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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Your Favorite Unlikelies & Ineligibles?

It’s that time of the year (almost December!) that avid readers start to realize that some 2018 books we adore are probably either not likely to get much support from the Newbery Committee or they are simply not eligible for consideration.  Here are a few of mine:

Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

hazelwoodWhy I love it => It’s a dark fairy tale with a very modern, very realistic twist.  It’s imaginative and nightmarishly disturbing.

Why it might not be a Newbery contender =>  The Committee members would probably consider it for readers older than the upper reach.  Also, upsetting fantasy tales are not most people’s cup of tea.



Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

thunderheadWhy I love it => It’s a powerful and equally impactful sequel to Scythe, one of my favorite books from last year.  And the ending leaves me wanting more, immediately.  And Thunderhead is such a cool A.I.

Why it might not be a Newbery contender => It’s a sequel.  If many on the Committee did not read the first installment, it’s hard to convince them of the worth of the second book without demanding each person to read the first.  It’s SciFi.  SciFi is not everybody’s cup of tea.


My Beijing by Nie Jun (translated by Edward Gauvin)

mybeijingWhy I love it => It’s a whimsical and slightly melancholy graphic novel set in contemporary Beijing, told in several different vignettes, centered on a young child with a gimp leg and her grandfather’s backstory.

Why it could not be a Newbery contender => It’s an import.  The author/artist is not eligible to win the Newbery.


What are some some titles that you admire but know that they have very little chance of sporting a Newbery seal come January 28th?


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. Oh THE HAZEL WOOD… I loved the first half of that book, despite not liking the main character, then felt like the second half went off the rails. As she crossed over into the Hinterlands I felt like the book began to break some of it’s own rules and just became really far-fetched even as a fantasy.

    But the first half was so creepy and atmospheric and I’m kind of looking forward to the second book in hopes that it’s just the actual Tales From the Hinterlands book and not more of Alice’s story. The tales were original and terrifying.

  2. I saw someone on another blog question the eligibility of Check, Please volume 1, and I hadn’t even thought to consider it before that. It’s on the high end of the range, really 14+, which is why I never thought of it, and also was previously published as a webcomic. I’m a huge fan and have been following it for 3+ years, and while I don’t think it will get any love at the table, I was glad to see it talked about at all.
    Eric “Bitty” Bittle is a complex, flawed, wonderful character, and the world Ngozi Ukazu builds up around him is so nuanced and good. I have to admit, my fangirl heart would explode if her name got called at the YMAs.

    • Cory, if you’ve not seen yet, it’s a finalist for the Morris. I just cataloged it yesterday for our collection. It looks absolutely adorable.

  3. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    With long shots I usually think of the type of book that doesn’t usually win literary awards. One is “funny non-fiction for kids,” represented this year by THEY LOST THEIR HEADS by Carlyn Beccia. Gruesome, funny, interesting facts about the body parts of famous dead people. I’m not sure that it stand out in terms of “presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization” at the level of THE GIRL WHO DREW BUTTERFLIES or ATTUCKS…but when I think of “presentation of information” in combination with “excellence of presentation for a child audience,” it leads me towards books like this.

    And then there’s “poetic picture books,” a category that seems less of a long shot after last year’s Honor for CROWN. My favorite so far is A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS by Julie Fogliano. It’s a story (kids investigate an empty house) but also an exercise in imagination and wondering (“Was it a man with a big beard and glasses who would look out the window and dream of the sea? / Or was it a lady who painted all day in the garden portraits of squirrels while sipping iced tea?”).

  4. My favorite book of the year is probably I JUST ATE MY FRIEND by Heidi McKinnon. I don’t think it will win any awards, but it really made me laugh and it was a big hit at story time. I actually think it is distinguished in its interpretation of karma for the intended audience (preschoolers).

  5. Leonard Kim says:

    Unlikely (probably too old):
    PHOTOGRAPHIC – I might still nominate this next week
    TESS OF THE ROAD – Taran Wanderer for older readers
    WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS – mentioned in the NBA long list post

    Unlikely (not exactly literary)
    2 FUZZY 2 FURIOUS – humorous Disney franchise book
    STAR WARS: ARE YOU SCARED, DARTH VADER – see above, and a picture book to boot
    DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK – about microbes, an exemplary interactive, informational picture book

    • DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK was such a delight! My 4-year-old loved it, too. We were all shocked at how disgusting magnified teeth looked!

  6. I loved THE HAZEL WOOD, too, but I agree it’s a long shot. One of my other favorites of the year that’s unlikely to get any awards love was THE SERPENT’S SECRET by Sayantani DasGupta. Such a fun, snarky delight, and perfect for Percy Jackson fans.

  7. How about Illegal? Do you think that if the creators have been American, it would have a shot (as a GN)?

  8. THE STRANGE FASCINATIONS OF NOAH HYPNOTIK was my favorite young adult book this year. It’s firmly 14+, and it’s an absolute head trip, populated with likable and complex characters. The reveal is super satisfying, as is the takeaway.

  9. I really liked A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield. Quirky and funny and well-written, but too commercial for awards I assume.

  10. Leonard Kim says:

    I just finished an Ineligible. I think Christopher Lloyd’s Absolute Everything is a huge accomplishment: a middle-grade History of Everything that is as engagingly and clearly written as any children’s non-fiction book that I’ve read (sort of in the conversational vein of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is similar in concept (for adults), and I think as well-written as Bryson), with just a great sense of what topics, even the smallest, are interesting and should be included. Truly the child who reads this (and many can — it is not at all a difficult read, though it is long and packed) will come out of it with a good general education, a well-informed citizen of the world. Of course as a general writer taking on such a project, not everything is going to be just right — I cringed when Lloyd tried to explain gravity, but when I step back and take in the book as a whole, it’s hard not to be excited by it. Looking forward to the promised second go.

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