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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

When Did When You Reach Me Reach You?

Monica and I both recall reading Rebecca Stead’s First Light the year we were on the Newbery Committee together. My impression was that it was a highly provocative and promising and flawed first novel.  It was the favorite–bar none–of a twelve-year-old reader whose opinion I was "using" that year. It was at Midwinter 2009 that Monica took me, wandering in the exhibits, past the Random House booth, where she’d heard there was an ARC of Stead’s next novel, When You Reach Me. As I recall, Monica was attracted to it for the local angle in particular (correct me if I’m wrong!)….and we each slipped one into our totes.

Sometime in the spring she and I touched base about it, both blown away by how much we’d enjoyed it, how strongly it was lingering and developing in our memories.  I made myself the following reminder on this blog:

March 6, 2009
In response to: And in the end…
Nina Lindsay commented:
Note to self and anyone else on the watch for strong eligible titles: WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, Wendy Lamb Books, July.

As we bring our blog to a close for the season (this is probably the penultimate post),  I have to say that while I always assert that "predicting" the winner is secondary for me in my Mock Newbery endeavors, it’s quite a thrill to pull it off.  This one, in particular, feels like a broad communal effort: we all pulled it off. This was not a highly promoted book at first.  It was a July release for heaven’s sake: that’s for the beach crowd, not the award crowd, right? 

…Dipping in and out of Leonard Marcus’s Minders of Make-Believe recently to check in on mentions of the Newbery award… On p.85-87, Marcus discusses Melcher’s launching of the Newbery award idea at an American Library Association conference:

"Melcher told a rapt crowd that the time had come for children’s literature to have its own Pulitzer prize as a vehicle for encouraging–and publicizing–high achievement in writing for the young, and that librarians, having no commerical stake in the fate of any particular book, constituted ‘the jury which could give value’ to it." (p.86)

And we did…and do.

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. I was one of the lucky winners of the ARC contest that Monica’s 4th graders ran in the late spring when she had some ARCs to give away. I wrote about how I wanted to read it early on so that I would be able to consider it for my Mock Newbery at my school. I loved it and chose it for the Mock Newbery. All summer while I was still reading crazily (I have to make my choices by September), I knew that this was a definite choice. The first time for me that one of my early choices has won: as you say, quite a thrill.

  2. Monica Edinger says:

    You got that right, Nina. I vividly remember our picking up the ARCs and then communicating over email after we’d first read it.

    I’m so glad you highlighted the communal aspect of this. Because there was so much buzz by the time WYRM published people may not realize that it was not a hot title back in January 2009. Certainly I saw no mention of it until we and others began posting our reviews on goodreads and then a bit later on blogs.

    Those who had picked up ARCs and read them told others how great it was, those others requested ARCs and read it, and the whispers turned into buzz. So much so that Random House had to do a second ARC printing to keep up with the requests (which is why I had those extra ARCs to give away).

    It was definitely HOT by the time it published in July and smoking by this January! It is pretty wonderful to be part of something like that.

    Thanks so much again for this wonderful blog. I’ll miss it.

  3. I slapped a hold down on WYRM as soon as it showed up in the New York Public Library catalog, because Betsy Bird had been extolling its virtues on Fuse#8 for MONTHS. And then waited for it to come in. And then read it all in one sitting, mostly on an airplane. I think I then passed my library copy on to a coworker, who passed it on to her roommate (and it still got returned on time, without needing to be renewed.)

    Anyway, thank you thank you to Nina and Jonathan for the blog. It’s a good thing we have Betsy’s top 100 Chapter Books list starting in February (and BOB, of course), or I would be very worried about blog deprivation.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I got my copy from Monica, too! I remember hearing the buzz sometime in the late spring. By the time the book was actually published, I think it was the frontrunner. By early September, at the very latest, it had assumed that position.

  5. I was one of the lucky winners of Monica’s give-away too. It arrived on our last day of classes in early June. I still treasure the little sticky-note Monica stuck inside. (I know, it doesn’t take much to thrill this girl. I wrote about my delirious delight here: ) That little ARC was passed around more than Purell in school lunch line, making a quick trip up to Portland and back before the week was out. It played a starring role in my summer book club, it helped out in our student Mock Newbery, and is now vacationing in a 5th grade classroom with its newer, shinier sisters as part of a literature circle group.

    Needless to say I was hooked from the beginning and never wavered from it as my favorite for gold, although I doubted at the end that it would come away on top, mainly due to Jonathan’s more than convincing arguments.

    I want to add my thanks, Nina and Jonathan, for these intelligent and illuminating discussions. I can’t wait for next time.

  6. I also received a copy from Monica’s fourth graders. I wanted a copy for my Mock Newbery Club. I also read it aloud to a class of fifth grade boys who hung on every word. We were thrilled when it won the top award this year.

  7. Nina! I am recently embarking on a rather scary adventure called grad school for my MLS. :) I know I want to work in childrens or young adult related work but I’m not sure if county or school is the way to go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! I am a fellow Newbery lover and am currently trying to read through all of the past winners. I have loved your blog for awhile now and have tried to keep up with you guys as you read the Newbery “possibles.” Thanks for your time!

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