The winner of the Newbery Award will be announced Monday--and I have been spending much thought on the chances of a fantasy book winning.
Obvious contenders that have been mentioned many times in many places are Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz, Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin, and The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. Of these, Starry River is my favorite, and I'd be happy to see it win.
But what of the other fine fantasy books published this past year?
Elizabeth at Shelftalker posted her masterful list of all the books that got stars from the professional reviewers last year. And I, in turn, have gone through and extracted the sci fi/fantasy titles. Here they are, with my commentary in italics:
SEVEN STARS --none.
SIX STARS-- none.
The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver (Harper)
Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz. (Candlewick)
Starry River of the Sky. Grace Lin. (Little, Brown)
There's two of the three mentioned above; I'm surprised that The Spindlers got so many--I found it a perfectly fine book, but not at all outstanding.
Who Could That Be at This Hour? Lemony Snicket, illus. by Seth. (Little, Brown)
It would be fun to see this with a shiny sticker on it, but unless this year's committee was very quirky, I can't see it happening.
The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning #2). John Stephens. Knopf,
Greyhound of a Girl, A. Roddy Doyle. Abrams/Amulet
In a Glass Grimmly. Adam Gidwitz. Dutton
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! Polly Horvath, illus. by
Sophie Blackall. Random/Schwartz & Wade
The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate, illus. by Patricia
The Seven Tales of Trinket, Shelley Moore Thomas, illus. by Dan
Craig. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
My own favorite of these is Greyhound of a Girl, but it's not eligible. The Seven Tales of Trinket might be a dark horse in the race--I can imagine people agreeing to agree on it. And there Ivan...which I didn't care for much myself, but those who love it seem to do so with a passion. The people handing out stars this year seem to have appreciated humorous books--lots show up in the two star list too.
The Brixen Witch, Stacy DeKeyser, illus. by John Nickle. S & S, McElderry
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again. Frank Cottrell Boyce, illus. by
Joe Berger. Candlewick
Cold Cereal. Adam Rex. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There,
Catherynne M. Valente, illus. by Ana Juan. Feiwel and Friends
Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, The. Christopher Healy, illus. by
Todd Harris. HarperCollins/Walden Pond
Last Dragonslayer, The. Jasper Fforde. Harcourt
Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan. R.A. Spratt, illus. by Dan Santat.
Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or
At Least My History Grade). Mac Barnett, illus. by Dan Santat.
On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave. Candace Fleming.
Random/Schwartz & Wade
Remarkable. Lizzie K. Foley. Dial
Summer and Bird. Katherine Catmull. Dutton
What Came from the Stars. Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion
Lots more humor--and The Last Dragonslayer, which I love but which isn't eligible. I could easily see The Girl Who....coming home with something.
Adventures of Sir Balin the Ill-Fated. Gerald Morris, illus. by Aaron
Renier. Houghton Mifflin
Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent (The Father of Lies Chronicles).
Alan Early. Mercier Press
Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind. Gary Ross; illus. by Matthew
Castle of Shadows. Ellen Renner, illus. by Wilson Swain. Houghton
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Claire LeGrand, illus. by
Sarah Watts. Simon & Schuster
Deadly Pink. Vivian Vande Velde. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Deadweather and Sunrise. Geoff Rodkey. Putnam
Dragonborn. Toby Forward. Bloomsbury
Earwig and the Witch. Diana Wynne Jones, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky.
The Empty City, Erin Hunter. HarperCollins
The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic Press
Five Nights to the Crimson Moon. Walter Renfrey. Walter Renfrey
Goblin Secrets. William Alexander. Margaret McElderry/S&S
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange
Adventure. Lissa Evans. Sterling
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book III: The Unseen Guest. Maryrose Wood. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray
The Lost King, by Ursula Jones. Inside Pocket Publishing
Palace of Stone (Princess Academy). Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury
The Peculiar, Stefan Bachmann. Greenwillow
The Secret Prophecy, Herbie Brennan. Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins,
Ship of Souls. Zetta Elliott. AmazonEncore
Time Snatchers. Richard Ungar. Putnam.
The Traveling Restaurant: Jasper’s Voyage in Three Parts. Barbara
Else. Gecko Press
The Vengekeep Prophecies, Brian Farrey, illus. by Brett Helquist.
There are quite a few here I haven't read, mostly the ones that came out after October and so weren't part of my Cybils reading. Of those I read, the two I like best that are eligible (Earwig and Horten aren't) are The Peculiar and The False Prince. But I can't quite see them winning anything. Betsy Bird really liked The Vengekeep Prophecies--"this is a standalone first novel that fulfills its promises and yet
leaves you wanting more. In other words, the best kind of fantasy there
is." I will try to read it by Monday, so I can, if moved to do so, predict that it will win...
All of the 2012 books that I helped shortlist for the Cybils are on here--Ivan, The Peculiar, The False Prince, The Last Dragonslayer (Beswitched is 2011)-except for two. Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, by Mike Jung, didn't get a star, which I think is too bad. I'm not saying I think it should get anything on Monday, but it should have gotten a star, so I'm glad we shortlisted it and showed it some love. Likewise, The Cabinet of Earths is a really rich and tasty fantasy that should have been starred. Much more interesting and better written (in my opinion) than some that did get stars....I could see this one with an honor, perhaps, maybe....
Conclusion: My money is currently on Starry River to represent for mg sff. What do you think?