FREEWATER wins the Newbery Medal, live reactions from Heavy Medal bloggers
The 2023 Youth Media Award announcements took place at 8 a.m. CST Monday morning in New Orleans during LibLearnX. Many Heavy Medal favorites were mentioned but as usual we missed a few. Emily and Steven watched the live webcast and live blogged their reactions, take a look here:
Emily: Good Morning Steven and everyone! I’m excited for the “academy awards of children’s literature” when we find out the winners of the Newbery Medal… and all those other awards too of course!
Steven: I’m excited too, but also still kind of waking up. It’s not even 6 a.m. yet!
Emily: I am impressed you’re awake! I think my favorite award, other than Newbery, is the Printz. Is that a cop out? I’m hoping I MUST BETRAY YOU gets some love there this year, though it seems like ALL MY RAGE is the shoo-in….
Steven: I don’t know if there are any shoo-ins. Last year I thought STARFISH had a pretty good shot at Newbery…then it wound up winning the Printz, which I had never even considered it would be a contender for.
Emily: 497 people on the live webcast now and counting… surprisingly more than our heavy Medal webcast! LOL
Steven: We still had a few hundred, didn’t we? Since we had three different kinds of votes on Heavy Medal and three different winners, our chances of seeing one of those actually win might be a little higher than usual.
Emily: You’re right. The titles we discussed will see some form of love this year… hopefully!
Steven: Our three winners were AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT, THE DOOR OF NO RETURN, and THE OGRESS AND THE ORPHANS. The first two could also be contenders for the Corettta Scott King and/or the Printz. And I even think AIN’T BURNED might wind up with some Caldecott love.
Emily: I say this every year but I always appreciate how titles can get love in some form of awards, because only one book can win the Newbery and it’s great to see these authors get recognition somewhere!
Steven: Agree for sure. A book like BLUE is so unique, but not one kids or adults will necessarily discover without some extra attention. Being named as a Sibert or Caldecott (or Newbery of course) would mean so much.
Emily: Umm Steven, we’ve been here for 10 minutes and you haven’t given a plug to BUZZKILL yet?
Steven: I guess I’m just assuming it will win the Sibert. But I’ve given up trying to convince myself that it will be on the Newbery list (mostly…I mean, it could happen, right?)
Emily: Two minutes left and 1.3 K people watching! In the olden days, the committee used to wake up very early and call the authors the morning of, but I think Zoom calls the weekend before are becoming the new rage…
Steven: I wonder how many people are there in the audience in New Orleans? It’s usually more than a thousand, right?
Emily: Something like that. And now the ALA president is on stage and we are ready to hear the announcements. She (Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada) is a former children’s and teen librarian too- represent!
Steven: Attendance is now up to 2.5 K! And rising, as we on the west coast stumble sleepily to our phones and computers…
Emily: Action time, starting with the APALA awards.
Steven: Maizy Chen’s Last Chance had strong support on Heavy Medal.
Emily: Strong support from me! (And actually that was the biggest write-in on our reader’s poll!
Steven: Or maybe NEW FROM HERE?
Emily: I forgot about TROUBLEMAKER, I did enjoy that. MAIZY FOR THE WIN!! Hooray!! The morning is starting strong!
Steven: Great! I haven’t read the two Young Adult books in this category. This is always a good morning for adding to your I-should-read-these-books list…
Emily: This is when I place a lot of holds for titles I may or may not read… Sidney Taylor time. We had a lot of strong Jewish titles this year..
Steven: Yes: AVIVA, BLACK BIRD, BLUE ROAD and ALIAS ANNA all seem like strong contenders. I’d be very happy with AVIVA and BLACK BIRD getting something today.
Emily: I have to say, I was really slacking on my picture book reading this year… Oh hey, I forgot about ELLEN OUTSIDE THE LINES!
Steven: Well, this is going so nicely. AVIVA got the Medal, BLACK BIRD is an Honor!
Emily: Clearly all these committee members are following the Heavy Medal blog.
Emily: So, would you call BLACK BIRD, BLUE ROAD a Schneider eligible?
Steven: I hadn’t thought of that. I’m afraid I missed reading any of the Schneider books this year. I always think I’m reading so much, but there’s a lot to miss.
Steven: DIFFERENT KINDS OF FRUIT might be a Stonewall contender. Oh yes: IN THE KEY OF US too, which just won an Honor! Very good book.
Emily: I keep getting weird flashbacks to books I read earlier this year “ oh yeah… that was a good one!” but LOVE VIOLET I did not even hear of. Oh a picture book, that’s why!
Steven: There are so many more books these days that could be considered for Stonewall, especially in YA. . A very positive trend.
Emily: I just saw the Stonewall committee had a Zoom photo of them all posing with the books. That’s so cute!
Steven; Time for Coretta Scott King. And we get a lifetime achievement award this year (it’s every other year). Along with DOOR and AIN’T, I’d love to see SWIM TEAM here. I don’t know if we’ve had a graphic novel win any CSK awards before? Also a couple of really strong verse novels: AND WE RISE (well, more a verse history) and AFRICA TOWN.
Steven: Both SWIM TEAM and VICTORY STAND (also a gn) just won illustrator Honors! Both could be author contenders too I think. (VICTORY just got the author Honor!)
Emily: VICTORY STAND! Another great title, I forgot about. Ooo three honor books and STAR CHILD received a decent amount of love on HM. You know, I’m impressed with all the picture books getting love this year.
Steven: FREEWATER had some support on HM too. It was excellent.
Emily: No love for AFRICAN TOWN, or AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT.. interesting.
Steven: Seems like younger titles did better (excluding VICTORY STAND)
Steven: Time for YALSA’s award…I’m afraid I slack off on YA reading with Heavy Medal’s focus (Even though, of course, 0-14 is the age range for Newbery)
Emily: I love seeing the committee’s names and cheering for anyone I know. It looks like Aryssa was on the Alex Award committee! And the HMAC!
Emily: Is it bad that I assumed Jason Reynolds already won the Edwards Award? Hooray for Jason!
Steven: I was the opposite: I thought: wait, he’s too new! But no, he has already made a huge impact on YA lit. Great news!
Emily: I didn’t even realize STUNTBOY had an audio book. Putting that on my holds list!
Steven: I love getting the audio samples from the Odyssey winners!
Emily: In the middle of the webcast we are at 4.7 K viewers. Now that’s impressive!
Steven: BUZZKILL didn’t make the finalist list for the YA Excellence in Nonfiction award. But VICTORY, STAND did, and I have high hopes…
Emily: Was Leonard the one getting us excited about VICTORY, STAND? Good work Leonard!
Emily: OK Printz time. I’m very excited to hear these! Well, never heard of ICEBREAKER, or WHEN ANGELS LEFT THE OLD COUNTRY. But QUEER DUCKS that got some Heavy Medal suggestions! And I told you ALL MY RAGE was a shoo-in!
Steven: You called it. I’ll never doubt you again. Love the QUEER DUCKS pick! We don’t usually get nonfiction on the Printz list
Emily: I’m screen shooting that statement.
Steven: I’m hoping to see FALLING SHORT on the Belpre author list. The just announced winner: FRIZZY, is a graphic novel!
Emily: The webcast has passed the Five thousand mark. OK, what we’ve been waiting for, the ALSC awards!
Emily: I want to go to this Rita Williams-Garcia lecture. I did an interview with her over e-mail and she was absolutely delightful! Batchelder is a committee I want to be on today. It could also be called the (Newbery Ineligible committee).
Steven: Time for Sibert. I’m sitting here quietly chanting: Buzzkill, Buzzkill, Buzzkill…
Steven: Love the SEED GROWS choice. Picture book nonfiction is great to have.
Emily: Sorry about BUZZKILL Steven. Dry those tears. SEEN AND UNSEEN was fabulous though.
Steven: Agree: SEEN AND UNSEEN is an amazing book. Also disappointed, though, to not see HOW TO BUILD A HUMAN on the Sibert list.
Emily: A beginning comic for Sibert. How exciting and well deserved!
Steven: Nice to see graphic novels popping up in several award lists
Steven: Oops. We just saw a slide we weren’t supposed to see.
Emily: Oh no, I didn’t see the spoiler!
Steven: I AIN”T gonna tell you what it was. Nice calm response by our speaker, though.
Emily: I saw what you did there. AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT with an honor. AND HEY BERRY SONG!! This got very little love from our final list, but here we are! My four-year-old had so much fun with KNIGHT OWL! But no love for BLUE. I’m not crying, I’m just sobbing.
Steven: Newbery time. I should not be this nervous, but I am…
Emily: I’m 0 for 1 right now with IVELIZ….
Steven: I totally missed that one too.
Steven: Honors for MAIZY and MAPMAKER!
Emily: SEE! I told you MAIZY needed to be a practice title. OMG FREEWATER for the win! Did not see that coming!
Steven: Me neither. I read and liked it, but hadn’t put it high enough on my list. At my library, there are 10 copies of FREEWATER in the system and 9 are on the shelf. That won’t be true for long…
Emily: Yep, just put mine on hold to reread. I’m definitely surprised but as a wise former Newbery chair (not Steven) told me. You need to reread the book, keep the criteria in mind, and trust the committee!
Emily: So, I’m happy with the representation (and surprises) this year, sad a few of my favs didn’t get any love, and hoping to read more picture books in 2023. What about you, Steven?
Steven: Lots of surprises (as always), but also great to see some HM favorites to well. When you think about how much positive evaluation some books received on HM, (OGRESS, DOOR OF NO RETURN, etc), then realize that the Committee also looked at these books, but still found more distinguished titles, it’s a reminder of how much great youth literature there is out there. For me, I’d like to get back to reading more YA books …I’ve sort of fallen off except for my regular favorite authors.
Emily: Sounds like a plan, you focus on YA, I focus on picture books- our readers can focus on middle grade and we’re good to go.
Emily: Well, it’s always a pleasure to do this live reaction with you. I need to sit a little more and am sure I’m gonna have more thoughts on these Newbery results and of course we want to hear everyone else’s thoughts in the comments! (Full results can be found here).
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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 email@example.com.
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