This Wednesday, Steven Engelfried leads an ALSC Webinar on his newly revised Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Toolkit. If you’ve ever wondered about setting up your own mock election, I highly recommend checking this out.
This blog evolved from a Mock Newbery group that I’ve been holding in Oakland CA since 2003. The blog at first was simply a feeding ground for ideas, and collation of logistics. It still operates as such, but it also clearly has a life beyond the local group that still meets annually. I modeled our Mock Newbery discussions on the ones I’d attended at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the UW Madison, where I was in library school.
The initial draw for participants, certainly, is in the idea that we might be predicting some of the actual winners of the award. But any true prediction is impossible, and so the real basis of the gathering…and the thing that makes people come back year to year…is the thrill of engaging in such deeply detailed book discussion with peers, face to face, and modeling the voting/consensus process that the real committee uses to come up with a Mock Medal.
So too the ferreting out of eligibility issues. Whether or not a book’s eligibility is known, whether we have access to the archive of previous decisions for precedence… for me the fun is in digging through the manual, looking for precedence ourselves, and then making a gamble one way or the other. If A MONSTER CALLS seems like it’s strong enough to make Jonathan’s and my top 10, then we might be able to do enough sleuthing ourselves to make a pretty good call.
In a comment on that post, I said somewhat cattily: “it’s not our game,” referring to the hope for anything we say on this blog to influence the actual committee proceedings. But a Mock discussion IS our game…and if it wasn’t any fun we wouldn’t be here.
Soon you’ll hear more from me and Jonathan about how we’ll be organizing both an online “election,” and the local live discussion and election just before the actual awards are announced. For any of you who can’t make it to Oakland on a Sunday in January, I do encourage you to think about trying to assemble a room of warm bodies…as it’s even more fun to mock it in person.