Meet Steven & Emily: Your Heavy Medal Hosts
Hi all. As we get started with another season of Heavy Medal, we wanted to get to know everyone a little better starting with Steven and myself. The bloggers have rotated throughout the years, and Steven and I are excited to be back for another.
From Emily’s perspective, one of the greatest aspects of Heavy Medal is the community of people who are passionate about books and the Newbery and the connections we build through this blog. On that note, I would post a photo of Steven and I together, but we’ve never met in real life! Oh, the joys of the Internet.
I was going to write Steven’s bio for him to input more of my witty jokes, but I have to admit he has a pretty interesting life.
Name: Steven Engelfried
Job Info: I retired last February after 35 years as a full-time librarian. Now I work some on-call hours at a couple libraries and hang out with my wife Tina.
Number of Years Blogging on Heavy Medal: I started as a Heavy Medal blogger in September, 2017, so this will be my 6th year. But I was a HM reader from the time Nina Lindsay and Sharon McKellar started it in 2008.
Official Newbery Experience: I served on the 2010 Newbery Committee…our winner was WHEN YOU REACH. Then I was Chair of the 2013 Committee: that was THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN’s year.
Favorite Newbery Book of All Time: THE HIGH KING by Lloyd Alexander (1969). Always a good example for the “sequels can win” argument. Plus it’s just the best book in the best series ever.
Least Favorite Newbery Winner of All Time: SMOKY THE COWHORSE by Will James (1927). I was doing my best to read some older Newbery winners aloud to my kids, with some nice surprises. MISS HICKORY, THE TWENTY-ONE BALLOONS, and RABBIT HILL all went fine. But SMOKY stopped our momentum flat.
Favorite Thing About Heavy Medal: It’s the best kind of book discussion group. Participants read the books carefully, opinions are diverse and articulate, and the final goal of choosing just one book gives everything focus and a bit of excitement. Another way to put it: it’s the closest thing I’ve had to being on the Newbery Committee since I really was.
Hobbies Other Than Reading:
Pretty dull stuff: crossword puzzles, walking my dog, listening to music. One kind of weird thing: I love lists and pop music; I’ve been doing extensive countdowns of my favorite pop music songs by decade on Facebook. So far I’ve listed over 3,500 songs, one per day, for about 10 years. I’m currently working my way through my 300 favorite songs from the 90s.
Fun Newbery Anecdote:
I learned about my appointment as Newbery Chair in early 2011, but was told to keep it under wraps until after the ALSC elections. So for a couple months, I couldn’t tell anyone except immediate family. And I didn’t get anything official from ALSC. So I started to get suspicious. I started to wonder: did it really happen? Or did I just make this all up? And then I thought of another possibility: What if the call was a prank by one of my enemies, pretending to be from ALSC, and I wasn’t really going to be Chair, and would look silly when the real person was announced? I couldn’t actually think of any real enemies I had, but that didn’t mean they weren’t out there. In the end of course, I really was the Chair, and upon reflection, my doubts might have been a little over-dramatic.
Fun fact about yourself:
I was a Jeopardy contestant (in 2009)! When people ask how I did, I usually start with my final score of 19,900, which, if you know Jeopardy, is pretty good. Then I tell them that I wound up in third place, which is not good. Not good at all. But I did get to meet Alex T., answered some questions (just not enough of them), and had a great time.
Name: Emily Mroczek (Bayci) I’m trying to make parentheses happen.
Job Info: Freelance Children’s Librarian A fancy way of saying, I’m open to any library related gigs that allow me flexible scheduling.
Number of Years Blogging on Heavy Medal: I was on the committee in 2021 and then Steven drafted me for 2022 and 2023. I’m still waiting on my signing bonus from Steven.
Official Newbery Experience: 2019 Committee member with MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS. I need to read the conclusion in the trilogy still. MERCI FOR THE WIN 2023!
Favorite Newbery Book of All Time: I rotate between THE WESTING Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) which really inspired my love of puzzles and problem solving and HOLES by Louis Sachar (1998) because three different people gave me Holes for Christmas in 1997, so clearly we were destined to be together. Come to think of it, do I even have any copies of Holes still?
Least Favorite Newbery Winner of All Time: THE VOYAGES OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE by Hugh Lofting (1923). I’ve never been a big animal person in the first place, the tone just doesn’t work for me, and there are way to many movies about it. I also heard some rumor that it only one because the first book didn’t win or something?
Favorite Thing About Heavy Medal: Ditto Steven- the closest to the Newbery experience. And it’s fun to build a community of people I normally wouldn’t talk about books with.
Hobbies Other Than Reading: Keeping my three children under 3.5 alive and entertaining them which basically means being their personal children’s librarian, getting banned from singing and pretend playing the big bad wolf. #Livinthedream
Fun Newbery Anecdote: I found out I was pregnant with my first child midway thru my Newbery Year. He was due three days before deliberations in Seattle. In person attendance was mandatory or I’d have to give up my committee spot. He made it out safely, I made it to Seattle and he was named after John Newbery (okay not really, but it’s fun to say).
Fun fact about yourself: I “accidentally” became a specialist reporter on Para Archery (only Para Archery). I even reported on it at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and the 2017 Bejing World Championships. (It’s there I found out I was on the Newbery and shockingly no one understood my excitement!
We’d love to hear about you in the comments! You don’t have to answer all the questions (but are more than welcome to!) And next week we will actually start talking about books from 2022, we promise.
Filed under: Intro
About Emily Mroczek-Bayci
Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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