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Newbery Winners -- Ranked!


Since 1922, the single "most distinguished contribution to children's literature" has been given the annual John Newbery Medal by the Association of Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. Every list you've probably ever seen arranges these award winners by year of award, or perhaps by author. Not this one. A group of librarians and teachers met for monthly suppers and book discussions, each month discussing a different book. We argued the merits of the book. Each person then selected a number for that book to be placed on the list. These numbers were averaged to determine the ranking. In August 2017, we added "The Girl Who Drank the Moon" to the list. We plan to meet over the next several months to add the Newbery Award winners from 2012 to 2016. So, finally, the list everyone really wants... the awards, arranged--not by year--but by how much a totally biased group of readers enjoyed them. Which Newbery winner, in this group's opinion, is the most fun to read? Well, read on...






Lowry, Lois

Brilliant. One question for debate: are they dead or alive at the end?
Hesse, Karen

Although told in free-form poetry, this gritty and heart-wrenching story reads like a brilliant novel.
Freedman, Russell
JB L638FRE

A stirring lesson in history and humanity.
Lowry, Lois
J LOWRY

Well written, memorable and gripping historical fiction.
Fleischman, Paul
J811 FLEIS

Everyone loved the poetry...the only debates were how poetry stacks up to other forms (novels, non-fiction) and the "performance" issue (the book is best when read out loud by two people).
L'Engle, Madeleine
J LENGL

Even "non-science fiction fans" enjoyed this clever tale.
Paterson, Katherine
J PATER

This tightly-crafted book is a tear-jerking examination of loss.
Taylor, Mildred D.
J TAYLO

Historical fiction at its best.
Konigsburg, E. L.
J KONIG

Did we choose this book, or did it choose us? (Ya gotta read the book to get it!)
Stead, Rebecca
J STEAD

__A Wrinkle in Time__ meets the __$20,000 Pyramid__. Tesser well.
Cushman, Karen
J CUSHM

Gritty, captivating.
MacLachlan, Patricia
J MACLA

A plain story, told well.
Schiltz, Laura Amy
J812 SCHLI

With characters who could live next door to you, this timeless topic will be interesting to children forever.
Park, Linda Sue
J PARK

With its compelling characters and vivid sense of time and place, this book exceeded our expectations. Let's hope the paperback has a better cover.
DiCamillo, Kate
J DICAM

Dear Reader, this is a timeless tale, told well, even though a few of us felt the rat got the raw end of the deal.
Armstrong, William
J ARMST

Prepare to be deeply depressed by this effective period piece. Argument: some sources place the period as pre-turn of the century. Others say 1930s Depression era. We think it's more likely pre-19th century.
Raskins, Ellen
J RASKI

Quirky, but some thought it was fun.
Kadohata, Cynthia
J KADOH

A well-written, honest story of friendship and family. Keep your Kleenex close by.
Voigt, Cynthia
J VOIGT

We thought the characters were very strong and moving, but had questions about how it stood up as the second book.
O'Brien, Robert C.
J OBRIE

Clever story idea. But what, exactly, does NIMH stand for?
Wojciechowska, Maia
J WOJCI

Characterization and a sense of place and time make this more than a story of killing bulls.
Konigsburg, E. L.
J KONIG

Good fun, good characterizations.
Hamilton, Virginia
J HAMIL

A strange story told with great craft: lyrical writing, vividly drawn setting and characters save this otherwise unbelievable tale.
Peck, Richard
J PECK

While this is a sequel, the tale stands alone well, filled with memorable characters and funny scenes.
Speare, Elizabeth George
J SPEAR

We were all pleasantly surprised by this book's very readable story about life in the Holy Land at the time of Jesus. With minor exception, we found this tale plausible and entertaining.
Avi
J AVI

"It was light and sweet, and took little chewing to get down, which I found passing strange." (p. 161)
Barnhill, Kelly
j BARNH

Fleischman, Sid
J FLEIS

Probably one of the few Newbery books likely to be seen by the kid you hand it to as one they expect to have fun reading.
Rylant, Cynthia
J RYLAN

This story about bereavement deeply touched some, failed to connect to others.
Sachar, Louis
J SACHA

This was an entertaining read, although the group found some five-foot holes in the story.
Du Bois, William Pene
J DUBOI

Some older titles still do captivate the reader.
Krumgold, Joseph
J KRUMG

Some felt this story has stood up remarkably well over time.
Gray, Elizabeth
J GRAY

We were all surprised be how not bad this book was--faster than a walking pace.
Henry, Marguerite
J HENRY

This is a very comfortable horse story. (But for how long can horses reeeeallly lie down?)
Blos, Joan
J BLOS

This one reads like an authentic journal of the time period.
Seredy, Kate
J398.2 SERED

Who knew Attila was a good guy? He may have murdered, but he was just fulfilling his destiny.
Curtis, Christopher Paul
J CURTI

Read this *before* __Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963__. Bud is fun but not as believable.
Spinelli, Jerry
J SPINE

In spite of some larger-than-life episodes that gave us pause, we liked this kid and rooted for him the whole way.
Cleary, Beverly
J CLEAR

A medium book about a medium boy.
Forbes, Esther
J FORBE

Learn the real story of Paul Revere's ride; we were surprised by the political intrigue and the convincing characterization.
Fox, Paula
J FOX

A sober, thought-provoking tale. (Jessie would have has a much better time if he had only traveled with Amos Fortune...[Bad inside joke--see the BOTTOM of this list.])
Mukerji, Dhan
J MUKER

We didn't expect much from this "story of a pigeon," but found a compelling tale of courage and tenacity.
Sperry, Armstrong
J SPERR

Call it not-so-boring, especially when you throw in a shark, an octopus, and a wild boar.
Paterson, Katherine
J PATER

While we're not sure who this book is really for, we appreciated the author's craft in creating a pretty gray picture of the connection between twins.
Lofting, Hugh
J LOFTI

A good adventure story and a fun read that has held up well over time. The revised edition (1988) addresses and attempts to correct many of the issues of racism.
Van Loon, Hendrik
J909 VANLO

We waited 'til last 'cause we thought it'd be excruciating, but it wasn't bad. It has gone through several editions.
Speare, Elizabeth George
J SPEAR

Somewhat entertaining; patrons looking for a "serious" witch story will be disappointed.
Clark, Ann Nolan
J CLARK

Not bad, but Cusi just "ain't no Charlotte."
McKinley, Robin
J MCKIN

Enjoyable fantasy, even for those not usually drawn to the genre.
Chrisman, Arthur Bowie
J CHRIS

Surprisingly--not bad! These tales have held up rather well.
Gaiman, Neil
J GAIMA

If you want a really scary story, read the first four pages. And then read on to learn about Jack, and Jack, and Jack, and Nobody.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
J NAYLO

Engaging. For those who read the book some time ago; quick, did the dog die in the end?
George, Jean Craighead
J GEORG

OK adventure that left many of us cold.
Vanderpool, Clare
J VANDE

A great book for Kansas!
Trevino, Elizabeth Borton de
J TREVI

For the artistically inclined of us, this was an enjoyable read. For the rest, comments ranged from "ho-hum" to "ick."
Keith, Harold
J KEITH

Some of us enjoyed the book much more than others; it comes down to whether or not you buy the picture of war experience portrayed in this atypical (and long-winded) Civil War story.
Creech, Sharon
J CREEC

Good storytelling, emotionally touching. One question though: will it hold up over time?
James, Will
J JAMES

We figger you'll like this yarn about the eddication of a wobblety-legged colt who grows up to be a hunkydory cowhorse.
Perkins, Lynne Rae
J PERKI

The group gave it an audible, exasperated gasp.
Alexander, Llyod
J ALEXA

Entertaining fantasy that pulls along the reader, even many who would not generally enjoy the genre.
O'Dell, Scott
J ODELL

An OK story, we had some questions about authenticity and character voice.
DeJong, Meindert
J DEJON

An impossibly impossible series of events that brings people and storks together.
Brink, Carol
J BRINK

The "adventures" of a pioneer girl that leaves modern-day readers wondering "so?"
Lewis, Elizabeth Foreman
J LEWIS

A hard sell, based on title and looks--but surprisingly, not a bad read by today's standards.
Latham, Jean Lee
J LATHA

The pace of this book was driven by an ash breeze; while most of us thought it was worth the effort, others were too becalmed to find it enjoyable.
De Angeli, Marguerite
J DEANG

This was a wholesome read.
Patron, Susan
J PATRO

The group liked it, but totally didn't love it.
Kelly, Eric Philbrook
J KELLY

Is this story based on legend, or is it total fiction?
Armer, Laura Adams
J ARMER

Sensitive portrayal of a young Navajo's mystical and beautiful journey to manhood in the early 1900's.
Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin
J BAILE

Some of us thought this was pleasant; others wished Squirrel had eaten Miss Hickory's head sooner.
Cooper, Susan
J COOPE

Enjoyable while reading, but most of us couldn't remember much about it just two months later.
Finger, Charles Joseph
J398.2 FINGE

One or two at a time, the stories aren't bad...all at once is a drudge.
Willard, Nancy
J811 WILLA

Many of the Group responded, "HUH??" Others found it a poetic romp for the imagination.
Field, Rachel
J FIELD

For a doll, self-assured Hitty's adventures are pretty incredible. Unfortunately, some of us didn't find her adventures compelling enough to pull the book through. Modern readers will also take issue with some racial stereotypes.
Neville, Emily Cheney
J NEVIL

This precursor to the "Young Adult Problem Novel" is, unfortunately, dated. (And, the cover of the 1996 HarperCollins paperback is waaay misleading.)
Sorensen, Virginia Eggertsen
J SOREN

It's a miracle the Group finished the book (maybe it was the promise of homemade maple cookies that spurred us on.)
Hunt, Irene
J HUNT

We all agree that Julie's bumpy, disjointed ride to adulthood moves verrry slowly.
Krumgold, Joseph
J KRUMG

...And now move on; this one doesn't cut it.
Lawson, Robert
J LAWSO

A younger reader in desperate need of an animal story might like it???
Sawyer, Ruth
J SAWYE

Skate on by this one.
Byars, Betsy
J BYARS

Hopelessly 70's; today's readers want (and deserve) better.
Meigs, Cornelia
JB AL19M

Suggest a title change to "Insufferable Louisa"...need we say more?
Edmonds, Walter Dumaux
J EDMON

Tension builds. Tomahawks fly. Matchlock fires. Bergom op Zoom!
Estes, Eleanor
J ESTES

The only "pie" this Group couldn't swallow.
Coatsworth, Elizabeth
J COATS

Blessedly short. Some of us were bothered by seeming cultural insensitivity in the title, since the book is a story about an artist and the Buddha...So, shouldn't it be "The Cat Who Went to Nirvana?"
Lenski, Lois
J LENSK

May have been a great read in 1946, but nothing to recommend it now.
Enright, Elizabeth
J ENRIG

The only "good luck" about finding this Thimble is that it's pretty short and has no sequels.
Hawes, Charles
J HAWES

Due to the difficult dialects, meandering plot, unconnected details and slow-moving story, we can only guess that this posthumous award was given out of pity.
Shannon, Monica
J SHANN

It's a plateau of a story, but the part about the gypsy bear was TIGHT.
Daugherty, James
JB B644D

It's next to last for a reason...poor biography, bad writing...stick to the "Fess Parker" version on TV land. (Yikes! Did we say that???)
Yates, Elizabeth
JB F779YA

If Pollyanna were a slave...The things that come out of his mouth are invented at best, offensive at worst.