The Contender list is out for School Library Journal's 2014 Battle of the Books! We'll be on a nickname basis soon, but for now, I'll address BoB formally as Rehashing of Brilliant, Esteemed, Renowned Tomes.
I love that this list gets announced before the ALA winners do. The odds are high that some major award winners are on this list, but we don't know that for sure, and "hey, it won the Newbery" will at most be just one of some Contender's vital stats. (I'm still pulling for a Newbery for Counting by Sevens, which coulda been a Contender. And I think it's one of many strong Printz candidates, but I admit it would be fun to see how people described Reality Boy's premise if it won.)
This SLJBoB list shows exactly why I'm hesitant to make more concrete award predictions: 2013 was a strong and varied year. Just look at these contenders, virtually all of which have received serious mock Newbery and/or Printz attention. We have here a slim volume of emotion-encapsulating poetry and a semigraphic novel about a poetry-typing squirrel. We have two sequels that cover very different ground from their predecessors, which is exactly what makes them interesting. We have graphic novels set during China's Boxer Rebellion and America's Civil Rights Movement, and prose fiction set in the 1980s, in a village that might be in colonial America, and in the space between childhood and adolescence. We have animal factoids and arguments with a grandmother. In short, we have a lot of choices that are distinguished in very different ways, and my hat is off to the committees that will have to choose among them.
But I'm still planning to eat a bug, or possibly several metaphorical bugs in the form of ants on a log, if The Ocean at the End of the Lane doesn't win an Alex.