Wendy comments on Jonathan’s post below that:
I think SLJ (and others) overstated the popularity [of The Graveyard Book] in response to the debate; it’s much more interesting to say "finally a popular book won" or "once again, the Newbery goes to an obscure book" than "this year they chose a good book that people have heard of". Another year the headline might have been "books with male protagonists keep their stranglehold on the Newbery".
While Ms. Marta comments that she’s just glad that The Graveyard Book was not "another kind of Criss Cross." By which one is to assume it’s not… ?
Last year’s Newbery news certainly brought to forefront how much public expectation of the award can differ from the actual award guidelines. This year’s committee of course is a different one than the one that selected The Graveyard Book, or Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, or The Higher Power of Lucky, or Criss Cross, and they’re beholden to consider this year’s books apart from any previous winners.
That goes for the plethora of titles from previous medal winners or honorees that seem to have cropped up this year. Am I just imagining it, or are the Choldenko-Creech-DiCamillo-Farmer-Paterson-Patron-Peck-(Who Am I Missing?) releases a little faster and furiouser than usual?
It’s hard as a committee member not to feel a little pitter-patter of expectation on cracking open a book whose author you’re familiar with. That’s why it’s so important to have a large, diverse committee: so that biases are flattened as much as possible, and new authors (of whom many the above-named were when they won!) can rise to meet the challenge of the canon.