Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Infinitesimal Minutiae

In the comments to a previous post, some eligibility questions were raised about a couple of titles.   
I’m not so sure a 2008 copyright date disqualifies ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS by Neil Gaiman.  It’s highly unusual that a Newbery book would be published outside of America first, but as I read the criteria that does not necessarily disqualify it"A book might have a copyright date prior to the year under consideration but, for various reasons, was not published until the year under consideration . . . The intent of the definition is that every book be eligible for consideration, but that no book be considered in more than one year."  
Now, to my mind, FIRE: TALES OF ELEMENTAL SPIRITS by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson is a messier affair.  It’s a book of short stories, some written by McKinley, some by Dickinson, but none written collaboratively.   The Newbery does allow for co-authors but I think the presumption is that both would be American residents or citizens.  If this book were somehow ruled eligible, I imagine that only McKinley would be honored, and then only for her stories–so long as Dickinson’s did not detract from the overall book.  That is to say, that her stories alone would have to stand as a distinguished contribution.

Eligibility decisions are the sole discretion of the chair and they are often made in consultation with the ALSC priority consultant assigned to the committee, but of course if none of the committee members perceive either ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS or FIRE: TALES OF ELEMENTAL SPIRITS to be distinguished it’s a moot point, really.  (Nina can address the chair’s responsibility better than I can.) 


Since the criteria defines children as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, I do not think FIRE: TALES OF ELEMENTAL SPIRITS is too old for the Newbery.  (Many people don’t realize that fourteen-year-olds are typically high school freshmen.  I myself attended a junior high that included seventh, eighth, and ninth grades–and since my birthday is around Memorial Day, I spent my entire ninth grade year being fourteen.)  Whether or not a book is too old is not a decision that the chair should make, but rather something that should be decided by entire committee through its rigorous consensus process. 

Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at


  1. Looking again at the criteria, #6 is: “American literature published in the United States” means that books originally published in other countries are not eligible.
    So it looks like ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is out of consideration?

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I stand corrected! Incidentally, the Carnegie Medal which is the British equivalent of the Newbery does allow for books to be published outside of the country first, so long as the British publication follows within three months.

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is a book with an interesting history. It was originally published for World Book Day with the proceeds going to charity, but the book went out of print very quickly as Neil Gaiman confirmed on his blog.

    He said–

    It looks like Odd and the Frost Giants is out of print, yes. That’s part of the thing of it being a World Book Day book. Everyone did things for free so it could be a one pound book, but that only happens once.

    Harpers should be publishing it in the US in 2009, and Bloomsbury will republish it in the UK eventually, although they may wait for me to write another Odd story first. (Odd in Jerusalem, perhaps. I’m pretty sure that he went there.)

Speak Your Mind