Meet the Heavy Medal Bloggers
It’s great to be back! We know a lot of our readers have followed Heavy Medal for a while, but we also add new readers every year. So to start our season off, Emily and I will share a few facts about ourselves and the books we love. Emily first:
Name: Emily Mroczek (Bayci)
Job Info: Youth Services Librarian at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois. I serve kids age birth-18 and focus on homeschool and accessible services.
Number of Years Blogging on Heavy Medal: I was on the Heavy Medal Award Committee in 2020 and this is my third year as Steven’s sidekick!
Official Newbery Experience: I was on the 2019 Newbery Committee with medalist MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS and honor books THE NIGHT DIARY and THE BOOK OF BOY.
Favorite Newbery Book as a child: 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. (Yes, I stole this answer from last year).
Favorite Newbery Book as an adult: If I didn’t say MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS, my committee would come find me. But really, the book truly hits all the Newbery criteria and I was a part of the team that made it a Newbery book. Can’t deny that excitement.
Why are you a part of Heavy Medal?: I love being a librarian and yes, I know it is much more than books… but I love the book portion. Heavy Medal keeps me up on my readers advisory game and helps me maintain my “always surrounded by books” image.
Something Fun You Did this Summer: My family went to New York City for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Riding the subway with two toddlers and a baby, roaming the streets of New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty… we’ll always remember it (not so much the small humans!)
Favorite Newbery memory: My first full year as a librarian and first year involved in a Mock Newbery, I was a huge advocate for ROLLER GIRL It was the first year I watched the livestream and in the moment ROLLER GIRL won an honor I truly understood how it was the WORLD’S MOST EXCITING POWER POINT!
Name: Steven Engelfried
Job Info: On-Call Librarian at the Wilsonville Public Library and the Tigard Public Library in Oregon. I was a full-time librarian for 35 years and retired from that in 2022. Now I mostly help kids find books at the children’s desk (aka: the fun part)
Number of Years Blogging on Heavy Medal: This will be my 7th year. And in 5 of the 6 preceding years, the Newbery announcement has been a complete surprise to me (we all saw NEW KID coming). I just remind myself that it’s all about book discussion, not picking a winner, and will try again this year.
Official Newbery Experience: I was on the 2010 Committee (WHEN YOU REACH ME) and chaired the 2013 Committee (THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN).
Favorite Newbery Book as a child: I named THE HIGH KING last year, and it’s probably cheating to then go to THE BLACK CAULDRON, so I’ll pick MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (1939 Honor). It must have been 30 years old already when I read it, but I remember thinking it was very fun. Penguins were my favorite animals as a kid, maybe because of that book.
Favorite Newbery Book as an adult: First I have to take a moment to come to terms with the fact that Emily read HOLES “as a child” when I was well into my second decade as a librarian. One of my favorites that I don’t think gets read much these days: WHAT HEARTS by Bruce Brooks (1993 Honor). It’s four just-about-perfect connected short stories about a kid who’s a bit too smart for his own good. I’ve re-read it many times and it always gets to me: The baseball practice…”The Highwayman…”…those candy hearts at the end…
Why are you a part of Heavy Medal: One reason: I really like kids’ books, and now that I’m retired, I wouldn’t have to keep up like I used to, but Heavy Medal requires that I do. I’m not sure I would have run across Beaky the Chicken, or Pedro the Mexikid, or Rebecca of Buffalo Flats if I didn’t have to work on a Mock Newbery blog, so I’m glad that I do.
Something Fun You Did This Summer: I’m not a handy kind of person, but 20 summers ago I put together an ugly but workable screened in rooftop to give our six(!) formerly-indoor cats a way to kind of be outside. A combination of the natural elements and seriously poor construction finally destroyed it for good, so this summer I dismantled what was left and replaced it with a “catio,” which you put together kind of like tinker toys. Still not easy for me, but I finished it, and our now-just-one cat (“Lola”) has a little access to the great outdoors. The things we do for cats.
Favorite Newbery memory: I was just two years into my career when JOYFUL NOISE won the Newbery. A wonderful choice, but the reason I remember it so well is that a librarian that I knew (the amazing Elizabeth Overmeyer), from my very own library system (Alameda County Library in California), was on the Committee! I hadn’t really thought about who actually chose those books…turns out it included people like me. And a mere 21 years later, I got my own chance!
So there’s a bit about us. We’d love to get to know our readers too, so if you’d like to introduce yourself in the comments below, that would be great. You can answer any or all of the questions we covered above (jobs, favorite books, summertime, etc.) and/or share anything else you’d like to. And next week we’ll start looking at the best children’s books of the year (so far)!
Filed under: Intro
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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