I just finished listening to "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy" by Gary Schmidt. It is the winner of both the Printz Award and a Newbery Honor, which is a pretty big honor. Now this is also tells you some things about the book with having even seen it.
-The main character will be between 11 and 14 years old
-It will very likely be historical fiction
-It will almost certainly be realistic fiction
-There will be some sort of death
-There will be issues
-It will be depressing in at least some parts
-It will likely not circ great at my library
Now I haven't read all the Newbery books or even all the Printz ones. I'm certainly making some generalizations here, but there are definite trends to be observed in the winners and honorees. Of the 2008 Newbery books, all four are historical and realistic fiction, and all deal with race, religion, or class issues. The 2007 batch brought us two of historical and two contemporary, with the issues of families and disablities thrown in. Only about 12 fantasy or sci-fi books have won the Newbery Medal going book all the way to 1922. And that is including the ones that are fantastical because they are about and told through the point of view of animals.
As my father said when I spoke to him about this the other day, the depressing nature of the books and the issues like racism, classism, and religion are things that real youth are experiencing and helps them connect them to the book.
The Printz Award is definitely edgier, but still it is fond of historical fiction, issues, and depressing bits. But they at least chose winner and honor books with good amounts of humor and interesting characters and narrators like Death, demons, the Monkey King, and ghosts.
My current bet for a Newbery this year is The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. It appears to have all the requirements, other than historical. Looks like it has some strong fantastical elements at least.
In the case of the Printz, I haven't a clue. It seems to be the book no one predicted in the past couple of years.