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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

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 […]

He’s Actually Really Good at Rhyming

ImJustNoGoodAtRhyming

Chris Harris’ I’M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING AND OTHER NONSENSE FOR MISCHIEVOUS KIDS AND IMMATURE GROWN-UPS is a strong collection of funny poems.  Which might not be enough for Newbery consideration, but there’s a little more here. For one thing, the poems work together to create a sort of unified world of wordplay that’s […]

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 […]

Informational Book With Made-Up Bits

Heavy Medal Logo

Some followers of Heavy Medal asked about Subject Headings and their potential influences over the Sibert or Newbery Committee members’ decisions. I went ahead and queried one of the 2017 Sibert Committee members, Gail Nordstrom, a public library consultant at the Viking Library System, Minnesota.  She also served on Newbery and Caldecott committees. My email […]

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 […]

A Top Three? Already?

Nominate blue

Some time in October, Newbery Committee members will each submit three official Nominations.  They’ll do two more each in November and December, for a total of seven. Nominations are not ranked, just submitted as a group. Up until now, members have been submitting monthly Suggestions.  This is how they share titles of the books they […]

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. […]

Look Who’s Talking: First Person/Present Tense Narrative Voice

seeyouinthecosmos

By the third page of See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, I am absolutely hooked: not because it has an unusual narrative device and not because of the almost stream-of-consciousness, intimate, conversational tone, although both are immediately noteworthy.  I am hooked by the book’s unique and affable protagonist Alex, a first person/present/immediate past tense young narrator.  When Alex brings […]