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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Ones That Got Away

For the most recent July/August issue of the Horn Book Magazine, Roger Sutton asked various people to list a book that had been completely passed over (i.e. it was not even an Honor book) for the Newbery or Caldecott.  Surprisingly, four people–Betsy Hearne, Pat Scales, Terri Schmitz, and Illene Cooper–identified the same book on the Newbery side of the question: THE GOATS by Brock Cole.  I say surprisingly because we asked the same question here a couple of years ago and THE GOATS wasn’t even mentioned once.  Now I liked THE GOATS, but I didn’t like it that much, and even if I did, I don’t think I would recognize it over LINCOLN or HATCHET, even in hindsight.  What do you think?

Other books mentioned as aggrieved Newbery contenders included CHAINS (Betsy Bird), A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS (Nina Lindsay), THE PEOPLE COULD FLY (K.T. Horning), HARLEY (Dudley Carlson), THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (Stephen Roxburgh), I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS (Cathryn Mercier), THE LONG SECRET (Elizabeth Law), HEAVEN (Deborah Taylor), THE ALFRED SUMMER (Amy Kellman), THE SATURDAYS (Peter Sieurta), ORWELL’S LUCK (George Nicholson), WEASEL (Trev Jones), SCOOTER (Leonard Marcus) . . . and not that anyone asked or anything, but HARRIS AND ME (Jonathan Hunt).  What book would you contribute to this list?

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. A Drowned Maiden’s Hair.

  2. I remember being surprised at how many people mentioned The Goats in that issue as well. I’d never even heard of it. In my defense, it was published when I was in kindergarten. But it had never been mentioned in any of my several young adult or children’s literature classes in undergrad or library school. I read it shortly after that Horn Book issue came out (had to ILL it) and was not impressed. I do not feel that it has held up well.

    As far as books I feel were passed over for the Newbery, I agree with The Phantom Tollbooth (one of my favorites as a child and still today). I need to add many of the other titles mentioned to my to be read list.

  3. WILD THINGS by Clay Carmichael

  4. While I’m in the “Megan Whalen Turner’s books just keep getting better” camp, the one that I would’ve at least liked to see an honor for (Newbery or Printz) is Queen of Attolia. I think it’s just as much YA as Kit’s Wilderness, which won the Printz that year. I wouldn’t boot out A Year Down Yonder from the Newbery canon (I think it’s brilliant) but I might trade, say, The Wanderer for QOA.

    I also have some serious love & respect for Elizabeth Wein’s books, and think The Lion Hunter and/or The Empty Kingdom would hold up with the honors those years (2008 & 2009 awards).

  5. Oh! And A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant (2006) – I would trade that in a heartbeat for several of the 2007 Newbery books.

  6. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m on the Elizabeth Wein bandwagon, too, but the one that I would have gone with was THE SUNBIRD (2004) which would have competed in the same year that KIRA-KIRA won with LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY, THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION, and AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS as Honor books.

  7. I wouldn’t argue with The Sunbird as a 4th honor or in place of Kira-Kira.

  8. Gotta 2nd WILD THINGS!

  9. Seems almost every year there’s one that didn’t make it from my list that upsets me. Some didn’t even make the notables list. But I also realize that it really is dependent on the make up of the committee.

    However, these are the ones I often recommend that people come back and say, “I don’t understand why this didn’t win the Newbery.”

    Tuck Everlasting
    Alabama Moon
    The City of Ember
    A Tale Dark and Grimm
    Because of Mr. Terupt
    The Truth About Sparrows
    Each Little Bird That Sings
    How to Steal a Dog
    When the Whistle Blows

  10. Jonathan Hunt says:

    This comment is completely off-topic, but . . . We often squabble about books that appeal to the upper end of the Newbery range (i.e. ages 12-14) with the question being: Are these books too old? Ironically, the Printz committee looks at the same books with a different question: Are these books too young? Sarah Couri has been leading a discussion of this issue by focusing on two titles–DRAWING FROM MEMORY and DEAD END IN NORVELT–that we’ve discussed here, and it’s interesting to see them through a different viewpoint.

  11. Eric Carpenter says:

    William Steig’s DOMINIC over Julie of the Wolves for sure.

  12. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I know you’re a big William Steig fan, Eric, but I think THE REAL THIEF published the following year is actually even better than DOMINIC–or ABEL’S ISLAND. I’d love to ditch SLAVE DANCER, move THE DARK IS RISING into the Medal, and give the lone Honor to THE REAL THIEF.

  13. I beat this particular drum regularly, but it drives me crazy that HARRIET THE SPY got nothing in 1964, while that piece of mindless drivel, IT’S LIKE THIS, CAT, won the medal. The honor books don’t shine in memory for that year, either (RASCAL by Sterling North and THE LONER by Ester Wier).

    A bad committee. It happens.

  14. Wait. I see I ranted this exact same rant here two years ago, and Wendy corrected me: it was the 1965 medal that HARRIET didn’t get, not 1964. So SHADOW OF A BULL won over HARRIET, with ACROSS FIVE APRILS as the honor book. I would therefore kick SHADOW down to an honor with ACROSS FIVE APRILS and award HARRIET the medal.

  15. Nancy, I totally agree with you that HARRIET should have won the Newbery — whether the year was 1964, 1965, or practically any other year. But I actually happen to like that other “mindless piece of drivel” that you detest. : ) In its own way, I think IT’S LIKE THIS, CAT was rather groundbreaking too and have often wondered if having a “modern kid growing up in NY story” win in 1964 didn’t hurt HARRIET’s chances in 1965. As for that 1964 committee, RASCAL is a modern classic (I haven’t read it in a while, so shouldn’t comment on its quality) and I’ve always thought that THE LONER was one of the GREAT little-known Newbery winners of all time. We’ll have to get Jonathan or Nina to confirm this, but I think that back in ’64, the same committee picked both the Newbery and Caldecott. If that’s the case, you have to admit they did a good job choosing that year’s Caldecott winner, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

  16. Dave R, with all due respect… Because of Mr Terupt was so overwritten it isn’t even funny. If you’re going to tell a story with seven different narrators, it would probably be a good idea *not* to make any of your narrators be complete stereotypes. That mean girl – can’t remember her name – was the most odious offender, and her “turnaround” was completely unrealistic. One of my least favorite books of 2010.

    I can’t really argue with Grey King in 1976, but I agree that Tuck Everlasting should have at least pulled an honor. Probably would have been better switching them and making Grey King one of the 3 honors and slapping the gold on Tuck.

  17. Not long ago, I asked my husband for his favorite boyhood book. “RASCAL! ” was his instantaneous and fervent reply. So I reread it to him as he drove me to a far-flung school visit and I can tell you it was and is a complex, moving, beautifully written, marvelous book about an unfettered childhood, the natural world around us and the up- and downsides of human-animal relations, fully deserving of its Newbery Honor.

  18. Eric Carpenter says:

    Jonathan, while I really enjoyed The Real Thief when I read it as an adult, Dominic is a book that was so ever present in my childhood I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t heard it, so I may be bias in my unwavering love for this title in particular.
    Speaking very briefly about all three of these Steig titles with Leonard Marcus a few weeks ago and suggested to him that since his new Phantom Tollbooth project has been such a success he ought to follow it up with an annotated Steig omnibus. Marcus sang the praises of Dominic and I have my fingers crossed that this could somehow, someday become a reality.

  19. I would love to see an annotated Steig omnibus. I’d climb aboard right away. Dominic was one of my favoritest books when I was a kid.

    Also, Half Magic should have placed, for goodness’ sake.

  20. More recently, I would have loved to see Shannon Hale’s GOOSE GIRL get the Newbery that year. It was definitely my favorite book that year. I was glad when PRINCESS ACADEMY got an Honor, but it was my least favorite of her books. I also agree with Jess about QUEEN OF ATTOLIA. That’s my favorite of Megan Whalen Turner’s books.

    And PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH didn’t win anything? That’s a crime! HALF MAGIC? Oh yes, totally deserving!

  21. Jonathan Hunt says:

    PRINCESS ACADEMY is easily my favorite Shannon Hale book–and she has a sequel coming out next year. :-)

  22. Sheila Kelly Welch says:

    RASCAL deserved its honor! And I agree, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOTH should have been at least an honor book. THE GOATS still lingers in my memory although I read it long ago. What about MY FRIEND FLICKA and THE YEARLING? And more recently, I loved PROTECTING MARIE by Henkes.


    And I would very much have liked to see A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT get an honor. A lovely and unusual little book, so well crafted.

  24. Besides the obvious, Harriet the Spy, I’m with Dave R on Alabama Moon. But the one that bothered me recently was The Night Fairy, which I feel is a perfect little book.

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