Predicting 2014 Newbery, Caldecott and Printz Winners

I should title this post: Books I Am Forced to Buy But That’s OK Because It Will Be My Kids’ Summer Reading

I used these great sources to search for books that might win awards next year but also that I think my kids would like.

  • My son, a rising 3rd grader like humor, math-y and science-y stories, and well written stores.
  • PickyKidPix, a rising 6th grader likes Newbery quality realistic fiction. Extra points for special needs characters. She also prefers a strong girl character.
  • Grasshopper and Sensei will be entering 8th grade. She like action adventure, realistic fiction and YA that revolves around teen relationships.

Fuse #8 Productions Predictions

Goodreads 2014 Newbery Predictions

Reading Learning Teaching

Goodreads 2014 Caldecott Predictions

Goodreads 2014 Printz Predictions


Newbery 2104 Predictions

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug.  That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s wish set everything straight in her topsy-turvy world?

This seems to be a frontrunner for the 2014 Newbery and it sounds perfect for PickyKidPix. I love the cover too.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born.  And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever.  However, these encounters hold the key to Cady’s past and how she became an orphan.  If she’s lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 

Reminds me of Savvy which my daughter liked. I really loved her book Umbrella Summer so I’m hoping she will get a Newbery nod.

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

“An adventure, a mystery, and a love song to the natural world. . . . Run out and read it. Right now.”—Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

A strong girl character may get my kid to read this chapter book that reminds me of the grandmother in A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. I want to read this!

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that’s impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks.

PickyKidPix met Jerry Spinelli and really liked him. He has a grandfatherly charm that makes kids want to snuggle up to him (and his books!). He signed a book for her so I’m hoping that she’ll read it this summer. It’s not quite her genre though and she prefers the lead character to be a girl.

Doll Bones by Holly Black

A doll that may be haunted leads three friends on a thrilling adventure in this delightfully creepy novel from the New York Times bestselling cocreator of the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Creepy sounds perfect for a Halloween themed book club … I’ll try to sell her on screening this book for a future book club.

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Ephraim Appledore-Smith is an ordinary boy, and up until his father’s stroke he lived an ordinary life. But all that changes when his family moves to the Water Castle-their ancestral home in the small town of Crystal Springs. Mallory Green’s family has always been the caretakers of the Water Castle-and the guardians of its secrets. She has been raised to protect the legendary Fountain of Youth, hidden on the estate grounds. But ever since her mom left, she’s stopped believing in magic. Will Wylie’s family has been at war with the Applegates for generations, all because of the Water Castle’s powerful secrets. But Will has rejected legend and magic, putting all his faith in science. When Ephraim learns of the Fountain, he’s sure finding it can cure his dad. With Mallory and Will’s help, the trio embarks on a mission that brings them deep into their families’ shared history, through every secret room in the Water Castle, and on a quest that will blur the lines of magic and science, creativity and discovery, leaving readers left to wonder: Do you believe in the unbelievable?

I love the sound of this book. It reminds me of Ruby Holler which PickyKidPix loved.

Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tonya Lee Stone

They became America’s first black paratroopers. Why was their story never told? Sibert Medalist Tanya Lee Stone reveals the history of the Triple Nickles during World War II.

PickyKidPix seems to have very little interest in Non Fiction right now. I think I need books on topics she gravitates towards: hair stying, women’s soccer, women’s gymnastics, billionaires…

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains. Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear. But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.

PickyKidPix met Clare Vanderpool along with Jerry Spinelli. I think I would start her on Vanderpool’s first novel, Moon Over Manifest, only because the lead character is a girl and that chapter book already won the Newbery’s biggest prize which will impress my daughter.

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won’t enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world–if only she will let herself be a part of it.

Special need characters appeal to my daughter. This sounds a little magical which I really like but I’m nots sure if she likes magical realism. So far, no. I tried with The Great Unexpected.


Caldecott 2014 Predictions

Bluebird by Bob Staake

In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old. 

I have to get this book. Even my husband was raving about it from a review he found online. Wordless picture books seem to have en edge for a Caldecott too. We also love Bob Staake’s Look a Book! and Look Another Book!

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. With emotional insight and poetic economy, two award-winning talents team up to conquer a universal childhood fear.

My son saw the trailer and asked for this book. Enough said. I think it will win!

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it’s true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn’t learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made “Uncle Paul” a great man.

My son loved math-y books so this is an easy decision. It is going on the buy list!

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner

In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s muchmore interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble.

We are HUGE fans of David Wiesner and he’s truly a creative genius. If he wins again, he’s making Caldecott history. We thought he was robbed for Art and Max. Come on! That book was awesome and deserved to win!

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

The poet, author, and indomitable naturalist Jack Prelutsky, having returned safely from far-flung places with an extensive collection of unique creatures that are a blending of the animate and inanimate, has worked in close collaboration with the fine artist Carin Berger, who herself conducted considerable field operations in preparing Mr. Prelutsky’s specimens for exhibition and publication. While many creatures (two dozen species in all) were discovered and recorded and their precise qualities examined, we are presenting sixteen here for the first time and for the enjoyment and education of the general public.

We don’t read enough poetry and everyone raved about Prelutsky’s latest. Kids already adore this man, so yes, adding it to my ever growing pile.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

From Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown comes a story that shows there’s a time and place for everything…even going wild.

Looks adorable. Will try to find at the library.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Ever since Unicorn moved into the neighborhood, Goat has been feeling out of sorts. Goat thought his bike was cool-until he saw that Unicorn could fly to school! Goat made marshmallow squares that almost came out right, but Unicorn made it rain cupcakes! Unicorn is such a show-off, how can Goat compete? When Goat and Unicorn share a piece of pizza, Goat learns that being a unicorn might not be all it’s cracked up to be. And when Unicorn shows his admiration for Goat, it looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Sounds like the perfect picture book for PickyKidPix who is always one-upping everyone. She needs this.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Byrant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up once again to share this inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist.

I’m getting this for Grasshopper and Sensei. I really do believe picture books are for every age. And I’m putting my money where my mouth is.


Printz 2014 Predictions

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
It’s 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

We want to take the kids to New Orleans someday. We love that city … full of interesting characters, incredible food and a feeling of danger lurking around the corner, especially if you are in the French Quarters.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Oh yes. First love of misfits. Perfect middle school reading. I’m getting it.

Thank you to The Raucous Librarian for her comment: “So…Eleanor and Park? Not so much a middle school book…Given its themes, plot, language, style, and tone, I’d say it’s firmly high school even for very mature, advanced readers. Some of the other people I know who’ve read it don’t even really think it’s YA…more like adult fic about teens. I wouldn’t want someone to be thinking they were getting a sweet, light first love story when this book TOTALLY is not that. Don’t get me wrong–it’s wonderful–it’s just very, very mature.”

Oops! Thank you! Too mature for my rising 7th Grader. I will search for more Sarah Dessen for her. (My frustration with YA is that the age range is too wide and I find that very confusing.)

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside one girl’s struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. To find joy again, even when things don’t go according to plan. Because life isn’t a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.

A serious musician as the protagonist. That’s not something you see everyday in YA! My daughter is one the fence about continuing the flute. She might like this!

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

This sounds very intriguing but I’m not sure it’s for Grasshopper and Sensei.

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.

This might be too much in the Fantasy genre for her but on the other hand, she liked the Warriors feral cat series when she was younger.

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Is this the new Hunger Games? If so, count her in.

Maggot Moon by Sally Garner

In Sally Gardner’s stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

For fans of The Hunger Games? Not sure … What do you think?

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Very intriguing books on this list of yours today!
    maryanne recently posted…Exploring Geography to World Culture for Kids Button + Google ReaderMy Profile

  2. Lauren

    So…Eleanor and Park? Not so much a middle school book…Given its themes, plot, language, style, and tone, I’d say it’s firmly high school even for very mature, advanced readers. Some of the other people I know who’ve read it don’t even really think it’s YA…more like adult fic about teens. I wouldn’t want someone to be thinking they were getting a sweet, light first love story when this book TOTALLY is not that. Don’t get me wrong–it’s wonderful–it’s just very, very mature.

    • Thank you so much Lauren,
      I put your comment in my post next to Eleanor and Park to give other parents the heads up. Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback and will find another YA romance book for my 13-year-old. That’s the frustration I have with YA — the age range is so widely variant that you need to read ahead to make sure the book is appropriate but I don’t know YA very well and I don’t always have time to screen the books. I am now following your blog though! Thanks!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Teaching Kids About Stocks and InvestingMy Profile

  3. Lots of interesting books here on many levels. What I do find interesting is that often the winners seem to be the books which are most widely publicized. They seem to pop up everywhere.
    bamauthor recently posted…DIFFICULT DECISIONSMy Profile

    • Hi Barbara,
      I do think that once a book gains momentum, the PR seems to follow. I know that Wonder by R. J. Palacio did not win a Newbery but it gained slow and steady publicity when it first launched mostly by the bloggers that really helped put it front and center. I do think a well run PR campaign helps though!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Teaching Kids About Stocks and InvestingMy Profile

  4. How do you judge if a book will make the cut or not? Personal preference? When I taught years ago I didn’t even like a lot of the books that got awards

    • Hi Faigie,
      I cross referenced a bunch of lists to see what books came up again and again. I read a few of them but I am mostly just compiling what the pundits are saying. Some have excellent taste and pick books that I like too such as Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 Productions. Even if her picks don’t win awards, we always enjoy them. I do screen the book synopsis though to make sure it would be of interest to my kids. They are fussy about genre and also care about when the book is set.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Teaching Kids About Stocks and InvestingMy Profile

  5. Catherine Johnson

    Great list! I love the cover of the knots one.

  6. Catherine Johnson

    I’ve just read Grace Awakening a great YA from fellow blogger Shawn L. Bird and am in the middle of reading The Promise of Provence by fellow blogger Patricia Sands. Very different from each other but both great!
    Catherine Johnson recently posted…Fourth of July Secret Mystery ContestMy Profile

  7. You have a bunch of picture books on this list that we definitely need to check out! So far, we have loved Rain! by Linda Ashman and The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli.
    Amy recently posted…Books of 2013, Mid-YearMy Profile

  8. There are a lot of good books here and I think it will be a very hard decision and the year is only half over, which means more to come. I have some real favorites on this list so I’m glad I’m not on these award committees.
    Alex Baugh recently posted…The Story of Fish & Snail by Deborah FreedmanMy Profile

  9. Ann

    Great predictions! Stardines looks so cool! It would be hard to choose. I also like The Day the Crayons Quit.
    Ann recently posted…Mittens?My Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      We read so little poetry at home that Stardines is going to be a must purchase for us. My kids also love Jack Prelutsky so that’s an easy decision for us. The rest of the books are harder to decide if we buy or borrow. And which to read. My middle gave The Center of Everything 2 pages before rejecting it so I’m hoping she will give it a second chance with at least 3 chapters. It’s fun to guess who might win.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Kids Create Stories from Pictures with StorybirdMy Profile

  10. WOW that is a mighty list.
    I love the premise of Hokey Pokey and The Water Castle. Great list and it will be very interesting to see who prevails.
    Julie Grasso recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #19 BOY + BOT 5 Stars: AffirmativeMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,
      We get excited to try to predict the Newbery and read some of the books in advance. We were lucky to meet Jerry Spinelli and he signed a copy of Hokey Pokey for us. Now we just need to read it! And to think there will be another stack of contenders as the year draws to a close as well! Exciting!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Rising First Grade Summer Reading ListMy Profile

  11. Quite an impressive list. Would be nice to see a selection of indie books in the running. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess
    Cheryl Carpinello recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #19My Profile

  12. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

    Oh, Doll Bones looks so creepy! The Boy Who Loved Math looks like a great non-fiction choice. Thanks for sharing these in the Kid Lit Blog Hop – we’ll see how they play out! 😉
    Renee recently posted…Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Secret of the Sacred ScarabMy Profile

  13. I also liked ART AND MAX, but there were stronger books that year and David Weisner does not deserve to win a fourth medal. There are other fish in the bowel, and to be frank, while FLOTSAM and TUESDAY were indeed Caldecott worthy, his second win for THE THREE PIGS was undeserved.

    Like you I do absolutely love BLUEBIRD, and it does deserve to win at least a silver Caldecott honor. Looks to me like THE MATCHBOX DIARY, JOURNEY and MR. TIGER GOES WILD are the front-runners (though a yet unreleased book illustrated by Bryan Collier promises to be in the running as well–it released in December) but BLUEBIRD, THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH and the Lemony Snikett-Jon Klassen book are all in the mix.

    Let’s hope they make a very good decision. Geez, they blew it terribly a few years ago, giving the overrated A BALL FOR DAISY the gold over the moving and magnificent GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith.

    Wonderful post!

    • Hi Sam,
      I really enjoyed your comment and you know your Caldecott worthy books much more so than I do!

      I loved The Dark by Lemony Snickett and Jon Klassen too but there is something that speaks to my heart about Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! I hope Mr. Tiger wins! I need to get a copy of Journey but it is getting such consistent praise that I’m glad it’s a front runner! I haven’t read The Matchbox Diary yet but now I will track it down.

      I have to say that I agree with you about A Ball for Daisy versus Grandpa Green. I finally read Grandpa Green a few months ago and it was wonderful. A Ball for Daisy is cute but the story resonated less for me.

      Ah, the fun of trying to predict children’s book awards! We all win though right? We get to read lots of great books and trying to guess makes it fun for my kids!
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