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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

And the Winners Are….

(This post is now updated from the earlier placeholder.)

People, I don’t know quite how to start on how groundbreaking today’s announcement are, in many different ways,  but I want to thank both the Newbery and Caldecott Committees in particular for making bold choices that will end up changing the way we all talk about these awards.  With a graphic novel on the Honor roll for each (EL DEAFO for Newbery, THIS ONE SUMMER for Caldecott), it is now indisputable that this format has a firm place in both award categories.

Some other differences this year…

The Caldecott committee selected 6 honors.  Committees can select ANY number of honor books, or none, but no one’s gone “6” for quite a while.  And they’ve really pushed the age level question with THIS ONE SUMMER.  I think the room was so dumbfounded at the idea of 6 honors that this part hasn’t really sunk in yet.  THIS ONE SUMMER is one of my absolute favorite books of the year, and I’m so excited to see it turn up in such an “unlikely” place.  Why am I surprised?  Jonathan was a member of this year’s Caldecott committee…a pretty stunning group all around.

Poetry.   Not only CROSSOVER and BROWN GIRL DREAMING for the Newbery, but also for the CSK along with HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY.  And JOSEPHINE for the Sibert honor (and CSK illustrator honor) And, the Pura Belpre author winner and honoree are both poets (Marjorie Agosin and Juan Felipe Herrera).  Any other poetry in the awards list? I’m not familiar with all of them…

Diversity. I think this is what people in the room were most attuned to, but while I found it affirming I don’t think it was the most groundbreaking part of these awards.  Still, so nice to see so many kinds of diversity expressed in the award categories that are not specifically about diversity….  and to see the Edwards and the Wilder awards each go to an amazing African American book creator (Sharon Draper, and Donald Crews).

What do you think of the choices?  Find them at:



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. I actually woke up so excited this morning to learn who won. I am upset I have snow day so I can’t find out in my classroom with my 5th graders!!! Fingers crossed on my favs.

  2. I finally have read the Newbery before it won. Yeah Kwame Alexander and Crossover!

  3. Been lurking on this blog all season and enjoyed tuning in to the web stream. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for linking up to the video — it was so exciting!!

  4. I was thrilled to see The Noisy Paint Box included, which I didn’t expect, but loved! I also think Nana in the City more than deserved recognition. Beekle is a book kids like, as is the Crossover, so I’m happy to see the committees choose books that children actually like. I was over the top thrilled about El Deafo, of course! Only thing missing for me was The Farmer and the Clown, which I thought was particularly outstanding. At any rate, I LOVE when the awards committees surprise everyone. It keeps it fun!

  5. I am very happy about The Crossover. Just trying to determine if Kwame Alexander still lives in Virginia. :-)

    • Patrick Pane says:

      He is in Virginia & he is awesome on school visits. He visited my school in December and the kids loved him.

  6. Was thrilled with Caldecott especially that they honored THIS ONE SUMMER. Bravo to that committee. As for Newbery, I was wild with EL DEAFO being honored. I’ve been as you all know doing everything I can for it, but that they did it made me absolutely over the top happy. I was watching it at school (texting the results to Roxanne as she was in a cab going to the convention center) and then my kids came in and watched the Caldecott and Newbery announcements with me (and were probably a bit bemused at my jumping up and down for joy:)

    Happy for THE CROSSOVER and BROWN GIRL DREAMING too, but my heart is completely and utterly with EL DEAFO. So so happy.

  7. Very surprised. Maybe most surprised in a year of great books that there weren’t a couple more Newbery honors.

  8. I wish I had listened with more dedication to your discussion on EL DEAFO. It really is my favorite book of the year. So much to be happy about. Too much screaming and yelling in the library this morning.

    THE CROSSOVER won both of my Mock Newberys, and for good reason every word is perfectly placed.

  9. Very very pleased and excited about the winners! All three are such terrific books. I wish they had recognized more than 2 Honors, and wish Family Romanov had picked up more than the Sibert Honor (but it got the Orbis Pictus award last week), but all that is subsumed in my delight for El Deafo and The Crossover, which I wanted but hadn’t expected to see. And Brown Girl Dreaming was one I had expected, of course.
    Was surprised that El Deafo didn’t get the Schneider, but Rain Reign is a great book (one I resisted reading for a while, and then was happily surprised by).

  10. The moment I heard This One Summer for Caldecott, the first thing that came to my mind was Jonathan was on the commttee.

  11. This morning was unreal. This was my second year being in the room for the announcements. Last year was exciting. This year was phenomenal. Award after award setting establishing something new and surprising. The energy!!!

    Nina, I agree with you that the diversity shown this morning wasn’t the most groundbreaking part. It was just about dang time. But that all three major awards honored a graphic novel ? THAT’S groundbreaking. And I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that a book is going to have both a Caldecott and Printz on it. Mind. Blown. (But, yes, it also occurred to me right away that Jonathan was on the committee.)

    Monica, well done with your defense of and fervent devotion to El Deafo which caused me to take it more seriously as a contender. (I forgot to reply to your comment on the BoB post about it.) I was just as happy as you were this morning.

    I’m over the moon about The Crossover winning. It was my favorite going in, but I expected it to be an Honor. Never been happier to have my expectations upset. :)

  12. Jessica Lee says:

    I am so utterly thrilled that The Crossover was selected for the Newbery Medal! At our Oakland Mock Newbery discussion, I was rather adamant in my support of this book, but not adamant enough to sway our faux-committee. While The Family Romanov was certainly engaging and well written, I could not be convinced that it was superior to this book where every word seemed so carefully selected. Rhythm, sound, and page placement complemented a story about intricate family dynamics. My students love this book. They love the descriptions of the basketball games, the banter between the brothers, and the relatable situations. I know that the Newbery is not awarded to a book for its popularity, but I feel that kid-appeal should be part of the criteria. At least that is how I interpret, “The book displays respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations.” I am so thrilled with this year’s selection!

    • Jessica, thanks for spelling it out, and I’m so pleased too. I was surprised just because I wasn’t expecting it, and then everything from our discussion came back to me and I just was elated that the committee was clearly able to see the achievement of the book in balance with other possible choices.

      The book is appealing, and I do think that how WELL is appeals IS a part of the criteria. How broadly it appeals is not. It always feels like a bonus day day, though, when it does, and with this one, because it appeals in a way that we don’t see often among Newbery books. Among the medals themselves? I’d hazard never.

      • I loved the Crossover, and I was so excited to see it win. Not least because now I have reason to recommend it to the adults in my life! Novel-in-verse about middle school basketball player and his twin brother wasn’t screaming anyone’s niche, but it really does have such wide appeal and is such an amazing book.

  13. I was disappointed with this year’s Newbery winners. To have a list comprised of two novels in verse and one graphic novel, it provides a pretty poor representative picture of the distinguished works of children’s literature published in the past year. What happened to the non fiction titles that generated such critical acclaim? The Family Romanov? Port Chicago 50? And what of the novels we discussed so passionately? West of the Moon? The Night Gardener? Revolution? The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza? The Madman of Piney Woods? Rain Reign? Or a off-the-wall favorite like The Fourteenth Goldfish? I think the crux of my disappointment is that this year’s (oddly short) list lacks breadth. My other concern is one of age appropriateness. I know that the endcap for the Newbery Award is 14. But I feel as though the award winners and honor books over the past decade have skewing older more often than not. Where are the books for elementary readers? My ideal Newbery list represents a variety of genres and contains titles accessible to a wide range of ages. This newest list fails on both fronts.

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says:

      Emily, while there were certainly many many other distinguished books we discussed this year, I think this list actually shows much more breadth that most lists. The content is wide-ranging, the formats are less-recognized and appealing, and all three titles are very firmly rooted in the Elementary school range. Crossover and Brown Girl can cross to middle school, but El Deafo is pretty firmly Elementary.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says:

        Emily, as an addendum let me loop around to say that I too am of course sad to see some of our other favorites go….I was rooting for WEST OF THE MOON myself. I think I’m just impressed that the committee found a different way to express what the award can stand for, and when I look at their selections, I’m convinced.

      • I think I would have to disagree about the target audience of both Brown Girl Dreaming and The Crossover. I know that judging content is subjective art, but our library system has both titles cataloged in the young adult section. Having read both books, I wholeheartedly agree with their decision. In terms of reading level, they could crossover (see what I did there?) and be read by elementary age children. However, because of their content, I wouldn’t recommend them to a child younger than 12. Also, I can’t help but think that the Newbery committee is on a mission to find the one perfect book that absolutely no child will read. Each year, they move just a bit closer to that prime objective. Maybe by 2020, when A Comprehensive History of Twine takes home the big prize, they’ll have achieved their goal. And I know kid appeal isn’t a factor for consideration. But when I see a list like this one, I can’t help but think that it ought to be.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says:

        Emily, I won’t argue with your perspective on the awards because it is yours, but I need to point out that kid appeal is most certainly a factor. I’m also curious what content you are referring to in BGD and CROSSOVER that make them inappropriate for someone under 12.

      • Barb Outside Boston says:

        I have the completely opposite opinion of this year’s books!
        EL DEAFO is THE most popular book in my K-5 library right now.
        THE CROSSOVER will be the first Newbery book in YEARS my those boys who will only read sports fiction by authors like Lupica will actually want to read.
        And I have a number of girls who get literacy help who love verse novels such as INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN. This is a great addition for them.

        In general, I prefer more Honors to fewer, but these 3 are the best in years when it comes to actually getting read!

  14. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m back from ALA and playing catch up now. Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the winning books, especially the inclusion of EL DEAFO! Well done, Newbery committee! I do miss THE FAMILY ROMANOV, but I’d like to think that if the Newbery committee had recognized six honor books then it would have been one of them. 😉

  15. You know what I loved? Before the awards, several people I talked with at ALA thought there would be outcry if Brown Girl Dreaming didn’t win the gold. Someone (I don’t remember who) pointed out that Crossover has better poetry. But what I loved was the overlap with the CSK Author Awards. But BGD won the medal for that and Crossover was an honor. Vice versa with the Newbery. It goes to show that these are both great writing.

    And nobody, but nobody, will accuse the Newbery committee of overlooking books because they thought the CSK award would cover those. (Or the Schneider award, for that matter.)

  16. A student in my classroom bought EL DEAFO at Barnes and Noble just before Winter Break. She couldn’t get into it. It passed from student to student in my room and not one of them connected with it or could get into it. And my class digs literature! Shocked me a bit, especially since the graphic novel format should be appealing to them.

    Happy with THE CROSSOVER. I sure hope that the committee wasn’t out to make a statement about diversity this year and overlooked other well deserving novels in the process. As Emily says, these three titles are all pretty limiting in audience. Not saying at all that that’s what happened, but boy, with all the Woodson vs. Handler hubbub and the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign, and now THIS shortlist, I’m not sure how one couldn’t wonder…

    I totally see the merit in all three, just wish another few could have snuck in there.

    • Nina Lindsay says:

      Mr H., one could certainly wonder the opposite about an all-white agenda in previous years. See you in September!

      • Well stated, Nina. I have no doubt this list will stand the test of time, and I don’t know how anyone can it is limiting in audience.

    • Barb Outside Boston says:

      What age do you teach? I have the 2nd through 5th graders in my school practically climbing over each other to get their hands on this (many for multiple readings!)
      One thing I like is that it seems equally appealing to both boys and girls–this is one of the few books (like OUT OF MY MIND) that has my boys choosing to read about a girl main character.
      Also, I think most of the books that stay with you have main characters who see themselves as different–Harriet the Spy, Harry Potter–so these books seem to fit in with those very well. I predict all 3 will be frequently read for many, many years.

  17. Leonard Kim says:

    I agree with those who think THE CROSSOVER is a book of wide appeal. It works very much like a traditional novel in many respects, so I don’t really consider it an off-beat choice from a genre standpoint — but I think the format and language will additionally appeal to those who may not be traditional novel lovers.

    (And I am kicking myself for not going on the record before the fact that this was my medal prediction. No guts no glory.)

    I’m sorry to hear your students couldn’t get into EL DEAFO, Mr. H. Like many others, I’m ecstatic about its selection. My 4th grader is a picky reader — he’ll start things, but if they don’t grab him, he’ll put it down. (Interestingly, this even happens with series — he may like a series and look forward to a new entry, but if it doesn’t pass muster, he’ll drop it.) EL DEAFO isn’t something that’d be obviously to his tastes, but he picked up my copy that I had lying around in the car and read and read.

    So all in all, I’m very pleased. BGD was a foregone conclusion, and I knew REVOLUTION wasn’t going to win. Sure, I liked other books, but this feels “right” to me. Thank you, Nina and Jonathan, for everything.

    • Leonard Kim says:

      And inspired by Betsy Bird mentioning reading EL DEAFO to her three-year-old, I’ve just started reading it to my five-year-old and she was completely attentive! After 50 pages, I was the one who had to call a break.


  1. […] committee chairperson for the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and an SLJ “Heavy Medal” blogger, applauded judges’ recognition of the graphic novel format. “An enormous […]

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