OK, I'm a little behind the curve on this one (October has been a little messy) but earlier this month a discussion about the Newbery award started that is worth a look. Check out the following links and see what you think!
Anita Silvey wrote in SLJ about her frustrations with recent Newbery winners--she speaks to a "trend" away from recognizing books that are popular with young readers.
The problem is, the Newbery criteria specifically state that "the award is for literary quality and quality presentation for children. The award is not for didactic intent or for popularity."
Both Nina Lindsay and Roger Sutton have written responses; don't miss some of the conversation that follows their posts in the comments. This debate crops up every few years, so it's worth the time to get familiar with it.
And if you're curious about what books folks are saying might be Newbery and Caldecott contenders for this year, here's a few lists to read:
Allen County Mock Newbery List
Allen County Mock Caldecott List
In addition, you might want to check out the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literature Awards). This new award was created specifically to bridge that perceived gap between literary excellence and popularity. On their FAQ they say, "We wanted a literary competition that combined the freewheeling democracy of the Internet with the thoughtfulness of a book club...The winning books must combine quality and 'kid appeal.'"
Compare their nominations lists for this year with the books getting buzz for the Newbery and Caldecott!