November 29, 2015

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Roller Girl

ROLLER GIRL is not a flashy book in Newbery terms, and that is part of its charm. Stripped down just to its bare text, sentence by sentence, it wouldn’t wow me.  But ROLLER GIRL is a great example of a story presented in exactly the right format.   From the pre-title/title page/post-title page drama in […]

Most Dangerous and Drowned City

Because of the shortened season and early mock discussions, Jonathan and I may not have a chance to do our usual redux of every title on our shortlist, but we’ll attempt to make space for each one that hasn’t got as much discussion as others.  While people are still reading and commenting on RHYTHM RIDE, I […]

Rhythm Ride

No one’s commented in surprise to the presence of RHYTHM RIDE on our shortlist, but it is rare that we include a title that we haven’t posted on yet. This year’s early schedule and the intensity of recent discussion threw some things a little out of whack, so let’s get back on track. It’s hard […]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Children’s Books

Well I can’t say that this hasn’t been an interesting season on Heavy Medal.  Jonathan and I will be announcing our shortlist shortly, but I’m due a reflection on the last few weeks. Rather than loop back into the specifics of the HIRED GIRL discussion, or the similar one that is going on regarding A FINE […]

Keeping it Real

I’ve been looking for contemporary middle grade stories to compliment our shortlist-in-progress (soon to be announced), and having a hard time find ones that easily rise to the top for me.  What am I missing? Here are some that I’ve liked. MOONPENNY ISLAND. I’m a sucker for Tricia Springstubb, whose writing is detailed, emotionally precise and seamless. […]

The Privilege of Serving

In this blog we try to look at books specifically through the eyes of the Newbery Committee.  Following my article  The 2015 Youth Media Awards: A Crossover Year for Diversity, Amy and I talked about our own experiences reading critically for the committee, and Jonathan and I invited her to share her thoughts here.  Amy Koester […]

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead’s GOODBYE STRANGER is unnerving–unnervingly realistic, that is, of the minds of thirteen-year-olds.  That the book disturbed me is a testament to its strength…since that age is not one I really wanted to experience again, but did through Stead’s writing. Here, the alternating viewpoints that very slowly unpack the experience of seventh grade are far more […]

The Marvels, or What is Text?

Brian Selznick’s latest gives his visual/textual literary form yet another twist, as he tells one story first completely through image, then another completely in text, accomplishing a seemingly binary but actually complex interweaving of stories within stories. Though the package presents itself as simple and straightforward, the effect is multi-layered and powerful, and unlike any reading […]

What Are We Looking for in the Newbery?

Now is the time of year I have to triage my reading: I accept I won’t be able to do it all.  I use your comments, the Goodreads Mock Newbery list, and Jen J’s starred review spreadsheet, as a first place to try to figure out what is getting “buzz.” But once I’ve narrowed down that […]

The Thing About Debuts

It’s easy to keep track of authors from whom we expect excellence; harder to stay on top of debut authors.  A pitfall of debut writing can be when it serves as a “warm-up”: a good writer, with a good idea, works that idea into a novel that…works, though sometimes the idea can feel more present than the […]

Gone Crazy in Alabama

I used to open every box of children’s books for review that arrived at my library…but it’s not my direct job anymore, and I had to let go of the micro-managerial (and selfish!) urge to be the first to get my hands on everything.   So it was that I only got to read GONE […]

Why We Do What We Do

Now that we are rolling, I want to take a moment to say that this will be my last season on Heavy Medal. I started it in 2008 with my colleague Sharon McKellar (Jonathan joined in 2009), but we’d been blogging about our Mock Newbery discussions a couple years before that, and I’ve been holding Mock […]

Serious Work

There’s a concern, somewhat but not totally borne out by reality, that the Newbery only goes to “serious” works. While it does seem harder for lighthearted or funny books to win, there are no limits to the type of literature that is eligible, just that it be “original work.”  Here, however, are three titles from early […]

2016 Spring and Summer Favorites?

And we are back!  Many thanks to all of you who’ve care-taken this blog from February through August at the 2016 Newbery Watchlist post, especially my hero Jen J of the Spreadsheets for her monthly updates of starred reviews.  It is  a handy place to start exploring award possibilities, though we are always quick to point […]

Signing off

Signing off

Thanks so much for continuing to add your thoughts on this year’s winners to yesterday’s post, and your ideas for next year to the 2016 Newbery Watchlist post. I want to add to my thoughts to yesterday to say that while ethnic diversity was only one facet of the statement this year’s awards make…they make […]

And the Winners Are….

And the Winners Are….

Yeah, no, not yet. We will update this post later this morning. This year, I’m double-booked during the press conference, so as soon as the awards are announced I will be off and running to arrive very late at my meeting (they actually schedule other meetings at the same time? Yep.  Not everyone’s a youth […]

Under Wraps

Under Wraps

I am sitting on the shuttle bus to the convention center in a snowstorm, and on this bus are THE results of the Newbery! Committee Chair Randall Enos is on his way to deliver the results to the ALA Press Office, two seats behind me. Shortly, a few select people beyond the committee will know, […]

90-Second Newbery Film Festival & Battle of the Kids Books

90-Second Newbery Film Festival & Battle of the Kids Books

Today we are all arriving in Chicago for the ALA Midwinter Meeting, soon to listen in to the Notable Book discussions, browse the exhibits for next year’s contenders, and await the announcement of the awards on Monday morning.  We will wrap up our discussion on that final post next week, and then go into hibernation […]

Three Longshots?

Three Longshots?

I’m scanning my shelves for books we’ve not done justice to this season.  Has anyone mentioned FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE by Tim Federle, LORD AND LADY BUNNY by Polly Horvath, or THE UNSTOPPABLE OCTOBIA MAY by Sharon Flake?  Barely a mention of Freedman’s ANGEL ISLAND, Nye’s THE TURTLE OF OMAN, Yelchin’s ARCADY’S GOAL or Pinkney’s […]

Results from the Mocks, and ALA Midwinter!

Thank you all for starting to post your mock results!  If you haven’t yet please contribute your comments here. We’ve heard from: Cincinnati and friends (BROWN GIRL DREAMING) Rhode Island Public and School Librarians (CROSSOVER) Masschussetts Library System (NIGHT GARDENER) Emerson School in Berkeley CA (read synoposes of the kids discussions at And we are in […]