As promised, here is the first half of the list of titles we’ll be discussing at the live Mock Newbery in Oakland CA on January 10th. As you can see, we’ve decided to go with nonfiction titles for at least half of the discussion, each of which will prove for interesting and fruitful debate:
Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman
Sure to push the "age level" discussion that Jonathan is currently stirring. It’s a long book, which can be a challenge for a live Mock Newbery discussion, as the voting only works when every participant has read every title. But this one’s been available all year, and with the NBA nomination, hopefully will be on people’s radar.
Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose
Another NBA nomination (prompting a similar discussion over at Marc’s "Nonfiction Matters") was previously discussed here, and bears such a striking resemblance in content and form to:
Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge
…that these will certainly make for good discussion on the minutiae of craft. In regards to Partridge’s, the literary craft will have to be dissected from the visual.
Discussing nonfiction in regards to the Newbery is often difficult. Much good nonfiction stands equally on the quality of its visual aspects, which can’t be considered in Newbery discussion. "Presentation of information including accuracy…," however, is paramount–yet who on a committee can claim to be an authority on the content of every book considered? How do you judge accuracy, especially with nonfiction?
Many committee members turn to content experts; that is, asking someone who does have the background to read the book and comment on its accuracy, or presentation of the facts. Such "content reviews," are generally shared with the entire committee, and may be used to inform members final opinions just as critical literary reviews, or child reader reviews, may.