Middle Grade Monday departs from its usual highlighting of wonderful middle grade books to report that later on this morning (8 PST/ 11 EST), the Youth Media Awards will be announced at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Seattle. Some eighteen awards will be announced across the various age groups culminating in the announcements of the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards. If you are lucky enough to be in the room during the announcements, you can't help but feel the excitement and join in the applause for each winner, even if your personal favorites don't win. I always have a list of favorites I hope will win, but have never made a prediction post. I favorited eighty-eight books in 2018 across the age groups fiction and non-fiction. Here are five books I'd love to see a sticker on:
Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier.
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson.
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis.
Just Like Jackie by Lindsay Stoddard. I didn't get to review this beautiful debut. The writing is lovely and the characters are unforgettable.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Conor.
ETA: As I was reviewing this post, it occurred to me that No Fixed Address is ineligible for Newbery as the author is Canadian. Leaving it here at the bottom though, because it is a favorite and shouldn't be missed.
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen.
Picking those five meant I left off quite a few others that I would be thrilled to win. That's the tough part. You read a lot of books and make your lists of favorites but if you're on a committee, your fellow committee members also make their own lists.
I admit that the anticipation is hard to resist. I also admit to feeling a bit ambivalent about the awards, especially the Newbery and Caldecott. How can one choose a single book that is distinguished above all others? How many of my students come in clamoring for a book with the Newbery medal on it? The only one I can remember demand for was Holes. A few years ago, a sixth grade LA teacher did a book bingo that included a Newbery winner square and Newbery Honor square, so that it was a bit unavoidable and I had students trudging in to fulfill that requirement.
Personally, I anticipate the Notables list that release a day or two post YMA announcements. But even they are missing some wonderful titles due to the fact that it is limited to sixty books and must include the YMA winners.
One book has received a ton of buzz this year that I really don't get. It's a fine story. It's an important one. I liked it; but I don't see how it is distinguished. Sometimes buzz does not equal and Newbery. The committee does what it does, supposedly independent of the buzz. Sometimes I love the winner and can't get a single kid to read it. Occasionally, I can't get through the winner and it becomes a rare dnf.
Sadly, I skipped Midwinter this year but I will tune in to the livestream at 11AM and celebrate whatever the outcome. Then, I will go back to my job of finding the right book at the right time for the right reader. Each of those books are winners regardless of whether there's a sticker on it.