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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

ALSC Notables List

The ALSC Notables list is up…currently in a “final uncorrected” status.

From the webpage:

Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.


According to ALSC policy, the current year’s Newbery, Caldecott,  Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.

Though it seems straightforward, that last note is quite important to consider.  One school of thought is: How can the ALSC Award books not be Notable?  On the other hand…the Notable criteria are different than any of those other criteria. Still, I do think that for the public perception, it makes the most sense to include them.  The Notables committee waits until after the award announcements, therefore, to do their final voting.  For details, check out page 18 of the manual…  the upshot is that a title must be voted as “Notable” by 6 (out of 11) members to make it on the list.

The Notables list might seem “lost in the crush” in the season of award announcements, but I think that it in some ways it holds a more important place for historical perspective on children’s literature. The Notables list seems to have the right volume and scope for scholarly surveys of a certain period of literature. I use it as a collection development tool when I’m trying to build core replacement lists for a certain area of my collection. (For instance, when I want to do a refresh of my picture books,  I use recent high-demand lists, classics lists…and the last 10 years of Notables.)

There on the list today you’ll see many of the titles you’ve all appreciated here: CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG; NINTH WARD; A TALE DARK AND GRIMM; COUNTDOWN; KKK; UBIQUITOUS; MIRROR, MIRROR.   There’s also a few more heartbreaks for some of us… mine, of course, is the lack of KNEEBONE BOY.   I’m most surprised though by the lack of KEEPER. Also not on here, from our Mock Newbery shortlist: FORGE, SUGAR, and SIR CHARLIE.   I understand most of these…  KNEEBONE and SUGAR are divisive enough they may just not have been able to get the votes.  SIR CHARLIE, while it has “venturesome creativity”, is also problematic. And FORGE might not be “notable” enough.  I’m really just very surprised about KEEPER.  I heard the discussion on it, and don’t recall anyone raising great concerns.  Maybe it just didn’t rise enough in enough committee members’ estimation.

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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. DaNae says:

    Thanks Nina. I was looking over the list earlier and putting the titles I’d missed on my next book order. I was particularly happy to see a couple young non-fiction books: Hip-Pocket Papa, and Yucky Worms. I love that the list covers sucha a broad spectrum.

    I wish I’d grabbed that BACK OF THE BUS book when it showed up early last year. Oh well, I will have it for next year. I do get to use DAVE THE POTTER this week. I know it’s not really civil rights but as I always pull out ROSA and MARTIN’S BIG WORDS this time of year, I get to talk about Collier other matching medals.

  2. I think it is a terrific list although, as always, I too noticed those not there. But they didn’t have that many to truly select given how many went on automatically. If my addition is right (and most likely it isn’t:) they automatically added 25 award winners on. That left them with 35 to actually vote for. That isn’t very many when you look at their long list. Must have been painful voting yesterday. Have to say having listened to a lot of the discussion on Friday and some on Saturday, I was really impressed with the Committee. Thoughtful yet not afraid to point out problems in that very public place.

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I used to like to see the overlap between Notables and Best Books for Young Adults (which was really helpful to those of us serving middle schoolers), but that latter list has been disbanded and replaced with Best Fiction for Young Adults. BBYA typically had 75 to 85 titles and included nonfiction, graphic novels, and grown-up books. BFYA has 99 titles this year (from 191 nominations) so it doesn’t seem nearly as selective (or prestigious) as BBYA was. Still, FORGE, THE CARDTURNER, THE WATER SEEKER, and AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH made the list (none of them made Notables). The only overlap was MOCKINGBIRD, SHIP BREAKER, and FEVER CRUMB. Great Graphic Novels and Notables, however, both included YUMMY, MEANWHILE, TRICKSTER, AND SMILE. And KKK was a Notable book and YALSA Nonfiction Award finalist (the nominations are not yet posted, but even so they probably do not represent committee consensus). A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS did not make either list made BFYA!

  4. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I also quibble with the placement of some of these Notable books. I think COUNTDOWN, DREAMER, MOCKINGBIRD, LAFAYETTE, and UBIQUITOUS all belong in the Middle Readers category instead of Older Readers.

  5. Peter says:

    I’m the one who always wishes for more Newbery Honors, but even I must admit that the Best Fiction for Young Adult list is ridiculously long. As Jonathan points out, a list that lengthy actually loses prestige for the chosen titles

  6. Blakeney says:

    I agree that BFYA is not selective enough to be meaningful. I also think the Notables committee has lost its function with the proliferation of awards and the required inclusion of all those winning and honored titles on their list. So much reading by committee members just to see that a handful of strong titles gain some recognition.

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