Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

2017 Heavy Medal Shortlist!

We have settled on the shortlist for our mock Newberys (and we will release specific details and dates and times once we have arranged them).  We typically chose 8 titles, but have occasionally stretched to 9 titles (as we have done this year).  When we do 9 titles then length is always a consideration, and it makes it harder to stock the list with longer titles like AS BRAVE AS YOU or THE INQUISITOR’S TALE or THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, all of which would have made for wonderful discussions (and still can in the comments of the posts that we have already written about them).

Please also remember that we are not striving to predict what the actual Newbery committee will pick (although we do hope that they will agree with us on some titles, at least).  Rather, we are striving to simulate that wonderful process of comparing widely disparate works of American literature for children.  In that respect, this is a quintessential Heavy Medal shortlist.  Two thirds of the titles are fiction; one third are nonfiction and poetry.  While we do not have a picture book or graphic novel on our list, two thirds of the books do have visual elements of one kind or another.  And, finally, we have books that should appeal to various segments of the Newbery audience (0-14) with a range of styles and genres.

In the comments below, please feel free to comment on the inclusion or exclusion of specific titles, or on the shortlist as a whole.  Please also take advantage of the space to post the shortlist for any mock Newbery that you may be aware of or are participating in.























































































































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. Hannah Mermelstein says:

    Oops, I posted my Mock Newbery Committee’s shortlist in the Top Five post last week, but here it is again. Out of 33 books, we have 8 finalists. Here they are in order of number of points received:

    2) BOOKED
    7) SOAR

    Personally I really liked Soar (by Joan Bauer) and was sad not to see a discussion of it here (though a discussion could very well have made me look more critically at it!).

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

      And just because a discussion hasn’t happened yet on a particular title doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at all. We still have 2 full months before the awards are announced and we’ll have plenty of time to continue to parse out some of the other worthy candidates (and there are many of those).

      I recently recommended SOAR to a middle school librarian who was looking for a weekly read aloud for the PE teacher on teamwork and sportsmanship. 🙂

    • Martha Meyer says:

      I loved The Wild Robot by Peter Brown! It gives kids as young as 2nd grade the chance to wonder and think about the future with respect to the intersection of nature and technology. Usually, you’d need a book like The Windup Girl or The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (which are strictly adult) or The Ship Breaker (by the same author) for young adults to reach that level of thoughtful speculation using current headlines. How brilliant of Brown to be able to find a way to make this book it so easy to read! He clearly trusts lower elementary kids to have deep thoughts about nature & technology.

  2. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a pair of these books won NCTE awards over the weekend. GHOST won the Charlotte Huck (fiction) and SOME WRITER! won the Orbis Pictus (nonfiction).

  3. I’m interested in the discussion for FULL OF BEANS. I liked it. Didn’t love it. People seem to list it as one of their top 5, yet no one on here has really talked in depth about its strengths. I’m curious to see what stands out about it to readers.

  4. Marjie Podzielinski says:

    I thought Wolf Hollow was haunting but the age on the book was too young for my liking. Age 8? More like 11 12. 13. I have been thinking about those characters all day. Definitely well written

  5. Wow! For maybe the first time ever, I’m caught up on the reading (just 2 titles to track down and I own -and love-several of the others). Should be a really interesting discussion. I wasn’t enamored with Pax or Wolf Hollow, but I’m a huge fan of Some Writer!, When Green Becomes Tomatoes, When the Sea Turned to Silver, and Ghost. Probably my favorite reads of the year.

  6. Of these (and I think it’s a well-rounded list!) Ghost is my favorite, but I read Some Kind of Happiness recently and was absolutely staggered by it – and just need to publicly ponder why it isn’t getting more attention.

    • I’ve just begun SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS. It doesn’t have the pull or flow of GHOST but the writing is twisty and enticing.

  7. Some Writer is an interesting choice. Love it for Sibert, but it relies so much on White’s own words I wouldn’t have brought it forward as the most distinguished original writing of the year. Sweet does choose the perfect passages to showcase and her own descriptive and informative passages are tight and lively, but this book really soared for me when she steps back and lets her subject has his say. I became an E.B, White fan all over again.

  8. I’m with DaNae — Some Writer is my rock solid hope for Sibert. Because the visual element is so *much* of what makes it great — I’m not quite on board for it for Newbery. But because the writing is so *much* of what makes it great — I’m not quite on board for it for Caldecott. I am very happy it is eligible for the Sibert, an award that’s allowed to consider both text and illustrations completely.

  9. While I adored SOME WRITER, it really hasn’t resonated with my third-fifth graders. They like the pictures, but the writing doesn’t really interest them. I hope it wins some awards, but I feel like the audience that truly loves this is adults familiar with his work. Has anyone else had a different experience with young readers really enjoying this book? I’m curious why Dan Gemeinhart’s SOME KIND OF COURAGE really hasn’t made an appearance in our discussions. I know it didn’t get many starred reviews, but it got a lot of buzz on the Goodreads Mock Newbery page, and my club overwhelmingly voted for it as their first place winner in our first round of nominations a couple of weeks ago. This was the order of our favorites:
    2. PAX
    3. GHOSTS
    tied for 5th:
    At the time we voted, we had just added a few later titles most students hadn’t read yet, like THE INQUISITOR’S TALE, MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY, LUCKY STRIKES, and WE WILL NOT BE SILENT. After speaking with a few of my students reading INQUISITOR’S TALE, I have a feeling that will be moving into our top five. What a read!

    • I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED SOME KIND OF COURAGE! It was my top vote in the Top Five post. It was also recently listed as a Kirkus Best Middle Grade Mystery or Action/Adventure book.

      I hold out hope that this book is a sleeper. In that way, I’m not sure I WANT it picked apart and discussed on here! 🙂

  10. I too am a huge fan of Some Kind of Courage! I think it’s certainly worthy of discussion. I’ve since read a couple of books – Ghost – and When Green Becomes Tomatoes – that I’ve moved up my list, but this is still in my top five! I’ve heard some critiques regarding the “generality” used when speaking of the Native population, but this just means we need to have a discussion about it. 🙂

  11. We just arrived at our short list, that is not so short. We don’t really have a name, maybe, The Wasatch Front Mock Newbery. We are a small group, with strong opinions. We get the list by nominating books after the model of the committee: 3 in Oct, 2 in Nov, 2 in Dec. The books with the most nominations make up our list:

    Ghost by Jason Reynolds
    When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano
    Full of Beans by Jennifer Holm
    Raymie Nightengale by Kate DiCamillo
    Gertie’s Leap to Greatness
    We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman
    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
    Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
    The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelley Barnhill
    Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
    When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford

    For my students, I give them a long list and they need to read at least five of the titles to vote. I have too many who wish to participate and not the funding to limit to a short list.

    • No PAX?!? 🙁

      • I was pretty surprised too. It got only one nomination overall. I hope it is not suffering from coming too early in the year. I really liked it, but other books forced it from my top seven. I may have like her WAYLON slightly more as well.

  12. Kate McCue-Day says:

    I need to add Moo to my top 5.

Speak Your Mind