In about a week, the 2017 Youth Media Awards will be livestreamed. They are awards, sponsored by the ALA, that honors the best of children’s literature from the previous year. Honors like the Coretta Scott King Award, the Printz, and, of course, The Caldecotts, among others, are recognized here. The National Book Award (which was recently won by American Hero John Lewis) is a separate award with no ties to the ALA. The most prominent, famous and recognized children’s book award, the Newbery, is. While many YA bloggers and enthusiasts are busy with their final prediction ballots, not being too up to date with the newest books from 2016, I’ve decided to take a look back at the children’s books and their authors that have won the high honor since the start of the decade. While all seven of these books are fabulous and generally deserving of their awards, here is how I’d rank them if the ALAs wanted to create a new”SuperNewbery” medal.
7. Flora & Ulysses: The Illustrated Adventures (Kate DiCamillo) – 2015
Accompanied with funny comic drawings by KG Campbell, this quirky, somewhat endearingly irreverent book is about a girl named Flora who inherits a squirrel with superpowers, she names Ulysses. It’s funny, but with most Newbery winners, there’s some parental drama that really keeps the story grounded and relatable for readers.
6. Dead End in Norvelt (Jack Gantos) – 2012
This is the kind of book I’d like to publish, if I’m ever given the opportunity. It’s one part autobiography, it’s another part fiction. For a book from the perspective of a young boy, the writing is really impressive. It tells the story of twelve year old Jack Gantos, as he tries to uncover a murder mystery in his otherwise small humdrum Pennsylvanian town.
5. The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate) – 2013
When I first decided to read this book, I didn’t think I’d like it; but I actually was surprised by how captivated I was by the story. The book, told from the perspective of Ivan the gorilla, is about his caged life in a mall/arcade zoo. After the death of his Elephant friend, who was also a performer for the shady zoo, he is determined to get him and his fellow animal friends out.
4. The Last Stop on Market Street (Matt de la Pena) – 2016
I wrote about this book in my last post where I reviewed some the Caldecott honor books. It’s very rare for a ~20 page picture book to win this award. Usually, novels win. But the story and message told here is so poignant, I can understand why voters felt compelled to choose it. It’s a story about a boy, his grandmother, and the lessons they learn on a bus ride from church.
3. Moon Over Manifest (Clare Vanderpool) – 2011
If Showtime still produced television movies for young people like did during the 90’s and early 2000’s, the channel probably would have adapted this book. The book tells two stories: one about a girl during the Great Depression, who is forced to live apart from her father during the summer in a small town called Manifest; and the other, which takes place two decades earlier in the same town, about two friends, one who goes abroad to fight in World War I, and the other who stays behind and attempts to save their town from being owned by greedy, morally evil mine owners. How the two stories are connected will amaze you.
2. When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead) – 2010
Some book critics have called this book the greatest children’s book of the new millennium. It’s hard to find fault with that subjective statement. This is a really clever, speculative-lite novel. It’s like…Inception for young people. Right? Anyway, the book takes place in New York during the 70’s, about an eleven year old girl who starts to receive these mysterious messages from an unknown source. She soon learns these messages are from the future, and that she’s supposed to prevent something bad from happening. It’s a thoroughly clever book. Newbery judges really like mystery books, apparently.
1. The Crossover (Kwame Alexander) – 2015
But my heart belongs to The Crossover, one of those life changing books that truly inspires me in all my creative endeavors. Who knew a book about middle school basketball could do that? Written in beautiful, electric free-verse, the book is about a star basketball player, his rivalry with his twin brother, and his complicated relationship with his former professional basketball player father. It’s a book I can read over and over again. In my opinion, The Crossover is one of the most refreshing choices a Newbery committee has ever made.
So, who’ll win the Newbery this year? We’ll find out next Monday at 8am EST. The award announcement will be livestreamed, with a proper gala ceremony occurring a few months afterwards.