Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Mock Newbery Results

The Oakland Public Library Mock Newbery was held this afternoon at the Rockridge Branch.  Fifteen people gathered for a spirited discussion of the shortlisted books, and we are pleased to announce our Medal winner and Honor books.  Without further ado–

Newbery Medal

DARK EMPEROR by Joyce Sidman

Newbery Honors

THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner

ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia

Here’s how it happened . . .

Two people had to leave early so we had 13 voters, meaning the winning book needed at least 7 first place votes and a 7 point spread.  We got that on our first ballot.  Keep in mind that a first place vote is worth 4 points, a second place vote is worth 3 points, and a third place vote is worth 2 points.


DARK EMPEROR (8 first, 2 second = 38 points)

ONE CRAZY SUMMER (3 first, 3 second = 21 points)

THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK (1 first, 2 second, 4 third = 18 points)

A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS (3 second, 4 third = 14 points)

THE KNEEBONE BOY (3 second, 1 third = 11 points)

KEEPER (1 first, 2 third = 8 points)

THE DREAMER (1 third = 2 points)

SIR CHARLIE (1 third = 2 points)

We had a runaway winner in DARK EMPEROR, but the next five books–from ONE CRAZY SUMMER to KEEPER–were separated by several points, making a decision based on the final ballot seem somewhat arbitrary.  I think that’s a big reason we decided to re-ballot for our Honor books.  When I got home, I detected a mistake in our point tally, and I will need Nina to confirm this, but I think A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS should have been credited with 17 points. This would have created a significant gap between ONE CRAZY SUMMER, THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, and the other books on the ballot.  Such a gap may have negated the need for another ballot, but nevertheless we proceeded to a second ballot for the Honor books . . .


THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK (3 first, 4 second, 3 third = 30 points)

ONE CRAZY SUMMER (6 first, 1 third = 26 points)

A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS (1 first, 6 second, 1 third = 24 points)

THE KNEEBONE BOY (2 first, 1 second, 2 third = 15 points)

THE DREAMER (1 first, 2 third = 8 points)

KEEPER (1 second, 2 third = 7 points)

SIR CHARLIE (1 second, 1 third = 5 points)

We discussed having between 1 to 4 honor books, but a large majority voted to have 3.  I’m sure you’re all dying to know how the discussion went on each title.  Stay tuned . . .

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. Nina Lindsay says:

    Jonathan, you’re right re the mistake in the ballot…though it kind of only affirms the second ballot for honors even more (i.e., it didn’t change the results). We did kind of zip through the calculating; on the real committee I’d personally have the talliers be “sequestered” (that is, not doing it on the whiteboard) so they can be slow, and have a second group double-check the results before announcing them.

    In my experience, another ballot for the honors often does exactly this–just soidifies what is pretty clear from the winning ballot. Not always, but often. There was a real desire among the group to reballot for the honors, with the sense that those ten votes that had gone to Dark Emperor would now be redistirbuted and could change things significantly. I think that the heartbreak for me an a couple of others was Kneebone Boy. It was at the top of the cutoff point on the first ballot (and our mistake made it seem closer to Conspiracy than it actually was). In the interest of disclosing some strategy (remember that all our votes were secret) here’s how I voted:

    1st Ballot: 1st: Dark Emperor, 2nd: Conspiracy, 3rd: Kneebone.

    My strategy: I really felt Dark Emperor was winning material, and I wanted to make a clear case for it by casting my first place vote. I actually thought that the first place votes would be more distributed in the field in the first ballot, and though I knew I could support several other titles as winners, I wanted to make sure Dark Emperor was clearly in the running. After that, I was torn for 2nd and 3rd place among 4 titles: Conspiracy, Kneebone, One Crazy Summer and KKK. I felt that One Crazy would have a lot of support, and I actually felt that Conspiracy and Kneebone were more distinguished. As fiction, all three have significant strenghts as well as notable weaknesses. But I just felt that Turner and Potter exhibit more of the definitions of “distinguished” in the criteria. I also thought they’d need more help in the first round balloting than KKK.

    So: I was surprised and pleased by the strong showing for all those titles in the first round. I’d thought I’d have been the lone vote for Kneebone, but when I saw 3 other votes for it ( in 2nd place no less!) it made me think that it had a chance for an honor. So, my second ballot…for honors…was:

    1st: Kneebone, 2nd: Conspiracy, 3rd: KKK

    You can see though that despite me (and someone else too) throwing everything we had to it…Kneebone just never made it quite high enough in points. I looked at those points trying to figure out how to make a case for it, but pretty quickly gave it up. Out of 10 votes to be redisitributed, Kneebone only picked up 1, leaving it with 5 votes out of a pool of 13. The three titles that became our honors, with the highest total points, each had 7 or more votes cast for it, or more than half of our committee. Though there is nothing at all in the manual that tells you you need this for honors, I’ve found it often bears out this way.

    More later on some of the discussion on these titles….

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Here’s my rationale . . .

    My top two picks were DARK EMPEROR and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS. I was tempted to vote for the latter because it’s my favorite, but when I recalled the discussion, nobody had anything negative to say about DARK EMPEROR, and I thought we could build consensus around it more easily. I had expected to cast my third vote for KEEPER, but the discussion discouraged me from doing that. Thus . . . 1st: DARK EMPEROR, 2nd: CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, 3rd: THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK. With my second ballot, I just scooted everything up and added KEEPER. Thus . . . 1st: CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, 2nd: THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK, 3rd: KEEPER.

  3. Sharon Levin says:

    Ahem, are you questioning my math skill Ms. Lindsay? 🙂 I’m pretty confident our tallies were correct, but it was interesting to watch how things shook out on the second ballot. As you know, I was surprised and shocked at the lack of support for The Dreamer in the room- I still love that book. By the way, locomotive in Spanish is ‘locomotora’ (at least says my Argentinian bud) so the argument that Neruda would not have loved the way the word felt in his mouth (as opposed to ‘train’) was incorrect.

    I didn’t vote for Dark Emperor, knowing it would have enough votes and that I wanted to see other books ranked. Plus, Dreamer is still my favorite.

  4. Nina Lindsay says:

    Some of my recollections of the discussion…much of which really surprised me:

    CONSPIRACY. The group really seemed to have an appreciation for the complexity and subtlety of Turner’s plotting and characterization, especially as it compared to other fiction titles on our shortlist. Though readers who hadn’t read the previous titles had difficulty picking up on some of the characterization, they seemed open to understanding the book as one in a series…and as a book that was *supposed* to make the reader feel like they might have just missed something crucial. There’s a lot of sleight-of-hand in Turner’s writing, which many of us thought was part of the stength of the child appeal…for certain readers.

    DARK EMPEROR. Jonathan notes that no one had a negative comment about this one. Sandy D., you should have come, because most people in this group thought the “sidebars” were phenomenal! A lot of people picked up on the strength of the writing across different forms and tones, and Rebecca noted that in each case the “form informs the voice” which seemed to me very apt.

    DREAMER. I have a feeling that with a slightly different group we may have come out differently on this one. There was a strong minority of support for the quality of voice and interpretation…while others felt it was “relentlessly didactic.”

    KEEPER. This one really surprised me. Going in to the discussion I thought this would have surely been an honor book, if not the winner. I was prepared to get behind the support, even though it wasn’t my favorite. We talked about the “exiquisitely depicted setting,” the artful balance of magic and realism, and the way that the looping plotting is ultimately effective in bringing that balance about. But we kept on coming back to how *hard* it was to get engaged with that looping plot, and began to wonder if this was distinguished presentation for a child audience….

    KNEEBONE BOY. I don’t think I’m the one to speak to this discussion. 🙂 I noted my own personal bias about connecting emotionally with the tone, and asked others who were put off by it (Peter Sieruta, I included you in abstentia! ) to take a leap of faith in understanding that they just weren’t the reader for this. I in turn promised to note the level of my enthusiasm was affected by my positive bias. Even so, a lot of other people had compelling things to say about this that made me feel my enthusiasm was not unfounded. In the end, I think this book is just one of those ones that SO quirky that it can only be ultimately divisive.

    ONE CRAZY SEASON. Someone noted that in our slew of “absent mother” books, this one dealt with that theme in the most satisfying way, with the least stereotype.

    SIR CHARLIE. Went down in flames, more or less.

    KKK. We noted the restraint in authorial voice in the body of the text, coupled with the presence of the author in the front and end material, as an artful presentation, along with the deceptive sense of simplicity and clarity in the presentation of primary source material that made the main narrative strongly compelling. Despite the abruptness/rushed sense of the 20th century coverage (we acknowledged this wasn’t in the scope of the book as set out, but still just felt odd), it still shows “significant achievement” in nonfiction writing that stood up in par with our strongest fiction.

  5. Sharon Levin says:

    I too was surprised at the lack of support for Dreamer, I’ve heard so many positive things elsewhere I was taken aback at the negative response. I never saw this as didactic or the father as two-dimensional. As we mentioned outside the discussion (since it wasn’t relevant in the discussion) Pam Munoz Ryan toned down the father because he was much worse than she portrayed him – which makes it ironic that people that he was exaggerated.

    As far as Knee Bone Boy goes – I definitely know audiences for this book – I do think it has major kid appeal. As I said in discussion – I really enjoyed the voice – I thought Lucia was charming as the narrator but it was the ending that took this book from good, fun read to Newbery contender for me.

  6. Katrina Bergen says:

    Thank you so much for posting these results and I’m sorry I left right before the vote (son was in school music thingy that started at 5) However, I agree completely with the list as shown.

    I really appreciate you and Nina organizing this event and giving us an insider’s view of the decision making process behind the Newbery.

  7. Ha! I wish I could have been there.

    I like the results overall, though I would have switched the medal and an honors around. 😉

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:

    The Allen County Public Library (Fort Wayne, IN) also held their mock Newbery this past weekend.

    They chose . . .

    Newbery Medal

    NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes

    Newbery Honors

    THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
    MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erksine
    DARK EMPEROR by Joyce Sidman
    ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia

  9. In the second ballot, how does KEEPER earn 9 points with 1 second place vote and 2 third place votes? Shouldn’t that be 7 points, and below THE DREAMER’s 8 points? Or is the point total ongoing from the first ballot somehow?

  10. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, you are right. KEEPER should have 7 points and fall below DREAMER. I made the change.

  11. Just wanted THE DREAMER to get all the credit it could . . . since you guys obviously didn’t care for it 🙂

  12. Jonathan Hunt says:

    It wasn’t that we didn’t care for it. THE DREAMER and KEEPER both had very polarized opinions about it (i.e. love it or hate it), whereas ONE CRAZY SUMMER, CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, and KNEEBONE BOY had milder negative responses (i.e. indifference or dislike). When you build consensus you tend to move toward books that make many people happy. That’s why Nina noted that DREAMER may have fared better with a different group.

  13. I was also surprised that in the end Dreamer did not get at least an honor. When I finished reading it, I thought, “this will win Newbery this year”. So what happened? For me, the comments from others gave me a different view of the book and the characters that while I didn’t completely agree with everything said, it did weaken my overall view of the book. It was still in my vote but not as #1. The dynamics and opinions of the group can make a big difference and I can see how much this can impact the choice made each year.

  14. Here are results from the Oregon Library Association/Washington Library Association Mock Newbery, held December 10th in Vancouver, WA: Medal: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Honor: The Dreamer by Pamela Munoz Ryan + Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. About 35 people were there to discuss and vote.

  15. Just a note about Oakland’s medal choice. DARK EMPEROR was NOT on SLJ, PW, or KIRKUS list of best books for 2010 yet it won by a landslide in this group. We found it to be distinguished in many ways (see Nina’s comments).

  16. We love DARK EMPEROR at the Horn Book — and it did make our Fanfare (best books) list 🙂

  17. Mark Flowers says:

    I finally got around to Dark Emperor, and am thrilled that it won (although my personal favorite was Kneebone Boy). I can especially see how even though other books may have been better loved by certain voters, Dark Emperor had more consensus.

    Thanks so much for doing this – really does give me some insight into how the Newbery gets selected.

  18. BTW, a Dayton, OH library posted their results:

    Winner: One Crazy Summer
    Honor: Out Of My Mind

    details here:

    (no, I wasn’t there, I just pulled the results from the PUBYAC listserv)

  19. Jonathan Hunt says:

    And this is the full shortlist for Dayton . . .

    The Water Seeker, written by Kimberly Willis Holt
    A Nest for Celeste, written by Henry Cole
    Out of My Mind, written by Sharon Draper
    The Dreamer, written by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis
    One Crazy Summer, written by Rita Garcia-Williams

    And the full shortlist for OLA/WLA . . .


  20. What, no “Sugar Changed the World” on any of these lists, even for Honors? Is it because it just came out?

  21. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, it came out on November 15, making it very difficult to include on an early December mock Newbery. If you are expecting participants to have read the book, they would need to either (a) buy the book or (b) have access to an ARC. Two additional factors may discourage people from thinking of it in Newbery terms: its genre (nonfiction) and its audience (perceived to be in the older end of the range). SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD did get three starred reviews, and has made two best of the year lists, so it is getting some love–just not enough. 🙂

  22. I do not see Dark emperor on many other Newbery lists.I see it on a lot of Caldecott lists. As a 6th grade teacher trying to explain this to my students as we complete our mock elections, in which category should we put it? And why?

    We have looked at and discussed the criteria…right now my class has both lists down to 6 books—but we cant decide to vote for Dark Emperor as a Newbery, CALDECOTT or both.

    Thanks for your help


  23. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I think DARK EMPEROR is both a Caldecott and Newbery contender. Obviously, many people more closely associate picture books with the Caldecott. Hence, its appearance on more Caldecott lists. Could DARK EMPEROR (or UBIQUITOUS) be the first book recognized by both comittees since A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN? Possibly. Perhaps, too, Sidman can pull a Konigsburg. That is, DARK EMPEROR gets the Medal and UBIQUITOUS gets an Honor. I did take a second look at UBIQUITOUS and I still think DARK EMPEROR has superior poetry and sidebars . . .

  24. I think Ubiquitous is a better bet for the Sibert than Dark Emperor is, though–as an informational book, I think it’s the superior one.

  25. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Hmmm. I don’t like either of them as Sibert books, or rather I should say, I like them, but there are too many strong informational books this year (both picture books and longer works).

  26. I finally posted my thoughts about the Mock Newbery on my blog. Thanks again to Nina and Jonathan for organizing such a fantastic event!

  27. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Brooklyn Public Library reported their results on CCBC-Net . . .


    Honor: NINTH WARD

    They only had two other books on their shortlist: THE DREAMER and THE KNEEBONE BOY.

  28. Thanks, Nina and Jonathan, for laying bare the voting process and for the book discussions, and thanks for leading me to DARK EMPEROR (just received it and now I fully understand the enthusiasm for it.)

  29. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Here’s one from Austin Public Library . . .


    Honor: ONLY ONE YEAR

    Other shortlisted titles included THE NIGHT FAIRY, KEEPER, THE DREAMER, THE RED UMBRELLA, FARM, and SIT-IN.

  30. Jonathan Hunt says:

    A couple of mock Newberys with child participants have both chosen OUT OF MY MIND . . .

    Wilsonville, OR

    Medal: OUT OF MY MIND


    Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library (IN)

    Medal: OUT OF MY MIND

    Honor: KEEPER

    Also shortlisted was THE DREAMER.

  31. This is looking to be one interesting Newbery season . . . Last year, WHEN YOU REACH ME was kind of sweeping mock votes across the country, with CLAUDETTE COLVIN and WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON upsetting here and there. This year, I’m seeing about a dozen titles pop up intermittently and not a one of them are setting themselves apart from the pack!

    I will say that I notice MOCKINGBIRD and OUT OF MY MIND popping up on a number of shortlists yet neither made yours . . . why is that? Did you just assume from the conversation on each title on this blog that neither would get a strong following, or was it more personal bias?! Just curious . . .

  32. . . . AND, a few titles I notice nowhere among other mock voting, but widely favored on this site, A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS and KNEEBONE BOY. Interesting . . .

  33. Nina Lindsay says:

    While I thought “Out of My Mind” was an example of good writing, I didn’t find it distinguished. It has one track. I don’t find anything terribly interesting in plot or character development, and there were a few places where it felt decidely flat. I think where it stands out is in its “didactic intent”, which is specifically not a consideration of this committee.

    Don’t get me wrong–I think it deserves its place among “best” books of the year in general. But it just didn’t strike me as standing out for Newbery.

  34. The thing about the Mock Newberys, as Mr. H points out, is a lot depends on which books were put on the shortlist. I’m hoping this group got enough consensus to pick most of the contenders, because I for one hope CONSPIRACY OF KINGS is a contender!

  35. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Actually, I think that not only has ONE CRAZY SUMMER won or honored in every mock Newbery that I’ve seen so far, but it’s always been on the shortlist. So, in that respect it does remind me of WHEN YOU REACH ME last year, and would have to be considered the frontrunner. Certainly, it’s one of the best middle grade fiction titles, and it may be the one that is easiest to build consensus around. But the Newbery is not soley for middle grade fiction, and if the committee is willing to cast its net a little bit wider, I think they can find some excellent poetry, nonfiction, picture books, young adult books, easy readers, and transitional chapter books. As Sondy mentioned, the winner of a mock Newbery is dependent upon the shortlist, and when you put a handful of middle grade fiction titles on, then you skew the results in that direction, too.

    I have not seen A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS on another shortlist, but I’ve only seen KEEPER on a couple, too. Neither MOCKINGBIRD nor OUT OF MY MIND were good enough for our shortlist. If you’d like to argue otherwise, Mr. H., I’m all ears. Using the Newbery criteria, justify why they should have been considered . . .

  36. I’m not looking to argue either title. Not at all. I haven’t even read OUT OF MY MIND. Read MOCKINGBIRD and thought it was interesting. Didn’t necessarily see all the faults you did, or didn’t think they were as big a deal as you did . . . but there are others I’ve read this year (THE DREAMER, TURTLE IN PARADISE, WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET, and THE BONESHAKER) that I like far better.

    I was merely pointing out that you and Nina have both been very high on A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS and Nina has been considerably high on KNEEBONE BOY and both seemed to fare pretty well at your mock Newbery. I don’t know what it’s like on the committee at all and both of you do. I’m seriously asking, is that what it takes on the Newbery committee? Does the real medal come down to what type of committee it is and their reading preferences, or is that a moo point considering they don’t have a shortlist of 8 titles to work from but instead, a huge list of hundreds of titles?

    And I guess I didn’t notice that ONE CRAZY SUMMER was included in just about every mock medal and honor given out. You’re right. I guess it is jumping out a little like WHEN YOU REACH ME did. I just don’t like it and hope something else comes out on top.

  37. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m not necessarily looking to argue either, but we are at the point in the year when it’s no longer simply good enough to say that Book X is distinguished. Book X needs to be more distinguished then Book Y. Take setting, for example. On our shortlist, the following novels clearly have a more distinguished setting: A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, THE KNEEBONE BOY, COUNTDOWN, THE KNEEBONE BOY, FORGE, KEEPER, THE DREAMER, and ONE CRAZY SUMMER–so basically all of them. Now I know this is only one literary element, and I know that setting is often taken for granted in contemporary fiction, but what, then, makes MOCKINGBIRD most distinguished? Where does it trump the other books? Voice? I don’t think so. Characters? Ummm. So when I take a book’s strongest elements, and it just doesn’t stack up against the other contenders, it’s hard for me to get excited about it.

    The make-up of the committee (and their reading preferences and biases) play a large role in determining what the Medal and Honor books will be, which is why we often say that 15 different people could have come up with different books.

  38. Nina Lindsay says:

    There’s another thing that starts to become very clear at this time of year when you’re on the committee… that all this noise we’re making on the Mock Newberies? At some point it’s really just noise. I promise you the committee has considered every book and every comment that’s come up on any of these blogs. But they have just read more, and more deeply, than any of us…and that’s what allows them to make the kind of “X over Y” determinations that Jonathan is talking about.

    Mr H., I think you’ll be sorry if you just keep looking for the “frontrunners” in the Mock Newberies and expecting them to suggest the results. Sure there are correlations, but never in a predictable way.

  39. Actually, what I first implied, was that if the Mock Newberies are to suggest ANYTHING at all, it’s that the field is wide open this year, as opposed to like, last year for instance when WHEN YOU REACH ME was the clear winner long in advance (in my opinion). All I was saying I noticed was that I was noticing a lot of different titles on shortlists and even a lot of different titles winning and honoring . . . I was actually drawing attention to the fact that there were no real correlations or easy predictions to make by looking at any Mock Newberies this year.

  40. Mark Flowers says:

    @ Mr. H. I don’t know about the Newbery committees, but I remember talking about a particular Printz winner (I think it was Looking for Alaska) with a librarian who had been on a different Printz committee, and she looked at the names on the committee and said something like “oh yeah, they’re the type to have picked X book.”

    That’s a long and anecdotal way of saying that I think the personalities of the committee members definitely play a role in what gets picked. I don’t think that’s a good or bad thing, but I do think it’s a thing that exists.


  1. […] Library Journal reports that the Oakland Public Library’s Mock Newbery meeting, led by Johnathan Hunt, filed its results. Do you have Mock Newbery results? Send them to […]

Speak Your Mind