Coming down to it
With just a few days left until our ballot, I’m still deliberating on what three titles I will vote for, and in what order.
At the beginning of this month, Jonathan and I each posted on DARK EMPEROR, and it handily rose above the rest of the pack at our live discussion. This is still easily in my top 3. In every single criterium appropriate to it, Sidman shows a variety of distinguished qualities. Something that stood out to us at the live discussion was how versatile she is with form. There’s an amazing variety in this collection, each one allowing for a slightly different tone. The more we talked about the “sidebars” (I know some people balk at them being called such, but I haven’t found a better word) the more we appreciated them as a parallel text, equally distinguished.
CONSPIRACY OF KINGS continues to rise in my estimation every time we examine another fiction title on our shortlist. Even if this isn’t Megan Whalen Turner’s best, that’s not a deliberation for us here. Whether it stands alone is similarly not the argument at the table. Whether we can find, in its text (not considering the text of its previous novels), evidence of “distinguishedness” IS the argument. Setting: I found both the minituae more vivid than COUNTDOWN, the landscapes more evocative than FORGE. Characters: Even for those of us who thought we knew some of them previously, they all develop surprisingly, engagingly, and–because of the quality of voice–even slightly realistically to me than in ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Plot: nothing else on our list touches it. There’s also something amazing about the way that Sophos’ character development and the plot are married in their duplicity (meaning both sneaky and multiple).
SUGAR and KKK just grow richer to me as we continue to compare them. Each is such a strong example of totally different approaches to relating history to a young audience. I know that some people are fonder of one approach over another, but I’m not sure that I find one ultimately more successful than the other. They’re both distinguished.
And CITY DOG COUNTRY FROG continues to vie for my attention. Sure, in some ways this is a “token” picture book on our list, but it wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think it couldn’t compete. The quality of its success in plot, interpretation of theme or concept, appropriatness of style, are to me on par with CONSPIRACY or ONE CRAZY SUMMER….when you take the intended audience of each into consideration.
So how, on earth, do you or I decide which 3 titles to vote for on Monday morning? We’re lacking most of the context…we don’t know exactly who we’re voting with as a body, or how each of us has really responded to each title. But we’re going to see if we can come up with a consensus among our twelve, of which title–we’ve convinced each other–is the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in 2010, according to the terms and criteria of the award. I’ll point you to a posting from Emily Jiang, who participated in our live discussion on the Decemeber 12th, for some thoughts on how to approach your decision.
So, as you enjoy your new year celebrations, and the media’s glut of annual “lists,” start thinking about singularity, and which title you can most support for the gold (Mock!) Newbery medal.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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