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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal


Christmas 1972, couldn’t get enough of Tom Kitten

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 something I know will make me happy.   Some perennial Christmas-themed re-reads for me include Susan Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING and Kevin Henkes’ PROTECTING MARIE.   Terry-Prachett-anything often also does the trick, no theme necessary.   Last year, it was THE HOBBIT, which I hadn’t read since I was a kid (close your trap), and it was brilliant.

Newbery committee members don’t have much of a choice, however.   They now have their complete list of nominations, with justifications, that will constitute their discussion list (there is a caveat for adding, late, any December publications that missed the deadline) and are busy re-reading.   Maybe their favorite, nominated in October, got no other justifications, and they are giving it a third read to tease out the passages that give evidence of its strengths, in comparison to other more widely-nominated titles?  Or, that title they really did not like, but that got a lot of compelling justifications?  That one, they might try giving a “fresh” read…  take an unmarked copy (often, committee members end up with 2-3 copies of something between ARC and finals), read the justifications, clear the mind, and start again.

Slow readers, like me, have probably got their days charted, down to the hour, between now and the Midwinter discussions, to make sure they can get to each re-read, and compile their notes.  I had to give myself daily reading shifts (7pm-11pm) to keep the pace.   I wanted to make sure that every book got that “fresh” read…the one where you don’t take notes, but read it like a reader.  If I hadn’t given it that read the first time (that gets very hard to do later in the year), I’d try to do it towards the end.  Sometimes failed.  Reading for the Newbery is kind of a self-brain-washing, and takes a while to undo.

What one title do you hope a non-fan on the Newbery committee right now would give one fresh read?  And what are you re-reading right now?

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. Sheila Welch says:


    THE THING ABOUT LUCK is my top choice, so I’d hope any non-fans would give it a second reading. I’ve already reread parts of it and appreciate it even more than after a first reading. I’d need to force myself to dip back into some books, but that’s definitely not the case with LUCK.

    I was pleased to see you mention PROTECTING MARIE since this is one of my favorite books by an author whose work I really admire. The main character has always reminded me of my daughter, and now her daughter is almost old enough to read it. A wonderful thing about kids’ books — that sharing generation after generation.

    Is that you in the crib, reading ? How cute!

  2. OK, Sheila, I am rereading THE THING ABOUT LUCK. First time through, I thought the ending rather abrupt. We will see how I feel this time!
    Have also reread CLEMENTINE AND THE SPRING TRIP and found it even better this time.
    I’m still rooting for TRUE BLUE SCOUT OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP – have read it twice and listened to the audio twice. And after rereading, still loving WHAT THE HEART KNOWS. I am so glad I’m not and never will be on the real Newbery Committee.

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