You Asked, We Answered: Newbery Picks

June 25th, 2017 by

On June 21, 2017, Kidsmomo reader Cassie asked us for some award-worthy book recommendations:

I love all books and do you have any books for the Newbery?

That’s a great question, especially now that we’re halfway to the next Newbery announcements (which will be in January 2018). Cassie, I’m going to answer your question two ways:

1. Potential Newbery Winners Worth Reading:

There are several blogs out on the interwebs that identify books that are getting lots of buzz and might be Newbery contenders. So I’m going to let those blogs do the work for me, and give you their suggestions:

From 100 Scope Notes:

The Ethan I Was Before
– Orphan Island
The Someday Birds
Thick as Thieves
See You in the Cosmos
Me and Marvin Gardens
Scar Island
The Pearl Thief

From Heavy Medal:

Isaac the Alchemist
– Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out
The March Against Fear
Me and Marvin Gardens
One Last Word
Pathfinders: The Journeys of Sixteen Extraordinary Black Souls
– Princess Cora and the Crocodile
Thick as Thieves
The Warden’s Daughter

2. Newbery Medal Winners I Love:

The American Library Association has been giving out Newbery awards since 1922, so that means there are A LOT of winners out there. Below are my particular favorites — selected just from the Medal winners. (If I were to include Newbery Honor recipients… forget it — the list would go on for days and days!)

Cassie, I hope that gives you some good ideas for what to read next — and potentially enough books to keep you busy all summer!

To the rest of you: If you’re like Cassie and want some customized book recommendations just for you, submit an Ask Kidsmomo question in the form below!

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Your Name (optional):

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— Karen

Okay, Karen can’t stop herself from mentioning some of the recent Newbery Honor books that she loves: Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo, Three Times Lucky, Inside Out & Back Again, One Crazy Summer… The list goes on and on! Literally. Like, here is the list of all the past winners ever.

More about Karen »

2017 Newbery Award Winners

February 1st, 2017 by

It’s a month into 2017, and the American Library Association has rolled out the red carpet for their biggest stars: authors, illustrators, librarians, publishers, and of course, BOOKS!

For those Newbery Newbs out there: The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Academy Awards or Super Bowl for kids literature, and their big award is the John Newbery Medal. The award is given out to a book published in 2016, and the selection committee is comprised of MVPs of books: librarians from around the country!

Check out this year’s winners (descriptions provided by the publishers):


The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule — but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her — even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.


Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as… a lantern.

You, an object. An object to sell.

In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold — dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about — their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog written by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm.

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: They are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte… recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

Which books have you already read, or are most interested in reading? Vote in the poll below!

Your Newbery Picks:

Awards Announcements: The Newbery and The Cybils!

January 21st, 2016 by

newbery-medalYou’ve probably heard of the John Newbery Medal, a very big deal in the children’s book world. Well, it was recently announced that this year’s medal goes to picture book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña! Woo hoo! Congrats!

If you’re looking for a heftier page-turner, check out this year’s Newbery Honor books: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan:

Cybils_2015And in other news, we’re celebrating Cybil’s 10th birthday: Happy 10th Birthday, Cybil — I mean, THE Cybils! You’re all grown up! Wait — maybe we should back up and answer the question: What (not who) is the Cybils?

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

We love The Cybils Awards, because they put a spotlight on awesome books — some well-known and some hidden gems. Check out this year’s middle grade finalists in each category:

The Cybils 2016: Non-Fiction Finalists

The Cybils 2016: Speculative Fiction Finalists

  • Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
  • Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
  • The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
  • The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
  • Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland

The Cybils 2016: Graphic Novels Finalists

  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
  • Courtney Crumrin, Volume 7: Tales of a Warlock by Ted Naifeh
  • Dragons Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
  • Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Cybils 2016: Fiction Finalists

  • Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
  • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught
  • Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Have you read any of these award winners? Leave a comment and let everyone know your thoughts!

— Kidsmomo

The Crossover: 2015 Newbery Medal Winner!

February 3rd, 2015 by

newbery-medalRemember when we mentioned a book called The Crossover by Kwame Alexander as one of the most talked-about books of 2014?

And then remember when we mentioned it just a few weeks later as a finalist for this year’s Cybils Awards?

Well, guess what — now we’re gonna mention it AGAIN because apparently the universe just can’t stop with this book already! As announced yesterday, The Crossover is winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal!

So basically, this book is like the equivalent of a movie that’s been hot all awards season and then it goes and wins the Oscar for Best Picture. Way to go, Kwame Alexander!

2015 Newbery Medal Winner
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover_Kwame Alexander

As you can tell from the cover, this book is about basketball. But also, it’s about family and dealing with tough surprises and growing up. Through verse with the energy of rap, Josh narrates his life on and off the court with his twin brother, JB.

It’s worth mentioning that The Crossover was also named a 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. Each year, the Coretta Scott King Awards recognize an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. So, yeah… I guess you could say this is a pretty darn good book.

But let’s not forget this year’s Newbery Honor books:


And actually, Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award this year. And El Deafo is a Cybils finalist. And both of them were part of our Best of 2014 round-up. So I think it’s safe to say these are pretty darn good books too! So read them!

Or have you already read any of these books? Leave a comment and let us know!

2014 Newbery Award Winners

January 28th, 2014 by

newbery-medalIt’s awards season! That means around this time of year, celebrities dress up, walk the red carpet, give out awards, and get awards. Well, the 2014 Newbery Medal and Honor books were announced yesterday, so the biggest celebrities in OUR lives — books and authors — got some pretty big awards yesterday!

Check out the 2014 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners (given to books published in 2013):

Newbery Medal Winner
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo


Newbery Honorees

Check out this (totally imaginary) acceptance speech the Medalist gave at the book awards ceremony:

Announcer: “And the Newbery Medal goes to… Flora and Ulysses, The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo!”

Flora and Ulysses hops off the shelf and onto a convenient push-cart that wheels it down the red carpet and up to the podium (after all, books do not have feet).


*laughs nervously*

It’s such an honor to receive this award! Well, first I’d like to thank my author and illustrator, Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell — you two are amazing! I’m so lucky to have your words and illustrations on my pages.

Oh, and I’d like to thank Candlewick Press, who published me and got me into bookstores and libraries! Thank you for believing in me!

It’s such an honor to be up here with the other honorees, like Billy Miller and Paperboy and One Came Home and Doll Bones!  Whenever I talk to Doll Bones I get the chills, ha ha! There were also so many other new books last year that were so amazing! You know who you are!

Oh and speaking of my peers… I see last year’s winner, The One and Only Ivan, in the crowd — you are such an inspiration, Ivan! And of course, I want to give a shout-out to my siblings…

*looks out into the crowd and sees The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane*

You might think being a new book in a family full of award winners would be daunting, but they always taught me to be myself — a story about a girl and her superheroed squirrel. I’m about one of the most important things a book can teach: friendship!

Also, I want to say to my little chapter book siblings, Bink and Gollie and Mercy Watson: You better be in bed by now!

*music starts to play*

Oh no! They’re playing me off the stage! Thank you! Thank you and good night!”

2013 Newbery Book Giveaway

February 1st, 2013 by

A few days ago, we posted about the 2013 Newbery Award winners — aka only the mildly, slightly BEST BOOKS EVER of last year!

Well, we have some awesome news (because we are awesome): If you’ve been dying to get your hands on those award-garnering bad boys since the winners were announced, now’s your chance! We’ve got a prize pack featuring all four books!


• A copy of 2013 Newbery Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

• A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

• A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

• A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Enter before March 1st! See official rules.

This sweepstakes is now closed.

The One And Only Ivan: 2013 Newbery Medal Winner!

January 29th, 2013 by

Okay, I admit it — sometimes I go on YouTube and play music videos while I’m on the computer at work. My favorite: Carly Rae Jepson performing “Call Me Maybe” with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots (AMAZING). But yesterday morning, I had a different video on in the background while I “worked”: the webcast announcing the winners of the 2013 American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

Not familiar with the ALAymas? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the awards. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamilloManiac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and most recently, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

And yesterday, a new winner was announced into my earphones as I was “slaving away” at the office:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

As you may recall from my round-up of the most talked-about books of 2012The One and Only Ivan was absolutely on the list. Unfortunately, Nancy and I haven’t been talking about it much because, well, we haven’t read it! [insert ashamed downcast eyes here] But make no mistake, we will be making Ivan’s acquaintance very soon; I just ordered it from the library!

If you haven’t met Ivan either, here’s part of the official description:

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. … Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home — and his own art — through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

AND check out this review from Connor, age 11 (from New York)!

Or if you’re more visual, feast your eyes on this book trailer. I got choked up just watching it! Okay, yes, I cry very easily. But you look at these animals and tell me if your heart doesn’t melt a little! (But if it literally melts, um, maybe see a doctor?)

And this year, there were also three Newbery Honor Books:

  • Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Have you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and let us know! 

And stay tuned — we’ll be giving away a prize pack with all four of this year’s Newbery books! Details to come in a few days!

— Karen

Karen’s favorite way to see animals up close is by scuba diving. (You may have guessed by that picture, right over there. < )

More about Karen »

Dead End in Norvelt: 2012 Newbery Medal Winner!

January 26th, 2012 by

As you guys know, I’m a very impatient person. So even though it seems kind of backwards, I’m willing to go the extra mile in order to save time. If I want to see a TV show, I record it so I can fast-forward through the commercials. If I want to know what the President said in a speech, I’ll go online afterwards and skim the text transcript. If I know where I’m going to eat dinner, I’ll look at the restaurant’s website beforehand so that I’m already familiar with the menu when I get there. Like I said, I’m VERY impatient.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve watched three big-deal spectacles in real-time — which just goes to show you how super important they were. And the three events were: the Golden Globe Awards, the playoff game between the 49ers and the Giants, and the announcement of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

What? You don’t know that last one? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the ALAymas. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include completely-awesome-major-big-deal books like The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

And earlier this week, a new winner joined the ranks of this prestigious group:


Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

As you may recall from our book trailer for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Nancy and I have been fans of Jack Gantos for a while now. So we extend a hearty congratulations to the man of the hour! But we also have to give ourselves a disapproving shake of the head and a look of pure disdain because, well, we haven’t read this book yet!

But we definitely plan to read Dead End in Norvelt ASAP — not just because it won the Newbery, but also because it sounds totally awesome! Here’s part of the official description:

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore — typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels … and possibly murder.

Cookies and murder in one book?! Obviously, WE ARE IN!

And we’ll also be adding the 2012 Newbery Honor Books to our To Be Read list:

  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

So, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go out and obtain some books, like, right now. But if you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and us know!

— Karen

Karen used to get lots of nosebleeds when she was a kid. She did NOT enjoy putting tissue up her nose to stop the blood. But to be honest, she kinda liked the feeling of pulling it out once the bleeding had stopped. That’s not gross, right?

More about Karen »

And the Award Goes to…

January 13th, 2011 by

The American Library Association Youth Media Awards. Some call it the Academy Awards of books. Others call it… well, I guess that’s mostly what people call it. But that’s because it’s a pretty good description! Just like folks host Oscar parties and invite friends over to watch beautiful people on TV, those of us who obsess over children’s books watch the ALAyma webcast alone in front of our computers. It’s the same thing, right?

No, really, the ALAymas are a BIG deal in the kidlit world — and I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of one award in particular: the Newbery Medal. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” (That’s actually kind of curious because the award itself is named for 18th-century British bookseller John Newbery… But that’s beside the point.)

This year’s Newbery winner was announced earlier this week, and the award goes to…

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Now, I’m very happy for Clare Vanderpool, but I also I feel a little ashamed — because I haven’t read this book yet! And now I’m just going to seem like a follower when I go get it, and the librarian will look at me all knowingly, like: “You’re kind of late to the party, aren’t you?” Sigh.

But I swear I won’t be reading it just because it got the Newbery! It really does sound like an intriguing read. Here’s part of the official description:

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

For the inside scoop on the book, you can check out the author’s website; she offers a behind-the-scenes look at how she came up with the idea for the story. I’ll give you sneak peek: it all started with map thieves! Egads!

But wait — before you go rushing out to get Moon Over Manifest, don’t forget to add the 2011 Newbery Honor books to your list too (they’re kind of the runners-up in the competition):

  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Whoa, Nelly! That’s a lot of books to add to the To Be Read pile! Sigh again…

Of course, maybe you’ve already read Moon over Manifest and/or some of this year’s Honor books. If so, leave me a comment with your thoughts! Do you think these books deserve the award? And if you could pick the Newbery winner, which book would you choose?

— Karen

Karen hasn’t read all the Newbery Medal winners in history, but she’s read quite a few. Her favorite is Holes by Louis Sachar.

More about Karen »

Newbery Award Books: The Mathematical Truth Hits Nancy Hard

August 27th, 2009 by

I'm not sure why it's speaking like a valley girl.

Not sure it's speaking valley girl lingo...

My mom doesn’t read or speak a lot of English, so when I was young, she would sometimes pick random books for me to read based only on seeing a little blue ribbon sticker on the spine.

Well, I thought this system worked pretty well, because I thought I was reading a lot of award-winning books. BUT I was recently doing some research on the Newbery Awards — and according to the math…

Number of Newbery…
I’ve Read:
Winner Books: 88 15
Honor Books: 287 12
Total: 375 27, a paltry 7.2%

Well, I’m not too pleased with this grade. This is really not acceptable. (To me. Who else is judging? You? You? YOU? Why, I oughta…) To make myself feel even worse, I drew a little graph:

yum . . .  pie.

yum . . . pie.

So, those were 27 really good books, but now I’m obsessed. I’m going to try to read all 88 Newbery Winner Books — and I invite you, Kidsmomo Kids, to do the same! Sound daunting? Let’s pick up the first one together — I’ll be starting with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2009 Winner).

— Nancy