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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Too Old?


ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN by Gavriel Savit . . . When I first read descriptions of this book with comparisons to THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, I didn’t think I would like it very much.  THE BOOK THIEF is another apt, if imperfect, comparison.  The language here is beautiful, […]

Jason Reynolds and Comparing Author’s Works


Jason Reynolds has two books this year that I think are worth discussing.  Usually we talk about not comparing a book to an author’s previous work.  Well, in this case we absolutely can compare as they are both eligible titles and both quite wonderful. Of course, we still have to compare them to all of the […]

Poetry Roundup


BEFORE MORNING by Joyce Sidman . . . This picture book contains a single poem, but what a lovely, haunting poem it is!  The form of this poem is an invocation, and as such it seems like it could have been an outtake from her previous collection, WHAT THE HEART KNOWS.  Can a single poem […]

Biography Roundup


“Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.” Mark Twain “When you write biographies, whether it’s about Ben Franklin or Einstein, you discover something amazing: They are human.” Walter Isaacson “I seldom read anything that is not of a factual nature because I want […]

Discussing Diversity

As our discussion of GHOSTS slowly unfolds, I’m reminded of how very unNewberylike it is.  Part of that is because it’s virtually impossible to simulate a face-to-face discussion in an online setting, but I also think that another part has to do with process. The committee trades suggestions anonymously through the chair throughout the year. […]



Let’s dig into GHOSTS a bit, as promised in my last post.  There is a lot to discuss here. First, let’s start with the easy stuff.  Did I like the book?  Yes.  I really liked the book.  Raina Telgemeier writes relatable, lovable characters.  The relationship between sisters Catrina and Maya feels so genuine that it is almost […]

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled


One day when Frank could not win for losing, he got Lucky. And one day when Lucky was lost and found, he got Frank. Sometimes you read a book, and you have a gut reaction to why it belongs in the discussion of the most distinguished contribution of American literature for children, and you can […]

Graphic Novel Roundup


Well, if there was ever a doubt that graphic novels can have what it takes to get a shiny sticker, the last couple of years have proven that they can!  It is easy to imagine the conversations that might happen around art and graphic novels at an award committee discussion, but it is harder, for […]

Raymie Nightingale


Well, I kind of put my foot in my mouth last time around when I declared that FLORA & ULYSSES was my least favorite DiCamillo novel (or perhaps I even said it was her worst–I can’t quite remember).  Of course, then she went on to win her second Newbery Medal several months later.  DiCamillo’s “worst” […]



Booked is a spring title that has gotten a lot of buzz, and the reasons are plentiful and obvious.  First of all, for those who missed this, this is Kwame Alexander’s follow-up to his Newbery winning The Crossover, and it, like the predecessor, is a novel in verse about sports, but not *really* about sports. Of […]