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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Our online ballot winners…and looking ahead

Despite a last minute plea for more honors, I think we’ll call the results of our online ballot:

Our winner:

OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt, published by Clarion, a division of Houghton Mifflin


Our honors, in alphabetical order:

AMELIA LOST: THE LIFE AND DISAPPEARANCE OF AMELIA EARHART by Candance Fleming, published by Schwartz & Wade, a division of Random House


A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, published by Candlewick Press


But stayed tuned for our official Mock Newbery winners to be decided on Monday, January 16th….where I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re able to shake out some different results! (If you’re planning on coming, but haven’t received an email with location/time details, please email me.)  Between now and the actual award announcements at ALA Midwinter (Jonathan and I will be there!), we’ll also be looking at other Mock Newbery results, and other contenders that didn’t make our shortlist.

So…  your question for today:

If you’d been able to introduce one “wild card” vote into your top 3, what would the title have been, what would it have bumped, and why?

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. I loved all three of these books, but I would opt to give A MONSTER CALLS the medal, OKAY FOR NOW an honor, and though it is not on the shortlist, my wildcard would be INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN for an honor.

  2. Mark Flowers says:

    I didn’t read nearly enough children’s lit this year (I was focused on YA), so I’m still hoping to get to many books. Of the books I got to, my wildcard would have been DIGGING FOR TROY by Jill Rubalcaba. A very overlooked, but deeply thought-provoking nonfiction book.

  3. As I’ve mentioned so many times, my wildcard vote would have been for TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE. I still probably would have given OKAY FOR NOW my 1st place vote, but TUESDAYS would be second, AMELIA would have been bumped, and A MONSTER CALLS would have gotten third.

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m not going to bump any of these books from our list because I think they are all representative of the types of books and the level of excellence that you would see in the top three to four dozen books the committee will seriously consider at Midwinter. That said, I think DEAD END IN NORVELT is a book that I’m impressed with, and wish we had discussed more here. We’ve never been able to muster much enthusiasm for it, but that may be because we never gave it its own post, but rather paired it with OKAY FOR NOW the first time around and then with WONDERSTRUCK, A MONSTER CALLS, and BREADCRUMBS the second time around. I also have to wonder how this book might have fared if it had been published in a different year than OKAY FOR NOW because of some striking similarities down to the eerily similar cover design.

  5. I very much agree with your last sentence, Jonathan. The books have a lot of similarities and it’s unfortunate that they came out in the same year; I said in my Goodreads review that I didn’t think Norvelt would get attention in Okay For Now’s year. Yet looking back on both books, after not having looked at either in quite some time, it seems like Norvelt is the more daring, risky book; Okay For Now is easier to like. It may actually be better (as was my first impression) or it may just be more comfortable.

    If I understand the wildcard question, we’re supposed to pick one to champion along with others that already have the consensus? Truthfully, I wouldn’t put any of these ten in my top three. But if that’s the way the game was going to be played, I would drop my vote for (probably) May Amelia and put in a vote either for No Passengers, which I think perhaps ought to win, or Drawing From Memory, which I think I’d have a shot at building consensus around.

  6. Wendy, I’m curious . . . have you reread NO PASSENGERS? Or just once through?

  7. Why don’t people talk about the fact that A MONSTER CALLS is so very similar to I KILL GIANTS? It seems incredibly odd to me. Have the major critics simply not read I KILL GIANTS?

    It seems to me that much of the ballyhoo around this book is because of the meta-story. Or because people are so specialized that they’re giving this book the kudos for a conceit it lifted from IKG. The sameness is so striking that I always just figured Siobahn Dowd had developed the idea based on IKG and her unfortunate passing prevented her from evolving the idea into it’s own place. I don’t mean that as an attack. All ideas come from somewhere. I’m only bothered that no one seems to mention it…not nearly so much as the fact that two other books have similar covers.

    I hope the committee members have a broader outlook.

  8. Yes, I reread recently.

  9. Hey, Nina, my comment on the last post wasn’t a plea for more honors in this poll (though I see how it was misleading) — I think the numbers in this vote were clear, and reballoting would be trickier. I think there was a comment about whether several of these books might get honors in the actual Newbery vote, and that’s what I meant when I said I was all for more honors.

  10. @Wendy, So even stronger feeling toward it after a reread? I was definitely intrigued by it the first time through but it’s a book that begs to be read again so I don’t know what to think about it without rereading and looking at some of the “clues” and whatnot.

  11. I agree completely with Jonathan about the overlooking of DEAD END in NORVELT. I find it a much more daring and deeper and more…truthful book than the Schmidt. Unlike (apparently) others, I was convinced by the characterization and the plot, I was astonished at the author’s ability to juggle humor and pathos, and I loved the way he integrated his thoughts about history and values and choosing what kind of person to be when you grow up into Jack’s very personal story. It all felt very authentic and earned, as opposed to the Schmidt, which feels slick and self-serving and at times false to me. At one point in NORVELT, Miss Volker says, “If you don’t know your history you won’t know the difference between the truth and wishful thinking.” And I know OKAY for NOW is historical fiction, not nonfiction, but to me it still feels like wishful thinking. Returning Vietnam vets being saluted (to maximum emotional effect)? Really? That kind of thing works for the particular scene Schmidt wrote but not really to reflect the truth of the times. (And to fend off any criticsm, yes I know it COULD have happened. It just didn’t happen very often or as a rule. Mostly returning Vietnam vets got screamed at and spit at etc.) OKAY for NOW has multiple examples of dramatic moments that serve a particular scene but don’t seem particularly earned and aren’t integrated into the rest of the book. NORVELT doesn’t seem to me to be gratuitous in that way at all.

  12. To this . . . “Returning Vietnam vets being saluted (to maximum emotional effect)? Really? That kind of thing works for the particular scene Schmidt wrote but not really to reflect the truth of the times. (And to fend off any criticsm, yes I know it COULD have happened. It just didn’t happen very often or as a rule. Mostly returning Vietnam vets got screamed at and spit at etc.)” . . .

    Umm . . . Lucas was definitely screamed at and spit on when they made their way through the crowd of protesters. People were telling him they were glad his legs were gone and they were glad he couldn’t see. I don’t think that scene was written in an uplifting, wishful way at all.

  13. So sorry! I didn’t remember that part at all. Thanks for setting me straight. Still, it’s interesting that my takeaway was the feel-good moment (and I hope I am correct in remembering that it was the climax of the scene).

  14. Martha, I just recently reread OKAY FOR NOW, and the general public was really awful to Lucas when he arrived, going right through an anti-Vietnam demonstration. Then no one would hire him and no one would hire him. I interrupted this comment to look for the salute, and the only one I can find is the one the soldier gave him who escorted him to New York City. That seems fully believable. Then he went through the Stop the War protest.

  15. FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP I feel was overlooked because of all the time spent on AMELIA. I did end up feeling AMELIA was the stronger of the two non fiction books, because of the plot line she created and her wise use of text features. However, I could maybe see FLESH giving MONSTER arun for it’ s money as an honor book.

  16. Katrina Bergen says:

    Oh dear, I didn’t like OK for Now at all. The worst part was when the anti war protestors were spitting at Lucas. There is no proof that anti-war protestors ever spit on return veterans. There is a lot of controversy about that. I may be propoganda. Is that really how we want kids to think about the anti-war movement. When I marched in those days I remember many injured vets marching with us.

  17. Katrina Bergen says:

    I vote for Penderwicks as number one. I think the way the father and son bonded over jazz was really well done.

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