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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Games Begin

Sharon and I are landed in Denver and happily installed at the first meeting (for the session) of ALSC’s Notable Books for Children committee. Here (as opposed the “closed” award committee meetings) the discussion has an audience: conference goers flock to the room in the afternoons to listen in on the debate. In the back of the room, nominated titles are on display and during the break the socializing hovers over these. Noticeably missing?: The Underneath.  (It could still make it on the final list if it gets a Newbery medal of some sort, as: “Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Geisel, Sibert and Pura Belpré medal and honor books are automatically included.” From the Manual.)

Today the committee is working through fiction titles they haven’t previously discussed at last summer’s Annual meeting. Some highlights of titles that we’ve also noted here…

Chains and My One Hundred Adventures: members seemed to share the mixed concerns our group did regarding the convincingness of these books’ narrators, though supporters felt these two stood out under “Notable” criteria.

Oddly, the discussion for The Hunger Games went by in a flash. Savvy got a little more discussion, with some pointing out the “clunkiness” of image, narration, characters…while others felt strongly the verve of the story and tall-tale characters outweighed any defects.  Though you all know I don’t feel these stand up to Newbery criteria, I do think they are great examples of “Notable” books: showing “venturesome creativity” and “reflect[ing] and encourag[ing] children’s interests.”

Porcupine Year: elements highlighted include the cliffhanger beginning, fast pace, and the age-appropriate love interest with a light enough touch for young readers. Someone questioned abrupt transitions between chapters and the sudden appearance of characters from the previous title, but others thought this was forgivable for its strengths.

Clear favorites in discussion were Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Pratchett’s Nation—my own two favorites this year.

It is ultimately hard to tell where members land on these titles. To see how the voting shakes out, the audience will have to hang around until Tuesday…or check out the results later. (Wait for that page to show the "2009" list…of 2008 titles).

Regardless of results, this Friday afternoon meeting of Notables is always exciting: the place where colleagues first hook up at Midwinter, and heralding a weekend of wide-spread debate over the year’s best books.

(Saturday update: forgot to show you where you can download the Notables discussion list.)

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Nina Lindsay About Nina Lindsay

Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at ninalindsay@gmail.com

Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    It’s like a taste of what the Newbery and Printz committees might be saying, how exciting! (I have my own thoughts in my new blog, sixboxesofbooks.blogspot.com.)

    Please keep us up on rumors, and I’m looking forward to hearing a report from you and Sharon on crowd reactions when the winners are announced.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great info thanks…would love to know if Alvin Ho or Clementine’s Letter are getting any notables talk. I feel like they are both long shots for any other recognition but to my mind both extremely notable and hilarious books.

    Slightly off topic but from what i understand the Wilder Award is now given every two years which means it will be awarded this year. Will this award also be given Monday morning? (its gotta be Steig’s turn right?)

  3. Nina Lindsay says:

    Neither Alvin Ho or Clementine’s Letter are on the Notables discussion list! A different committee, different criteria. But yes, the Wilder Award will be announced Monday. The Notables discussion lists can be downloaded online…I was having trouble finding the right page yesterday, but will put the link up at the end of the post.

  4. DaNae says:

    Nina, From what I can see of the discussion list, Rapunzel’s Revenge is the only graphic novel being considered. I have two questions – how is it faring in the discussions? And are there any mummers about creating an ALA award for this genre?

  5. DaNae says:

    Nina, From what I can see of the discussion list, Rapunzel’s Revenge is the only graphic novel being considered. I have two questions – how is it faring in the discussions? And are there any mummers about creating an ALA award for this genre?

  6. Nina Lindsay says:

    DaNae–Believe it or not, I was in the bathroom for “Rapunzel’s Revenge.” Maybe someone else out there can comment?

  7. Nina Lindsay says:

    DaNae–Believe it or not, I was in the bathroom for “Rapunzel’s Revenge.” Maybe someone else out there can comment?

  8. Billy says:

    My initial shock…gee…no “The Underneath”? Really? Wow. Now, I do understand that it is somewhat divisive, and not to everyone’s taste, but really. I think that it would at least merit consideration, at least a chance. I think the reason that some people dislike it is that its creativity is very, as Nina quotes, “venturesome”. Would not that be a reason, according to the criteria, to give a notable listting? I think the problem is that some people just can’t get past their own preferece no matter what, that they find it so different as to be uncomfortably so. Now, I can understand that, I felt that way a little too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an “Underneath” fanatic, I don’t think it is one of the world’s greatest masterpieces or anything like that, but I do think that it deserves at least a Notables mention. I would think that the “love” part of the “love-it-or-hate-it” crowd would at least land it on the disscussion list. It just makes me want it to win the Newbery more! I guess we’ll find out soon!

    I’m rooting for “Chains”, “Trouble”, and definitely “Masterpiece”.

    Oh, and by the way, I also see that “After Tupac and D Foster” is up for consideration. Is there anyone out there besides me that thoroughly disliked this book? So far everyone whose opinion I trust, including you, Nina and Sharon, seems to really like, and even love this book. I am a Jaqueline Woodson fan too; I thought both “Show Way” and “Feathers” were wonderful. But I, strangely, couldn’t find anything I liked or thought was notable or distinguished about this one. I felt like the author was telling me that the charachters were developing, ordering me to believe in development, but when I looked, I just could not see any change. I felt that the growing up theme (I guess there must be one because everyone tells me there is) was made totally obvious to the point of obsurity. Does that make sense? There was no plot, nothing to carry me or keep me interested, just a bunch of everyday vingetttes that I, personally, just did not find very interesting. Did anyone else think that the charachters sonded a little, well — I guess I’ll just say it and put it all out there — homeboy? I found it extremely ironic that while a good deal of the book’s empasis was on the importance of education (eg. our main carachter is smart, Jayjones going to a good college, even the parental figures caution against using “ain’t”), so much of the dialougue was so grammatically incorrect, that I had to read sentences up to three or four times before I could get a grasp on what was being communicated. A carachter will make some sort of insight that might actually be written very well, and then they open their mouth and, well, it just doesn’t seem to fit. There were some gems, but not many, and it is my firm belief that they only stood out because they were decent and the rest of the book was so weak. They would have been filler in “Feathers”. Am I an elitist that just lacks depth? I don’t think so, but that is sure how this book made me feel.

    Anyway, once again, come on “Chains”, “Trouble”, and “Masterpiece”! Root!

  9. Anon. says:

    Slightly off topic, but wouldn’t it be nice if ALA gave each year’s list a dedicated web page, so that previous lists could be easily checked? As is, once the new list is up, the old list — as far as I know — vanishes.

  10. Miri says:

    “Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Geisel, Sibert and Pura Belpré medal and honor books are automatically included.”

    But not CSK.

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