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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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The Thing About Debuts

It’s easy to keep track of authors from whom we expect excellence; harder to stay on top of debut authors.  A pitfall of debut writing can be when it serves as a “warm-up”: a good writer, with a good idea, works that idea into a novel that…works, though sometimes the idea can feel more present than the […]

Hey, Old Friends: Part 2

When I started my list of sequels this year, it grew so rapidly that I decided to focus on sequels of Newbery-winning books, but there are some other high profile sequels as well, and a couple of them have already creeped into our discussion. COMPLETELY CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker . . . This is the […]

Gone Crazy in Alabama

I used to open every box of children’s books for review that arrived at my library…but it’s not my direct job anymore, and I had to let go of the micro-managerial (and selfish!) urge to be the first to get my hands on everything.   So it was that I only got to read GONE […]

Hey, Old Friends

We know the odds of repeat Newbery recognition are slim (the percentage of repeat winners in the past 5 years ranges from 20%-50%) and the odds of repeating for a sequel are slimmer still–in fact, limited only to Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Robin McKinley, Cynthia Voigt, and Richard Peck.  And yet we cannot help but […]

Why We Do What We Do

Now that we are rolling, I want to take a moment to say that this will be my last season on Heavy Medal. I started it in 2008 with my colleague Sharon McKellar (Jonathan joined in 2009), but we’d been blogging about our Mock Newbery discussions a couple years before that, and I’ve been holding Mock […]

George and the Question of Didactic Intent

Given our conversations so far, I think GEORGE is the perfect next book to discuss because (a) it is indeed serious work, and (b) it is also didactic (an issue we’ve been exploring in our discussion of ECHO). Now the Newbery Medal is expressly NOT given for didactic intent.  Throwing the D-word at a book, however, […]

Serious Work

There’s a concern, somewhat but not totally borne out by reality, that the Newbery only goes to “serious” works. While it does seem harder for lighthearted or funny books to win, there are no limits to the type of literature that is eligible, just that it be “original work.”  Here, however, are three titles from early […]


What’s not to love about this book?  All the storytelling elements–plot, character, setting–are superb, while the elegant simplicity of the language belies the thematic depth that resonates on every page.  Seems like a Newbery Medal winner to me! The structure of this novel is ambitious, from the double stories that frame the three interior ones to […]

2016 Spring and Summer Favorites?

And we are back!  Many thanks to all of you who’ve care-taken this blog from February through August at the 2016 Newbery Watchlist post, especially my hero Jen J of the Spreadsheets for her monthly updates of starred reviews.  It is  a handy place to start exploring award possibilities, though we are always quick to point […]