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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Making a list…

Some of you are probably out today getting ready for the holidays…others, in the SF Bay Area are getting ready for our Mock Newbery discussion, getting underway in just a couple of hours.

And if you’re here, checking out the blog for some results…well, you’ll have to wait until at least tonight, if not tomorrow morning, for the full gory details.

But, while you’re here!:  Which one title (ok, you can have two if you want) of all of the ones that have gotten mention on this blog, to you feel would be most deserving–according to the Newbery criteria–to join our shortlist, and why?  After we reveal our results from today, we’ll start to reveal a short shortlist addendum, and our scheme for an online Mock Election to take place in the new year, on the eve of the actual awards announcement.

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. City Dog, Country Frog

  2. I want to make the case for COUNTDOWN, for strong delineation of characters and setting. Wiles pulls the reader into Franny’s world, and her dread over the end of that world. She does a masterful job relating to the target audience on the level where they live, where every tragedy is consuming. The documentary aspects of the book bring an element of style that immerses the reader in the setting.

    Have fun today.

  3. Plain Kate.

    (Bet you knew that was coming).

    Interpretation of the theme or concept–it’s a rich exploration of how we create and define family and how we deal with loneliness and loss, interwoven with bits of Russian and Roma folklore and tradition.

    Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization–uh, it’s a novel, and I’d rather talk about clarity and organization when I talk about plot, so… moving right along…

    Development of a plot–One area of the plot is a might predictable (less so than Keeper or Fox Street, but it’s also targeted more at an older segment of the Newbery audience (10-up as opposed to 8-12, say?), I admit. Other than that, though… it’s told in a straightforward, chronological way, but with twists and plot points that make it more complex. And darker. It keeps moving and the pages, they just want to keep turning.

    Delineation of characters–I mentioned loneliness, right? Yeah. Loneliness. Betrayal. What it’s like to spend formative years living in a drawer. Desperation. Manipulation. Kate is a great character, a beautiful mix of jaded and hopeful, distrustful but really, really wanting to trust. And there’s a great contrast between her and other characters she meets: the girl who has always been supported and loved; the man who lost his wife, horribly; the grandmother who will support her people, no matter what.

    Delineation of a setting–Fantasized Eastern Europe with Roma. The river is as important as any character, the tradition and folklore are essential and build the sense of both place and culture.

    Appropriateness of style–Beautifully written, kid-accessible, etc. Pacing is my only quibble; that one bit of predictability and a touch of rushing at the end. But minor, very minor.

    The disclosure: I’m a fantasy reader with a yen for folklore, craftiness, traditional music, and strong female leads, so yes, I’m biased in favor. Of course, I’m also anti-talking animals, and loved Plain Kate anyway.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I read about half of PLAIN KATE before our mock Newbery weekend, and I could see how it would attract enthusiasm (ditto for THE CLOCKWORK THREE and THE BONESHAKER), but it just wasn’t working for me. Maybe I didn’t read far enough in? I’ll try to get back to it.

  5. I was pretty engrossed pretty quickly–had one of those sinking into a book experiences, where I can just feel myself start to relax as I start to read, and something in the back of my brain says, “ahhhh, yes“–so if it’s not working for you it may not help to keep reading. Alas!

  6. An addition I would suggest is Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery. The writing is distinguished by being clear, intriguing, and involving the reader as one on the expedition. While there is a lot of information on this parrot, New Zealand, and how species head toward extinction, the focus stays on those conducting the research and supporting it. There is a strong sense of place in the writing alone. Accurate, well researched, carefully documented. Dramatic narrative.

  7. Though there are a few books that I’d like to see added to our discussion, I still hold a spot in my heart for MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE. While there are frequently fairy tale retellings, Singer manages to make it fresh with her “reverso” form. With the reverso, she can tell the fairy tales from two entirely different perspectives just from reading the poem down the first time and up the second time. All the words used are the same, but the meaning becomes quite different.

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