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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Beating the Bushes

The Newbery committee has almost certainly traded two more November nominations and will shortly trade a final two in December (for a total of seven).  Back in October, we traded our own initial mock nominations.  Mine were KEEPER, SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD, and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, and others chimed in with their top three in the comments.  In fact, 13 people chimed in with these results . . .

Four votes-

ONE CRAZY SUMMER

THE DREAMER

Three votes–

OUT OF MY MIND

THE WATER SEEKER

Two votes–

KEEPER

SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD

MOCKINGBIRD

A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS

THE KNEEBONE BOY

THE CLOCKWORK THREE

COUNTDOWN

One vote–

PLAIN KATE

WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET

SIR CHARLIE

THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK

TURTLE IN PARADISE

CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK

CRUNCH

NINTH WARD

With these 13 voters, 7 of us would ultimately need to vote for the winning book.  ONE CRAZY SUMMER and THE DREAMER are in the lead with 4 of those necessary 7 votes.  I’ve mentioned that I could vote for either book (especially if the alternatives are OUT OF MY MIND and THE WATER SEEKER), but I’m somewhat ambivalent about them (although I still need to reread both).  I’m going to spend my remaining nominations, therefore, on drawing your attention to some great books that are under the radar.

KUBLA KHAN by Kathleen Krull

Krull Beating the BushesI’ve been contemplating this one for the past week or so, and I’m having a hard time articulating why I find the text of this picture book biography distinguished, but I do.  I think SIR CHARLIE serves as a good counterpoint, however.  If you find the prose of SIR CHARLIE too purple, then perhaps you will better appreciate the witty, but more understated humor of Krull.  If, too, you found that Chaplin was not represented in a holistic way, that his actions had not been interpreted properly, that his life was not considered in the context of his art and times, then you will most definitely appreciate those elements here.  Working with the little that we actually know about Kubla Khan, Krull masterfully organizes her facts with great clarity and accuracy, giving us the big picture of world politics, but also the small anecdotes that illuminate character–and she does it with a great narrative voice.

THE LEGEND OF THE KING by Gerald MorrisMorris Beating the Bushes

I’m still thinking about this one, but it’s on the verge of replacing KEEPER in my top three . . . In fact, in the course of writing this, it just did!  Gerald Morris has done a wonderful job of retelling the Arthurian legends with wit and humor.  I read the first one, THE SQUIRE’S TALE, and perhaps another one, but it was so long ago . . . Flash forward to the final climactic book with the forces of Arthur and Mordred pitted against each other.  Here’s another one to add to the intertextuality discussion.  This tenth and final book revisits characters from throughout the series, but it stands independent (not that that’s a Newbery criteria or anything).  The back includes a glossary of characters with information not only on which ones are from the legends and which are Morris’s characters, but also which books in the series they appear.  This is my kind of book, but I know it’s going to be a chore to build consensus around it.

ZORA AND ME by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

ABC Beating the BushesThis fictional treatment of the childhood of Nora Zeale Hurston has a lot going for it.  The setting is wonderfully realized from the historical period to the black community of Eatonville to the atmospheric physical geography.  The main child characters are likable and believable and the secondary characters are intriguing.  The narrative voice of Carrie (the “me” of the title) is also very strong.  The plot revolves around a couple of mysteries, and if the resolution of them may be a little bit tidy, I found this plot more engaging than most of the character-driven contenders.  This one bears comparison to THE DREAMER and THE HEART OF A SAMURAI, both also fictional childhoods of real people.

Okay.  Now it’s your turn.  You have to make a strategic decision to dogpile on the most buzzed books or look a little farther afield.  Give me your top 5 Newbery nominations at this point in time.  Go!

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Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the County Schools Librarian at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at hunt_yellow@yahoo.com

Comments

  1. Sondy says:

    Okay, I’ll stick with my three favorites from before: ONE CRAZY SUMMER, THE DREAMER, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS. But I also want to add PLAIN KATE, which I read on the plane Wednesday on the way to Los Angeles. I thought the language was particularly beautiful, and the plot was quite different than standard fantasy fare, very creative and well-done. The characters were well-developed. I especially liked the talking cat who always said very cat-like things. I will also add in PEGASUS, by Robin McKinley. I know it probably wouldn’t have much chance, since it is only the beginning of a two-part story (not that that matters?). But I think it is also beautifully written.

  2. David says:

    I like coalition building, so at this stage I’d go with, in order top to bottom: THE DREAMER, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, COUNTDOWN, and THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK.

    If I was to go for longshots, I would have included BONESHAKER.

  3. DaNae says:

    We get one more vote right? I’m in the middle of SUGAR and A lONG WALK TO WATER, with most of the non-fiction still to go. Those being pushed to the side I will stick with:

    COUNTDOWN
    ONE CRAZY SUMMER
    THE CLOCKWORK THREE
    SCUMBLE
    KEEPER

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, DaNae, I’ll check in one more time asking for a top 7. In the meantime, having finished a rereading of ONE CRAZY SUMMER, I’d like to amend mine (plus I actually have six listed), so in no particular order yet (aside from saying that CONSPIRACY and SUGAR are my faves) . . .

    A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS
    SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD
    THE LEGEND OF THE KING
    ONE CRAZY SUMMER
    KEEPER

    What I’m still considering for my last two nominations: All of the picture books and nonfiction, plus THE DREAMER, A TALE DARK AND GRIMM, THE KNEEBONE BOY, COUNTDOWN, and FORGE. Would still like to read NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD and PLAIN KATE.

  5. Mark Flowers says:

    Just read Kubla Khan this morning, and I’ll have to think about it some more, but my first impressions were very good. Nice catch Jonathan.

    With Newbery thoughts in mind, I tried to read the text through without looking at the illustrations (and then went back to look through the pictures), and I agree that the text stands up all on its own as quite distinguished.

  6. Blakeney says:

    I will support these books which have been discussed:

    KEEPER
    ONE CRAZY SUMMER
    OUT OF MY MIND
    WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET
    TURTLE IN PARADISE

    And here are a few that have not really been mentioned I would consider:
    SHAKESPEARE MAKES THE PLAYOFFS by Ron Koertge
    TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord
    KAKAPO RESCUE by Sy Montgomery (nonfiction, which is enhanced by Nic Bishop’s photographs, but has a text that can stand on its own)

    I am just reading BAMBOO PEOPLE by Mitali Perkins and FINDING FAMILY by Tonya Bolden, both of which seem worth consideration.

  7. Cecilia says:

    Right now, I’m voting for THE DREAMER, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS and I’ll put in a vote for one we haven’t discussed, UBIQUITOUS by Joyce Sidman. Still on the hold list for a bunch of the non-fiction, including SUGAR and KUBLA KHAN.

  8. Lynn Rutan says:

    My favorites are three from your list and two from afield:

    One Crazy Summer

    Conspiracy of Kings

    Sugar Changed the World

    Zora and Me – the evocative sense of time and place, the rich and child-centered thematic material and Carrie’s unforgettable voice make this book one of my top 5.

    The Death-Defying Pepper Roux – Geraldine McCaughrean. This exuberant, improbable, careening, pratfall funny, brilliantly plotted tall tale is brilliantly written and I suspect multiple reads will mine riches. It is odd and challenging and unique and pushes the envelope of writing for children and isn’t that what Newbery writing is supposed to be about?

    That’s my top 5 – for today anyway.

    Two others that really stand out for me and pop in and out of the top five depending on the day are:

    Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally M. Walker – Walker’s clear and lively prose, the wonderfully crafted blend of history, exploration, geology, physics, chemistry, and the explanation of the scientific process made this book stand out for me. Walker takes extremely complex scientific subjects and makes them not only understandable but fascinating and relevant for young readers.

    Keeper – Gorgeous writing and complexly plotted, the character development was superb as was the beautifully integrated thematic exploration. Tender and funny and that scene describing the escalating-disaster with the crabs will stay with me forever!

    Lynn

  9. Angela K. says:

    As of right now, in no particular order, my list would include:

    MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE

    ONE CRAZY SUMMER

    KEEPER

    SCUMBLE

    FORGE

    DREAMER

    I’m in the middle of CONSPIRACY OF KINGS right now with WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET next in my pile to read. Still haven’t been able to get DARK EMPEROR, KNEEBONE, or KKK yet. After I read those, some may be bumped off the list, added to the list, etc.

  10. Genevieve says:

    ONE CRAZY SUMMER
    THE DREAMER
    CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK
    KEEPER
    TOUCH BLUE

  11. DaNae says:

    Sorry Lynn Pepper Roux is not eligible, McCaughrean being from forgin lands and all. I am a big Pepper fan however.

  12. Top Five (as of today)

    - Turtle in Paradise
    - City Dog, Country Frog
    - Clementine, Friend of the Week
    - Night Fairy
    - One Crazy Summer

    Currently reading and enjoying Ninth Ward. I’m still waiting on a copy of Sugar Changed the World, Dark Emperor, and A Tale Dark and Grimm.

  13. Miriam says:

    Currently,

    Plain Kate
    What Happened on Fox Street
    They Called Themselves the KKK
    The Kneebone Boy

    and I’m currently 2/3rds of the way through The Clockwork Three (and really loving it)—that’ll probably get a vote from me, but I don’t feel comfortable voting for something before I’ve finished it, so for now I’ll say

    The Cardturner

    as my fifth vote.

  14. Mr. H says:

    1. The Dreamer
    2. Turtle in Paradise
    3. What Happened on Fox Street
    4. Keeper
    5. The Boneshaker (though I fear it may be a little old . . .)

  15. Angela K. says:

    Ooops – I didn’t realize I posted six. My AMENDED top five, for right now, would include (in no particular order):

    MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE

    ONE CRAZY SUMMER

    KEEPER

    SCUMBLE

    NIGHT FAIRY

    This list includes a few dark horses that have little chance at grabbing the “gold” (or getting any medal for that matter), but are books that I believe deserve a little attention and discussion.

    DREAMER, FORGE, KKK, SUGAR, CONSPIRACY, FOX STREET, and DARK EMPEROR will be considered further.

  16. Dest says:

    1. NINTH WARD
    2. THE KNEEBONE BOY
    3. THE WATER SEEKER
    4. THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE K.K.K.
    5. ONE CRAZY SUMMER

    If I had seven picks, I’d add THE WAR TO END ALL WARS and COUNTDOWN.

  17. Jess says:

    I haven’t read much non-fiction yet, so this may change. In no order:

    1. A Conspiracy of Kings
    2. One Crazy Summer
    3. Keeper
    4. The Night Fairy
    5. Dark Emperor

  18. Miriam says:

    Alright, I finished The Clockwork Three and (if I may be permitted the modification), it bumps The Cardturner, making my five:

    Plain Kate
    What Happened on Fox Street
    They Called Themselves the KKK
    The Kneebone Boy
    The Clockwork Three

  19. Wendy says:

    I still don’t have a book I want to proclaim “Give this the Newbery!” about, and it’s hard for me to separate what I think might win from what I want to win. Basically unranked, here are five I’m interested in:

    -Conspiracy of Kings
    -Kneebone Boy
    -One Crazy Summer
    -Sugar (I haven’t actually been able to read this yet, but the lengthy excerpt available online makes me very interested indeed)
    -Sir Charlie

    I’d like to encourage those of you who are really into the middle-grade fiction to check out Penny Dreadful, particularly if you liked What Happened on Fox Street. It isn’t quite a Newbery hopeful for me, but I think it’s quite distinguished if you put it in a room with books like Fox Street, Turtle in Paradise, Touch Blue, Countdown, etc.

  20. Mr. H says:

    Thanks for the Penny Dreadful suggestion. It looks good, if not controversial! Plus, Laurel Snyder the author has some strong ties to my very own great state of Iowa!!!

  21. dave r says:

    My votes so far go to:
    Because of Mr. Terupt
    A Tale Dark and Grimm
    Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
    Drizzle
    A Long Walk to Water

  22. Briar says:

    Here’s the list of finalists from this year’s Mock Newbery Club, consisting of 23 4th Graders and 17 5th-7th Graders.

    OUT OF MY MIND (9 nominations)
    BELLY UP (5)
    THE DREAMER (4)
    A NEST FOR CELESTE (4)
    THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA (4)
    DRIZZLE (3)
    SCUMBLE (3)
    A TALE DARK & GRIMM (3)

  23. Briar says:

    Forgot to add…
    I, personally, have most enjoyed THE KNEEBONE BOY and ONE CRAZY SUMMER. I’m going to try to read a bunch of our finalists this weekend.

  24. Anonymous says:

    What about ZORA AND ME? Is anyone looking at this intriguing little book?

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