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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

2014 Best Books Overlap

From the following review journals: Booklist, Bulletin, Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal. Six lists— BROWN GIRL DREAMING THE FAMILY ROMANOV THIS ONE SUMMER Five lists— THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN FIREFLY JULY RAIN REIGN THE RIGHT WORD WEST OF THE MOON Four lists— BEYOND MAGENTA EL DEAFO GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE GLORY O’BRIEN’S […]

The Madman of Piney Woods


Our final book to reconsider is THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS.  The first time around Nina rightly noted that despite a leisurely pace, the storytelling elements–plot, character, setting–make this a worthy book to discuss.  We only had three comments, but they were all packed with good insights. Is this book too heavy-handed or didactic? Are […]

Brown Girl Dreaming


BROWN GIRL DREAMING has six starred reviews, presumably six best of the year lists (where are you Bulletin?), the National Book Award, and it’s placed the highest through our two rounds of unofficial nominations.  It’s a shoo-in for the Newbery Medal, right?  I’d like to think it has a very good chance.  Personally, I find […]

Crossover Redux


Josh Bell   is my name. But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame. Folks call me that ‘cause my game’s acclaimed, so downright dirty, it’ll put you to shame. My hair is long, my height’s tall. See, I’m the next Kevin Durant, Lebron, and Chris Paul.   On our Top Five post, THE CROSSOVER […]

Top Seven

Because of the holidays, this is traditionally a slow week here at Heavy Medal.  And that makes it a perfect time for us to trade our final set of nominations, which is a thread that typically has a longer life.  The real committee trades three in October, two in November, and two in December–but since […]

Revolution Redux


First of all, you should know that I am simply not the audience for this book.  I find the plot too slow and the characters uninteresting, and the whole thing was kind of a slog to get through–and I always feel that way about Deborah Wiles’s books.  For me, the history in this story was […]

Transitional Chapter Books


Since traditional chapter books have spot illustrations, and since some people might consider them picture books instead of illustrated books, I’m going to quote from some of the reviews and read your comments below about their literary merit. DORY FANTASMAGORY by Abby Hanlon Kirkus;  Often just on the edge of out of control, this inventive child […]

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza


This is the only book on our shortlist that we have not previously discussed, and while that may have made it something of a surprise, it really shouldn’t have been: the book got five starred reviews and was a Kirkus Prize finalist.  This is the fifth and final book in the Joey Pigza series and […]

It’s a Small World After All (The Prose Edition)


Cynthia Kadohata won the National Book Award last year for THE THING ABOUT LUCK, and she follows that up with another strong book.  Lightning didn’t strike twice, however.  She doesn’t have the most memorable character of the year; that honor would go to Gregory Maguire for Baba Yaga in EGG & SPOON. But it’s still […]

Top Five


For the past several years, we’ve surveyed you about your “nominations” at various points in the fall, mirroring the process that the real committee follows.  We skipped October and are late here in November. The reason that I’ve dragged my heels here is that (a) for me, THE FAMILY ROMANOV and BROWN GIRL DREAMING remain […]