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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Thinking Ahead

Though we are still finessing the exact date and time, I wanted to give Bay Area locals the heads up that the live Mock Election will be taking place in Oakland on MLK Jr Day weekend, a week ahead of the actual announcements.

We’ll be doing online rounds of voting/discussion in the first weeks of January, and if anyone wants to suggest modifications to our trial run from last year, now is the time!

And we like to start watching and sharing the work of the other Mock Newbery groups out there with online presences.  If any of you are lurking here, time to announce yourselves in the comments below, and we’ll make sure to mention your progress.

Finally, I just wanted to share with you the view out the 2nd floor window of my library from this past Tuesday afternoon, around 4pm.  This was the re-assembly point for the Occupiers whose camps had been literally overturned 12 hours previous. You’ve all have seen scenes of how the downtown looked later that night, but that afternoon’s demonstration in front of the library was peaceful, and I feel both humbled and proud to work for an institution that  is seen as a place for people to come together when they most need one.  The Occupy events have certainly been occupying my energy this week.  But late last night I finally sat down to read the bulk of A MONSTER CALLS.  And it just reminded me, physically, emotionally, of what a well-written story can do for a reader…creating a reality apart from but interwined with one’s own, one that exists with the reader in spirit, lending power, whether visible or invisible to others.   Thank you writers. We need you, now and forever.

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. Speaking of the Occupy movements and this blog, I hope some of the protesters have read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… The book is a very damning condemnation of some of the post-9/11 policies put into place in the last decade. The books is a great introduction to what happens when we sacrifice some of our freedoms in the name of order and safety. (The custom’s gargoyle was particularly well done!)

  2. “And it just reminded me, physically, emotionally, of what a well-written story can do for a reader…creating a reality apart from but interwined with one’s own, one that exists with the reader in spirit, lending power, whether visible or invisible to others. Thank you writers. We need you, now and forever.”


    PS. And a comment, amen, to Alison–love that book!

  3. In RI, our mock Newbery group started meeting last Spring (but it was called the new children’s literature discussion group at that point, and morphed into mock Newbery this Fall). We read approximately 30 books, 10 per month, during the Fall – a few of the books from our first list were “promoted” from the Spring.

    Each meeting, some books are dropped from our list, and some stay on for the final voting meeting which takes place in January. At our voting meeting, we tend to have 10-15 books to discuss. We hold discussion, and then vote following the procedures of the Newbery committee. Our group is composed of classroom teachers, school librarians and a handful of public librarians. We have also had a few library school students join us.

    Our discussion, in addition to the Newbery criteria, includes a brief plot description, major themes/ topics (for curricular ties), read-alikes (for reader’s advisory), and the popularity factor with students. Since not everyone reads every book, this is useful and practical for us. By the voting meeting, most everyone has read the 10 – 15 titles we re-visit (there are no new books added to our January list).

    I take nominations for the reading list from the participants, but I also (like others) scour reviews, this blog (and other mock Newbery blogs), and other sources to find the books.

    Here is what we have discussed (and kept/dropped) to date, and what we will be discussing this coming Wednesday evening:

    From September:
    On the final list (to be discussed in January at the voting meeting)
    Barnhill, Kelly Regan. The Mostly True Story of Jack.
    Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost.
    Holm, Jennifer L. The Trouble with May Amelia.
    Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out and Back Again.
    Schmidt, Gary. Okay for Now.
    Stone, Phoebe. The Romeo and Juliet Code.

    Dropped on 9/28/11
    Bauer, Joan. Close to Famous.
    Billingsly, Franny. Chime.
    Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette.
    Rocklin, Joanne. One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street.
    Shang, Wan-Long, Wendy. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu.
    White, Ruth. You’ll Like it Here (Everybody Does).

    To discuss on 11/2:
    Aronson, Marc. Trapped.
    Erskine, Kathryn. The Absolute Value of Mike.
    Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt.
    Jenkins, Emily. Toys Come Home.
    Krishnaswami, Uma. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.
    LaRochelle, David. The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories.
    MacLachlan, Patricia. Waiting for the Magic.
    Morris, Gerald. The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True.
    O’Connor, Sheila. Sparrow Road.
    Patron, Susan. Lucky for Good.
    Perl, Erica. When Life Gives You O.J.
    Van Allsburg, Chris. Queen of the Falls.

  4. The Horace Mann Mock Newbery Committee in the Bronx narrowed down five finalists last week: Wonderstruck, A Monster Calls, The Floating Islands, Liesl & Po and Okay for Now. We started out in September with about 50 titles that I had been collecting since last January as possible contenders and just from looking over summaries, students weeded that list down to 15. We watched book trailers and read excerpts from the 15 and then voted in order to weed it down to five. They must read and write reviews all five in order to participate in the final election. Last year the committee read more books, but it was too hard to circulate the books and get everyone to read that many in a short amount of time. This seems like a more manageable number, so I’m hoping to have more participation this year.

  5. My school’s Mock Newbery Club is reading away, working from a list of about 40 titles I pulled together from online buzz (admittedly culled a bit because of our age group, which includes 4th graders). We will nominate finalists right around Thanksgiving, aiming for 5 or 6 books to read between then and the end. I will keep you posted!

  6. I have a question, not sure which thread to put this in . . .

    Has anyone given N.D. Wilson’s THE DRAGON’S TOOTH a shot? I loved LEEPIKE RIDGE and 100 CUPBOARDS but never revisited the latter series. THE DRAGON’S TOOTH is the start to a new fantasy series and it apparently has 3 starred reviews. If anyone’s looking for Team Fantasy to compete at the table, I was wondering if this had any readers. Wilson definitely has a wonderful style to his writing.

  7. Since Mr. H brought up another title here, I’ll ask has anyone looked at The Great Migration by Eloise Greenfield or Roots and Blues by Arnold Adoff? I read The Great Migration and am partway through Roots and Blues, but these are so far outside my comfort zone I’m having trouble assessing if they’re exceptional or simply good. Poetry is really not my cup of tea.

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I picked up THE DRAGON’S TOOTH at ALA, and always meant to read it, but the length is pretty daunting . . .

    I’ve read both ROOTS AND BLUES and THE GREAT MIGRATION. Both are very good poetry collections, and should definitely be read and considered, but for my money I’d go with NEVER FORGOTTEN.

  9. I liked THE DRAGON’S TOOTH, but don’t really see it as a Newbery caliber.

  10. . . . yeah, 496 pages might not be for me.

  11. Jonathan Hunt says:

    But then you have to consider that it’s the first of a trilogy . . . so do I really want to spend 1,500 pages with N.D. Wilson? I dunno. Maybe not. :-(

  12. I actually read somewhere that it’s the first of 5!!! Sometimes I wish people would just cool it with the series stuff . . .

  13. Elle Librarian says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me overly much to see SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor as one of the Newbery winners this year (if I had to guess, an honor). It has two starred reviews that I know of (Kirkus and Booklist) and Newbery committees do tend to have a weakness for soul-searching “girl” books with absent fathers (in this one, she discovers her father). I’m not sure where I’d rank this on my personal “Newbery” mental list for the year, but I did find some distinguished qualities in it. It’s worth a look if you haven’t checked this one out yet.

  14. Elle Librarian, Our group read and discussed SPARROW ROAD at our meeting last Wednesday. The feeling in the room, among those who had read it, was very lukewarm. I think I was more impressed with it than others. One reader wondered why the orphans were even a part of the story, especially since there is not a lot of drama around their appearance at the final party.

    My feeling is the Sheila O’Connor did a wonderful job building the mood of the book, and the orphan story line was a big part of that mood-building. Everything is mysterious when Raine and her mother arrive on Lake Michigan. Why are they there for the summer? Why does Viktor, the caretaker, seem to already know her mother? What are the stories of the orphans … and why does Lillian seem to believe Raine is an orphan? Was Viktor an orphan? Why won’t Raine’s mother let her ride her bicycle into town with Josie and Diego?

    As the truth comes out, and Raine learns more and more about why she and her mother are at Sparrow Road, the mysteries start to crumble…in fact, the mysterious becomes the ordinary (why, in my mind, the former orphans are just “regular” people in the end). In a 12-year-old’s mind, the ordinary can seem very mysterious when you don’t know the background. By the end of the book, all of the elements are grounded in reality.

    The relationships really rang true to me as well, from the relationships among the artists, to Raine’s growing relationship with her father.

    I gave my copy away, so I can’t write any direct quotes, but I thought this book was very distinguished.

  15. Elle Librarian says:

    One book that I’ve heard virtually NO buzz about is TALL STORY by Candy Gourlay, yet I know it has at least four starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book). Has anyone read this one yet?

  16. Jonathan Hunt says:

    But isn’t the author British?

  17. Yes, she is. From the jacket flap for TALL STORY, “She lives in North London with her husband Richard; her children, Nick, Jack, and Mia …etc.”

  18. Elle Librarian says:

    Sorry – totally missed that!

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