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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Family Romanov


First of all, you need to know something about me as a reader to understand why I find this one quite possibly the most distinguished contribution of American literature for children this year.  I like biography, but it can often feel too claustrophobic for me to inhabit a single viewpoint with a very linear narrative [...]

Brown Girl Dreaming, and How I Discovered Poetry

Brown Girl Dreaming

In another interesting pair of subject-matter-coincidences, we have two works in verse from African American female writers this year that are memoirs of their childhood experiences which prepared them for their writing careers.  (These both follow closely on last year’s Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes, for a triple coincidence.) Jacqueline Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING is [...]

Spring Contenders


Earlier Nina asked us to glance ahead and talk about some of our Fall Favorites, but we’re not done with the spring season yet either.  What about this trio of contenders? ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff I haven’t read this anywhere, but does anybody else get a slightly WONDER-ish vibe from this one?  New York [...]

Zane and the Hurricane, and Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Debbie made a plea back in Fall Favorites for ZANE AND THE HURRICANE, which I’m seeing on many Mock Newbery lists. But we have to talk about it alongside Julie Lamana’s UPSIDE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, which is essentially the same story:  Katrina. Stranded in the Lower Ninth. Dog escaping causes trouble. Rescue. [...]

Nuts to You


Of course I’m biased, but I happen to think that CRISS CROSS is one of the best Medal winners in the canon.  To be sure, it’s a polarizing kind of winner, but there’s no question that–like THE WESTING GAME–it’s individually distinct.  One was made and then the mold was broken. If AS EASY AS FALLING [...]

Stranger than Fiction?

Fourteenth Goldfish

I like quirky.   Yet Jenni Holm’s THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH and Jack Gantos’ THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA both put me pretty off-kilter, in that stomach-dropping “Whoa!” way of a roller-coaster.  I enjoyed both thoroughly, but am still trying to clear my head.  I do think that the oddball humor in both speak directly [...]



The mystery/thriller category is a popular one with children, and I keep waiting for that special book that will lead to a pop culture phenomenon like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Nevertheless, we have a good crop of books this year.  We’ve already discussed THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO [...]

Fall Favorites?

We’re certainly not done talking about Spring and Summer titles, but as it’s now October, it’s time to get cracking: which are your fall release favorites? We’ve heard from fans of BROWN GIRL DREAMING, RAIN REIGN, EGG & SPOON…. This becomes the hard part of the season, as we try to read ahead and keep [...]

Freedom Summer


This is the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, and we’ve already discussed one book depicts that time, REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles.  Like its predecessor, COUNTDOWN, it’s a work of fiction that borrows heavily from the conventions of nonfiction, namely the incorporation of numerous primary source materials, both textual and visual. There also happen to be [...]

The Crossover

The Crossover

Speaking of the Present Tense…. I feel like everyone was talking about THE CROSSOVER as soon as the ARC came out, and I’ve been looking forward to talking about it here. I expected the biggest question would be “the age question”, so was tickled to see Eric comment here that he can’t remember why it [...]