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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Thoughts on the awards

It was a fun day here in Seattle as everyone expressed their excitement about the awards. General appreciation about the spread of styles in the Newbery selections, and the seemingly generous five honors for the Caldecott… though if you scan through the earlier decades of the Newbery and Caldecott, you’ll see many years with five or more honors. What do you think about so many honors?

And while I do remember that this is a Newbery blog, I have to be excited about a little history making, this year, in the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott with Jon Klassen’s gold and silver. It’s been done only once in Caldecott history before (1947 by Leonard Weisgard), and only once in Newbery (1968 E.L. Konigsburg)*. We’ll be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott this year at the ALA Annual conference with a Preconference and other programs, and a special celebration at the Newbery/Caldecott awards banquet. Several low-cost ways to attend, especially for members, so don’t miss it.

Jonathan and I will post through this week and wrap it up for the season. I know many of you are dished out on this, but…knowing what we now know, and knowing that Newbery committee members can divulge their own personal opinions but not the committee discussion…what question might you ask of a Newbery committee member this week? (Let’s see if any answer….)

*(This text corrected at 7am Jan 29th, after Travis Jonker notes my error in the first comment below.)

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. I loved reading your thoughts on the big awards! By my check, the gold and silver in Caldecott has been done once before, in 1947 by Leonard Weisgard for The Little Island (medal) and Rain Drop Splash (honor). Another exciting YMAs!

    • Nina Lindsay says:

      Travis, thank you! I’ve corrected the post so as not to spread the misapprehsion that this was a first. Still pretty incredible.

      • Julie Cummins says:

        Nina, another history-making year — when A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN by Nancy Willard won both Newbery and Caldecott citations.

  2. I am curious about what the committee thought of Grace Lin’s two very good and very different books published in 2012, Dumpling Days and Starry River of the Sky.

    • Nina Lindsay says:

      I’m curious too…though we won’t hear what the committee thought. A committee member could share their personal thoughts about each title. And we do know that Notables discussed Starry River…was anyone in the room to hear that discussion? ( Danae?) I missed it.

      • Yikes, I was there for most of the fiction but I managed to miss STARRY NIGHT – potty break, most likely .

  3. Congratulations on another wonderful Heavy Medal season!

    As for Honors–I was surprised by 5, but when I took a quick look at the Caldecott home page, I realized that it is not unprecedented (looks like the last year was 1994; and there are many years in which there were 4 honors). I’m fine with the committee being generous with the honors. This was a stand-out year for picture books.

    Will you do a post asking us which 2014 books are on our radar? I always learn a lot from that post. 🙂

  4. That is, 2013 books for the 2014 committee.

  5. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    Yes, we’ll wrap up with some kind of reading list for the 2014 Newbery.

    One thing I’d love to see–and I don’t know that a blog would be the appropriate forum for this–but Bulletin used to publish their Blue Ribbons and then they had Blue Ribbon dissents–books that individuals lobbied for that just didn’t have consensus. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of 15 Newbery dissents, not representing the will of the committee, but one title with a brief annotation from each member of the committee. What do you say, SLJ or Horn Book, wouldn’t that make a fantastic article idea? And allow us to drop even more love bombs?

  6. Let the kvetching begin!

  7. Ronni Krasnow says:

    I’d like to voice a spot of outrage that WONDER was completely ignored! I read and loved IVAN, so I have no issue with the win, but I don’t understand how WONDER, which was so critically acclaimed and already on the NYT Best Seller List, just by way of word of mouth and excellent reviews, did not even get an Honor? When there can be any number of Honor books? I’d LOVE to know the reasoning behind that. I really was so disappointed to see such an outstanding book be completely passed over.

    • I think if you start with this post, on this very site: you’ll see that there were MANY smart people who thought that WONDER was a fine piece of work but seriously deficient in terms of literary merit. I never for a second thought the Newbery committee would honor it in any way–just way too many flaws.

      Also it should be pointed out that depending on your definition of “outstanding” there are usually somewhere between 10 and infinity “outstanding” books published every year, and they can’t all get on the Newbery list.

    • As Mark said there was much reasoning for the absence of Wonder . Newbery is an award for literary distinction, not best seller . While I agree it was in the top third of published books last year it was not in the top one percent .

    • I agree with you about Wonder! I expected at the very least, a Schneider award or honor. When it did not win that one, I thought ok, it will be a Newbery. That fact that this book was totally overlooked shocked me. I do like the books that won, but there is always room for the committee to add an honor book, especially for a book that I think is well written with a wonderful and inspirational message.

    • I totally agree with Lisa about Wonder. Last year it was Okay For Now, which won all kinds of awards. Do people forget that children are reading these books…’s still called children’s book awards right??

  8. I want to know which titles all of Roxane Hsu’s mysterious numbers match up to!

    My guess for this one is Twelve Kinds of Ice, but I’d love an answer key:

  9. The more I think about IVAN as the medal holder the happier I am . And not just because my students choose it for their winner . It remained among my favorites from the beginning . I kept fanning a small flame of hope for it,but tried not to get to attached. I’m so happy that a book for younger readers as well as more mature readers will have this lasting recognition .

  10. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    A couple more non-Newbery thoughts . . .

    1. CORETTA SCOTT KING . . .While I liked HAND IN HAND, I think both of the Honor books are superior. The writing in DISCOVERING BLACK AMERICA was up to the level of these three, but it had such a comprehensive treatment of its subject matter that I thought it would be a good honor book candidate.

    2. PRINTZ . . . Has anyone read THE WHITE BICYCLE? I had read the other four books. Neither CODE NAME VERITY nor DODGER surprised me as they were in my personal top five. I reviewed–and liked–both ARISTOTLE AND DANTE and IN DARKNESS, but didn’t think of either of them as obvious Printz contenders necessarily. With ARISTOTLE AND DANTE, it’s probably just me holding Saenz to the impossibly high standard of his previous book SAMMY & JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD which is one of my favorite YAs ever. I’m not sure why I didn’t necessarily think of the latter one, although I do think it is sufficiently distinguished to be in the conversation. Now that the surpise of those two is wearing off, I’m feel quite pleased with them. The cover for IN DARKNESS is stunning and the sticker plays quite nicely off of it.

    • The only one of the Printz award-winners I’ve read is Dodger, but I was so happy to see it win an Honor. One of my top three YA books this year.

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