Welcome back for another season of Heavy Medal! With such a strong field of books, it promises to be more exciting–and contentious–than ever. WONDER by R.J. Palacio emerged as a popular favorite from the spring season while LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead and SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS by Laura Amy Schlitz have dominated the buzz since their respective publications last month. But there are lots of strong middle grade fiction contenders to consider and a host of strong possibilities in less traditional Newbery genres to sort through. If you need to brush up on some of them then please check out our running Newbery 2013 reading list, the goodreads Newbery 2013 poll, and the For Those About to Mock blog.
If I may build on the racing metaphor alluded to in the title of this post, those cars with the best qualifying times are rewarded with better starting positions in the final race and, of course, no starting position is more coveted than pole position, being the inside track on the front row. So, if we may think of our initial readings as qualifying rounds, which books have earned more serious consideration for a second reading? And which one has earned pole position?
For me, no work of fiction has impressed as much as NO CRYSTAL STAIR by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (which has already picked up the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction). Likewise, MOONBIRD by Phillip Hoose and BOMB by Steve Sheinkin strike me as the best nonfiction books so far. And if I had to deliver my first round of official Newbery nominations a month prematurely (still lots of reading) then it would be these three. Over to you. Which books, in your estimation, have the inside track? And pole position?