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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

There’s Always a Critic

Neil Gaiman pointed out, via a tweet, this comment on a New York Times blog post announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and others.

This book opens with a killer going from room-to-room, knifing a family — mother & father and a child — one-by-one while they sleep, but accidentally leaving a toddler to survive.

This book is monstrous. Those who voted it the Newberry Winner are incomprehensible or worse. Let’s just hope it’s not made into a movie to terrify a wider audience.

                                                                                                      — VR Sparkle

Is it wrong that it gives me pleasure that this commenter spelled Newbery incorrectly?  

I am pointing out this comment mostly to show that there’s always a critic in the room.  If someone is looking for a reason to dislike an award or the recepient of an award, that reason can always be found.  And in the age of the Internet, everyone has access to the information, and everyone has the chance to get their name in print (at least on a screen).  But we also have to look closer at who is criticizing and with what reason.  Mr. or Ms. Sparkle doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of the Newbery, its criteria, or how it is selected.  It makes it easy for a reader to dismiss the comment out right.  But when experts, librarians, teachers etc are the ones criticizing it becomes much more of a conversation and debate.  And it can be much harder to determine who has the knowledge, and where information is coming from.  Just like helping a student working on a project to determine the validity of a source of information, we have to get to the bottom of sources of debate too.

I am a little sick, so my brain isn’t working very well.  But just a thought I wanted to get out.


Sharon McKellar About Sharon McKellar

Sharon McKellar is the Supervising Librarian for Teen Services at the Oakland Public Library in California. She has served on the Rainbow List Committee, the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, The Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Committee, and the 2015 Caldecott Committee. You can reach her at


  1. a reviewer says:

    I notice VR Sparkle criticized the first chapter. What are the odds s/he read the whole book?

  2. Incomprehensible or WORSE! Now there’s an insult.

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