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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Last Words

The anticipation of Monday’s announcements is making me giddy and restless.  It’s also making me lose my blogging mojo.  I wrote about potential Newbery books for a third grade audience, but wasn’t happy with it.  Then I wrote about second-guessing the Newbery committee, but decided that wasn’t quite right either.

So I’ll just mention that my top four choices are BOMB, CHICKADEE, NO CRYSTAL STAIR, and TWELVE KINDS OF ICE in no particular order. I don’t know whether any of them will be announced on Monday, but I sure hope so.  There are an additional dozen titles that I would also be quite pleased to see.

When we pressed Thom Barthelmess for his Newbery picks earlier in the year, he graciously declined.

If I learned anything from my Newbery experience it’s to trust the process, to believe that the inarguable dilligence of those 15 readers will produce the proper result, more or less by definition. So, rather than suggesting a title, I’ll reaffirm my faith in the 2013 Newbery Committee and promise to openly examine their choices, looking for evidence of excellence.

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. Steffaney Smith says:

    Enjoy being immersed in the bubble of ALA! Can’t wait to hear your “after” comments…you’re right: “Chickadee” would be a wonderful choice!!!

  2. One thing I’m learning from Heavy Medal and from my own participation in Capitol Choices and a Cybils panel this year — there’s power in a group. My favorites are one set of good books. But when a committee can discuss, they end up choosing books that they can defend to one another. I also appreciate that they gave the books much, much closer scrutiny than I did.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what their choices are this year! You’re right — there are some excellent possibilities out there.

  3. Jonathan, are you here in Seattle?

    I am not into the “trust the process, they choose the right book” thing. Always allowing for differences of opinion, there are a few cases where I just can’t get over my opinion that they did get it “wrong”–but my thing about that is that it really doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s like someone saying “My favorite book of the year is SUCH-AND-SUCH”–no one can say “No, it’s THIS-AND-SO,” because favorite is favorite. The committee is definitely right about which book the committee thought was the best book of the year. I can more-or-less agree that whatever they choose is most likely to be a distinguished book. I like that Barthelmess says he will “openly examine their choices”, but I think discussing weaknesses is just as legitimate (and enjoyable) as “looking for evidence of excellence”. I think it’s only people who have been on the committee who urge us all to trust the process.

  4. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    1. I’m not in Seattle. 🙁 My wife and I are expecting our first child in several months and we decided to buy baby stuff instead of attending Midwinter and Annual this year, so I opted to serve on a couple of virtual committees this year that didn’t require attendance.

    2. I think sometimes it comes across as the ALSC version of the Blue Wall of Silence, that is, the code of silence among police offers not to talk about the misconduct of fellow officers. Is it possible that the committee can work their hardest and try their best, both individually and collectively, and still produce choices that–for lack of a better word–suck? Are these two things mutually exclusive? Is there a way that we can be deeply critical of the Newbery choices, but still honor and respect the process? I think there is, but I think that it’s important to (a) not to get hung up on the omission of certain titles as a bellwether of the committee’s effectiveness, (b) consider the titles that did get chosen with the open mind that Thom speaks of, (c) read widely in the field of books they chose from, and (d) allow the passage of time to help you sort the wheat from the chaff. My earlier post touched on all of these points, and I meant to introduce the subject earlier in the season, but just never got around to it.

    3. The Orbis Pictus Award has been announced here–

    –and congratulations are in order to Leda Schubert for MONSIEUR MARCEAU. The irony is that this is a story of Jewish resistance, but not one that is featured in BEYOND COURAGE, one of the recommended titles. No BOMB, MOONBIRD, TITANIC, or ISLAND among the honors or recommended titles. A bit odd.

  5. Congratulations, to you and your very lovely wife, Jonathan.

    Wendy, I’m impressed with your surety of absolutes in this very subjective process. I’m not being sarcastic. If I knew how to insert a sincere face emoticon I’d do so here . You are careful to quantify that it “is your opinion”, but that phrase in your hands seems to drop as solidly as an 800 pound anvil. I stand in awe of of such conviction .
    I’ve been amazed at yours and Jonathan’s and Nina’s, and many others articulate analysis here at Heavy Medal, often expressing opposite opinions in completely lucid and persuasive ways . One thing I am gleaning from sitting in on both the Notable and the YA Fiction committees Is how well a group of competent people can express vastly different opinions about the same subject matter .

    • I think it comes from years of judging art, DaNae, as an art history and film student, and having to back up my assertions, and professors pointing out that we never get anywhere unless people take firm stands. On the other hand, trying to decide which of these books is “best” has started to feel increasingly weird to me. As for the “passage of time” Jonathan mentions–I was definitely surprised, when I was reading all the winners, at how infrequently I didn’t like any of the books. After time passes, when it seems less important WHICH book has won out of a field of books, the idea that the winners all end up being pretty distinguished is borne out.

  6. Damn, I’m limited to typing on a Kindle and I’m really bad at it. To finish:
    I”ve come to believe that there is no such thing as a perfect book, possibly not even HOLES or CHARLOTTE’S WEB. I do want to be passionate about my choices. To be willing to look their faults head on and either acknowledge them to be fatal and move on, as in the case of GYPSY MOTHS. Or I can discount them as subjective twaffle and declare: I don’t care if its long,I don’t care if its not your idea of a thrill ride SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS is the most distinguished book of the year . I’m looking forward to being ether delirious or devastated Monday morning .

    Okay, this got a little out of hand. Mostly what I wanted to say is, congratulations on Jonathan’s expanding family and GO SPLENDOR S AND GLOOMS.

  7. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:
  8. Nina Lindsay says:

    Wendy, It’s not so much “trust the process, they choose the right book” but “trust the process…whatever they do choose will be the right choice.” it doesn’t preclude questioning.

  9. Sitting here taking a tally of possible bling for BOMB tomorrow..Newbery, Printz, YALSA nonfiction, Siebert . Am I missing any?

  10. Caitlin L. Baker says:

    I just read (finally!) No Crystal Stair and it blew me away! My favorites for tomorrow morning are:
    1) Bomb
    2) No Crystal Stair
    3) Twelve Kinds of Ice
    4) One and Only Ivan or Liar and Spy
    I just picked up Chickadee from Seattle Public Library!

    I will be cheering loudly in the ballroom at the WSCC tomorrow morning!

  11. Congratulations on your first child, Jonathan! It will bring a whole new aspect to your appreciation of children’s books.

    I’m trying to finish Bomb tonight, but I’m done predicting. I’ve checked out as many potential award winners as I can get my hands on to bring to tomorrow’s webcast of the awards at the library. I’m going to have fun seeing how many I guessed right, how many are so checked out I couldn’t get them, and how many leave the room with no awards at all. And I’m kind of hoping there will be a book or two I overlooked and can add to my reading list.

  12. Sherry P. says:

    Peter Sieruta, today is your day. I think of you every day. RIP

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