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Our Crystal Ball

Natural-Crystal-Ball-MGB004-As soon as the calendar turns to the new year, I start hearing voices. No, they aren’t the voices of my 2013 resolutions reminding me of their long-ignored status; they are the queries from children’s book people wondering, “What will win the Caldecott and Newbery awards?” This is a dreadful question because the only correct answer is a mumbled, “I dunno. I am not on the committee.” And, even if I were on the committee this year, I still wouldn’t know. I would only have a tiny flicker of an idea, as the committee would have a list of all the nominated books by this time. But that’s it.

Still, the question persists. The one (and only) advantage that Martha and I have over everyone else in the world is that we have served on committees and know a little about that process. We know how weighted voting works and we know the kind of details that a committee of smart, passionate readers will discuss. But that’s it. We do not know who on the committee will launch an assault on a favorite book or who will champion a “sleeper” book and somehow move fellow committee members in a particular direction.

So I do not like to predict (see how I semi-dodge the issue, here). I do not have a crystal ball. But over the next few days (and there are very few left), we will re-highlight a few of the books we have already discussed. We will attempt to compare a few head to head, the way the committee will. And maybe we will slip in a few subtle predictions. Maybe not.

And then, you will vote.

Do you have any predictions at this moment in time? Is your crystal ball in sharper focus than mine is? Share away in the comments.

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.



  1. Hi. I have been offering up reviews of every book that I perceived to be a valid contender for the award at my movie and arts blogsite, and have thus far completed in depth looks at each choice. Today I posted a piece on Brian Floca’s LOCOMOTIVE. Previously I have examined JOURNEY, MR. TIGER GOES WILD, KNOCK KNOCK and THE MATCHBOX DIARY.

    Before the 27th I hope to have at least five more and hope to some of these:

    Building A House
    Flora and the Flamingo
    A Splash of Red
    The Dark
    Mr. Wuffles
    The Tortoise and the Hair

    and a few others.

    I am a veteran elementary school teacher in a school where my wife is currently principal, and I have my own kids ages 17, 16, 14, 12, 11. I have collected Caldecott and Newbery medal winners and honor books for many years and have amassed a collection of over 700 picture books and follow the awards religiously every year. Though I’ve taught up to the eighth grade, this year I do reading with first graders and have presented all the Caldecott hopefuls.

    Like you I agree that the awards are extremely difficult to call.

    How about this:

    Caldecott Medal: Journey by Aaron Becker

    Honor Books:

    Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
    The Matchbox Diary
    A Splash of Red

    Also standing a very good chance in my view:

    Mr. Wuffles
    The Tortoise and the Hare
    The Dark
    Nino Wrestles the World

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