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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Whale Watching

PICTURE BOOK  VS. POETRY When last we discussed IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE, Leonard brought up a good question: Should we consider this text as a picture book or a single poem?  Ultimately, I’m not sure that it really matters how we classify it, but it’s definitely helpful to look at it through […]


Hoping you all had some peaceful time off this week.  Did you do any reading? Read something new, or something you read before?  I always have that tug-of-war over the holidays…  I want the excitement of a new read, but I don’t want to risk a bad one.  So I often end up turning to […]

Clementine and the Spring Trip

If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14-year-olds but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes; but it can be given an award only if it does what it sets out to do as well as or better than other, younger books that are also eligible. Of course, we may say the same thing for […]

Meet Jen J of the Spreadsheets

Those of you who’ve followed us for a while may anticipate, as I do, commenter Jen J piping in to point us to her spreadsheet where she tracks starred reviews and best books.   Many of us watch this data in some form or another…Jonathan has always been good at summarizing starred reviews in posts. […]

December Nominations

This is the third and final time that the Newbery committee will trade nominations (3 in October, 2 in November, 2 in December).  In order for a book to be on the table for discussion, it must first be nominated, so we may see many people use their final two nominations, not to build consensus, […]

More things about luck

We’ve all had plenty to say about THE THING ABOUT LUCK from out of the gate this season, from Jonathan’s first post, all the way through the NBA announcements and our nominations.  We’ve talked about the strength of the characters, setting, and prose; how these all support a theme that hangs on a light plot, […]

Can Mythology or Folklore Win the Newbery Medal?

Every once in a blue moon the Newbery committee recognizes a work of mythology or folklore.  Don’t hold your breath, though, as the last book recognized was IN THE BEGINNING by Virginia Hamilton (1989), and before that WHEN SHLEMIEL WENT TO WARSAW (1969) and ZLATEH THE GOAT (1967), both by Isaac Bashevis Singer.  THE WHITE […]

It’s an Honor

Jonathan goaded me in the last paragraph of his P.S. Be Eleven post:  “it has the kind of broad support necessary to go far, but I’m not sure that it’s anything more than . . . wait for it, Nina . . . an Honor book.”  He knows I bristle when anyone categorizes a contender […]

If You Say It Right, It Helps the Heart to Bear It

After a series of wonderful poetry collections about sundry animals in their natural habitats, Joyce Sidman turns her prodigious talents to the most fascinating one of all: the human animal and its singular talent for language. BLESSING ON THE CURL OF CAT As cat curls in a circle of sun– sleek and round,  snug and […]


Jonathan made a statement by giving this his first October nomination.  When we pick a nonfiction title for our shortlist (cause we always do), it’s easier to tend to the longer, historical narrative nonfiction offerings, which read more like novels and so seem easier to compare with other contenders.  And we had several of that sort […]