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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Dead End in Dallas!

While DEAD END IN NORVELT wasn’t on our shortlist, the book earned three starred reviews, made three best of the year lists, and won the Scott O’Dell Award.  We had a running conversation about the book here and here and here.  Similarly, we did not include INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN despite the fact that it earned four starred reviews, made four best of the year lists, and won the National Book Award.  It was discussed here and here and here.  Both of these books were always considered strong contenders for the Newbery and their announcements yesterday should not have surprised anyone.  BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE, on the other hand, was a surprise.  But we expect surprises.  It wouldn’t be any fun if the Newbery committee simply validated hype, buzz, and popular opinion.  We did give a brief shout-out to BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE here, courtesy of the Horn Book.

Clearly, our discussion here coalesced around OKAY FOR NOW, A MONSTER CALLS, and AMELIA LOST.  The absence of these books–the absence of any particular book–does not necessarily say anything about what the committee thought about that particular book.  Surely, the committee–or, perhaps more accurately, a subset of the committee–appreciated each of these books in the way that we did.  It’s just that, collectively, they esteemed these three books to fit the criteria better.  So, yes, some omissions may be disappointing, but we cannot view these choices as the committee slighting certain books (as tempting as that is).  Rather, they simply chose to celebrate other worthy books.  And so I congratulate the 2012 Newbery committee on a job well done!  I look forward to reading BREAKING STALIN’S NOSE in the very near future, and we all look forward to what promises to be one of the more entertaining Newbery Medal speeches.

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. Hear, hear. The more I learn about the history of the awards, and the more I talk to current and former committee members, the more respect I have for the process. Good job all around.

  2. Has the notable list been posted? I haven’t been able to find it.

  3. Notables just finished their work today….

  4. Sam Bloom says:

    I’m looking forward to reading both Stalin and Norvelt – I was intimidated by Norvelt’s length earlier in the year when I was drowning in other reading.

  5. Well, I’m really looking forward to reading Norvelt. I passed it over earlier because it seemed too light, but now I’ve got the perfect excuse to indulge myself. :-)

  6. Sandy, I’m sitting down to indulge in a reread right now, finally, just, home and showered. Hopefully Stalin’s Nose is waiting for me at work, and over this last week of our blog season Jonathan and I may be able to collect our thoughts and offer some more comments on the awards. Whew, ALA Midwinter is a lot of work…mixing award speculation and announcements with board meetings is a rough combo. So nice to have seen several of you there!

  7. I was just thinking how nice it is that now I’ve met all of the above commenters & Jonathan except DaNae and Sandy D. (If you go to Annual, let us know!) It was great to meet you, folks! (And by the way, great choice for the Arbuthnot, Rachael!)

    I admit I was surprised, but not in a bad way. I’ve heard Jack Gantos speak and am really looking forward to this one. I’m a bit ashamed that after all this, I haven’t read ANY of the Newbery Honorees. And I haven’t read the Printz, Morris or Sibert winners, simply because our library system didn’t even have them. (I assume they are now on order, though!)

    I am really happy about Wonderstruck’s Schneider family win. That is an award that can take into account words and pictures together, and I think more appropriate. A huge part of what makes that book so good is that very thing — the way the words and pictures work together.

    I’m also really happy about Okay for Now’s Odyssey honor. I reread Okay for Now via audio, and that made me love it more. The narrator is brilliant, and listening to him made me notice more things I loved about the book. And the Odyssey committee doesn’t have to get bogged down with whether or not the plot is believable!

    I did love the Caldecott choice. A little sad that Stars wasn’t up there, but I never claimed to be an expert on art.

    And how wonderful that I Want My Hat Back got Geisel Honor. And I Broke My Trunk. Again, that award takes into account the synergistic thing that happens when words and pictures work together to make something even more wonderful than text or pictures separately.

    Also love the double honor Kadir Nelson got for Heart and Soul.

    Oh, and I’m totally looking forward to the Margaret Edwards Luncheon! I may have more luck convincing my many siblings who live in LA to attend that than to attend the Newbery Banquet. I’m going to buy my tickets right away!

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:
  9. One of my personal favorite announcements was when CLOSE TO FAMOUS was co-honored by Schneider with WONDERSTRUCK. I enjoyed it immensely myself. It’s brilliance has shown through, however, when I’ve given it to 5th and 6th grade girls who struggle to finish books. These are girls who want t be readers but have had a hard time moving beyond the security of Daisy Meadows to the more complex books that befit their age. Five different girls have claimed it as their favorite book of all time. I’ve begun lending out my personal copy just to keep up with demand. In fact, (duck, I’m about to drop a name) when Shannon Hale called asking for a recommendation for her niece who is too young for Twilight and struggles to read, but likes book with kissing, this is what I suggested.

  10. So glad to hear how well CLOSE TO FAMOUS is working with readers, DaNae! I liked that one so much (have just discovered Joan Bauer this year and am reading my way through her books).

  11. I’m a big fan of Joan Bauer (met her at a writer’s conference in Paris, and think Hope Was Here is brilliant), but hadn’t gotten this book read yet. Still very happy to have it honored. And that much more motivation to read it soon.

  12. Genevieve says:

    Sondy, I agree about Hope Was Here, and also Rules of the Road and the sequel, Best Foot Forward. And Squashed was all kinds of fun.

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