This has always been my favorite time of year. Fall colors, new school supplies, my birthday…
…and now, with it firmly in the blogosphere, the start of book award season. On Friday, Betsy “stepped up her game” at Fuse #8, and Roger put the trend of speculation-frenzy into perspective. The first week of blogging here coincided with Fashion Week, and both prompted similar reactions of overindulgence in anticipation, a slight bloatedness of enthusiasm, and finally a more realistic and refreshed perspective.
You each may participate in award speculation for different reasons, but I’ve never been in it primarily for the prediction. I started doing a Mock Newbery in 2003, when I was on the committee, in order to get some in-depth feedback on some of the books I was reading. At that first one I discovered how fun and rewarding it was to get other adults enthused about the award: its criteria, procedures, and history…and I’ve done it ever year since then. I select a discussion list that will provoke, I hope, the most diverse discussion. And it’s the best way I know how to make sure I’ve read most of the possible contenders before the real announcements.
This speculation never takes away from the excitement of the real award annoucements for me (read my article in the July/Aug 2010 Horn Book if you don’t believe me). I think this is because, having been on the committee, I know how tip-of-the-iceberg even these time-consuming Mock discussions are. The actual committee reads more, more closely, and more focussed on a particular set of criteria, than any otherwise sane person would do… and there is truly no way of predicting the results, even for those on the committee. As Roger reminds us, “the Newbery and Caldecott announcements rarely prompt us to say, ‘That’s nice,’ or ‘Who cares?'” And truthfully, except for the return of the long skirt, I can’t quite say the same for Fashion Week.
Jonathan and I will comment more on the committee procedures, criteria, and experience over the course of the blog, but if you’re not familiar with it, I really encourage you to browse through the manual. I think it’s wonderful that it’s available online.