The 2013 Newbery Winner has not be announced yet (that won’t come until January 28) but I would not want to be on the committee this year. I have not seen, or read, so many wonderful books over the past year that I would consider giving this prize to. I truly cannot remember a year that had this many possible award winners. Here are just a few of the ones I believe to be the top contenders.
MAY B. by Caroline Starr Rose
May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again.
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate
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. Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line. 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.
TWELVE KINDS OF ICE by Ellen Bryan Obed
With the first ice—a skim on a sheep pail so thin it breaks when touched—one family’s winter begins in earnest. Next comes ice like panes of glass. And eventually, skating ice! Take a literary skate over field ice and stream bed, through sleeping orchards and beyond. The first ice, the second ice, the third ice . . . perfect ice . . . the last ice . . . Twelve kinds of ice are carved into twenty nostalgic vignettes, illustrated in elegantly scratched detail by the award-winning Barbara McClintock.
LIAR AND SPY by Rebecca Stead
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
WE’VE GOT A JOB by Cynthia Levinson
In 1963, the Civil Rights movement was falling apart. After a series of setbacks across the south, the movement was losing direction and momentum. No southern city was more divided than Birmingham, Alabama, home of the infamous Bull Connor. Dr. Martin Luther King conceived an ingenious plan: fill the Birmingham jails by arranging a series of public protests at which participants would be arrested as a result of their nonviolent action, paralyzing the city and drawing national and world attention to the horrors and injustices of segregation. But the stakes were too high for much adult participant in the movement job loss, jailing, and quite possibly even death. Instead, against Dr. Kings better judgment, young people led the protests.