This is more of a wish-list than a list of predictions; since I’ve read only a small percentage of the books in most of the categories, all I can really do this year is point out my favorites. Since they can’t all win (each shortlist will include a half-dozen or so titles), I’ll try to limit myself to my favorite from the categories from which I read. I’ll also abstain from offering my opinion in the nonfiction picture category since that’s the one in which I’m acting as a round 2 judge. (Yippee!)
I’m starting with the toughest for me, the category I find
almost impossible to limit myself to just one top pick. I nominated A Home for Bird by Phillip C. Stead (review), and even after all the nominated titles I read with my children, I still like this one a lot. I think I almost love another Stead title (this one illustrated by Phillip’s wife, Erin) as much: Bear Has a Story to Tell (review). However, I think Bird edges Bear out just by a hair in my book because of the quirkiness factor. I have to give a nod to Oh, No! by Candace Fleming (review), too, though, because it caught the DLM’s fancy and we read it dozens of times. Now that’s kid appeal!
Did I say I was picking one title per category? 🙂
My personal favorite in this category is Laugh with the Moon by Shana Berg (review), a book I designated as a top pick of 2012. However, I recognize that I have a particular penchant for stories set in Africa, so there is that element that commends it to me over other stories. Still, it’s a good story that I think would be deserving of consideration. However (and yes, I’m about to pick two titles here 😉 ), I think Wonder by R. J. Palacio is a shoe-in. While I think it’s a little too much “been there, done that” for me in terms of the lonely new kid on the block/ bullying theme (which, of course, is not to discredit the fact that this book tackles much bigger issues, too–namely, Auggie’s physical differences), I do think it probably has more kid appeal than many of the others I read.
I had no idea that I actually read six titles from the middle grade list in this category! Wow. Like the other categories, this one is also a very tough decision for me, but I have to give my one and only vote (ha!) to Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans (review). Although I do love (and did nominate) The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley (review), Horten wins it for me because it’s more firmly in the genre. (I don’t really know why I say this–Prairie Thief certainly has a strong fantasy element, but it’s a younger, simpler story. Maybe that’s it.) I have to mention, too, that of all the books in the category, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Ann Schlitz (review) wins as the most complex and well-written, but I’m not sure it will appeal to a wide range of middle grade readers. I’m looking for it to win a Newbery. 🙂 So, Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms it is.
I probably shouldn’t even cast my vote here since I only read a couple, but I want to call attention to a fantastic little story that falls in the category of Early Chapter Books. The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng (review). It’s a nuanced and somewhat complex story of friendship for an early chapter book, and I think it’s well worth a look. I really have no idea what one would look for in an award-winning early chapter book, but I think this one has what I think is important: a well-told, even emotionally complex story accessible to young readers.
Young Adult Fiction:
I confess that I’ve only read one title in this category (I find most YA fiction too modern for my sensibilities nowadays), but if this title doesn’t make it, well. . . I don’t know what this world’s coming to. 🙂 Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (review) blew me out of the water and was one of my favorite books of the year. The only reason I can think of that it might not make it (and consequently might not be named one of the best YA books of the year, hands down) is because it’s historical fiction (plus a bunch of other stuff–adventure, espionage, friendship) and it’s not angsty enough. I’ll be sorely disappointed if it’s overlooked, though.
That’s it for me. What do you think? Share you opinions or links to your blog posts in the comments. I’ll be back tomorrow after the shortlists go up, Lord willing, with further thoughts.