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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Too Old for the Newbery?

Last year, we considered the merits of some books–CHARLES AND EMMA and LIPS TOUCH–that were at the very top of the Newbery age range.  You’ll remember the revised Newbery manual has some specific guidelines for these kinds of books. In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. […]


Jonathan’s Newbery-Induced Attention Deficit Disorder is a symptom of buzz.  Buzz is a little crazy making.  Yet we seem to love to gorge on it, like popcorn and Coke and Red Vines at the movies. What’s the latest voting on the Goodreads Newbery 2011 list? Who’s predicted what or liking what or not liking what […]

Newbery-Induced Attention Deficit Disorder

With the deadline looming for announcing the shortlist for the Oakland Public Library Mock Newbery, I’ve been frantically reading multiple books in an effort to make sure that no stone is left unturned.  I’m juggling no less than six books, trying to decide which ones might be the best contenders.  It’s probably not normal to […]

They Called Themselves the KKK

Susan Bartoletti Campbell’s latest sat on the top of my to-read pile for a while. I tend to read in public places (in a busy lunch spot, on the bus), and it was hard for me to take this book cover out in public. Once I made time, however, to sit with it at home […]

Picture Books Revisited

Last year we found a pair of picture book texts in THE DUNDERHEADS and MOONSHOT that many people felt were Newbery caliber.  We’ve already discussed CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG; DARK EMPEROR; and UBIQUITOUS, and If I was on the Newbery committee, I would have suggested those three plus at least four more–BALLET FOR MARTHA, CLEVER […]

The Dreamer

When our book club here at Hanshaw Middle School finished reading ESPERANZA RISING, I shared the fact that Pam Munoz Ryan had a new book out, THE DREAMER, a fictionalized childhood biography of Pablo Neruda.  When our assistant principal heard that, she immediately asked to borrow it, saying, “It gives me chills just to think about it.” My wife also […]

Out of my mind

I’ve been holding back on the Mockingbird discussion because I still haven’t finished it.   I started it when I first got it…voice drove me nuts…I didn’t finish it.  It’s next on my pile, as I just finished… …Sharon Draper’s Out of Mind, and while I think this is a great book, I’m actually very surprised at […]


Oh, dear.  I have problems with this one.  Big problems.  Little problems.  Medium-sized problems.  I even have problems with my problems. THE LITTLE PROBLEM An Eagle Scout project is (a) a service project and (b) a leadership project.  Which means that an Eagle Scout candidate must mobilize a group of people (most likely other Scouts […]

Alchemy on Fox Street

Here are two books that I’m quite fond of, that are strong, and well liked.  Are they the strongest this year? I’m not sure. If I were on the committee right now, putting forward nominations, these might be the ones that I hold back on in this first round, to see if someone else nominates.  […]

Finalists and Nominations

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALISTS The National Book Award finalists are SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi, MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erksine, DARK WATER by Laura McNeal, LOCKDOWN by Walter Dean Myers, and ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia.  While these are all eligible for the Newbery, most people would feel more comfortable with the juvenile titles (i.e. […]