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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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Best Books


The National Book Award will be announced tonight, and I’m 90% sure that it will be ONE CRAZY SUMMER and 10% sure that it will be SHIP BREAKER.  Only two books–M.C. HIGGINS THE GREAT and HOLES–have won both the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal (and, incidentally, also the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award) so if ONE CRAZY SUMMER wins tonight, it remains to be seen if it can join that elite group.  Sometimes it seems as if the Newbery committee deliberately neglects the National Book Award nominees, especially the juvenile titles . . .


The best of the year lists from various review journals are starting to trickle in.  Publishers Weekly Best Books for Children, Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Children and Best Books for Teens, and School Library Journal Best Books have been announced.  Here’s a peek at the overlap, without regard to Newbery eligibility.


THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

SHARK VS. TRAIN by Chris Barton

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher

THE WAR TO END ALL WARS by Russell Freedman

BALLET FOR MARTHA by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan


UBIQUITOUS by Joyce Sidman

ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia


KEEPER by Kathi Appelt

SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

COSMIC by Frank Cottrell Boyce

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins


BINK & GOLLIE by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee

REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly


THE BOSS BABY by Marla Frazee


KUBLA KHAN by Kathleen Krull

LING & TING by Grace Lin

FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta

TRASH by Andy Mulligan

SNOOK ALONE by Marilyn Nelson

BUNNY DAYS by Tao Nyeu



FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve


THE CHICKEN THIEF by Beatrice Rodriguez

REVOLVER by Marcus Sedgwick

WHAT IF? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

MIRROR, MIRROR by Marilyn Singer



A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner

THE QUIET BOOK by Deborah Underwood


WE ARE IN A BOOK! by Mo Willems

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. I believe Rita Garcia-Williams is only the second person (in any category) to get NBA nominations two years in a row. The other time this happened, Han Nolan won with her second nomination and I suspect Garcia-Williams will as well. …But nothing is ever predictable with the National Book Award; they have pulled out some real left-field winners over the years!

    As for the “Best of” lists, has there been a Newbery winner in recent memory that didn’t appear on a single one of these lists? I’m trying to see if I can think of any examples and am coming up blank….


  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yeah, they have picked some wacky winners over the years . . .

    THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY was only starred and bested by Kirkus. I’ve always wondered if Betsy reviewed it for Kirkus . . .

    What about WALK TWO MOONS? Did that have one, too? Can’t remember.

  3. Where is The Cardturner on all of these “best” lists???

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Kirkus and PW starred CARDTURNER, but neither bested it. Booklist also starred it; that may be its best hope.

  5. i was shocked when mockingbird got the NBA nomination. I am flabbergasted that it just pull off the win. Were the judges reading a different book?

  6. Well, Jonathan, no more odds from you, that is for sure;)

  7. I just hope this “upset” doesn’t encourage committee members to argue stronger for ONE CRAZY SUMMER. I’d rather see something else win . . .

    Honestly, I think this year is wide open.

  8. Now you’re sounding like you have an actual beef with One Crazy Summer, Mr. H. Is that the case?

  9. Oops, sorry, I happened to reread the conversation under the One Crazy Summer post, which I’d forgotten about. It seems like you have reasons for preferring this not be the Newbery winner that maybe don’t fall under the criteria, but still leave you hoping, criteria aside that something else will be chosen as the most distinguished book and get the publicity and honor–I can understand that.

  10. Exactly!

  11. Out of the nominations, I had hoped for One Crazy Summer to win (I hadn’t read the YA titles as I’m a children’s librarian). I was amazed/shocked/disappointed that Mockingbird came away the winner. I had real problems with this books (as did many others) and hated to see it come away with top honors. If I remember correctly, I don’t think Mockingbird even showed up on any of the “best” lists. I hope the Newbery comittee doesn’t pull something seemingly out of nowhere to win the “ultimate” children’s lit. prize!

  12. * committee
    PW and Kirkus both picked around 40 books, give or take to be on the “best” books of the year lists, and SLJ picked over 60 books . . . not once is Mockingbird mentioned on any of these rather large lists. What are the odds of a book being picked for THE National Book Award without getting on ANY of the “best” lists? In addition, according to Titlewave, it only has two starred reviews.

    The Higher Power of Lucky I agree was a left-field pick for the Newbery. Does anyone know how Secret of the Andes fared with reviews and “best lists” when it came out (and later triumphed over the now-beloved Charlotte’s Web)?

  13. Remember that it is authors who choose the NBA and mostly Librarians who sit on the Newbery committee. They could be looking at different criteria.

  14. I was startled to see this statement:
    “Juries develop their own criteria for awarding the National Book Award.”
    That means the criteria vary from year to year depending on the panel. It also means that if a person read the finalists, there would be no way of actually discussing which book bests meets the criteria. Interesting.

  15. Elizabeth Bird says:

    I wasn’t reviewing for Kirkus when Higher Power of Lucky came out, so that star isn’t mine. Nope.

  16. According to Elizabeth Bluemle The Stars So Far, PW Sept 22 update, MOCKINGBIRD has 2 starred reviews. It doesn’t identify who gave them.

  17. I don’t understand why FORGE isn’t on any of these lists.

  18. Jonathan Hunt says:

    The members of the Newbery committee probably read and reread both MOCKINGBIRD and ONE CRAZY SUMMER (and possibly some of those YA titles) before the NBA finalists were even announced, and they had probably already formed a pretty solid impression of the strengths and weaknesses of each book, so their choices, whatever they may be, really cannot be seen as a response to the NBA. In their deliberations come January the task of discussing dozens of books will be so consuming and absorbing that they will not be focused on the National Book Award, the Printz Award, or the Caldecott Medal whatsoever.

    MOCKINGBIRD was starred by Kirkus and PW, but neither journal bested it, so it’s possible but unlikely that another journal will step up to the plate.

    FORGE is on the Kirkus Best Books for Teens list and it may yet make Horn Book Fanfare, Bulletin Blue Ribbons, and Booklist Editors’ Choice which have yet to be revealed.

    Having been on both highly formal and ritualized ALA committees and the more intimate, informal ones, I can tell you that while there are no rules, so to speak, there is an implicit understanding that (a) the judges would like to recognize excellence and (b) the judges would like to recognize books they like. I’ve found that the discussion can be all over the place, and you can say things you’d never get away with elsewhere (“But she’s never won a major award before” or “I just don’t like books with A, B, or C”), even if such off-the-wall comments rarely determine a winner. With 3 to 5 people (rather than 9 to 15), compromises still have to be made and judges may not love everything on their shortlist. Most groups read, read, read and trade lists of favorites, looking for overlap. I guess in a worst case scenario with the NBA, you could get no overlap, have every judge pick one book, and then decide on a winner. In that situation, I can see the possibility of both wacky shortlists and wacky winners. The chair of the NBA judges facilitates the process and thus has a subtle influence over the direction of the committee. Each of the judges reads an enormous amount of books, and its important that each one of them have something on the list that they can be proud of. So I get all of this, I do, but I still think this particular shortlist (I simply do not live in a world where the five best books are all fiction–no nonfiction, no poetry, no graphic novel, no genre diversity whatsoever), and I’m not particularly impressed by the winner. Whew! There, I got all my pettiness out of me. I hope.

  19. I’m glad I didn’t know anything about stars or best-of lists back in 1994/5. Sometimes I hope for a dark horse–a starless and/or un-best-listed book to come tearing across the finish line.

  20. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I think every year there is a mix of expected titles and surprises–which is what keeps it fun and exciting. How boring it would be if it was so predictable that we could say say the winners would be drawn only from those books with the most buzz, publicity, or most famous authors. Last year, HOMER P. FIGG was a surprise, the year before it was THE SURRENDER TREE. There are *always* Honor books with little or no fanfare. Rarer still is the Medal book that is relatively unknown, but it still happens. KIRA-KIRA is another winner that was a big surprise.

  21. Booklist Editor’s Choice have still not gone on their website, but were in their latest email, which can be viewed online here:

    And here’s the list, for those who don’t want to click-and-scroll:

    Top of the list:
    They called themselves the KKK

    Older Readers:
    Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters.
    Fort Mose and the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America.
    The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe.
    Lafayette and the American Revolution.
    Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World.
    They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group.
    Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Homefront during World War I.

    Middle Readers:
    Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring.
    Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.
    Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot.
    Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.
    Nic Bishop Lizards.

    Younger Readers:
    Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson.
    Pingpong Perry Experiences How a Book Is Made.

    Top of the List:
    The Adventures of Nanny Piggins

    Older Readers:
    As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth.
    The Curse of the Wendigo.
    Fever Crumb.
    For the Win.
    Heart of a Samurai.
    The Marbury Lens.
    Monsters of Men.
    The Ring of Solomon.
    Set to Sea. By Drew Weing.
    The Things a Brother Knows.
    Warriors in the Crossfire.
    Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty.

    Middle Readers:
    The Adventures of Nanny Piggins.
    After Ever After.
    The Dreamer.
    The Last Best Days of Summer.
    One Crazy Summer.
    Take Me with You.
    Tumbleweed Skies.
    Turtle in Paradise.
    The Unsinkable Walker Bean.
    Zora and Me.

    Younger Readers:
    Big Red Lollipop.
    City Dog, Country Frog. B
    Clever Jack Takes the Cake.
    Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion.
    Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
    Miss Lina’s Ballerinas.
    Nini Lost and Found.
    A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea.
    Rain School.
    Sleepover at Gramma’s House.
    Snook Alone.
    There’s Going to Be a Baby.


  1. […] overlap among them — if you’ve made one, you’ve made them all. But according to SLJ’s Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog, only eight titles hold that distinction this year: They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of […]

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