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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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The Truth

CLAUDETTE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE by Phillip Hoose is the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

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. Amen.

  2. I’m disappointed to see a final choice here by one of the facilitators. I thought this blog was leading up to a discussion where a choice would be made. From what I’ve heard, in the real committee the discussion can lead to people changing their minds. Or am I wrong. Jonathan and Nina, do you go into those final discussions with your choice made and only try to get others to agree with you? Jonathan are you so sure of your choice that you don’t think you can be swayed by insights from other readers.

  3. Leslie…sorry to hear you’re disappointed…but…

    I read Jonathan’s post as a mark of renewed enthusiasm, at a time when anyone making deliberations, including me, is trying to figure out what would be our top pick. I talk about that a little in my following post. I’ve walked into every award committee I’ve been on with an idea of my top pick. But the discussions change everything, whether or not they change your own opinion, because your own opinion is suddenly only 1/15th of the equation.

    Don’t be deceived by appearances. I talk as if I haven’t decided, but couldn’t that be smoke and mirrors for an unshakeable position on my part? And as sure as Jonathan seems now, couldn’t that be a sign of weakness…perhaps he’s easily topple-able in discussion? You never know until you actually get into the room together.

    Interestingly, our live discussion this year has enough participants that we’re probably going to break into two groups for the discussion and voting. I can almost promise you we’ll therefore come up with two different sets of “decisions.” This post of Jonathan’s may be as close as we get this year to a Universal Theory. I’m going to savor its singularity while it lasts.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    In any given year, I think there are a handful of books worthy of the Newbery Medal, and another dozen that are worthy of a Newbery Honor. Note that I said books rather than middle grade novels.

    If I am on the Newbery committee, by this point in the year, I have read the leading contenders two, three, possibly even four times, so I have a pretty good idea of how I would rank those leading contenders.

    I am a strategic voter which means that it’s really important to me that my vote matters. Thus, I am completely willing to cast my votes for books that may not be my personal favorites or may not be the most distinguished in my estimation.

    I’ve wanted to do some mock Newbery nomination posts, but I find them very difficult to write because, once again, what I chose for my nominations would be largely dependent on which books have been suggested, and which of those suggestions have the most votes, and which of those with the most votes are ones that I support.

    CLAUDETTE COLVIN is the only book that I can promise you will be on my first ballot, regardless of how much or how little support it has from others. So I’d rank it first at this point, but if I get into our mock Newbery and there is more support for CHARLES AND EMMA or MARCHING FOR FREEDOM or something else that I esteem very highly, I would happily place those ahead of CLAUDETTE COLVIN–and I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    So my post doesn’t really reveal how I personally would vote as much as it reveals what I think the real Newbery committee should honor.

  5. Monica Edinger says:

    My biggest fear when serving on the Committee was that we would end up with a book I did not care about. And so, like Jonathan, I wanted my vote to count and strategized accordingly. Did I love the books we honored? Yes. Were there others I loved that year that we did not honor? Yes.

    In this forum, on my blog, and elsewhere I admit to writing about certain books with the hope that I may say something new and different that will be useful to current committee members. (Having paid attention myself to such discussions I’m guessing some of them are as well.) For example, when THE GRAVEYARD BOOK first came out there was some question whether it had true child appeal and so I read it aloud to my class and wrote about their reactions, hoping that it might be of help to the committee. And when I first read A TRUE AND FAITHFUL NARRATIVE I wrote a rave post about it on my blog and continued to tout it all year as it was a dark horse (as was, it may be hard to remember, this year’s WHEN YOU REACH ME — they had to do a second printing of ARCs as they did not anticipate the response). While I was surprised that Jonathan showed his cards here, I loved that he did it; great strategy, JHunt!

  6. So, I’m really bummed I won’t be able to make it to Nina’s discussion this year (since now I live halfway across the country). I’m reading all the books, though, and wondering whether anyone else is–would anyone like to do a virtual Heavy Medal discussion/voting? Please contact me, sixboxesofbooks at

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