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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Everything Is Awesome!

Everything is awesome!  To find out–and discuss–just how awesome, check back here later in the morning . . .

Link to live webcast is here.




Honor: ECHO

Please share your thoughts on the winning titles and the YMAs in general . . .



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. Shocked!! Am I alone here?

    • No, you’re definitely not!

    • I can’t believe. I loved Last Stop… but for the illustrations, not the writing. I didn’t think the writing was particularly distinguished at all. It felt clunky in some spots.

      • I agree. Great pictures, but the writing felt forced. I’m not opposed to a picture book winning the Newbery, but I don’t see this as distinguished writing.

  2. Wait, are you saying Last Stop on Market Street won the Caldecott or the Newbery?

  3. Okay, I just checked the webcast page. I’m thrilled at the recognition for The War That Saved My Life and Echo! I loved Rollergirl so, while I still think it belongs in the Caldecott category, I’m happy that it’s receiving the recognition it deserves too. However, I am completely baffled by the winner. How is Last Stop on Market Street eligible for a Newbery? There’s no way it meets the text requirements. It’s a picture book! Not a graphic novel or a Brian Selznick hybrid, but an actual, ages 3-5, picture book. I also believe it falls below the minimum Newbery age requirement. Doesn’t the Newbery start at 5 and then end at 14? So yeah, this year’s winner makes no sense at all (sadly that is nothing new) but I’m very happy with the honor books. The Printz was a wash this year so I’m instead going to rejoice in the fact that Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda won the Morris Award! Oh, and The Hired Girl won the Scott O’Dell Award!

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      The age range for Newbery is 0-14. LAST STOP ON MARKET STOP falls squarely in the range. Go back and read Nina’s post, “Consider the Margins.” Just because a book isn’t a typical Newbery book does not make it an unworthy one. Picture books have been honor books in the past, but I think this is the first time that one has won the Medal (unless you consider A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN a picture book; to me, it’s a poetry collection in picture book format). In that light, it seems kind of churlish to whine about a picture book winning for the first time in 94 years!

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

        Perhaps that was worded more strongly than I intended. I didn’t mean to imply that Emily was either whining or churlish; rather, I am just anticipating backlash to the choice because of it’s format and decided to get prickly early. 🙁

      • I wasn’t aware the age range for the Newbery was that low. So I’ll gladly concede that point. But the text is still an issue. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn is, as you said, a book of poetry accompanied by beautiful illustrations. I always loved displaying it in my classroom when William Blake was our poet of the month. But I’m getting off track. I don’t see how the text of The Last Stop on Market Street could be considered distinguished. And not merely distinguished, but the most distinguished of all the children’s books published this past year? I’d love to see someone try and make that case.

      • I agree with you about A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. The design seems to be a picture book format, but I don’t consider it a picture book and the content is definitely for Middle School. I’m shocked at the Newbery winner this year.

    • I totally agree! My library is 6th – 12th. I think it might be the first time I don’t purchase the Newbery winner because it’s a lower grade book! 🙁

      • While it’s a picture book, I think an argument could be made that there’s plenty to enjoy and take away from LAST STOP for every age. The emotional content of the book certainly isn’t limited to younger children. And if you normally add the Newbery winner and promote it to students, it might spark the same sort of useful and interesting discussion we’re having here about the award and children’s books in general.

      • BarbOutsideBoston says

        But you can probably get the winners of the Printz Award and there are many times I do not get the Newbery winner for my K-5 library.

        I am THRILLED I already have all the Newbery winners in the library–although except for Echo they are never actually in!

  4. Wow. I’ts not like it hasn’t happened before (Visit to William Blake’s Inn), but still. Wow.

    On a different note, gold star to Heavy Medal….last year as you signed off, you already had picked the two more traditional (i.e. middle grade fiction) books

    • Good catch! You guys definitely deserve a pat on the back for those early predictions.

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

        I’d like to think these were predictions, but really they were just the books with the most starred reviews from the early spring season. Would that we could always be this prescient.

  5. Wow, this is very surprising! A repeat of what “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn” achieved in the early 80s (Newbery Medal and Caldecott Honor). Congrats to all the authors.

  6. Nina Lindsay says

    I am so thrilled. I thought the text of LAST STOP was wonderful….not clunky but spare, multilayered, perfect for the audience. I am SO excited. Also of course for ROLLER GIRL. So proud the committee has demonstrated how to recognize text in both Graphic Novel and Picture Book text.

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      I know we talked about LAST STOP, but I don’t think either one of us ever got around to posting about it. I did write one up for picture books in general with a focus on THE SKUNK and IT’S ONLY STANLEY (which dominated the child-centered mock Caldecotts that I ran this past year), but it mysteriously vanished and I could never track it down.

  7. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

    Many people wondered whether last year’s recognition of diversity was a one-time thing . . .

    Three of the four Caldecott Honor books were illustrated by African Americans. The winner (FINDING WINNIE) and two honor books were nonfiction (TROMBONE SHORTY, VOICE OF FREEDOM).

    The Newbery Medal (LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET) and at least one of the Newbery Honors (ECHO) were written by Latinos. Another Honor–ROLLER GIRL–may be as well (Victoria is both an English and Spanish name; I believe Jamieson is her married name, but I’m not sure). In any case, her protagonist, Astrid, is Latina, although the plot never revolves around that identity. And, of course, THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE won the Schneider. You can make an argument, I think, that LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is the first ever true picture book Newbery, and as Nina mentioned this coupled with ROLLER GIRL’s Honor sends a strong message about the importance of text in visual storytelling modes.

    Ashely Hope Perez wins a Printz Honor (one of only two!). Duncan Tonatiuh wins the Sibert. Jerry Pinkney and David Levithan win the Wilder and Edwards, respectively, while Jacqueline Woodson delivers the Arthbuthnot.

    Feeling pretty warm and fuzzy for the second straight year.

    • (Sophie Blackall, the illustrator of FINDING WINNIE, is African American? Did not know that!)

      I am super pumped about this choices this year and need to re-read LAST STOP and play closer attention to the text. I woke up my boyfriend this morning to tell him. His response was, “Huh. Cool?”

      “Go back to sleep.”

      Some of my favorite books got picked, and some that are getting shuffled to the top of my reading list…

      I was sorry X: A NOVEL didn’t get more attention, and some of my favorite picture books didn’t win (LEO: A GHOST STORY!!), but I’m so happy for the winning books and excited to share the news with the kids at the library.

  8. Isn’t The Cat Who Went to Heaven a picture book? (Peter Sieruta, you will always be missed.) It’s been a while but that’s how it is in my memory. I’m not in the country so I’m having trouble checking on anything; I havent read Last Stop but it sounds like it skews younger than The Cat Who Went to Heaven. I think this is the first time in nine years that I haven’t read ANYTHING on the list–a lot to read when I get home!

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      Nope. Short illustrated book. But I too thought of Peter before trying to make a definitive statement one way or another.

  9. ReNae Bowling says

    Aghast is the best way to describe my reaction.

  10. Wasn’t SHOW WAY a picture book, too? (That was an Honor.)

  11. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

    Yes, it was. 🙂 Just not the Medal, as you say.

    • I figured if FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER and DOCTOR DESOTO can win Newbery Honors, there’s no reason a picture book can’t win the Medal. It’s just been a long time so it’s unexpected.

  12. Safranit Molly says

    I am happily surprised this morning! My two favorites are sporting shiny silver medals and the Newbery committee reminded us all to consider the youngest readers, for they are as deserving of distinguished text as our middle grade and teen readers. I will re-read Last Stop on Market Street with an ear for the text. I had previously only considered it through the Caldecott lens. What a morning! Everything is awesome, indeed!

  13. Leonard Kim says

    I can see myself argued into supporting LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET for the Medal as a consensus pick. I have to re-read it, but I think I could make the argument myself (and clearly the argument was convincingly made this weekend.) But to Nina and Jonathan and anybody else who’s served on the committee:

    very roughly, how many picture book nominations would you estimate are there typically amongst the several dozen overall nominees? Earlier, Jonathan commented:

    “My problem is that I always have more then seven books that I want to nominate. Several of those that are books that I think can legitimately win the Medal; others are there to build the list and make sure that we are covering all of our bases. A picture book would be a longshot, and a picture book text with an author’s apology would take it out of the nominating pool–for me.”

    I could envision committees where LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET doesn’t even get nominated. In the mock nominations here, I chose A FINE DESSERT, which prompted Jonathan’s comment, and floated LENNY AND LUCY, but again could easily see where they don’t even get nominated by the real committee (along with Jonathan’s proposed THE SKUNK and IT’S ONLY STANLEY.)

    I greatly respect the Newbery process, but I wonder if it may be relatively more vulnerable in underrepresented genres to the quirks of individual committee members. I feel pretty confident that most if not all plausible fiction contenders would be nominated and therefore discussed. I feel confident that titles like GOODBYE STRANGER and THE HIRED GIRL were discussed and that the committee chose to favor ECHO et al. I don’t feel so confident that most of the distinguished picture book texts were available (i.e., nominated) to be brought into the discussion. I could imagine a committee member wishing, once it became clear LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET was a serious contender, that he/she had nominated other picture books they might consider even better.

    This reminds me of another of Jonathan’s comments:
    “If you were on the real committee, Leonard, you would be at liberty to bring these excellent “adult” nonfiction books to the table so long as children are an intended potential audience. I agree that there is lots of stuff out there for a general audience that could be looked at by the committee.”

    So let’s say I were on the real committee and wanted to make a point of bringing such non-fiction books (not specifically marketed to children) to the table, so I use my last two nominations on them. Few if any other committee members would have done so. So in the end, only my two titles representing “adult” non-fiction are on the table. If it turned out one were selected, could you really say the committee had considered the range of titles out there? My two titles are one individual’s attempt to “build the list and make sure that we are covering all our bases”, not the result of a group effort to nominate a broad slate of plausible contenders in the genre.

    I think having a picture book win the Medal this year is a good and satisfying outcome, and I think LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is deserving. And yet I wouldn’t be surprised if, for example, it isn’t represented in the Charlotte Zolotow award (for best picture book text), because paradoxically it might be competing against a larger field of comparables.

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

      Leonard, all I can say is that every member leave behind something when they choose their nominations. I hope this encourages more picture books, easy readers, poetry, expository nonfiction…to be considered for their literary contributions.

  14. Brian Fahey says

    I understand that people may be surprised but the best way to comment on the winners and honor books is to use the criteria. I would encourage Heavy Medal friends to go back and look for great language and beautiful images In the text of Last Stop on Market Street. I can identify some of that but would love to have others do so, as well. “…but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt and dripped down his nose.” Freckled is a terrific and fresh word choice to talk about the appearance of rain on a shirt and dripped down his nose is evocative and makes me want to scratch my own nose. “CJ looked for a long time but never saw a straw.” This is an example of “less is more”. It tells you what we’re going to learn about CJ, that Nana has something to teach him about how to see and experience his environment. He walked right past the tree but he couldn’t see it as a straw. This is a book where CJ is saying “I want” and Nana is saying, “You have. ” That sentence sets all of that up. For beautiful word choice, I like, “…sighed and sagged and the doors swung open.” There’s nice alliteration there and those verbs are perfect for a tired city bus. So, dive in and look for evidence of distinction. Share what you find.

    • Claire Bartlett says

      Granted, I didn’t read LAST STOP before it won, but I also found the writing to be distinguished and I appreciated how much story was contained in so few words. Leonard does make a good point in that there are fewer unconventional titles nominated, so we may not be able to say that this was the most distinguished writing in a picture book title from 2015, but there will always be deserving titles left out, and we will always be subject somewhat to the whims of the selecting committee… all in all, I love the choices! While the usual readers of the Newberry’s may not rush out to grab this book, I hope it will push people to consider the value of picture books for a wider range of ages.

    • Thanks for your comment Brian, I’ll be diving in more deeply when I read Last Stop with students again this afternoon, thanks to commenters like you, and posts like Jonathan’s.

    • Thanks for your comment Brian, I’ll be diving in more deeply when I read Last Stop with students again this afternoon, thanks to commenters like you, and posts like Jonathan’s.

  15. Heather Botelho says

    I read Last Stop on Market Street this morning after I found out it won the Newbery, really only paying attention to the text. It’s beautifully written. I found myself choking up as I read it (so if you’re tenderhearted like I am, avoid reading this while out on the desk!) I actually think the concepts in the book will go over the heads of many preschoolers, making it more suitable for lower elementary grades.

  16. Leonard Kim says

    The thing I am saddest about:

    WHEN I AM HAPPIEST didn’t get Batchelder recognition. I think this was my favorite book of 2015 along with the Penderwicks. Certainly those two books cost me more tears than any other this year.

    • I was chanting ADVENTURERS WITH WAFFLES for Batchelder. That made me very, very sad.

      • Eligibility for the Batchelder can be difficult to determine; WHEN I AM HAPPIEST was, I think, published by Gecko Press, which is based in New Zealand. And ADVENTURES WITH WAFFLES was first published in English translation as WAFFLE HEARTS by Walker Books (UK) in 2013. So don’t feel bad! I don’t think either was eligible.

      • Oh, thanks, Anamaria. It helps a little. I hope there are more books like WAFFLES coming.

  17. I’m pretty shocked too. I just reread Last Stop and did my best to pay attention only to the text. While the text is lovely and stronger than most picture books, there are several points where it doesn’t make sense without the illustrations. (CJ noticing the older boys’ MP3 player and that he and Nana end up volunteering at the soup kitchen, rather than just going there, for example.) The Newbery criteria says that the committee makes its decision primarily on the text and that illustrations should be considered only if they make the book less effective. I guess if I had been on the Newbery, the fact that Last Stop relies on the illustrations to complete the story would disqualify it for me. I’m curious what other people think about that.

    • I have never served on a Newbery committee and I may be wildly off-base, but I never read the criteria as meaning that you have to evaluate a picture book without reference to the pictures — only that when you’re trying to point to what makes a particular book distinguished, you can’t point to the pictures as one of the distinguished factors.

      Reading Last Stop this morning, I noticed that same spot with the MP3 player, as a place where it didn’t make sense without the illustrations — but on thinking about it more, I felt like we don’t need to know what the older boys have; you can imagine a smartphone or a tablet or whatever, and you still get the emotional thrust of the wanting.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

        Emily, that’s been our feeling too. Nothing says the text has to stand alone, only that you evaluate the role and contribution of the text only. This would clearly have been necessary too to give ROLLER GIRL the honor.

  18. I found the writing in MARKET STREET distinguished and feel it does meet the criteria. Still very surprised but not confused. I am devastated by the utter lack of GOODBYE STRANGER.

    So happy to see a picture book not just considered but win.

  19. I was talking award predictions with other staff members at our library last week, and said that LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET was my favorite picture book of the year and I hoped it would win the Caldecott — but that it was really the words I loved best, not the pictures. It never even crossed my mind to think that it might be in the running for the Newbery, but I’m beyond thrilled. Bravo to the Newbery Committee!!

  20. Jeannie Reid says

    I did NOT see that coming, but I’m pleased to see the Newbery go to a book that everyone should own, not just a child. The Newbery puts a spotlight on a book in a way nothing else can, so this is exciting. Personally, I was disappointed to see ORBITING JUPITER get passed for an honor — that was the last book that really stayed with me as a reader. I had hoped to see HOUSE ARREST by K.A. Holt, too, but I’ve learned that a shiny circle on a book isn’t the way most students decide to pick up a book. It’s the teacher bringing armloads of books into a room and sharing his or her enthusiasm!

  21. Safranit Molly says

    A few distinguished passages from Last Stop on Market Street:
    “‘Nana, how come we don’t got a car?’ Boy, what do we need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fire and old Mr. Dennis who always has a trick for you.”
    I also love the early mention of the butterflies in the jar and then they return when CJ listens to the music,
    “He saw sunset colors swirling over crashing waves. Saw a family of hawks swirling through the sky. Saw the old woman’s butterflies dancing free in the light of the moon.”

    I find Last Stop on Market Street to be distinguished. It has well delineated characters who are memorable and unique. The setting is alive with sound and smell and verve. The theme is clearly conveyed although, one might argue, somewhat didactic. The plot is simple yet still allows space for CJ’s growth as a character.

    I cherish picture books because when well-crafted, they accomplish what we expect of novels in 32 pages and fewer than 1000 words. That being said, I think it is very difficult for a picture book to be the most distinguished book of the year. The consensus among the members of my school’s Newbery Club is that a lovely as Last Stop on Market Street is, it just doesn’t go as deep and as wide as our two picks for the Medal (Echo and The War That Saved My Life). For both of those books we had deep and meaningful discussions. The layers and possible interpretations caused us to turn them over and over like multi-faceted gems.

    So in the end I agree with the committeeS who honored Last Stop on Market Street this morning, however I don’t think I would honor it above the other truly distinguished books on our shortlist.

    I would LOVE to be able to attend the Caldecott/Newbery banquet at ALA Annual–Matt de la Pena is going to rock his speech!

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

      Molly, thank you for this! I can understand the feeling that LAST STOP doesn’t go as deep or wide as, for instance, ECHO. But this is the apples and oranges question. LAST STOP also has layers that reveal themselves on re-reading, a multi-faceted gem of a different type. I appreciate you looking at it so closely.

  22. Our school has a Newbery and Caldecott Club that kids can get into if they read 50 Caldecott books (honors accepted!) or 10 Newberys. Today I informed the 5th grade class that came in that they are getting a 2016 “deal” because I planned to read them the winner of the Newbery right this minute, and they can count it on their lists for those who who are planning to try to join the club this year.

    I quickly bought it on kindle and read it on the smartboard through the kindle app so everyone saw it on the screen in full color. I explained how the text is important here and to note how the author uses metaphor and other poetic devices to create emotion and reader curiosity.

    Our fifth graders (I’ll qualify that by saying, the ones who were even interested, which was about 50% — almost all the girls and 2 of the boys only) were bursting to comment on the pictures and guess where the two characters might be going; thinking that “Market Street” was probably a street where the market was, pointing out the handicapped sign on the bus where the blind man was sitting, pointing out that the blind man’s cane did not have a white tip “even though it’s supposed to”, pointing out that some of the “paint in the faces on the last page was not filled in” and that the “hotel” was clearly not a hotel as we know it, so what was it, exactly, and a lot of platitudes about how we should all look for beauty in our ordinary lives.

    At first, when asked to imagine what this book will be about by looking at the cover art, I actually had three kids suggest that this book could have a tragic ending. Noting that the grandma seemed to be “old”–they agreed that her “last stop on market street” will be because she dies!

    All in all, I enjoyed reading this to them, but wish I could have offered them a winner that would excite them and encourage them to read–sigh–school librarian talking….

  23. Sam Leopold says

    Last Stop is beautiful. BUT , in my opinion, not as distinguished overall as Echo. Also for me the pictures are necessary to bring maximum impact to the theme and feeling of the story. So as a Caldecott I am pleased but a bit disappointed in it receiving Newbery gold.

  24. Didn’t Woodson’s Show Way win a Newbery honor? That was a picture book..tho it also had great text.

    • I had a student come back after I’d recommended Show Way to her last week…she found it such a good read…so rewarding. Sharing quality books with eager students=joy!

  25. Sorry just noticed someone already pointed that out.

  26. I was surprised by lots of the choices. I was disappointed that Village by the Sea didn’t get an honor. That was a gorgeous book. Market Street was not exceptional to me. The illustrations were cute and I don’t remember the text standing out in any way. There were much better stories that came out last year and some of those were diverse too. To say that Market was a more distinguished story than say Echo or War that Saved My Life or Boats for Papa or Song of Delphine is far-fetched. It’s really hard to make that case. Seems like the choices were more political rather than based on the actual merits of the books.

    • BarbOutsideBoston says

      LAST MARKET is for readers at the younger range of the Newbery. Do you think ECHO is distinguished for them? I would like to see you compare it to another book aimed at the same age range.

    • Brian Fahey says

      CJ, I disagree with a lot of what you are asserting in your post. What I really like about this blog, and others, is that we have the chance to exchange ideas. That helps us think about things that we might have overlooked or helps us to see things in a new way. It would be great if you could be specific about your opinions. It’s hard to have a meaningful discussion if all we do is exchange opinions without any points of reference or examples that illustrate our thinking. This is not like a math problem that has one right answer, so being clear about our thinking is really important. Also, i think that you are mistaken in thinking that award committees feel pressured to focus on books that promote a certain political agenda. The committee members are focused on the criteria and finding evidence of distinction in the texts. I am confident that the committee members were not feeling pressured to pick books that met some kind of undefined diversity agenda. Last Stop on Market Street has a lot of diverse characters in it, but it’s not expressly a book about diversity. Could you make the same argument about “War That Saved My Life” or “Echo”, that they have a political agenda because their author belongs to a certain ethnic group, or the characters are ethnically identifiable? If Echo had won the Newbery, would you have said that it was a policial choice, an obvious nod to an author with Hispanic roots?

      • I had several issues with “Market”. The first and most egregious being that the illustrations and the text don’t match up which I can only assume is why it didn’t win the Caldecott. The story itself felt clunky, the tone forced like there was a definite message the reader was supposed to get and the author was going to make sure they got it. I think the best stories are ones that speak a truth in a way that is eloquent, lyrical, thoughtful without being didactic. They show a mastery of literary skill and storytelling which speaks to readers of any age. Imo, “Market” doesn’t measure up to that. Had “War” or “Echo” won I’d have thought they chose an amazing story. As good as people say “Market” is, it isn’t amazing. Which is why there are a lot of readers and librarians out there puzzled by the fact it just got a medal.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

        Charity, really, books are supposed to speak to readers of any age? And War and Echo do?

      • I think one of the qualities that separates great books from the rest is that they transcend the target age range for which they’re written; they have a really broad appeal. Examples: Fine Dessert, Where the Wild Things Are, anything by Kadir Nelson and I’d say War and Echo do that. Literally any age? No, because that would be impossible.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

        Okay; that’s fair enough. But you’ve identified a pretty individualized ideal that is not part of the Newbery criteria, and there may be wide differences of opinion on whether, for instance LAST STOP does not achieve this while ECHO does. I think ECHO is pretty rooted in its age level, more so than LAST STOP.

      • We Need Diverse Books really became trendy last year. You don’t find it interesting that in the two years following, the Newbery Medal and Honor books are loaded with diverse titles?

        I mean really, I’m fine with it. Because as our readers become more and more diverse, we need more diverse books in their hands that appeal to them. But to ignore the influence that this push has had on librarians (committee members) would be a bit naive. It has obviously made an influence.

        I would say that is an example of “politics” influencing a committee’s choice.

        Just look at the past recent years winners…

        In 2012, DEAD END IN NORVELT wins the gold.
        In 2013, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN wins the gold.
        In 2014, FLORA AND ULYSSES wins the gold.

        Then the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign hits the ground running and…

        In 2015, THE CROSSOVER wins the gold, and
        In 2016, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET wins the gold.

        Like I said, I’m okay with this. But you can’t ignore the influence… That’s naive.

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

        I think that you are confusing chronology with causation. Just because one event happens prior to another event does not necessarily mean that one event caused another one. I think you are giving #WNDB too much credit.

    • I suspect you’re right. It wouldn’t be the first time politics played a role in the committee’s decision, and I fear it won’t be the last.

      • Brian Fahey says

        Emily, I have to ask you, when did politics play a role in any committee’s choices for any of these awards, and how do you know that?

  27. After a night’s sleep I was able to pull some of my thoughts together here:

    Nina and Jonathan — in particular you will see that I bow before you re graphics. Clearly I was being too rule bound! All hail Roller Girl for breaking through even more so than last year’s El Deafo. The award, to my mind, is seriously changed because of this. Bravo to the committee for doing this.

    That seems even more groundbreaking than giving the medal to a picture book. That said, I am now excited to share Last Stop on Market Street with my 4th graders this morning and together appreciate the fine writing alongside the glorious art.

    And also — who cares about The Today Show? NPR’s Lynn Neary did a terrific interview with Matt and Sophie yesterday. You can hear it here:

  28. sam leopold says

    Okay…now I am ready to begin reading for next year….

    Can anyone suggest a few chapter books AND picture book titles to be looking out for in the coming months? { and graphic novels}.

  29. Good morning!

    I was surprised–and utterly delighted–when I heard the words LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET yesterday morning when it was announced as the winner. I wasn’t in the room, but did rise from my couch with such joy… Each time I think of those few seconds, I experience that rush all over again.

    When I heard his name called out, I also thought of the work he did in Tucson in 2012 after his MEXICAN WHITE BOY was named in legal documents as an example of a book in the Mexican American Studies program that was teaching kids to “overthrow the US government.” Yesterday, I tweeted some links about it, if you are interested:

    Some comments above are interesting: “whim” and “political” and “quirks” stand out and trivialize the work of the committee and its members. In my view, it is all political. Every year. Every book. Every writer, illustrator, reader, critic… We all have a political view but some (many) of us don’t see our view as being “political” if it is shared by a majority of people. Because it is shared, it is seen as neutral, or apolitical.

    Those “political” “whims” and “quirks” are what push us to think more broadly and more deeply. I think that this committee and this book will stand out in the scholarship of children’s literature, for those of us who look at racial issues, for those who study social issues, for those who study picture books, and for those who study books that win the awards.

    • Leonard Kim says

      Debbie, “quirks” was my word. Trivialize how?

      If a committee member were truly committed to honoring genre variety, how many picture books, non-fiction books, easy readers, and graphic novels could they nominate, given they only get 7 nominations total? On the Goodreads poll, I made a point of limiting myself to 7 selections, and ended up with 1 picture book, 1 non-fiction, 1 easy reader, 1 short story collection, and 3 novels. Almost all of my picks, I could easily have swapped out for other titles (of any genre) that I found just as distinguished, but in the end that still probably gets me at most 2 picture books etc. So how does the 1 picture book that ended up on my list, a picture book that could easily have been a different title, not represent an individual quirk? And how is my use of “quirk” then perjorative or trivializing? As Jonathan and Nina both pointed out, the reality is there are going to be books you want to nominate that you don’t, and those books cannot be considered. They cannot even be talked about, under the current rules.

      Despite the reputation of the Newbery for considering a comprehensive field of candidates, that’s not really true. The committee members read comprehensively, yes, but the actual slate of candidates discussed is representative not comprehensive. It is “quirky”, a word I stand behind, a word I think has rightly acquired positive connotations in the language, and a word that I don’t think has the meaning or motivation you’re attributing to me.

  30. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

    Leonard, it is true that publishers have an imperfect understanding of the Newbery, and this can and does limit and restrict their submissions to the committees (some publishers more than others, however), but my committees have been remarkably open-minded in trying to embrace the true breadth of our charges, and have often gone above and beyond the publisher submissions to consider a broader range of books in the field. I would hope that every committee would do the same.

    The Newbery committee may not have read the exact same field of picture books the way that the Caldecott committee did, but multiple committee members probably read the most excellent picture book texts. (For example, my own personal preparation was such that I read and seriously considered about a half dozen picture books during my Newbery year. One of those–SHOW WAY–was an honor book; several others were Caldecott books–and, of course, I cannot divulge whether any of those Caldecott books advanced to the formal suggestion or nomination phases in the committee process).

    When committee members suggest books to their fellow members, it compels them all to read the book. Even if the book never gets nominated, all the members read it and consider it against the criteria. I also want to be clear that while I do think people often spend their last nominations creating a diverse discussion list, that doesn’t mean that atypical books do not build strong consensus throughout the entire suggestion and nomination process.

    The Zolotow committee may well pick a different picture book text to recognize, but to me that doesn’t take anything away from LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET. Different committees will pick different books, especially because they have different charges, different fields of books under consideration, and different people making those decisions.

    I’m hearing lots of people say they don’t find LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET distinguished. That’s a valid opinion to have, of course, but sometimes it comes across as an unsubstantiated argument. I’d probably opine that half the middle grade novels that get recognized by the committee over the years really aren’t distinguished either. Should middle grade novels really be so entitled?

    • Leonard Kim says

      Jonathan, thanks for illuminating the process. I do believe committee members try to read comprehensively as I noted in my last comment. What I am trying to think about are the ramifications of the process, namely that committee members may not be able to nominate everything they’d like to.

      I don’t believe I would have nominated LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, but I do believe I could have voted for it. That’s my point in a nutshell. I think it’s a perfect example of what you were saying about atypical books building a strong consensus, but it makes me a little uneasy to think that there are plausible scenarios and committees where it doesn’t get nominated. I’m worried about other distinguished “atypical” books that were read by the committee and could have built consensus but for whatever reason did not make anyone’s list of 7.

      • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

        Leonard, I understand your unease, but understand the is very simply the scenario of the awards. 15 members, 7 nominations each. They’ve got to do some out of the box thinking. We did it when I chaired and selected GOOD MASTERS SWEET LADIES. A little hoo hah then too, but, while still unusual, it stands the test of time and gives us a broader definition of what distinguished lit can be for children. That is ultimately the point: the writing that comes next.

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

        Committee members can never nominate everything they want to. They also cannot vote for everything they want to either. That’s the nature of the beast; you get progressively more selective. Ultimately, you really do have to believe that your atypical book is distinguished and can replace your beloved novels on your ballot.

      • Leonard, I feel the very same way. Never would I have nominated this, but now that I read it, I’m actually quite impressed and like you, could see myself voting for it. Lot of cool narrative phrases. A lot of depth is added to some of the characters too, considering the small page and word count.

        “He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Best line in the book.

        Wanted to hate on this pick really bad, but can’t. I really liked it.

  31. Great thanks to Jonathan for his balanced, intelligent and insightful remarks. And to others for contributing to this interesting discussion. (I’m a Debbie Reese groupie. :))

    I had a Michelle Obama moment when I read the full list of winners. I am white, but I am a middle-aged Deaf lesbian. I felt: there’s a place for me and kids like me. This is my literature too! I think it hit me more this year than last year, because it was obvious last year wasn’t a fluke.

    I work in youth services (with a focus on teens) at an inner city, southern public library. Yes, there are wonderful books that have universal appeal. (I just organized a Rick Riordan mythologies program over winter break) But my population is also looking for books about young people who look and sound like them, and the people in their families and communities. I clung to Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life as a young girl, and jumped to adult literature in my teens to find LGBTGI+ writers and stories.

    It’s so great to see crossovers from the Schneider to Newbery two years in a row. The last one I can remember is Cynthia Lord’s Rules. It’s amazing to see a middle grade novel win the Stonewall. (A picture book won last year.) Matt de Le Pena is a marvelous, accomplished writer–and I found that I kept coming back to Last Stop on Market Street last year. I can envision using it in a book discussion group or a visit to an elementary school. I’m thrilled when someone breaks the mold!

    Which brings me to how cruel some people were when Schlitz’s Good Masters, Sweet Ladies won the Newbery medal. A book of monologues–with illustrations! No child will never want to read it! Children’s book awards have become irrelevant! I wonder how many still hold to that point of view, now that Schiltz is a favorite with librarians?

    As a child with disabilities, I was a delayed reader. I am happy to see books highlighted that encourage literacy through words and pictures. As Jonathan and others have noted, this is a revolution in terms of format as well as content.

    I’m going to savor these books–and look ahead with hopeful optimism!

  32. Rachel Payne says

    I am absolutely thrilled that Last Stop on Market Street won the Newbery Medal! I read the book many times to classes and it holds up beautifully to multiple readings. Others have pointed out lovely passages, so I won’t repeat. It’s lyrical, engaging, and with strong characters to boot.
    There are times when I read a picture book text and I think, I hope the Newbery Committee is looking at this! Turns out they were and I am delighted.

    In terms of looking at a picture book text versus the text of a work of longer fiction, I like to think of it as the difference between a short story and a novel. Great picture books texts read like wonderful short stories or poetry. I think this puts picture books at a disadvantage at times. Can a short work compete with the emotional investment we have in a work of longer work? We get so invested in novels, but I think picture books are often reread more by children (or to children by grown-ups). And there is a reason the best have staying power. The images are vital, but the words are too (wordless books excluded). The best picture book texts have phrases that haunt you. I have heard kids recite them at bedtime, as incantations against the dark. Ones that have always haunted me: “…and it was still hot.” “…even in Australia.” “Goodnight nobody.” We all know which books these lines come from. And now there’s a new phrase that will haunt me: “We got a bus that breathes fire.”

    It’s one for the ages.

    • Safranit Molly says

      What a profound comment to close the discussion for me. Thank you. It is one for the ages. And I am certain we will all remember this year for many to come. “Remember when Last Stop won silver and gold?” Wow. What a season to remember. Thank you to everyone for the robust and passionate discussions we’ve exchanged this season. I will miss your voices until we re-convene.

    • Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says

      Rachel, thank you. “And it was still hot” is one of my favorite lines of any literature bar none. I love the idea that the Newbery can recognize the power of such lines.

    • Thank you Rachel for getting me googling…Sendak, Viorst and Wise Brown…yes? I felt pretty ignorant there for awhile…but know and enjoy the books you quoted; just not as well as some.
      Thanks all for the conversations above, always educational and informative.

  33. Comparisons to “The Snowy Day” have been made for this year’s Newbery winner, but I wonder if that book could win anything now. Imagine, for instance, if it were up against “Last Stop on Market Street.” Its author’s ethnicity could not be a point of celebration. It had no heavy-handed message. Nothing about the story would make it possible for adults to flatter themselves that their liking the book signaled their own superiority. It is a relic of another time, when other ideals were in vogue, and now might just barely make it into the “diversity” pile.
    And yet, it is still an appealing book fifty years on.

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says

      Of course, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET will be hard pressed to live up to the classic status of THE SNOWY DAY, but indeed that is true of any book that the Newbery committee could have chosen instead. And, of course, the Newbery committee never compared LAST STOP to SNOWY DAY, only to other books published this year.

  34. Kathleen Butler says

    During the announcement, I couldn’t help thinking that this must be a Steve Harvey moment and soon there will be an apology and a retraction

  35. Everything is indeed awesome! LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is an inspired choice, not in the least because it paints a portrait of everyday life that is resonant, meaningful, and genuine. As others have said more skillfully than I can, it’s a lyrical tribute to the beauty of everyday life, and a moving examination of the psychological efforts so many of us put forth in order to survive and thrive in a complex society. LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET’s honesty about the world around us is essential, and it displays unmistakable warmth toward and high regard for our collective humanity. Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson have made a priceless contribution to our body of children’s literature; I’m so glad to see them honored in this way.

  36. I will freely admit that the announcement for the Newbery caught me by surprise. But then I went back and re-read Last Stop on Market Street, and here’s what I found:

    • Elegant, creative phrases, such as, “The outside air smelled like freedom,” and “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, C.J., you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”
    • Perfect word choice, such as in the phrase above. “Witness” is rhythmical and powerful. So is “the magic of music” and “The bus creaked to a stop in front of them. It sighed and sagged….”
    • A theme that is important and relevant, without being didactic. There are many books that try to teach us to care for one another, and to appreciate what we have. This one does it with minimal text and real life.
    • Conversation that is realistic and will connect to both adults and children.

    Most of all, I am thrilled that a committee recognized the importance of words in picture books. I read this aloud to a group of high school students on the day the medals were announced and they listened intently. It could be read aloud at churches, social service gatherings, by counselors, with adults and grandparents and at inner city development meetings. To say nothing of storytime, where I know it will be treasured.

    So, once I mentally put aside my personal favorite for the year and really embraced this one, I found that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Embrace it. Give it a hug. Pass it on.

  37. I think it’s great that the author of the words of a picture book has been honored in this prestigious set of awards. It’s always kind of irks me that there seemed to be the Printz, the Newbery and the Caldecott as this kind of holy trinity, only the Caldecott was for the illustrator, not the author if it wan’t an author illustrator. I know PB authors can win the other big awards of the night like the Stonewall, and of course having your illustrator partner get an award or an honor would be a great thrill but… PB authors deserve some love too. And Matt definitely deserves some love.

  38. After my husband watched the webcast, he texted that he loved LAST STOP as a Newbery. I hadn’t thought of it that way and my husband, not a librarian, said the text really intrigued him. After re-reading it with Newbery in mind, I have to agree. The text is beautiful and I think it works for a wide age range. I would love to know how the committee came upon it and thought of putting a picture book up for the award-it’s possible and something that must be considered-the award is for 0-14 after all! And I think this is a book that shows you can read picture books with all ages.

    One thing that has stuck with me since my husband read it is his comment that he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He pondered the book after finishing. Why were CJ and Nana at the soup kitchen? Were they there just because they were being nice or had they once eaten at the very same soup kitchen and were now giving back? There is so much to ponder in the text and I think that’s what makes it distinguished.


  1. […] There was an interesting discussion at Heavy Medal on Monday and Tuesday on this very question.  Here’s a link to the conversation after the awards were announced: […]

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