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Inside Heavy Medal

2019 Heavy Medal Award Winner Announcement

HMACAfter two more rounds (via email and ballot forms) of voting, the 2019 Heavy Medal Award Committee finally came to consensus and picked the winning title published for children in 2018.  We are excited and thrilled to announce that the 2019 Heavy Medal Award goes to Jonathan Auxier for his moving historical fantasy Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, published by Amulet Books, an Imprint of Abrams Books.



Here’s the final vote and point count:

 Title (total votes) 1st Place
x 4 pts.
2nd Place
x 3 pts.
3rd Place
x 2 pts.
Total Points
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge (4) 3 1 11
The Book of Boy (9) 5 2 2 30
Hey, Kiddo (6) 2 4 14
Louisiana’s Way Home (9) 1 7 1 27
Snow Lane (10) 2 8 22
Sweep (13) 11 1 1 49

Sweep received more than 9 First Place votes and it has a 19 point lead (9 is needed) over the next highest point title.


Congratulations to the entire Committee for your steadfastness and thinking and voting even when you’re traveling by car or air to Seattle!

Now, on to our final task together: which titles should receive the 2019 Heavy Medal Honor?

Roxanne Hsu Feldman About Roxanne Hsu Feldman

Roxanne Hsu Feldman is the Middle School (4th to 8th grade) Librarian at the Dalton School in New York City. She served on the 2002 and 2013 Newbery Committees. Roxanne was also a member of 2008-2009 Notable Books for Children, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and the 2017 Odyssey Award Committees. In 2016 Roxanne was one of the three judges for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. You can reach her at at


  1. samuel leopold says

    WOW!!!!! This is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This whole experience has been wonderful!!!!

    Love SWEEP and hope it does well on Monday!!! My students are going to be pretty darn excited about this!!!!

  2. samuel leopold says

    I think we should give two honors out to the two books with the closest amount of points—

    The Book Of Boy and
    Louisiana’s Way Home

    They are the only two with more than half of the amount of points received by SWEEP.

  3. Congratulations to Sweep! For Honors, definitely Boy, Louisiana, and Snow Lane based on points. (Or are we revoting for Honors?) In the second round, before we started compromising as much, Assasination was almost tied with the others, so I would include that too. Either way with Kiddo—it hasn’t had as much support pointswise, but it has had some very fervent support.

    • samuel leopold says

      I would also be ok with SNOW LANE joining BOY and LOUISIANA as honors. If we go by the points received, it would not make sense to add any other titles to the honors list—-and I say that knowing Hey Kiddo will be left off…..which it should be in this case based on the points.

      But SWEEP won, so I will focus on that! Yeah!!!

  4. samuel leopold says

    I think All 3 of our top three will do very well on Monday——with a bit of Styx Malone and Hey Kiddo sprinkled in….and possibly Little Charlie.

    and Printz for Poet x……

  5. Cherylynn5691 says

    I think honors to Book of Boy, Louisiana’s Way Home, and Snow Lane. All three had over 9 votes even in the last ballot.

  6. Leonard Kim says

    Amazing job everyone. I want to echo Wendy’s comment in a previous post — I think this may have been Heavy Medal’s best year yet. Having individual Mock Committee members introduce each book was a great idea. Last year, I was worried that the discussion might be more engaging for the participants than the spectators, but I can say now that it was just as exciting from the outside.

    Steven and Roxanne — since a Mock Committee is not sworn to secrecy, I’d be interested in hearing how the members voted round-to-round and their thought processes. Would that be OK?

    • It’s mostly all out in the open – except for the last two rounds (which we decided to do it mostly via Google Form/Email). Here is the result for Ballot Round #3 and the email I sent to the Committee:

      Sweep: 6 First, 2 Second, 3 Third (11)
      Book of Boy: 4 First, 6 Third (10)
      Louisiana’s Way: 3 First, 5 Second, 1 Third (9)
      Assassination: 2 First, 2 Second, 2 Third (6)
      Snow Lane: 1 First, 6 Second, 3 Third (10)
      Hey, Kiddo: 1 First, 2 Second, 2 Third (5)

      So, at this point — what we must consider is — we need to come to a compromise (which is almost always part and parcel of a Newbery selection process).

      The most straightforward way to get the result is… basically, those who voted FIRST PLACE for Snow Lane, Louisiana’s Way, Assassination, and Hey, Kiddo would have to consider and move their top votes toward either Sweep or Book of Boy — that might not even do the trick since there might not be enough point spread. But we will see….

      Also – I don’t wish to force anyone to do anything but we do have a “deadline” to meet – we want to have our results in no later than Saturday night or Sunday morning (in accordance with the REAL Newbery committee timeline 🙂
      And they ALL came through in record time!

    • Leonard, I held steady on my #1 book the whole time (THE BOOK OF BOY) but after the first round I dropped POET X (my #2 choice) because I sensed that nobody was really going to champion it because of the age concerns. I hope it wins a ton of awards on Monday!

      One of my other favorites didn’t make the cut (GHOST BOYS) so I was pretty open to being convinced! That made the process fun.

      Also, I am super proud of SNOW LANE, which I was sure was an underdog, doing so well in the end. I told my husband that it wouldn’t get any votes and I was just planning to be pleased we brought it some attention and got more people to read it. It was nice to see people find its strengths through this process!

      • That’s a lot like me. Book of Boy was my first every round too. 🙂 Small Spaces was my other favorite of the year and was my #2 the first round, but then I had to drop it. It was a lot easier this year since my personal favorite stayed in the running the whole time. My next level down was more fluid and changed in the rereading and were pretty even for me. But my voting was pretty consistent because my choices seemed to be going towards consensus instead of away. So the first round my #3 was Snow Lane and then that moved up to #2 on the second round when I had to drop Small Spaces and I added Louisiana as #3. I think on Ballot 3 I then switched Louisiana and Snow Lane since there seemed to be more support for Louisiana and I decided I did like it a little better. And then I stayed the same for the last round. I thought about putting Sweep as #3 in the last round for consensus but realized that didn’t make sense since that would bring the top two closer together which could make it harder to get a winner on points.

      • Really proud today to say that Night Diary was on my first ballot (dropped it for lack of strong support) I stuck with Book of Boy as my #1 all along. And I championed Merci Saurez really hard in our pre-finalist discussions and nominations. Feeling giddy and validated and really happy with today’s Newbery winners!!

    • Leonard, I knew my #1 overall was a longshot (since it barely made the list to begin with) but felt no consensus around the initial round of book discussions so I came out swinging for the fences. Alas, I was the only one to vote for JUST LIKE JACKIE on the first ballot, so I dropped it.

      Going into this, SNOW LANE was my other personal favorite so I always envisioned voting JUST LIKE JACKIE and SNOW LANE #1 and #2 on my initial ballot. But for some reason, I did a 180 on the ending of BOOK OF BOY and revisited LOUISIANA more than any other title in the early stages of discussion and came away voting for BOOK OF BOY and LOUISIANA with my #2 and #3 on my first ballot. I remember sitting back thinking, What Have I Done?!?

      Thankfully, SNOW LANE survived and I came to my senses and felt the need to push for it one last time. I ended up dropping LOUISIANA and going all in on SWEEP (since I felt consensus building there the fastest and was ok with it) and wanted BOOK OF BOY and SNOW LANE to have shots at an Honor.

      What I think is so incredible, is the sense of pride you begin to take, even in titles that you didn’t initially push for. It becomes this collaborative thing, bigger than you, to come at a winner. I can only imagine what the real committee must feel on Monday morning.

      • I definitely become more invested in whichever books we talk about the most—and I become convinced the finalists we’re choosing between are the same the real committee has it narrowed down to. Which definitely wasn’t true last year!

      • Right, like they MUST know how many hours we have all spent on SNOW LANE but I bet they don’t and I will have to make my peace with that. hahaha.

    • I’d love to know who the hold out was that voted Louisiana first place the last round, since that’s the only person that didn’t shift to Boy or Sweep. You don’t have to “confess” if you don’t want to, obviously. 🙂 I’m just curious if they voted that way because they just love Louisiana so much or because they don’t like either Boy or Sweep enough to vote for them in good conscience or they wanted to make sure it got an honor or some other reason.

      • What I didn’t feel so good about was how I began to look for ways to pick at books I truly adored. I think if SWEEP had been given more of a honeymoon, I wouldn’t have felt so driven to only talk it up at ad nauseam (although my support never wavered). We were really examining exceptional literature across the board.

      • That is the downside—it does sometimes feel like we’re pitting the poor books against each other and only one can survive! When, of course, they will all hopefully go on to live long and happy lives. 🙂

  7. I have no idea whether any of our books will do well on Monday 🙂 I also am not sure that Sweep is truly eligible since Auxier is Canadian (but a U.S. resident…) Fingers crossed.

    I am leaning toward having 3 honor titles — even with the “compromises,” Boy, Snow, and Louisiana each received more than half of the Committee’s support while there is a steep drop for Brangwain and Kiddo. Brangwain also never received more than 6 votes while by the second round, Boy, Louisiana, and Snow all received 8 or more votes.

  8. Whew! What a process!

    For Honors, I’m all about consensus. BOOK OF BOY and LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME all still received first place votes but SNOW LANE had 10 people include it. I’d be good with all three.

  9. Congrats to SWEEP! A book that will surely delight many kids for years to come.

    I’d vote to do all three as honors. BOY, SNOW LANE, and LOUISIANA all generated so much passionate discussion that I think they are all worthy honors.

  10. samuel leopold says

    Kudos to Steven and Roxanne for organizing this amazing event. This whole process has been enjoyable and very therapeutic for me this year. I always believe that, often times,”healing” can be found in the pages of a wonderful book and through a discussion of that book with wonderful people.

    And it has been an honor to sit at this “virtual table” with 16 other committee members who I respect and admire with all my strength. You have all taught me a lot about collaboration, building consensus and kindness.
    Thank you all!!!!

    Already looking forward to next year.

  11. I am about to be busy with family stuff so sorry if I miss the full honors conversation. My vote for honors is Boy, Louisiana and Snow Lane, all of which had votes from more than half the committee and all broke 20 points.

    I will say this discussion process has really revealed to me how much a need for consensus drives the award process – and really makes me want to be a fly on the wall for those years very unexpected or outside the box choices were made.

    • Sorry for not logging in properly – in addition to being about to leave, my laptop just died and I don’t usually do much on mobile devices.

    • However, I’d also want to make sure that the need for heightened level of literary examination is a huge part of the whole process as well. I think our process is still quite different from the Real Committee where the members have access to many more books and work through many more months of close readings. They also have the burden of choosing the “NOT MOCK” Newbery winner! So it’s not only about compromises….

      • Oh, for sure it showed me the need for a really close examination and the value in re-reading and re-reading and re-reading – but I was expecting that aspect of the experience. It was how hard it was to build consensus that surprised. I read about how committees might have to re-ballot multiple times or stay up until the wee hours of the morning, but it wasn’t until I was actually submitting my fourth ballot in two days that the full force of what that means really sank in.

  12. I’m good with the three as honors. I kind of want to revote for Honors just to see what that’s like, but I think we’d probably wind up at about the same place.

  13. Thank you so much to Steven and Roxanne for all the planning, tallying and herding of committee cats!!

  14. So, about 7 of you agreed that we will have Snow Lane, Louisiana’s Way Home, and The Book of Boy as HMA honors? Those who have not commented, please feel free to say Yay or Nay. And I think we can just do majority rules?

  15. On such a high right, now. My after-school kids got an earful. Thank you everyone on the committee, you are all such smart people. Roxanne and Steven, you are such commendable moderators, you kept me, at least, talking with more dignity than I often felt.

    Let’s go with the three honors. Louisiana, Boy & Snow.

    As for my voting, my first two never changed, mostly because I could feel a consensus around them. Last year, I believe, I felt the need to abandon my first choices right away. My third vote change with each ballot.

    • Was Louisiana your second place? (Obviously I know what your first place was!)

      • Katrina, I thought I was pretty cagey. You must be psychic. Yes, Louisiana was also my second.

      • Hahaha. You weren’t that obvious about Louisiana, it was more a process of elimination since you were clear about having some issues with Boy and Snow. 🙂

  16. Sarahbtlibrarian says

    Yay! Congrats to the committee and Sweep-great pick!

    I would also add a yes to the honors being Louisana, Snow Lane, and Boy. I can’t to see if any of our titles are picked on Monday!

  17. Jessica Lee says

    I looked back at our results from our first round of voting to see if that could inform the choice of honors titles. I was surprised to remind myself that SWEEP had initially come in 5th place in the first round of voting. How things change! I agree with the choices of LOUISIANA, BOY and SNOW, as honors and was curious if there was enough initial support to argue for BRANGWAIN or HEY, KIDDO which both ranked above SWEEP initially. Surprisingly, SNOW LANE was originally near the middle of the rankings. In other words, reviewing the data just makes it all more muddled.

    • You know what else is really interesting—Snow Lane is one of the ones that wasn’t on the finalist list originally. Good thing we added it in!

    • Remember, SWEEP was initially discussed the same day our first ballot was released. And many of us were processing its treatment of Jewish religion which had been raised by Sarah H. That discussion pretty much dominated the conversation around the title. As SWEEP was discussed further, it was apparent that A) there were distinguished elements within the story and B) support for it was strong.

  18. Greetings from Seattle, everyone. Sorry I’ve been in absentia the last 36ish hours. I’ll send a virtual wave to y’all on Monday morning!

    WOW. What an amazing couple of weeks. I am so honored to have been apart of this. Y’all challenged me, forced me to reframe my thinking (in the nicest way possible), and provided me with deeper, more valuable insight on books I already loved and valued. Fellow HMAC committee members, thank you thank you thank you. How I loved being a part of this with you.

    Big thanks, too, to Steven and Roxanne. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Thank you for guiding discussion and encouraging us and challenging us, as well as clarifying the muddiness of some criteria. I know that this was a simulation of the Real Committee, but because of your guidance, it felt like The Real Deal to me.

    I’m blown away that Sweep won. It wasn’t in my top 5 initially, but it slowly rose in my estimation. I’m happy to see that it won. Thank you to HM readers for challenging us to look at the book from a variety of angles. It’s actually because of your insight that I started casting my ballots for SWEEP. I had every intention of clinging to Charlie and Louisiana for the entire time. I also surprised myself by casting votes for Snow Lane.

    I agree with giving honors to Louisiana, Boy, and Snow Lane.

  19. I have been reading and watching this from Australia. Awesome. Thank you as it is very interesting for those working with children and young people in a school library. I have bought most of these online for our library. Jan

  20. samuel leopold says

    I try treating most books like I do my students—–focusing on the positive qualities of each one.

    As I did this during our discussions, three stories grabbed my heart and would not let go.

    I tried to argue/discuss/persuade on behalf of each one and my first ballot had all three with Hey Kiddo, Styx Malone and Sweep in that order. I felt that Sweep suffered on the first ballot because our discussion was not completely focusing on its distinguished qualities. After mentioning this, Mr.H. agreed and him and several others helped point out Sweep’s Newbery qualities much more eloquently than I had—-in my defense, when you spend most of your life with a wonderful, feisty Italian mother, you do learn the art of persuasion….but a lot of what I learned from her would not be the kind of vocabulary “appropriate for ages up to and including 14.”

    When I saw that Styx Malone was not going to get the support I had hoped for, I put Sweep to one with Kiddo to two on my second ballot.
    Before the third ballot, Susan and Kari’s excellent discussions about Book Of Boy convinced me that BOY was worthy of at least an honor so it became my number three book. And I kept Kiddo two—though it was obvious that it was not gaining support—–I am going to have to sharpen my persuasive writing skills for next year—– with SWEEP at one.

    Seeing Sweep’s momentum, I decided to get strategic on the fourth ballot. Not knowing how some would change their votes while also seeing how close BOY was to SWEEP, I turned in a ballot with SWEEP at one and then the 2 books with the lowest chances of catching Sweep at two and three—-Kiddo and The Assassination Of Brangwain Spurge. I had grown to like BOY a lot…but was concerned it would “sweep” my book out of first place, so I removed BOY from my final ballot.I also thought this would help build consensus for the title that was at the top of the third ballot by creating a larger separation from the closest rivals.
    In the end, that strategy was unnecessary and BOY still won a very deserving honor—and may even do better than that on Monday morning. If anything, these discussions have opened my eyes to the distinguished qualities of The Book Of Boy.

    This was a fun process and I know my mom would have loved watching it play out……she taught me to try to look at people—and books—–by focusing on their finer points and not their flaws.—-though sometimes the “flaws” part is necessary in Newbery discussions when trying to narrow your ballot to three.

    I feel privileged to have taken this journey with all of you…. and now we look onward to Monday!!!

    • I think what happened with Sweep shows how well having to start with just positives worked in general this year. That was the one book where we started discussing negatives right away and it did completely then shut down discussion of positives. Which I feel like is what happened a lot more in general last year. So kudos to the moderators for forcing us to do positives first!

      • Yes, to emphasis on the positives of a book being an important part of the discussion. It took awhile for me to appreciate the impact verbalizing the positives had. I came into the discussion thinking that all of these books were obviously excellent to various degrees, and that while it was good to briefly summarize why they were excellent that it would be more helpful to understand the ways in which they failed to live up to perfect expectations, so that I could mentally eliminate certain titles as “not good enough.” And to a certain extent that was helpful very early in the process. But the closer we got to the end, and the more intense the discussion became, the more I found the passionate endorsements more meaningful and persuasive than the criticisms. It also made me realize how relatively easy it is to say what didn’t work for you, and how relatively difficult it was to describe in precise terms what DID work, and why. When everything’s firing on all cylinders it’s easy to overlook how smooth it is and how much skill went into making it seamless, and even harder to articulate it.

      • Thank you all for sharing your insights on both the process and the literary criticism aspects of this year’s Heavy Medal Award Committee work.

  21. I’ve hesitated to comment on this post because I’ve been purely a blog reader this year vs a commenter. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and agree they have been some of the richest on this blog in many years. All the finalists above are excellent, and I particularly loved Sweep

    That said, I think this list underscores just how important diverse voices are on committees. There would be incredible backlash against the award if this were the final list due to the lack of diversity and rightfully so. I understand the problems with increasing representation in a purely voluntary activity such as this so I don’t mean this as a criticism, and I did read the earlier discussions regarding representation when the initial committee members were introduced. As the blog wraps up and looks to next year, I think there needs to be some reflection on how to make it more accessible to a wider range of readers.

  22. I’ve hesitated to comment on this post because I’ve been purely a blog reader this year vs a commenter. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and agree they have been some of the richest on this blog in many years. All the finalists above are excellent, and I particularly loved Sweep

    That said, I think this list underscores just how important diverse voices are on committees. There would be incredible backlash against the award if this were the final list due to the lack of diversity and rightfully so. I understand the problems with increasing representation in a purely voluntary activity such as this so I don’t mean this as a criticism.

    • Gin, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do think this is a solvable issue. Like ALSC, Steven, I, and SLJ could potentially recruit and assign readers from diverse backgrounds to share their views on certain titles to ensure more voices are heard.

      That said, I still believe that we did have a diverse group of HMAC members whose apparent commonalities (all being white and all are lovers of children’s books who are willing to volunteer their time and energy without any compensation) do not represent them fully. There are those who are disables. There are those who are not straight. There are those who believe in a conservative political system. They don’t all work in the same kind of libraries or serve the same kind of young readers. And they surely didn’t all prefer the same books from the get go.

    • I agree with you, Gin. I would like to see a broader range of participants next year. I think this year’s discussions were successful so maybe we will be able to recruit some new voices over the summer.

      I think of the books we considered, STYX has a strong chance of taking some prizes. It was honestly not my favorite but I would be happy to see it with some stickers after today!

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