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

Online Ballot Results

Here are the numbers from our ballot! We had 61 voters. Assigning 4 points to first place, 3 points to second place, and 2 points to 3rd place votes, I’ve tried to put them into some sort of ranking.

  1st place votes 2nd place votes 3rd place votes Total points
OKAY FOR NOW 24 11 7 143
AMELIA LOST 15 8 12 108
SIR GAWAIN 1 0 4 12


So now we discuss the results and decide how to proceed. There are some surprises in here to me, though not at the top. OKAY and AMELIA have been seeming like the frontrunners in comments here, and … trying to loosely apply the Newbery voting mechanism to a huge number of voters … while OKAY doesn’t have the 32 first place votes that would clearly make it a majority 1st place winner, it has close to it, and it does have over a 32 point spread over AMELIA. We could call it our winner and AMELIA a sole honor.

And then there is MONSTER floating there in the midfield, making a strong play to place. Should it be a second honor and call it there? But while AMELIA had votes from over half of us (35), MONSTER didn’t quite (28). This isn’t a requirement for honors, but it does just reveal how strong AMELIA is over the rest. Recall that the Newbery isn’t just about honoring the most distinguished books of the year…it’s really about setting a standard for the highest quality writing in literature for kids. The committee thinks hard about where it wants to set that bar in determining its honors. Recall our praise for “less is more”?

It’s the next group down that really surprises me. I did not hear a lot of Newbery love for WONDERSTRUCK here! I placed it under I BROKE MY TRUNK only to show you that that one has more first place votes…though both have 18 votes total. [Update: in reformatting the table, I relisted these in order by total points. 9:30 am PST 1/11 nl]. TROUBLE also surprises me here, since though it does have its appreciators, and I still think it has an oddball’s chance, you all pretty much dissuaded me from it. These each have votes from fewer than half of the voters, and are quite a drop down from AMELIA, but in a committee I might expect a clamor to reballot for honors to give some of these a chance.

The PENDERWICKS at the bottom that really surprises me….though there are a lot of detractors here, it seems like it had its defenders. Maybe they were dissuaded? Or maybe they didn’t read and vote.

MONEY is my heartbreak on this ballot, though if I were on the committee this would be my signal to rally. I was the first place voter for this. I think it did not get a lot of discussion, so If we went to a second ballot, I would ask to discuss this a little more. I’d hope of course to persuade some voters to keep it in the running, but I might be convinced to let it go and change my votes, which gives me a valuable 1st place slot to fill. (My second place went to AMELIA and third to OKAY.)

HEART and GAWAIN don’t surprise me much based on the discussion here…but I am interested to see what happens at our Mock Newbery this weekend. In online “discussion” it can be too easy to let things fizzle too quickly, which is what may have happened for HEART. I don’t necessarily see it as a medalist at this point, but I think it provides a strong counterpoint to other contenders with its strengths.

What do you all think? I’m wary of reballoting here, because we don’t have a good mechanism, unlike at a meeting, for the real focus on discussion that needs to happen here, nor any way of making sure that the same 61 voters participate in the next ballot.

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. Regarding your surprise at the way some of the voting went: I know that I, at least, was a pretty active detractor for some books I actually liked; I didn’t think any of these books was perfect and I brought up my doubts even when I thought a particular book was one of the best of the bunch. If others do the same, that skews the conversation away from the actual voting results. Since I don’t love anything here I didn’t feel like I had anything to “lose” by discussing faults.

    Regarding ending the ballot: I’m not invested in a reballot, myself. I’m trying to decide what I think about one honor vs. two. I don’t want to be overly swayed by the artificial barrier created by the 100 point mark. A Monster Calls has only 20 points less than Amelia Lost, which has a whopping 35 less than Okay For Now, so in that way they might be called close enough. But the point difference, the “less than half the voters” thing you point out, and the far-fewer first place votes sway me to the side of one honor book.

  2. On the OTHER hand, looking again, A Monster Calls is significantly higher-rated than the next book down, which sways me back a bit to two honor books.

  3. I would vote for two honors in this case and no re-balloting. Like Wendy said, A MONSTER CALLS is significantly higher than the next “pack” of books. I feel like a one-honor finale, would totally leave it out in the cold. And since it too, seemed to separate itself from the pack (albeit, not in the same sense that OKAY FOR NOW, or AMELIA LOST did), I would vote for it to be recognized as well.

    I’d like to speak about the middle-of-the-pack three, and the order in which you placed them here. I BROKE MY TRUNK, WONDERSTRUCK, and THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA. Is this how the actual committee would “list” the results of their books, with an emphasis on “first place” votes? If so, why emphasize “first place” votes but not “second” and “third” since each committee member is carefully entrusted with supplying three titles? To me, since you’ve developed the “point system”, I would feel it needs to be honored, and place WONDERSTRUCK ahead of I BROKE MY TRUNK. Likewise, THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA only has one less *total* vote than those two yet one *more* “first place” vote than WONDERSTRUCK.

    I see what you did, since the two had the same number of total votes, I guess I’m just asking if this is what the real committee would do. If it is, I guess I’m not seeing why.

  4. Nina Lindsay says:

    I should emphasize: please don’t read too much into the way I listed these. We’re looking at the field. I could have listed them in alphabetical order, but it would have been too confusing. Truthfully, I wrote I BROKE MY TRUNK up before WONDERSTRUCK, realized they should have been reversed if I was going in order by total points and then thought, “what the heck, let’s make it interesting.”

    When the results go out to the public, of course, there is no distinction, or order, between honor books. I BROKE and WONDERSTRUCK are pretty close on this ballot so I think we should look at them as a pair. In the end, the committee does choose honor books by total points based on the final ballot they make. Here’s the procedure from the manual:

    Selection of Honor Books
    Immediately following determination of the winner of the Newbery Medal, and following appropriate discussion, the committee will entertain the following:
    • Whether honor books will be named.
    • Whether the committee wishes to choose as honor books the next highest books on the original winning ballot or to ballot again.
    • If the committee votes to use the award-winning ballot, they must then determine how many honor books to name.
    • If the committee chooses to ballot for honor books, only books that received points on the award winning ballot may be included. The same voting procedure is followed as for the award winner.
    • If the committee has chosen to ballot for honor books, following that ballot, the committee will vote how many books of those receiving the highest number of points are to be named honor books.

  5. Nina Lindsay says:

    (ok, I got the table reformatted and switched the order to be by total points).

  6. Ha! You didn’t necessarily need to go to all that work! I knew what you were doing. I was just asking what the real committee would do. Thanks!

  7. Nina Lindsay says:

    Hey Mr. H, today we have to believe we *are* the real committee! That’s the fun.

  8. Sara Ralph says:

    Obviously Okay for Now is the winner. I wouldn’t reballot, but would include Amelia and Monster for honors. The rest of the books have far less than 1/2 the points as the winner, which put them out of the running in my opinion.

  9. Another possible reason to argue A MONSTER CALLS worthy of being an honor, it actually has more total first and second place votes, than AMELIA LOST.

  10. I’m completely happy with these choices, but then, my votes were for OKAY FOR NOW, A MONSTER CALLS, and AMELIA LOST. You would have some change if you did a second vote, since the 42 votes for OKAY FOR NOW would get redistributed. (If the same people vote.) But not necessarily a different outcome.

  11. Part of the fun of the announcement is finding out how many honored books were on our shortlist, and how many were off the radar altogether. I love that you’ve directed our attention to so many good books, and got us thinking about where they fall in terms of the criteria.

  12. Mark Flowers says:

    I didn’t list A MONSTER CALLS on my ballot, but it was easily my number 4 pick, so it would get my vote on a reballot. I agree with the crowd, OFN plus 2 honors.

  13. I didn’t vote, because I have not read everything, but I really truly hope Sir Gawain gets some very serious attention.

  14. I’d go for two honors from this ballot. I voted for AMELIA LOST, A MONSTER CALLS and OKAY FOR NOW (I think in that order…) so like Sondy I might be biased!

    You asked about THE PENDERWICKS – from this shortlist, it would probably be my #4 choice. If I’d been voting with more strategy, I might have included it to get it more attention, but I just voted for my true top 3.

  15. I’m with everyone else on this for all the reasons already stated. Okay For Now with the two honors Amelia Lost and A Monster Calls. I don’t think we need to do it again. Of course, Amelia and Monster were my #1 and #2 votes, so I too am biased.

    I’m also sad about The Money We’ll Save. (It got my #3 spot.) Although I sat there and debated between it and Okay for Now for longer than my kids, waiting for their lunch, appreciated.

  16. First of all, WAAAHH about THE MONEY WE’LL SAVE. I share your heart break Nina. Secondly, I’m totally with Wendy concerning book discussion. I was definitely MORE critical of the books that I thought were the top contenders.There is a lot to discuss in a well crafted book! Also, I felt they deserved to be analyzed, and I wanted other people’s thoughts on every little nit-picky detail concerning them.
    Finally, I like the idea of naming OFN the winner and calling AMELIA and MONSTER the honors.

  17. Nina Lindsay says:

    From the comments so far, it’s sounding like we probably have a winner (OFN) and two honors (AMELIA AND MONSTERS). Redisucssion and reballoting in person might shake a few others out of the woods when voters get to move to their fourths… but we’ll get that level of detail at our in-person Mock Newbery on Monday, and report on it to you next Tuesday.

    I’ll leave this open for comment overnight in case anyone wants to make a different argument on calling this.

  18. Sheila Kelly Welch says:

    Thanks, Nina and Jonathan, for doing all that reading, posting, and commenting. It’s been fun to participate in the discussion. I’m sure we’ll all be waiting anxiously for the results of the official judges.

    What editors need are panels of volunteers to read book manuscripts before they are published. But then again, maybe not, since not even the experts agree on what makes “great.” : – )

  19. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I, too, would probably advocate for two honor books, but if A MONSTER CALLS were a divisive title and it came down to a yes/no vote, and it didn’t have support from half the committee, then I could see the committee going with one honor book. I think you can also make a case for five honor books (although not with a list as short as ours), especially if we have a nonfiction and easy reader included. The downside to that, of course, is that you’ve diluted the the prestige of the honor. What would you think of OKAY FOR NOW as the Medal with AMELIA LOST, A MONSTER CALLS, WONDERSTRUCK, I BROKE MY TRUNK!, and THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA? Not for ours, but if the real committee did something like that? Remember in the early days of the Newbery 6 to 8 Honor books was quite common–and there were probably fewer children’s books published then.

  20. Jonathan, I would enjoy that if the Committee did it. I don’t think that having more Honor books really “dilutes” the honor much. It spreads attention to more of the worthy titles. If the titles came from different types, all the better. After all, that would put a spotlight on one distinguished book from that category, so you can make the case that the dilution is even less.

    I prefer more honor books over less. Because I would make the case that rarely is there a clear distinction between exact levels of distinction. So why not highlight yet more distinguished books for children?

  21. I personally, tend to like the “less is more” idea, however isn’t even 5 honor books (which seems like a lot), technically “less” considered ALL the children’s literature published within a year?

    If MAY AMELIA is in that list of 5, I’m all for it! If not, well, “less is more.” :)

  22. I’m all for more honor books. And I would so love to see I BROKE MY TRUNK get one of those honors (I voted for it in first place, though OKAY FOR NOW has more of my heart, but I really think I BROKE MY TRUNK is a more perfect book of its kind, and ideally suited to early readers.).

    Nina, I was a Penderwicks supporter (and it got my third place vote).

  23. Having recently taken KT’s Newbery class I’m conscience how many honored books don’t hold up well over time. Stepping back and thinking to the future, which I know is not a consideration for the committee, I believe the top three resonate with timeless themes. I trust future readers will not groan and squirm through any of them if they so happen to be ordered to read from the past.

    I’m satisfied with two honors.

    Nina, Penderwicks would have been my number four choice and it is an easy choice for me to defend.

Speak Your Mind