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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Ghosts of Newberys Past

As Nina mentioned, it’s very easy to anticipate the new work of Newbery alumni–especially when it happens to be the work of a beloved author.  Those sort of lofty expectations can be both a blessing and a curse, particularly because we often expect a Newbery alumnus to match and exceed their past work.  Of course, such expectations are neither part nor parcel of the criteria and should never be discussed around the Newbery table, but it’s hard to imagine any dedicated reader not contemplating this prior to the discussion.   
 
A SEASON OF GIFTS by Richard Peck may not be the best Grandma Dowdel book.  In fact, it may only be the third best Grandma Dowdel book.  But it’s still head and shoulders above most, if not all, of the books published this past year.   (Well, head and shoulders above the fiction, but that’s another post.)  Has Mrs. Dowdel worn out her welcome with you, her freshness fading with each passing book?  Would you resent her third Newbery recognition in as many tries?  In theory, it shouldn’t matter.      
 
THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT by Kate DiCamillo also has big shoes to fill.  All of her previous novels have won major awards: BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE won a Newbery Honor; THE TIGER RISING, a National Book Award nomination; THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, the Newbery Medal; and THE MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.  Her latest effort will not inspire the universal admiration that WINN-DIXIE and DESPEREAUX did–personally, it’s not quite my cup of tea–but it might be foolish not to consider this book something of a darkhorse given her previous track record.  
 
Here’s a list of other books published by Newbery alumni.  Please tell us if we‘ve missed any.   Even better, tell us who you think has the best chance of repeating and why.     
 
LOOKING FOR MARCO POLO by Alan Armstrong
MURDER AT MIDNIGHT by Avi  
AL CAPONE SHINES MY SHOES by Gennifer Choldenko 
WAR GAMES by Audrey Coloumbis
THE UNFINISHED ANGEL by Sharon Creech
THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT by Kate DiCamillo 
TROPICAL SECRETS by Margarita Engle 
ISLANDS OF THE BLESSED by Nancy Farmer 
THE DUNDERHEADS by Paul Fleischman
THE DREAM STEALER by Sid Fleischman
ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS by Neil Gaiman 
WILD GIRL by Patricia Reilly Giff 
FOREST BORN by Shannon Hale 
SCAT by Carl Hiaasen 
BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER by Jennifer Holm
BABYMOUSE: THE MUSICAL by Jennifer Holm
HANNAH by Kathryn Lasky
CROW CALL by Lois Lowry
THE TRUE GIFT by Patricia MacLachlan
FIRE by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
DOPE SICK by Walter Dean Myers
RIOT by Walter Dean Myers
A SAVAGE THUNDER by Jim Murphy
TRUCE by Jim Murphy 
FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
INTENSELY ALICE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM by Marilyn Nelson
THE DAY OF THE PELICAN by Katherine Paterson 
A SEASON OF GIFTS by Richard Peck
THE BEAUTIFUL STORIES OF LIFE by Cynthia Rylant
WILLIAM S. AND THE GREAT ESCAPE by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
LUCKY BREAKS by Susan Patron
MUDSHARK by Gary Paulsen
NOTES FROM THE DOG by Gary Paulsen 
WISHWORKS, INC. by Stephanie Tolan 
PEACE, LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson
 
 
 
 
 
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Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the County Schools Librarian at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at hunt_yellow@yahoo.com

Comments

  1. Book, Bag, Pocket, Shoe says:

    I would like to think that none of the above authors have any chance of taking the medal as Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME is clearly this year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. So really this year’s discussion needs only be about which titles have a chance at the honors. If i was a betting man i would go with Woodson or Peck but personally i enjoyed the Al Capone sequel best.

    Also I don’t think ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is eligible since it was originally published in 2008

  2. Fuse #8 says:

    My money’s on Engle for the honor (the previous commenter correctly identifying the probably best win). Her previous two works, including last year’s Newbery Honor, just barely straddled the 0-14 age range. This year her Tropical Secrets is just as stirring as her past works and, better still, very much for the old 9-12 set. That and Woodson seem mighty likely.

  3. Wendy says:

    (Note to self: get reading.)

    I think Fire is older than the Newbery range anyway, but I’m still curious–would it be eligible when Peter Dickinson is all-the-way British?

  4. Sonderbooks says:

    I read FOREST BORN in one go last night (even though my hold on CATCHING FIRE had just come in) and loved it as I do all Shannon Hale’s. (Her Newbery Honor with PRINCESS ACADEMY, though good, was my least favorite of her books.) I would love to see her win the Medal some year — I think it’s well deserved. But in the past I haven’t tracked with the committee on that opinion! FOREST BORN might rely too much on the books that went before, but it is layered and rich in meaning, as well as an exciting plot. Seems a lot deeper than, say, WHEN YOU REACH ME. Still if we have anyone who likes fantasy at all on the committee, FOREST BORN should be in contention at least for an Honor.

  5. Laurie says:

    While I like Hale’s books, I do not think that Forest Born stands alone very well (it is dependent on the reader’s familiarity with the previous Bayern books), and I am very startled by the idea that Forest Born is “deeper” than When You Reach Me, one of the richest and most complex novels I’ve read in a long time.

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