February 2, 2015 promises to be an exciting day for children’s librarians around the country. The American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting is scheduled for that morning and as part of the meeting the winner of this year’s Newbery Medal award will be announced.

The Newbery Medal is the best known and most discussed children’s book award in the country. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It was the first children’s book award in the world and every year librarians, book reviewers, book sellers, writers, bloggers, and a host of others try their best to guess which book will be crowned the winner.

This year, I have been following the predictions since early summer and have read nine of the most frequently mentioned contenders. They are as follows.

deafo“El Deafo”by Cece Bell
The author relates, in a graphic novel format, her childhood experiences with hearing loss. She details the difficulties of learning to lip read, her decision not to learn sign language, her experience with wearing a very powerful hearing aid, called The Phonic Ear, and how it affected her friendships and overall school experience.

“Absoluteindexly Almost” by Lisa Graff
Ten-year-old Albie may not be the smartest, tallest, or most musical in his class, but thanks to Calista, his new nanny, he develops a different perspective on his talents. Despite his parent’s lack of understand and attention, he learns to persevere and to take pride in his achievements, no matter how small.

fish“The Fourteenth Goldfish” by Jennifer L. Holm
When Ellie’s mom brings her grandfather to stay with them, she hardly recognizes him—instead of a seventy-year-old man, he’s a thirteen-year-old teenage. Unbelievably, her scientist grandfather has found a way to reverse the aging process, and not only will he be staying with them, but he will be attending Ellie’s middle school. Relationships are the key in this unlikely tale of friendship and love, and ultimately Ellie learns a lot more than just historical facts from her grandfather.

cross“The Crossover” by Alexander Kwame
In this sports-centered story about family and brotherhood, twelve-year-old basketball superstar Josh Bell uses eye-catching and powerful verse to relate a year of his life. In the end, he and his twin brother Jordan realize that breaking the rules can come at a terrible price on and off the court.

Magic“A Snicker of Magic” by Natalie Lloyd
Felicity Pickle and her nomadic family are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee—a town which legend claims was once a magical place. She hopes that with the help of some of this often-mentioned magic, her new friend Jonah, and a little luck she will finally be able to make her dream of finding a place to call home come true.

wset“West of the Moon” Margi Preus
In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, has been sold, by her aunt, to a mean goatherder. She spends her days working tirelessly, dreaming of ways to save her younger sister from her money-hungry aunt, and joining her father in America.

counting“Counting by 7s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Willow Chance may be a twelve-year-old genius, but her lack of social skills makes life hard for her. After both her parents are killed in a car accident she must work to overcome her social ineptness, figure out how to connect to those around her, and eventually find herself a new family.

wild“The Last Wild” by Piers Torday
Twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes has been locked away at a school for troubled children for six years, but after a daring escape it becomes obvious that it now falls on him to try to save the last animals living in a diseased-ravaged post-apocalyptic world.

girl

“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline WoodsonThrough verse, author Jacqueline Woodson relates the story of her childhood. She shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s.

Each year the Newbery Award committee members have a tough job and this year does not appear to be an exception. In just reading these nine titles, I would be hard-pressed to select my favorite. I can, however, can give you my top four, in no particular order—“Counting by 7s”, “A Snicker of Magic”, “Absolutely Almost”, and “The Fourteenth Goldfish”. Do not forget the actual winner will be announced on the morning of February 2. Visit www.ala.org after the award meeting to see the complete list of winners and honors.

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