National Book Awards Finalists
When the National Book Awards Longlist was announced a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure it would relate very much to mock-Newbery stuff. As Roxanne pointed out in her post, at least five of the ten books were very much on the older end of the teen audience. But today the five Finalists were announced and it turns out they were the five that fit the Newbery range best of all. And four of the five received at least one mention during our first round of Nominations here on Heavy Medal. SLJ’s reviews for the five titles are here.
THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo received one nomination on Heavy Medal, from Katrina, who says it “definitely works agewise for junior high,” and I think I agree. I read it a while ago and was pretty impressed. So far this year we haven’t really discussed books that might challenge the Newbery definition in which “children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen.” This will be good one to test that out on.
THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE by MT Anderson and Eugene Yelchin has received three nominations on Heavy Medal. I just finished this one today and will definitely consider using one of my remaining nominations on it. This is another book that will lead us back to the Newbery Terms and Criteria, since pretty substantial pieces of the story are told through Yelchin’s illustrations.
THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE by Leslie Connor received four nominations from Heavy Medal readers. We discussed this one on the blog a couple weeks ago.
THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE by Christopher Paul Curtis has six nominations on Heavy Medal. Curtis is the only author among the finalists with past Newbery recognition (two Honors and one Medal). LITTLE CHARLIE is the third book in his “Buxton Chronicles,” but stands on its own just fine. We will have a Heavy Medal post on this book coming up soon.
HEY KIDDO by Jarrett J. Krosoczka didn’t receive any Heavy Medal nominations, but it was just released this week. I’m still on a waiting list for this one and am eager to read it. It’s a graphic novel memoir by the author of the “Lunch Lady” series… but clearly this is something very different. It’s another one where we may struggle with the upper age range and where the Newbery Criteria define “contribution to literature” as a statement that “indicates the text of the book.” We plan to post about this one soon also.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind that that each year “Panels develop their own criteria for the National Book Award.” Which is completely different from the criteria that the Newbery Committee uses, and which we try to stick to on Heavy Medal. So there’s no reason to expect winning titles to be the same. In fact, since the NBA for Young People was re-established in 1996, there’s only been one book that’s won both the NBA and the Newbery, and that was twenty years ago: HOLES by Louis Sachar.
Still, it’s interesting to note what’s being honored in other award circles, and this year the NBA finalists are definitely ones that Mock Newbery folks would be looking at anyway. Other than the absence of THE BOOK OF BOY, it looks like a terrific top five.
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. 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 email@example.com.
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