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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

"Graveyard Book" ineligible after all?

Thanks, Lisa @ the Eva Perry Mock Newbery Club, for alerting us to the fact that The Graveyard Book might be ineligible after all, as one chapter ("The Witch’s Headstone") was included in Gaiman’s M is for Magic last year. I’ve placed a hold on that book so that I can compare the previously published version to the current one. 

Even if only a portion of a book has been previously published, that can indeed disqualify it under the "published in the preceeding year" and "original work" definitions of the the Terms. An eligibility question like this would be resolved between the committee Chair and the Priority Group Consultant (an appointed position in ALSC, who acts as support for all the award committee chairs, and is their line of communication to the ALSC leadership should that be necessary. Occasionally, tricky eligibility questions will get a final ruling from the Executive Committee, in consultation with the Chair and Priority Group Consultant.) In resolving this particular type of eligibility question, generally the "previously published" material in question will be closely scrutinized for comparison with the current version, to try and determine if this is the "same" work. It’s common for fiction writers to develop short stories into novels; sometimes the original versions are left intact, nearly word for word, and sometimes they are completely rewritten, with only a character or plot thread remaining intact.

Because each possible eligibility question is handled on a case by case basis within the committee, and because that work falls under the "confidentiality" clause of the committee, we can’t get a definitive answer on this particular book from the actual committee.  But Sharon and I may decide not to use it for our Mock Discussion. We’ll see.  

All this reminds me of Priority Group Consultant Julie Corsaro’s wonderful posting last year at the ALSC Blog on common Newbery myths. Take a look.

Nina Lindsay About Nina Lindsay

Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at


  1. Jonathan Hunt says:


    While it is up to the discretion of the chair to rule on this title, I think the book is eligible all the way. Sure, one story was published previously, but that does not disqualify the book. I can think of two previous Newbery Honors in a similar situation. The first story in A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO by Richard Peck was previously published in a YA short story anthology about guns. Many of the poems in CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS published by Marilyn Nelson were previously published in various poetry journals. I’d have to look at how many, but it’s a significant chunk of the book, maybe as much as a third of the book.


  2. Nina Lindsay says:

    Jonathan, thanks for the perspective and examples!

  3. Monica Edinger says:

    Jonathan, I too thank you. When I saw Lisa’s query my heart sank so I’m glad to know that it still might be ruled eligible.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    There are 59 poems in CARVER and 36 of them were previously published in various publications, setting a precedent (I believe) that renders that clause effectively meaningless.

  5. Sharon McKellar says:

    Phew. I’m so happy to hear that the eligibility is not necessarily in question. I really wanted this for the Mock list (and wanted it to have its chance for the Newbery).

  6. I would say the eligibility is definitely in question. The committee will have to resolve that issue, and since, as Nina says, it falls under confidentiality, if The Graveyard Book does not win an award/honor, we will never know if it was ruled ineligible or not. Bit frustrating. I just read The Graveyard Book and it’s lovely.

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