October 19, 2016

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Poetry Roundup

BEFORE MORNING by Joyce Sidman . . . This picture book contains a single poem, but what a lovely, haunting poem it is!  The form of this poem is an invocation, and as such it seems like it could have been an outtake from her previous collection, WHAT THE HEART KNOWS.  Can a single poem […]


“Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.” Mark Twain “When you write biographies, whether it’s about Ben Franklin or Einstein, you discover something amazing: They are human.” Walter Isaacson “I seldom read anything that is not of a factual nature because I want […]

Discussing Diversity

As our discussion of GHOSTS slowly unfolds, I’m reminded of how very unNewberylike it is.  Part of that is because it’s virtually impossible to simulate a face-to-face discussion in an online setting, but I also think that another part has to do with process. The committee trades suggestions anonymously through the chair throughout the year. […]

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled

One day when Frank could not win for losing, he got Lucky. And one day when Lucky was lost and found, he got Frank. Sometimes you read a book, and you have a gut reaction to why it belongs in the discussion of the most distinguished contribution of American literature for children, and you can […]

Raymie Nightingale

Well, I kind of put my foot in my mouth last time around when I declared that FLORA & ULYSSES was my least favorite DiCamillo novel (or perhaps I even said it was her worst–I can’t quite remember).  Of course, then she went on to win her second Newbery Medal several months later.  DiCamillo’s “worst” […]

Kirkus Prize Shortlist

The third Kirkus Prize shortlist has been announced and like its predecessors its chock full of Newbery possibilities.  Yes, the shortlist always includes two picture books, two middle grade titles, and two young adult titles, but you know how we feel about the Newbery committee embracing the full breadth of its charge.  The winner gets […]


PAX has already figured prominently in our discussions on previous threads. Since I get the feeling it’s one of those books we’ll have a running conversation about all season long, I’m not going to present a comprehensive treatment of the book here but rather explore some of the issues that have already been raised, tossing […]

NBA Longlist

                We’re really pleased with the range of the National Book Award long list!  These are excellent choices with lots of possibilities for Newbery overlap.  Sharon and I decided to divvy up the early spring titles for September discussions, so look for posts on BOOKED, RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE, and […]

Ten Picture Books That Can Win the 2017 Newbery Medal


The End

It’s been a privilege to co-blog with Nina these past several years at Heavy Medal.  I would like to think that we’ve elevated the conversation about the Newbery Medal on a national level, and that we have constantly pushed each other and our audience to consider what we mean by literary excellence. This past season, […]

2017 Newbery Reading List

The 2016 winners have been announced.  Hope you had time to catch your breath.  Let’s start reading again! FREEDOM ON CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford . . . Fresh on the heels of the first Newbery Medal picture book, I offer you this one to consider.  It’s got three starred reviews so far, and […]

The Last Stop on Market Street

CJ’s journey with his Nana is not just a simple bus ride; it is a multi-sensory experience through which he discovers that beautiful music, nature and people surround him.  CJ’s questions are familiar, and Nana answers him with gentle wisdom.  Right up until their arrival at the last stop on Market Street, Nana guides CJ […]

Everything Is Awesome!

Everything is awesome!  To find out–and discuss–just how awesome, check back here later in the morning . . . Link to live webcast is here.  

Also Truly Distinguished

From time to time, we have talked about the process for selecting honor books.  There is always great interest in why the number of honor books varies from year to year, and that was especially true this past year when the Newbery committee selected 2 honor books, while the Caldecott selected 6 honor books.  I’d […]

Online Mock Winners!

MEDAL                   HONOR                   HONOR                   HONOR                   Here is the point breakdown.  You can see that ECHO actually had more 1st place […]

Online Mock Newbery

Something weird happened.  Knowing I was going to be out of town during the holidays, I wrote my last couple of posts and scheduled them.  I wrote one about picture books, specifically THE SKUNK and IT’S ONLY STANLEY, that should have posted this morning.  Try as I might, I cannot figure out what happened to […]

Newbery Nonfiction

We’ve already discussed some nonfiction titles in depth already, namely our shortlisted titles MOST DANGEROUS, DROWNED CITY, and RHYTHM RIDE.  We also briefly discussed THE BOYS WHO CHALLENGED HITLER (although I think it’s worthier of an extended conversation). However, those are far from the only worthy nonfiction titles to consider this year.  The additional titles […]

The War That Saved My Life

If there’s any book that we’ve given short shrift to this past year, then perhaps it’s THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE, a popular favorite–it dominated our Top Five Tally and is ranked second on the Goodreads Poll–has also generated great buzz (three starred reviews translated into three best of the year lists), and just […]

San Diego Mock Winners!

We had a small turnout–just five people–but nevertheless managed a spirited and engaging discussion of our nine shortlisted titles. We also accomplished something I’ve never encountered in all my years of mock Newberys: We had a unanimous winner. All five people voted for ECHO with their 1st place vote. But it gets better! We were […]

Goodbye Stranger and Rhythm Ride

Okay, here’s a second look at our last pair . . . GOODBYE STRANGER When I read all the overwritten books that got published this past year–and they are legion!–I just wanted to make GOODBYE STRANGER required reading for their authors.  Stead uses a minimum amount of description, allowing the dialogue to carry plot and […]