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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Team Nonfiction: The Second Wave

We’ve already celebrated the merits of CLAUDETTE COLVIN, CHARLES AND EMMA, ALMOST ASTRONAUTS, and MARCHING FOR FREEDOM on this blog.  I must say I agree with Peter Sieruta when he notes that what’s really exciting about many of these titles is the original contribution that they make, not just to children’s literature, but to literature, [...]

The Rock and the River

 In 1968 Chicago, thirteen year old Sam is the son of a well-known civil rights activist. His older brother becomes secretly involved in the Black Panther movement, whose ideas Sam slowly opens his eyes to as he becomes friends with a girl from the projects.  What seems an untenable clash of ideas reveals itself to [...]

Peck a Little, Talk a Little

I swear, the only thing worse than discussing politics and religion is discussing politics, religion, and literature . . . I wrote: And I still can’t shake the feeling that Peck is being criticized, not so much for literary shortcomings, but for political ones. Nina responded: I take the fake "bones" very seriously because Peck [...]

Still a Season of Gifts

Well, we were due to come back here at some point, and Six Boxes of Books’ post last week corresponded with my re-read and re-deliberation of this title taking all of Jonathan’s second-read arguments to mind. I think he’s on to something, framing this as a satire.  However, doing so only makes me more convinced of my [...]

How High Can You Fly?

A month ago we had a vigorous debate about the lower end of the Newbery range and now we find ourselves haggling about the upper end. I’d like to take this discussion back to the Newbery manual. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14-year-olds but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes; but it [...]

A Good Discussion List

Ah…Thanksgiving on the horizon. That means: final nominations due soon for the Newbery committee.   The Newbery Manual doesn’t actually provide a fixed schedule for these nominations, but the final round generally happens in December: enough time for members to ferret out all the eligible books…enough time for everyone to re-read nominations and prepare for discussion [...]

The Great Lakewood Newbery Book Club

When the winners are announced–and especially if they are unpopular–people will complain that the committee members must not actually know any real live children if they were able to make those selections.  Nothing could be further from the truth, of course.  Most, if not all, committee members have a group of children that they regularly [...]

What I believe in

I recently finished a second read of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, after having read the ARC many months ago. Comments on Jonathan’s original post continue to pop up over a month later, and we’ve been comparing it to many other books in subsequent posts. Jonathan said in one such comment: "I’m all for understanding that a plot-driven [...]

What Are Children?

I‘m still pondering our discussion of LIPS TOUCH . . .   FROM CHILDHOOD TO ADOLESENCE   The Newbery criteria famously leave the term "distinguished" vaguely defined so that (a) each committee can strive toward a working definition and because (b) it allows for flexibility should notions of what constitutes distinguished literature change over the course of time.   Similarly, I think that [...]

Like Malt Up a Straw

Meanwhile, The Dunderheads is really growing on me.  When the discussion started, I was relying on month’s-old memory of having read the dummy at ALA.   My library’s copy just made it through processing, and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more with Jonathan’s assertion of "superb characterization." He goes on to say that [...]