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Fervent Hopes and Wild Speculation: 2016 Youth Media Awards Contenders

Post by Rebecca Honeycutt
Posted November 16, 2015 in NoveList K-8 Plus, Readers' Advisory News

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I just can't help it: book awards season makes my librarian heart go pitter-pat. Every year, before the winners of the Youth Media Awards are announced at ALA's Midwinter meeting, I make a prediction list. That list is…well, it's long, so here I've pulled out some highlights from my predictions for the big three: Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz.

Whether you're knee-deep in ballots from mock awards groups or you're too busy with programs to notice award buzz, this list will provide you with a quick cross-section of the 2016 contenders.

Caldecott Medal (for illustration)

Unabashed Adoration

Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson

I am deeply biased when it comes to Christian Robinson. I will rhapsodize about his talent to anyone who will hold still. Combining contemporary color and energy with the retro style of Ezra Jack Keats, this upbeat book about community and gratitude is already a winner IN MY HEART.  

Winning Humor?

The Princess and the Pony, by Kate Beaton

Can a book featuring a flatulent, googly-eyed pony really be an award contender? I sure hope so, because Beaton's smart, perfectly pitched visual humor is wonderful to behold: the page-turn reveal of the pony is so funny that I still can't look at it without giggling uncontrollably.

Newbery Medal (for children's literature)

Too Obvious?

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

Look, we all know that some books just have a certain Newbery-ish quality. From the title, to the cover art, to the quirky-but-troubled protagonist, this one ticks all the boxes for a Serious and Beloved Work of Children's Literature. Personally, I felt like it was trying too hard. But that may not bother kids (or the Newbery committee).

A Good Scare

Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge

Dark fantasy doesn't often net big awards, but the 2014 Newbery Honor for Doll Bones gives me hope that this creepy gem might be recognized. The complex characters, shivery horror, and sophisticated style all show a satisfying respect for young readers.

Michael L. Printz Award (for young adult literature)

Too Cool to Win?

Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

An inventive urban fantasy with an inclusive cast, just enough world-building, and a page-turning pace, Shadowshaper oozes popular appeal -- which is often the kiss of death when it comes to awards. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes of that bias shifting.

There's Always a Weird One

Bone Gap, Laura Ruby

The Printz Award has a history of unusual picks with deeply specific appeals. You know, those esoteric reads you don't hand to just any teen, but deliver reverently to the right teen. This provocative piece of magical realism about love, beauty, mythology, and power is exactly such a book.

Search tip: To find previous award winners in NoveList, hover your mouse over the "Browse By" menu in the upper left corner of the screen, then select "Award Winners"

Rebecca Honeycutt is a Bibliographer at NoveList.