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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Glorious Ineligibles

labellesauvage

Being on the Newbery Committee means devoting almost all your reading time (and time to do other things in the past) to the year’s output of American Children’s Books. I know that my husband definitely felt the impact of being a Newbery Committee Spouse. Evenings that were family times — watching TV together or playing […]

Music to the Mind and Salve to the Soul

clayton byrd

Grief and complicated family relationships are treated with impeccable prose construction, musical sentences, and deep compassion by Rita Williams-Garcia. It is a love song to the Blues and a tribute to life’s “blues” as experienced by a young child so’s to become a wiser, deeper soul.  Williams-Garcia also offers a forensic examination of the failed relationship between a child and her father and its lingering effects. Yes, this story […]

Give Riordan a Chance? Popularity IS “Quality Presentation”

magnuschase

At the end of the Newbery Criteria document, there is a Note: “The committee should keep in mind that the award is for literary quality and quality presentation for children. The award is not for didactic content or popularity.” (I have always wondered what propelled the addition of this particular statement to the Manual.) We […]

A Newbery Dream… in the Sky

strangethedreamer

This week, all three of us will be posting about titles that are probably considered “too old” to even dream about being nominated for, let alone winning, the Newbery. And yet, when a book features a godly dreamer, a citadel floating in the sky, and characters accomplishing the impossible, its contribution to the young reader’s […]

For All That’s Real and Fair(e): Two Outstanding MG GNs

realfriends

As  the Newbery Committee manual dictates, the “committee is to make its decision primarily on the text” and “[o]ther components of a book, such as illustrations, overall design of the book, etc., may be considered when they make the book less effective.” In other words, good designs and fabulous illustrations that enhance the overall reading experience, theoretically, should not […]

Two Orphans, Two Islands: Which Is More Distinguished?

beyondthebrightsea

Certain recurring narrative devices have long been universally employed by authors of children’s books: a boarding school setting, moving (away) as the main conflict, meeting a wise mentor, etc.  One often-seen element is an orphan protagonist: From Huck Finn and Mary Lennox to Harry Potter and the Beaudelaires, children’s books do seem to feature parentless protagonists disproportionally.  Perhaps it allows the author to easily externalize […]

Amina and Auma

aminas-voice-9781481492065_hr

I’ve been thinking a lot about didactic content recently.  As the Newbery Criteria states: The committee should keep in mind that the award is for literary quality and quality presentation for children. The award is not for didactic content or popularity. So, what do we do with books that are important and what counts as didactic […]

Give Picture Book Non-fiction a Chance?

give bees a chance

Non-fiction books in a picture book format  can be a hard sell in a Newbery discussion. The Terms and Criteria state that the “distinguished contribution to American literature” is “defined as text.” And in the best picture book non-fiction, like the best picture books and graphic novels, text and illustrations are usually dependent on one another. But […]

The First Rule of Middle Grade Fiction: Be Yourselves

first rule of punk

The first rule of punk, according to Malú’s dad, is to be yourself – as if yourself is a single, easy-to-define, tangible something.   But when you’re in middle school, figuring out who you are is a lot more complicated than that.   The First Rule of Punk has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library […]

Rose Lee Carter and the Historical Fiction Advantage

Midnight without a Moon

Historical fiction has done well over the years in terms of Newbery recognition. In the past ten years, about 43% of the Medal and Honor books fit the category (18 of 42 if you count “When You Reach Me” and “Splendors and Glooms”), and all but one year included at least one historical fiction title. […]