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Inside Heavy Medal

HMC Ballot #3 Results:

The results from Heavy Medal Committee Ballot #3 are in…and we still don’t have a winner. Remember, we’re looking for one book with 8 first place votes and an 8 point lead over the second place title. Here’s where we stand:

Ballot #31st (4 pts)2nd (3 pts)3rd (2 pts)Total
New Kid06528
Other Words for Home25227
The Remarkable Journey…21317
Pay Attention Carter Jones21215
Genesis Begins Again30012
Lalani of the Distant Sea02210
Totals 151515135

It’s a fascinating list. The book with the most points has zero 1st place votes. And the book with the most 1st place votes is in 3rd place by total points. It shows how that “8 1st place / 8 point lead” rule is pretty important for getting a consensus winner. It also shows how hard it can be to meet that rule when you have so many excellent books contending.

We will try one more ballot. If we don’t get a true winner under the Newbery guidelines, we’ll declare a winner anyway. HMC members have their ballots. Comments below are welcome, but I also urge voters to consider the results and think about where your #4 Ballot votes will matter most. It seems fairly clear that some of the books are not going to win at this point, and if you’ve been supporting those, strongly consider moving a vote towards one of the stronger contenders. If it means that you cast a #1 vote for a book that you don’t feel is the most distinguished book of the year, all I can say is: that’s the Newbery process. It’s the kind of tough choice that most members make every year. Most likely several real Committee members will be wrestling with the same thing in a locked room in Philadelphia late tomorrow night.

However Ballot #4 falls out, we’ll declare a winner some time today. At that point, we’ll make a group decision (on HM) on how to award our Honor Books.

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. Molly Sloan says:

    My dear colleagues on the HMC,
    I have learned so much about the Newbery process by being part of this mock committee with all of you. The most surprising thing that I have learned is that the committee’s final decisions, (which have always seemed so absolute to me before), comes down to opinions. Fifteen people’s opinions and the willingness of members of that group to stand up and advocate for a book that matters to them. I know I have been vocal about my support of Other Words for Home in our discussions. It is the book that has swept my heart this season. However there are many worthy books on our list and the reality is that many of them are deserving. I will continue to advocate for the book that speaks to my heart but I recognize that my advocacy, amplified because of my role on this mock committee, is at the end of the process simply my own opinion organized into an argument. Thank you all for lending your voice, your dissent and your advocacy to this conversation. It has been a worthy process regardless of our results.

    Now, I have one more chance to highlight some aspects of Other Words for Home that I think deserve consideration. Last night I addressed the argument against this book’s choice of using verse because I believe Warga chose it to convey the feeling of learning and thinking in a new language. I found a few more passages that address this perspective. Page 158-160 including the lines:
    I don’t think you have to forget
    In order to learn, I say
    Making sure my English is perfect.
    Grace smiles at this,
    And I think she;s as proud as I am
    That my English is getting better every day.

    On pages 169-170 including:
    . . . because we all know what Omar is trying to say.
    What he can’t quite manage to say in English,
    What is almost impossible to say–”

    This morning, as we consider one last ballot about these wonderful books, I’d like to present a few passages in Other Words For Home where I find the text to be eloquently poetic. Some have said the novel didn’t need to be in verse because it reads like prose, but I believe these passages elevate the text to poetry.

    Alliteration and imagery
    “The buttery smell of blueberry muffins
    That are baking
    Wafts through the kitchen”
    (p. 177)

    Powerful use of simile:
    “But–I think and my mind
    floods with all those thoughts
    That I try my best to keep at bay,
    That are like wolves in the night,
    Howling that I am not from here,
    That I don’t belong here,
    That I will never belong here.”
    (p. 196)
    Also in this passage, the repetition provides cadence and rhythm.

    Metaphor–the hill is the challenge of auditioning for the play
    “Sarah’s eyes meet mine, but I meet hers back
    Like I am daring her to slide down the hill
    That I have already gone down.”
    (p. 201)

    The use of line breaks to convey emphasis and meaning:
    She gives me a look,
    Not the look,
    It is a look that I have never seen before.

    She is seeing me differently.
    She is seeing
    (p. 206)

    In the chair by the big bay window,
    Her face illuminated by the watery winter light.
    (p. 162)

    “There is panic
    Climbing up my spine
    Crawling into my chest”
    (p. 163)

    In fact if you have the book handy, try re-reading pages 161-164 and look what Warga is able to communicate in such few words. There is power in this poetry, my friends. I feel it. I hope you do too.

  2. Samuel Leopold says:

    I respect Molly’s analysis. But I echo Roxanne’s feelings yesterday about promise of change. The point is that Promise is the best book written in verse this year. In retrospect I should have argued harder for it on the first ballot. Hard for me to give Other Words for home a top vote when it is not the top book done in verse. Now…..Just looking at these seven titles, I one last time will say that Torpedoed is the most distinguished book on that list……with New Kid a close second. I appreciate everyone who participated with me in this process. Whatever the results are, it has been enjoyable. Thank you.

  3. Rachel Wadham says:

    I echo Samuel’s and Molly’s comments. This has been an enlightening and enjoyable process. It has been an honor to work with you all. Sadly I will say the asynchronous nature of our conversations did make things challenging and I think we all could have argued harder for our books, but in the end I think that whatever we find as the winner is worthy while not making those that did not come out on top any less distinguished.

    • Molly Sloan says:

      Agreed! There is something important about being locked into a room together for the whole weekend!

      • Tamara DePasquale says:

        Molly, I love your passion for this title, and I agree with you on every point. Jude’s voice is such an important and timely one. I feel the same way about Carter Jones. New Kid looks safe. I struggle with Torpedoed. It’s a solid nonfiction title, but I did not finish it with the need to just sit with it like I did for Words and Carter. These two titles were so special. I have my fingers crossed that the real committee will honor them.

        It has been a pleasure reading all the responses and considering all the different perspectives. Thank you all for your passion and commitment to children’s literature. No doubt there are many young readers who benefit from your enthusiasm.

        I cannot wait for Monday!

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