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October Mock Newbery Nominations: Share your top three

On this Mock Newbery blog we try to follow the procedures of the real Newbery Committee when we can, and the “nomination” process is one example. On the real Committee, each of the 15 members will nominate 7 titles over the next few months: three in October, two in November, and two more in December. Members include “written justifications” with each nominated title, and this is typically the first chance they have to share specific the rest of the Committee, beyond a “practice discussion” that takes place in the summer. The nominated titles are the ones that will be on the table when the Committee meets to discuss and select the Newbery winner in January.

The Newbery Manual notes that the nominations “make each committee member aware of which books require their closest scrutiny and which they need to re-read.” This year those final discussions will be virtual, as they were in 2021. I wonder if that fact might shift a bit more added weight to the nominations. The written justification might allow a member to call attention to specific strengths of a title which they might not have a chance to raise, especially in a virtual setting.

Here’s how we’ll do nominations on Heavy Medal:

  • Nominate three titles in the comments below. Like the real Committee, we’ll require three exactly.
  • Listing the three titles is fine, but if you would like to share a bit about why any of them made your list, or any strategic rationale, that’s fine.
  • Nominations will stay open through the end of Saturday, October 9th. We’ll post the totals on the 11th.
  • The nominations list will help Emily and I decide which books to feature in future posts. It will also be useful as we develop the Heavy Medal Book List, which we’ll announce in early December. That list won’t necessarily match the nomination list exactly, but number of nominations will definitely be a significant factor.

Add your titles to the list below. If you have any questions about our nomination process or about how it works on the real Committee feel free to ask those in the comments below as well:

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. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I’ll start with my 3 October nominations:
    AMBER AND CLAY by Laura Amy Schlitz
    FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin

  2. Julie Ann Corsaro says

    1. FRANKIE & BUG by Gayle Forman
    2. THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY by Kate DiCamillo
    3. TOO BRIGHT TO SEE by Kyle Lukoff

  3. 1. Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm
    2. Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga
    3. DaVinci’s Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

  4. 1. The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga
    – The question of whether they would find the wormhole (is it sci fi?) or not (is it realistic fic?) kept me guessing the whole book. Lots of emotions on both sides.
    2. Red White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
    3. While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown

  5. Lisa Levin says

    I have 4, I couldn’t delete one
    Shape of Thunder
    Ophie’s Ghosts
    Red, White and Whole
    Finding Junie Kim

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      It can be so hard to pick just three, Lisa. But, since we’re following the real Committee procedures, and we’ll want our nominations to be equal among all readers……Can you pick one to save for later? Remember, we will all get to add 2 more in November and 2 more in December.

  6. Mary Lou White says

    Amber and Clay
    Just Like That
    The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      Somehow I forgot that I had decided that I would definitely nominate THE RACONTEUR’S COMMONPLACE BOOK (I even used the book cover for this post). I’m glad it’s made the list.

      • Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

        LOL Steven I was hoping you changed your mind on this.. guess I better stop dragging my feet and finish this one!

  7. Emily Lammy says

    1. A Place to Hang the Moon
    2. Just Like That
    The Beatryce Prophecy

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      Good to see A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON on the list. I think that’s a deceptively strong book.

  8. Amanda Bishop says

    The Shape of Thunder
    Too Bright to See

  9. Emily Smith says

    Three of the eight that I’m assigning to my Mock Newbery book club students are:
    1. Amari & the Night Brothers
    2. One Jar of Magic
    3. The Legend of Auntie Po

  10. Andrea Tyler says

    Just Like That
    Red, White & Whole

  11. Meredith BUrton says

    1. Just Like THat, by Gary D. Schmidt. (I struggled between this title and AMber and Clay, but I ultimately picked Schmidt’s work. While Amber and CLay is strong because of uniqueness of presentation, interspersing artifacts with poetry and prose, I ultimately felt that Just Like THat had stronger characters. THe characters, coupled with a cohesive plot and vivid, immersive setting made this one stand out. ALso, theme was consistently presented throughout, and the author’s use of literary illusion by referencing THe Wizard of Oz, Oliver Twist, THe Grapes of Wrath and other books was solid and beautifully done. I had to choose this one).
    2. THe Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo. An array of engaging characters, the medieval setting and the author’s rich word choice make this one essential for my list.
    3. Harry Versus the FIrst 100 Days of School, by Emily Jenkins. THe tight plotting and engaging character dynamic made this one stand out to me.

  12. Lisa Cederbaum says

    October Top Three:
    AMBER AND CLAY by Laura Amy Schlitz
    FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin
    RED WHITE AND WHOLE by Rajani LaRocca

  13. Melisa Bailey says

    1. Red, white and whole
    2. Finding Junie Kim
    3. Lion of Mars

  14. 1. Too Bright to See
    2. Amber and Clay
    3. Starfish

    So far, anyway! I’m a bit behind in my reading this year, but I’m really hoping to catch up soon.

  15. The Troubled Girls of Dagomir Academy
    Just Like That
    Stamped (for Kids)*

    * From the manual:
    “Not all cases are clear-cut, and each committee must make its own judgments about originality. Where consensus is not easily reached, the Chair should discuss the issue with the Priority Consultant, who may also consult the President, the Executive Director, the Board, or previous chairs.”

    So the committee does not have to check with the PC or alsc president, etc if they have consensus that a book is eligible (even if it doesn’t actually appear to be eligible based on the manual).

    • Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

      Good job quoting the manual for Stamped for Kids. I was fortunate during my committee year that we didn’t have any complicated/ borderline books. I do think it would be fun to be a fly on the wall for those conversations.

  16. 1. Red, White, and Whole
    2. One Jar of Magic
    3. Being Clem

  17. Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

    Please share this post far and wide, so lots of people can nominate and join our Heavy Medal conversation! Also if you have more time and want to reply to your comment with any justification for your books, feel free to (but don’t feel obligated)!

    Also my nominations are coming, but I have till Saturday and am hoping to finish a few more books by then!!

  18. Laura Harrison says

    1. The Beatryce Prophecy
    2. Too Bright to See
    3. Amber & Clay

  19. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    It’s an interesting mix of nominations so far:
    – 23 titles nominated
    – 11 with just one nomination
    – 7 with three or more nominations.

  20. Starfish
    Lion of Mars
    Red, White, and Whole

  21. Just Like That – Schmidt
    Amber & Clay – Schlitz
    Billy Miller Makes a Wish – Henkes

  22. Corey Ferguson says

    1. Amber & Clay
    2. The Shape of Thunder
    3. A Place to Hang the Moon

  23. Too Bright to See
    Red White and Whole

  24. Lisa Castellano says

    Red, White, and Whole
    Amari and the Night Brothers
    Root Magic

  25. A few of these nominations are still on my list to read… and some late arrivals may change my mind (sequel to Out of My Mind, is one), but for the time-being…

    Just Like That….It is a stand-alone novel, but reading the first two does add another level to the book… and that is what is revealed on page two. Yes, it’s shocking, but it’s also brilliant because GDS creates a very real empty place for the reader who must, along the main character learn to live with it and move on. Beautifully written. Every character whether minor or major is whole and real.

    Red, White, and Whole.. it checks all the Newbery boxes, including what I call the “Newbery voice.” It is timely… but I do think it surpasses this and has the capacity to be timeless and univeral.

    Kaleidoscope. I know we think of Selznick as an illustrator, but his writing truly outshines his art in this book. His style is rich, haunting, and deep, and even when I was in the midst of confusion, trying figure what was going on, I kept reading for the sheer pleasure of enjoying the writing itself.

    (That said… Pony, Fallout, and Starfish could very easily be traded in for my list.)

  26. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    The National Book Award Finalists were announced yesterday. In the Young People’s Literature category, only two of the five have been mentioned here: TOO BRIGHT TO SEE (5 nominations so far) and THE LEGEND OF AUNTIE PO (1 nomination so far). The other three are on the older edge of the age range, but all sound interesting to me: REVOLUTION IN OUR TIME: THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY’S PROMISE TO THE PEOPLE by Kelly Magoon (reviews put it at 7th grade and up); ME (MOTH) by Amber McBride (7th-9th grade and up); and LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB by Malinda Lo (9th grade and up). I haven’t read those last three…Any thoughts on their Newbery chances from anyone who has read them?

    • I’ve only read LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB out of those last three, and I would place it solidly in the Printz category as opposed to the Newbery. I think it was written more for older (15 years +) readers, not younger, though that’s always subjective. It is an amazing book, and I hope it wins some serious bling this year.

  27. Debbie Fletcher says

    Amber & Clay
    365 Days to Alaska
    Lion of Mars

  28. Red White and Whole
    A Place to Hang the Moon
    Just Like That

  29. 1. Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge by Ray Anthony Shepard
    2. Red, White, and Whole
    3. Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

  30. Kate McCue-Day says

    Too Bright to See

  31. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    CORRECTION: Nominations are open through Saturday, October 9th. That matches the information in this post, but the date was typed incorrectly as the 6th on the Heavy Medal home page. Sorry for the confusion…

  32. Rox Anne Close says

    FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin
    THE SHAPE OF THUNDER by Jasmine Warga

  33. FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin
    DAVINCE’S CAT by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

  34. Red White and Whole
    The Beatryce Prophecy
    Root Magic

  35. Unspeakable / Faruqi
    A Place to Hang the Moon / Albus
    Finding Junie Kim / Oh

  36. Jennifer Friedman says

    I am in the middle of several books – but as of today..
    Flight of the Puffin
    Amber and Clay

  37. Ellen Peterson says

    1. Star fish
    2. Beatryce prophecy
    3. Lion of Mars

  38. Leonard Kim says



    BEING CLEM — how good is this book? I finished THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY this morning, the work of one of the greatest writers for children of our time. Then I picked up BEING CLEM. And BEING CLEM was the book I wanted to champion for the Newbery, the book I had to finish today just so I could nominate it in time, the book which caps arguably one of the great historical fiction trilogies in recent memory, though I hadn’t thought to think of Cline-Ransome’s work in those terms until I started reading CLEM. (This is my own short-sightedness, because I was really impressed by the first two). Oh, and since others had asked where is the boy protagonist book and where is the sports book, here you go. (It’s not *really* a sports book, but you will see what I mean.)

  39. Just Like That
    Amber and Clay
    Red, White, & Whole

  40. 1. Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

    2. While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown

    3. A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

  41. Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

    I’m here, I’m here right before the bell.
    WATERCRESS for setting, theme, and characterization
    PITY PARTY for theme and presentation
    STARFISH for all around awesomeness