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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Lost in the bushes

Jonathan’s Beating the Bushes post made me actually turn back to my spring reading, and look at a couple of titles that never rose to the top for me, but which I thought had strong, unique writing and that I connected with. Neither have gotten talked about much for Newbery, but I bet that at least someone on that committee noticed them…

THE WAGER by Donna Jo Napoli. Creepy, beautiful, curious and intriguing. As usual from Napoli, she takes the nut of a folktale (here, the Grimm’s “Bearskin”) and turns it into a provocative psychological fantasy.

THE MEMORY BANK by Carolyn Coman. I though her BIG HOUSE and SNEAKING SUSPICIONS were Newbery-worth. This is not quite up to those, but still has her crystalline sense of character, voice, setting, tension. Her words seem conduct electricity, making me feel exactly like a nine year old, all that wonder and fear and silliness and seriousness.

Sometimes the Newbery chair will take a moment sometime  in the nomination process to let each member select one book from the suggestion list they think have been overlooked, and “pitch” it to their fellow committee members.  Besides beating the bushes of fall releases…anything that hasn’t been mentioned here yet from spring that you think may be overlooked?

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. It may have been mentioned and I missed it, but I thought The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz was a perfectly constructed story, with a complex, evolving main character, fresh and strange adventures, and beautiful language. I don’t care whether the author’s won before or not, I was just really moved and impressed by this book.

  2. Angela K. says:

    I still love Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (March). Kate, I also loved The Night Fairy – we discussed it to some detail on November 6th, “In Search of a Young Newbery”:

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I wanted to like THE MEMORY BANK–the fluid relationship between the text and illustrations recalls HUGO CABRET–but it just never captured my imagination.

    I’m reading an awesome book right now: THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD by Steve Sheinkin. Has three starred reviews. Fabulous. I’m also waiting for PLAIN KATE which just earned its first star (BCCB). Miriam and Sondy are both recommending it.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Also, the YALSA Nonfiction Award finalists have been announced: THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK, JANIS JOPLIN, SPIES OF MISSISSIPPI, THE DARK GAME, and EVERY BONE TELLS A STORY. KKK is no surprise, nor are JANIS JOPLIN and SPIES OF MISSISSIPPI. The other two are completely unheralded, but I haven’t read them so I cannot comment.

  5. Angela–Thanks for referring me to the earlier post! Interesting to see others’ takes on The Night Fairy. I’m hoping it gets an Honor, anyway. But the nice thing about the Newberys is that if a favorite book doesn’t get honored, it’s because it’s been edged out by another wonderful book.

  6. Every Bone Tells a Story is my favorite nonfiction of the year – I was utterly mesmerized by it. But then, I am an archaeological geek. :)

  7. Mark Flowers says:

    Shelley, I agree – Every Bone is a spectacular piece of NF. Definitely rivals Sugar and KKK for me.

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:

    My library doesn’t even have EVERY BONE TELLS A STORY on order. :-( Just finished THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD several days ago. Like SUGAR, it falls in the eligibility period for next year’s YALSA Nonfiction Award. Will post on it soonish.

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