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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Catching Fire, Part Two

I had THE HUNGER GAMES third on my own personal Newbery ballot last year (behind THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and THE LINCOLNS), but I never thought it had a chance in the Printz field which was crowded with great fantasy (NATION, TENDER MORSELS, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, GRACELING, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, EON, and PRETTY MONSTERS).  […]

Catching Fire

…no, not the Dunderhead’s discussion, but the novel by Suzanne Collins.  Plenty of Spoilers follow. Readers of this blog last year will remember I was unmoved by suggestions of The Hunger Games as Newbery material. I enjoyed the book a lot…just found it very flat and manipulative.  Nevertheless, I was eager to get my hands […]

The Dunderheads, Part Two

CHARACTER   In the short introductory section, you can see how Fleischman is able to superbly characterize Miss Breakbone with just a handful of details.  The Dunderheads are characterized with even greater economy, nicknames–which not only summarize their talents but foreshadow their part in the plot–coupled with a few details (e.g. I nodded to Clips.  His […]


Yes, Jonathan and I are out there pushing them. What picture book is out there that is Newbery worthy? What book of poetry? How low can you go…and how high? Whose appeal? Now’s the time of year to out these agendas and explore them…for there’s nothing terribly wrong with an agenda at this stage of […]

The Dunderheads, Part One

I have another picture book for your consideration–one with a longer, more independent text: THE DUNDERHEADS by Paul Fleischman.  What follows is the opening sequence of events, representing roughly one-fifth of the text.  It is reprinted here with the kind permission of Candlewick Press.         "Never," shrieked Miss Breakbone, "have I been asked to teach such a scraping-together of […]


While I scour my library for picture books to hold against Hook for discussion, here’s some thoughts on possible poetry Newbery contenders. Marilyn Nelson’s Sweethearts of Rhythm has made some people’s lists of favorites. Nelson is an astonginshly adroit poet, and here she takes poems about music and weaves them into an arc that speaks […]

How Low Can You Go?

It seems that as we consider whether or not picture book texts are worthy of Newbery recognition we are confronted with two issues.  The first one seems to be the interdependence between the text and the illustrations (something that affects not only picture books, but graphic novels, nonfiction, and the occasional mold-breaker like HUGO CABRET).  The second issue is one […]


In her excellent article, "Alive and Vigorous: Questioning the Newbery," Martha Parravano asks this pentrating question: Looking back at the books of 1963, for instance, what would you choose as “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”? The novel that won the 1964 Newbery Medal, IT’S LIKE THIS, CAT? Or WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE?    To […]

Discussion List, Issue 1

As promised, here is the first half of the list of titles we’ll be discussing at the live Mock Newbery in Oakland CA on January 10th.  As you can see, we’ve decided to go with nonfiction titles for at least half of the discussion, each of which will prove for interesting and fruitful debate: Almost […]


STITCHES AND THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD   There has been a fair amount of whining and whinging online about the selection of STITCHES as a National Book Award finalist in the Young People’s Literature category.  Now I am probably in the minority on this (yet again!), but I find it all completely misguided.   The National Book Foundation […]