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One question for eight people: the Newbery/Caldecott edition of Five Questions

We’ve asked people in-the-know for their 2014 Newbery and/or Caldecott awards predictions — what do you think will win? Or what do you hope will win?

far far awayMartha Parravano, executive editor, The Horn Book, coauthor, Calling Caldecott blog:
I’m predictably terrible at predicting award winners. My choice almost never wins, and when it does, it’s a huge surprise. This year, for instance, two of my favorite books are Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away and Matt Phelan’s Bluffton…but seeing that the first one falls into that nether-region between true middle-grade and true YA (and the committee’s resistance to the “up to and including age 14” rule seems to get more entrenched every year) and the second one is a graphic novel, achieving consensus around the Newbery table may be difficult. Good thing I also love Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck and Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. Be Eleven. I would be thrilled if either of these two books — both so rich in theme, setting, and characterization — won the Newbery.

Helping with the Calling Caldecott blog this fall/winter has changed my approach to predicting that award. That’s because every time I write a blog post or read one of Robin Smith’s (or K. T. Horning’s or Lolly Robinson’s or Jonathan Hunt’s), the book under discussion becomes my new favorite. I don’t envy the Caldecott committee. How to choose between the inventive world-building and artistic expertise of Aaron Becker’s Journey and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner; the tour-de-force combination of intimate family story and epic American saga in Locomotive by Brian Floca; the combination of playfulness and heart in Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown and Yuyi Morales’s Niño Wrestles the World? Each of these books is unique and practically perfect. And these aren’t the only contenders! I can’t choose. I just hope there are a LOT of honor books this year.

Frog SongLolly Robinson, design and production manager, The Horn Book, coauthor, Calling Caldecott blog:
The Horn Book always seems to use words like “sumptuous” and “lavish” to describe Gennady Spirin’s art. As someone who tends to prefer loose, gestural art, I was surprised by my visceral reaction to the illustrations in Spirin’s Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson. His portrayals of frogs and their surroundings have been created with great care, like in all of his books, but here he seems to be embracing both frogs’ weirdness and their humanness. This is the first time I would use the word “riveting” to describe his work (or should that be “ribbetting”?). There’s no question this book has an immediate wow factor, but I think it also stands up to the close inspection the Caldecott committee gives to its books.

Nino Wrestles the WorldRobin Smith, coauthor, Calling Caldecott blog:
I am terrible at predicting, but I will play. I think the following books will be in the mix. For Newbery: P.S. Be Eleven, The Thing About Luck, and Far Far Away (my husband Dean Schneider’s choice — I have not read it yet). I do NOT think that the much-touted Doll Bones (by Holly Black, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler) will be anywhere in the mix.

For Caldecott: It’s so much harder for me as I can see many titles that could and should be recognized. It’s all about the committee though. Who will champion what? I think it’s going to be a year with many honor books, or at least I hope so. I love a big slate of honor books. I never have any thought about which will be the big winner, but would not be surprised to see any of these on the big screen in Philadelphia (and, yes, I see a bunch of white guys represented): Journey, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Locomotive, Niño Wrestles the World, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? (by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier), Building Our House (by Jonathan Bean), Flora and the Flamingo (by Molly Idle).

The Thing About LuckJonathan Hunt, coauthor, Heavy Medal blog:
I predict the Newbery committee will horrify delight us! Oh, wait! You want names, right? When I make lists of what I want to win, what I think should win, and what I think will actually win, The Thing About Luck is on all three. We probably spend too much time on the work of previous Newbery winners, given the fact that only one of them tends to repeat in any given year, but if I could have a second repeater then it would be What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski. I’m also sure the committee will recognize something that we haven’t properly considered on Heavy Medal yet, so I’ll toss Meg Rosoff’s Picture Me Gone and Karen Harrington’s Sure Signs of Crazy out there as likely examples of that.

If You Want to See a WhaleNina Lindsay, coauthor, Heavy Medal blog:
I am award-prediction-averse, more from my long-harbored fear of “jinxing” than from my knowledge that the award committee process is unpredictable. That said, among many favorites I have to root for a few outliers for Newbery that are certainly distinguished, but in ways atypical of how the award trends. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (for Broadway-class-act high-paced prose), Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker (that zingingly real voice that expertly carries the narrative arc), and If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (each word perfectly balanced, even when there are none on a page).

journeyKiera Parrott, editor, book reviews, School Library Journal:
For Caldecott, I’ll be incredibly surprised if Journey doesn’t garner an honor, at the very least. It has all the elements that committees love — a strong narrative, lush detail, a clever nod to a classic picture book, and it’s wordless. And we know how committees love their wordless picture books!


p.s. be elevenLuann Toth, managing editor, book reviews, School Library Journal:
I can’t begin to guess which titles will prevail, but I can tell you what would win if I ruled the universe. My hands-down favorite for the Caldecott is Journey and for the Newbery, I love, love, love P.S. Be Eleven.



locomotiveRoger Sutton, editor in chief, The Horn Book:
I’ll pick Locomotive for Caldecott and Kirkpatrick Hill’s Bo at Ballard Creek for Newbery. Go West!





From the January 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.



  1. Bo at Ballard Creek is my pick for the Newbery, too, but Heavy Medal seems to be ignoring it completely! I wonder if it doesn’t have a shot at the Scott O’Dell. It’d be an unusual pick for them, but I’d love to see more recognition for this book.

  2. Flolca’s LOCOMOTIVE is so unique.

    Newbery: After having written over 30 books it might be time for Kathi Appelt. Her THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP is a romp.

    WHAT THE HEART KNOWS?…by Joyce Sidman is simply breathtaking.

  3. Uh! Of course it is Floca!

  4. No to Bo at Ballard Creek, No to Far Far Away and PS. Be Eleven. I think True Blue Scouts has a shot at it. Doll Bones, Hokey Pokey, Courage Has No Color, and Navigating Early are my front runners.

  5. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Oh, Bo at Ballard Creek, Roger! The flames of hope are officially burning in my heart! Or are you just being coy and not revealing your true choices? I worry worry worry about jinxing anyone.

    I just made a couple of book purchases. I love it when I have the winners before the announcements.

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