Okay, so its that time of year for the official Kate Nafz Newbery predictions. Kids often think I read every book in the library (they also think I sleep there, which some weeks it feels as if I do). Contrary to popular opinion, I do not read every children's book that come down the pike, so some years books win that I haven't gotten around to (like last year). And my predictions don't usually win. I correctly predicted Holes, When You Reach Me, The Giver and The Graveyard Book. I still feel Wonder, Wonderstruck, and Rules were robbed. Here are in my humble opinion the best children's books that fit the Newbery criteria for 2016:
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
This book was the best book for children to be released in 2015. So what its not technically eligible because Oppel is Canadian? The brilliant illustrator, Jon Klassen, is American, so that should balance everything out, except that we are not allowed to take illustrations into consideration, even if they are brilliant. So, my choice is ineligible on every level. Read it anyways, its deliciously creepy. In light of The Nest's ineligibility, I will declare the following book as my official Newbery Pick:
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
This title is my official prediction for the winner. Lyrical, layered, and emotional, Ryan manages to combine historical fiction with fantasy, intertwining four stories brought together by a simple harmonica and the power of music. Beautiful, haunting, and enchanting pepper with characters that you will feel like you know and grow to love.
Two Honor Predictions:
The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Heartfelt story with a definite plot, all while demonstrating character growth. There is diversity among its cast and a non-traditional family. Beyond this, the book has a scientific element that will appeal to the current core-curriculum book culture in which we are currently residing.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Beautiful and haunting fantasy about a boy on a quest and the magical circus with the power to heal. This story is The Night Circus-lite in creating a circus where anything is possible and just finding the circus is an amazing magical miracle unto itself. The mood is dark and dreaming, yet conveys hope as the boy struggles to save his ailing grandfather with the power of magic.
Dime by E.R. Frank
Beautifully written and heartbreaking, this tale narrated by a teenage prostitute lingers in the reader's conscious long after the cover closes. Not a fun book, but an important one with a powerful message, unforgettable well-developed characters, and a gripping story.