Welcome to Heavy Medal, 2021 Edition
Welcome to the official kick-off of the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery blog! We’ve actually been active all year, building a list of title suggestions, but September is when we really start to look much more closely at the best books of the year in terms of the Newbery Medal. Today, here’s an overview of what the blog is all about, and a preview of the months ahead:
Bloggers Update: Last year the blog was run by three people: Myself, Roxanne Feldman, and Annisha Jefferies. Roxanne and Annisha both have other commitments this year: Roxanne is judging the Kirkus Prize and Annisha is Chair of the 2021 Caldecott Committee. So, yes…they’re busy! Which means it’s just me this year, but I’m hoping to get some help (see “Guest Bloggers” below).
About the Blog: Heavy Medal was started in 2008(!) by Nina Lindsay and Sharon McKellar. Since then, it’s been a highly active online Mock Newbery site, where readers are invited to examine the year’s best books and discuss their merits as Newbery Medal contenders. Where possible, we try to align the activities on Heavy Medal with the real Committee’s actual process. Here are the main components of the blog we have planned for this year:
Book Discussions: From September through November, we’ll post about some of the best books of the year, inviting readers to share comments and opinions along the way. Discussions will be built around the Newbery Terms and Criteria…the same guidelines that the real Committee members use every year. I will initiate many of those posts, but this year we’ll be inviting readers to also get involved in the book introductions as…
Guest Bloggers: We’ve had so many serious readers and excellent writers participating in Heavy Medal discussions over the years that I’m hoping several of you will volunteer to introduce a book (or two) through a guest blog post during the fall. More details about that coming in a separate post on Thursday.
Reader Suggestions: From March through last week, Heavy Medal readers have been putting forth Suggestions of possible Newbery-worthy books from 2020. The cumulated list is here. Many of these titles, especially ones with multiple Suggestions, will be introduced for discussion in the next couple months. The real Newbery Committee typically continues with monthly Suggestions through December. Here on Heavy Medal, though, we will stop where we are; this makes it a little simpler for us to transition to…
Reader Nominations: Following the process of the real Committee, we will invite readers to submit a total of seven Nominations; three in October, two in November, and two in December. The combined list of Nominations will help to develop the…
Heavy Medal Mock Newbery List: In early December we’ll announce a list of 12-15 books that will appear on our Heavy Medal Mock Newbery ballot. Reader Nominations will play a big part in making up the list. We’ll also have some open discussion on the blog about what to include or leave out. Once that list is set, our Mock Newbery winner will be chosen by the…
Heavy Medal Committee: We’ll put out a call for Mock-Committee members in December. Typically we get about 15 people who all commit to reading every book on the list and discussing the books in great depth on this blog. You can get a feel for the high quality of those discussions by looking at posts from January 2020 in the archives. Then the HMC jumps into….
Mock Newbery Balloting: In late January, the Heavy Medal Committee members will submit ballots, following the guidelines of the real Committee, and we’ll wind up with our Heavy Medal Mock Newbery winner. We’ll also have a Reader’s Ballot, so those who are not members of the HMC can weigh in as well.
Finally: On January 25th, 2021, the actual Newbery Medal and Honor books will be announced. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to 4+ months of reading, thinking, and discussion around the best children’s books of the year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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