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The Newbery Medal is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children that is published in English in the preceding year. It is a prestigious honor that has been awarded for 100 years by the American Library Association. But it also comes with controversy and a mock Newbery called Heavy Medal. Some of the controversy stems from the designated age range of infant to 14. It’s difficult to judge a picture book in the same category as a juvenile chapter book. Another issue is that some genres, like humor and fantasy, don’t win very often. And finally, this award for literary quality doesn’t always translate into books that are popular with children.

The Heavy Medal Mock Newbery opened a poll earlier this year. They asked school librarians to nominate titles, they narrowed it down to 16, and asked librarians to vote. There were two clear leaders using the points formula, and the committee selected a winner based on the number of first place votes it received. The Heavy Medal Reader’s Poll Winner is “The Ogress and the Orphans” by Kelly Barnhill and its cover should win its own award. Honor books are “The Last Mapmaker” by Christina Soontornvat, “I Must Betray You” by Ruta Sepetys, “A Rover’s Story” by Jasmine Warga, and “Ain’t Burned All the Bright” by Jason Reynolds.

You may be wondering who won the real Newbery Award! “Freewater” by Amina Luqman-Dawson is the winner. Honor Awards were given to “Iveliz Explains It All” by Andrea Beatriz Arango, “The Last Mapmaker” by Christina Soontornvat, and “Maizy Chen’s Last Chance” by Lisa Yee.

Check them out from the library and decide for yourself which one is most deserving of the award.

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