Mock Newbery Nominees 2019

For our 2019 Mock Newbery, we will vote online on ten exceptional titles released in 2018 by authors who are currently living in or citizens of the USA. Read as many titles from the list as you can before voting, or read our reviews if you don't have time. The real Newbery Medal 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. Vote here!

Front desk

Kelly Yang

jFICTION Yang Kelly
Kids, Fiction

"Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?"--Page [2] of cover.

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Mia Tang's courage and kindness makes readers root for the immigrant girl to achieve her dreams, which include owning a motel and becoming a writer. An important story of hopes and the hard work it takes to achieve them.
- Morgan

The book of Boy

Catherine Gilbert Murdock

jFICTION Murdock Catherin
Kids, Fiction, Historical Fiction

In 1350, a boy with a large hump on his back becomes the servant of a shadowy pilgrim on his way to Rome, who pulls the boy into a dangerous expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter.--Provided by Publisher.

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Acceptance and truth are key components in this Medieval quest story. Hunchbacked Boy seeks acceptance for his appearance and enigmatic Secundus seeks acceptance into Heaven. They both reject and hide the truth of their natures, Boy is an angel hiding his wings as a hunchback and Secundus is a condemned father escaped from Hell pretending to be a religious pilgrim. It is only after they each embrace their true selves that they find what they are looking for.
- Morgan

The day you begin

Jacqueline Woodson

jE Woodson
Kids, Fiction, Picture Books

Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.

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This beautiful picture book speaks to the difficulty and delight of being different. Woodson's narrative poetry addresses children from different cultures, with different physical abilities, and different economic backgrounds. Her narrative poetry shows their feelings of loneliness and shame stemming from their differences transform into feelings of connection and being special through small acts of bravery and kindness.
- Morgan

The journey of little Charlie

Christopher Paul Curtis

jFICTION Curtis, Christoper
Kids, Fiction, Historical Fiction

When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Little Charlie agrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap'n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him; Cap'n Buck tells Little Charlie that his father's debt will be cleared when the fugitives are captured, which seems like a good deal until Little Charlie comes face-to-face with the people he is chasing.

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This historical novel explores themes of justice and doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. Little Charlie is a sympathetic protagonist, who is quickly learning about the harshness of the world. His perspective on the commonly visited story of the evils of slavery is uncommon and will help readers find their own consciences.
- Morgan

Be prepared

Vera Brosgol

jGRAPHIC NOVEL Brosgol
Kids, Graphic Novels, Fiction

A misfit girl and her brother attend summer camp, where they struggle with primitive plumbing, snobby tentmates, and boys-versus-girls competitions.

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This fun graphic novel is the story of a Russian immigrant and general misfit who goes to camp hoping to find acceptance. Vera's earnest struggle to make friends in all the wrong ways, and her grudging eventual enjoyment of camp will keep readers turning the pages to find out how she survives it all.
- Morgan

The truth as told by Mason Buttle

Leslie Connor

jFICTION Connor Leslie
Kids, Fiction

As he grieves his best friend Benny's death, Mason and his friend Calvin, who are targeted by the neighborhood bullies, create an underground haven for themselves, but when Calvin goes missing Mason finds himself in trouble.

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Coming to terms with the death of his best friend is hard enough for Mason Buttle, but his discovery that the police and townspeople think he had something to do with the death rocks him to his core. He is unerringly honest, but his learning disabilities make it hard for him to understand the truth of what others think of him. My favorite piece of Mason's story is the bond between him and the dog owned by his bullying neighbor.
- Morgan

The Parker inheritance

Varian Johnson

jFICTION Johnson Varian
Kids, Fiction, Mystery

Twelve-year-old Candice Miller is spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, in the old house that belonged to her grandmother, who died after being dismissed as city manager for having the city tennis courts dug up looking for buried treasure--but when she finds the letter that sent her grandmother on the treasure hunt, she finds herself caught up in the mystery and, with the help of her new friend and fellow book-worm, Brandon, she sets out to find the inheritance, exonerate her grandmother, and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert.

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I love this book about seeking truth and acceptance. With the help of her friend Brandon, Candice searches for the truth about her grandmother’s failed tenure as city manager. Following clues her grandmother left her, their search for treasure instead leads to a decades old cover up of racial injustice, the truth of which was ignored by the city for years. The modern-day story is the main focus, with historical vignettes providing the backstory for the mystery. Readers will be just as invested as Candice and Brandon in solving the mystery of the letter writer and finding out what happened to the Washington family.
- Morgan

Just like Jackie

Lindsey Stoddard

jFICTION Stoddard Lindsey
Kids, Fiction

For as long as fifth-grade Robinson Hart can remember, it's just been her and Grandpa. Robbie wishes Grandpa would tell her more about the rest of her family, she's learned over the years that he doesn't like to talk about the past. She's determined to stay out of trouble so that she does not worry her grandfather and to make sure that she and her grandfather stay together as he is the only family she has left. But Grandpa's memory is starting to get bad, and Robbie's worried that soon he won't remember their family including her at all.

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A nuanced look at bullying accompanies this heartfelt story of Robbie, a girl struggling to deal with secrets too heavy to hold alone. This story accurately captures the fear and confusion experienced by a child grappling with an Alzheimer's diagnoses of a loved one.
- Morgan

The miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Stacy McAnulty

jFICTION Mcanulty Stacy
Kids, Fiction

A lightning strike made Lucy, twelve, a math genius but, after years of homeschooling, her grandmother enrolls her in middle school and she learns that life is more than numbers.

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This story follows the evolution of Lucy Callahan from lightning-struck, antisocial math savant to dog-saving middle school friend. An excellent exploration of the importance of friendship and community in our lives.
- Morgan

Amal unbound

Aisha Saeed

jFICTION Saeed Aisha
Kids, Fiction

"Twelve-year-old Amal's dream of becoming a teacher one day is dashed in an instant when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village's ruling family. As punishment for her behavior, she is forced to leave her heartbroken family behind and go work at their estate. Amal is distraught but has faced setbacks before. So she summons her courage and begins navigating the complex rules of life as a servant, with all its attendant jealousies and pecking-order woes. Most troubling, though, is Amal's increasing awareness of the deadly measures the Khan family will go to in order to stay in control. It's clear that their hold over her village will never loosen as long as everyone is too afraid to challenge them--so if Amal is to have any chance of ensuring her loved ones' safety and winning back her freedom, she must find a way to work with the other servants to make it happen."--Page [2] of cover.

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This important story shines a light on modern slavery as Amal must find the bravery to stand up to injustice. First losing access to her education because she is a girl, then being forced into slavery by the corrupt ruling family of her village, she struggles to keep her dream of becoming a teacher someday alive.
- Morgan