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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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Newbery 2020: Looking Ahead

carter jones

Now that MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS has won the 2019 Newbery Medal, it’s time to start thinking about the 2020 Medal.  Discussions will resume here on Heavy Medal in September, 2019.  In the meantime, there are already some interesting possibilities out, with more on the way.  Jen J’s Starred Reviews is an excellent resource if you want to keep track of which new books are earning praise from review journals. The Good Reads Newbery Watch List is also useful.  Another way to keep up will be to read the monthly Suggestions on Heavy Medal.  We’ll start this up again in early March, asking readers to share titles they’ve read that might merit Newbery consideration. Look for a post in early March with a call for Suggestions and some guidelines.

Meanwhile, here are a few titles that I’m eager to try, though I’ve only read one so far:

A sequel to THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS by a past winner of the Newbery Medal and two Honors.

THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Choksi [Jan]
First in a new fantasy series with lots of strong reviews so far.

THE ROOTS OF RAP by Carole Boston Weatherford  [Jan]
Free verse history of hip-hop by a previous Newbery Honor winner.

NEW KID by Jerry Craft [Feb]
An early-in-the-year graphic novel with good reviews.

ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas [Feb]
The second book by the author of THE HATE U GIVE, which won a Printz Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor in 2018.

Schmidt has two Newbery Honors so far. This is the one I did read and liked. A lot.

WATCH US RISE by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan [Feb]
Two authors (one with a Newbery Honor award), two points of view, timely issues.

SWEEPING UP THE HEART by Kevin Henkes  [Mar]
Henkes has two Newbery Honors and a Caldecott Medal (plus two Caldecott Honors). Can he match Robert Lawson, the only person ever to Medal in both?

RETURN OF THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner [Mar]
The sixth and supposedly final book in the “Queen’s Thief” series. The first won a Newbery Honor.  [Never mind:  Monica notes that this one’s been rescheduled for 2020 after all]

ANGEL THIEVES by Kathi Appelt [Mar]
Another past Newbery Honor winner.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo [Apr]
She just won the Printz and the Belpre with THE POET X. This one’s about a high school senior, so maybe a stretch for Newbery.

ENEMY CHILD by Andrea Warren [Apr]
True story of congressman Norman Mineta’s time in an internment camp by an excellent nonfiction author.

What titles are you looking forward to?…

Steven Engelfried About Steven Engelfried

Steven Engelfried is the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at


  1. RETURN OF THE THIEF has been pushed back to summer 2020. I’m excited for Erin Entrada Kelly’s LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA now coming out this fall.

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      Disappointing to wait another year for RETURN OF THE THIEF, but I just tell myself she should take all the time she needs to make it just right and it will be worth the wait. I have to try the same thing with Franny Billingsley and George R. R. Martin.

    • MONICA! if you can’t say something nice . . . .

      For me, 2019 was to be all about the Eugenidies of it all. Now what am I going to do with myself?

      (Steven, it’s so cute you still have faith in GRRM.)

  2. Alas, I will not be reading much outside of young adult nonfiction this year. I have no sense of how much the YALSA Nonfiction committee will be reading, but I imagine it will be substantial and I’ll sadly be watching this blog from afar. I can’t wait to see what y’all read and discuss, though!

    • I guess that’s the downside of being on a committee: All of the extra-plus excitement of your own choices, none of the fun of reading and speculating on other people’s. But keep up hope: there’ll likely be at least some crossover, and then you can giggle to yourself when we discuss the books you’re familiar with.

  3. I read THE PROMISE OF CHANGE and I thought it was wonderful. I’m reading WATCH US RISE and it is very appealing.

  4. I’m currently reading THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE by Dan Gemeinhart and it’s pretty good.

  5. Super excited for another Gary Schmidt! Next week. Almost, but not quite, make up for no Eugenidies.

  6. samuel leopold says

    Really like

    Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams


    The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods

  7. We look forward to another year of great books and in-depth analysis! Heavy Medal lives on and we hope that some of you might consider guest blogging with us or participating in the HMAC in the fall/winter. Please come back in March to make our first monthly suggestions!

    • Danielle Jones says

      I am really looking forward to participating this year! I am looking forward to The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles, The New Kid By by Jerry Craft, and The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.

  8. Meredith Burton says

    I am looking forward to reading The Lost Girl, by Anne Ursu.

  9. I thought both Genesis Begins Again and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise were outstanding. Coyote is the best book I’ve read in a long time. I had 50th birthday party in Jan and asked everyone to bring a book for my classroom library. Best idea I ever had. I now have a TBR pile of almost 70!!!

  10. I’m looking forward to:
    Beverly, Right Here Hardcover by Kate DiCamillo
    The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu
    The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
    The Unspeakable Unknown by Eliot Sappingfield

  11. I have not been as excited for a sequel in a long time as I am for The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter! As soon as I finished the first book, I went and read the first chapter online. I read the first one in a rush because it was one of quite long list of books I had to finish for a committee, but I plan to save the second book for summer so I can dwell in it for a few days. The progression from “I hate your stinking guts but I have to keep you alive because I need you” to “you are now more important to me than the thing I was originally after and I would die for you” is one of my favorite tropes, and it works better for me when it’s friendship instead of romance. Add that to my lifelong obsession with medieval Scotland, and it’s like that series was written specifically for 12-year-old me. I never really pictured it for Newbery, but I adore it and was thrilled that it made Notables. I was definitely in the camp that thought the cover change did it a disservice, and I hope now it will get more attention.

  12. I am excited to be a part of this website for an entire year. One question I have – how do all of you get a list of 2019 published books that would be contenders?

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      We don’t really get a list like that. Any book published in English for children in the US in 2019 will be eligible, so we try to identify the most likely contenders for the “most distinguished” books. We read reviews, look at publisher catalogs, check lists of starred reviews, and look at other Mock Newbery lists. We’ll also rely on blog readers to help us identify the most likely contenders. Starting in a couple weeks, we’ll do a monthly call for “Suggestions,” where readers can share titles they’ve read and recommend. That list will grow through the year, and then in September we’ll begin discussing selected titles on the blog.

  13. The book I’m most excited for is “Look Both Ways” the new story collection by Jason Reynolds. I can’t recall anmore intimate of an experience in terms of what goes during that walk from the school to home. When I was in elementary and junior high, I took this walk each day, and it was not necessarily with the kids I played with during recess. It was a tighter group: the girls I lived with in my neighborhood, an integrated age group of females in the late sixties who knew the lyrics to all the bubble-gum pop songs of the times, and didn’t hesitate to sing these songs together and include sometimes our own little dance steps, as we walked down the sidewalks. We hit the same checkpoints everyday, cutting through each others’ yards and greeting moms on the way to our own house. Little did we know how timed this ritual was with the adults and how their antennas went up when we varied in our route or were 5 minutes behind (a clue that something happened to delay our travel). We worked out family problems, personal issues, and disagreements. We shared the latest Avon perfume sticks, like Honeysuckle, which was my favorite (#throwback). . .and I’ll never forget us all reading Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s me Margaret” which brought about my first peer-based independent literary conversation on a title that was reflective of a shared experience…the sanitary belt! Our conversations on this were riveting! Our unspoken code of honor was titanium!

  14. Kim Broadley says

    I’m not on any committee but I read a lot of these titles because I teach 6th grade ELA. I LOVED Coyote Sunrise. I also really liked Hurricane Season by Melleby. Has anyone else read that one yet.

  15. The Line Tender. hands down, the greatest book ever. I’m surprised that o
    No one mentioned it.

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