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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Shortlist Title #10: City Dog, Country Frog

You shouldn’t be surprised by this one either.  We had it ranked as our second best picture book behind DARK EMPEROR, and it narrowly missed the list the first time around.  Considering how well the mock Newbery group responded to DARK EMPEROR and how poorly they responded to THE DREAMER . . . well, we couldn’t help having second thoughts about CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG.

We’re all waiting for the next great middle grade novelist to win the Newbery Medal . . .

But you’ll do, Mo Willems.  You’ll do.

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. Last week I held a Mock Caldecott with all 700 of my students. This was one of our honor books. I really need to blog the whole shabang, but I don’t want to rush into anything. My last post has only been there since August.

  2. I LOVE this book — both the words and the pictures. We had a really informal mock Caldecott at my library recently, and this book won top marks. Given the competition and the fact that it would be a true dark horse pick because it’s a picture book, however, I can’t imagine it winning the Newbery. But that doesn’t mean I can’t hope that it will! I’m also hoping it might win the Caldecott (although I’m also a major fan of “Art and Max” for that award). Wouldn’t it be amazing, though, if “City Dog,Country Frog” won both the Newbery and the Caldecott? It’s possible! I know, I know — that’s magical thinking, much like Keeper does in Kathi Appelt’s wonderful novel. But magical thinking is fun……

  3. I would love to see this one win the Caldecott. On the other hand, it’s such a fine example of pictures and words working together beautifully, it would be a good choice for awards that DO take both into account — like the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards.

  4. Nina Lindsay says:

    Has anyone used this with a preschool audience? I know this is going to be a hard one for people to see as Newbery material, but I think the rhythm and pacing are particularly artfully done for the audience intended, and the way the ending is pulled off shows great understanding of the appreciations of preschoolers. It’s hard to compare this to, say CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, because I could give you endless examples in the latter of its distinguished elements. In the Willems, we can count the examples on two hands, but think about what a distinguished example of *preschool picture book* writing this is. Think of DOCTOR DE SOTO, FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER…

  5. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well, a quick survey of the Amazon reviews seems to indicate there is a very appreciative preschool audience . . .

    I first read this book to my three-year-old daughter at the library. We brought it home and read it no less than twenty times. I teared up almost every time.

    The kids enjoyed this book, though I must say, I loved it more. Mo Willems is their favorite author (girl 5 / boy 3).

    When we got to the scene where the dog was waiting for the frog who couldn’t be there my four-year-old wanted to know why I was staring at the page for so long.

    My two year old loves this book–and so do I.

    My 5 year old twins really enjoy this book.

    My 2.5-year-old and I have enjoyed reading it very much.

    But it ended up a serendipitous choice for my five-year-old son as our elderly dog had just died and we had just gotten a new puppy.

    Purchased for our 4 yr. old Grandson and he loved it.

    Do we really believe the Newbery criteria when it states that the award is for birth to age 14? Because if we do then I think we have to look very seriously at this one . . .

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