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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

San Diego Winners

Seven people met at our very first San Diego Mock Newbery, and our results were as follows–

Newbery Medal


Newbery Honor

ERUPTION! by Elizabeth Rusch

We had our winner on our first ballot, and this is how the voting went.


ERUPTION . . . 1 (1st) + 3 (2nd) + 1 (3rd) = 15 points

FAR FAR AWAY . . . 1 (2nd) = 1 (3rd) = 5 points

IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE . . . 2 (3rd) = 4 points

P.S. BE ELEVEN . . . 1 (1st) = 4 points

THE THING ABOUT LUCK . . . 1 (2nd) + 2 (3rd) = 7 points

THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP . . . 5 (1st) + 1 (2nd) = 23 points

WHAT THE HEART KNOWS . . . 1 (2nd) + 1 (3rd) = 5 points

I’ll try to chime in later with some comments about each book, and perhaps other participants will add their impressions of the discussion, too.







Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at


  1. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    CLEMENTINE . . . We liked this book, and found it distinguished in many respects, but ultimately found it wanting. For example, as good as Clementine’s voice is we thought it was surpassed by Delphine’s and Jacob’s.

    ERUPTION! . . . We loved the seamless mix of story and science–and found both of them compelling, but quibbled about whether the design detracted from the text in a couple of places.

    FAR FAR AWAY . . . We particularly loved the sentence-level writing here, but found the ending didn’t quite ring true as we questioned the baker’s motivations and the use of Jacob’s inability to sing as a plot device.

    IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE . . . We appreciated this lyrical picture book text, but disagreed about how rich its theme was. It did pick up some votes, but nothing more than 3rd place.

    P.S. BE ELEVEN . . . We loved the family dynamics in this one, but found fault with the beginning (1968 vs. 1970 and the recapitulation of ONE CRAZY SUMMER events) and the ending (not just the abrupt ending at Valentines Day, but a stronger resolution).

    THE THING ABOUT LUCK . . . We also loved the family dynamics here, the surprisingly interesting world of wheat harvesting, and the scene-stealing Obaachan, but we found this one also ended abruptly, and this book just didn’t resonate with some of us, or we thought we’d read other books like this that had left a stronger impression.

    THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP . . . We loved everything about this one, and were hard pressed to find fault with it. We acknowledged that some had questioned the audience of this one, but we just found it exceptionally broad, working as a read-aloud for extremely young children, but still holding interest for older ones.

    WHAT THE HEART KNOWS . . . We loved the lyrical language of this one, and a couple of us *really* took this one to heart (pun intended), but surprisingly this book, not FAR FAR AWAY or TRUE BLUE SCOUTS, is the one where we questioned the intended audience, as we found this to have more teen/adult appeal.

    After the discussion was finished, I felt like our discussion was most enthusiastic about TRUE BLUE SCOUTS and ERUPTION! and since these are both in my personal top seven I knew they would command my top 2 votes. I put ERUPTION! first and TRUE BLUE SCOUTS second because I thought most people would do the reverse and I wanted ERUPTION! to have enough points for an honor book. That left me deciding between FAR FAR AWAY, WHAT THE HEART KNOWS, and THE THING ABOUT LUCK. Our discussion of the latter was easily the most positive, and I probably should have put my third place vote there, but I really didn’t want WHAT THE HEART KNOWS (probably the least positive) to fall off the table, should we need a further round of discussion and voting.

    We also had an interesting side discussion about audiobooks. I opined that they definitely could never be discussed around the table, and I said that I personally would never use them as a first read, but could as a subsequent read. I think the chair of any given year might address this.

  2. I think the audio book question is a very interesting one. So many have mentioned Lyle Lovett’s narration of TRUE BLUE SCOUTS as helping them to appreciate it. Last year I read THREE TIMES LUCKY on my own first and had been planning to read it aloud to my class. I then, out of curiosity, played the audio book one day to the class and the voice seemed so pitch perfect that I gave up my place and we listened to the whole as a class. I have no plans to do that again as I like to read aloud too much, but it was an interesting and unique experience. (For one thing, I was sort of at a lost how to behave as I felt oddly inactive.)

  3. at a loss I mean.

  4. Shelley Fleming says:

    CLEMENTINE was on my top 4 list and I probably should have argued it’s merits more strongly during our San Diego discussions but that’s not to say I was dissatisfied with our discussions overall. I was surprised that it didn’t make anyone’s ballot. I found it really difficult to chose and CLEMENTINE ultimately fell off of my ballot when compared to the middle-grade choices. I’m so glad that it had more champions in Nina’s group! I’m looking forward to participating in this process next year. Thank you for starting the SD group Jonathan.


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