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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Winner: “New Kid”

After weeks of intense book discussion and four tightly contested ballots, the members of the Heavy Medal Committee have chosen a Mock Newbery winner: New Kid by Jerry Craft. The final ballot left us with two clear Honor books: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga and Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman.

Official Newbery rules require that the Medal book receives 8 first place votes and holds an 8 point lead over the second place title. From the results below, you can see that we did not reach that. New Kid does hold a nine point lead over the second place title, but only received three first place votes. I felt comfortable declaring New Kid the winner, however, for several reasons:

  • The real Newbery is announced on Monday and we want to announce our winner and allow time for response before we get the big news.
  • Our HMC Committee has committed a huge amount of time and effort this week. Not only writing and reading the extensive comments on the blog, but also balloting and re-balloting on short notice, while keeping up with my frequent emails filled with procedures and reminders.
  • New Kid’s nine point lead in points is impressive, and part of a steady rise in points for the book over each ballot.
  • While New Kid had just three 1st place votes, it also received six 2nd place votes. No other title had more than three. Future ballots would have required some members to move some 2nd place votes to 1st place, and it seems very likely that it would be those New Kid 2nd places that would move.
  • New Kid received a vote from 11 of 13 voters on the final ballot. It has clear support and would be a book that nearly everyone in the group rates highly.
  • The only book with more 1st place votes than New Kid was Torpedoed. However, Torpedoed dropped from six 1st places to four 1st places with this ballot, while New Kid gained three. It seemed likely that the 1st place support would continue to shift away from Torpedoed and towards New Kid.
  • Also, we did just have 13 of our 15 voters on this last ballot, and we didn’t want the number to dip further.

It would have been interesting to watch the voting trends noted above play out with more ballots, but we just ran out of time. As chair of this mock-eleciton, I decided to make this call. Time was also a factor in the Honor Book decision. I had intended to let the HMC weigh in on the option of doing a re-vote of the remaining titles to select Honor books. But this announcement is happening later than I’d anticipated. And more importantly, the 4th ballot results clearly identify the books that merit Honors. There’s a big nine-point gap between the 3rd and 4th place book. Also, that 4th place book is closer in points to the 5th and 6th place books than it is to the top three. Here are the 4th ballot results:

Ballot #41st (4 pts)2nd (3 pts)3rd (2 pts)Total
New Kid36234
Other Words for Home23425
Pay Attention Carter Jones21215
The Remarkable Journey…0048
Genesis Begins Again2008
Lalani of the Distant Sea0103
Totals 131313117

That’s enough of the methodology (though questions or criticism about the process are welcome). We’re much more interested in what you all (HMC members and everyone else) have to say about the results and the discussion that led up to it. Please share in the comments below:

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. samuel leopold says

    If this is how the Newbery results pan out on Monday, it would be spectacular!!

    A graphic novel as the winner—-a very deserving winner—–, a wonderful non-fiction book and a very good book written in verse as the honors….would make a perfect ending to the Newbery year!

    Congratulations to NEW KID and the two honor books.

    Also, thank you Steven and Roxanne for doing a wonderful job facilitating this with us.

    Have a wonderful NEWBERY DAY everyone on Monday!

  2. Great book! Great choice. Loved all your discussions. Thank you to the team!

  3. Thanks to all the HMAC members for your steadfast work and insightful discourse! And Steven, thank you for taking on the time consuming work behind the scene to give us these great results. I would love to hear from the committee members regarding this experience and process.

    • Annisha Jeffries Annisha Jeffries says

      Yes, thank you Steven and HMAC members. Thank you readers for great discussions and opening my eyes and heart to books that I may have overlooked. I can’t wait until the winners and honors for all of the awards are announced.

  4. Amanda Bishop says

    Thanks to everyone for this wonderful experience. I loved getting to discuss these wonderful books with everyone. Looking forward to Monday!

  5. I totally understand the time crunch. As a fan of Pay Attention Carter Jones, I would have requested another ballot for honor books in the hopes that many New Kid voters would throw their support for it as an honor book.

  6. This was a very strong year. I read almost two dozen books that I will be happy to see get an award on Monday. I know that I changed my votes and two out of my three favorite books did not stay on the list we discussed until the end. The third book was an honor, but all of the books on the list were books I would be happy to hand to kids to read. I know the ballots were farther apart then they would be on the committee, but I think that helped give me time to think about the books more and decide how to change my vote to reach a consensus. That is the hardest part of the process. It is not just the book I think is the best, but the books that we as a group think is the best. Thank you for the hard work you do at your end to give us this chance.

  7. Samuel Leopold says

    I enjoyed this process. But I feel like I am able to have deeper discussions with people when it is face to face and there are immediate responses. I am in a couple mock elections every year where we all get together and debate/ discuss. I like to ask a lot of questions when others are recommending a book and the immediate response sometimes is the catalyst for me to change my vote. Molly was beginning to convince me to put Other Words in my top three. If we had been talking real time, she prob. would have been successful. I love this format and am in no way having any negative thoughts about it. I consider it an honor to have now been part of this discussion again this year. Now I know logistically this could be a nightmare to pull off, but it would be interesting to, next year, do this again as we did it this year but…. maybe add one twist…. maybe during the voting stages, we could set a one hour time slot where we could all try to commit to be available for a facetime session or conference call where we could have some real time discussion. Finding one hour where we could all get together would be the problem. Thus, the reason the real committee stays in the room together until a decision is made. I wish we could all “ be in the room where it happens.” I am signing off until next year. Thank you colleagues, Steven and Roxanne for a great time.

  8. Good line up! Such an interesting mix: A graphic novel, a verse novel, and a narrative nonfiction.

  9. Molly Sloan says

    I am delighted that New Kid is our winner. I think it is a wonderful book and would be so excited to affix a Newbery sticker to the copies in my library if the real committee finds it deserving as well. This book seems like the definition of a consensus book. I have heard that through discussion committee members will sometimes shift their support from a book they personally love toward a book that seems to be more unanimously agreeable. I think that New Kid was fairly unanimously viewed as an excellent book by our committee and I wholly support Steven’s methodology in assessing our mock committee trending toward this book if we had continued the re-balloting process. And of course I am very pleased that Other Words For Home, the book of my heart this year, received an honor. Torpedoed, excellence in nonfiction, also found its way onto our list. I love the diversity of our top three–both in literary form and representation. Well done committee!

    I agree with Samuel that something valuable is gained in personal, real-time conversations. There is a reason the real committee sequesters itself in a room until a decision is made. For instance, I would like to have heard more from the people who supported Carter Jones. I feel I could have been convinced to add that book to my ballot, if we had been together, pouring over the text for evidence to support its merits. Posting our comments in catch as catch can moments of our busy lives meant that I was never quite sure when I should submit my vote because I wanted to wait and hear from everyone, but I wasn’t sure when or if people were going to submit comments. I was also very conscious of trying not to be the loudest voice in the room; I clearly had a lot to say about the book I was passionate about, but it’s hard to “read the room” when we aren’t in a room together.

    It has been an interesting and valuable experience to participate in this mock committee process. As I mentioned yesterday, the most surprising aspect of the process is realizing how subjective the decision is. I do not say that to demean the award at all. In fact, I have learned that the subjectivity–the humanness of the process–is what makes it beautiful and valuable. I was having this conversation with my Newbery Club kids before we voted yesterday. One of my very deep thinking seventh graders said he read in one of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books that art is not art unless some vehemently argue that it is not art. Art is subjective. And so our responses to it are also subjective. That fifteen diverse people can work together to elevate a handful of titles as the most distinguished contributions to American Literature is a collaborative work of art. I have been honored to participate in the process with all of you. Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

  10. Having been apart of the HM 15 for the past two years, I know how much reading and thought and time was undoubtedly put into this. I felt super behind this year and couldn’t keep up as much as I would have liked but did read most posts and comments and really enjoyed all the discussion and perspectives. Love the selections! Good work everyone!

  11. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    It’s an interesting idea, to try to find a “live” discussion time next year. I can’t imagine we could get all 15 (or however many people) at the same time….would a portion of the committee work, or would that skew the process somehow? Or maybe we set the day and time for the “live” discussion and you put it on your calendar as part of the committee sign-up process. Hmmm….oh, well, we’ve got some time to think about it.

    • I love the idea of a virtual (video!) chat! Maybe even if everyone can’t attend, it could be posted and others could comment on it later. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be a great experience that adds to this very fun/excellent process.

  12. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I’m always interested to where this kind of discussion changes a person’s perception of a book. I was very high on Scary Stories for Young Foxes going into January, but some of the concerns about the geography and animals seemed to grow as I read the points others made. It’s still a book I like a lot and will certainly keep recommending to kids…but it didn’t hold up as well as I thought it might under intense Newbery discussion. New Kid, on the other hand, got stronger in my mind as discussion continued.

  13. samuel Leopold says

    I fibbed….. one more comment. I just finished my mock Newbery with my Middle School Newberians…. their picks Honors Coyote Sunrise and Eventown Gold Medal NEW KID

  14. These are fantastic choices! Thanks for persisting through all those ballots.

  15. Tim Vandenberg says

    Looks like the committee was Right On Target! Way to go! 🙂

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