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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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The Heavy Medal Awards Committee: A look ahead to our Mock Newbery selections

Results of our “Never Won a Newbery” polls are in. Check out the results which have been added to last Friday’s post. Meanwhile, here’s a look ahead at what’s coming up over the next couple months:

Every year on Heavy Medal we finish up the Newbery season with two mock votes for the Heavy Medal Newbery Winner. One is an online poll that is open to everyone. Our other vote, though, is our best attempt to mirror the work of the real Newbery Committee. In mid-December we will form a volunteer committee of 10-15 committed readers: the Heavy Medal Award Committee (HMAC). This group commits to reading every book on our Heavy Medal Book List (HMBL), which will be set in early December. Then participate in online discussions of each title, culminating in a final live discussion on Zoom where the winning title is selected. Although we won’t form the HMAC for another six weeks or so, now’s a good time to consider if you might be interested. Here’s a rough timeline of the HMAC’s process.

Mid-November: The First Six Books
We’ll announce six titles in advance that will definitely be on the HMBL. If you’re a prospective HMAC member, you can get a head start on your reading.

Early December: The Rest of the HMBL
Nine more titles will be added to complete the list of 15 finalists. This will happen right after our third and final round of nominations. The nominations list will impact the choices, but we’ll also consider variety in formats, styles, length, age level, etc. in order to have a nicely balanced list. And maybe a quick poll to make the final cuts.

Early-Mid December: Forming the HMAC
Here’s when we make the official call for volunteers to take part in the HMAC. We’ll hope for a list of 10-15 members. Past HMAC participants and first-timers are all welcome, though if the list gets too large, we’ll likely give newcomers the chance.

Late December: Book Discussion Starts
We’ll hold online discussions of about one book per day over 2-3 weeks, covering all 15 titles on the HMBL. We’ll expect heavy participation from the HMAC members, but other readers are welcome to join in as well.

Mid-January: Zoom Discussion and Ballot
HMAC members will take part in a live Zoom event. Based on the online discussions, we’ll pare down the HMBL from 15 to about 6 of the strongest contenders. Zoom participants will re-discuss each title, then cast ballots, following real Committee procedures, to select a Medal and Honor books. Viewers will take part with live polls. We’ll announce the date for the Zoom event and provide a link to registration later in the fall.

Mid-January: Reader’s Poll
All Heavy Medal readers will be invited to cast votes on our online poll, which will also end with a Medal and Honor books. Sometimes these match the HMAC choices…sometimes they don’t.

January 24th: Real Newbery Announcement
The winner of the Newbery Medal, along with many other ALA-sponsored awards, will be announced on the morning of January 24th as part of LibLearnX (formerly ALA’s Midwinter Meeting). It’s the second year in a row where meetings will be virtual, so we won’t see the usual huge live crowd for the announcements, but it’s still an exciting moment.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the HMAC or the HMBL or anything related, let us know in the comments below or email us directly.

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. Emily Mroczek-Bayci says

    I am excited to include more people in the process! I was on the Heavy Medal Committee last year and enjoyed the experience (and look at me now!!) The Zoom meeting was fun to be able to see everyone and talk in real time about books!

    I think this committee is an awesome experience for anyone who aspires to be on the Newbery committee one day, or simply wants to gain more book discussion and evaluation experience. Share this opportunity with anyone you think would be interested in it and keep posted for signups!!

    • How does one go about getting on the committee? I am interested. I guess the bigger question is when are the ZOOM meetings? Thanks.

      • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

        Good questions, Lisa. We’ll ask for committee volunteers in early December. We’ll likely have an online form to fill out. In past years it’s turned out that the number of volunteers willing to commit to all that reading and participation fits right in with our planned size for the committee.
        We don’t have the Zoom date and time set yet. Last year we just had one meeting and that’s our tentative plan for now too. We’ll post details on Heavy Medal as soon as we have them set…

  2. This looks like a really fun opportunity! I am a librarian who just finished up my master’s degree, so I have more time to read. Count me in!

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