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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Live from the YMAs: Merci Gets the Gold

merciI’m writing from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, where the ALA Youth Media Award announcements have just started.  The Newbery will be up last, likely some time shortly before 9:00 am PST.  I’ll post my reactions as awards are announced in comments below, but you can also  view the live webcast here or follow the hashtag #alayma.

It will be interesting to see if any titles we’ve talked about on Heavy Medal are named for other awards. Here are a few that seem like they might have a shot. I think these are in the order that the awards will be announced (but not sure). These aren’t predictions or wishes (though I’d love to see several of these named)….just plugging titles from the blog into categories they seem to fit pretty well:

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults


(we know the shortlist for this one, and these are three of the five)

William Morris (“first time author writing for teens”)

  • Elizabeth Acevedo  (THE POET X)

Theodor Seuss Geisel (“beginning reader”)


Stonewall (“gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience”)


Robert Sibert (“informational book”)


Pura Belpré Author (“celebrate the Latino cultural experience”)


Schneider Family (“disability experience”)


Michael L. Printz (“literature written for young adults”)


Coretta Scott King /  John Steptoe (“new talent”)


Coretta Scott King Author (“African American authors”)


Caldecott (“picture book”)


Newbery (“outstanding contribution to children’s literature”)

Well, that’s the one we’ve been writing about for five months….and I still have no idea.  We’ll know within the hour!


Steven Engelfried About Steven Engelfried

Steven Engelfried is the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at


  1. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Asian/Pacific American Award is announced first:

    Picture Book: DRAWN TOGETHER by Minh Le & Dan Santat
    Children’s Literature: FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang
    Young Adult Literature: DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram

  2. Tragically, Baby Monkey Private Eye isn’t eligible for the Geisel, because they have a page limit and the many illustrations put the book waaaay over the limit.

    And Sweep just took the Sydney Taylor!

  3. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Sydney Taylor Book Award: also three categories
    Younger Readers: ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY HANUKKAH by Emily Jenkins & Paul O. Zelinsky
    Older Readers: SWEEP: THE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER MONSTER by Jonathan Auxier
    Teen Readers: WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper

  4. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Another HM favorite gets an award! SWEEP was the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery winner.

  5. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The American Indian Youth Literature Award: No awards this year; it comes out on even numbered years only

  6. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    They’ve added an Honor award for each division this year
    [I accidentally just erased the Younger Reader awards and the Middle Reader honor….will add later]
    Middle Reader Winner: THE TRUTH ABOUT MASON BUTTLE
    Teen Honor: (DON’T) CALL ME CRAZY edited by Kelly Jensen
    Teen Medal: ANGER IS A GIFT by Mark Oshiro

  7. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    MASON BUTTLE! Another HM favorite

  8. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Stonewall Award is next:
    Honor Book: IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD by Ashley Herring Blake
    Honor Book: PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    Winner #1: JULIAN IS A MERMAID by Jessica Love
    Winner #2: HURRICANE CHILD by Kheryn Callender

  9. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Coretta Scott King Awards are next: It’s the 50th anniversary of this award!
    Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Pauletta Brown Bracy (an educator and advocate)
    CSK John Steptoe Award Illustrator: THANK YOU, OMU by Oge Mora
    CSK John Steptoe Award Author: MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson
    Illustrator Honor: HIDDEN FIGURES by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman
    Illustrator Honor: LET THE CHILDREN MARCH by Monica Clark Robinson
    Illustrator Honor: MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP by R. Gregory Chritie (illus)
    Illustrator Medal: THE STUFF OF STARS by Ekua Homes (illus)
    Author Honor: FINDING LANGSTON by Lesa Cline Ransome
    Author Honor: PARKER INHERITANCE by Varian Johnson
    Author Honor: THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE by Kekla Magoon
    Author Medal: A FEW RED DROPS: THE CHICAGO RACE RIOTS OF 1919 by Claire Hartfield

    • Stuff of Stars is a book we had in our Caldecott. It had some fierce support. (Although NOTHING was getting in the way of Baby Monkey.)

      We danced and cheered for STYX.

      Kept looking about for LITTLE CHARLIE.

      • I hear you about nothing stopping Baby Monkey when it came to our Mock Caldecott – with the exception of 2 of the 16 classrooms. And one of those voted for Hello, Lighthouse. I can’t wait to tell them!

  10. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Many familiar titles familiar to HM readers on the CSK lists. All of the Author Honor books got some support on the blog. And THE STUFF OF STARS is one of my favorite picture books of the year, so that makes me happy too.

  11. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Alex Awards are next, with adult books for young adult readers. I won’t list them all here, but it’s always an interesting bunch for those of us who read mostly youth stuff, but also adult literature

  12. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Margaret Edwards Award: YA lifetime achievement
    M. T. Anderson!!!

  13. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    I love the MT Anderson choice! FEED and OCTAVIAN NOTHING were groundbreaking books, and they stand up so well. And of course he co-wrote BRANGWAIN SPAIN, which was a Heavy Medal favortie for some (including me)

  14. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Odyssey Award for audiobooks is next. I’m not typing fast enough to get these down.

  15. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Morris Award for first YA book is next. The five finalists were announced earlier.
    Winner: DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram

  16. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction Award also has five finalists, announced in December

  17. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Michael L. Printz Award. This is its 20th year!
    Honor: DAMSEL by Elana K. Arnold
    Honor: A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD by Deb Caletti
    Honor: I CLAUDIA by Mary McCoy
    Winner: THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo

  18. I am dancing around with happiness that Poet X got the Printz!!!

  19. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    THE POET X! Another HM favorite. Any chance this could get be the first Newbery/Printz Medal winner?

  20. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    ALSC Awards come next, starting with the Pura Belpré Award. These are always announced in both English and Spanish.
    Illustration Honor: ISLANDBORN by Leo Espinosa & Junot Diaz
    Illustration Honor: WHEN ANGELS SING by Jose Ramirez & Michael Mahin
    Illustration Winner: DREAMERS by Yuyi Morales

  21. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    The Arbuthnot Lecture speaker this year will be: Neil Gaiman

  22. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Batchelder Award for translated books
    Honor: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE by Silvana Gandolfi
    Honor: MY BEIJING by Nie Jun
    Honor: EDISON by Torben Kuhlmann
    Honor: JEROME BY HEART by Thomas Scotto
    Winner: THE FOX ON THE SWING by Evelina Daciute

  23. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Robert F. Sibert Medal for informational books
    Honor Book: CAMP PANDA by Catherine Thimmesh
    Honor Book: SPOOKED! by Gail Jarrow
    Honor Book: THE UNWANTED by Don Brown
    Honor Book: WE ARE GRATEFUL by Traci Sorell
    Honor Book: WHEN ANGELS SING by Michael Mahin
    Winner: THE GIRL WHO DREW BUTTERFLIES by Joyce Sidman

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

      Yes! BUTTERFLIES and SPOOKED were two of my top three non-fiction books. I’m still hoping BUTTERFLIES has a Newbery hope….

      • Really happy about Butterflies and glad I got to spend extra time with it. Thanks Heavy Medal!

  24. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media: This is a brand new award, in a field that I am not at all keeping up with….but important stuff.

  25. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Children’s Literature Legacy (this used to be the Wilder Award) for lasting contributions:

    Winner: Walter Dean Myers

  26. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
    Honor: SEE PIP FLAP by David Milgrim
    Honor: THE PARTY AND OTHER STORIES by Sergio Ruzzier
    Honor: KING & KAYLA AND THE CASE OF THE LOST TOOTH by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Honor: TIGER VS. NIGHTMARE by Emily Tetri
    Winner: FOX THE TIGER by Corey Tabor

  27. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Caldecott Medal
    Honor: ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME by Juana Martinez-Neal
    Honor: THE ROUGH PATCH by Brian Lies
    Honor: THANK YOU OMU by Oge Mora
    Winner: HELLO LIGHTHOUSE by Sophie Blackall

    • Wow, no recognition for DREAMERS! I’m really surprised and not in a good way. At least it got the Pura Belpre.

      • Same. Very surprised.

      • SAMUEL LEOPOLD says:

        Disappointed also…..

      • Crushed –today I plan to put the Gold Pura Belpre sticker on one of our copies of Dreamers with today’s 2nd grade field trip. That will warm my heart. Yuyi visited their school (and our library) in October. When will she finally be recognized with a Caldecott?

      • There were so many book I loved for Caldecott: Drawn Together, Dreamers and Juilain, were all recognized earlier.

      • Was Yuyi Morales eligible for Caldecott? I believe she’s Mexican and currently living in Mexico. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Celia Perez says:

        Yuyi is a U.S. citizen. The Caldecott criteria is “citizen or resident” of the U.S.

      • Thanks for the clarification. I was really hoping she wasn’t chosen because she didn’t qualify for some reason instead of just wasn’t chosen. I was quite sure Dreamers would garner an honor at least, as I think most of us did. Sigh.

  28. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    HELLO LIGHTHOUSE is a great choice. Second win for Blackall. Also, Grace Lin has now won both a Newbery Honor and a Caldecott Honor!

  29. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    It’s Newbery time!:
    Honor: THE NIGHT DIARY by Veera Hiranandani
    Honor: THE BOOK OF BOY by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

    • I am THRILLED that BOOK OF BOY got an honor. I will never forget being on the couch and getting to the “reveal” and being so delighted. One of my favorite reading moments of the year.

    • Was (literally) jumping up and down for Merci Saurez! If it had been on our finalist list I would have continued to champion for it HARD!

      • I read Merci late, just as we began our Mock. I loved it hard. Happy for it. Also, BOOK OF BOY’s excellence has been well documented. It also got an honor in my Adult Mock over the weekend.

  30. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    MERCI is a surprise, but I’m happy to see it recognized. Very pleased with THE BOOK OF BOY getting honored. And THE NIGHT DIARY too. If anything was clear from this year’s HM discussion and especially the discussion and voting this past month around the HM Finalists, it’s that it’s terrifically challenging to choose the best book of the year. Especially since the books have strengths, content, and styles that are so different from each other. We’d love to hear reader reactions to the results…

  31. I’m SO happy that Night Diary won an Honor!! Also loved The Book of Boy!! Congrats. So happy for Poet X!’s double win and was surprised that Dreamers didn’t even make an Honor on Caldecott…

  32. Jennifer Potter says:

    My two cents! I am so pleased with this year’s book awards over all. The vast number of honor books show how tough it was for soooo many committees this year. i loved Merci Suarez and am really happy with it’s win. I also liked that so many of the books we discussed in our committee were recognized even if it wasn’t for the Newbery. I especially loved the Caldecott choice, I just felt like Sophie Blackall and her style fit this book so wonderfully and really appreciated the back matter that added so much information to my understanding of lighthouses.

  33. Shocked there were only two Newbery honor books chosen. There were SO many good books!! 🙁 I’m most excited that Grace Lin got a Caldecott honor.

    • When they said there were two honors I felt devastated!

      • I could only imagine how many times they re-balloted and how the votes split… we will never really know. That’s the excitement and the magic of this confidential process. I am very much a strong believer that a short list should NEVER be published prior, or even post, Award announcements.

      • Roxane – going through this discussion has really made me appreciate how shifting discussions can be, and to appreciate some of the possible reasons behind a very small honor list in what we thought was a strong year. So thanks for providing that opportunity.

      • Roxanne, do you mean they should never release a short list for these awards in particular because of how the deliberation process works or that you think that this is an inherently better process than awards that announce finalists and then choose a winner from those?

      • Katrina, I think it’s inherently a better process because it honors all the people in the room and their voices all the way to the end. No award committee is the DEFINITIVE evaluator for any given group of books, of course, but whoever serves on that year’s committee should have free rein to the very end on how they would come to the final decision.

        Is it ok the Nomination List to be release (Like 50 to 70 titles)? Perhaps, since those are the only once remaining on the table when Midwinter starts. But, what purpose does that serve? The field is narrowed from the thousands of published, yes. And the authors/creators of these books know that their books are being seriously considered for the Award. And perhaps there could be some covert lobbying? I don’t know how that would alter the entire process….

        A thought game for all!

      • Interesting! Whenever they only do a couple Honors it makes me like the other format, because I always want lots of books to get recognized. 🙂

    • I hate when they do that!

  34. Disappointed that BABY MONKEY got nothing. It’s one of my favorites of the year and my kids (5 and almost 2) both love it as well.

  35. samuel leopold says:

    I was mainly very happy with all of the award category selections—except the Newbery category. The winner is a very well written book…but, in my opinion, not as distinguished as at least 7 of the books the HM committee had discussed.

    Just like I tell my kids…”you never know….””

    Oh well….time to start reading for the 2020 awards!!!!

    • I was not very happy with the Newberys either, but I am hoping that some of the books I loved (Sweep, Styx Malone – and especially! The Journey of Little Charlie – will be included on the Notables list.

      Roxanne, would you consider the Notables list an after-the-fact “long list”? I usually heave a sigh of relief after reviewing it when I see that my favorites have not been overlooked after all!.

      (By the way, is any book that is NOT on the Notables discussion list considered for the Newbery? The discussion list is published before the Midwinters, correct, or am I mistaken?)

      • Mary, the two committee do not work together. All ALSC winners will be on the final Notable list whether they were discussed by the committee or not. The Newbery committee does not use the Notable discussion list for their short list. They nominate like we did here at Heavy Medal, beginning in October. Notables do their nominating.

        (One thing I am not sure about is weather CSK, Belpre, Schneider Family, and now Asian, and Sydney Taylor are included?)

      • Leonard Kim says:

        “According to ALSC policy, the current year’s Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.” So I guess only the ALSC awards are automatically included and not winners of awards administered by others?

  36. Yup — a new post of Looking Ahead is coming up and I think we will probably open for Monthly Suggestions very soon, too. This Friday is Feb. 1st, after all 🙂

    • I am so excited that the Monthly Suggestions will make a comeback. I looked forward to having new ideas of what to read each month instead of wondering on my own until September!

      • I also love the Monthly Suggestions and use them for a lot of my reading. Thanks so much for doing them again!

  37. Melody Allen says:

    It is comforting to remember that in a few days many favorites that did not get award love will be recognized on the Notable Children’s Books list.

  38. Which graphic novels did get some love today? The Unwanted is the only one I can think of, but anything else that I am forgetting?

  39. I was upset by only two Newbery honors, just because there were so many great books. Also because this is a year I’ve read more than ever before teaching my new Literature Cafe class . I had my heart set on a few favorites but love the winners especially Merci.

  40. Just wanted to take a moment to thank Sharon, Steven and Roxanne for all their work in hosting this blog. I learn a lot every year and I’m grateful for this service. Thanks, too, to all of you who participate. It takes courage to put an opinion out in the world, especially in such a well-visited website, but I’m glad each one of you has added to the conversation.

  41. Thank you for sharing, Monica! I remembered your other previous post from several years ago (Wasn’t that the year that so many were loudly indignant about Wonder not winning anything?), and it think it is definitely worth revisiting this year. I also feel the same about Walter Dean Myers. I teared up on that one because it is just so bittersweet that this didn’t happen while he was alive.

  42. Notable list is out… didn’t know if Roxanne or Steven were planning on a separate post or not:

    Some head scratchers here… in more ways than one to me. A little disheartening to see NONE of my personal favorites from such a strong year (JUST LIKE JACKIE, SNOW LANE, CHECKED, GRANTED) and strange to see some other popularly discussed titles on here (like SWEEP and THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE) missing from the list.

    MASON BUTTLE got some love, so there’s that. And SAVING WINSLOW, another quiet favorite of mine.

    A lot of posters on here may be excited though to see some of their favorites recognized.

  43. Here’s an interesting article from Publishers Weekly about how authors and publishers feel about mock award events and blogs….

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

      Thanks for sharing that article, Mary. Very interesting to the perspectives from authors and publishers.. I was glad to read this part: “..everybody loves the mocks. They do. Not one person interviewed for this article thinks the mocks should go away.”

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