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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?

A couple years ago, Neil Gaiman delivered the Zena Sutherland Lecture which was reprinted in the Horn Book with this title.  Gaiman examined this question by considering his three works in progress.  Incidentally, they were all published this year: CHU’S DAY (a picture book), FORTUNATELY, THE MILK (a beginning chapter book), and THE OCEAN AT […]

Far, Far Away

We broached The Age Question in September when the NBA longlist was announced. Having just finally finished Tom McNeal’s FAR FAR AWAY, I can’t think of a more interesting title to challenge the question. Here we have a ghost narrator who establishes a tone of other-worldliness while setting us firmly in a very normal (-seeming) […]

Revisiting Sequels: Larson, Farmer, Gantos

We’ve already discussed P.S. BE ELEVEN and AL CAPONE DOES MY HOMEWORK, but there is also a further trio of Newbery sequels to consider this year: HATTIE EVER AFTER, THE LORD OF OPIUM, and FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE. I never read HATTIE BIG SKY because it didn’t have much buzz going into the YMAs and […]

Getting Real

I’m as happy as the next person to enthusiastically recommend THE REAL BOY to adults and children for pleasure reading, but like Nina I have grave reservations about it as a Newbery book.  I’m hesitant to follow her mixed review with one of my own, especially because not many people have spoken up in favor […]

The Real Boy

The National Book Award Finalists were announced last week; the Longlists cut by half into Shortlists. Among the Young People’s Lit titles that are squarely within Newbery range, TRUE BLUE SCOUTS and THE THING ABOUT LUCK are hanging in there.  FLORA & ULYSSES did not make the final round, nor did A TANGLE OF KNOTS or […]

Looking Back: 2005

Mark Flowers has an interesting series on his blog, Crossreferencing, in which he revisits the Printz choices from previous years to see whether he agrees with them or not.  He’s done 2000-2003 so far.  It’s a fun exercise, and while I don’t have the stamina to start the same thing here, I’m going to revisit […]


As I review the titles that seem to stand out strongly so far…  I note a LOT of previous medal winners (Kadohata, Williams-Garcia, Appelt, DiCamillo, Henkes, Spinelli, Choldenko, Vanderpool…), and common favorites (Ursu, Urban, Pennypacker…).  This always gives me pause.  The committee is able to read broadly enough, they can level that “star” effect, but […]

Ghost Hawk

At last!  It’s time to talk about GHOST HAWK, arguably Susan Cooper’s best book since The Dark Is Rising Sequence.  (I say arguably because I think the other book you can make a case for is KING OF SHADOWS.)  That’s not really part of the Newbery criteria, however, but the book does well in that […]

If You Want to See A Whale

Jonathan posted about potential easy reader contenders for the Newbery; but we have yet to delve into picture books. I’m always on the lookout for picture books with text strong enough to give a 300 page novel a challenge at the table.  I think that such a thing is rare, but I’m excited to have […]

October Nominations

Each member of the Newbery committee will submit three nominations to the chair sometime during the month of October, probably on or around October 15.  Each nomination is submitted with a brief written justification.  My strategy at this point is quite simple: I’m going to nominate the three best titles.  In no particular order. ERUPTION! by […]