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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Keeping it Real

Moonpenny Island

I’ve been looking for contemporary middle grade stories to compliment our shortlist-in-progress (soon to be announced), and having a hard time find ones that easily rise to the top for me.  What am I missing? Here are some that I’ve liked. MOONPENNY ISLAND. I’m a sucker for Tricia Springstubb, whose writing is detailed, emotionally precise and seamless. […]

Graphic Novels


Nina opened our running annual text vs. images conversation with THE MARVELS.  Last year, EL DEAFO made history by being the first graphic novel recognized by the Newbery committee.  Nina discussed it here and here, but my voice was noticeably absent as I was on the Caldecott committee; thus, we didn’t put it on our shortlist. […]

The Privilege of Serving

Amy - Version 2

In this blog we try to look at books specifically through the eyes of the Newbery Committee.  Following my article  The 2015 Youth Media Awards: A Crossover Year for Diversity, Amy and I talked about our own experiences reading critically for the committee, and Jonathan and I invited her to share her thoughts here.  Amy Koester […]

My Seneca Village


I know this book hasn’t published yet–November 1–but this is to serve notice that Nina and I are both extremely enamored of it, so much so that we have decided to put in on our shortlist despite the late publication date.  We encourage you to put your holds on the book, or better yet buy […]

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead’s GOODBYE STRANGER is unnerving–unnervingly realistic, that is, of the minds of thirteen-year-olds.  That the book disturbed me is a testament to its strength…since that age is not one I really wanted to experience again, but did through Stead’s writing. Here, the alternating viewpoints that very slowly unpack the experience of seventh grade are far more […]

The Hired Girl


I have always admired the work of Laura Amy Schlitz, but I have never been in love with it.  Until now.  Not only am I pulling for Newbery recognition for this one, I’d love to see it join THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION and LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY as only the third book […]

The Marvels, or What is Text?


Brian Selznick’s latest gives his visual/textual literary form yet another twist, as he tells one story first completely through image, then another completely in text, accomplishing a seemingly binary but actually complex interweaving of stories within stories. Though the package presents itself as simple and straightforward, the effect is multi-layered and powerful, and unlike any reading […]

Listen, Slowly (and Carefully)


I typically read one book at a time, occasionally two books at a time, but when I read for an award committee, I feel the pressure to always be reading, and so I will often have three to four books going on at the same time, constantly picking up books and putting them down throughout […]

What Are We Looking for in the Newbery?

Seen her before in some book?

Now is the time of year I have to triage my reading: I accept I won’t be able to do it all.  I use your comments, the Goodreads Mock Newbery list, and Jen J’s starred review spreadsheet, as a first place to try to figure out what is getting “buzz.” But once I’ve narrowed down that […]

The Popcorn Astronauts


THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS by Deborah Ruddell is an excellent poetry collection, definitely one of the best of the year, perhaps the best Newbery eligible collection, especially if we think of Marilyn Nelson’s MY SENECA VILLAGE as more of a narrative work of poetry. All of the poems in THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS are about food, as the subtitle […]