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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Convince Us

Jonathan and I are working on our shortlist of titles that we’ll be discussing at our in-person Mock Newbery discussions in January (dates TBA for Oakland and San Diego).  We try to announce our list just before Thanksgiving, to give you the chance to read up, and limit ourselves to publication dates through October, so […]

Egg & Spoon

If Gantos and Preus are in the running for using the fewest words possible to excellent effect, nobody filled in Gregory Maguire on that contest.  However, for the right reader, his EGG & SPOON dishes out delectable word after word after word after word after word, for a classic-feeling adventure/fairytale/coming-of-age story as fancy as the […]

Nonfiction Contenders

If Nina and I have anointed THE PORT CHICAGO 50 and THE FAMILY ROMANOV as the most likely Newbery nonfiction candidates there is a bevy of wonderfully written books that may also get a look from the committee. ANGEL ISLAND by Russell Freedman has four starred reviews and while it dovetails nicely with the fourth […]

El Deafo

I was glad to see this one listed among so many of your favorites, as it is in mine.  But how do we discuss this graphic novel for the Newbery?  Let’s look at some of the language in the criteria. Definition #1: . “Contribution to American literature” indicates the text of a book. It also […]

The Family Romanov

First of all, you need to know something about me as a reader to understand why I find this one quite possibly the most distinguished contribution of American literature for children this year.  I like biography, but it can often feel too claustrophobic for me to inhabit a single viewpoint with a very linear narrative […]

Brown Girl Dreaming, and How I Discovered Poetry

In another interesting pair of subject-matter-coincidences, we have two works in verse from African American female writers this year that are memoirs of their childhood experiences which prepared them for their writing careers.  (These both follow closely on last year’s Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes, for a triple coincidence.) Jacqueline Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING is […]

Spring Contenders

Earlier Nina asked us to glance ahead and talk about some of our Fall Favorites, but we’re not done with the spring season yet either.  What about this trio of contenders? ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff I haven’t read this anywhere, but does anybody else get a slightly WONDER-ish vibe from this one?  New York […]

Zane and the Hurricane, and Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Debbie made a plea back in Fall Favorites for ZANE AND THE HURRICANE, which I’m seeing on many Mock Newbery lists. But we have to talk about it alongside Julie Lamana’s UPSIDE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, which is essentially the same story:  Katrina. Stranded in the Lower Ninth. Dog escaping causes trouble. Rescue. […]

Nuts to You

Of course I’m biased, but I happen to think that CRISS CROSS is one of the best Medal winners in the canon.  To be sure, it’s a polarizing kind of winner, but there’s no question that–like THE WESTING GAME–it’s individually distinct.  One was made and then the mold was broken. If AS EASY AS FALLING […]

Stranger than Fiction?

I like quirky.   Yet Jenni Holm’s THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH and Jack Gantos’ THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA both put me pretty off-kilter, in that stomach-dropping “Whoa!” way of a roller-coaster.  I enjoyed both thoroughly, but am still trying to clear my head.  I do think that the oddball humor in both speak directly […]