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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Black Hole and Moonbird

Quick!  Name all the science-themed nonfiction books in the Newbery canon.  VOLCANO by Patricia Lauber.  One?  Yes, you read that right: there is only one science book in the entire canon.  Perhaps that will change as there are several excellent science books this year. We could spend quite a bit of time with THE MIGHTY MARS […]

Meet Thom Barthelmess and the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards!

Thom Barthelmess (curator and lecturer, Butler Children’s Literature Center, Dominican University, Chicago, IL) has been President of ALSC, has served on the Newbery Committee, and recently chaired the 2012 Boston Globe Horn Book Awards Committee, which will present its awards this Friday evening at Simmons College. They chose as their Fiction winner one of our […]

Splendors and Glooms: Jonathan’s Take

Interpretation of the theme or concept?  Check. Presentation of information?  Check. Development of a plot?  Check. Delineation of characters?  Check. Delineation of a setting?  Check. Appropriateness of style?  Check. Boring?  Check. Oh, wait!  That’s not part of the critiera.  Nevertheless, that is my reaction to this book on a first read (and if you don’t […]

Splendors and Glooms: Nina’s Take

Of any predictions I could hazard in Newbery season, my best bet would be to say that the discussion over this title will get contentious.  This seems to be a “love it or hate it” title, and if you’re not loving it, it asks a lot of you.  So take some time to get yourself […]

No Crystal Stair

WHAT IS A DOCUMENTARY NOVEL, ANYWAY? I’m only familiar with two children’s novels billed as such.  Avi’s NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, an older Newbery Honor book, is told in completely fictional documents.  No resemblance there.  Deborah Wiles’s more recent book, COUNTDOWN, however, liberally uses period photographs and quotes to document the 60s setting of the […]

It takes 15

We’ve plunged into discussion, but I’m going to take a breather to give a brief primer on the Newbery procedures. The Newbery Terms and Criteria are the grounding  definitions for the committee.  If you’re not familiar with them, it’s worth reading them in detail.  You’ll find that for all of the defining going on there, […]


One of the quirks of this publishing year is the prevalence of so many sequels (and companion novels) to previous Newbery books.  In addition to THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE, I count five more: APPLEWHITES AT WIT’S END by Stephanie Tolan, PALACE OF STONE by Shannon Hale, ONE YEAR IN COAL HARBOR by Polly Horvath, STARRY RIVER […]

The Mighty Miss Malone

There are several worthy books out this year by Newbery medal- or honor-winning authors.  One word as we embark on this discussion: Resist. That’d be: resist the temptation to compare these books to the author’s previous work.  In other discussions, that comparison can be useful. The Newbery Committee, however, considers only eligible books in comparison […]

Calling Caldecott…and a special year

Among other “mock” blogs we’ll be pointing you to throughout the season, make sure to stop at Calling Caldecott, now out of it’s gate over at the Horn Book. Did you know that it’s the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott Medal?  Check out the incredible logo that Brian Selznick made for ALA, and the long […]


It’s easy to see why this book has so many fans.  What’s less apparent is why so many people believe it’s the frontrunner.  That’s not an easy position to hold as we found out last year with OKAY FOR NOW: first the excessive praise followed by the nasty backlash and the obsessive scrutiny that comes […]