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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

2013 Newbery Medal and Honors

Newbery Medal


Newbery Honors




Can I just say how pleased I am with this committee?  Really.  I think these are awesome choices.  As I mentioned on the Battle of the Kids’ Books site, I think no other book this year has the combination of accessibility and literary merit that THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN does and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that the committee was able to build consensus around it.  THREE TIMES LUCKY is also sure to be a crowd pleaser.  And both SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS and BOMB were strong favorites here.  Please share your reaction to either the Newbery picks or the Youth Media Announcements.


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. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I got to school very early to turn on my glacially slow computer so that I could watch the webcast, but still ended up nearly missing the beginning of it. Grrr.

    Some thoughts . . .

    I’ve been a Benjamin Alire Saenz fan since SAMMY & JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD, but I didn’t see this coming: Printz Honor, Stonewall Award, and Pura Belpre Medal. Wow!


    BOMB also did very nicely by sweeping the Sibert and Nonfiction Awards in addition to its Newbery Honor. It was also nice to see TITANIC and MOONBIRD in the Sibert field.

    I thought Katherine Paterson had already won the Wilder so that was an excellent choice.

    Five honors for the Caldecott–and the *right* Klassen book won!

    Now when they went to announce the Newbery Honors and led off with Schlitz, I was immediately thinking of all the books that could not be honors. They’re announced alphabetically by author’s last name, so that meant no honor for THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, CHICKADEE, TWELVE KINDS OF ICE, STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY, MOONBIRD, TITANIC, and a whole bunch of others. Some extra drama there.

    • I can totally commiserate on the whole “being at school” AND “glacially slow computer” thing. Did I think about taking a sick day today? Yes. But, I remain fearful of catching the flu and was too afraid to waste a day I might need later due to actual sickness! Quite happy to see LUCKY get an honor, I was such a huge fan of that book, and BOMB which I thought was pure genius. IVAN surprised me…I feel somewhat reassured by your comment about it’s accessibility, although I had many a child reader return it to me unfinished (specifically boys). Also, my heart breaks a tiny bit for 12 KIDS OF ICE.

      Finally, guess I have to read SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS the whoooole way through now…

  2. TeenReader says:

    I didn’t love IVAN or LUCKY, but I can see how they’re distinguished. BOMB and SPLENDORS are excellent choices! And BOMB got 2 other stickers! I’m generally thrilled.

  3. TeenReader says:

    Oh, and I would have liked to see Liar and Spy. :/

  4. I had the same reaction when SPLENDORS showed up first . I’m thrilled with IVAN . And to take a quote out of context- so many”love bombs!”

  5. Mary Clare says:

    My reaction when SPLENDORS was announced: “Oh, good, it didn’t win!” I have yet to speak with a student who has made it all the way through (other than virtually from TEENREADER). I’m so, so pleased that the very kid-friendly IVAN triumphed. My top pick!

  6. Genevieve says:

    Very pleased with this batch as a whole. Sad not to see Liar and Spy, but excited for Bomb, Splendors, and Three Times Lucky, which I thought was terrific. Also very pleased for Dodger, No Crystal Stair, Drama, Seraphina, Andrea Davis Pinckney and Katharine Paterson. Must read Aristotle and Dante as soon as possible. Sorry not to see Fault in Our Stars in the Printz list, but glad it got an Odyssey. Glad to see funny books Creepy Carrots and This is Not My Hat recognized.

  7. Agreed, Jonathan – a great showing by the committee. I admit, my enthusiasm for IVAN had begun to wane with some of the comments in our Mock Newbery session, but I’m gratified that my initial thoughts on the book were validated. Also sad not to see LIAR AND SPY, but BOMB and S&G (and to a lesser extent TTL) are all first rate additions to the Newbery canon.

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

      I think I allowed our mock Newbery to cloud my judgment, too. 😉

      I just went back and read my December post on it and remembered all over again why I esteemed it so highly in the first place.

  8. Sheila Welch says:

    I agree with Jonathan! I’m happy with the choices and am pleased that I actually gave THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN to my grandson for Christmas. He’s a reluctant reader, but I have high hopes that this story will appeal to him. I’ve also reviewed IVAN for K5 Learning and recommended it on several list serves. And, of course, having SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS as an honor book is wonderful. I am fine with BOMB as an honor, too. Now, I need to read THREE TIMES LUCKY. Thanks to Nina and Jonathan, I’ve actually read 3/4 of the winning books.

  9. I’m so thrilled with the results- hooray for the committees this year! The trio of awards for Bomb is very satisfying, and I’m so glad to see Ivan take the top spot! And five very deserving honors for the Caldecott (including my library’s Mock winner, One Cool Friend)! Also, Pete the Cat for a Geisel Honor? Brilliant! I was definitely joining in the ballyhoo for some of the announcements.

  10. I’m very happy indeed about the Newbery and Caldecott results. And I’m tickled that the book our fledgling Mock Newbery Club picked — THREE TIMES LUCKY — was an Honor book. We picked ONE AND ONLY IVAN as one of two Honors, so we did pretty good. ONE AND ONLY IVAN was my personal favorite that I had the most hope for. (Summer of the Gypsy Moths and Palace of Stone had passed it, but based on feedback here, I wasn’t really hopeful for either of them.)

    I have to admit SPLENDORS & GLOOMS has good writing, so I’m glad it picked up an Honor. And I’m in the middle of (finally) reading BOMB, and am duly impressed.

    With the Caldecott, I’m just pleased. There were a lot of outstanding picture books published this year, and I’m very happy that the committee honored six of those.

    With the Printz, I’ve come to not expect their choices to match mine, but I’m just pleased CODE NAME VERITY got at least an Honor. Hmm. That’s the only one I’ve read.

    And, boy, am I kicking myself for having accidentally picked up not one but two ARCs of ARISTOTLE AND DANTE, but having given them away, unread.

    The only omission I’m really sad about is Kevin Henkes’ PENNY books. I had hoped at least one would show up in the Geisel. But both got picked as Cybils Finalists, so I can still hope he’ll win that….

    Oh, and I was happy for SERAPHINA winning the Morris, though perhaps that’s not fair, since it’s the only one of the Finalists I had read.

    But mostly I’m happy that both the Newbery and Caldecott medalists were also Sonderbooks Stand-outs. The last time that happened was 2009.

  11. Brian Fahey says:

    Hats off to the Newbery Committee. They had a hard job to do and came up with a fine list. I was a little surprised by the choice of Ivan, but not at all disappointed. Many of my fifth graders loved the book and so have some of my adult friends. It will be a kid favorite for years to come. Hard to believe that Katherine Paterson had not already won the Wilder, so it’s fitting that she finally has. Many thanks to Nina and Jonathan, and to all of the people who faithfully posted here this year.

  12. I was thrilled to see Bomb do so well, and really pleased that Ivan won the medal. I agree with Sondy about being disappointed when Kevin Henkes’ Penny books didn’t receive anything.

  13. Ironically enough, I tried to sell THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN yesterday to a mother looking for a good read-aloud, but she only wanted classics, instead of something new. I tried to tell her this was going to be a classic…

    I’m thrilled with all the Newbery and Caldecott picks and especially excited to see Tamora Pierce win the Edwards Award, as she was one of my favorite authors as a teen.

    • Steffaney Smith says:

      Ha, Cecilia, know how you feel when your advice isn’t heeded. Still trying to get a teen to take “Code Name Verity”!!! I agree that The One and Only Ivan rates with the classics and it’s an excellent read-aloud. Would want to do some painting projects with it, too! Here’s to more kids and parents heeding our “well-read” advice! Medals and awards do help, though, in persuasion!

  14. Heidi Lewis says:

    I was trying to teach a class and monitor the announcements. My 8th graders got a chuckle as I would teach a bit and quickly switch to monitor the awards progress. I believe they truly think I was a few fries short of a happy meal today.

  15. Sara Ralph says:

    So happy Bomb and Ivan received prizes; two of the best books I’ve read in the past ten years. Oh if there could have been 8 honors as there were in 1931 (as pointed out by @colbysharp) on Twitter, I’d add:

    Wonder, Starry River of the Sky, The Summer of the Gypsy Moths, Liar and Spy and See You at Harry’s

    2012 was a great year for Children’s Lit!

  16. I let out an absurd squeal/squawk when THREE TIMES LUCKY was announced–I’m very pleased to see it there. I’d rated all the books four stars, so this is one of my best years ever.

    That said… I’m now retiring from Newbery fandom. This was my fifth year, and I read more widely than ever before thanks to the great Seattle Public Library system that I’m now privy to (72 books that I considered eligible for the Newbery, plus a number of Printz, Sibert, Caldecott, etc), and I am just burned out. I hardly had time to read anything else this year, and I’ve just lost my taste for judging whether one book is more distinguished than another book. I’ll still be reading the winner every year to maintain my cred, and I picked up a few ARCs of things that will be eligible next time, but I expect to pretty much stick to non-Newbery books at least for a while.

    When Peter died, I said this in my blog: “I wonder whether he had already read this year’s Newbery winner. Even though I know there will be many Newbery winners yet to come that he should have had a chance to read and won’t, I have an irrationally sentimental hope that he did get to read the 2012 winner.”

    He did! Here’s what Peter said last March: “Based on three great new books I read this past week — WONDER by R.J. Palacio, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate and BOY 21 by Matthew Quick — this season’s theme seems to be ’empathy.'”

    That makes me so happy.

  17. It’s always a kind of bitter sweet day. Some books you were rooting for did not get recognized, some you loved did.
    I have to say that I never loved Ivan. I felt it leaned too dangerously close to being didactic. I loved all 3 of the honors though and I am thrilled for them. There were only two other titles I would have loved to see in the mix. (Crow and Twelve Kinds of Ice)
    Wonder did not win anything which means I don’t have to read it after all. If it won I would have finally picked it up and read it despite my general feelings of disinterest towards it.
    My son (7 years) jumped for joy at the announcement for the Caldecott Medal. His second favorite category is the Sibert and since we just read Electric Ben a couple of weeks ago he was pretty excited when it got an honor. We just started reading Moonbird together so there was another shout of joy. He also really wants to read Bomb now! He remembered seeing me read it and after seeing it get so many nods he asked if he could read it. I told him he’d probably need to wait a few years, get a better grasp on WWII in general etc. He pouted for several minutes.
    Overall, an interesting morning.

  18. I’ve been saying Ivan since last January. I am a very happy reader.

  19. I was in a building with NO internet-that I could use anyway. Fortunately for me I have an awesome friend who texted me all the winners tirelessly for the whole presentation so I didn’t have to endure all day agony.

    Like everyone else has said-this was a good year for the Newbery. I’m very happy with the books they chose. Even though some were not my favorites I can see why each was chosen.

    I am officially over caring about the Printz at all. I have loved a total of 2 of the winners in all these years. Just reading the synopsis of most winners makes me want to crawl in a hole and die.

    • Brandy you made me laugh with that statement. I have definitely given up on predicting the Printz. Though at least Code Name Verity got an Honor! (Though it’s definitely NOT a Happy Story, is it? But still my favorite book of 2012.)

  20. As always, feeling a mix of excitement for the winners, and wistfulness for the books that weren’t included! And, of course, appreciation for the committees and all their hard work.

    I did wonder though, at the seeming lack of diversity among the Caldecott and Newbury honorees this year… Am I right that, among the 10 Caldecott and Newbury titles, none of these included creators who were people of color? Of course diversity is in no way one of the criteria for either award, but given the large pool of beautiful and distinguished books this year, the fact that no people of color were honored within those two lists did give me pause… Just a question to throw out there!

  21. The one that just blew my mind was Creepy Carrots as a Caldecott Honor! If you have a preschool storytime and are looking for a great read-aloud, look no further. (Also, the electricity in the room when Carolyn Brodie announced *5* honor books was something I’ll never forget)

    Thanks again to Jonathan and Nina for all the hard work, and to all of you for the thoughtful discussion!

  22. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    Wendy, your voice will be missed here, but I do understand the burnout. That’s why I don’t try to chase down every last contender. You’ll go crazy eventually. 🙂 But I do hope you’ll drop into the conversation every once in awhile.

  23. Sarah, I think the lack of diversity in the award winners is an issue, too. But I wonder how much of that has to do with the lack of books (relatively speaking) being published that are written/illustrated by people of color. The more books in the pool, the better the chances of getting an award – and since the numbers are skewed so much toward white authors/illustrators, you end up with a huge majority of award winners going to white authors/illustrators. Another side of this issue is the domination of the Coretta Scott King awards by just a few authors/illustrators: Kadir Nelson, Bryan Collier, the Pinkneys. Now PLEASE don’t hear me wrong here – I’m not slamming these artists, nor am I slamming the CSK committees for Collier’s domination of the Illustrator award the last few years, for example. He’s an amazingly talented artist who is deserving of all the accolades he gets. But still, the number of eligible titles for CSK in a given year is sadly pretty small.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to derail the conversation here, but I think this is a topic worth discussing.

    • I was also disappointed by how few books the CSK and Belpre committees honored this year, which I think doesn’t help here. The CSK could have given out up to two Steptoe awards (new author and new illustrator) and didn’t give out any. No Belpre illustrator honors and only one author honor. Were there really so few books in these categories that really shone this year?

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

        I have to believe it was a very thin year. I don’t think award committees–and these in particular with their political focus–like leaving those categories empty any more than we do. But if anyone has any suggestions for what should have been an Illustrator Honor or Steptoe New Talent Award then I’d love to hear them.

      • I hope it was a very thin year, otherwise this would be extra-sad.

        What immediately jumps to mind for Steptoe Author is It Jes’ Happened–first-time author (he’s illustrated before), three stars, at least one best of the year list… (and yes, I know it’s after-the-fact backseat driving, but isn’t that part of the fun?)

  24. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    I notice this is also being discussed on Betsy’s YMA post. Focusing just on the Newbery side of the equation, which writer of color do you propose should have made the cut? We discussed NO CRYSTAL STAIR and BENEATH A METH MOON, but these had an uphill battle because of their older audience. Ditto for EACH KINDNESS at the lower end of the spectrum. When you look at the middle grade contenders, you’re basically talking about two books: STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY and CHICKADEE. Those aren’t very good odds. The problem with only picking 3-5 books is that there is *always* some kind of unintentional diversity problem that results–whether it’s genre, publisher, ethnicity, audience, or whatever.

    • Don’ t forget about THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE . I was at an event with Christopher Paul Curtis the night before and got excited all over again about that book .

  25. Sorry! I hadn’t seen Betsy’s post. Yes, I agree that it is more of a systemic issue– I think the demographics of this year’s winners just highlight that larger problem. I hope it’s one that we in the field continue to discuss… and, hopefully, work to address. While I know that with such a limited selection, it’s easy for the final lists to skew one way or another… I also think all sorts of kids such be able to see themselves reflected in the books, and artists, who receive our highest honors…

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