The Allen County Public Library's Mock Newbery blog is "the place to be if you enjoy reading and discussing quality, newly published, children's literature." They've just published their "short list" of some of the candidates for the 2009 Newbery Award. There are quite a few familiar names on the list: Linda Sue Park, Lois Lowry, Cynthia Kadohata, Karen Hesse, Sid Fleischman, Sharon Creech, and Avi are all previous winners.
There's also some fun discussion at Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog (great title!). They've been discussing 1953, when Secret of the Andes (which I haven't managed to read yet - checked it out and returned it to the library untouched) beat Charlotte's Web for the medal, which a lot of people think was one of the poorer choices the Committee has made. I haven't read Charlotte's Web since grade school, and I didn't love it then, so I'm ambivalent about the choice.
Anyway, I've read more of the ACPL's mock candidates this year than in previous years, probably because I've been enjoying YA literature a lot lately. I don't think my 12 year old is mature enough to handle Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, or Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, but I loved both of them. He and I both read and enjoyed Kathi Appelt's The Underneath, and The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry.
These four books are all rather dark. If I had to pick one out of just these four books, I'd select The Graveyard Book as my favorite, but I bet the Newbery Committee would pick The Underneath for it's poetic language, clever mix of myth and history, and its setting in an east Texas bayou.
I guess we'll see in a couple of months. Have you read any of the short listed mock Newbery selections? What do you think - last year's winner was set in medieval England, are we due for something contemporary? Something uniquely American? Something science fiction or fantasy-ish? All four of the books that I've read fall in that category!
Of course it's always possibly they'll pick something completely different.