cover), this is a phenomenal story for 5th graders and up.  I am reading it aloud to my 6th graders and they love it.
  • Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume-  I haven’t heard much about Tennyson since the beginning of the year.  But without a doubt, this is in my top five books of 2008.  As I said in my review, I am reminded of Natalie Babbitt’s amazing Tuck Everlasting, a classic in children’s literature.  I was drawn into the story just like the main characters are drawn to the Mississippi River, and Blume has an amazing poetic and lyrical storytelling style.  A few of my students read the book last year and proclaimed it “amazing!”, so it certainly has kid appeal.  It’s a dark horse, but I will be pulling for it come January!
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-  See, this is a tough one.  I am not sure if it should be eligible for the Printz or the Newbery.  It certainly covers from about 5th grade up.  What I am certain of is that I could not put this book down.  Neither could my students.  It’s action-packed and still thought-provoking.  Certain aspects of it reminded me of The Giver, which is a Newbery winner.  Printz or Newbery, I would love to see this one take home a medal.
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson-  I might be cheating with this one, because I am still in the middle of it.  But so far, it’s an amazing book.  The quintessential middle-grade historical fiction novel, you don’t even realize it’s historical fiction.  While that may sound strange, I have learned that is the most important trait a historical fiction novel can have for my 6th graders.  They don’t want to read about “old stuff”, in their words.  But they will read a well-crafted story with realistic characters that just happens to take place in the past.  Chains drags you into the story and holds you hostage as you frantically turn the pages.  And Anderson’s painstaking attention to detail and historical accuracy only makes a great book even stronger.
  • Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock- I can foresee this one sweeping in and grabbing an Honor medal. It reminded me a bit of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. It’s a fun medieval fantasy with a spunky female main character. Don’t count this one out!


As of now, these are my picks.  Keep in mind I do have a lot of books still on my TBR pile, so this is subject to change as January approaches!  Oddly enough, I realize now that all of my picks have female protagonists, yet I would not classify any of them as “girl books”.  I know I read a lot of books with male protagonists….interesting that none of them seem to make it onto my list of distinguished books.  Anyone else notice a similar trend?