February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Heavy Medal Is Back

It’s here. Heavy Medal, SLJ’s mock Newbery blog, resumes September 4.

There, bloggers Nina Lindsay, supervising librarian for children’s services at Oakland (CA) Public Library, California and Jonathan Hunt, library media teacher for Modesto (CA) City Schools, return to discuss and debate potential titles in the running for this year’s Newbery Award. Bestowed annually by the American Library Association (ALA), the Award honors “the most distinguished American children’s book” of the year.

Crystal Ball with possible Newbery contenders

While the actual Newbery Award selection committee is bound to secrecy, its criteria and procedures are open and well-known to many. Much like Oscar predictions, forecasting which book will rise to the top has become an annual fascination for “kidlit” fans. Even naming the Newbery Honors—the books selected as runners-up—is a welcome part of the fun.

Since 2008, Heavy Medal has deliberated and discussed possible contenders for the highest honor in children’s literature. As always, readers are encouraged to join the conversation. Discussion has addressed the Newbery criteria, obvious—and not so obvious—favorites to win the Award, and questions, such as: must a sequel stand alone? And where do graphic novels stand?

Lindsay says that the best part of the process is “experiencing the naturally chaotic way a discussion can take off, build up, circle round.“ The toughest part? “Trying to stay on top of all those circles, and give each discussion and title its due,” she says. The Heavy Medal duo has come up with fresh ideas for this year’s round, including guest posts, interviews, dialogues, and a greater focus on how libraries and schools can organize their own mock Newbery events.

Do they already have any predictions of which book might take the prize? Hunt believes that there are, indeed, some interesting candidates. “Everybody was talking about R. J Palacio’s Wonder (Random) in the spring season and Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy (Random) and Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms (Candlewick) have people buzzing in the fall. But it’s also a very deep year for nonfiction.”

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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  1. I think it will be Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage