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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Kathi Appelt’s newest is another National Book Award Finalist that I think makes for interesting Newbery possibilities.  While very different in mood and characters than her Newbery Honor THE UNDERNEATH, I find the same sense of pacing here: leisurely and wandering between different viewpoints.  The storyteller’s voice is strong and becomes a character in itself, […]

Penny and Her Marble (and Other Easy Readers)

Aside from the comparative simplicity of the text and the interdependence of text and illustrations, the biggest problem the committee faces in evaluating easy readers for Newbery recognition is that most publishers simply do not submit them, leaving committee members to find–and champion–them on their own.  That’s easy to do when you have big names […]

Reader, Know Thyself: Guest Post from Vicky Smith

We’ve been rolling out discussion on a lot of titles that seem to be meeting with ambivalence, which may be turning you to a second read.   Before you crack open that title you didn’t really like again…we thought you might like to hear from Vicky Smith, Children’s and Teen editor of Kirkus Reviews, on […]

Doll Bones

Poppy set down one mermaid doll close to the stretch of asphalt road that represented the Blackest Sea. They were old—bought from Goodwill—with big shiny heads, different colored tails and frizzy hair. Then the mermaids waited for the boat to get closer, their silly plastic smiles hiding their lethal intentions. They’d crash the ship against […]

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (or, The Pictures Question)

If any book this year passes the first-page test with flying colors, it might be this National Book Award Finalist from Kate DiCamillo. (And, at this point, I’m talking about the first page of text.)  Not only are character and setting immediately called into action, the tone and spirit of the book come on so […]

The Thing About Luck

Kouun  is “good luck” in Japanese, and one year my family had none of it.  We were cursed with bad luck.  Bad luck chased us around, pointing her bony finger.  We got seven flat tires in six weeks.  I got malaria, one of fifteen hundred cases in the United States that year.  And my grandmother’s […]

The Age Question

Ah, the weekend.  Housecleaning, tomato canning, and anticipation of the NBA Longlists to be announced 9am Eastern Monday morning. I’m completely opportunistic regarding the National Books Awards.  If I like them, I salute them, if not, I dismiss them.  (My loss.) I think this is easier to do with awards that have no posted criteria […]

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

When MOON OVER MANIFEST won the Newbery Medal a couple of years back it took us by surprise.  The book had three starred reviews, but it was a debut novel published in October.  It definitely flew under our radar.  I enjoyed the book very much and looked forward to Vanderpool’s sophomore effort to see whether […]

P.S. Be Eleven: sequels and sympathies

At Heavy Medal Jonathan and I strive for discussion of books within the confines of the Newbery criteria.  Use in curriculum? Doesn’t matter.  Breadth of popularity?  Doesn’t matter.  “Importance” of theme or message?  Uniqueness to the canon?  Comparison to books of other years?  Doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t matter.   This is not to say these things […]

The Tip of the Iceberg

At the end of the last Heavy Medal season, Wendy announced– 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 […]