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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

2013 Newbery Reading List

Here are some of the more promising candidates for the 2013 Newbery Medal.  Some of the starred review information may quickly become outdated–if it isn’t already.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate (three stars) is a novel in prose poems with rich themes.

DRAGONSWOOD by Janet Lee Carey (two stars) is a sequel to the author’s earlier fantasy book.

THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis (two stars) is a sequel to Newbery Medal winner BUD, NOT BUDDY.

STEP GENTLY OUT by Helen Frost (two stars) is a single poem with striking photographic illustrations.

PENNY AND HER SONG by Kevin Henkes (three stars) is an easy reader.

PRINCESS ACADEMY 2 by Shannon Hale is coming in the fall.  I can’t wait!

TITANIC: VOICES FROM THE DISASTER by Deborah Hopkinson (two stars) is a nonfiction account on the 100th year anniversary of the disaster.

THE LIONS OF LITTLE ROCK by Kristin Levine (three stars) is historical fiction about the year after the Little Rock Nine.

WE’VE GOT A JOB by Cynthia Levinson (three stars) is a nonfiction book about the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March.

SON by Lois Lowry, the final book in the Giver quartet, publishes in the fall.

NO CRYSTAL STAIR by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (two stars) a documentary novel about the life of a Harlem bookseller.

THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen is a fantasy adventure.  Great pageturner.  Should be a big hit with readers.

MILES TO GO FOR FREEDOM by Linda Barrett Osborne (three stars) is a lavishly illustrated nonfiction book about Jim Crow.

WONDER by R.J. Palacio (three stars) is about a kid with a deformed face about to start school for the first time.

MAY B by Caroline Starr Rose (two stars) is a historical novel in verse.

WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS by Gary Schmidt is an epic high fantasy with a contemporary setting.  This one also comes in the fall.

LITTLE ROCK GIRL 1957 by Shelley Tougas (two stars) is a nonfiction book about the iconic photograph.

CROW by Barbara Wright (four stars) is a historical fiction set during the Reconstruction.

Please feel free to add your own recommendations here, now and throughout the spring and summer.  See you in the fall.  Signing off for now.

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. Signing off here and heading over to SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books ( where the contenders are to be announced tomorrow. See which of the ALA Award winners, your overlooked favorites, and a few surprises perhaps are among them.

  2. Aww…..I haven’t commented much, but I’ve been eagerly following the discussions. Thanks again for a marvelous blog. I have The Lions of Little Rock checked out. I’ll be rooting for Kristin Levine–she’s a northern Virginia writer. Of course, she’s a great writer, and The Lions of Little Rock has already earned fantastic reviews, so it’s not purely based on geography.

    There’s a nonfiction book (out in March) that I’m keenly interested in. It’s called The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure, and it’s about the fairy photographs faked by two little British girls at the turn of the last century. Kirkus reviewed it very favorably.

  3. A slight correction (I’m going through your wonderful list and adding them to future orders and my neverending TBR list): looks like Helen Frost’s forthcoming book is titled Step Gently Out, according to Baker and Taylor. Of course, not unusual for titles to change so quickly!

    B&T has a 10/25/11 publication date for I Lay My Stitches Down; Publishers Weekly apparently reviewed in November, but the other review publications only recently reviewed it. (Looks great, so I’m glad that you included it anyway.)

    Several of these books were “surprises”-and some are already out…lucky me! (We route our review journals-I’m second in line, so I don’t see them right away)

  4. The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone has 2 starred reviews already. Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan has 3 starred reviews (plus previous winner, so perhaps of note) and leans towards the younger novel end. Polly Horvath’s Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire also has 2 stars and hits the chapter book range a bit. Finally Veera Hiranandani has 2 stars for The Whole Story of Half a Girl. So much to read already and as always, so little time!

    It’s been a pleasure following the blog this year – I came so close to getting the entire shortlist read in time this year (much closer than I got last year for sure!) and have high hopes that next year I’ll get all the way through. Looking forward to seeing how much reading I have to do for the Battle of the Books!

  5. Elle Librarian says:

    ASHES by Laurie Halse Anderson should be out in the fall as well (the conclusion to the Seeds of America triology, which began with CHAINS).

  6. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Jennifer, thanks for noting the corrections; I’ve changed them above. I think I just got the title of STEP GENTLY OUT confused with I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN. As for that latter title, I was sure it was a 2011 publication, but then Follett had the copyright date listed as 2012. And thanks also to Jen B for noting the additonal starred reviews. I actually knew about KINDRED SOULS, but just forgot to list it here. Keep those recs coming!

  7. THE WILD BOOK by Margarita Engle is, like MAY B., a historical novel in verse with a dyslexic main character (although neither, I think, uses the word dyslexia). TWB is set in Cuba in 1912. I’ve read MAY B and loved it; looking forward to Engle’s.

  8. Another gentle correction: Christopher Paul Curtis’ THE MIGHTLY MISS MALONE is more of a companion novel to BUD, NOT BUDDY, not a sequel. The events in that book occur in parallel time to those in BNB. And it’s a fabulous read!

  9. And Fairy Ring got a star from The Horn Book! Just saw it on Roger Sutton’s blog. I swear I don’t know Mary Losure or have any affiliation with Candlewick. Just really looking forward to it.

  10. Another Gary Schmidt! Get out of town!

    I just finished May B. and was underwhelmed.

    Any word on GLORY BE? I heard an interview with the author on NPR. We are reading it for our first bookclub book of the year.

    Have IVAN and MISS MALONE waiting in the other room.

    I’m sad when perfect books get encumbered by sequels – PRINCESS ACADEMY, Lois Lowry (whimper, whimper) Was LOVE STAR GIRL not enough of a cautionary tale?

  11. And Monica, I can’t wait!

  12. Eric Carpenter says:

    I’m looking forward to getting my hands on:
    Liar & Spy – Rebecca Stead
    Summer of the Gypsy Moths – Sara Pennypacker
    Fake Mustache – Tom Angleberger
    and of course the likely too old for newbery Bitterblue

  13. Genevieve says:

    Princess Academy 2 is called PALACE OF STONE.

  14. Genevieve says:

    New books by Rebecca Stead and Gary Schmidt? Hurray!

    And Fake Mustache sounds great.

  15. Omg omg omg PRINCESS ACADEMY 2?! thank you for making my day!! I cannot wait! Also- just got a copy of the MIGHTY MISS MALONE, and she is miiighty fabulous. Definitely keep your eye on her.

  16. Also, a big thank you to Jonathan and Nina. As always, this blog was so much fun and so infromative. I already can’t wait till next years Newbery!

  17. Gary Schmidt wrote a fantasy novel???? I don’t know whether to be excited or nervous.

    The 2012 book I’m looking forward to the most is Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse. I loved her 2010 novel The Coming of the Dragon, which I thought was good enough to garner more attention and talk than it did.

    Thanks for the wonderful year everyone! Especially Jonathan and Nina for all your hard work.

  18. Elizabeth Bird says:

    TWELVE KINDS OF ICE by Ellen Obed and there’s a Grace Lin book due out in the fall that’s already getting buzz. FYI.

  19. Jonathan Hunt says:

    SLJ has just given NO CRYSTAL STAIR by Nelson, TITANIC by Hopkinson, and BENEATH A METH MOON by Woodson (too old?) their third starred reviews, while COLD CEREAL by Rex earns its second. And, looking back through my list, I also forgot to mention that PROMISE THE NIGHT by Michaela MacColl has two starred reviews. Also, Phillip Hoose has a new nonfiction book called MOONBIRD that looks really interesting . . .

  20. Grace Lin too!!!!!!!

    And Eric I can’t believe I forgot the Pennypacker. I’d just put it on my wish list.

  21. Elle Librarian says:

    Carl Hiaasen has another new one coming out in March as well (CHOMP). Any reviews on that one yet?

  22. Printed out the list…hope to read these and have a better start at the discussions next fall and winter.

  23. I actually read Gary Schmidt’s older book, Straw Into Gold, before any of the Newbery-Honored ones. It’s fantasy, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and very good. So I’m excited about this one!

  24. I’m listening to THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE on audio, and my gut reaction is: instant Newbery! I haven’t finished it, so of course I should reserve judgement, but it’s just SO good, I can’t help but get a little enthusiastic.


    Can’t wait for PALACE OF STONE!

    And as others have mentioned, we have another Grace Lin book to look forward to this Fall- THE STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY, a companion to her Newbery Honor winning WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. And that’s in addition to DUMPLING DAYS, published in January of this year. The strongest volume of the charming “Year of” series yet, in my opinion!

  25. JAKE AND LILY by Jerry Spinelli, and APPLEWHITES AT WIT’S END by Stephanie Tolan are both excellent books by excellent authors. I’ve also been hearing some buzz about REMARKABLE by Lizzie K. Foley.

  26. Another APPLEWHITES, where do I sign up. I’m not sure why some sequels send me into raptures and some fill me with dread.

  27. Just finished The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Hiranandani (2 stars from PW and Kirkus). I thought it was good (I think it will be a good one to recommend to middle grade girls who like realistic fiction), but I don’t think it’s going to be one of the best of the year. I could see myself being possibly swayed by a good argument, but it felt like it was trying to cover an awful lot of ground and ended up spread a little thin.

  28. Jonathan Hunt says:

    The PW Spring Announcements are out, but unfortunately not available for free online anymore. But the Fall Sneaks are here—

    –with all kinds of goodies. New books by Laura Amy Schlitz, Karen Cushman, Sharon Creech, and Adam Gidwitz to name a few. Have a look.

  29. Marybeth says:

    Hello, DaNae
    Did we take the same ALSC Online Newbery Class last spring? Nice to see your name.

    I just finished CROW and overall think its great HistFic. It will take a patient child reader to get through the first 100+ pages until the plot takes off. Jacket art doesn’t help sell it to children, either. That being said, the last 1/3 of the book is very tensely written, the sense of impending doom is palatable. Memorable characters, imagery, parallel themes converge. Schoolkids know about the US Civil Rights movments but will appreciate learning how segregation became law. At least I did!

  30. Barnhill, of THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK fame, has a new novel coming out too . . . IRON HEARTED VIOLET.

    Sometimes, with debut authors, it takes a while to find their footing. I liked THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK and like many others, saw TONS of writing potential. This new one looks to be fantasy.

  31. Steffaney Smith says:

    Lots of good writing to look forward to reading, but the one book I can’t wait to get my hands on will be Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Ashes.” I’ve been stalking her website trying to get a pub. date!

  32. Read the newest of The Knights’ Tales by Gerald Morris and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was anywhere near as good as Sir Gawain. Our book club just read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and now I can’t wait for Starry River of the Sky in October!

  33. HammockReader says:

    Just finished CROW and agree with DaNae above, except I thought it was more interesting to get into than she did. Liked it enough that I suggested my 6th grade teacher add it to his 3 books of required -reading-over-the-summer. Thought MIGHTY MALONE was OK, but not great, but that WONDER was great, but can’t tell if kids will stay with it. CHOMP was fun, but not another HOOT.

  34. I just finished The One and only Ivan, and I loved it! I instantly added the book to my list of favorites. It was funny, thought provoking, and the characters are heartwarming. Just a beautiful book!

  35. If you’re reading these comments and you haven’t read WONDER yet, do so immediately. It’s incredible and deserves many awards in the coming months.

  36. According to amazon, Ashes doesn’t come out until February 2013. 🙁

  37. Elle Librarian says:

    KellyI – the audio version of Ashes doesn’t come out until February, but I believe the book version comes out in October.

  38. Sway by debut author Amber McRee Turner oublished by Disney Hyperion is getting great reviews and some Newbery buzz. Story told in the authentic Southern voice of 10-year-old Cass as she lives through the heartbreak of a parent abandoning the family. Full of magical realism with original word play. Brings to mind the movies, Big Fish and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  39. Julie Corsaro says:

    How about Sy Montgomery’s Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World?

  40. Has anyone gotten their hands on SHADOW ON THE MOUNTAIN by 2011 newbery honoree Margi Preus?
    Hearing some good things but it doesn’t hit the shelves until September.

  41. Eric, Amazon has it in stock

  42. I love Son by Lois Lowry, and “my kids” are loving Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz. Sophia’s War, by Avi, is good, too. Precious Bones, by Mika Ashley-Hollinger, has a wonderful community of characters. Has anyone yet read Laugh with the Moon, by Shana Burg?

  43. Oh! And I can’t forget Liar & Spy by Stead!!!

  44. THE SPINDLERS just got its third starred review (it was book of the day at SLJ).

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