100 Scope Notes
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Newbery 2013: Checking In

Click here for Caldecott 2013

Well, here we are. It’s fall. Two thirds of the year in the bag. I’ve thrown in the towel on any sort of lawn care (let the glorious snow cover all my mistakes). I’d say it’s high time we take stock of the books that the Newbery and Caldecott committees might be pondering. With the help of the 2013 Newbery and Caldecott lists on Goodreads, and a hearty dose of wild speculation, let’s get started. Newbery today, Caldecott tomorrow.

Note: What we have here is more of a general look at some of the talked-about books, be sure to check out For Those About to Mock (still the best blog name for my money) and Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog for specific analysis.

Newbery 2013

Click here for the entire list.

Recent Movements: Liar & Spy has joined the list while Crow has dropped out of the top 10. In books climbing the list news, One for the Murphys is up to #6.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Click here for my review. It’s not surprising to see Wonder at the top of this list. It’s one of the most critically lauded books so far this year and has taken off in terms of popularity as well, currently sitting at #8 on the New York Times bestseller list. Just today I had a teacher contact me about buying a classroom set. In short, it has momentum. This has nothing to do with the Newbery criteria, mind you, but it does show that this is a book that is connecting with readers. With all the good karma, it’s difficult to imagine this book not coming away with some sort of Newbery recognition. Jonathan at Heavy Medal isn’t so sure.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Click here for my review. While both this book and Wonder have received overwhelmingly positive reviews, I was surprised to see that Ivan did not receive starred reviews from Booklist, Horn Book, or Publisher’s Weekly. While it’s not quite bulletproof, it’s endeared itself to even the most critical of readers. Don’t count it out.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

This book has slowly crept up the list since early spring, and hasn’t showed any signs of slipping. Although there’s more buzz around the other titles on this list, maybe this is the book that sits right under our noses all year and then nabs top honors.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

The latest from Newbery-winner Curtis has a lot of supporters, but some critics as well. Miss Malone has fallen a couple places from earlier in the year – could it be the case of a book that blasts out of the gate but runs out of steam? I’m betting on a late-season resurgence.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Click here for my review. Among the other books on this list, this one feels like it requires the most unpacking. The unreliable narrator, the twist endings – there’s a lot to mull over. It clearly one of the most well-written books of the year, but I’m not sure a consensus will form to push it to glory.

What am I missing?

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. No nonfiction? Lots of great stuff out there this year!

    • I agree, Monica. Nonfiction never seems to get a fair shake in these sorts of polls. Right now the highest ranking nonfiction is We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson at #20, Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin at #21, and A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano at #23

  2. The further away I get from my read of Miss Malone, the more bothered I am by the ending. It almost becomes a fantasy. Which would be fine if the groundwork were laid for that…

    I love Ivan.

    And I love Crow, so I’m sad to see it slipping. I thought it was a weird wonderful book.

  3. I’m still waiting for “Starry River of the Sky” by Grace Lin to come out. If it’s as good as “Where the Mountain…” it definitely will deserve recognition.

    • That’s a book I haven’t read yet that’s really getting some great advance word. It’s currently #17 on the list. The GoodReads lists are not good for books like “Starry River”, that come out late in the year.

  4. Did you seen my post about popularity contests ? It would apply to the goodreads polls too.

    • I did read your post and I appreciate your point. The GoodReads lists do fall into the popularity category you discuss. I mention in the post that popularity is not in the Newbery criteria, but I can see how analyzing the rise and fall of books on this list can make it seem like that’s the important factor. For my purposes, it’s just a way to decide on a group of books that may be in the discussion.

  5. I’m hoping Wonder will win but I haven’t read the other books. Liar and Spy looks great too!

  6. And a lone voice crying in the wind said, “Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Obed!”

    And then like that *poof!* It was gone.

    • The weirdest thing just happened. Out of nowhere I heard a voice talking about Twelve Kinds of Ice. I feel like this one hasn’t been talked about much because of the fact that not a ton of people have read it (myself included) I look forward to finally getting my hands on it though.

    • I just had to run and check (again) the publication date for that one. You have me all antsy for it, and there’s nary an ARC in sight.

  7. No Crystal Stair really, truly is awesome. I’ll be rooting for that one come Midwinter! Wonder is a powerful book, but in terms of the criteria I find it lacking. I’m heading over to Heavy Medal now to see what Jonathan had to say about it…

  8. Splendors and Glooooooooooms. Team LAS.

    • Yes! This is my favorite so far (with Liar and Spy a close second). I suspect it doesn’t show up on the GR poll because most people haven’t read it yet (I think that’s the same problem non-fiction has, combined with a lot of people assuming the award is for fiction).

  9. Is Polly Horvath still eligible? If so, I predict some love for One Year in Coal Harbor.

    • Horvath’s eligibility is a question, I’d say. Her website says she currently lives in British Colombia. If that is her lone residence, it would seem like she’s not eligible to win. I appreciate your comment, because it led to my discovery that Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, MI – not too far from where I’m at.

      • Because Horvath hasn’t given up her US citizenship, it’s fine if she lives abroad, just like when Sharon Creech won while living in Europe. I haven’t seen anything about her changing her citizenship, so I’d assume she’s still eligible.

      • So true, Sam – thanks for setting things straight. I was focusing on the “resident” part of the criteria, not taking into account that she’s still a US citizen (as far as we know).

      • Horvath was eligible in 2002 when she got a Newbery Honor for Everything on a Waffle in 2002. Is she no longer a US citizen? I think it doesn’t matter where she lives as long as she is one.

      • That’s a good point, Monica – I was focusing more on the “resident” part of the criteria. But unless she’s now a Canadian citizen, she’s in.

      • Thank you all for the clarification! I remember Horvath’s My One Hundred Adventures was a contender in the discussions just a few years ago, but I have been honestly surprised that neither Mr & Mrs Bunny nor One Year in Coal Harbor have been mentioned much yet in this season’s discussions and lists and wondered if I was missing anything.

  10. My favorites for the year are a pair of more obscure titles: BREATHING ROOM, by Marsha Hayles, and WOODEN BONES, by Scott William Carter. I highly, highly recommend both.

    I’m starting to think of TWELVE KINDS OF ICE as the Loch Ness Monster of 2012 titles — until Betsy can send us a photograph of it or something, we’ll have to consider its existence unconfirmed ;)

  11. Kristi Hazelrigg says:

    I, too, am beginning to doubt the actual, physical existence of Twelve Kinds of Ice. It’s just nowhere. ???

    I am firmly in The One and Only Ivan camp. Absolutely wonderful. Terrific characterization, unique story, amazing voice. How was Applegate able to channel a silverback gorilla? I have no idea, but wow, what a job she did. Truly touching and again, just wonderful.

    One caveat: I have not yet read Gary Schmidt’s new title. I am still angry about Okay for Now not just losing the Newbery but not even bringing home an honor. That was a TRAVESTY. Okay for Now was the single best book I have read in years, literally. I don’t know if Schmidt ticked somebody off, or what, but he absolutely deserved the Medal. I will never get over that one. {{whew….}} So his new one may have a chance with me, but for now, and probably forever, Ivan is my champion.

    • I agree with those who thought Okay for Now should have won last year. I read a lot of those in contention, and it was by far my favorite. Brilliantly written, a powerful, even redemptive story.

      I haven’t ready too many of this year’s contenders, but I REALLY like The One and Only Ivan. Also brilliantly written, concise and profound.