The Staple: Julie Judkins' Picks for the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards!

December 3, 2012 | 826 Blog Post

One thing we have no shortage of around 826michigan is people who like books.

But then there are those who go beyond “people who like books” to “people who REALLY like books”.

Volunteer Julie Judkins is just such a person. A librarian, book review blogger, and avid reader, Julie is always ready to recommend a great read, or to expound on interesting things like trends in children’s literature.

As avid readers ourselves, we think fondly on the Youth Media Awards — those gold seals adorned the covers of many, many childhood favorites!

That’s why we’re very pleased to present Julie Judkins’ Picks for the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards! Enjoy, and place your bets for January 28!

— Editors Amy —

Every January, a little too close to the crack of dawn for comfort, hundreds of librarians and publishing professionals rouse themselves from sleep and pack into a conference room. Thousands more of their kindred also rise early only to sit down and obsessively refresh Twitter. What is this strange phenomenon you ask? It’s the announcement of the Youth
Media Awards (YMA)
, the Academy Awards of the children’s literature world, and potential contenders are hotly contested throughout the year. The best known awards associated with the YMAs are the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz. In this edition of The Staple I’m playing guest judge and sharing the titles I hope are among those selected on January 28, 2013.

Caldecott: Awarded for the best American illustration in a book for children.
While the committee frequently honors innovative artistic techniques, a large emphasis is placed on whether text and images interact and compliment each other. Ann Arbor resident Erin E. Stead was the 2011 winner for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband, Phillip C. Stead.

My picks:

  • Chloe & the Lion, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. Rex is long overdue for Caldecott attention and it’d be fitting for him to win on the 75th anniversary of the award for a book about picture book illustration.
  • Green,
    by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. A fabulous concept book (here’s a hint: it’s about green things) that demonstrates how a picture book can be art.
  • Step Gently Out, by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder. Although photography has never garnered much attention from Caldecott committees, Lieder’s stunning work proves it should.

Newbery: Awarded to the most distinguished American contribution to children’s literature. Although non-fiction and picture books have been selected in the past, the Newbery is most commonly awarded to middle grade fiction.

My picks:

  • Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. Immensely popular and with an in vogue subject matter (bullying), this title is widely considered to be a lock for at least an Honor.
  • Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin. Lin won an Honor for Starry’s predecessor and this is an even more accomplished work.

Printz: The year’s “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.”

My picks:

  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Green won a Printz in 2006 for Looking for Alaska and a Printz Honor in 2007 for An Abundance of Katherines so there’s no disputing that he’s got the chops. Add in that the compelling Fault is his best book yet and an award is all but guaranteed.
  • Grave
    , by Robin LaFevers. It’s about assassin nuns, what more do I have to say?

Further Reading

I didn’t have space to mention all of my favorites. You can find more of my Caldecott,
Newbery, and Printz picks on the Ann Arbor District Library page.

But don’t take my word for it! Check out these expert opinions, as well:


Julie Judkins is a librarian at the University of Michigan.
After hours, she’s a co-facilitator of Story Problems, 826mighigan’s young adult writing workshop. Julie is honored to be the American Library Association’s 2013 Association of College & Research Libraries, Literature in English & the Arts Emerging Leader. Visit her blog at


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