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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal


and I’ve never been more happy to be more wrong. The Graveyard  is the best written book for children this year by an American author or resident—and with clear child appeal. In my first post I noted just a few examples of the fine craft that I found on first reading—craft that reveals itself only upon scrutiny, as it should, letting the whole piece breathe and move like a real thing.  This is what we mean when we talk about “distinguished” children’s literature…and with clear child appeal! I’m so glad ALSC has found clarity of interpretation around this criterion (previous publication), and that it meant we could include it: it is an outstanding example of what so many of us want the Newbery to be.

(Here I am writing this post)

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. I said this in an earlier post but can’t help repeating it: We often speak of books where the characters “come to life.” In this case, Gaiman has done the neat trick of bringing the dead to life. I’m glad the Newbery committee was able to recognize this miracle.

  2. Nina, I hope you’re tickled about the Honor for After Tupac–as far as I could see, you were pretty much its only champion in the blogosphere. I know that I liked it on my first read, but really came around to seeing how distinguished it was after the mock discussion with you guys. Yay Newbery! Yay reading!

  3. Monica Edinger says:

    Nyah, nyah, nyah — I am so happy you were wrong! (And The Underneath with an honor too!) All the award choices are wonderful!!Woohoo!

  4. “Distinguished” children’s literature….. with clear child appeal. Then why wasn’t it on your list?????

  5. Sandy, I recommend reading the links. The words in blue are hyperlinks to previous posts in which Nina Lindsay explained why she thought that aspects of the book’s publishing history made it ineligible for the award.

  6. I couldn’t agree more. I am tickled pink by the committee selections this year. I’m also happy that ‘The Surrender Tree’ was selected for an honor. Maybe it’s not as kid-friendly, but it’s a beautiful poetry novel, nonetheless. I’m excited to read ‘The Graveyard’, too!

  7. Just Wondering. says:

    A bit off topic…but I believe Savvy is a “first novel”. Have there been any other first novels that have been selected as “honor books” or have actually “won it all”?

  8. The Higher Power of Lucky was a first novel. I think first time authors are pretty common in the awards and honors lists.

  9. Well…my lucky day! As it turns out, I had not read “The Graveyard Book”(I figured it would not win for the same reasons everyone else did), “Savvy” (Because I heard it was a first novel and though it was good, it would probably not win either), or “The Surrender Tree” (I didn’t even know it existed!). But…get this! As it turns out, there is a copy of “The Graveyard Book” availiable, yes, as in sitting there, as in on the shelf, at my local library, which i requested promptly! There are a few copies on Link+ of “The Surrender Tree” of which allare availiable, which I also requested promptly! And I have “Savvy” sitting here in my room, so I guess that hunch that maybe I should read it after all really worked! I guess there are some advantages to waking up half an hour earlier and seeing the news before anyone else does! The “After Tupac and D Foster” honor, if you have read my last post, you know I am not really pleased about, but I suppose this officially means I am almost comletely alone in my dislike. I guess I just must have missed something. This is luckily countered by the “The Underneath” honor, which if you have read my last post or the one before, you know I am very very happy about. Yes, a rather difficult book, but the writing is just gorgeous. I think the surprise was that “Chains” was absent. As I recall, Fuse#8 had that as her prediction to win the whole schebang, and it has the most mock and some of the most critical recognition, too. I myself just could not picture it with the big gold medal, but I certainly thought it was a shoo-in, and good enough, to get an honor. Does anyone else have some shocking omissions (or as the case might be, inclusions)? Or is everyone perfectly satisfied? I sure hope so! After all, this committee did have a hard act to follow. If I say so myself, Nina, your committee made the perfect decision last year, winner and honor books. I’ll have to read the rest of this year and see what I think!

    P.S. Nina, how did you know it was me?

  10. Oh, and by the way, speaking of talking about “After Tupac and D Foster” in my last post, a friend recently mentioned to me that maybe my use of some terms such as “homeboy” might be interpreted in a way I otherwise intended them to be, in a politically or even racially prejudiced or improper way. If I upset anyone out there, I just want to make very clear that I never experienced the word used in a bad way, and did not mean it in a bad way, sort of more like “down home” or “someone on your home street” (I hope anyone isn’t offended by those either!). I do not have anything against “homeboy”s, I just thought it made the book less “literary”. I probably should not bring it up if no one was offended, as I hope they were not, but I know that in writing things can often be misconstrued and this was bugging me so I just wanted to get this off my back.

  11. Children's Librarian says:

    I literally spun around in my chair when “The Graveyard Book” won. Not because I’ve read it– I now have the audio on hold, though!– but because it was not “The Underneath.” Unlike many, I have a strong dislike for that book and did not want to see it win. I had resigned myself to it getting an honor since I knew that so many liked it, but I’d hoped that was all it would get. If it had won, I had vowed to boycott Newbery books for a year, which would have meant no reading of them, booktalking them, or library displays. My thinking was that I shouldn’t support an award for children’s books that doesn’t strongly consider “child appeal,” despite it being written into the criteria. Needless to say, I’m glad I don’t have to stand by my word! And to cite SLJ’s article that I saw before clicking on the Heavy Medal link– at long last the award committee picked a book that both librarians and children can like. See, it is possible. In fact, it should always be possible!

  12. I was offended by the SLJ splash page.

  13. EVA MITNICK says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Surrender Tree (every year, there is always at least one book I haven’t read yet!) and I LOVE The Graveyard Book! By the way, The Higher Power of Lucky is not a first novel. Susan Patron also wrote Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe – published in 1993 and just released as a paperback with new art. Well worth a read!

  14. EVA MITNICK says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Surrender Tree (every year, there is always at least one book I haven’t read yet!) and I LOVE The Graveyard Book! By the way, The Higher Power of Lucky is not a first novel. Susan Patron also wrote Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe – published in 1993 and just released as a paperback with new art. Well worth a read!

  15. Nina Lindsay says:

    Hope, I had the same reaction–see my newest post. And keep commenting!

  16. Nina, I’m afraid of saying something intemperate. I’ve seen so many blog conversations driven off the rails, I’d hate to be the one that does it now. And I can feel all my teeth growing more pointed by the moment. There’s hair growing on my knuckles. Darn, I think that’s troll drool on the keyboard.

  17. Nina Lindsay says:

    Hope, sadly it’s just the beginning…I’m starting to comb the press this morning. None quite so bad in tone as SLJ, but all taking up the flag of bashing past year’s medalist. Write some letters to editors…

  18. Jacqueline Woodson says:

    Hey All,
    Yes, it’s true — we do a bit of spying in our time of procrastination. Nina, thanks for the love and faith in Tupac. It totally made my day to see your thoughtful and so dead-on reading of the book. You rock! Billy, I’m sorry, forgive me for my density and sensitivity – I do take offense — why would the word ‘homeboy’ not be considered ‘literary’. The idea that standardized white English is the only English — in life and in literature is no longer a valid argument. I read earlier post of yours on your own blog(I think that’s where I saw them) and here and, truthfully, they sadden me. I did a lot of research on Tupac before writing the book because I wanted to be informed about his choices and his actions, and what I found, and what I hope You eventually find (and what we are finding out now with the whole controversy around this award) is that the media is not always right and not always kind. Okay, back to writing — I swear.

  19. Jacqueline, I was already thinking that the idea of “nonstandard English isn’t as literary” never WAS a valid argument–there are so many well-known books, just in our American literature canon, that are heavy on dialect.

    Congratulations on the award. I think from now on After Tupac will be the book I point to as “great example of a strong voice”.

  20. sharon mckellar says:

    It’s so amazing to see you post here, Jacqueline. Thank you so much for reading! You’ll be happy to hear (a little advance notice) that After Tupac is going to show up on this year’s Rainbow List as well (at least, I hope you’ll be happy to hear). There was some debate as to the amount of lgbt content, but the vast majority of us felt like regardless of the character’s minor role in terms of things like number of pages he appeared on, the themes that his character brings to the book and the impact he has on the un-named main character’s life were beautiful, and important pieces of the story.

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