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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Choice Reading

I’ve been taking a week off my Mock Newbery reading. Yes, I took The Rock and the River and a couple others home for the holidays, but I also took Eugenidies–The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia–in anticipation of the arrival of the arc of A Conspiracy of Kings. (Thanks, Monica, for the head’s up.)

The Thief was a 1997 Newbery Honor book, but I didn’t get to it until 1998. I’d missed reading it when it came out in 1996, and by the time it had won the award, I was starting my first term ever on the Newbery Committee. I set aside The Thief for when I was done. 

I sure didn’t know what I was getting myself into for reading that year, but boy, did I need a book like The Thief when I was done. There is no time in a Newbery year to read anything that is not eligibile (at least not for slow readers like myself). As the year progresses, my reading brain got more and more analytical, critical, focussed on the Newbery criteria.  In the last couple of months, I was mostly just re-reading books for the second or third or fourth time.  My brain was honed, practiced…and it was hard for me, physically, to sit down finally with a book and not reach for a pencil and post-its. I felt like it must feel to someone quitting smoking: twitchy. My brain was nervous, flightly, uncomfortable at just relaxing.
But Megan Whalen Turner is the kind of writer that wholly capitivates my mind. I had a few days off at home after returning from that Midwinter conference. I sat down one morningto open The Thief, quickly rehabilitated myself and finished it in one gulp….that night. Then: I sat with it on my lap for about half-an-hour…turned it over, and started again, going slower this time. 

I’ve been hooked ever since. So has my husband, who is a much faster reader than me.  When one of us catches the other reading the series, the other joins in.  If he starts first, I can wait for him to finish The Thief (doesn’t take long at all), then I take it as he moves on and we do tag-team reading. However, if I start first, I have to bring home an extra set from the library, since he constantly overtakes me. 

So it was a little stupid of me to supply myself with only one set over the Thanksgiving holiday, since I wanted to start first.  I was a little contentious at times, but we’re both through the three, and I’m now in the middle of A Conspiracy of Kings, which I’m just kind of hoping he hasn’t noticed arrived on Monday.  I’ve got him in David Copperfield now, and that should keep him until I’m done.  (Which will be very soon, and then I’m re-reading Almost Astronauts).

So here’s a toast to the current Newbery committee members, who may not have had much of a Thanksgiving…who may be as we speak writing justifications for their final nominations, then sitting down to read several dozen books yet again…here’s to the best reading you’ll ever do, right now, and to the most enjoyable read you’ll ever have–whichever title it may be–when you are done.

Nina Lindsay About Nina Lindsay

Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at


  1. Monica Edinger says:

    Yes, let me raise my pink-sugar-water-drink-that-only-looks-like-a-cosmo along with you. Hope their reading is going swell!

  2. I soooooooo want one of those ARCs!!!! HarperCollins, I can’t imagine a universe where I wouldn’t like a book written by Megan Whalen Turner, and if you don’t believe me check my reviews on, and can you hear me shamelessly begging for one? What’s more, you can rest assured I will buy a final copy whether I have an ARC or not, I’m that hard-core a fan. Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have a hundred books checked out, and a few hundred more I’ve bought waiting to be read — but I assure you that would immediately be on the Tip TOP of the pile!

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I finished A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS on Sunday night! Is it too soon to start lobbying the 2011 Newbery committee?

  4. AGGGH! The release date is not until March 23, 2010 – this is the first time I’ve ever regretted not being a bigshot reviewer.

    I read all three of the Eugenides books in one wonderful month last year (after they were recommended on a romance review site, no less), and have been waiting for the fourth book with more anticipation than any book I can remember. Harry Potter? Meh.

    I really couldn’t see how “The View from Saturday” beat “The Thief” – but I’m even more stumped that the two Attolia books didn’t win anything. I thought they were even better than “The Thief”. What’s up with that, you two experts?

  5. The best thing about the summer I graduated college was being able to read books not for seminar. That felt so good.

  6. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Sandy, I think the Newbery committees may have felt that THE QUEEN OF ATOLLIA and THE KING OF ATTOLIA were too old. Then, too, there is the sequel issue . . .

  7. I bet Jonathan’s right about the sequel issue. “The King Of Attolia” especially must have been a completely different experience depending on whether or not you’d already met Gen…

  8. Those books are so hard to review. You don’t want to say one word about even the start of the book for fear of giving away the twist at the end of the previous book. But they have so much new to give even on the fourth or fifth reading. Awesome books! I’m with you on lobbying for CONSPIRACY OF KINGS — before I’ve even read it! Probably pathetic of me, I suppose.

  9. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I also need to confess that I read HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE during my Newbery term. Does that make me a bad committee member?

  10. Monica Edinger says:

    And I read the last Harry Potter during mine! I never for a moment considered that doing so meant I was shirking my Newbery duties, just cleansed the palate for more.

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