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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Could be…who knows…

Tomorrow I fly to Seattle; the Newbery committee is headed there right now, if they didn’t come in yesterday to get acclimated. They may be preparing for the opening of their discussion, Friday morning, by reviewing the titles they feel they can most strongly champion. At the same time that they articulate their defense of those titles, they may be grooming their minds open to other possibilities…for the chance to be surprised, or to have their minds changed.

Picturing myself in that frame of mind…we all know what titles Jonathan and I have felt strongly for or against this year. (And you can find many of them at the just unveiled BoB contenders list) But what titles might I be the least surprised to end up surprised about?

TWELVE KINDS OF ICE by Ellen Bryan Obed is one we didn’t give a lot of bandwith to here, at least in comparison to its buzz. We considered it for our shortlist, but a late pub date and unlikeliness to be in public library collections knocked it for us. From a marketing perspective, this is a Holiday Gift Book, and so easy to overlook, but Obed’s writing is clean, playful, rhythmic, understated, and clearly technically distinguished. My one question is whether the “interpretation of theme or concept” is as distinguished as others this year for a child audience. To me, the full emotional punch of the story resides in an adult nostalgia. Still: such strong writing, I like how it holds up against other fare this year.

SON by Lois Lowry. I haven’t said anything about this title this year because…I didn’t think it was very good. It felt thin to me, and–much more than TWELVE KINDS OF ICE–to depend on an adult sensibility (of parenthood) for full appreciation. Yet it made 3 “best” lists this year so clearly I’m not getting something. Could this be one that someone could totally turn my head around on?

THREE TIMES LUCKY by Shelia Turnage. I started re-reading this one recently and have to admit its quick charm, lively style and strength of story. It’s a book that respects its audience’s desires and delivers with enthusiasm. I didn’t finish my re-read because I got bored, but…while I still see many other stronger titles this year, I can see this one being a consensus builder.

I am still harboring my own fondness for MIGHTY MISS MALONE, both Horvaths, WONDER SHOW and FOURMILE, but walking into the discussion based on the discussion we’ve had here, I’d already be ready to start setting those aside. Even though the Newbery Criteria keep us from comparing our eligible titles to titles of previous years, I do hold in my mind my own favorite Newbery winners and honors of the past, and as I moved forward towards voting I would be holding my choices up against those to make sure I am voting from the most thoughtful, rather than wishful, place. Which ones this year will be the ones to stand up there with THE WESTING GAME, THE THIEF, MRS. FRISBY & THE RATS OF NIMH, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO….

I don’t know what it is, but it is gonna be great

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. Nina! Now my colleagues are going to be wondering why I’m singing West Side Story songs all day! Grr. And also, have fun!

  2. “The air is humming…”

    I’m going to have that stuck in my head, possibly for the rest of the weekend.

    Thanks for a great discussion this year — can’t wait to see what wins!

  3. I’m going to be at ALA, too. Who else? I know DaNae is, also. I’ll be around the exhibit hall off and on, and a few other places; please stop and say hi if you recognize my nametag.

  4. From those mentioned, my choices:

    1st – Wonder
    2nd – Fourmile
    3rd – The Mighty Miss Malone

    I also loved The Lions of Little Rock, The Adventures of Beanboy and The One and Only Ivan.

  5. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    We’ve been surprised by three star books the past couple years, whether by established authors (Jack Gantos) or new ones (Clare Vanderpool). That said, perhaps the following three star books have been underrrated (which is, to say, underdiscussed).

    Nina already mentioned–


    And I would further ask if anyone would care to make arguments for these–


  6. I’m kind of played out on all of this, but I’ve said my piece on KINDRED SOULS a number of times. It has lovely, simple writing, and for all that it’s a very sad book about a boy and his grandfather, I think there is a ton of child appeal–a lot of interesting details that are the kinds of things kids notice. I especially enjoyed McLachlan’s “outsider” take on a hospital. I recognized it from how it felt to visit a hospital when I was a kid, and I recognized the details between the lines as being authentic, based on my current hospital job. The book seemed to me to be solidly from the boy’s point of view, and not the grandfather’s, and not a grown-up author telling a story about a boy and his grandfather that was more about her own issues than anything else.

    KATERINA’S WISH is a fairly strong book–as historical fiction goes, it is livelier and more original than many, with a very good sense of setting in an immigrant community and in a physical place. I think comparing it to the widely-considered “top” fiction knocks it out. I really enjoyed the slight sense of magical realism, but this thread turned out to be weaker than I’d expected.

    THE GREAT UNEXPECTED has a stronger fantasy/fairy tale plot line, and that appealed to me. I am not a Creech expert, but this felt like a departure for her, and I think it worked brilliantly. It’s a dark book; it’s not like other books this year.

    I enjoyed SON much more than I expected to; I’ve never thought THE GIVER was the second coming, and liked the next two even less. (I like Lois Lowry best when she’s being funny–Anastasia, Caroline, etc.) But most of SON, I really loved. I also am not sure how it plays to the child audience, but I think that’s impossible for me to judge. A kid would be finding very different things in this book from what I find, and maybe those things make it just as good as what I read. I really think it’s more of an adult book than anything else, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also good for kids.

    I think STEP GENTLY OUT is worth looking at for both the Newbery and the Caldecott.

  7. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    I also want to put a plug in for LISTEN TO MY TRUMPET! by Mo Willems. Our conversation about its merits would be very similar to the one last year with I BROKE MY TRUNK!, but I want to point out Willem’s continues to stretch the boundaries of the form. Here, I think it’s his use of onomaetopeia which really doesn’t seem like a very big deal until you consider that virtually no other easy readers for this level (i.e. the youngest of emergent readers) use it. And I think it’s quite subversive to have students practicing these “made up” words when they could/should be practicing those from a controlled vocabulary.

  8. Hammockreader says:

    My nineteen students who read, blogged and then voted today decided on:
    WINNER: False Prince by Neilsen
    Honor: Wonder by Palacio
    Honor: Chomp by Hiaasen
    Honor: Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Pennypacker
    Honor: Liar and Spy by Stead.

  9. I’m at the airport as we speak . I did mention that l’d be there, right? I”ll be easy to spot. The most uncool person in the room .

  10. Nina Lindsay says:

    Danae, I’m at my airport too. Spotting ALA goers on the plane is a great sport, and also a great way to split a cab on arrival. Librarians are easy pick-ups at the baggage claim.

  11. I just wanted to tell you all how much fun I have had following this blog since Spring, when my 11 year old daughter and I decided to read as many 2012 Middle grade books that we could. Some of the books she read first and recommended to me (Liar and Spy was one of those), while I told her about some that I had liked. Our favorites will probably not be honored, except Liar and Spy, but we have read so many more books of different types than we would have. Her personal favorites were Wonder, Liar and Spy, The Case of the Deadly Desperados, and The False Prince. Mine were Breathing Room, Yesterday’s Dead, One for the Murphys, and the Lions of Little Rock.

    We have just started Splendors and Glooms, and are STILL waiting for The Bomb to arrive in our library system.

    We are looking forward to Monday, and to 2013!

  12. Nina Lindsay says:

    Thanks Lisa! I’m sitting in the Notables book discussion right now, which are open to the public, and where several of your favorites ARE being discussed. You can see their discussion list here

    They do their voting for their final list on Tuesday, and list will be posted soon after that at

  13. FWIW: my definition of “distinguished” children’s literature —

  14. Are you kidding me,Nina? I was in the Notables all three hours yesterday . We planned to stay for just an hour or so, but found we couldn’t tear ourselves away . Fascinating discussion. but now my to read list has reached silly proportions .

  15. Nina Lindsay says:

    Ack, my head was buried in my ipad, obviously. We will meet!

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