February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Two Orphans, Two Islands: Which Is More Distinguished?

Certain recurring narrative devices have long been universally employed by authors of children’s books: a boarding school setting, moving (away) as the main conflict, meeting a wise mentor, etc.  One often-seen element is an orphan protagonist: From Huck Finn and Mary Lennox to Harry Potter and the Beaudelaires, children’s books do seem to feature parentless protagonists disproportionally.  Perhaps it allows the author to easily externalize […]

Informational Book With Made-Up Bits

Some followers of Heavy Medal asked about Subject Headings and their potential influences over the Sibert or Newbery Committee members’ decisions. I went ahead and queried one of the 2017 Sibert Committee members, Gail Nordstrom, a public library consultant at the Viking Library System, Minnesota.  She also served on Newbery and Caldecott committees. My email […]

Look Who’s Talking: First Person/Present Tense Narrative Voice

By the third page of See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, I am absolutely hooked: not because it has an unusual narrative device and not because of the almost stream-of-consciousness, intimate, conversational tone, although both are immediately noteworthy.  I am hooked by the book’s unique and affable protagonist Alex, a first person/present/immediate past tense young narrator.  When Alex brings […]

Newbery Social Media “Guidelines” — How Strict Is It?

Roxanne: A recent Newbery committee member’s experience reported by the member herself, on social media, and by industry outlets such as School Library Journal,  reminds me of a line from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: ‘the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.’  What is the difference between Guidelines and Rules?  When a […]

Hello, Heavy Medal – Hello, Universe

Hello, Heavy Medal readers. I was born and raised in Taiwan. After college, I taught 7th and 8th grade English in a Taipei public school before pursuing a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature from The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. Those two brief but glorious years saw me reading 15-30 […]