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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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Newbery Hodgepodge, Part Two

Nina and I will be posting through the end of January–just one more week–before Heavy Medal goes on hiatus for the spring and summer.


If you missed the ALA webcast of the announcements then you can still view it.  You can also catch the winners on the Today Show if you missed that, too.  And be sure to read about how Rebecca Stead, Jerry Pinkney, and Grace Lin responded to their Monday morning phone calls.  Finally, if your pet book got robbed and didn’t make the grade for an ALA award or list, then bookseller extraordinaire Elizabeth Bluemle is working on a comprehensive list of ALA awards and other notable awards and honors.


While Nina has been defending the choice of ALMOST ASTRONAUTS, Kelly and I have been discussing the honor books in the comments to the previous thread, specifically how it is that short texts like MOONSHOT and THE DAY GLO-BROTHERS can beat out longer texts such as WRITTEN IN BONE, THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM, TRUCE, and MARCHING FOR FREEDOM.  I also wonder how BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS can beat out THE ROCK AND THE RIVER and MARE’S WAR for the CSK Author Award.  In the various picture book threads on HOOK, THE DUNDERHEADS, MOONSHOT, and ONCE UPON A TWICE, many of us wondered how a short text could compete with a much longer one for Newbery consideration, yet these two committees have shown us that it is indeed possible.  Sibert and CSK members cannot discuss committee deliberations, of course, but oh how I wish that they could tell us how, in their own personal opinion, they esteemed one of these shorter texts more highly than their longer counterparts.


Not surprisingly, my students were very pleased with the Newbery Medal and Honor books, and many of them are making efforts to read all of them now.  But we are already looking ahead to next year’s books, and so I begin again the task of making a list of 2011 Newbery contenders, beginning with the usual suspects: buzz books and Newbery alumni.

THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner
THE DREAMER by Pam Munoz Ryan
THE FIREFLY LETTERS by Margarita Engle
THE NIGHT FAIRY by Laura Amy Schlitz
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
UBIQUITOUS by Joyce Sidman
THE WAR TO END ALL WARS by Russell Freedman

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. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Oops. Forgot two more books by Newbery Medalists–

    WORD AFTER WORD AFTER WORD by Patricia MacLachlan

    What else am I forgetting? Or simply don’t know about?

  2. MILLION SHADES OF GRAY by Cynthia Kadohata

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes! I read that one. How could I forget?

    Kimberly Willis Holt made a splash with her debut, MY LOUISIANA SKY, and won the NBA for WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN, so I think her new novel, THE WATER SEEKER, could also be one to watch.

  4. Sondy at Sonderbooks says:

    Thanks for doing this, Jonathan and Nina! I really enjoyed following your discussion this year. Now for 2010, I’m going to start right out reading more newly published books than I did last year. Anyway, thanks again for writing a fascinating and thought-provoking blog, both of you!

  5. I read Kathryn Erskine’s book MOCKINGBIRD, which comes out in April and is getting a lot of Newbery buzz. It is deserving of it, in my opinion. Definitely one to watch out for.

  6. J & N — Kudos for putting “the pedal to the medal” for us all this year! Always informative and thought-provoking. And now (keeping with the automotive metaphor) you’ve jump-started my reading list for next year… Thanks!

  7. Jonathan
    A couple more you’ve probably read.

    COSMIC by Frank C. Boyce
    John Green & david levithan

  8. Jonathan
    A couple more you’ve probably read.

    COSMIC by Frank C. Boyce
    John Green & David Levithan

  9. Jonathan Hunt says:

    COSMIC is British and was shortlisted for the Carnegie (the British version of the Newbery). I have a copy of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, but have not yet read it. Most likely too YA for the Newbery committee, but could be a Printz contender . . .

  10. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Louis Sachar has a new book out, THE CARDTURNER, but it appears to be YA. It’s 350 pages long. Main character is a high school age teen. Probably suitable for middle schoolers. We’ll have to see . . .

  11. Brian Fahey says:

    Jonathan, many thanks to both you and Nina. I really enjoyed this blog and I learned a lot from it. See you in September!

  12. “I also wonder how BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS can beat out THE ROCK AND THE RIVER and MARE’S WAR for the CSK Author Award.”

    How do you think having the Steptoe award plays into this, since it’s given by the same committee to books that are eligible for the big one? Might there be some, “We want to recognize these two books in particular, one’s a debut and one isn’t, so one gets Steptoe and the other gets the medal”? Also, how do people look at the Steptoe award in comparison to Honor books? On par with? Less than? Greater than?

  13. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, I acknowledge the John Steptoe could be a factor in how they placed the books in their respective categories, but the Steptoe can go to someone who has published up to three books, so MARE’S WAR could have been a Steptoe possibility, too.

    I tend to view the John Steptoe as not as prestigious as the Illustrator or Author Awards and Honors (and the wording from the CSK webpage reinforces my perception), but others may have a different perception.

  14. Phillip Hoose says:

    I confess. I was peeking. I got hooked on “Heavy Medal” about a month ago, and it soon became a part of my day. I read it each morning after a night’s harvest of comments had come in. Of course I was eager to see how Claudette had fared overnight, but I also banked up the heat of the discussions to get me warm up here in Maine. I learned so much! I’ll miss you both, Jonathan and Nina. I’ll miss the quick-to-respond Wendy and all the others who wieghed in so frequently and so well. It is wonderful to be part of this passionate, literate,tradition-rich, caring community.
    I wish you both, and all your readers, happy times until next season, when you can bet I’ll be right back at my post.
    Happy winter! Phillip Hoose

  15. Monica Edinger says:

    Heavy Medal withdrawal can be eased some with the forthcoming Battle of the Kids Books 2010. Some familiar books and voices, e.g. Jonathan back as our Commentator. Coming soon!

  16. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Phillip!

    Looking forward to the BOB, Monica!

  17. Jennifer Schultz says:

    I lurked this time, but I checked in regularly. Sorry to see this end yet again, but looking forward to the 2011 discussion!

  18. Can’t wait for this year’s BOB. Reading four outstanding authors commentary on WYRM will be a real treat. Plus maybe it will finally have some worthy competition when it faces off with non-ala eligible THE LOST CONSPIRACY. Hoping these two can start off on opposite ends of the brackets.

  19. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well, unless Jon Sciesczka judges that bracket again–and decides to dump the Newbery Medal winner just for the sake of controversy. Ah, the only blemish on his legacy as Ambassador! 😉

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