Every September, we create a list of the 25 books we think should be considered as candidates for the Newbery Award, the highest honor in American literature for young people.The real Newbery Award will be chosen and announced in January and every year we love to see how our list compares to the list chosen by the Newbery Committee!
We use our knowledge of the books and that of all the many educators, publishers, authors, and reviewers to develop our annual list. The Mock Newbery List of 2021 will be the program’s 26th year.
NEW THIS YEAR: We are expanding who can vote in our Mock Newbery Contest! More details to follow, but for now, take a look at the list and start reading!!
Anderson's Mock Newbery Candidates 2021
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson. A stirring novel in verse that explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and looks at the cost of professional sports on Black bodies. Grades 5-8
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes. A powerful coming of age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition. Grades 3-7.
Brother’s Keeper by Julia Lee. Two children must escape North Korea on their own in this harrowing novel based on a true story. Grades 3-6
Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling. A year after the death of her mother in a restaurant shooting, Nora is left struggling to stay alive when a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong. Grades 3-6
Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson Levine. A moving and ambitious story set during the expulsion of Jews from Spain, about a smart young Jewish girl full of heart who must play her own role in her people’s epic history—no matter the sacrifice. Grades 3-7
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk. The story of an unforgettable young heroine in Depression-era Maine navigating the rocky terrain of her new life on Echo Mountain. Grades 5-8
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger. Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by magic, monsters, and Apache legends. Speculative fiction by a debut author. Grades YA
Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse. Grades 5-8
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. Follow one courageous girl as she searches for the truth and does what she believes is right even in the face of great opposition. Grades 3-7
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender. In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one small boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself. Grades 3-6
Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar. A heart-wrenching, beautiful story in verse about a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees. Grades 3-7
List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead. At a time when everything is changing for Bea and her family, the important things will always stay the same. Grades 3-7
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This timeless tale of struggle, hope, and the search for tomorrow has much to offer today about compassion and our shared humanity. Grades 3-7
My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee. When twelve-year old Zannia Manning’s older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it turns her family’s world upside down especially since they are keeping the information private. Grades 4-8
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry. A moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Grades 5-7
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park. A powerful, touching, multilayered story about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Grades 5-8
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte. This piercing exploration of ableism and racism answers the call to dig deep, examine core beliefs, and question what is considered normal. Grades 3-7
Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman. Kate’s humdrum life is transformed when her eccentric Uncle Herbert brings her a colossal locomotive train, the Silver Arrow, as her eleventh birthday gift, leading her and her younger brother on a mysterious journey. Perfect for fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and Roald Dahl. Grades 3-7
Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake. Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship. Grades 3-7
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. A magical realism graphic novel about a young girl, Snap, who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself. Grades 5-8
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. When eleven-year-old Yumi Chung stumbles into a kids’ comedy camp she is mistaken for another student, so she decides to play the part. Grades 3-6
Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner. From the author of Roll With It comes a moving novel about a girl with a sensory processing disorder who has to find her own voice after her whole world turns upside down. Grades 3-6
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson. Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, one starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new middle grade series about spirit, kindness, and sunshine. Grades 3-6
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson. Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee.
Wink by Rob Harrell. A hilarious and heartwarming story about surviving middle school--and an unthinkable diagnosis--while embracing life’s weirdness. Grades 4-7
Participation and Voting Information
Our voting will take place in January, prior to the Newbery Award announcement at ALA Mid-Winter. Voting instructions and ballots to follow. To participate in voting, schools must purchase the complete mock set or partial set (15 books) from Anderson’s. Special discounts apply. Please contact us for more information or to place your order.
NEW THIS YEAR: Families can participate in the voting! More details to follow!
Naperville: Sue Skells, email@example.com.
Carolyn Roys, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Downers Grove: Kathleen March, email@example.com
HOW DID WE DO LAST YEAR? WELL, WE'RE GLAD YOU ASKED...
Anderson's Bookshops Mock Newbery Award Choices That Became Actual Newbery Winners in January 2020:
The 2020 Newbery Winner:
New Kid, by Jerry Craft
Honor Books (in winning order):
- Maybe He Just Likes You, Barbara Dee
- White Bird, R. J. Palacio
- Words on Fire, Jennifer Nielsen
- The Bridge Home, Padma Venkatraman
- The Okay Witch, Emma Steinkellner
Congratulations to all our Mock Newbery student readers from 2019/2020. We had 19 schools participate and students read over 3,000 books! Thank you to the educators, staff, and volunteers at our participating schools.