Search on ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

What the Heart Knows


Jonathan included Sidman’s WHAT THE HEART KNOWS among his October Nominations, noting that it’s for a slightly older audience than her picture book collections.  These mostly free verse poems engage at different levels, and to different audiences.  Some of my favorites: “Silly Love Song” (p.61) speaks best to those in the flush of romance, though [...]

What lasts?

A little back and forth about what kind of writing lasts longer got me thinking about this frequently cited non-criteria for the Newbery.  Nowhere do the Newbery Criteria say that a winner must be “lasting.”  For good reason, I think, as there is really no way to tell, from our relative point of view in time, [...]

From Norvelt to Nowhere & Better Nate Than Ever


  While we’re spending some time in the upper age ranges of the Newbery, I wanted to talk about Jack Gantos’ FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE.  Jonathan touched on it in his post Revisting Sequels, where I was tickled to hear him confess he likes it better than the first, since I’ve been toying with that [...]

Far, Far Away


We broached The Age Question in September when the NBA longlist was announced. Having just finally finished Tom McNeal’s FAR FAR AWAY, I can’t think of a more interesting title to challenge the question. Here we have a ghost narrator who establishes a tone of other-worldliness while setting us firmly in a very normal (-seeming) [...]

The Real Boy


The National Book Award Finalists were announced last week; the Longlists cut by half into Shortlists. Among the Young People’s Lit titles that are squarely within Newbery range, TRUE BLUE SCOUTS and THE THING ABOUT LUCK are hanging in there.  FLORA & ULYSSES did not make the final round, nor did A TANGLE OF KNOTS or [...]



As I review the titles that seem to stand out strongly so far…  I note a LOT of previous medal winners (Kadohata, Williams-Garcia, Appelt, DiCamillo, Henkes, Spinelli, Choldenko, Vanderpool…), and common favorites (Ursu, Urban, Pennypacker…).  This always gives me pause.  The committee is able to read broadly enough, they can level that “star” effect, but [...]

If You Want to See A Whale

If you want to see a whale

Jonathan posted about potential easy reader contenders for the Newbery; but we have yet to delve into picture books. I’m always on the lookout for picture books with text strong enough to give a 300 page novel a challenge at the table.  I think that such a thing is rare, but I’m excited to have [...]

Al Capone Does My Homework and The Water Castle


Billed as the “last installment” of Gennifer Choldenko’s  Alcatraz trilogy, AL CAPONE DOES MY HOMEWORK stands out to me from the pack of widely-appealing middle-grade novels as one with some real grit to chew in the Newbery criteria department.  It starts in Moose’s singular and vivid voice and moves deftly into its plot while giving [...]

What do you want from a Newbery title?


As we progress through this season of Heavy Medal, Jonathan and I will be putting together a shortlist of titles that we’ll use in an in-person Mock Newbery discussion.  There, we’ll model the actual committee deliberation process to determine our Mock Newbery Winner. (Hold the date: Sunday, January 12th, Oakland CA.  Not near Oakland? Check [...]

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp


Kathi Appelt’s newest is another National Book Award Finalist that I think makes for interesting Newbery possibilities.  While very different in mood and characters than her Newbery Honor THE UNDERNEATH, I find the same sense of pacing here: leisurely and wandering between different viewpoints.  The storyteller’s voice is strong and becomes a character in itself, [...]