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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

2012 Newbery Reading List

I’m still waiting for my hold to come through for MOON OVER MANIFEST.  I’ve moved from 5th to 2nd, but there is only one copy in our county-wide system–until the additional orders are processed.  So I’ll have to save my comments until next year.

In the meantime, I’m already looking forward to the great crop of 2012 Newbery books.  We already mentioned SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS by Ellen Booream (three starred reviews so far), OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt, and AMELIA LOST by Candace Fleming (one star) as three books to particularly watch out for.  Here are another ten that I am looking forward to.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Jean Fritz (one star) . . . I’ve actually read this one and liked it, but not necessarily in an award kind of way.  Nevertheless, Fritz has such a compelling voice that it’s worth a look.

BOOTLEG by Karen Blumenthal . . . She won a Sibert Honor for her first book on the Stock Market Crash, but LET ME PLAY, her book on the Title IX, was even better–and tragically underappreciated.  Now she turns her attention to Prohibition.

CHIME by Franny Billingsley (two stars) . . . We’ve waited a decade for a new book from the author of THE FOLK KEEPER and this one looks to be just as good.  But it also looks like it might be “too old for the Newbery.”  Is it?

DOGTAG SUMMER by Elizabeth Partridge (one star) . . . An award-winning nonfiction author delivers a debut novel about a Vietnamese refugee girl. 

FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP by Albert Marrin (one star) . . . a history of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  Hmmm.  His last book was pretty divisive here.

HURRICANE DANCERS by Margarita Engle (one star) . . . I’ve never been the biggest Engle fan . . . but pirates!  Okay, I’m interested now.

INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai (two stars) . . . A debut novel in verse based on the author’s experience as a Vietnamese refugee.  Great cover, too.  Comparisons to DOGTAG SUMMER?

THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE by Jeanne Birdsall . . . Yay!  The Penderwicks are back!  Yippee!

THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS by Doreen Cronin (one star) . . . The picture book author of CLICK CLACK MOO and DIARY OF A WORM debuts a charming new mystery series for the younger crowd.  Looks interesting!

YOUNG FREDLE by Cynthia Voight (one star) . . . A companion to ANGUS AND SADIE.  Too many animal stories in the canon?  Room for one more?  Lois Lowry also publishes BLESS THIS MOUSE.  So two more?  Hmmm.

Please comment on these or chime in with your own suggestions . . .

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. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Oops! One more: SWIRL BY SWIRL by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes.

  2. I finished Small Persons with Wings a few days ago and posted my thoughts to my blog but I don’t think I did the book any justice. I find my thoughts turning back to the story quite frequently and I’m sure this is one that will stick with me. I think it’s solidly middle grade while tackling some difficult family issues as well as typical middle grade issues. Mellie could be any seventh grader who has suffered from long term bullying – abrasive to the point where people might lose sight of what got them there. And yet, she has a glimmer of insight and quite a sense of humor.

    I read an arc and am so glad that the cover art was changed. I think the present cover will have tween appeal.

    I just started Okay for Now. Gary D. Schmidt is one of my favorites and The Wednesday Wars was brilliant. It’s nice to see that the Penderwicks are coming back. Thanks for the list.


  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    A little bird just whispered into my ear that Booklist will star CHIME in their February 1st issue which makes three starred reviews and counting. Also with three starred reviews is THE GREAT MIGRATION by Eloise Greenfield, a picture book poetry collection about African Americans leaving the South for the urban areas of the North. Amazon lists the pub date as late 2010, but I think it may actually have a 2011 copyright. Can anyone confirm?

  4. CHIMES is lush and luscious, but felt pretty tippy-top as far as Newbery age goes. I think it will appeal to readers of Nancy Werlin’s recent fantasies, IMPOSSIBLE and EXTRAORDINARY.

    I’ve an F&G of THE GREAT MIGRATION and it definitely has a 2011 copyright.

    Brenda, glad to see you liked SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS. It made me think of Diana Wynn Jones in many ways.

  5. I’m reading Small Persons With Wings right now and loving it. After following this blog all year, though, I have NO idea how Newbery-worthy it might be, since it seems what I LOVED last year and what was NEWBERY-STANDARD last year are two completely different things. But I definitely am LOVING this book at least….

  6. Thanks Jonathan. A lot to look forward to. I was delerious the other day when I saw the starred reveiw of Betsy Partridge’s book. She spoke about it last summer but I didn’t realize it was so close to coming out.

    Is SPWW a fantasy? (I guess if Monica is comparing it to Diana Wynne-JOnes my question should be answered.) I want to choose it for our Februrary Book club book. I have some hard core fantasy haters in the group, but with not much else out this month I’m planning on pushing for it. Is there another selling point I can push to outweight the Fantasy element?

  7. TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS is fantastic fun, but since it’s mostly going to appeal to a certain kind of funny bone. I can’t see it making it too far in a newbery discussion. That said, fans of classic private eye films (or the novels they’re based on) like The Big Sleep or The Long Goodbye will certainly enjoy this little novel. Any book with a “hen fatale” deserves tons of accolades.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on the new PENDERWICKS and rehash the “stands on its own” conversation.

  8. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (our copies are “in processing,” so it should be soon!). It already has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

  9. I loved, loved loved Schmidt’s Okay for Now. I literally could not stop reading until the last page. This one was recommended by another reader I respect ( Yeah Gwen) as the best thing she’s read in ages, and I thought she was going over the top. It’s intersting that I am having such a hard time putting my finger on what elements are distinguished, but character, setting, theme, structure, all work togetehr superbly. There’s a hardness to it, and a gentleness as well. I think that balance is what I liked so much, And it is very accessible. Despite a horrid cover and title.

  10. (DaNae: in my experience when people say they don’t like fantasy, it’s HIGH fantasy they’re thinking of, so you should be all right because SPWW is firmly rooted in the everyday life of a modern-day middle schooler. And there’s an overarching theme about appearances vs reality, and a whole lot about bullying. Also, there’s funny, too. Yeah, I think you’ll be all right pushing this on your book group).

  11. Thats what I need to hear Rocky. Thanks.

  12. Add another sequel to the list. I just finished the ARC of Susan Patron’s newest and last Lucky book LUCKY FOR GOOD and liked it far better than the last one and maybe even more than the 07 winner.

  13. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I saw this recently, too, but haven’t read it. It looks like Matt Phelan has dropped out as the illustrator . . .

    I forgot to add one more: YOU’LL LIKE IT HERE (MOST PEOPLE DO) by Ruth White. White is one of my favorite authors, but her best work came early in her career (SWEET CREEK HOLLER, WEEPING WILLOW, BELLE PRATER’S BOY). Her later stuff was solid, but never spectacular, but now with a switch of publishers and genres . . .

  14. Wow, you are on top of things! I am still trying to read winners from 2011.

  15. I thought OKAY FOR NOW was brilliant. Definitely one to read — although, as stated earlier, the cover and title could use some work. But then again, Gary Schmidt’s books seem to suffer from the cover curse.

    Inside Out and Back Again was a good book, but it didn’t leave me with a WOW feeling.

    Looking forward to CHIME being on my stack.

    I did like Fantasy Baseball by Alan Gratz. Quite a unique book.

  16. A new Ruth White? Oh, yay!

  17. I found Small Persons with Wings to be quite enchanting and definitely worth a second look by any committee considering it.

    I think CHIME was spectacular. Haunting. Superbly written, but I think it may fall into the Printz catagory.

    keep reading,
    dave r

  18. Dave R,

    I’m also very curious to see what people will make of Fantasy Baseball. I think it’s a pretty unusual, remarkable book!

  19. Now that I’ve read Young Fredle, it’s pretty high on my list.

  20. Dave r, I also really liked Fantasy Baseball. Very unusual book, operating at several levels. I’m curious to see what people say abut it.

    Now reading Young Fredl. Such perfect tone, and delicately done. I love Voigt.

  21. I’ll conscientiously work my way through the list, but from what I’ve read on it so far, Newbery is still meaning “books students will have to be forced to read”. How can adults and students be so far apart on their reading tastes?

  22. Ms. Yingling,
    I’ve never looked at Newberys as “books kids are forced to read.” This is a creation of the educational system. (Often, teachers who are too lazy to read the books themselves, so they give it as an assignment, tell the principal “I have them reading award winners, and wash their hands of the whole thing.)
    Newbery medals were meant to recognize excellence in literature and writing. Like the Pulitzer winners, these are recognized as literary pieces of writing. It’s nice when the books have a high interest factor for kids, but it’s not necessary. Why? Because these books were not meant to be “assigned” or “forced” upon kids — again, a creation of the educational system. They were meant to recognize the excellence of writers in a genre that was often overlooked by others in the literary field.
    If these books are to be used in the classroom, they are books that need to be TAUGHT, not just assigned. Teachers need to show the kids the beauty of the language, the genius of the allusions, the twists in plot, the strong but quirky characters — and why the narrator may or may not be trustworthy. No one falls in love with Shakespeare by reading it alone the first time. Most people that love Shakespeare had a teacher who showed them how and why they should love the works. (And I’ll bet, he/she made sure they WATCHED a performance, which is how Shakespeare always meant the his work to be viewed — reading the plays is, again, a creation of the educational establishment.)
    If the committees looked at kid appeal only, the winner list the past few years would consist of Wimpy Kid titles, Fancy Nancy titles, and “icious” titles, with a spattering of fairies, vampires, and werewolves. All of these are great books for kids, but NOT the best the genre has to offer in terms of literary excellence. And it doesn’t mean these books should not be part of a classroom or part a classroom’s curriculum. They certainly should be. There’s as much a need to enjoy reading as there is to recognizing the skill and talent of writing.
    But we can’t just feed kids cake day after day. Sooner or later, they’re going to need some broccoli and whole grain bread (things with substance, things that are good for them). And getting them to eat these things may take time, repeated exposure, and patient adults who see the value in showing kids how to enjoy them.
    Same with Newberys.

    Keep reading.

  23. Just finished OKAY FOR NOW. Looking over the Newbery criteria, it hits a home run in each of the categories. I am sure others will give some very good in-depth discussions of those categories as they relate to OKAY FOR NOW. But, all I can say is this, in my lowly opinion, is the best book I have read since 1999. I cannot see any other book taking gold away from Mr.Schmidt this time.

  24. How about The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango? It pushes the upper limits and people would complain, but it’s well within the 14-year-old boundary… maybe 11-14.

  25. Could you put out a 3/4 year reading list? I know Goodreads has a couple lists at this point and Elizabeth Bird at Fuse just put out a new list a week or so ago, but the more the merrier!

  26. I just finished With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo and think it’s got promise. Great voice, terrific characters, and a nice mystery to boot. It certainly deserves serious consideration by the committee.

  27. Queen of Water is excellent and does show distinguished qualities in voice and character development. I can see it winning an honor and it is a wonderfully written story….but not as well-written as Okay…..

    Does any one think Wonderstruck could be discussed as a possible Newbery consideration?

  28. I loved Penderwicks at Point Mouette and felt all was right with the world at the end and enjoyed Wonderstruck, but Okay for Now has really stood out for me. I immediately read it again the same day after finishing it. And perhaps it was the stats for me….Number of people I have tried to force to read the book since coming into work this morning? 3…Number of times I got goosebumps?….about seven…number of times I grinned ear to ear?…about 25…You know how that felt?….Number of times I cried?…three as only you can do when you see the Black-Backed Gull…The story was thoroughly enjoyable, and there was just enough setting to make you know where and when this story was set but still feel that this was a story of a boy who could be going through this today, the main characters had complexity, the structural device of using the Audobon pictures to convey the ups and downs and the emotions of the characters and the themes really worked for the book, but most of all the protagonist’s voice just spoke right into your soul and you felt that you were there immediately (as in NOW in realtime) as he was making his choices of what kind of person he was going to be. And sometimes you would get to a big reveal thinking you knew exactly what was going to happen and somehow you ended up knowing but not knowing at the same time. Now I am going back to read Wednesday Wars in paperback (instead of that nasty hardback cover even though I usually prefer hardback) which I *just* snagged off the shelf and pray I am not disappointed because how can it possibly live up to Okay for Now…Doug is way more of a hero than Amelia Lost after reading the two books!

  29. Two I think deserve a look are Junonia and A Dog’s Way Home. Both solidly middle grade, beautifully written, and heartfelt!

  30. dave r, great explanation of the Newbery and its purpose. Susan, your references to Okay for Now brought back those goosebumps, smiles, and watering eyes! I have to say Okay for Now is the best so far, but it seems a lot depends on interpretation. Some are calling it contrived and saying it wrapped up too neatly. I thought the title was positively crucial; although, many have complained about that as well. I interpreted the ending to be like one of the drawings, capturing a moment right before everything changes, which would mean that it didn’t wrap up at all, not really. I was chilled, even, by the thought of looking “beyond the frame.” So, is the resolution too neat or masterfully made to look that way by our artistic narrator, Doug Swieteck?

  31. Linda Urban’s HOUND DOG TRUE has two stars so far and great buzz from Fuse and others . . . looking forward to it.

  32. One of my favorite 2011 books to date, Patrick Ness’s A MONSTER CALLS, looks eligible:
    the author is a US citizen, the book was published the same year in both the US and UK, and was jointly edited by the UK and US editors. Check out this interview with the US editor:

    So whataya think?

  33. Just finished Akata Witch this weekend, and I loved it. Fascinating setting, characters, and use of imagination and plot very strong. Feel sure that this will be one that readers will love, and especially love how it introduces them/us to Nigerian culture (food, dress, music, etc.) A great fantasy novel, great look at women & girls & who they can be (w/o overdoing it).

  34. Could you put out a 3/4 year reading list? I know Goodreads has a couple lists at this point and Elizabeth Bird at Fuse just put out a new list a week or so ago, but the more the merrier!

  35. What about The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright? It has been getting some nice reviews!

  36. Great Potential for Newbery:

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

    o Very well written, with a love of language as well as plot- Feels like a combination of Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, and George MacDonald, with perhaps a little of C. S. Lewis thrown in

    o Do think THAT GOOD (and in spite of all comparisons being made- E Nesbit, James Thurber, Eva Ibbotson) THAT ORIGINAL

    o September travels from her boring life in Nebraska, where her father has gone to war and her mother works long hours as Rosie the Riveter, into Fairyland by invitation of the Green Wind.

    o Tasked by three witches on a quest to obtain their wooden spoon- grows into a quest to right many other wrongs committed by the wicked Marquess

    o Accompanied by a Wyverary on his own quest to meet his auspicious grandfather, the Municipal Library of Fairyland, which owns all the books in all the world, …and meeting many additional creative characters along the way

    o About growth from self-interest to empathy, as well as discovering what really matters

  37. Okay, I am paying way more attention to YA this year, but this is irresistible.

    In addition to Inside Out and Back Again, Sparrow Road and Okay for Now, I would add Tall Story by Candy Gourlay, Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley, Eddie’s War by Carol Fisher Saller, and Addie on the Inside by James Howe. These are all books that would bear rereading if only I had time!

  38. So not that stars are necessarily a good indication of things to come, but I’ve been tracking them this year for my own nerdy enjoyment (Booklist, Bulletin, Horn Book, SLJ, PW and Kirkus – I have everything through August in and a few Septembers) – I’m listing here everything with 4 or more stars without taking eligibility into account:
    6 stars: Chime by Billingsley (too old? several reviews mark is as good for middle school so maybe not)
    5 stars: Anya’s Ghost by Brosgol (graphic novel – probably ineligible)
    4 stars (a much longer list):
    Amelia Lost by Fleming (non-fiction)
    Between Shades of Gray by Sepetys (too old again? like Chime the reviews cover middle school)
    Bootleg by Blumenthal (non-fiction)
    Can We Save the Tiger? by Jenkins (non-fiction picture book – too reliant on pictures?)
    Drawing from Memory by Say (some sequential graphic sections)
    The Great Migration by Greenfield (poetry)
    Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator (picture book)
    Imaginary Girls by Suma (probably too old)
    Inside Out and Back Again by Lai
    Jasper Jones by Silvey (Australian author – ineligible)
    Mine! by Crum (picture book)
    Paper Covers Rock by Hubbard (too old)
    Perfect Square by Hall (picture book)
    Press Here by Tullet (foreign author and picture book)
    The Queen of Water by Resau and Farinango (probably too old)
    Roots and Blues by Adoff (non-fiction)
    Trapped by Aronson (non-fiction)
    Underground by Evans (picture book)

    I’m struck by how very little here is straight middle grade fiction – lots of non-fiction for the right age, several titles stretching the traditional age limits both down and up, but I think the only thing that’s really middle grade fiction is Inside Out and Back Again and even that’s a novel in verse. Now once we get down into 3 stars, it’s a different story – I see around a dozenish out ot those 53 titles that are more traditional Newbery fodder. I’m so excited to see how things play out in the conversations about some of these books and to be back at this for this year!

  39. Beth – sadly The Girl Who Circumnavigated is not eligible since it was previously published online. Carol E. – I think Tall Story by Gourlay is also ineligible as I believe Gourlay is not an American citizen or resident. I read and liked both, but they are eliminated by the criteria.

  40. I join Monica in the A MONSTER CALLS adoration club, (which, Jen B., just claimed its 4th star). However, I’m also a card carrying member of the OKAY FOR NOW – or nothing association.

    After reading both of the above books I was left breathless, and panting on the side of an abyss of lesser fiction. (I’m nothing if not annoyingly effusive.)

    My head wants to blow apart in two directions with the thought that these books are up against each other.

    Naturally AMELIA LOST is also shadow boxing in the wings. The formatting of that story alone deserves a couple of parades.

    A few books I enjoyed immensely, but don’t hold a lot of hope for are: CLOSE TO FAMOUS by Bauer, THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA by Holm, PENDERWICKS by Birdsall, LUCKY FOR GOOD by Patron, WONDERSTRUCK by Selznick, (due to half the story being told in illustration)

    A couple of sleepers, coming in the fall, that might rise up and bite Newbery on the hinny are ICEFALL by Kirby, and THE APOTHACARY by Meloy.

    I’m waiting for the postman to hurry up and get HOUND DOG TRUE and DEAD END IN NORVELT to me already!

  41. Okay for Now, Small Persons With Wings, and Young Fredle have been mentioned. What about The Friendship Doll? (If I missed it in the comments, my apologies).

  42. HOUND DOG TRUE, Linda Urban; A GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING, Uma Krishnaswami; FLUTTER, Erin Moulton; AMELIA LOST, Candace Fleming.

    Hope they’re all in the discussion mix.


  43. Eric Carpenter says:

    like DaNae I see no reason for OKAY FOR NOW to recieve anything other than the Medal this year.

    Some of my honor hopefuls include:

    HIDDEN by Helen Frost. I thought this novel in verse was stronger than INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN. It felt more like HIDDEN’s form actually added to the experience rather than just increased the stories pace without adding any beauty (ie Lai’s ‘poetry’).

    DEAD END IN NORVELT by Jack Gantos. I wonder if this has any hope standing next to OKAY FOR NOW. Both are set in small town America of the past. Both deal with boys whose lives are deeply affected by their fathers. Both feature jeans and white t-shirts on the cover. OKAY FOR NOW is the better book, but DEAD END IN NORVELT has some shockingly hilarious scenes. I know comedy has trouble gaining consensus support but Gantos’ humor has already proven itself honor worthy in the past and I believe his latest to be his best (well not as good as Hole in My Life). Any other year I think it would have a real chance.

    LUCKY FOR GOOD by Susan Patron. I liked this better than the first two Lucky books and I liked those two a lot.

    AMELIA LOST by Jennifer Holmes. I would be very happy to see Holmes win an ALA award every year, but this year i think a Baby Mouse Giesel is more likely.

    Still waiting to get my hands on Monster Calls. Picked up A Mostly True Story of Jack the other day and will hopefully read it this weekend.

  44. Eric,

    Me thinks you have your Amelias mixed up. Overall, a good year for that name.

  45. I’m understanding much better the frustration of some people a few years ago when some of us (me, for instance) treated the win of When You Reach Me as a foregone conclusion (or if it didn’t win, it’d be theft). I still feel that way about When You Reach Me. But Okay For Now? I thought it was good, but not astonishing. I’m not really a contrary person, but the extreme levels of championship for a book I might ordinarily have been championing myself instead have me looking for holes and crafting arguments.

    But then, what would Heavy Medal be without those?

  46. I read CHIME this summer hoping to take part in the “too old” conversations that undoubtedly would be had here, and sadly feel as if I wasted my time. It was a good book, don’t get me wrong (so maybe “waste of time” is the wrong phrasing), it’s just that I don’t even think it’s controversially “maybe too old”. It’s just plain “too old” for the Newbery.

    I’ve been trying to read lots of candidates this year, my favorites being:


    I loved loved loved TURTLE IN PARADISE and think Holm’s newest is potentially even better!

    Others I’m excited about reading and maybe discussing (based on high marks from the almighty Fuse):


    After reading these recommendations and others online, I really feel like I’m going to be missing out if I can’t get my hands on A MONSTER CALLS too.

  47. Eric Carpenter says:

    thanks DaNae. Trouble with May Amelia is absolutely what i intended to write. Speed commenting during lunch tends to magnify dumb blunders.

  48. Like so many others, I am all about OKAY FOR NOW for the Medal. But one Fantasy novel that I LOVED that is solidly middle grade and coming out this month is TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE, by Jessica Day George. I would just love that one to win an honor. It’s very well-written fantasy, and nothing formulaic about it. Has nice Newbery elements.

    I’m hoping for CHIME to win the Printz.

  49. Mr. H, I agree about Chime–personally I don’t think it’s worth discussing here, based solely on eligibility issues. It reaches beyond even Jacob Have I Loved (which I think of as the “oldest” Newbery winner).

    No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko is one of my front-runners.

  50. I agree with Mr. H. I love love love THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA (Holm). I laughed out loud (and I’m not a laugh-out-loud-type-of-person) several times. It’s delightful writing.

    I also loved OKAY FOR NOW, except the ending with the father. How did that get past the editor? Did the father have a miraculous conversion? Otherwise, I’m all for it.

    I personally did not like SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS. At all. I couldn’t even finish it. Sorry.

  51. NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT . . . hmm . . . I received this book in a Scholastic book order last year and it’s sitting on my shelf . . . do I need to crack this puppy open?

  52. I finished Hound Dog True.
    Linda Urban has an astonishing ability to create voice. That said, I’m not sure the book grabbed me like OKAY FOR NOW or WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE did.

    I do agree that CHIME is probably out of the running because of age (but then again, House of the Scorpion got a Newbery, Printz, and National Book nod).

  53. I also read Breadcrumbs and Junonia. Liked them. Both solidly written, but again, no WOW! factor.

    Have been putting off Trouble with May Amelia because of the cover. There’s nothing historically accurate (except that there were roosters back then) about the cover for a book taking place in 1900.
    The Apothecary is on my pile now too.

  54. Here are my Top 5 so far:
    1. ICEFALL by Matthew Kirby
    2. THE APOTHECARY by Maeve Molloy
    3. THE QUEEN OF WATER by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango (not sure about eligibility here — if Farinango is truly a co-author, I guess not — rats!)
    4. DEAD END IN NORVELT by Jack Gantos
    5. PIE by Sarah Weeks

    Haven’t heard much buzz about ICEFALL yet. This is my favorite book of the year so far — a wonderfully layered story with a mystery that truly keeps you guessing and a bone-chilling Viking setting. The cast of characters is large, but Kirby manages to breathe life into all of them. It’s also an ode to the power of storytelling.

  55. There were many things that I loved about OKAY FOR NOW and we brought it to our book group at our library, but I agree with Kristen — the father’s turnaround at the end seemed to come out of nowhere. For me, it felt forced. And the whole idea of writing and producing a Broadway play in the space of less than a year and with a neophyte actor in a lead role seemed unrealistic. Not that kids would notice or even care — and most would be pleased by the father’s turnaround and not mind that it came out of nowhere — but for me, it made this book less than distinguished — although still one that I would recommend to readers!

  56. I don’t think the Newbery criteria mention a thing about cover images and relevancy factoring into decisions.

    Cover it with a black sheet of paper if you must . . . just READ IT!!!

  57. Is the concern about The Queen of Water that Farinango isn’t a resident of the US? I wonder exactly how they decide that. I know she HAS been a long-term resident of the US at times.

  58. Yes, I’m not sure what the exact ruling on that would be. She has lived here for long periods of time, but I believe she is now living full time in Ecuador. And I don’t think she’s a U. S. citizen.

  59. Kirby must be quite the author. Haven’t heard of ICEFALL yet and never got around to reading THE CLOCKWORK THREE, which had a number of people on here like it.

  60. I read and enjoyed The Penderwicks at Point Mouette and I haven’t read any of the other books. This is one I think can stand on it’s own. I’ve added several books from the comments to my must-read-now list and want to add:

    Sidekicks by Jack Ferraiolo – bad cover but great story.

    True Sort of by Katherine Hannigan – mixed on this one as it starts out youngish and then take a more serious turn.

  61. I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the titles already mentioned but want to put in a vote for BIRD IN A BOX by Andrea Davis Pinkney. I’m also looking forward to BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu and LIESL AND PO by Lauren Oliver, both of which sound like they could be contenders.

  62. Elizabeth Bird says:

    Has no one mentioned Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley? Oh me, oh my.

  63. I think it was Eric who first recommended it in this thread . . . but I finished reading HIDDEN last night by Helen Frost. Holy cow . . . I think it would be criminal to give INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN proper discussion time here without giving HIDDEN it’s fair shake. Personally, I think HIDDEN was ten times the book INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN was. I hope it’ll get it’s due. Thanks for mentioning it Eric, otherwise I wouldn’t have touched it.

  64. So happy to see that Carol E. already mentioned EDDIE’S WAR, by Carol Fisher Saller, which is the one I would like to see you read! It’s published by Stephen Roxburgh’s new press, namelos (release date August, 2011), so it feels like no one has heard of it (although it has a starred review from Kirkus). It’s a lovely, gentle, slim novel that evokes a small town in Illinois before and during WWII, with a sensitive boy narrator coming to terms with both global and personal issues.

  65. Finished The Apothecary and found it to be a very enjoyable read. The writing is tight and the plot keeps the readers’ interest. I can understand why it’s been getting some buzz, but I’m not sure it’s that high up on my list at this point in time.

    What I did love was A Monster Calls. This was a wonderful, powerful read. Definitely, in my top three at this time — if it’s eligible.

    A couple of concerns about how the committee would handle the “authorship” issue. And wondering if the content/psychological introspection may put it out of the Newbery “range.”

  66. I haven’t read A MONSTER CALLS but was wondering the same thing. From what I read, Ness found the skeleton of a story that Dowd was going to write. He thought it was brilliant and wanted to do her story justice. Then a new story began forming in his mind. To me, that sounds as if this is an eligible piece. However I don’t know. I bought into the hype though and preordered it on Amazon so I can’t wait to dive into it!

  67. From all I’ve read this is Ness’s story inspired by an idea by Dowd. I had originally thought it might not be eligible because it had been edited in the UK, but in the interview I cited above it was clearly jointly edited by the UK and US editors. Since this it top on my list I hope that ALSC agrees!

    As for Mr H’s question about the “content/psychological introspection” goes, I can’t see that as a problem as the age range is through 14.

  68. Oh, sorry, my last point was to Dave R’s concern not Mr. H’s.

  69. Here’s the link to the interview with Ness’s US editor again:

  70. What about THE INQUISITOR’S APPRENTICE? It’s gotten starred reviews from Kirkus and PW. The opening line is pretty great: “The day Sacha found out he could see witches was the worst day of his life.”

  71. WONDERSTRUCK is an incredible book and is deserving of a nomination. Because half of it is illustrated, I wonder if it will even be considered for a Newbery Award?


  1. […] Jonathan Hunt suggested INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN as 2012 Newbery Reading at Heavy Medal! […]

  2. […] There is a positive note about this book, though, and that is that the writing style is still really good. It’s apparently still being talked about for a Newbery, though it’s really far down on the list: School Library Journal’s Faux Newbery Blog. […]

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