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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

National Book Awards Long List

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 9.34.43 PMA few days ago, the long listed titles for this year’s National Book Award Young People’s Literature category were unveiled.  How does our monthly suggestions list compare?  What are some common threads that you see?

Here’s a quick recap and description:

Out of the ten titles, Heavy Medal readers have strongly supported Boots on the Ground (nonfiction), Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (realistic fiction) and Journey of Little Charlie (historical fiction.) Poet X, a realistic verse novel for teens also received one suggestion.

We will discuss all of these very soon. 

Three of the remaining six titles on the Long List are yet to be published and five are considered YA:

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, heavily illustrated (wordless segments) by Eugene Yelchin will come out next week. This witty tale meant for middle grade readers of warring trolls & elves carries strong political critiques.

Releasing also next week is Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, a graphic novel memoir, already lauded by many and some might consider it within the Newbery age bracket.

Readers of Heavy Medal would probably want to read these two titles so you can join in on the conversation later on.  

In October, A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi will be published by HarperTeen.  This is a hard-hitting tale set soon after 9/11, from the perspective of a 16-year-old Muslim girl.

We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss is a realistic YA novel, told through letters from the death row, recounting painful memories of abuse and tragic decisions.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough is a haunting verse historical fiction, based on the struggles and triumphs of Baroque woman artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper, with illustrations, is a historical fiction of a teen Holocaust survivor.

All have received critical praises for their literary achievements but most likely will not be discussed on this blog.  

Roxanne Hsu Feldman About Roxanne Hsu Feldman

Roxanne Hsu Feldman is the Middle School (4th to 8th grade) Librarian at the Dalton School in New York City. She served on the 2002 and 2013 Newbery Committees. Roxanne was also a member of 2008-2009 Notable Books for Children, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and the 2017 Odyssey Award Committees. In 2016 Roxanne was one of the three judges for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. You can reach her at at


  1. I love seeing MASON BUTTLE mentioned here. I know it has its issues, but it was a title that stuck with me (for one reason or other) this year so far.

  2. I’ve read four of the titles on this list. Loved three of them (MASON, CHARLIE, BLOOD) and was meh about the other (NIGHT).
    I was one of the people who recommended BLOOD for discussion here. I think it’s appropriate for the 12-14 age band, and it has some of the best poetry written this year.
    Can’t wait to read KIDDO, POET, BRANGWAIN, and BOOTS!

    • Really? I think blood, water, paint is way too old. I mean, I found it traumatizing!

      • These are the three review journals’ age designation:

        Booklist – Grade 10 – 12
        Kirkus – age 14 to adult
        SLJ – Grade 8 and up

        This seems to me to indicate a book outside of the Newbery 0-14 range. I have not read the book. Others who have — chime in? Joe — why do you think it’s suitable for 12-year-old readers?

      • Just throwing this out there…

        The same review journals you just cited had THE HATE U GIVE as Grades 9-12 (Booklist), Age 14 and Up (Kirkus), and Grade 8 Up (SLJ). Almost identical to BLOOD. Yet, we had people arguing profusely for its inclusion in the Newbery short list on here last year. If that wasn’t outside of the Newbery 0-14 range, why would BLOOD be?

        (FWIW, I haven’t read BLOOD, I’m just trying to be difficult! I love the age debate! It riles me up…)

      • I love that age debate as well! I think we will be having that argument when we touches on books like The Astonishing Color of After. We had a fierce discussion over Strange the Dreamer last year, too, mostly due to the elements of sexual abuse and the resulting trauma.

      • Well, I thought THUG was too old too. And the YA that did get recognized was younger, clearly junior high appropriate. I do think Blood is even older than THUG though. The torture is pretty graphic.

    • A few years ago there was great debate with the graphic nature of WEST OF THE MOON on this blog, too. I found nothing in either that nor BLOOD that was any worse than the violence in a book like THE HUNGER GAMES… or THE HATE U GIVE, for that matter. And I think if we consider books like THUG then we should absolutely pay attention to other Young Adult books here. Otherwise, we set up a double standard.

      And to answer your question, Roxanne, if I were still a middle school librarian, I’d likely have BLOOD in the collection. I had SPEAK and some other “older band” books for my 8th grade students.

  3. My mock kids are ALL IN for Mason Buttle so they were ecstatic to see it on this list.

  4. I just read Poet X and liked it a lot. (And I think it’s a good fit agewise.)

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