Five Ocean County Librarians and one retired OCL Librarian met to determine our Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott titles. Here are some snippets of the confabulation.
Priscilla commented, “When I’m reading, I’m thinking what will the committee vote for versus what will I vote for.” I took the moment to remind folks this is our opportunity to decide what we would select if we were the committee. Still, I understood where she was coming from.
Regarding Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt, what makes it distinguished? Kristen answered immediately: “Its characters.” Does it tie itself up too neatly? Kristen said, “It needs to tie up neatly with all the over-the-top stuff, though some of that stuff might have been needless…. But it ends with a sense that we’re okay for now but not necessarily forever.” That’s what made it okay in Okay For Now.”
Then we mused on how willing we are to suspend disbelief when reading a children’s book. Did the ending in Okay For Now seem too implausible? Does it even matter? Kristen, who will attend the 2012 ALSC Morris seminar at ALA mid-winter, shared an article that stressed the importance of looking at a book’s strengths within its genre and evaluating it on those strengths, not its weaknesses. What does it contribute to that genre? (Which means more support for Okay For Now from my perspective!) Interesting.
So what about the Audubon art? Does it serve the message? Priscilla was skeptical. My arguments: the art resonates with Doug. He’s illiterate. Learning through pictures isn’t threatening. “But why the lessons?” Priscilla countered. First, Doug wouldn’t talk about the pictures to begin with. He learns because the Librarian leaves some paper and a pencil by the prints. So Doug wants to learn. And when have you known a Librarian to pass up the opportunity to impart a lesson? It’s in my (our?) nature to teach! Kristen added, ” It gave him something to be successful at.” Elise chimed in, “He’s getting acknowledge and support from an adult.”
Amanda pointed out, “The children in each of these books (meaning Dead End in Norvelt, Okay for Now, and Hound Dog True) are learning something. Mattie is learning to trust. Doug is learning about art. Jack is learning about writing. Priscilla argued learning to write in Dead End was more important than Doug learning art in Okay For Now.
Kristen predicts A Monster Calls will win saying, “It doesn’t do character as well as Okay for Now but it does plot and language better.” Elise wanted Okay For Now to be tighter, more spare. She though Norvelt was streamlined and macabre but very funny.
What do we do with Wonderstruck? Even if it is included in the Newbery committee’s discussion, we did not think the text strong enough to contend with our other titles.
We’re all very sad The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World is ineligible.
And finally, we voted.
After the first round, we had four clear frontrunners. A second round of voting showed a clear favorite with a majority of #1 votes. Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt is our 2012 Mock Newbery winner.
Our three honor books are much loved reads. With the strongest showing of the three, Hound Dog True by Linda Urban (it also received a first place vote in the final round) is our first honor book. With an equal number of points, we added Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (which also received one first place vote in the final round) and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
Our Caldecott winner was Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell!
Overall it was a tight race. We selected three honor books. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen was a tight tight second place. It had equally as many first place votes as Me… Jane. Coming in on their heels were Grandapa Green by Lane Smith and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.