We’ve included long-time favorites and modern classics in this list of titles that deserved Newbery Award recognition but never received it (in our humble opinion).

Wonder (Grades 4-7, Level U, Lexile 790): Wonder is R. J. Palacio’s extremely popular book about Auggie Pullman, a 5th grader born with a facial deformity who finally has the opportunity to attend mainstream school.

Tuck Everlasting (Grades 5-9, Level W, Lexile 770): When 10-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles across the Tuck family, she learns the secret of their magical spring: it gives the gift of eternal life. Winnie soon learns this might not be such a blessing in this sensitive and moving fantasy.

Frindle (Grades 3-6, level R, Lexile 830): Nick Allen has a reputation as a bit of a class troublemaker, but one of his diversions backfires when his language arts teacher assigns him extra work on how new entries are added to the dictionary. Nick decides to invent his own word and renames the pen as a “frindle,” which annoys his teacher to no end. Things quickly escalate on both sides in this humorous tale about the power of language.

Esperanza Rising (Grades 4-7, Level V, Lexile 750): When Esperanza is forced to flee her home in Mexico during the Great Depression, she is thrust into a world she doesn’t recognize as a migrant farm worker in California. This historical fiction about a young girl’s fall from riches to hard labor adds a touch of magical realism to a moving and emotional tale of survival and family.

The Lightning Thief (Grades 5-8, Level W, Lexile 740): This is the book that started it all: a rousing adventure story that brings Greek mythology to life. In this first book in the immensely popular series, young Percy Jackson is brought to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about unique abilities.

Wonder Tuck Everlasting Frindle Esperanza Rising The Lightning Thief
Okay for Now Hound Dog True The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp The Endless Steppe Stone Fox


Okay for Now (Grades 5-9, Level Y, Lexile 850): This coming-of-age text set against the turbulent backdrop of the Vietnam War was a critical favorite in 2013. Eighth grader Doug must move to a new town when his dad loses his job. He deals with numerous issues while trying to remain upbeat and optimistic.

Hound Dog True (Grades 4-6, Level R, Lexile 710): Painfully shy, Mattie Breen has moved yet again, but this time she and her mother have moved in with her Uncle Potluck, the custodian at her soon to be new school. Mattie hopes to be his “custodial apprentice” so she doesn’t have to interact with other students during lunch and recess. Hound Dog True is a charming story of new beginnings and a shy girl’s small, brave acts.

True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Grades 5-8, Lexile 810): The Sugar Man Scouts, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah, need to band together to save their beloved swamp from an alligator wrestler who wants to turn it into a theme park. Along with 12-year-old Chap Brayburn, they race to save the swamp in this spirited adventure.

The Endless Steppe (Grades 5-8, Level Y, Lexile 940): Originally published in 1968, this classic memoir describes the hardships faced by the author and her family as they are arrested by Russians and exiled to Siberia to work in the mines.

Stone Fox (Grades 3-7, Level P, Lexile 550): Based on a legend, this thrilling adventure story follows Little Willy as he enters the National Dogsled Race in order to save his family farm.