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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

So Long, Farewell . . .


As we wrap up another season of Heavy Medal, we’d like to thank all of our readers for their contributions.  It’s always hard to recognize only a small handful of books every year, but I always feel like we are able to celebrate many more worthy titles here, titles which may now depend on us to carry the torch.  And for me, it’s always about the journey as much as the destination.  Happy reading during the coming year and we’ll see you again after Labor Day!


At some point today, ALSC will probably post Notables here, and we’ll be able to see many of those titles we had hoped to see on Monday.  Keeping my fingers crossed for about a dozen erstwhile Newbery contenders.


Here is an early reading list.  Please to discuss these–or bring other titles to our attention–in the comments.

JINX by Sage Blackwood . . . Three starred reviews.  I know nothing about this one except that it looks like a longish fantasy that straddles middle grade and young adult. 

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION by Tonya Bolden . . .  Three starred reviews.  Here’s your friendly writer of color alert!  Oh, did you mean writer of color of fiction?  Tsk. Tsk.  

COURAGE HAS NO COLOR by Tanya Lee Stone . . . Three starred reviews.  This one could be called ALMOST PARATROOPERS.  I liked it, but I’m trying to decide why my expectations are different from what the book delivered.  Was I led to believe that there would be some actual combat in this book?  I don’t know. 

ONE CAME HOME by Amy Timberlake . . . Three starred reviews.  Saw some brief discussion on Betsy’s blog about the ending, but I haven’t read it yet.

NAVIGATING EARLY by Clare Vanderpool . . . Three starred reviews.  I like this one a lot, but I think there are an *awful* lot of coincidences that happen in the final stretch of the book, and I’ll be curious to see whether they bother more people on a rereading.

HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli . . . Two starred reviews.  Monica gave this one a positive review and Eric has mentioned somewhere that he liked it, but I’m 40 pages in and finding it unreadable.  Does it get better?

Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at


  1. Thanks for the great work!

  2. Grrrr . . . I have been checking the Notables site compulsively. I got to know that room much too well, as there is only so much time one can spend scoping for ARCS on the exhibit floor. I’m hoping for TWELVE KINDS OF ICE, LULU AND THE DUCK, LIAR & SPY, STARRY NIGHT and GYPSY MOTHS. Although the discussion for TKOI and SOTGM was pretty divided with the haters quite vocal.

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

      Ha…poor Notables always gets harangued for this. They’re the last ones at the conference!…meeting and voting Tuesday morning. The staff who upload everything online are all in transit as this is finalized…and there’s a lot of formatting and proofreading to be done. Still, they make an effort to get an not-perfect list without annotation up as quickly as possible, and clean it up as they go.

      (For comparison, the award committees turn in their press release drafts to the “Big ALA” press office on site at 10am Sunday…and an entire staff work non stop *well* into the night to get all the webpages ready for instant load Monday morning. Didn’t use to be that way. ALSC staff is on its own with the Notables I believe, and they are a hardworking bunch.)

      • I guess they must have decided not to post it this year until they could clean it up a bit. At least I don’t remember waiting this long before. I had a recurring lively discussion with one of the members who didn’t care for most of my favorite books, although we were agreed on SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS. It will be interesting to see how it played out.

        YASLA hasn’t posted their best fiction list yet ether. I was so confused when I first walked into that discussion because the were talking about JEFFERSON’S SONS. I found they included the last three months of the previous year. I’m anxious to see what their top ten are. The list itself will be ridiculously long because it is every book at gets eight (?) yes votes by the committee.

  3. I scored a copy of P.S. BE ELEVEN, of which I am over the moon to have in my greedy hands.

    Also a sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY.

  4. Hokey Pokey does get better. I was lost for a while in the beginning, but after those really short chapters, things start making sense again.

  5. HOKEY POKEY — someone on goodreads equated it with reading Joyce and I don’t think that is far off. I went with it and liked it tremendously, but doubt all will and so suspect it will be a very contentious love/hate title. Can’t wait to talk about it here next fall!

    JINX is solidly MG — made me think a bit of Diana Wynne Jones. Fun, but I don’t see it as a Newbery contender though others may feel differently.

    I too liked NAVIGATING EARLY very much and look forward to discussing it.

    One I’m excited about is a new Susan Cooper that was mentioned at a Simon & Schuster preview at ALA. Can’t recall the title (something HAWK, I believe), but it is set in colonial American and involves a Native American. Can’t recall much more, but maybe someone else reading this was at the preview or otherwise knows more.

  6. Thanks for all the hard work again! It’s always so much fun to follow the conversations here! I’m planning to continue keeping track of starred reviews as the year goes on – you can access the Google Docs spreadsheet I keep at this link which will take you directly to the 2013 stars page, although you can also access data from previous years:

    I just updated for a couple of February journals, which puts us at 5 4-star titles and 10 3-star titles (as usual, assuming all my data is correct – I do miss things sometimes!). Jonathan mentioned the most relevant 4 star contenders already – Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood is going to be too old and You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! is a non-fiction picture book that will be hard to build consensus around. In the 3-star reviews, Penny and Her Marble picked up a third star, but easy readers always have a hard row to hoe for the Newbery. In the two-star ranks, Blue Balliett’s Hold Fast could be a possibility. I have a bunch of these early possibilities out, but haven’t finished reading any of them yet! Hoping to find something I love soon, though!

    Oh and in terms of this year’s winner and honors:
    Ivan – 3 stars
    Bomb – 5 stars
    Splendors – 5 stars
    Three Times Lucky – 3 stars

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      Thanks, Jen! This is very helpful. I haven’t seen any February publications. I cobble my list from Titlewave and I don’t see Booklist or Publishers Weekly so those often slip by me.

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

      Jen, just a little shout out to you for keeping this spreadsheet going and available! It’s such a treasure.

      • Thanks Jonathan and Nina! Can you tell I love me some data? There are nights when I dream happy little dreams of spreadsheeting. Here’s another fun one that I’ve been putting together for several years. I’ve hesitated to share it because it’s highlighted all over for what I’ve read and has some notes for my own use, but I figure others might appreciate it – just don’t judge my reading habits people!

        Award Winners!

        I’ve linked to the Newbery page, but you’ll see there are lots and lots of tabs for different awards. As time allows, I add things – my next goal is to get the Horn Book Fanfares listed in there now that they’re available online, but I have some other projects to finish up before I take that on!

        Thanks again for all you guys do during awards season! I get such joy out of following along here!

  7. HOKEY POKEY: just finished reading it the other day. I felt the same way as you for much of the first half of the book, but I persevered and the ending completely sucker-punched me. I loved that ending! That being said, is it enough to make a difficult book worthwhile? I’ll definitely be interested in seeing that one in discussion.

  8. Not sure if “gets better” is the right phrase for what happens with Hokey Pokey. I think “the reader gets more attuned to the book” would be more accurate. Can’t wait to get through this HUGE deluge of 2013 of netgalleys so I can reread Hokey Pokey.

  9. Sharon McKellar says

    I’m getting started on these right away! Now that I’m out of the two-year land of audiobooks, I can read read read again! Can’t wait!

  10. Sitting on my kindle now i’ve got a ton but I can’t wait to read RUNAWAY KING (sequel to False Prince) I doubt it will be to relevant newbery discussion but it will be a fun fun read.
    Also looking forward to: (some YA thrown as well)
    THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING – Linda Urban (hearing good things, though i didn’t love Hound Dog True)
    MOUSE BIRD SNAKE WOLF (Almond so not newbery eligible)
    COURAGE HAS NO COLOR (hoping Stone lets her readers form their own opinions this time around)
    KINDNESS FOR WEAKNESS (only because of Matt de la Pena’s blurb)

  11. Okay, I have a question and you are all close at hand. I’d assumed Sheinkin new book LINCOLN’S GRAVE ROBBERS was non-fiction, but as I’m cataloging it, it comes up Fiction. My program has been wrong before and I don’t want to take the time to research it. Can anyone help?

  12. Kathy Ishizuka says

    Thanks to both Jonathan and Nina for all the great work!

  13. They’re seldom right about these things, but a Penguin rep told me they’re excited about the book A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff for a Newbery possibility.

    I kind of wonder if someone, somewhere, hadn’t heard the story about Lincoln’s grave robbers and just assumed it must be fiction, and went from there.

  14. I’m in the middle of JINX and loving it. I always hope for straight fantasy to have Newbery chances, and this has some nicely nuanced characters. I’m not at all sure how it’s going to go, though — which is actually a plus.

    Jonathan and Nina thanks for another year of stimulating discussion! Each year I follow your blog, I seem to have more of the winners/honor books read. This year, I’d read them all, except the last half of BOMB. And as you say, it’s the process that’s so much fun. The discussion ahead of time adds so much.

  15. Caitlin L. Baker says

    I was going to mention LIsa Graff’s delectable novel A Tangle of Knots, I loved it! I was pretty right on with the 2013 Newbery and Caldecott winners, so we’ll see.

  16. Thanks so much for another wonderful year!!!

    Jonathan: I hated HOKEY POKEY until the very last word. It is going to be the most divisive book of 2013 I think. People seem to be going one way or the other.

    I like NAVIGATING EARLY but I don’t know that I like it enough.

    And people may think this is blasphemous but I like HATTIE EVER AFTER better than the first one. The pacing is a bit off in the end but it is still strong.

  17. Jonathan,

    Stone’s book is fabulous in my mind BECAUSE of the lack of combat AND tremendously interesting because these men, who could not in the white’s mess hall (but prisoners of war could), still wanted to serve in a combat capacity. One of the more poignant nonfiction titles I have read–this should show up on short lists and be in contention for awards. However, I am hoping for another banner year for nonfiction. 2012 was brilliant! Cheers for your work and yours too, Nina! Wish I could have participated more. Next year!

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      While I am open-minded about Stone’s narrative going in a different direction, I can see lots of boy readers checking this out because it’s ostensibly a war book, and I’m not sure they will be as forgiving as I am. Maybe. I don’t know. I am also struggling with two baggage issues: (1) civil rights ennui (which affected my reading of WE’VE GOT A JOB, too), and (2) the similarity of theme to her previous book ALMOST ASTRONAUTS. I, too, like the book and expect it to do well in terms of buzz and accolades. I’ll be interested to hear how you think it compares to IMPRISONED by Martin Sandler about the internment of Japanese Americans which is similar in some respects.

  18. *Sniff* I’m going to miss seeing Heavy Medal in my blogroll. I didn’t comment this year, because I fell behind in my reading this year (although reading your posts always helps me with collection development). On the other hand, I look forward to reading everyone’s recommendations for the upcoming year.

    Now, I haven’t read any ARCs, but there are quite a number of titles that I have my eye onThese are in my order carts for the next few months. I found out about them through catalogs in Edelweiss or in Publishers Weekly’s Spring Announcements Edelweiss database (although I gave up on that halfway through the 2000+ listings for children’s fiction–wish there was a way to jump to a specific number, because I can’t look through it all at once):

    Family Tree by Ann M. Martin–the first of a four book series about a young girl growing up in ME during the Depression.

    Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone–the sequel to The Romeo and Juliet Code. I loved the book until the ending, which I thought came rather abruptly and oddly. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in the second book.

    Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes–set on a Louisiana plantation during Reconstruction.

    Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry (author of Heart of a Shepherd)–takes place among Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest (sorry, don’t know specific tribes) in the 1920s.

    White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan–this is already receiving excellent reviews (surprise)–story is based around a mute boy and a rescued dog.

    Wild Boy by Mary Losure–I thought The Fairy Ring was a unique, off beat, and beautifully created book. Her next one is about the young boy found living in the woods of France (sometime in the 19th century–don’t know much about this).

    Kate DiCamillo has a book coming out in the fall–Flora and Ulysses. USA Today had a sneak preview and an interview not too long ago.

  19. Forgot to add: YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults has been posted. I keep spreadsheets of the major “Best Of 2012” children’s/YA lists and Youth Media awards lists (and the non-ALA awards like Edgar and Scott O’Dell), for collection development purposes, so I’m eagerly awaiting the Notables lists so that I can close out my 2012-13 lists! I understand that it is a big undertaking, especially for a committee that has to finalizing everything while folks are traveling and catching up on work missed while at Midwinter. Hats off to all the committees for a successful year–hope they get some deserved R & R.

    Thanks for another great year, Heavy Medalists! You are greatly appreciated.

  20. Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

    And the “final uncorrected” Notables is up too:

  21. I really enjoyed ONE CAME HOME. HOKEY POKEY . . . not so much. I’m looking forward to PENNY AND HER MARBLE and HATTIE EVER AFTER. I’m also hoping we see Laurie Halse Anderson’s ASHES out at the end of the year. And, of course, looking forward to your return after Labor Day!

  22. Missing Heavy Medal already? Then come on over to the just-getting-underway annual SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books! ( The contenders and brackets have been announced and, starting this Wednesday, we will be revealing the judges, one a day. Monica and Roxanne are (is?) the two-headed Battle Commander and Jonathan is our feisty Commentator.

    • I second this! Now we need another great blog to followed after SLJ Battle of the Kids’ Books ends and Heavy Medal starts up again.

  23. I am missing Heavy Medal and enjoying anticipation of SLJ Battle of the Kids’ Books! Thank you, Nina and Jonathan, and all the wonderful insightful commenters.

  24. So I finished NAVIGATING EARLY last night, and I’m now going a little crazy about what I think is a really serious error, which I’m afraid the committee won’t realize how serious it is.

    The error is this: There is NO WAY a serious mathematician would say he could “prove” that Pi ends. Pi was proven to be irrational back in 1761. That means it doesn’t end. Such a mathematician would get laughed off the stage, not highlighted in a math festival. And if one did think he could prove it, it would have nothing to do with calculated digits of pi. I’ve read that, since the expansion of Pi is infinite, you can find any sequence you please in its digits if you go out far enough. So there probably is a stretch of 200 digits that don’t include 1. It means nothing, and a kid finding an error in that expansion would also mean nothing. That whole section WOULD. NOT. HAPPEN. No way in the world.

    It’s a well-written book. Lovely writing. Delicate exploration of grief. Great character in Early. But if it gets Newbery Honor, I can see I’ll be a little crazy, just like I am now any time HOUSE OF THE SCORPION is mentioned. (There is No. Way. that a clone would have the same fingerprints as his father. NO. WAY.)

    And I do know something about this topic. I have a Master’s degree in Math. That section is factually inaccurate. Do we hold fiction to the same standard as Nonfiction? We can take this up in the Fall….

    • I had a similar problem with this book–just couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of the way he was “proving” pi would end. There were some wonderful things happening in the rest of the book, but every time it came back to that, I was so drawn out of the story that I had a hard time finishing it.

    • Interesting, Sondy–I definitely would have caught the Pi question, but I have to admit I never thought about the fingerprints in HOS.

      The big “accuracy” question for me has always been THE VIEW FROM SATURDAY, where a major plot point revolves around one of the characters “proving” to the judge that a few words (the only one I remember now is “tip”) are etymologically acronyms. This has been proved over and over again to be a folk etymology with no basis in linguistics. Took me right out of that book–and it won the Newbery.

      • I definitely never noticed that one, Mark! It does make you wish that fiction could also get a vetting by experts. I kind of assume in a nonfiction book, someone would have checked a point like that. We take so much on faith in fiction. But when someone who happens to know it’s wrong reads it, it stands out like a sore thumb.

      • I hate View from Saturday, and that’s a big reason why. The other one in it is that the original Humpty Dumpty is stated to be from Through the Looking-Glass, where the character was first mentioned in a book a hundred years before that, and has its own freaking Roud Folk Song Index number.

        It bothered me enough that I actually went and looked at the OED, and found that the edition published ~before~ VFS came out listed “tip” as a word taken from thieves’ cant, and not an acronym at all. All it took was a look at the dictionary to disprove it, even at the time.

    • Yeah, that’s a problem. I was also bothered by the fact that Vanderpool’s author’s note states that the sequences of digits she used aren’t really from the first few hundred digits of pi. Like…if you’re making up a fictional story out of the number, is it really that hard to use the digits that are actually in the number?

      • The thing that softened that for me was that I’ve been told that *every* sequence of digits you could pick shows up in pi — eventually. (That may have been about a smaller sequence, like 4 digits, though.) So this probably is part of pi — eventually. But, yeah, why not use something we know actually is in the calculated part of pi?

  25. I’m going to go ahead and be the voice of decent here….Why do we insist on our fiction to follow all the rules of our world? Authors do not label their works as realistic fiction, but it seems that many like to not only place that label on works of fiction but then expect these works to follow all the history of our world and all the laws of nature and science of our world. Who is to say that the Epiphany NY of Konigsburg’s A View from Saturday exists on an earth where the etymology of TIP is identical to the etymology of TIP here in our world? I didn’t here any complaints about the laws of physics Schmidt broke in WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS…… No one complained about the existence of djinnis in modern London in Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy since we understand that this story isn’t taking place in our world. But we seem to get hung up on the etymology of the word tip or the 1969 new york yankee’s schedule or certain mathematical laws/principles dealing with irrational numbers even though A View from Saturday, Okay for Now and Navigating Early certainly don’t occur on our world either.

    • I didn’t mean to imply that I think fiction has to follow all the rules of our world. I can go along with stories if they are believable. For instance, it didn’t bother me one bit that a 1969 Yankee’s schedule would have interfered with a Broadway play. What I was trying to say was that I found the idea of proving pi was ending because certain digits were disappearing, unbelievable–ridiculous, in fact—and it pulled me out of the story.

      • Sara Ralph says

        I think adults have more difficulty with suspension of disbelief than kids do. Maybe Vanderpool intended to create a world where pi could be proven? Maybe we can write her and ask? I have to agree with Eric though that fiction is by definition implausible. I guess we expect realistic and historical fiction to confirm the norms of the real world, but authors do not have to honor such expectations.

      • The thing is — it HAS been proven that Pi does NOT end. It’s not presented as a different world. It’s presented as our world, but where Early spots a problem in the derived digits of pi before any one else. Except, the trouble is, that wouldn’t make a particle of difference. The scenario with him showing up the math professor — it just plain doesn’t work. The math professor’s “proof” isn’t a proof, and no math professor would ever seriously propose of proof of something that’s already been proven impossible. I just can’t suspend disbelief that much.

        And, yes, okay, obviously a lot of people can enjoy the book anyway. Maybe I’m being a party pooper. Though there’s a big huge part of me that doesn’t like misleading kids into thinking math works like that. But, yes, it wasn’t nearly as crucial to the plot as the fingerprints in House of the Scorpion. It will be interesting to see if it bothers the committee or not….

        How much do natural laws have to follow laws of the real world? There are certainly fantasy books where the physics of magic is very iffy. But in historical fiction? Well, it seems harder to get away with deviations….

    • Eric,
      We’ve been over this ground many times, and for the records, I’m incredibly sympathetic to your viewpoint, especially when it comes to handing out awards. I certainly don’t want to hold up awarding a great book just because of a minor (or even not so minor) inaccuracy.

      But that doesn’t mean we can’t all have our little pet peeves 😉

      Although, I do think in the case of Pi, in particular, we might have to look at the error a bit more carefully, because a world where pi doesn’t behave the same way would be very different indeed!

  26. Oscar Wilde’s quote: “Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable,” seems fitting here. I strongly believe that whether a reader “forgives” an author’s missteps in plotting is influenced by the readers’ pre-knowledge, expectations, and fondness of the author’s literary skills. Sometimes, BECAUSE a book is crafted so almost perfectly, a flaw can be fatal; while most mediocre books will never be so closely examined. Whether a book is realistic or fantastic, the internal rules have to be held up well by the author. And because I revere the art of literature, I respect the authors tremendously, and because of this respect, I am VERY demanding! (I think this is probably a personality flaw of mine.)

    • Very appropriate quotation, Roxanne! Fundamentally, I can’t bring myself to believe that the math professor would act that way, presenting a “proof” that isn’t a proof, and that can’t possibly be correct. So it’s character motivation. But, yes, I’m bringing my own background knowledge to the reading, which other librarians won’t necessarily share. How much should the committee listen to specialists?

      I can’t decide if it’s a pro or con that that entire plot point could have been completely omitted without hurting the story. Of course, to me, it would have greatly strengthened the story.

  27. I’m sorry, I was going to stay out of this one, but please tell me how in the world the Pi plot point could have been “completely omitted without hurting the story”? Seems to me it would have been a completely different story in that case! Not arguing whether the whole Pi/irrational number thing kills the story – because I really do think that’s a personal preference on whether you’re willing to worry too much about that – but I just don’t see how she could take that plot point out of this particular story without it causing complete havoc.

    • Oh, the whole pi-as-story was needed. But there was noooooo need to pretend a professor would have possibly claimed that pi ends. That didn’t make any difference to the main story. (And, after all, Early’s story of Pi *does* end, for our purposes!) There was no need to have Early show off that he calculated the digits of pi correctly, but the professor did not.

      Though if she really wanted to keep in that thread, she could have done something like have a professor announcing that he’s calculated more digits of pi than ever before published… or made some conjecture about the patterns that show up in the digits. But Early going to the math institute at the end didn’t affect their adventure at all — just a nice cap on the end. (A cap that was *totally bogus*!!!!!!) If she really wanted that cap, she could have made it something a mathematician actually might have conceivably claimed or something where Early being good at calculating digits of pi would have conceivably affected the result.

      I was thinking that it’s like all the rowing information. I know nothing about that, but I assume she did the research, used the right terms, and presented the rowing in a way that obeyed physical laws and actually could have happened. If an expert on rowing should say that the terms were incorrect, and physically they couldn’t have rowed the boats that way, though I wouldn’t have noticed when *I* read it, I would think the book less distinguished. In this case, I have a mathematical background, and the language used was incorrect, and mathematical results just don’t work that way. The “boat” would have capsized.

  28. A shout out to any who are still getting updates from this post:

    I’m looking for next month’s book club pick.
    So far we can cross off the list:
    HOKEY POKEY (shudder)

    If it were you, what viable 2013 Newbery book would you choose to have your club read next month? It can come out in April if it is in the first half of the month.

  29. Well, I haven’t read too many. But if you wanted to mix it up a little and try a fantasy, you might consider Jinx, by Sage Blackwood. Personally, I think the ending throws it out of the Newbery running, but it’s got some distinguished qualities. Lots of character depth. And it’s probably different from the others you’re considering.

  30. Danae, I’d say your list looks just about right so far. Almost 4 3 months later, HATTIE EVER AFTER still stands out in my mind as a distinguished piece of historical fiction. The stand alone discussion should be interesting here.

    I’ve still got 40 pages to read in WATER CASTLE but I’m loving it so far. This one feels like a kid favorite as well as a contender.

  31. At about the half way point I declare that DOLL BONES is the strongest book so far. Anyone one else have a front runner?

    • Yes DaNae, I agree with you. DOLL BONES is my front runner for sure. It is the only one this year that has exceeded my expectations rather than not living up to them. While that is not a Newbery criteria, it does say something about the excellence of the writing.

      • I know what you mean, Brandy. There have been several I was disappointed in: CENTER OF EVERYTHING, HOKEY POKEY.

        I did adore P.S. BE ELEVEN, NAVIGATING EARLY, ONE CAME HOME, but they all fell a tiny bit short in criteria.

    • Sara Ralph says

      I found flaws with Doll Bones. Several of the things the kids did – riding the bus in the middle of the night, stealing and navigating a sailboat, breaking into a library that lacked an alarm and spending the night just stretched plausibility too much for me as a reader. Reminds me of Okay For Now regarding characters and theme, but I can’t help but focus on those factors of implausibility.

      As a fan of One Crazy Summer, I adored P.S. Eleven. Delphine’s voice and how the family handles the coming and goings of family make it a strong contender in my opinion.

      I’ve heard excellent things about The Water Castle, which I plan to read soon.

  32. Jonathan Hunt says

    Liked DOLL BONES, but my biggest surprise is THE THING ABOUT LUCK. GHOST HAWK is pretty awesome, too.

    • Hadn’t heard about GHOST HAWK and I’m waiting for the fiscal year to kick over to get THE THING ABOUT LUCK. Glad to have more on my radar.

      Has the baby arrived yet?

  33. Just finished DOLL BONES this morning and agree that it deserves much discussion this fall. I’m looking forward to comparisons with HOKEY POKEY as both Black and Spinelli are writing about letting go of childhood.
    These two top by list half way through 2013.

  34. I’m feeling kind of tepid about the year as a whole so far, but I really enjoyed THE WATER CASTLE.

  35. Just finished DOLL BONES and was seriously impressed. I’ve been booktalking it at schools, and all I have to do is read about the bones ground up in the china of the doll.

    I was not impressed with THE THING ABOUT LUCK. I liked the characterization, but not much to the plot.

    • Jonathan Hunt says

      Obachaan is the best character of the year! I can’t get enough of her. Definitely a character-driven book, but isn’t the Newbery canon riddled with those?

  36. I’m ridiculously excited about Ghost Hawk, but a little afraid my expectations may be too high. I’m holding off on reading THE THING ABOUT LUCK, hoping my library gets a copy. I’ve seen enough opposing views that I’m wary of buying it.

    I also enjoyed THE WATER CASTLE and could get behind that one too, but so far DOLL BONES is my favorite. Sam used the perfect word, “tepid”, to describe my feelings about the year so far too. I am looking forward to HM starting back up so I get some good non-fiction titles to read. I’m woefully bad about keeping up with those myself. 🙂

    • I quite liked COURAGE HAS NOT COLOR and I’ve had THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION kicking around my house for months. Other than that I’m dead in the water for non-fiction.

      • Jonathan Hunt says

        There are three Scientist in the Field books–STRONGER THAN STEEL, THE TAPIR SCIENTIST, ERUPTION!–two Russell Freedman books (one on Ben Franklin, the other on Angel Island), and IMPRISONED by Martin Sandler which is about Japanese interment. There are some more, but start with these.

  37. Good tips. Just added to my list. I guess I had heard about the Franklin book. I was a little sad the STRONGER THAN STEEL book wasn’t about Superman, but looks excellent nonetheless. I had a kid who wanted to do a report on Tapirs this year and I wasn’t able to help him out – so gaping hole filled. And I can’t have too many volcano books.

    Congratulations and welcome baby boy Hunt!

  38. I was somewhat disappointed in Courage Has No Color – expected more from that one – but it is still the best NF title I’ve read this year. (I have to get my hands on the Scientists in the Field titles, for sure.)

    Still big on Navigating Early, P.S. Be Eleven and Hokey Pokey, haven’t read Doll Bones (I have it at home), have the Water Castle on deck. I’m reading Freedman’s book about Ben Franklin. I thought One Came Home was really, really tied up too neatly at the end. I was disappointed in Etched in Clay. And… that’s my year in reading, summed up in 4 sentences!

  39. Thanks Jonathan! I’ve added them to my list. My library currently has none of them, but the science ones I may order myself as my daughter will love those.

  40. I’ve read P.S. Be Eleven, Doll Bones and The Water Castle and enjoyed them all. Still need to get to One Came Home and Hokey Pokey. I loved the beginning of Ghost Hawk, but in the end it didn’t impress me as much as her previous two (King of Shadows and Victory). I do think fans of Jean Craighead George will like it, and I’m eager to hear comments from Debbie Reese and others about the portrayal of American Indian/English settler relations. Wild Boy was great and I’m looking forward to all the new Scientist in the Field titles!

  41. I’m about 3/4 through GHOST HAWK. I am intrigued as I have been teaching a unit about the Pilgrims for eons and so have done a lot of reading on that era. However, as I already expressed to Jonathan, I am having some difficulty with the POV which is an unusual sort of first person omniscience. Knowing Jonathan, he is going to work hard this fall to talk me out of this:)

  42. Or perhaps it is “first person omniscient”? Is there such a term anyway?

  43. Just found this “A rare form of first person is the first person omniscient, in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. It can seem like third person omniscient at times. Two notable examples are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, where the narrator is Death, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, where a young girl, having been killed, observes, from some after-life vantage point, her family struggling to cope with her disappearance. Typically, however, the narrator restricts the events relayed in the narrative to those that it could reasonably have knowledge of.” (

  44. Just in case you haven’t seen it yet:

    Anyone want to recommend anything off the list, which we may not have discussed earlier? Just the title of BARBED WIRE BASEBALL has me intrigued.

  45. Just want to say I was so glad to see a number of the loyal Heavy Medalists (many of whom are also loyal BOB followers) at ALA, but sorry we barely had time to talk. And I’m sad that others of you were there and I didn’t see you at all. And then really sorry some couldn’t come (but there are good reasons for that — say one called Santiago Hunt?) Perhaps at a future ALA we can do a Heavy Medal/BOB gathering? January might be fun as we could review all the HM stuff and discuss the (hopefully) just announced 2014 BOB contender list!

  46. Love that idea of a Heavy Medal/BoB gathering, Monica!

  47. So far I am leaning toward: Navigating Early, Tangle of Knots, True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and The Truth of Me.
    “My” kids, of course, are also liking What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World.

  48. Okay Cats and Kittens,

    School is now back in session so I find myself making my reading list for my Newbery club. I want to be as comprehensive as possible. I know many of you ride the ARC express so I’m asking (begging) for a heads up on titles that have not yet been published. Would you please list here books that are coming after Labor Day?

    I just finished THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS and am more than a little enamored with the voice. FAR, FAR AWAY also impressed me with its unexpected plotting.

    (apologies for the continued hijacking of this thread, but a girl’s got to find her fix where she can.)

  49. Monica, that’s so interesting. I keep thinking of Lovely Bones, reading Ghost Hawk.

    I actually loathed Lovely Bones. But not for the POV.


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