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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Top Five


For the past several years, we’ve surveyed you about your “nominations” at various points in the fall, mirroring the process that the real committee follows.  We skipped October and are late here in November. The reason that I’ve dragged my heels here is that (a) for me, THE FAMILY ROMANOV and BROWN GIRL DREAMING remain […]

The Witch’s Boy

Witch's Boy

Several of you have mentioned Barnhill’s THE WITCH’S BOY, and our library copies finally hit the shelves recently.  I wasn’t a fan of Barnhill’s starred debut THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK, and was underwhelmed by IRON HEARTED VIOLET….so I’m having a hard time parsing my appreciation of THE WITCH’S BOY.  Did it simply exceed […]

It’s a Small World After All (And in Verse, No Less!)


Over at Calling Caldecott, they recently took time out to consider international picture books that are ineligible.  We could probably do something similar here, as there seems to be quite a few translated books for middle grade and young adults: AS RED AS BLOOD, MARINA, NINE OPEN ARMS, VANGO, WHY WE TOOK THE CAR–not to […]

Picture Books


There is no stipulation that the Newbery be fiction, nor that it be long, though it tends to happen that way. Some exceptions from the lengthy category include a 1973 Honor for FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER, a 1983 Honor for DOCTOR DE SOTO, the 1989 winner for JOYFUL NOISE, and the 1982 Medal for A VISIT […]

Looking Back: 2007


Last year, we began a retrospective series where we revisited the 2005 Newbery crop.  This year, we’re going to turn our attention to the 2007 Newbery picks. WHAT WON Susan Patron won for THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY.  You’ll remember there was a big fuss made in some quarters about the use of the word […]

The Madman of the Piney Woods and How it Went Down


Curtis’ companion novel to ELIJAH OF BUXTON is an equally excellent stand alone, which shares much of what made its predecessor distinguished: unique voices that take their time, building deep familiarity with character and setting so that–in this case–a fairly simple but highly dramatic plot line supports a complex coming-of-age in the two main characters. […]

Whither Fantasy?


If you’ve read the blog long enough, you probably know that when push comes to shove, I’m going to advocate for nonfiction and fantasy if there are viable contenders from those genres.  We’ve already covered the various possibilities in the former genre, and while Nina recently brought up EGG & SPOON as the most likely […]

Convince Us

Boys of Blur

Jonathan and I are working on our shortlist of titles that we’ll be discussing at our in-person Mock Newbery discussions in January (dates TBA for Oakland and San Diego).  We try to announce our list just before Thanksgiving, to give you the chance to read up, and limit ourselves to publication dates through October, so […]

Egg & Spoon


If Gantos and Preus are in the running for using the fewest words possible to excellent effect, nobody filled in Gregory Maguire on that contest.  However, for the right reader, his EGG & SPOON dishes out delectable word after word after word after word after word, for a classic-feeling adventure/fairytale/coming-of-age story as fancy as the […]

Nonfiction Contenders


If Nina and I have anointed THE PORT CHICAGO 50 and THE FAMILY ROMANOV as the most likely Newbery nonfiction candidates there is a bevy of wonderfully written books that may also get a look from the committee. ANGEL ISLAND by Russell Freedman has four starred reviews and while it dovetails nicely with the fourth […]